Author Archives: Maggie Yarnold

Cash Back for Holiday Shopping in Rogers Park

Shoppers at locally-owned Rogers Park businesses can earn cash back this holiday season, thanks to a rebate program run by the Rogers Park Business Alliance.

The program, Live Love Shop Rogers Park , runs through Dec. 31. Participants can receive a $25 rebate after spending $100 at four independently owned business in the area, or $50 back for spending $150 or more.

The program generated $37,000 in 2017, according to Carolina Juarez, Rogers Park Business Alliance special service area manager. It’s designed to attract local customers who might shop outside of the neighborhood, or at national chain stores, for the same products, Juarez said.

“It benefits the community because this incentivizes consumers to shop in the neighborhood for things they could very well get here,” Juarez said. “The money stays in the community … and it circulates in the neighborhood making it more economically viable and vibrant.”

A 2004 study in Andersonville showed for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the Chicago economy, whereas $43 remained in the economy when someone shopped at a chain store.

Live Love Shop Rogers Park began as a smaller program within the Special Service Areas (SSAs) of the 49th Ward, but expanded to include a larger boundary, according to Juarez. Since the switch, the ward has increased the numbers of SSAs to four.

To get the rebate, customers must fill out the rebate form and present the original receipts. There is also a list of rules to follow, such as only $30 can be spent on liquor and groceries and the minimum purchase at a store must by $20.

Guilty Verdict in 2014 Devon Ave. Shooting of Rogers Park Man

A man was convicted for the murder of Rogers Park resident Wil Lewis, who happened to be on Devon Avenue in July 2014 when he was caught in a gang-shooting crossfire.

A Cook County jury convicted Eric Vaughn, 35, of first degree murder and attempted first degree murder Nov. 6, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. In an online statement about the conviction, 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore, who witnessed the shooting, said Vaughn is an Uptown native.

“I happened to be on Devon at the time of the shooting and witnessed the entire incident unfold. It continues to haunt me,” Moore said in the statement.

Wil Lewis was shot on Devon Avenue while standing at a bus stop. The bullet was believed to be meant for a different target and it was a gang-related shooting, Moore said.

Officials from the Cook County State’s Attorney declined to comment on the case other than to confirm the guilty verdict, citing post-trial litigation still ongoing.

According to Moore, Vaughn was driving with two young men, one 15 and the other 17, when they saw a rival gang member. Vaughn handed the 15-year-old a gun and ordered him to shoot the rival, but he accidentally struck Lewis, Moore said. Eyewitness accounts of the shooting as well as the car Vaughn was driving led to Vaughn’s arrest two hours after the shooting. The other two people in the car were found in Wisconsin a few weeks later, Moore said.

“The jury deliberated for about two hours before returning their verdict against Vaughn,” Moore said in his statement. “Coincidentally, the assistant state’s attorney who successfully prosecuted the case is a Rogers Park resident, Mike Hogan, who lives just a few blocks from the site of the shooting.”

Moore added that “community residents played an essential role in the apprehension of the individuals responsible for Wil Lewis’ death. Without their willingness to provide authorities with information, including descriptions of the assailants and their vehicle, the police could not have made the arrests and prosecutors would not have been able to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Vaughn is due back in court Dec. 6, before Judge William Gamboney at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building at 2650 S. California Ave.

School Quality Report Has Good News for Rogers Park

Chicago Public Schools released its fifth consecutive School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) and Rogers Park elementary schools, high schools and charter schools are highly ranked.

The SQRP is the Board of Education’s policy for evaluating school performance and it includes college enrollment, persistence, priority student group growth, and a target test participation rate of 95 percent, according to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) website. This newer strategy uses a 5-tier rating system.

In the 2018-19 report, five of the Rogers Park schools were K-8, one schools includes grades 6-12, one school was grades 9-12 and one school was K-12. The schools included New Field School, Field School, Kilmer School, Jordan School, Gale Academy, Sullivan High School, Chicago Math and Science Academy (CMSA) and Acero de la Cruz School. There rankings have improved or remained the same since last year.  

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The CMSA has received a 1+ ranking for the past four years, and it is currently ranked 69th in Illinois by the US News and World Report.

Alderman Joe Moore (49 Ward) released a statement Oct. 29 congratulating the eight schools located within Rogers Park schools for their high rankings; all of the schools received scores of 2+ or higher. There are five rankings in the SQRP system: 1+ is the highest score and 3 is the lowest.  

The New Field School has the most improved ranking in Rogers Park in this past year, according to Moore.

“By last year, New Field’s rating had dropped to Level 2,” Moore said. “Under the leadership of its dynamic new principal, Corey Callahan, and an engaged Local School Council, New Field soared back to the coveted Level 1+ rating.”

The SQRP has many purposes, such as showing parents and community members individual schools and district academic success. It also recognizes and identifies high growth schools and helps guide the Board’s decision-making processes around schools actions and procedures.

Rogers Park To Host Cutting Edge ‘Smart Policing’ Crime Center

Rogers Park’s 24th police district will soon host University of Chicago crime analysts, part of an effort to incorporate historical violent crime trend data, predictive models and mapping software in the city’s self-proclaimed “smart policing” strategy.

Rogers Park will be one of six districts participating in the program by creating a Strategic Deployment Center, a police spokesperson said.

Sgt. Rocco Alioto, from the CPD office of communications, said the city has seen two straight years of reduced crime since the U of C program launched.

“The initiative is motivated by the idea that proactive policing and investigations combined with predictive analytics can help prevent crime from occurring in first place,” Alioto said.

49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore announced the deployment Tuesday. You can read his full statement here.

“The expansion of smart policing to Rogers Park comes at a time of heightened tension in the neighborhood resulting from two recent random murders,” Moore said in the statement.

Moore said police investigating the killings have run down “some promising leads, but no arrest has been made.”

Police suspect the two murders in Rogers Park, which occurred Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, were carried out by the same person. The perpetrator has not been seen since the fatal shooting Oct. 1, police said at a community meeting at the Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center in Rogers Park.

The crime trend data used in the U of C program pools information such as offender criminal history and past crime incidents into a single platform for analysis and real-time application by on-duty officers, according to Moore’s statement.

The smart policing strategy will place high-definition surveillance cameras in strategic locations throughout the district, and private property owners can connect their cameras to the CPD system if the cameras meet certain requirements, according to Moore’s statement. These cameras, and preexisting cameras, will be monitored by police.

This strategy was used in the 12th district (Near West), and the trend data helped police officers see a 15 percent reduction in robberies, 35 percent reduction in carjackings, 37 percent reduction in shootings and 64 percent reduction in murders in the area, according to Moore’s statement. These reductions were seen within approximately seven months of smart policing strategy implementation.

It is unclear when the strategic deployment center will come to Rogers Park.

Moore also said Chicago will invest an additional $10.4 million in youth mentoring programs through 2019 on top of the $25 million spent toward mentorship for eighth, ninth and 10th graders this year; and, more than $77 million has gone toward after school programs for over 110,000 students this past year. Moore said this multi-faceted approach to tackling violent crime will be more effective.

“This holistic approach to crime fighting — more effective policing strategies combined with investing in youth, second chances and jobs — is the key to making our neighborhood and city safer,” Moore said in the statement.

The 49th Ward is the only ward in Chicago that holds an Expungement Seminar to help people clear their criminal record and break through that employment barrier. The most recent Expungement Seminar took place Oct. 6 at Gale School (1631 W. Jonquil Terrace).

Moore and 24th district Commander Roberto Nieves could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.