State police urge protesting truckers to obey traffic laws when they are downtown

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

(Published April 12, 2019)

Illinois State Police have warned a group of truckers that have planned a “slow roll” protest in downtown Chicago they may face legal consequences if their protest breaks the law.

The protest is scheduled for late morning and afternoon April 12 in front of the Trump Hotel.

The protest is helmed by a trucking rights group known as Black Smoke Matters and the group has been organizing slow roll protests—protests that snarl traffic—in communities across the country.

The group is calling the event a “trucker’s shutdown” and they posted on Twitter a list of their requested changes in federal trucking law. Among other things the group is demanding better education for drivers, work flexibility and repealing the mandated use of electronic logging devices.

However, the Illinois State Police are noting that traffic congestion and backups are a cause of car crashes.

“The Illinois State Police urges all motorists to abide by traffic laws for the safety of all. Traffic backups are a significant contributing cause of traffic crashes, which lead to property damage, personal injury, and possibly death,” ISP District 15 Acting Captain Dominic Chiappini said in a press release. “Though the Illinois State Police respects the rights of citizens to express their opinions in a lawful manner, any planned event designed to intentionally impede normal traffic flow is dangerous to the innocent motoring public. Violators who choose to endanger the public by participating in events that violate Illinois law, could potentially be held liable for traffic crashes occurring as a result of their actions, and will be subject to the enforcement of applicable laws.”

Riverwalk to re-emerge with new look


(Published April 1, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, staff writer

As the weather turns warm and the streets of the city begin to go from brown to green, the Riverwalk, too, is reemerging after months of extensive renovations.

In mid-December, the city closed the thin, serpentine ribbon of land hugging Wacker Dr., from about Michigan Avenue, and excavators scraped the landscape bare. But finally, later this month, the Riverwalk will re-open, fresh and newly developed, though landscaping will continue through the end of Spring, according to a city spokesperson.

The 1.2-mile development project is focused on some of the oldest parts of the Riverwalk, according to a news release and the spokesperson said the renovation is intended to accommodate more visitors and businesses.

The Riverwalk is a hotspot for dining, drinking and boating recreation as well as bicyclists, joggers and walkers. Urban Kayaks, Island Party Hut, The Northman, and Chicago’s First Lady operate businesses along this portion of the Riverwalk though more will be coming.

“Vendors in the Esplanade section are also making improvements to their locations,” said the spokesperson. “A portion of the Civic District will be getting a new community marketplace. Eight new Riverwalk vendors will be in operation beginning in June.”

There is not an exact date for the re-opening, the spokesperson said it would likely be at the end of April.

“A new path is being installed along with new lighting, seating, landscaping and a railing along the dockwall,” the spokesperson explained. “A new Community Marketplace is also being constructed between Wabash and Michigan Avenues. Portions of the ramp have been removed to create the market which will feature local minority- and women-owned businesses. An elevator is also being installed in this area.”

In addition to commercial improvements, the city will invest heavily in native plants.

“More than 100 new trees are included in the landscaping, which will provide a diverse variety of species,” the spokesperson said. “The new seating areas will be available to the public and guests of the businesses in that area to enjoy a picnic or beverage.”

The project is expected to cost $10 million, according to a city news release issued last year. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the project will boost the city’s economy.

“The riverfront investments we are making will make the entire 1.25-mile stretch inviting to residents and visitors, increase recreational opportunities and continue to promote economic growth,” he said.

The work is being done by Fleet and Facility Management, the city department that oversees the Riverwalk.

(Snag the before/after images from P. 14/15). Caption: The Riverwalk project will bring more venders to the popular walking area and it will also add more greenery and more space for pedestrians. Photo and artist’s rendering courtesy the City of Chicago

While the Riverwalk was still nowhere near finished in late March, the city expects to have the area finished in late April. Photo by Jesse Wright

North Lake Shore open with temporary fix

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

(Published Feb. 12, 2019)

According to the City of Chicago, the northbound lanes of traffic are now open on Lake Shore Drive.

The lanes were closed mid-day Monday after Chicago Department of Transportation employees noticed two cracked girders on Lake Shore Drive and another cracked girder on a ramp from Wacker to south Lake Shore Drive. The closure lasted just over a day. Since the problem was discovered, CDOT workers worked nonstop to repair the street.

Susan Hofer, a CDOT spokesperson, said the work went well over the 24-hour period.

“We made good progress through the night,” she said in an email Tuesday. “We re-opened The Wacker to southbound Lake Shore Drive ramp last night.”

At an on-site press conference with CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld, she explained the cracked beams were bolstered with four shoring towers.

“This will allow us to make repairs,” she explained. “We expect permanent repairs will be done over the next several weeks.”

The shoring towers can withstand a total of 300,000 pounds of pressure each.

The total cost of the temporary and permanent fix isn’t yet known.

Hofer added that CDOT is still not sure what exactly led to the cracks, though the polar vortex might have been a factor.

“We think the extreme temp variations might be part of the problem,” she said. “We’re still working on determining the causes. 

CDOT engineers are continuing to inspect other girders throughout the road system for cracks.

CDOT hopeful Lake Shore Drive could be fixed by Tuesday evening rush hour

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

(Published Feb. 12, 2019)

Some ramps to Lake Shore Drive are open Tuesday after a Chicago Department of Transportation employees noticed two broken beams on Lake Shore Drive Monday morning.

However, by noon on Tuesday, traffic remained congested as northbound Lake Shore Drive remained closed. Since the problem was discovered just prior to noon, CDOT workers have been working nonstop to repair the street and a CDOT spokesperson said she’s hopeful repairs could open Lake Shore Drive by evening rush hour.

Susan Hofer, a CDOT spokesperson, said the work is going well.

“We made good progress through the night,” she said in an email. “We re-opened The Wacker to southbound Lake Shore Drive ramp last night. The shoring towers under northbound Lake Shore Drive are in place and we are starting to jack them up around (Tuesday morning). The goal is to re-open before the evening rush. However once the road is raised up, it will take additional time to salt and clear ice off the roadway. Safety is the top priority.”

Hofer said updates will continue throughout the day.  

New Eastside News moves into Carr Workplaces

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

New Eastside News has new offices at Carr Workplaces.

Carr Workplaces, a national coworking office space provider, rents flexible workspaces at 25 locations across the US. The Chicago location at the Aon Center, 200 E. Randolph St., was a good fit for the New Eastside paper.

“As we grow our brand and expand our coverage downtown, it made sense for us to move into a central space, and I wanted that to be in New Eastside, where the original paper was founded,” New Eastside News publisher Elaine Hyde said.

Hyde found the professional environment and flexible plans appealing. “We can pay for the space as we use it or choose to rent a dedicated office or meeting room as needed,” she said.

Jamie Janata, general manager of Carr Workplaces at the Aon Center, said those are common reasons people pick Carr.

“We appeal to the sharp, entrepreneurial professional that knows service has a value all of its own,” Janata said. “Our client base are leaders in sectors such as law, financial services, technology, marketing and media.”

The Workplaces’ affordability is a boon to businesspeople. “Our idea is that a professional workspace should be accessible to everyone,” Janata said. Pricing packages come with a lot of flexibility.

Coworking spaces, office suites and meeting rooms can be reserved for an hour, a day or rented on longer leases. Pricing begins at $35 for three hours in a shared space in the Cafe. Clients get internet access, printers, coffee, tea and water. Possible add-ons include mailboxes and phone lines with answering service. Carr provides perks such as fresh-baked cookies every Friday, access to office concierge services and a dedicated support team. The facility also provides an opportunity to network with other professionals.

Hyde explained that the move made sense for her team. “We depend on freelancers and writers who need to touch down throughout the day. I am pleased that we can now provide them with a quiet work spot. It makes it easier for us to cover local news and for our readers and advertisers to reach us.”

Janata pointed out that no matter who uses the spaces, her office concierge team is on hand to assist them with anything they may need.

“Carr Workplaces delivers the same level of concierge service you expect from a luxury hotel in a coworking setting,” Janata said. “Our clients tell us that it’s Carr Workplaces’ five-star hospitality that separates us from the competition. My team and I are really driven by a passion to deliver for our clients and to be the extension of their business.”

To find out more about Carr Workplaces, visit carrworkplaces.com or call 312-577-7600.

Send mail to New Eastside News, 200 E. Randolph St., Suite 5100, Chicago, IL 60601.

[Carr team members Vanessa Campos (left), General Manager, Jamie Janata and Giovanny Avila. Photo by Elizabeth Czapski]

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[Carr Workplaces offer a variety of spaces, including open office setups, private meeting rooms and boardroom facilities. Photo courtesy Carr Workplaces.] (use the board room photo).

Many avenues to help the homeless

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

 

Homeless people are a part of downtown.

When walking downtown, every street corner seems to include a cup outstretched, and every awning seems to cover a pile of ragged blankets sheltering a homeless person who may be in need of a helping hand this holiday season.

The Chicago Tribune reported over the summer that there may be over 4,000 homeless people in the city, with 1,500 of those living outdoors. During the winter months and at Christmastime especially, many may feel a need to do something—to offer a sandwich or a few bucks to a homeless person, to donate a few cans to a food pantry or to give their time or money to a charity. But what’s the best course of action?

“I’d like to adopt an all of the above approach,” said Michael Nameche, the director of development for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, located on Lake Street near the New Eastside.

Since 1980, Nameche’s organization has worked to prevent and end homelessness in the city, and Nameche said he’s learned two things—that there is no one solution and that everyone can do something.

“[Homelessness is] a big problem, and so most homeless service agencies will accept help at whatever level someone can give,” he said. “If I were to make suggestions, there are choices. There is no wrong way. That’s the important thing. Some folks choose to donate money and that is very effective because it’s the most liquid of help so it can be addressed toward whatever is needed at the moment…Others like to donate their time and that is also very valuable.”

That said, Nameche compared volunteering to working out: It is most effective if people do it more than once. “When a nonprofit makes an investment in a volunteer, they like them to stick around for a while,” he said. “If you know you can’t sustain it for a while, maybe that’s not the best avenue.”

If you don’t think you can sign on to a long-term commitment, never fear; there are other options. One route, especially for groups like residential buildings and neighborhood organizations, is hosting a drive for clothing, food or money. “Drives for things that are needed are good; however, I think it’s always best to have a conversation with a local nonprofit to come up with someone that you know will be received well.,” Nameche said.

Nameche said sometimes nonprofits get surprised with a truckload of donations they don’t need or cannot use, and it can be hard to turn away someone’s genuine desire to help. “It’s terrible if someone brings you a shipment of hats and scarves if you’ve just got a whole bunch of hats and scarves,” he said.

Nameche said another benefit of talking to a local nonprofit is would-be donors may be inspired to collect things that would have never occurred to anyone. Nameche said donations like CTA passes could mean the difference between a job and unemployment for some homeless people.

“People of very modest means might not have a dime to them, but they might have to get across town to get to a doctor’s appointment or a job interview. Imagine if you have a job interview but you can’t get to it because you can’t get on the CTA,” Nameche said.

He also said a winter or holiday drive is a great start, but organizations that do routine work with local homeless nonprofits could make a real difference in their neighborhoods. This goes for individuals, too. “Much like going to the gym, it’s a good idea to establish relationships with an organization you feel a connection to because it’s doing good in your community,” he said.

Nameche said volunteers and organizations should feel free to shop around to find a good fit.

“Finding a good volunteer gig is like getting on the dating scene; you have to find a good match,” he explained. “Much like dating, you have to be patient, and you have to put yourself out there, and if the first time you contact a nonprofit and they don’t seem to jump on what you have to offer, don’t get discouraged just because it’s not the right fit.”

Nameche said there is something out there for every volunteer. Some nonprofits need volunteers in the evening as tutors, others need help during the daytime and some just need volunteers on the weekends. Volunteering could be a great way to help for retired residents and anyone on a fixed income who doesn’t want to make a financial commitment—especially those who have time during the day.

“If somebody is available during the day, that’s the rarest kind of volunteer,” Nameche said.

He said there are also groups, like his, where volunteers don’t even need to work directly with the homeless population, if that is a concern. Organizations like Coalition for the Homeless need volunteers to do simple office jobs. Volunteers could make a real difference “stuffing envelopes or doing office work so we don’t have to pay people to do that,” he said.

No matter what one does, it all makes a difference, Nameche said.

“Sometimes when people ask, ‘What can I do to help the homeless?’ What they’re asking is, ‘Should I give to people in the street?’ That’s a very personal decision and we don’t have a position on if it’s right to give to people on the street,” he said. “It’s right for some people. Some people carry cash, some people don’t. … Some people like that face–to-face interaction.

“If you’re troubled by seeing people on the street as most people should be, then come up with your own response. Just know that the best thing is to get folks who are in dire need of help connected to professional services. That’s sometimes something you don’t have time for, but you do have time to slip them a couple of bucks. It’s not wrong. But don’t be a cynic and find your response to that issue. It might be buying them a sandwich once a week or it might be volunteering once a week. Everybody has their own pathway, and if everybody did something, then the needle would move.”

Nameche said anyone who wants to get started finding a local nonprofit to get involved with can visit www.volunteermatch.org and see what is available close by. Visit www.chicagohomeless.org to find out more about the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

 

Innovation Awards highlight local tech talent

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

In October, Chicago Innovation recognized a host of Midwestern ideas at the 17th annual Innovation Awards.

Among the recipients, the Bra Lab won people’s choice for designing better brassieres, the Adler Planetarium won the collaboration award for their work with high school students and Ballot Ready won the Social Innovator award for their work on an elections app.

Besides the specialty awards, general Chicago Innovation Awards went to Abbott, Advanced Valve Technologies, Cameo, Ensono, Farmer’s Fridge, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Sterling, UPshow, Sittercity and Molex. Neighborhood awards went to Above and Beyond Family Recovery Center, Aspire and Lakeview Pantry. Up and comer awards went to Catalytic, Codeverse, Esquify, ExerciseBuddy, GuardianVets, Jlobit, Parker Dewey, PanaceaNano, Truss and Unanimous AI.

The event, at the Harris Theater in the New Eastside, was a chance to celebrate some of the people behind innovative ideas and inventive companies.

The evening was kicked off by Mayor Rahm Emanuel who praised the city as itself an up and comer for technology firms.

“We have more women innovators than any other city,” Emanuel “But that’s only the beginning of where we need to go.”

The mayor explained that Chicago businesses should recruit young talent from the city’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) schools programs in order to encourage kids and to keep talent local.

“If we do that, then to Berlin, Beijing, Tokyo and London I have one word, watch out. Chicago is coming for you,” Emanuel said.

Chicago Board of Election Commissioners seeks election judges

Staff reports

 

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners is looking for Chicagoans willing to serve as judges on Election Day, Nov. 6.

Judges are needed to monitor polling places for the General Election, and are responsible for helping open and close polling places, setting up equipment, administering ballots to voters, helping voters with registration questions, and completing results reports after the polls close.

According to the alderman’s newsletter, “a well-administered election in Chicago relies on good citizens willing to chip in and put in a long day at their polling location.”

Judges of Election are required to arrive at their polling place by 5 a.m. and stay at least until polls close. Judges are compensated $140 for their service of a full-day, and will receive $50 more if they complete election training in advance.

Extra compensation will also be given to those who pick up the Election Judge key envelop the week before the election, allow the use of their cell phone in the polling place on election day, return election materials to a receiving section Election Night, or help with the vote by mail ballots ahead of Nov. 6th.

To qualify, judges must be registered voters in Cook County, be able to speak, read and write in English and perform basic bath.

Anyone who is a committeeman, precinct captain or candidate is not qualified, and judges who share a residence with anyone in these positions must notify the election commission.

A full list of qualifications can be found online. For more information or to apply, visit https://chipollworker.com.

New Eastside News launches Streeterville paper, Streeterville News

Staff report

Published September 5, 2018

The New Eastside News, a free monthly Chicago neighborhood paper, is launching a Streeterville paper this month.

Since 2012, the New Eastside News has been providing hyperlocal news to New Eastside and the Lakeshore East neighborhood. Publisher Elaine Hyde, a former resident of New Eastside, said she plans to continue that tradition with a Streeterville print newspaper and website.

“We provide news so relevant and useful to the local reader they just have to read our paper to know what’s going on around them,” Hyde said. “It’s not the sensationalist click bait we see so often now.”

The Streeterville News will be an upbeat source of information for newcomers, introducing them to area bars, restaurants and entertainment. Local news coverage will also provide value to longtime residents.

The newspaper will include popular features such as Doorperson of the Month, CAPS reporting, business profiles, reader contests and neighborhood news. The free publication will be distributed in residential mailrooms, grocery stores, retail establishments and hotels.

“It’s time Streeterville got a dedicated local news source.” 

For information about New Eastside News and Streeterville News, contact Elaine Hyde at 312-690-3092 or elaineh@neweastsidecommunity.com

Reilly seeks feedback on Aon project

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) is looking for feedback on the redevelopment of the highest floor of the Aon Center into an observatory and restaurant.

The project will turn the highest floor of the Aon Center—in the heart of New Eastside at 200 E. Randolph St.—into an attraction projected to draw more than two million visitors annually.

The proposed space will be accessible by a glass-enclosed external elevator on the Northwest corner.

Reilly co-hosted a community meeting with the Chicago Loop Alliance earlier this year at The Mid-America Club to discuss plans with residents. More than 100 community members attended.

“Neighbors raised concerns related to increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic, privacy and safety,” Reilly said in an emailed statement.

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