The Chicago Tribune on Monday carried a story on page one, though lost beneath the avalanche of Bears Super Bowl coverage, about a Chicago Public School student named Frida DeSantiago who will realize her dream of attending the Congressional Youth Leadership Conference in Washington this February thanks to donations from three strangers, one of them an Oak Park resident. The benefactors found Frida’s story on an innovative website called DonorsChoose Chicago has, since its inception in 2000, generated over a million bucks, mostly to fulfill specific wish lists posted by various Chicago Public Schools.

Frida’s situation was posted by her social studies teacher and caught the eye of Amy Bernstein, an attorney who lives in Oak Park who has become a regular donor on the site, contributing a total of $9,000 for 60 different projects, according to the Trib article. Her donations have helped fund flash cards for third graders, a junior high Lego robot kit, and elementary school magazine subscriptions.

The Trib quotes her saying, “I got my bonus last year, and I kind of went nuts on the DonorsChoose website. My son says I’m obsessed, but I can’t help myself. When I get on there and read what these kids need, I just can’t help but donate. I’m a softy.”

So you can imagine how Amy reacted when she read about Frida. “I read what the teacher wrote, and it just broke my heart,” Bernstein was quoted as saying. “After I read it, I just thought to myself, ‘There’s no reason that little girl should not get to go.’ I felt like I had to help her.”

Bernstein contributed the last $150 of the $1,000 needed. DeSantiago, a seventh-grader at Jahn Elementary, hopes to attend Princeton someday and become a lawyer.

The new Bear building?

Our humble suggestion: let’s stop calling the RSC building (1120 Lake St.) the “RSC building,” or the “Eleven 20 Club” as its developer would have it.

No, we think it should be called the “Bear building.”

Not that it looks like a bear. Or smells like a bear.

But, it’s directly across the street from the Colt building, named, of course, for the Indianapolis Colts’ former owner Robert Irsay (whose son Jim now owns the team).

Plus, the Bears building is taller, stronger and is not in danger of being demolished, like the Colt building-and like the Colts team is in danger of being demolished, we trust, in Miami.

The corner of Lovie Street and Urlacher Ave?

In other Bears news, Oak Park President David Pope opened Monday’s meeting in an uncharacteristically comic way, dryly suggesting there was an extra agenda item that evening-a proposal to rename Lake Street and Oak Park Avenue after Bears coach Lovie Smith and middle linebacker Brian Urlacher.

The joke, you see, is that the village isn’t really renaming any of its streets and wouldn’t likely do so for athletes. That’s what made it funny.

Well, it was funny at the time. They all had a good laugh and then discussed parking for two hours.

OP Dems 1st on Obama bandwagon

If he becomes President Obama, Oak Park Democrats want to go down as being the first in line to endorse him.

The Democratic Party of Oak Park voted Jan. 13 to back U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s bid for the presidency-yet to be made formal-claiming the endorsement was “likely … the first … in Illinois, and possibly the nation.”

“For too long our national discourse has been based on fear, animosity, and partisanship. This must change,” State Sen. Don Harmon, who’s also the Oak Park Democratic committeeman, said in a statement. “Senator Obama can inspire and lead our party and our country.”

On Jan. 16, Obama announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee and said he’ll make a final decision Feb. 10.

More than 100 people attended the endorsement meeting, including U.S. Sen. and Majority Whip Dick Durbin, according to the statement.

Oak Parkers were also among the very first to climb aboard Mr. Obama’s senatorial candidacy wagon back in 2003-04.

Adkins murder trial delayed a month

The trial of Rodney Adkins for murder and burglary, which was scheduled to begin in Maybrook Circuit Court next Monday, has been delayed again. Following a defense motion, the case was continued until March 19.

Adkins stands accused of the murder of Catherine McAvinchey, which allegedly occurred after she came home while Adkins was burglarizing her condominium on Washington Boulevard in July, 2003.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office has stated its intention to seek the death penalty for Adkins. In such capital cases, attorneys for both the prosecution and defense are required to file a “certificate of readiness” with the court. Preston Jones, Jr., Adkins’ attorney, said both sides did that, and both wanted to go to trial this past Monday.

However, trial judge Thomas Tucker held to a strict 14-day minimum for filing before beginning trial. If convicted, Adkins faces either death or life in prison. His guilt or innocence will be heard by a jury. However, sentencing will remain in Tucker’s hands.

Comments sought on downtown preservation

Oak Park wants to hear feedback from citizens on preserving historically significant parts of its downtown business district.

The next meeting to cull feedback will be at 7 p.m., Jan. 23 and 30 at the Veterans Room of the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St. Two more hearings are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 and 21 at Oak Park Village Hall, 123 Madison St.

The Historic Preservation Commission will make one of three recommendations to the village board: to establish a National Register Historic District downtown, establish a local historic district, or name significant properties as landmarks, according to a village statement.

The commission will receive written comments mailed to 123 Madison St., Oak Park 60302, or e-mailed to The village will post all information presented and received at the meetings on its website at

Starbucks eyes 5th Lake St. store in OP/RF

Starbucks hopes to open its third coffee shop in Oak Park in the spring, but has not yet signed a lease at 711 Lake St., a spokeswoman said.

Starbucks would join a busy coffee marketplace near the intersection of Lake and Oak Park Avenue, with Caribou Coffee and Great Harvest Bread Co. (which serves Peet’s Coffee & Tea) on the corner, and the following within a block or two: Buzz Cafe (in the Oak Park Public Library), White Hen Pantry (661 South Blvd.), and Oak Park Food Market (133 S. Oak Park Ave.).

A Jumpin’ Juice & Java franchise formerly operated at 711 Lake St.

Starbucks recently opened a store in the River Forest Town Center, 7201 Lake St., and plans to open a second River Forest location at the corner of North Avenue and Lathrop. It has a store at 1018 Lake St. in Downtown Oak Park and operates stores within Dominick’s, 259 Lake St., and Jewel-Osco, 7525 Lake St. in River Forest.

The Jewel-Osco Starbucks location is about to close though. A spokeswoman for the Melrose Park-based grocer said it was Starbucks’ decision to pull out of Jewel stores.

The space where Starbucks operates at the River Forest Jewel-Osco will be used for an upscale cheese shop, with new cheeses to be offered with the change, the spokeswoman said. A PapaNicholas coffee bar will also be added, where coffee will be free to customers.

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