Friday, January 29, 2010


Less than a week after breaking up a major burglary and fencing operation January 17 at 4312 West Congress Parkway involving over $100,000 worth of goods stolen mainly from homes in Austin, 15th District police have done it again.
On January 22, tactical officers from the 15th District executed another search warrant, this time in the 5400 block of West Crystal Street and arrested Claude McKay, Jr., 65, charging him with three misdemeanor counts of Theft-Control of Stolen Property, one felony count of Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of a Firearm without valid FOID. Two guns were seized in the raid.
Police told THE VOICE they were tipped off to this fencing operation by a person arrested in the Congress Parkway bust earlier in the week. The haul of recovered goods was even larger on Crystal with police estimating the total value at over $125,000. They said that stolen items filled the residence, garage, and two vans parked outside McKay’s home.
Officers conducted a systematic search of McKay’s residence, recovering two handguns, ammunition, and five grams of heroin, along with an array of stolen goods. Among the items recovered are power tools, toolboxes, bicycles, and snow blowers. There are even a cement finisher, an arc welder, ladders, and a surveyor.
The tactical team was under the direction of Lt. Stevens. Officer Phil Paolino told THE VOICE that McKay would apparently buy stolen goods from local drug addicts or trade drugs for the items. McKay allegedly has a booth at Swap-O-Rama Flea Market, but was unable to sell the stolen items because of the economic recession.
Persons wishing to learn if any of the recovered property is theirs should call the detectives investigating their cases at the Area Property Crimes Unit in which the theft was reported. All items are inventoried and kept in the Police Bulk Storage Warehouse at Homan Square. Refer to the case number on the police report.


REP. LASHAWN K. FORD ENDORSES DAN HYNES FOR GOVERNORState Rep. LaShawn K. Ford becomes the first African American elected official in Illinois to publicly endorse Dan Hynes for governor. (Photo by Brad)

John Robertson hosted the historic endorsement of Dan Hynes for Illinois governor by Rep. LaShawn K. Ford in his Austin living room, surrounded by friends & family. (Photo by Brad)

With a week left before the February 2 primary election, State Representative LaShawn K. Ford (D-8) has poured gasoline on the already hotly contested race for Illinois governor. Ford became the first African American elected official to publicly endorse Comptroller Dan Hynes over incumbent Pat Quinn.
Ford says he has worked with Quinn since he succeeded ousted Governor Rod Blagojevich a year ago and although he appreciates Quinn’s sincerity, he doesn’t see the level of leadership the state requires.
“It is time for young people to assume leadership positions in this state,” Ford declares. “Dan Hynes is a young man with a family. He has proven himself ably in the Comptroller’s office and has some great ideas for solving Illinois’ fiscal crisis. He will get our state moving again!”
Ford said Quinn is only offering Black people social programs. “What our people need are jobs and help starting new businesses. Dan Hynes understands this.”
Hynes joined Ford at the home of John Robertson in Austin and thanked Rep. Ford for his courage in being the first African American elected official to endorse him. Hynes said it shows the tide has turned and the momentum is in his favor. Polls show the Illinois governor’s race to be a statistical dead heat, with Hynes having made up substantial ground very quickly.


Volunteers bring in a new refrigerator donated by REO Movers to replace the one stolen. They also contributed other appliances and a kitchen table & chairs. (Photo by Brad)
Ernestine Hawkins, 87, happily surveys volunteers working to put her home back together after it was damaged by a crooked contractor and his crew. (Photo by Brad)

Patricia Marshall, Geneva Peterson & Deacon Charles Franklin organized the volunteer effort to repair Ms Hawkins’ home and make it livable again. (Photo by Brad)

Ernestine Hawkins is 87 years old. She worked for 35 years for Western Electric and has lived in the same North Lawndale graystone on the 1300-block of South Troy since 1948. Ms Hawkins is still alert and spry and is able to take care of herself. But, she was identified as an easy mark by an unscrupulous crook posing as a home improvement contractor.
When Mark Diamond called on Ms. Hawkins early last summer and made her an offer to modernize and make repairs to her home, she agreed. But, Diamond and his crew, now under indictment by the Attorney General’s office, began to systematically dismantle Ms Hawkins’ home and steal her belongings. They took her stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer, damaged her electrical wiring and plumbing, stole her dishware and silverware. Workers sat in her backyard bragging, “This is our house now.”
Ms Hawkins was upset, but didn’t know what to do and had no one she could turn to for help. One day, while taking a walk, she met her neighbor, Patricia Marshall, and told her what was going on. Ms Marshall swung into action, notifying police and the Attorney General. The men were removed from the premises and Diamond was told never to return. But, Ms Hawkins’ house was a wreck.
Ms Marshall contacted Geneva Peterson of Chicago Area Project and Deacon Charles Franklin of St. Joseph Missionary Baptist Church, where Reverend Donald McFadden is Pastor. They, in turn, reached out to volunteers and businesspeople for help. Everyone met at Ms Hawkins’ house on Dr. Martin Luther King Day to put things back together.
REO Movers donated a new stove , refrigerator, and kitchen table and chairs. A dishwasher, washer and dryer were given. Volunteers worked to clean up the mess the phony contractor and his workers had made.
More still needs to be done. The radiators were dismantled, the gas lines and water lines were damaged, so Ms Hawkins needs help from licensed plumbers, electricians, and heating contractors to make her home safe and livable again. Contributions of housewares, dishes, and utensils are appreciated. Anyone who can help should call Geneva Patterson at 312/588-3864.
On the day honoring Martin Luther King, a North Lawndale senior realized she is not alone and is, in fact, surrounded by caring new friends willing to look out for her.


The Illinois Department on Aging announces that online applications are now being taken for older adults and people with disabilities to apply for Circuit Breaker and Illinois Cares Rx. A new state law raises the annual income limits – making it possible for more people to qualify for the state benefits.
“We are encouraging individuals to use the online application at because it is the fastest way to get approved for these benefits to help seniors and people with disabilities,” says Dept. on Aging Director Charles D. Johnson. Persons can now apply online for the state’s prescription drug assistance program, Illinois Cares Rx; Circuit Breaker property tax grants; and a license plate discount.
The new law raises the income eligibility. To qualify, total income in 2009 must be less than:
$27,610 for a household of one
$36,635 for a household of two
$45,657 for a household of three
or more.
More medications are also
available for Illinois Cares Rx.
The state’s pharmaceutical assistance program, Illinois Cares Rx, provides wrap-around prescription drug coverage to fill in the gaps created by Medicare Part D and offers drug coverage for people who do not have Medicare. Individuals eligible for the Illinois Cares Rx program may also be eligible for additional benefits from the state’s Circuit Breaker program.
The Circuit Breaker program provides a property tax relief grant for individuals who pay property tax on their residence or rent or nursing home charges on a residence that is subject to property tax. In addition, the program provides a discount on the license plate fee for one vehicle. These benefits, including Illinois Cares Rx, can be accessed by applying on one application.
For more information, visit . For assistance, call Circuit Breaker at 1-800-624-2459 or call the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (888-206-1327 TTY).


Dorolyn Academy of Music is presenting a new 9-week Theatre Workshop for people ages 8 to adult. The course teaches improvisation techniques, monologue preparation, character analysis, audition material, and other instruction in acting skills.
The class meets on Saturdays from 1:00 to 2:30 PM beginning January 23 and ending March 27. Dorolyn Academy is located at 411 South Boulevard, Oak Park. The course fee is $85.00 per month. For information, call 708/383-7888.


The next Open Mic Poetry Slam at the North Austin Branch Library, 5724 West North Avenue, is Saturday, February 20, 2:30-4:00 PM. Admission is free and all poets are encouraged to perform their works. This is also an opportunity for writers to network and share information on becoming published authors.
For information, stop in at the library or call 312/746-4233.


Linda McWright and Clark Playground are presenting an Artist Talent Show on Friday, February 26, 6:00-9:00 PM, at Austin Town Hall Park, 5610 West Lake Street. The showcase features dance, hip-hop, R&B, and gospel acts. Performers will appear at The Legendary Regal Theatre. This event is sponsored by the Chicago Park District, ComEd, CTA, KidSmart, and Great Kids.
Tickets are $3.00 per person. For information, call 773/287-7794.


Registration is open for Westside All Star Baseball. LaFollette Park, Garfield Park, and Amundsen Park are combining their programs to provide one of the largest and most exciting baseball programs in Chicago. Children and teens can each join one of up to 52 teams for ages 5-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-15, and 16-18. Positions will fill up fast, so register now. The season starts May 8. Call Coach James at 773/355-7749 for information and registration.
Experienced coaches and umpires are needed. For information and to volunteer, call Coach James at 773/355-7749.
LaFollette Park is recruiting children in kindergarten through 5th grade to participate in the free Biddie Ball program. Try-outs are being held for 11 and 12 year olds to compete in the free Inner City Hoops traveling program. For information and registration, call Coach James at 773/355-7749.
The LaFollette Park Kittens Championship Cheerleading program is currently accepting registrations by interested girls ages 6-14. For information, call Coach Sherice at 773/287-0541.
Parents having a hard time finding safe childcare or wishing to have their children participate in sports and activities like basketball, flag football, soccer, floor hockey, volleyball, swimming, and wrestling should call LaFollette Park at 773/287-0541 for information and registration. Rates are just $6.00 per week.


Police are seeking citizen assistance in apprehending an offender reported on at least two occasions to have attempted to lure and perhaps abduct a 13-year-old girl walking to school on North Central Avenue. On Tuesday, January 19, between 8:30 & 8:45 AM, the girl was walking northbound on Central Avenue from Bloomingdale when she was approached by a male Black subject driving a silver BMW sport utility vehicle, driving southbound on Central Avenue. He pulled to the curb as the victim walked past and he told her to “get in the car.”
On Wednesday, January 20, between 8:30 & 8:50 AM, the same 13-year-old girl was walking on the 2400 block of North Central Avenue when the identical offender traveling westbound on the 5600 block of Fullerton Avenue parked and exited his vehicle. He approached the victim and told her to “get in the car.”
The offender is described as a male Black, 20-40 years of age, with a dark complexion, hair on his upper lip, diamond stud earrings in both ears, and a scar under his left eye.
The offender was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black jeans, black Michael Jordan gym shoes, a black winter hat with earflaps, and a black puffy vest. He is driving a silver BMW 4-door sport utility vehicle.
Police ask anyone with information to call 911 to report any suspicious persons, vehicles, or activity. Urge children to walk in pairs or groups, and don’t talk to strangers or approach strange vehicles.


The Chicago Department of Public Health is offering H1N1 flu shots to all Chicagoans over the age of 6 months at three West Side locations on Saturday, January 30. Appointments are not necessary and all vaccinations are provided free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis.
The immunizations are being provided from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Saturday, January 30, at the following West Side sites:
• 24th Ward Service Office, 2100 South Marshall Boulevard
• 27th Ward Service Office, 1463 West Chicago Avenue
• Ronald McNair Elementary School, 4820 West Walton Street
For information, call 311.


State Representative LaShawn K. Ford (D-8) is partnering with Bethel New Life and the Community & Economic Development Association of Cook County to host an Energy Fair on Tuesday, February 2, 10:00 AM-12 noon, at SBC Chapel, 1120 North Lamon Avenue. The event is free and gives local residents an opportunity to learn about and apply for programs to reduce the cost of energy bills and receive a free energy conservation kit. ComEd and Peoples Gas are also sponsors of the Energy Fair.
Residents interested in applying for assistance should bring identification, proof of income, copies of current utility bills, Social Security cards for all household members, and a TANF Medical Eligibility Card if any household member receives TANF. Attendees will receive assistance applying for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program, Share Warmth, and the ComEd Residential Hardship Program.
“For many families trying to get by, prolonged periods of cold weather can put a significant dent in the monthly budget,” Ford explains. “It’s important that we let people know there are programs to help them pay their utility bills as well as make their homes more energy efficient.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The glorious Regal Theatre is open again and promising to send a bolt of lightning through Chicago’s entertainment community. Purchased in 2007 by Regina Evans, it is now known as The Legendary Regal and it is living up to its name.
Designed by John Eberson in 1927 after an incense burner he found in a New Orleans antique shop, the theatre at 1645 East 79th Street was originally named The Avalon. The current owner has maintained and polished its intriguing Arabian Nights motif throughout. The spacious two-story lobby features brightly tiled floors, Middle Eastern-inspired mosaics and signage. With a capacity of 300, the lobby is available for parties when the theatre is dark by calling 312/656-7467.
The auditorium is breathtaking! Seating capacity is 2,250 on the main floor and the balcony. The ceiling features twinkling stars and the light booth is in an Aladdin skyline of minarets and onion domes.
Among features audiences will not see is a totally modernized backstage area of comfortable dressing rooms on three levels and a room for hairstyling and make-up. The theatre has purchased and renovated an adjacent apartment building for stars to stay in while appearing at The Regal. The owner is proceeding with plans for a dance studio and a photography studio in the complex. With the help of grants, We Are Our Brother’s Keeper offers GED classes in the building.
The Regal’s General Manager is Rick McCoy. Working closely with him as Talent Coordinator is the Entertainment Editor of THE VOICE Newspapers, Andrew Griffin. Andrew is well-known on Chicago’s West Side as an artist developer, recording engineer, and entertainment producer. He was Jennifer Hudson’s first manager. Andrew and the management team want performers and audiences from throughout the city to feel at home in The Regal. Plans are in motion for monthly talent shows along the lines of Showtime at the Apollo, and negotiations are underway with local TV stations to broadcast the events.
The goal is to make The Legendary Regal Chicago’s African American Cultural Capitol, with a continuous schedule of the highest quality productions, including gospel, jazz, blues, R&B, classical music, and, of course, dramatic, comedic, and musical plays. Already Tyler Perry has sent word he intends to bring productions to The Regal.
Charles Lewis is the South Side Talent Coordinator and The Chicago Defender’s respected theatre critic Earl Calloway is working with The Regal to attract the finest plays and brightest stars to make The Regal Chicago’s paramount cultural center.
Andrew Griffin is building a comprehensive artists registry and he urges performers of all types to contact him at 312/656-7467. Electronic performance material can be e-mailed to or to Materials can be mailed to Andrew Griffin c/o The Legendary Regal Theatre, 1645 East 79th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60649.


Chicago Police Officers from the 15th District charged three adults in a lucrative burglary and fencing operation in which offenders were selling goods stolen from local homes, garages, cars, and construction sites. Police say most of the burglaries were committed in the Austin and Garfield Park communities.
According to Sgt. Tom Stack of the Austin District, officers made a routine traffic stop on Sunday, January 17. The driver was arrested for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm. He told police he knew where there were more guns. Sgt. Stack and his team obtained a search warrant for 4312 West Congress Parkway. Upon entering the premises, tactical officers found numerous stolen items throughout the residence, in a truck and a trailer. Although they did not find any weapons, they did confiscate multiple boxes of ammunition amidst the huge cache of stolen goods.
Among the items recovered were large numbers of power tools, generators, large screen television sets, about 50 bicycles, a new furnace, a fully-stocked tackle box, and a variety of electronic items. The total value is set at more than $100,000. Sgt. Stack estimates the burglars have been operating since last summer and says that unfortunately many more items have been sold off.
Some of the recovered items contained phone numbers and addresses of owners. In all, police inventoried about 400 items. The stolen goods were taken to the auditorium of the 15th District. As police and the media spread the word that victims of burglaries could come to the station with their case reports, receipts, or other proof of ownership, a long line formed in the lobby by people hoping to be reunited with their belongings. The line of people continued to move through the auditorium viewing the items for two days.
Jeremiah Dobynes, 38, of 4312 West Congress Parkway, 1st floor, was charged with three counts of Felony Theft and Unlawful Use of a Firearm (Felon in Possession of a Firearm). Curtis Ball, 54, of 4312 West Congress Parkway, 2nd floor, was charged with three counts of Felony Theft. William Harrington, 56, was charged with one count of Misdemeanor Theft of Lost or Mislaid Property. Ball and Dobynes have histories of burglary-related arrests.
Unclaimed items have been moved to the Police Bulk Storage Warehouse at Homan Square. Persons wishing to find out if their stolen belongings have been recovered should call the Property Crimes detectives handling their cases to check inventory lists. Refer to the Case number on the report when calling the area headquarters.


Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School, the first Catholic school to be built on Chicago’s West Side in 85 years, welcomed 160 freshmen and sophomores to the imposing monolith at Jackson Boulevard & Leamington Avenue. The date chosen for the dedication Mass was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a fitting tribute to the great civil rights leader and humanitarian. The 100,000 square foot, $28 million state-of-the-art building sits on the site of the former Resurrection Parish & School.
Reverend Christopher Devron, S.J., President of Christ the King, who led the dedication program and service, noted that many people asked why it was necessary to build an expensive new building instead of using an existing structure. He took his answer from St. Mathew: “Do not pour new wine in old wineskins.” He then asked the Christ the King students to stand and asked the assemblage, “Don’t you think these young people are worth this new building?” The auditorium erupted in cheers.
Reverend Devron said many people also doubted the school could be built. “But, God had other plans,” he said. He called the school “The Miracle on Jackson Boulevard.”
When asked about building a new school in the midst of a recession, Chairman of the Board Dr. Anthony Barbato, retired Chief Executive Officer of Loyola Medical Center, replies, “The efforts of people who have stepped out of these hard times to give and help has been amazing to watch. There is no right time. We believe these kids need the school now more than ever, and that is what this is all about.”
The school still needs $17 million to pay for the building.
The challenges Christ the King is taking on is to reverse the current statistics of less than half of Austin’s students finish high school and only 38% go on to college. Only 11% of students meet state standards.
As a Cristo Rey model Jesuit high school, Christ the King provides an affordable, private school alternative through an innovative work-study program. Students earn 75% of their tuition through jobs at Chicago area companies.
“The building is designed to inspire,” says Father Devron. “With God’s grace, we are creating a beacon of light and hope – a place where our young people will become tomorrow’s leaders; leaders who not only better themselves, but commit to serve and lift up their community.”
For information on course offerings and admission require-ments, call Noelle Nicosia at 773/413-3588.

In the Book of Matthew we are told, “Do not pour new wine into old wineskins.” (Photo by Brad)
Father Devron reads the Gospel. (Photo by Brad)

Rev. Timothy T. Kesicki, S.J., blesses the new school and its mission. (Photo by Brad)


The spring course schedule for Wilbur Wright College, 4300 North Narragansett Avenue, is available online and registration is currently open for the spring semester, which begins January 19. The full spring schedule of classes can be found at Printed copies are also available at the campus.
Wright College tuition is $79 per credit hour for Chicago residents, so a typical 3-hour course costs $237, plus fees and books. Financial aid is available.
Attending Wight for the first two years of college can cut the cost of a 4-year degree by thousands of dollars. For further information on Wright’s credit program, call 773/841-8200.


Sistas of the Hood, a community-based nonprofit organization, is sponsoring a free health information seminar providing a holistic approach to health issues facing African American men. This event is free and being held Saturday, January 23, 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM, at 1726 North Parkside Avenue, 2nd Floor. For information, call 773/804-1916 or 773/858-4453.


The Adult Book Club of the North Austin Branch Library, 5724 West North Avenue, is discussing The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, by Ernest J. Gaines, on Monday, January 25, at 6:30 PM.
Everyone is welcome to attend and participate in the discussion. Admission is free. Extra copies of the book are available at the library for people to read before the meeting. See a branch librarian or call 312/746-4233 for information.


Master Kenneth Young and Young’s School of Martial Arts, 28 West Chicago Avenue, Oak Park, is presenting the 4th Annual Karate, Tae Kwon do & Kung Fu Championship Tournament on Sunday, February 7, at Best Western Chicago, 4400 Frontage Road, Hillside, Illinois. Trophies will be awarded, cash prizes for the Grand Champion Black Belt Divisions, and all children competitors under 12 will receive awards. This tournament is officially sanctioned.
For information and registration, call Master Young at 708/445-9252.


Nine guns were recovered and numerous arrests were made after police responded to a citizen complaint to the 11th District Commander about persons operating an illegal social club in a warehouse in the 4400 block of Fifth Avenue.
On December 27, 2009, at approximately 12:15 AM, officers from the Mobile Strike Force, along with assisting units from the Harrison District (11), responded. When the officers arrived on the scene, loud music was heard coming from inside the location. Police also observed an elaborate club-style entry to the building, with stanchions, velvet ropes, rugs, and four industrial spotlights illuminating a party advertisement. As the officers entered the building, packed with upwards of 300 people, they observed Dwayne Troupe and Ambrosio Silva , both armed with handguns and wearing soft body armor, searching patrons who were waiting in line to enter the party. Further investigation revealed Zenobia Mills and another subject to be in possession of firearms. They were all immediately placed into custody. During the course of the investigation, five additional firearms were found in the building.
Dwayne Troupe, 22, of the 8500 block of South Bennett, was charged with one count of Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon-Concealed. Ambrosio Silva, 28, of the 5300 block of West Henderson, was charged with one count of Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon-Concealed. Zenobia Mills, 28, of the 700 block of South Kostner, was charged with one count each of Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon-Loaded Gun, Possession Firearm-Expired FOID, Possession of Ammunition without Valid FOID, No Registration of Firearms. The organizer of the party was cited for several city ordinance violations, including License Required-Public Place of Amusement.
As a result of this action, nine guns were removed from the city streets and a potentially combustible incident was averted.

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Goodcity is partnering with the Apparel Industry Foundation, Inc. (AIFI) in presenting The Business of Fashion, a comprehensive educational seminar series conducted by top industry professionals that addresses the challenges facing fashion and sewn products entrepreneurs. The goal of these professional seminars is to provide direction and advice for entering and succeeding in the apparel design business – i.e.: costing, sourcing, public relations, selling, etc.
Applicants will present a finished collection (or 3 garments) to The Apparel Industry Board, Inc. The top ten applicants will be given the opportunity to participate in the 4-week program that consists of eight classes at no cost (a value of well over $3,000). They are seeking potential designers whose ultimate goal is to market their fashion labels for distribution.
Potential applicants should contact Dr. Ileen E. Kelly, Director of Development at Goodcity, either by e-mail at, or by sending a letter of interest to her at Goodcity, 5044 West Harrison Street, Chicago, Illinois 60644.
Qualified applications are then forwarded to Marsha Brenner, Executive Director of AIFI and the Apparel Industry Board, Inc. She will schedule interview appointments at which applicants will show their collections to the Board for consideration for admission to the workshops.