Your Chance to Support Waukegan Main Street Starts Now; Donate!

We at Waukegan Main Street admit it. Downtowns are not easy to revitalize. But here are some facts about Waukegan’s downtown: three theaters are thriving and more new businesses and restaurants have opened their doors!

The Genesee Theater, Clockwise Theatre, and Three Brothers Theatre produced more shows last year than ever before. Wauk-n-Whiskey has opened its doors on Genesee Street and Rosatti’s is under construction at Grand and Sheridan, joining other popular restaurants and pubs. New businesses like Lake County Tech Hub, Liberty Tax, and Horizon Benefit Services are up and running.

Your vision of a vibrant downtown and lakefront is our purpose. Every day, WMS keeps that vision in the forefront of its plans and activities.

How does the Main Street work? We use the proven ap proaches and tools that every Main Street organization uses. That’s how we can successfully focus on economic development, small business appearance improvement, historic preservation, and promoting the downtown. Here’s just one success story:

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University grads Josh and Caroline Beadle came to Waukegan with the dream of starting a new small theater company. They spotted the vacant space at 115 N. Genesee and hit it off with building owner Juli Weber, also owner of Little Fort Media, right next door.

Before long Three Brothers, a 50-seat black box theater, had become a reality. “For the first couple of years we couldn’t afford a marquee. People couldn’t read the posters we displayed and they couldn’t see into the lobby. In fact, the whole block was dark,” said Caroline.

A Waukegan Main Street SLAP Grant (sign, lighting, and appearance program) was the solution. Josh and Caroline worked with downtown architect firm, Design Studio C, to design and price out a lighted sign. Then they applied to the WMS Design committee for a 50-50 SLAP grant.

“The SLAP grant was incredibly helpful,” said Josh. “Our Three Brothers Theater sign illuminates for quite a distance on Genesee Street. Now we have a clear beacon welcoming all our patrons.”

Owner Juli Weber couldn’t be happier. “The more successful the theater is, the more solid my tenant is. Everyone on the street benefits.”

Main Street organizations know that attractive positional advertising draws business customers and restaurant and theater patrons. That’s why the WMS Economic Development Committee initiated the Downtown Kiosk Program. The first kiosk has been installed at the corner of Genesee and County streets, displaying the map of downtown and promoting downtown businesses and events. WMS plans to install three more kiosks throughout the Main Street district.

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Building partnerships and engaging community stakeholders in the revitalization effort is another economic development tool. For the last two years, we worked with the Waukegan Chamber of Commerce to host the Criterium Bike Race in downtown Waukegan. WMS also partnered with the City to staff a tent for Scoop the Loop and promote monthly ArtWauks.

Year-round, downtown foot traffic has increased because of WMS events like the annual winter Holiday Wauk and the summer Wine and Art Stroll. We also sponsor the annual Lunch with the Mayor. This standing-room-only event provides businesses, nonprofits, and residents and the Mayor a unique way to interact.

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Waukegan’s downtown and lakefront district faces a wide array of challenges and opportunities, and WMS is committed to be part of the solutions and successes.

In the coming year, WMS will focus on bringing more people and businesses to downtown and the lakefront. Communication is key. We have listened to our downtown businesses. Already we are partnering with landlords to clean up vacant storefronts. We will identify funding alternatives to implement beautification improvements. We know that arts and entertainment are a powerful combination for boosting economic development. That means we will partner with community groups to expand the array of cultural and social events in our downtown and lakefront.

Your support will bring even more success. When you donate to Waukegan Main Street, you share in our planning, projects, and successes—now and in the future. Whether you are a Main Street partner or if you’re new to WMS, please make a special year-end contribution. Your gift of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 or more will go a long way toward supporting our work.

Did you know? Waukegan Main Street is not a city agency. WMS is a volunteer, community-supported organization. The largest portion of our funds come from generous community partners like you.

Please visit www.waukeganmainstreet.org to learn more about what we do. We are working so that you, and all of us, benefit by making positive, tangible differences for our downtown and lakefront.

Thank you!

Megan McKenna de Mejia
President

Arthur Cobb, Jr
Executive Director
www.waukeganmainstreet.org

 

Volunteer Workshop “Totally Worth It”

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Anthony Rubano from Illinois Historic Preservation Agency addresses the Volunteer Workshop attendees.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Illinois Main Street, along with the Waukegan Main Street and Donna Ann Harris the principal of Heritage Consulting Inc., hosted aVolunteer Recruitment and Retention Strategies” Workshop at Urban Edge in May.

The workshop attracted managers, executive directors and volunteer coordinators from non-profits throughout Lake County, northern Cook County and Kenosha County.  Organizations represented included Waukegan Park District, Habitat for Humanity Lake County, Downtown Kenosha, United Way of Lake County, Lake County Bike Project, GWDC, Words on Wheels, Waukegan Township, Waukegan Arts Council, HACES, City of Evanston, Kenosha Chamber, Waukegan Port District, and several Illinois Main Streets.

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Waukegan Mayor Wayne Motley and Volunteer Workshop leader Donna Harris address workshop attendees. The Mayor also participated in the program.

The lively five-hour workshop focused on the basics of working with volunteers, including the “Three R’s of Volunteers” – recruiting, retaining and recognizing them. After an examination of useful techniques for volunteer recruitment, the 40 participants discussed the importance of volunteer orientation, training, and leadership opportunities for any nonprofit organization. “The workshop gave me additional tools and ideas around volunteering and that made coming to the event totally worth it,” said one participant. The day wrapped up with a discussion of volunteer alternatives, including using small task forces to engage more people in an organization’s work.

Workshop highlights included:

  • Learning how to plan the organization’s work using volunteers
  • Discussing recent research about why people volunteer, and the three basic recruitment techniques that can be used in any nonprofit organization
  • Training techniques to assure that you retain your volunteer(s) and manage them well
  • Learning how to emphasize the need for a work plan, volunteer descriptions and high quality supervision to ensure success.

“I am honored to be the ambassador for the Illinois Main Street program,” Lieutenant Governor Sanguinetti said. “This workshop provided valuable information that will help nonprofits grow and succeed while also expanding the Illinois economy. A thriving and innovative nonprofit sector is critical to fulfilling the potential of our great state.”

Background

The State of Illinois has participated in the Main Street program for more than 20 years and currently has 37 designated communities with 1 new community scheduled to be designated in June.  A recent sample of participating organizations disclosed that Illinois Main Street downtowns completed more than 396 construction projects, opened over 149 new businesses and created more than 843 jobs during 2014.

Illinois Main Street is an historic preservation-based economic development program that applies the comprehensive Main Street Four Point Approach® to the revitalization of Illinois’ downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. Developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Main Street approach focuses on four key tenets: Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Restructuring.

Nationally, Main Street communities and their local programs have created nearly 915,000 jobs and represent public and private reinvestment of over $48 billion.

Carry the Special Olympics Torch!

The Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for America to unite and build communities of respect and inclusion – and Waukegan is on the route!  Over the course of 46 days, in a hand-to-hand exchange, people throughout the nation will carry the Special Olympics Flame of Hope across the country and deliver it to Los Angeles for the Special Olympics World Games.

The Unified Relay is a historic event with three simultaneous torch run routes covering all 50 states.  Composed of runners, walkers and bikers – teams will be cheered on by millions of spectators, both locally and virtually, with special guest appearances from major music and sports celebrities, along with Special Olympics athletes, who will also serve as honorary team captains.

Composed of runners, walkers and bikers – teams will be cheered on by millions of spectators, both locally and virtually, with special guest appearances from major music and sports celebrities, along with Special Olympics athletes, who will also serve as honorary team captains. Sign up to carry the torch in Waukegan!

F.I.S.T. Turns Six!

Former Inmates Striving Together (F.I.S.T.) celebrates six years of assisting ex-offenders successfully reintegrate into society.  F.I.S.T. is an organization of formerly incarcerated men and women drawing on experiences and focusing their energy on this task.  Early on, F.I.S.T. worked diligently to secure volunteer positions for their group; now, they are booked well in advance by the organizations and entities such as City of Waukegan, Waukegan Main Street, PADS, and Waukegan Park District.

This year’s celebration, slated for May 3rd, will include comedian Mike Preston and the annual food tasting competition.  The competition allows restaurants to present samples of their menu.  Some of the participating restaurants include Spice, Key Lime Cove, Momcorn, Fong’s, The Lasagna Shop, The Hass Bakery and El Famous Burrito, while others are finalizing their plans.

This year’s Keynote Address will be presented by Chief Jennifer Witherspoon, President of Lake County NAACP.  Featured Speaker, Richard Van Arsdale III, will give his testimony regarding his struggles with re-entry.  State Representative Rita Mayfield is also on the program.  Awards will be presented by Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim and the F.I.S.T. Annual scholarship, sponsored by First Light Bible Study Group at Joy! Lutheran Church, will be presented by Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Allen J. Lynch.

F.I.S.T. has steadily worked to provide what ex-offenders need to support their re-entry. Over the past three years, F.I.S.T. has: opened a Resource Center; provided over 200 winter coats to newly released inmates; mentored its members on life skills and employment; created a 12-step program for ex-offenders; set up S.T.E.E.P. entrepreneur program; established independent housing for men/women; started a thrift store; re-opened the Waukegan Beach Concession stand; and overseen many community service projects. These community service projects have included rehabbing of churches and a parsonage;, building a elementary school recreation site; Waukegan parade and event clean-up; helping to tend the City’s planters in the downtown area with Waukegan Main Street; and assisting PADS.

The celebration will be held at Gurnee Holiday Inn and Conference Center on May 3rd from 2:00 to 5:00 PM and is FREE and open to the public.



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“Constant State of Panic” Midwest Premiere

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PATRICK GABRIDGE’S  CONSTANT STATE OF PANIC 
MIDWESTERN PREMIERE AT CLOCKWISE THEATRE

Constant State of Panic, Patrick Gabridge’s darkly comic love story on the challenges of holding a marriage together amidst the uncertainties of the New Millennium, is receiving its Midwestern premiere, Friday, April 17th at Waukegan’s Clockwise Theatre. The production runs through Sunday, May 10th.

An edgy funhouse ride blurring the lines between reality and fantasy and boasting exciting stage special effects, Constant State of Panic  follows David and Sonia Tamzeh as they confront fear-mongering reporters, menacing Bible ladies, invasive government agents, circling helicopters, advancing armies and more!

Jeff Award-winning Richard Shavzin directs, with a cast featuring Michael Wollner (Lake Villa) and Nicholia Aguirre (Evanston), Megan Skord Campbell (Lake Zurich), and Clockwise company member Christopher Davis (Chicago).

Patrick Gabridge is the author of the plays  Pieces of Whitey, Distant Neighbors, Reading the Mind of God, and Hearing Voices. His work has been broadcast on NPR and other stations across the U.S. Mr. Gabridge co-founded the Chameleon Stage Theatre Company in Denver, the Rhombus Playwrights’ Group in Boston, the online Playwright Marketing Binge, as well as the publication,  Market InSight for Playwrights. Mr. Gabridge’s published novels include  Moving: A Life in Boxes and Tornado Siren.

Richard Shavzin directed the world premieres of Defamation, Tops or Bottoms, Persistence of Vision and  Fallout.  He won a Jeff for his Strawdog Theatre direction of Burn This, and directed the Jeff-nominated productions of Criminal Hearts, Cat’s-Paw, The Big Funk, A Mother, A Daughter and A Gun, Skeletons, and  Hurlyburly. Mr. Shavzin serves on the Council of Actors Equity and on the National Board of Directors of SAG-AFTRA, and is a member of Clockwise Theatre’s artistic advisory board.

Constant State of Panic runs April 17th through May 10th, Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 3PM. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased here, by calling Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006, or at the door. Group rates (10 or more, pre-paid) are available.

Clockwise Theatre is located at 221 N. Genesee Street in downtown Waukegan. Ample, free on-street parking is available. For more information, visit Clockwise Theatre.

Winners of First Dandelion Gallery Juried Show Announced

Immediate Release         

Dandelion Gallery is pleased to announce the winners of its First Juried Show. Twenty eight artists were accepted to this inaugural event which opened last Saturday March 21 during the fourth anniversary of ArtWauk in downtown Waukegan’s arts and entertainment district.  The juried show also celebrated the fourth anniversary of Dandelion Gallery.

First place was awarded to Erick Anderson. He will be the featured artist at Dandelion Gallery at a future ArtWauk and received a one year membership to the gallery.  Second place was awarded to Lorinda Murphy. She received a three month membership to the gallery.  Third place was awarded to Darlene Bock with a one month gallery membership.  Honorable mentions were given to Mike Litewski, Gary G, Sue Thomson and Tom Biegalski.

The winning artists were announced during the opening reception. The juried show exhibit will continue through the April ArtWauk on April 18 and close on May 9.

Dandelion Gallery is located at 109 S. Genesee Street, Waukegan, and is open each ArtWauk, the third Saturday of each month from 5-9 PM.  It is also open by appointment.  For more information, go to www.dandeliongallery.org.

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First Place – Erick Anderson: “Dilapidated Structure”

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Second Place – Lorinda Murphy

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Third Place – Darlene Bock: “Ants”

Are Volunteers Your Lifeblood?

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Then the Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Workshop May 6th in Waukegan is for you!

This lively five-hour workshop will focus on the basics of working with volunteers: how to recruit, retain and recognize them for their hard work for your nonprofit organization. After an examination of three useful techniques for volunteer recruitment, we’ll discuss the importance of volunteer orientation, training, and leadership opportunities. We will wrap up with a discussion of volunteer alternatives, including using small task forces to engage more people in your organization’s work.

This workshop is presented by Illinois Main Street, The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Heritage Consulting, Inc.

For an agenda, workshop leader bio and to register, click here!

Mardi Gras Success!

 

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Waukegan Main Street’s annual Mardi Gras fundraiser was Saturday, February 7th, at Glen Flora Country Club.  Thanks to the Mardi Gras committee and several volunteers who worked diligently on plans, silent auction items, and sponsors, this year was quite an extravaganza.  Returning this year is DJ at Large Christopher Thelen, who provided the music for the New Orleans-style night.

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Glen Flora’s executive chef worked up a Cajun-inspired menu to tantalize the taste buds.  And casino gaming, a $500-prize raffle, tarot card reading by the Divine Miss E, and silent auction were going on throughout the event.  “The casino gaming is always a big hit , especially since we have some local celebrities as dealers” said Jane Ferry, Executive Director of Waukegan Main Street.  “This year the top prizes include a 40″ television donated by Grand Appliance and Bears tickets donated by North Shore Printers.  We are continuously overwhelmed by the generosity of our donors and sponsors.”

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Silent auction items from a variety of donors in the downtown and lakefront – or “Main Street District” – and outside Waukegan started arriving at the Main Street office over the last month. “The silent auction items run the gamut from children’s activity baskets to great outerwear to original artwork to Bears tickets,” said Ferry.  This year’s items have been posted regularly on Main Street’s Facebook page and include  several  ‘experience items’, such as theatre tickets, a tattoo gift certificate, a wine and food pairing at The Terrace at SiVer Place.

“We are lucky enough to have three women who have run the silent auction preparation and day of activities for years return again this year.  It is amazing to watch them create baskets … and sometimes fight over what gift certificate or bottle of wine should go with something.”

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While most of the tickets are pre-sold for the event, walk-ins were welcome. Money raised at the event supports Waukegan Main Street continuing efforts to revitalize downtown Waukegan and the lakefront.  “It’s an entertaining evening, giving people a chance to get dressed on a cold February evening, socialize and enjoy.  As the French say, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”  #MainStMardiGras

Expanding Learning Spaces at Waukegan Public Library

Downtown Waukegan will be full of construction project in 2015, with the Lake County Court Expansion and CLC’s new building both getting underway.  In addition, our award-winning library will go through a complete renovation of the main floor to better accommodate the needs of the community.  We at Waukegan Main Street are thrilled at all the positive changes in our downtown!

Architect’s rendering of the new main floor of Waukegan Public Library.
Architect’s rendering of the new main floor of Waukegan Public Library.

Starting January 10th, the Waukegan Public Library will undergo a major transformation of its main floor to accommodate the changing and growing needs of the community. Ensuring that the environment of the library is focused on learning and discovery, the redesign includes six new classrooms and collaborative study spaces, educational exhibits, upgrades in technology, better seating and lighting, and a large media wall.

In an effort to reflect the changing role of the library, the new spaces will further define the library as a Learning Center for the community. It will include functional, innovative, and engaging spaces that will help community members on their individual paths to success. The redesign is another step in increasing literacy rates by 25% by the year 2020.

For the last 30 years, the Waukegan Public Library has offered literacy programs for adults and families with the help of partner organizations and outside funding sources. However, current library classroom spaces and collection materials are no longer adequate to meet the demands of a growing population  in need of free resources and services.

New classrooms and collaborative study spaces on the main floor.
New classrooms and collaborative study spaces on the main floor

“In the past, we had to have had to be very creative in finding learning spaces for groups. Our classrooms are full every night of the week and our classes have long lists of students waiting for an opening. With two new classrooms and four collaborative study spaces on the main floor, we will be able to serve more members of the community,” said Gale Graves, Education and Literacy Services Manager.

“Libraries are … about reading, resources, and access to information,” said Richard Lee, Waukegan Public Library Executive Director. “We are committed to creating a community of readers from cradle to career. When our residents are successful, our city will be successful.”

The library will be open normal hours during construction except for the week of January 10-18. The project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2015.

Waukegan Park District recognized for Conservation Achievements

Congratulations to our Waukegan Park District for receiving the Conservation and Native Landscaping Award from the Chicago Wilderness!  The Waukegan Park District is one of 13 sites honored.

From great woodlands to outdoor classrooms, the Chicago Wilderness Conservation and Native Landscaping Award recognizes sites within the greater Chicago region that demonstrate excellence in site-based restoration, native landscaping, and conservation design. These practices create and protect habitat for a variety of native plant and animal species, and result in important environmental benefits for both people and nature.

The Waukegan Park District received the award for habitat restoration in Bowen Park’s Glen Flora Ravine. Waukegan Park District President Terry Duffy stated, “The Waukegan Park District is fortunate to have such a great partner, the Waukegan Harbor Citizen’s Advisory Group, in the Bowen Park ravine restoration project. This award wouldn’t be possible without their significant contributions. The District’s restoration efforts will enable future generations to enjoy the ravine’s beautiful natural areas, special plants and animals. Ravine restoration also supports an important ecological purpose, purifying water as it travels to Lake Michigan. Receiving this recognition is like icing on the cake, thank you Chicago Wilderness!”

The natural areas of Chicago’s wilderness are home to a wide diversity of species and rare habitats, and provide the region’s residents with opportunities for recreation and exploration, as well as clean air and water, flood protection and so much more. Yet the region’s natural areas are threatened by fragmentation; invasive plant and animal species; pollution; and the impacts of climate change. To address these threats, through the restoration of the Glen Flora Ravine, the Waukegan Park District is demonstrating a commitment to maintain the health of local nature to benefit both people and wildlife.

“The Chicago Wilderness alliance is so pleased to recognize Waukegan Park District,” said Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Executive Director of Chicago Wilderness. “They are helping to ensure that our region’s natural heritage remains vibrant for generations to come.”