More women joining trucking industry, another Jan. 6 sentence for a Chicago suburbanite and more in your news roundup

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

SHARE More women joining trucking industry, another Jan. 6 sentence for a Chicago suburbanite and more in your news roundup
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Maggie Selagea at the loading area near 5800 N Tripp Ave in North Park in October.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a five-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be mostly sunny with wind gusts as high as 40 mph and a high near 30 degrees. Tonight will be mostly clear and windy with a low near 19. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 38.

Top story

More women getting behind the wheel as trucking industry seeks drivers

In 2008, Maggie Selagea and her husband lost their construction business, worth millions, to the economic meltdown.

“When the economy crashed, we fell flat on our face,” Selagea said. She and her husband realized they needed to find “something that was not going to be affected so much by the economy.”

Selagea said she found that more stable industry in transportation — specifically, trucking.

“Everything in this world needs transportation,” Selagea said. “People commute in order to survive. If this industry stops, that means that the world will stop.”

In 2008, Selagea said, she became a supervisor for Mega Load, a car carrier company. It’s based in Chicago but transports across the U.S.

Selagea is just one of the thousands of women who have joined the industry over the past two decades when the number of female drivers increased by 80%. In 1999, there were about 3.1 million truck drivers and 4.9%, or 152,684, were women. In 2021, there were nearly 3.5 million truck drivers and 7.9%, or 275,473, were women, according to the Department of Labor.

At Mega Load, Selagea supervises six drivers and a fleet of nine trucks. When she’s short-staffed, Selagea gets behind the wheel.

“I grew up with nine brothers, so I’m a car fanatic,” she said. “I truly handle them with care, and I expect the same from everyone we work with.”

Selagea’s heightened sense of care for her product and equipment says something about how women are changing the industry — even though, for now, they are paid less. On average, male truck drivers make about $61,000 while their female counterparts make about $52,000.

Rhonda Hartman, a truck driver based in Iowa and a member of Women in Motion — an American Trucking Association initiative to recruit women to join the field — said the organization has found female drivers operate more safely and take better care of their equipment than their male counterparts. Women are less likely to get tickets and less likely to be in accidents, lowering litigation costs and insurance fees for freight companies, Hartman said.

The 2022 Women in Trucking Index — an annual analysis of women’s roles in the transportation industry — reflects Hartman’s sentiment.

“[Women are] typically less likely to take risks and therefore can be safer drivers than men,” the WIT index said. “In addition, women generally possess strong multitasking and organizational skills, they are strong communicators, and they usually are patient, focused and reliable.”

Nicky Andrews has more with this growing group of drivers here.

More news you need

  1. A federal judge sentenced another suburban Chicago resident today for entering the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot there and walking into a senator’s office. Dawn Frankowski, 54, was sentenced to 18 months of probation and 100 hours of community service, our Jon Seidel reports.
  2. Gov. J.B. Pritzker yesterday announced a deal that will allow the state to pay off the rest of its pandemic unemployment insurance debt. It’s a payment that will save taxpayers an estimated $20 million in interest costs that would have been due next year.
  3. Former mayoral challenger Ray Lopez today called for an investigation into Mayor Lori Lightfoot for accepting a $25,000 contribution from the owner of the Chicago Fire two months after she muscled through a zoning change allowing the club to build an $80 million training center on Chicago Housing Authority land. In a letter to IG Deborah Witzburg and Ethics Board Executive Director Steve Berlin, Lopez said he believes the contribution from billionaire Joe Mansueto “represents a gross & familiar abuse of power and, at minimum, a potential violation” of the city’s ethics ordinance.
  4. City officials and Bally’s Corp. leaders aimed to allay some concerns from residents about the planned transformation of Medinah Temple downtown into a temporary casino at a community meeting yesterday evening. The casino is set to temporarily occupy the historic building at 600 N. Wabash Ave. before moving to its permanent riverfront location on Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street.

A bright one

How Devon Avenue became the hub of Chicago’s Indian community

Beverly Kumar knows which bakeries and restaurants in Chicago offer flavors that take her back to Mumbai, India, where she grew up.

These businesses are clustered on a mile-long stretch of Devon Avenue from about California Avenue on the west to Damen Avenue on the east in West Ridge on the city’s far North Side, an area now commonly known as Little India. Kumar, a board member of the National Indo-American Museum, visits every time she has a taste for a traditional Indian fudge called Kalakand, which is made with milk and cardamom.

The neighborhood is one of the most diverse in the city. It’s also a hub for dozens of South Asian businesses, including grocery stores and shops selling saris and jewelry. Like Kumar, who lives in Northbrook, people often come from elsewhere in the city or beyond to eat and shop on this part of Devon Avenue.

Devon Avenue: Long known as Little India, the West Ridge strip is heavily South Asian, increasingly diverse.

Devon Avenue: Long known as Little India, the West Ridge strip is primarily South Asian and increasingly diverse.

Sun-Times file

So how did Devon Avenue become a primarily Indian community?

Metropolitan Chicago has the second-largest Indian American population and the fourth-largest Pakistani American community in the country, according to 2019 census data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. Two big migration waves from South Asia contributed to demographic shifts in the area.

“It’s very comforting knowing that just … 14 miles away from my house, there is an essence of Little India,” says Kumar. “It’s nostalgia for me. With the familiar sights, smells, sounds, you know, flavors of home… I feel like I never moved away after all.”

WBEZ’s Adriana Cardona-Maguigad has more on Devon’s evolution here.

From the press box

Your daily question☕

What’s one thing you can find in every Chicago home?

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday we asked you: What is your favorite public art piece in Chicago?

Here’s what some of you said...

“I love Buckingham Fountain, the Bean and the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza, but the art that gets to me emotionally every time I see them: the lions of the Art Institute.” — Gene Tenner

“Chagall’s Four Seasons mural. Love it! I also like Belmont L station too!” — Andrew Zwick

“The Obamas’ ‘kissing stone’ in Hyde park. It’s romantic.” — James Cutenubia

“The Eternal Silence sculpture in Graceland Cemetery. It’s so striking and haunting” — Jo Ann Reksel

“The Flamingo, it’s my favorite thing to photograph.” — Jonathan K.

“My favorite Chicago public art is Harry Sternberg’s ‘Chicago: Epoch of a Great City’ mural in the Lakeview Post Office at Irving Park and Southport. It is truly public: I can see it anytime I like during post office hours. It’s a capsule history of Chicago from Fort Dearborn to bustling city — with the Chicago Fire in between — featuring industry and key buildings. My favorite parts are the soulful (and tragic) cow, Sternberg’s self-portrait, and the depiction of the evolution of train locomotives.” — Holly McGuire

“The mural of Muddy Waters on the side of a building downtown on State Street he is a musical icon.” — Erin Eileen

“Hands down it is the ‘Great Lakes Fountain’ by Lorado Taft in the south garden of the Art Institute. Not only does it capture the beauty of water, it symbolizes the reach of Chicago into the western plains and defines it as a world class city. No politics, no heroes, no other intent than to celebrate the spirit of human adventure.” — Mel Theobald

“The Picasso at Daley Plaza! I was there when it was unveiled many years ago!” — Barbara Crowley

“I like the Miró near City Hall because the daycare next to it mimicked the Miró in its outdoor enclosure. What glorious public art we have in Chicago.” — Linda Jena Fisher

“Fountain Girl in Lincoln Park. She was one of the first few sculptures I saw when I moved to Chicago 10 years ago. I thought she was just Beautiful! Now, she’s like an old friend that I visit weekly as I jog through the park. No matter what season, she seems to be welcoming me. And sometimes people give her accessories for the appropriate seasons — cute!” — Walter Henry

“The Bean and where they have videos on the screen of the people.” — Jackie Waldhier

Thanks for reading the Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition.Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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