Mardi Gras Success!

 

constantContact-mg-600x260

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.

DJ at Large

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.”

SiVer Place

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.”

Foreigner 1

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.”

Ring the Registers: Small Business Saturday Hits 5th Year

WMS Puppies and Cat

As Small Business Saturday celebrates its fifth year November 29th, downtown Waukegan businesses are ready for the big day.  From Jimmie’s Corner, the new coffee shop at 10 N. Sheridan Road serving up hot coffee and tasty treats, to Horsefeathers, the eclectic store that has been at 129 N. Genesee Street for over 30 years, small businesses downtown and around the country are gearing up for the holiday shopping season. According to the Small Business Saturday Insights Survey, released by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express, consumer support for independently-owned businesses is increasing. More than three quarters of shoppers say they will be spending more or the same amount on Small Business Saturday as they did last year, providing independent businesses with a welcome boost in sales.

WMS Juli Weber_LFM

“We all enjoy knowing the people we’re buying from and knowing we’ll see the same friendly faces every time we visit the merchant,” said Jane Ferry, Executive Director of Waukegan Main Street.

“The downtown corridor will be busy all day from Grand Avenue to Lake Street and West Street to Sheridan Road. Along with the stores and restaurants, we’ll have five galleries – Tufo’s Galerie, Sidecar Studios, Karcher 405, Wildwood Studio and Dandelion Gallery – open this year, too!  The galleries offer a wide variety of art at a range of prices.  Being open will give artists a chance to meet their patrons, and consumers will also walk away with a one-of-a-kind gifts.”

WMS Mike A at Edward Jones

Dandelion Gallery’s featured artist in November is Mary Clare Jakes who will have ceramic ornaments, soap dishes, flower vases and jewelry priced from $10- $25 as well as larger ceramic art pieces from $45 – $200.  Lezlie Lenz will have her 1000 Angels series in holiday cards as well as cards by Bob Nonnemaker.  Sandie Bacon will bring her unique jewelry. Amy Lynn Ross’s ornaments using her unique acrylic cut-out style are on display. Check out other stops, sales and specials here.

WMS Your This and That Shop

Held each year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday is a day to support the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods and downtowns around the country. Five years after its inception, half of US consumers report that they are aware of and take part in Small Business Saturday. Just as important, 77% say Small Business Saturday makes them want to shop small all year long.  “Waukegan Main Street encourages people to spend money in locally-owned businesses throughout the year,” said Ferry.  “Money spent in these local, independent businesses has three times the impact on our community as money spent at national chains. When shopping locally, you simultaneously create jobs, fund more city services through sales tax, invest in neighborhood improvement, and promote community development.”

WMS Patrick Tufo

Some businesses are having Small Business Saturday specials, such up to 50% off of merchandise at Alfredo’s Treasure Chest, 105 S. Genesee.  Another special are half-priced hamburgers and sandwiches for lunch at 17 North when people show a receipt from a local business.  “Hopefully that will encourage people to stay downtown longer,” said 17 North owner Tom LeBaron, located at 17 N. Genesee.

American Express is encouraging people to spend more by offering Card a $10 statement credit when they register then use their registered Card to spend $10 or more on a single in-store transaction at a qualifying small business location. Card Members can take advantage of this offer up to three times on the day. Registration is available at ShopSmall.com.

“We’re hoping for good weather and lots of ringing registers,” said Ferry.

WMS Juan with Banner 3

 

Shop on Small Business Saturday

shop-local-9

It seems impossible that Small Business Saturday is nearly here.  Waukegan Main Street has been working with the downtown merchants to make sure that November 29th, the fifth annual celebration of small businesses,  will take place again this year.

Check out what been planned so far – we are adding participating businesses all the time – what’s going on and when their doors open.  And remember, out of $1.00 spent at a local, neighborhood merchant, 68 cents returns to the community.

Shop local and enjoy!

AmazonSmile, Main Street and You

AmazonSmile is a program where Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization selected by their customers – and Waukegan Main Street is one of those charitable organizations!  To participate as a shopper and supporter, click the “Get Started” button below or go to http://smile.amazon.com, sign in to your Amazon account … and voila!  That’s all it takes!  You should see a “Supporting: Waukegan Main Street” above your name at the very top of the page.

Bookmark the link to AmazonSmile and use it every time you make an Amazon purchase. Thank you for supporting Waukegan Main Street.

Happy shopping!

Waukegan Main Street

New Leaders at Waukegan Main Street

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WAUKEGAN, IL  September 29, 2014 — A new Strategic Plan, new Officers and new Board members were the highlights of Waukegan Main Street’s Annual Meeting.  The event provides Waukegan Main Street members the opportunity to vote on leadership for the downtown organization as well as network with business leaders, active citizens and volunteers.

Business leaders and citizens at WMS Annual Meeting.

Retaining their positions as President and Secretary respectively were Jamie O’Meara and Dulce “Candy” Ortiz.  Seated as Vice President is John Quinn, of the law firm Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd. in Grayslake, and as Treasurer is Megan McKenna de Mejia, Executive Director of Mano a Mano in Round Lake.  “After the busy and productive year we’ve had, it’s wonderful to have consistency of two officers staying for another term,” said Jane Ferry, Executive Director of Waukegan Main Street.  “And we look forward to the creative ideas and direction from the new officers as well.”  All four officers live in Waukegan.

Joining the Board as new members are Tamika Jones and Karen Nystrom.  Jones is a Human Resources professional at Baxter Healthcare, specializing in early talent programs. She grew up in Waukegan’s Third Ward and is a graduate of Waukegan High School and Illinois State University. She recently moved back to the area and began volunteering with Waukegan Main Street in 2013, becoming Promotions Committee Chair shortly thereafter. Nystrom was raised in the north suburbs and serves as the director of advocacy for the Financial Planning Association, a national membership organization for financial planning professionals with 23,000 members and 93 chapters.  She has 15 years of experience in both the 501c3 and 501c6 non-profit areas and in state government legislative work.

Megan

McKenna de Mejia was the featured speaker at the event, giving the highlights of Waukegan Main Street’s Strategic Plan 2015 – 2018.  “Megan took the lead on completing our Strategic Plan which had been in the works for two years.  Through those efforts, we reworked our Mission and Vision statements to more accurately reflect our concentration and included easy-to-understand bullet points as our Core Values,” said Ferry.  The Strategic Plan positions Waukegan Main Street to be the lead convener and champion of the downtown and lakefront, building on existing assets through coalition-based action and community engagement, while balancing the past and the future.  Also presenting were Board President Jamie O’Meara, Membership Chair Sandy Petroshius and Executive Director Jane Ferry giving a year in review.

“Over the next month or so, we will have meetings to engage – and re-engage – people of action throughout the community,” Ferry said. “We have inspired leadership and we look forward to the positive effects we can have when we all work together.”  The meeting was held at the Waukegan Yacht Club.

Photos of the Annual Meeting were taken by Ali Albakri and can be found here.

Monarch Festival Flies High

20140907_125606

Congratulations to the Waukegan Public Library for another successful Monarch Festival.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by our table, whether that was talk, create a butterfly or pick up information.  We had a great time challenging the kids’ creativity and watching their concentration, especially the younger ones.  We also handed out over 200 Dining Guides and “Things to Do” calendars of events.

20140907_131139

The weather was perfect and, once again, the Library arranged interesting activities and presentations, including a rock climbing wall, traditional Mexican folk dance and BMX Pro Biker Matt Wilhelm.  Wilhelm was a wonderful motivational speaker, especially to kids about working toward a goal.  The tricks he did, such as joining over people (including the Library’s Executive Director Richard Lee) were unmatched as well. If you have the opportunity to see him, do.

20140907_150100

There were a number of other booths and food vendors.  The Lake County Bike Project held raffles, giving away eight bikes during the event.  We look forward to the Lake County Bike Project holding one or more technical training events to introduce weekend bikers to basic maintenance.

The Chicago Botanic Gardens Youth Farm were selling their fresh vegetables and we saw a number of people walking around with full bags.

20140907_133529

Once again, congratulations to the Library for all their efforts in putting on a fun, successful event in downtown Waukegan.

Keeping Waukegan Beach Beautiful

Waukegan Main Street joined a long list of volunteers and volunteer organizations who are keeping our beautiful Waukegan Municipal Beach beautiful.  With the hard work every weekday of Eco-Ambassadors and individuals hired through a DNR Grant awarded to the Waukegan Park District, the weekend clean-up efforts take less than two hours.

Beach Clean up 1
Volunteers Paul Ferry, Sandy Petroshius and Nick Nicketakis (left to right) are ready to the clean the beach!

Our group on Saturday was small, but efficient.  Two Board members, Sandy Petroshius and Nick Nicketakis, joined Michael May, Paul Ferry and a high schooler putting in two hours of community service.  The group “divided and conquered” the beach, ending up with only two mostly full liner bags of trash.  This is a vast improvement from the last two years of volunteer clean up where often each individual ended up with a full bag.  Congratulations to Friends of Waukegan Beach and alderman Lisa May for coordinating the volunteer efforts!

Waukegan Main Street has volunteered for two more Saturdays – August 30th and September 6th.  If you would like to join us, call the office at (847) 623-6650.  Many hands make light the work.

Type Rider II Rolls into Bowen Park

20140807_123720
New Little Free Library by Jack Benny Center for the Arts

Two poets rode 1,400 miles on a tandem bicycle through America’s heartland, writing free poems & building Little Free Libraries. How cool is that? Really cool, when a brand new Little Free Libraries is located outside the Jack Benny Center at Bowen Park!

Maya Stein and Amy Tingle, poets who rode a tandem bicycle and towed two typewriters 1,400 miles from Boulder, Colorado to Beloit, Wisconsin, swung by Bowen Park to open the latest Little Free Library, write poems from a word given to them, share their stories, and open up the Tiny Traveling Library.  (Feel free to contribute to the Tiny Traveling Library.)

Tiny Traveling Library1
A small part of the Tiny Traveling Library

Stein came to Waukegan two years ago after a 40-day, 1,200-mile trip from Amherst, Massachusetts to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During that trip, she towed her typewriter and invited people at each stop to contribute to a collaborative collection of writing.  According to their Kickstarter page, “Her journey was documented by several publications, including The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Rails-to-Trails Magazine, and The Writer. ”

Currently 11,000 US towns do not have public libraries and this poetic pair is out to change that by building new libraries in communities they visit.   Waukegan is lucky enough to have an award-winning library, so that is not an issue.  The issue is, many parents and family members wait for the children/siblings who are taking lessons at Jack Benny Center and they often are looking for something to do.  The Little Free Library has books for adults and kids to read while they wait, or take with them.  Claudia Freeman, Superintendent of Cultural Arts for the Waukegan Park District put out a call to fill the new Little Free Library and, as of yesterday afternoon, had a box and a few bags of books.  Freeman promised to put out the call when more books are needed.

Tandem Poetry
Writing poems based on the word “Hawaii”

Finally, the poets also created personalized poetry “for the people we meet, a keepsake of our trip and – we hope – an inspiration for others to tap into their own creativity.” They asked for a word, individually typed poems based on that word, read the poems aloud, and took a photo of the completed works for a final book about the project.  

Per Stein, “Type Rider II: The Tandem Poetry Tour is about creativity, collaboration, and community. We hope to promote literacy and the love of reading for children and adults everywhere.  And by writing poems for the people we meet along the way, we hope to spark the spirit of connection through creativity and inspire young writers to keep pursuing their passion.”

Tiny Traveling Library2