Little Village groups call on city to take action after botched implosion, how to see the supermoon and more in your Chicago news roundup

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

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A photographer on bike walks through the dust cloud descending through the Little Village neighborhood, after the Crawford Coal Plant smoke stack was imploded, Saturday, April 11, 2020. | Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere

A photographer on bike walks through the dust cloud descending through the Little Village neighborhood, after the Crawford Coal Plant smoke stack was imploded, Saturday, April 11, 2020.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be mostly sunny with a high near 76 degrees. Tonight will be mostly clear with a low around 61. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 84.

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Top story

Environmental groups call for air monitoring, home air filtration systems in Little Village two years after botched implosion

Environmental activists are urging the city to pay for public air monitoring systems and air filtration for residents who live near the site of a dust storm caused by the demolition of a smokestack.

More than two years after the demolition of the former Crawford Coal Plant created a dust cloud in Little Village, community groups say there are still unanswered questions about what led to the neighborhood being covered in dust April 11, 2020. Hilco Development Partners oversaw the demolition of the property.

The groups, including the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and the Southeast Environmental Task Force, issued a list of demands yesterday during a virtual news conference.

“What that means for our neighborhood is not knowing for over 800 days what we were exposed to in the dust, what’s left in the soil or the long-term health effects,” said Kim Wasserman, the executive director for the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.

They want to see the installation of public air monitor systems paid for using the $19,500 Hilco paid in city fines after the demolition. Hilco also settled a lawsuit with the state for $250,000, and a related entity that owned the land and tow contractors were fined.

Elvia Malagón has more on the demands here.

More news you need

  1. The parents of Christopher Vaughn yesterday filed a federal lawsuit against Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow and others. It’s the latest in the ongoing effort to free Vaughn, who in 2012 was convicted of murdering his wife and three children.
  2. At a graduation ceremony for the newest crop of Chicago Police Department officers today, Mayor Lori Lightfoot in her speech told officers, “I will always have your back.” It was the mayor’s latest attempt to reclaim the police support that has abandoned her since her landslide victory in 2019, our Fran Spielman explains in her latest.
  3. After a last-minute push from Schutt Sports and Chicago Public Schools, Morgan Park’s football team was finally able to get its helmets back — just in time for the first day of football practice across the state. The Mustangs’ 75 helmets were sent to Schutt Sports, a helmet manufacturer, in December to be reconditioned, but previously had no return date set.
  4. An invasive silver carp was removed last week after it was found swimming in Lake Calumet on the Far South Side, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced. Invasive carp threaten to disrupt the food chain that supports native Great Lakes fish, researchers say.
  5. Geza Gyuk, the head of astronomy at the Adler Planetarium, is encouraging Chicagoans to go outside Thursday night and look up to catch a “supermoon.” The full moon will appear bigger and brighter Thursday as its orbit brings it closer to Earth, Gyuk says.
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A bright one

Back-to-school haircuts offered by South Side nonprofit get students ready to return to class

Hair fell and confidence rose yesterday in Bridgeport.

It was the beginning of a 30-day back-to-school haircut drive offered at the storefront headquarters of I Am A Gentleman, a nonprofit youth mentorship and leadership program for young people ages 13 to 21 who are from under-resourced communities in the city.

“I think a haircut really can just reflect who you are as a person, so taking care of your hair is important because that’s a part of you and people look at it a lot,” said Jonathan Evans, 18, who graduated from Lindblom Math and Science Academy and is headed to Bradley University in Peoria later this month to study game design and computer science.

About 250 haircuts will be given over the next four weeks — with appointments available on the organization’s website iamagentleman.org.

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Emry Thomas, 16, leans forward as Mecca Highsmith cuts his hair at the offices of I Am a Gentleman, Inc. The nonprofit held a back-to-school event that provided free haircuts to students.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

“The reason we do this is because we want young men, especially from urban neighborhoods, to look good but also to feel good as they return to the classroom, because we believe that it will help them have a successful school year,” said Jermaine Lawrence Anderson, who founded and heads up the organization.

Emry Thomas, 16, who is headed into his junior year at University of Chicago High School, stopped in for a taper.

“This organization is important to a lot of young Black men in the city because it’s so easy to get distracted by gangs, but that’s not going to get you nowhere except dead or in jail. This offers something you can do instead of going out on the block or something. It’s something positive,” said Thomas, who lives in Bridgeport. “It’s like a family.”

Mitch Dudek has more on I Am a Gentleman’s efforts here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What’s something you want to do before summer ends in Chicago?

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

Yesterday, we asked you: What’s a smell that makes you think of Chicago?

Here’s what some of you said…

“The smell of chocolate from the Blommer factory.” —Howard Moore

“The sweet smell of Tootsie Roll candy being made on the southwest side of Chicago.” — Tom Petraitis

“The delicious aroma of grease wafting from the Billy Goat on Michigan Avenue!” — Kathleen Machek

“The stockyards might be long gone but the smell of them I’ll remember forever. Unfortunately.” —Dennis Lynch

“BBQ on a backyard with good old Mexican music.” — Gerardo Valadez

“The leather tanning factory that used to be on Webster and the Chicago River.” — Gloria Chevere

“The smell of smelt, those little fishes in the springtime from when I was a little girl at the lakefront. I’m 74.” — Chris Huston

“For me, baseball glove leather, concrete, asphalt, that building smell every city person knows and goooooood meat and brews. Chicago for sure.” — Brooks Vanderbush

“The smell of grilled onions makes me think of Chicago-style Maxwell street polish sausages.” — Federico Cedillo Jr.

“When the neighborhood cuts their grass — smells fresh.” —Silvia Burgos

“Walking over the bridges and the smell of the river and Lake Michigan…I love the smell of the water with the breeze.” —Patricia Moore Fluhler

You can find the full list of readers’ responses here.

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

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