Please be advised that in observance of President’s Day, my office will be closed on Saturday, February 17, and Monday, February 19. It will re-open on Tuesday, February 20, at 9:00 am.
Prussing Annex Construction Underway
I’m pleased to announce that the first phase of construction of a new annex space at Prussing Elementary, 4650 N. Menard, began this Thursday.The new annex is expected to be completed by November this year.
This is just one component of a $36 million plan I unveiled in February 2017, to provide additional resources to 45th Ward schools and address overcrowding on the Northwest Side.
In fall 2017, a new turf field was installed at Hitch Elementary, 5625 N. McVicker. The new fields at Schurz High School and Farnsworth Elementary are well underway, with draft designs presented to the Farnsworth community just this week.
More information about what the $36 million plan entails is available at my website.
Community Alert: Motor Vehicle Thefts
The 16th District issued a community alert this week about a series of motor vehicle thefts that occurred in the months of January and February. The incidents occurred at:
- The 5500-block of North Parkside at 4:00 pm on January 25;
- The 5800-block of North Mason at 8:05 am on January 27;
- The 5500-block of North Mango between 6:00 pm January 29 and 5:00 am January 30;
- The 5700-block of West Ainslie between 7:00 pm January 30 and 9:00 am January 31; and
- The 4400-block of North Major at 6:30 am February 3.
Please make sure all doors and windows are secured, parked in a well lit area, and call 911 if you notice any suspicious people loitering.
Anyone with any information is urged to call the Area North Bureau of Detectives at 312-744-8263.
The Illinois State Board of Education Wants to Hear from You
In response to a coordinated effort by educational advocacy organizations (including Raise Your Hand), disability rights groups and special education attorneys representing apretns, teachers and principals, the Illionis State Board of Education (ISBE) has begun a public inquiry into CPS’s handling of special education policies and practices.
The ISBE Inquiry Team (IT) would like to hear from individual families, teachers, administrators, and clinicians with stories that show CPS’s failure to provide students with special needs with a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). If you are a parent or a guardian who may be willing to share your struggle to obtain appropriate services, Raise Your Hand will gladly work with you to draft a statement/affidavit that adheres to the format and guidelines being developed by the IT.
Scope of the Inquiry
The IT is looking for evidence that CPS has prevented or delayed the delivery of appropriate services to students who have special needs. Raise Your Hand is interested in any stories you have to share, but the following are examples (only examples!) of issues they particularly need right now:
- The IEP team wanted to include a service or support, but you were told that only a district representative could make that decision (especially regarding paraprofessional support, busing services, or ESY/Summer School).
- The IEP seemed to be finished, but then someone went in and changed it after the meeting.
- The computer system would not let the case manager “in” to include a service.
- The IEP team believe that a student needed a service or support, but you were told that the service could not be included in the IEP until more data was collected.
- Teachers complained that they did not try to include a service because it would require too much work to document.
- The parent/guardian was told that the school does not have money to pay for a service or support (like an aide) or that the school will need to take money out of the gen-ed budget to pay for something.
- A student’s transportation was eliminated without your consent.
- A student’s school was determined according to available bus routes.
How to Tell Your Story
The IT is providing three ways to give them evidence:
- Parents/guardians, administrators, teachers, or clinicians can contact Raise Your Hand and they will collect your stories as a part of their own submission;
- Parents/guardians, administrators, teachers, or clinicians can submit their own affidavit. Raise Your Hand is happy to help with this; the form at present is difficult to navigate;
- Parents/guardians, teachers, or clinicians can speak to the IT in person on Wednesday, February 21, between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm at the Center for Conflict Resolution, 11 E. Adams.
If you want to submit testimony anonymously, you can share your story with ISBE and ask them to redact your name and the school name so that CPS and the advocate group do no have your personal info. If you want to submit this way, you have until February 21 to do so.
Spanish language translation services will be provided. Questions? Contact Weny Katten at Raise Your Hand via email email@example.com.
Thaw Out With Carlson’s Soup & Bread Feb. 25
Join your friends and neighbors for Carlson Community Services’ 6th annual Soup & Bread event. Escape winter hibernation and enjoy samples of hearty soups from neighborhood cooks and restaurants, including Bread & Wine, Bourgeois Pig, RedlandsGrill, Tre Kronor, Chef Ed Gardner, and more.
Enjoy unlimited samples of soup and bread while listening to the musical stylings of the Indy Jam Band. There will be a raffle, a craft room for kids, and much more to keep you entertained throughout the event!
The event will take place on Sunday, February 25, from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm in the Irving Park Lutheran Church gym, 4057 N. Harding. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and teens, $5 for kids ages 3-12, and free for kids under 3. All proceeds will go to benefit Carlson Community Services, a 501(c)3 non-profit connecting the Irving Park community with programs that enrich lives through education, culture, and service. Carlson’s programs include the Magic After-School Place, Three Brothers Garden, and Irving Park Fine Arts Concert Series.
Disney II ABC Auction
Starting on March 5, Disney II Educational Foundation Inc. will be auctioning off a number of fun and unique items to raise money.
You can show your support by either donating an item to the bid, becoming a sponsor, or purchasing a ticket to the final event.
The final auction will take place on Saturday, March 10, from 7-11 p m at Biagio, 4242 N. Central. Buy your early bird tickets onlineor in person before February 24.
Support the Jumpin’ Jellies in the 18th Annual Polar Plunge
The Jumpin’ Jellies, comprised of coaches and athletes from our local Independence Park, are gearing up for the 50th Annual Special Olympics Chicago by jumping in Lake Michigan during the 18th annual Chicago Polar Plunge!
Please consider making a tax-deductible online donation to help support the athletes. Any amount is appreciated, and your donation can make a big difference in continuing the Chicago Special Olympics’ mission of building communities of acceptance and inclusion for all people. More than 7,000 individuals enjoy programs throughout the year, and your donation will have a direct impact on enhancing the experience of these superstar athletes.
The 18th annual Polar Plunge will take place on Sunday, March 4, at 10 am at North Avenue Beach, 1601 N. Lake Shore Drive. For more information on how you can participate in the Polar Plunge, please visit the Chicago Polar Plunge website.
Senior and Senior Freeze Exemption Deadline Extended
The Cook County Assessor’s office has extended the deadline for the Senior Citizen Exemption and Senior Freeze Exemption application for Tax Year 2017 from February 7 to March 2, 2018. Any application postmarked by Friday, March 2, will be on time.
Savings from these exemptions will appear as deductions on the 2017 second installment property tax bills mailed this summer.
Seniors must reapply annually for both the Senior and the Senior Freeze Exemptions in order to continue to receive the deductions on their second installment property tax bills.
To qualify or the Senior Citizen Exemption for Tax Year 2017, the property owner must have:
- been born prior to or in the year 1952
- owned the property during 2017 or have a lease or contract for 2017 which makes them responsible for the real estate taxes
- used the property as her or his principal place of residence in 2017
Please note: The new law will increase savings this year for the Senior Exemption from $5,000 to $8,000 in Equalized Assessed Value (EAV). It is important to note that the exemption amount is not the dollar amount by which a tax bill is lowered.
EAV is the partial value of a property to which tax rates are applied; it is the figure on which a tax bill is calculated. The Assessor does not set tax rates. The savings for a Senior Citizen Exemption is calculated by multiplying the exemptions savings of 8,000 by the local tax rate.
To qualify for the Senior Freeze Exemption for Tax Year 2017, taxpayers must have:
- been born prior to or in the year 1952
- a total household income of $65,000 or less for [income] Tax Year 2016
- owned the property or had a legal, equitable or leasehold interest in the property on January 1, 2016 and January 1, 2017
- used the property as her or his principal place of residence as of January 1, 2016 and January 1, 2017
- been liable for payment of 2016 and 2017 property taxes
Those who don’t qualify for the Senior Freeze Exemption because they exceed the income level may still be eligible for the Senior Exemption. The Senior Exemption has no income restrictions.
Seniors receiving the Senior Citizen Exemption will automatically receive the Homeowner Exemption. Seniors receiving the Senior Freeze Exemption automatically receive both the Homeowner and Senior Citizen Exemptions.
Eligible seniors who never applied for the Senior and/or Senior Freeze Exemption in the past may visit the Assessor’s website and download an application or contact the Assessor’s Office at 312-44307550 and request a form be mailed to them. Applications for the Homeowner Exemption and additional exemptions are also available online.
Free Days at Chicago Museums
Throughout the month of February, Chicago museums will be offering free admission days to Chicago residents.
Chicago’s state of the art museums are among the finest in the country, offering residents and visitors alike an interactive experience in learning about history and culture.
A full list of free museum days is available online.
Apply for a Share the Warmth Grant from Peoples Gas
As of February 1, customers will no longer need to provide a matching payment in order to receive a Share the Warmth Grant.
This grant program is administered for Peoples Gas by the Community and Economic Development Association (CEDA). Share the Warmth provides heating grants to limited and fixed-income households. Eligible customers can receive grants of up to $200 on their bills.
To apply, call the Community and Economic Development Association (CEDA) at (800) 571-2332 or use the CEDA Energy Service Site Locator to find the application site nearest you. Applicants are required to submit:
- Proof of household income or any financial assistance for the past 30 days for all members of the household over age 18; and
- Your current residential heating bill.
More information on eligibility requirements and application sites are available at the Peoples Gas website.
Fair Housing Seminar Feb. 20
The Housing Opportunity Project will host a free event for housing providers, community members, and service providers. Experts from the Housing Opportunity Project and the Northwest Side Housing Center will lead a presentation and discussion on the federal, state, county, and city fair housing laws and policies that impact tenants, landlords, realtors, and property managers.
Topics will include:
- Protected classes under federal, state, and local fair housing laws
- Housing accommodations for people with disabilities
- The Housing Choice Voucher Program
- Tenant screening process
If you are in need of a foreign or sign language interpreter or special accommodations, please call the Chicago Commission on Human Relations at (312) 744-4111 or email the Commission atCCHR@cityofchicago.org at least 48 hours prior to the event.
The event will take place on Tuesday, February 20, from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence. Learn more and register online.
Election Judges Needed
The Chicago Board of Elections is looking for election judges to serve during the primary election on March 20. The pay is $125, plus $45 for attending a training.
I hop you’ll take the opportunity, if you are able, to help further democracy and serve as an election judge. Apply online or download an application for this personally rewarding job at the Board of Election website, or pick up an application in my office, 4754 N. Milwaukee.
Apply to Become a Police Officer
Applications to become a Chicago Police Officer will be open through February 28. The exam will be on Saturday, May 5, at McCormick Place, 2301 S. King Dr.
This is an opportunity to serve your community and pursue a meaningful career. Chicago police officers will be eligible for healthcare benefits, tuition reimbursement, uniform allowances, a retirement plan, and a competitive salary.
You must be at least 20-years-old by July 31, 2018 to apply. More information and applications are available online.
Greencorps Chicago Job Training Program
Greencorps Chicago is actively recruiting people that enjoy working outdoors and are looking to begin a career path.
Greencorps is a paid green-industry job training program of the Chicago Department of Transportation in partnership with WRD Environmental. Trainees receive classroom and hands-on training in horticulture, tree care, ecological restoration, and environmental health and safety.
Those interested in this training program must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- At least 18 years of age
- City of Chicago resident
- Pass on-going drug screening
- Able to meet physical requirements of the work
- Able to work Tuesday through Friday and occasional Saturdays, 7 am – 4 pm
- Pass a background check
For more information or to register for an open house, call 312-746-9777.
File Your Taxes with Liberty Tax & Support the Irving Park Food Pantry
Liberty Tax Service, 4900 W. Irving Park, has partnered with the Irving Park Community Food Pantry, 3801 N. Keeler, again this tax season as a way to give back to our community.
For every person who files their tax return with Liberty Tax through February 28, they will donate $5.00 to the food pantry. Their tax professionals can answer all your questions about your return, including a program to receive your return quicker for qualified recipients.
Liberty Tax Service is open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm Mondays through Fridays, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturdays, and available by appointment on Sundays through the tax season. For questions or to schedule an appointment, call (773) 286-6900.
Portage Park Village Meeting Feb. 21
Are you interested in making the Portage Park neighborhood and surrounding area more age-friendly? Would you like to help isolated older adults make connections? The Department of Family and Support Services is hosting a meeting where interested residents can learn more about this initiative and sign up to volunteer.
The village meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 21, from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Portage Park Senior Center, 4100 N. Long. If you have any questions ahead of the meeting, feel free to contact Sean Dolan at 312-744-9022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pay Your Property Tax Bill Online
As of January 22, property owners who use their bank accounts to pay their tax bills online will no longer have to pay a $1 fee. The removal of the fee is to encourage taxpayers to use the convenient electronic payment system. In 2016, 485,000 property owners successfully paid their tax bill online.
To pay your 2017 property tax bill online, visit the Cook County Treasurer’s website and select the “Make an online Payment” option. For property owners paying their taxes using a credit card, third-party processing fees still may apply.
Property owners may also opt to receive future tax bills by email by selecting the “eBilling” option. Please note that by selecting to receive bills via email, you will no longer receive a bill in the mail.
Property owners may also obtain a copy of their tax bill by selecting the “Download Your Bill” option. Taxpayers can print that bill and use it to either pay by mail or in person.
First installment property tax bills for the tax year 2017 are due March 1, 2018.
Chicago’s Free Tax Preparation Assistance Program Now Open
Eligible individuals and families with children could receive up to $7,202 from the federal and stated Earned Income Tax Credit alone, and that’s not including other valuable credits. Many Chicagoans may not claim all the income tax credits they deserve without the help of knowledgeable preparers.
Families earning up to $55,000 or individuals earning up to $30,000 are eligible to take advantage of the city’s free and confidential income tax assistance at 18 sites across Chicago.
Volunteer tax preparers certified through IRS-approved training will assist eligible tax payers with federal and state income tax returns for the 2017 tax year. Sites will be open between late January and mid-April 2018. For specific information on location and site hours, visit the Tax Prep Chicago website.
The closest sites for 45th Ward residents are:
Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N. Narragansett
- Fridays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm February 2 through April 13 (closed March 30); and
- Saturdays from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm January 27 through April 14 (closed March 31)
Mather’s – Portage Park, 3235 N. Central
- Thursdays and Firdays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm February 15 through April 13 by appointment only (call 888-600-2560)
Mathers – Norwood Park, 7134 W. Higgins
- Mondays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm February 12 through April 9 by appointment only (call 888-600-2560)
Last year, the City of Chicago’s free income tax assistance helped 20,000 families and individuals receive $30 million in tax refunds and credits. This added income not only has a direct impact on the lives of Chicago residents – it also helps sustain small businesses, strengthens neighborhoods, and infuses millions of dollars into the local economy.
For more information and to view additional locations, visit theTax Prep Chicago website.
Local Carpenters Union No. 181
Through Friday, February 16, Carpenters Local Union No. 181 will be entitled to refer candidates to the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Apprentice & Training Program Office (1256 Estes Avenue, Elk Grove) to apply for future pre-apprenticeship training classes in general construction.
If interested in applying, please contact Carpenters Local Union No. 181 at 708-453-4400 for a recommendation letter.
Each candidate mus present the following requirements at the apprenticeship proram office at the above address between the hours of 9:30 am to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday no later than Friday, February 16.
- Must present letter of recommendation on a local union letterhead and signed by an officer.
- Must be at least 17 years of age (driver’s license or state I.D. required).
- Must present a copy of a high school diploma or high school transcripts (must have official school seal – 8 credits minimum) or a copy of G.E.D. certificate.
- Must present copy of Social Security Card or a receipt showing duplicate card has been applied for.
- Veterans – DD214 copy.
- A $25.00 non refundable application processing fee. Money orders and cashier’s check only payable to the “Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Apprentice & Training Center”. No cash will be accepted.
All (6) above-listed requirements must be submitted at the time of filing or the candidate will not be permitted to file an application.
Further details will be mailed to each applicant regarding the required pre-test session and aptitude test dates.
Thanks for reading,
Sun., Feb 18, 1-3 pm, Josi’s Frozen Yogurt, 4032 N. Milwaukee. Josi’s hosts their monthly No Apologies eventfor special needs family. At least one child in the family must be diagnosed with a mental or physical disability to participate. Lights will be turned down for those with sensory processing issues.Free.
Mon., Feb 19, 7:30 pm, Location TBD. Meet neighbors and discuss ways to become more involved in your community during thePortage Park Neighborhood Associationmeeting. More info: online. Free.
Thur., Feb 20, 6-7:30 pm, West Belmont Public Library, 3104 N. Narragansett. Are you planning a rehab project in your bungalow or vintage home? Come be inspired by winning projects from the Chicago Bungalow Association’s Richard H. Driehaus Bungalow Awards during an Inspiring Rehab Projects: Tips From the Winners seminar. Before and after photos and several winners available to explain their process and answer questions. RSVP: online.Free.
Wed., Feb 21, 10:15-11 am,Jefferson Park Branch, 5363 W. Lawrence. Join in on the fun duringPreschool School Time. Stories, rhymes, songs, STEAM activities, and crafts. 3-5 years old. More info: 312-744-1998. Free.
Wed., Feb 21, 11:15-11:45 am,Jefferson Park Branch, 5363 W. Lawrence. Join in on the fun duringBaby and Toddler Time. Mother Goose rhymes, stories, and songs for babies and toddlers from birth to 36 months. More info: 312-744-1998. Free.
Wed., Feb 21, 1:15 pm, Portage-Cragin Branch, 5108 W. Belmont.The Portage-Cragin branch hosts a three-week series of beginner classes focused around learning digital skills. This class will focus onIntermediate Email. Register: 312-744-0152.Free.
Wed., Feb 21, 7 pm, 17th District Police Station, Community Room, 4650 N. Pulaski. Learn what you can do about crime during the 1722-1723 beat meeting. Find your beat at the45th ward map. More info: 312-742-4588.
Thur., Feb 22, 12-1:30 pm, Cook County Elder Justice Center, 50 W. Washington, Courtroom 2005.The senior enrichment seminar series hosts a Long-Term Care: Who Will Pay?seminar.RSVP: 312-603-9233.Free.
Thur., Feb 22, 7 pm, St. Bartholomew, Krueger Hall, 4910 W. Addison.Learn what you can do about crime during the1634 beat meeting. Find your beat at the45th ward map. More info: 312-742-4521. Free.
Sat., Feb 24,Independence Tap, 3932 W. Irving Park. Save the date for theWest Walker Winter Social. RSVP by Feb. 19 to Cindi Webber via email or 773-539-8346. No Cover Charge.
Sat., Feb 24, 7:30 pm, St. Bartholomew, Krueger Hall, 4910 W. Addison.The Mikey O’Comedy show will host a Stand Up for St. Barts!fundraiser. Enjoy a fun night out in the community and support St. Bartholomew School. Food and drink available for purchase. Cash bar. Tickets: email organizers. Doors open at 6:15 pm.$25.
Sun., Feb 25, 5-7 pm, Irving Park Lutheran Church, Gym, 4100 N. Harding. Support the local non-profit Carlson Community Services during aSoup & Bread Benefit. More info: online.$15/adults; $10/seniors and teens; $5/kids 3-12; free/kids under 3.
Tue., Feb 27, 7 pm, Pasta D’Arte, 6311 N. Milwaukee. Meet neighbors and get involved in the community during theGladstone Park Neighborhood Associationmonthly meeting.Free.
Wed., Feb 28, 10:15-11 am,Jefferson Park Branch, 5363 W. Lawrence. Join in on the fun duringPreschool Story Time. Stories, rhymes, songs, STEAM activities, and crafts. 3-5 years old. More info: 312-744-1998. Free.
Wed., Feb 28, 11:15-11:45 am,Jefferson Park Branch, 5363 W. Lawrence. Join in on the fun duringBaby and Toddler Time. Mother Goose rhymes, stories, and songs for babies and toddlers from birth to 36 months. More info: 312-744-1998. Free.
Wed., Feb 28, 7 pm, Portage Park Senior Center, 4100 N. Long.Learn what you can do about crime during the1624 beat meeting. Find your beat at the45th ward map. More info: 312-742-4521. Free.
Wed., Feb 28, 7 pm,Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, Basement Auditorium, 5320 W. Giddings.Meet neighbors and discuss how to improve your community during theJefferson Park Neighborhood Associationmonthly meeting. Michael Reeb, Procurement Manager, and Elizabeth Lopez, Volunteer Coordinator, from Habitat for Humanity and ReStore Chicago will give insights into their organization.Free.
Sun., Mar 4, 5-10 pm, Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox.Celebrate St. Patrick’s with the 11th annualWearing of the Green Dance; the official kick-off to the St. Patrick’s Day season. Dancing, live music, raffle prizes, cash bar, and dinner catered by Harrington’s Deli and Catering. Reserve your space by February 26:online or 773-282-7035 ext. 10.$45.