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Catching up during the seasonal lull

We’ve entered into the tail end of the holiday season and what, to my reckoning, has always been the toughest part of the winter season. We’re never certain if the winter winds will be howling through like Lou Rawls’ “Hawk” or if the snow will be dwindling down to inches instead of feet. Regardless, we are left with personal space to look back and ahead as we await the warming of the seasons.

Pullman is making its way through its 138th winter and, as usual things, there’s quite a bit to look back on and forward to, as might be expected of a town that started as one man’s dream and is now a National Park Monument. Not only have the usual holiday events been taking place, such as the house tour, but progress has been made on other projects. These projects have helped ensure Pullman’s viability and sustainability.

Winter House Tour — The annual tour took place on Dec. 9, with many people coming out to see the winter displays, regardless of the “no snow” factor. The evening was on the chilly side but indoors it was a warm and blessed event. The attendees were well-fed and conversations and good cheer flowed freely. the gathering was a festive event made even more enjoyable by the entertainment provided by the Traverso Singers.

Gotham Greens — The produce company atop the Methods Products Company just behind Walmart is doing well enough to expand, with its own land-based factory nearby. The area is a prime location for industry of many varieties with its excellent transportation and heavy industry infrastructure.

Whole Foods Market Warehouse — A new 140,000-square-foot distribution center has opened on a 16.5 acre site on 111th Street. The new distribution center features a fresh salad bar, outdoor grilling space and patio, and a well-equipped exercise room for Whole Food employee to enjoy. The facility employs 100 Team members who moved from the company’s previous 5-acre facility in Munster, Indiana.

Blue Door Neighborhood Center — Blue Cross Blue Shield will be opening this office on Chicago’s Far South Side in April 2019. The center will provide free services and workshops to residents, the company reported in a statement. The facility will occupy 3,700 square feet in the 111th Street Gateway Retail Center in the historic Pullman district.

One Eleven Food Hall — Backed by a trio of vendors — Majani Restaurant (vegan), Laine’s Bake Shop and Exquisite Catering — One Eleven hopes to create a “diverse dining collective” in the Pullman neighborhood. They will be located next to STAR Cleaners and Potbelly Restaurant directly across from the Chicago Police Station at 712-720 E. 111th Street.

Pullman Community Center — Built on vacant land at 10355 S. Woodlawn Ave., the 135,000 square feet of indoor, multipurpose space includes 1,200 square feet of classroom/party-room space; three hardwood courts for basketball and volleyball; three indoor fields for soccer, baseball and football; and no less than four batting/pitching cages with pitching mounds and pitching machines. The $20 million facility is the largest multi-sport complex in the state. Programming will be led by the Chicago Park District and the Roseland Youth Center. Support for the Center comes from national and local businesses, major manufacturers and professional sports teams.

Pullman Artspace Lofts — This project has begun to take shape, with the stripping of lead painted brickwork, the pouring of the foundation and the replacement of windows on the existing north and south block buildings. There hasn’t been an opening date announced as yet. However, I’m sure that further information will be presented at the official groundbreaking ceremony that will take place in the more pleasant weather of spring.

Pullman National Monument — Work is in progress on the Clock Tower Administration building, which is the physical Pullman National Monument. Scaffolding has been up since November and work has been ongoing throughout the ensuing months. Roof and window repairs are of utmost concern and will be followed by the anticipated interior work. That work will include the creation of National Park Ranger’s offices, exhibition and classroom space, in addition to other planned upgrades.

Stop signs — Traffic safety has improved after many years of residents coping with unsafe intersections. Stop signs have been added at the corners of 114th and St. Lawrence and Champlain, making them “all way” stops. It’s taken a bit of getting used to for everyone who would normally cruise through the intersections without stopping, especially those who don’t live in the neighborhood but often drive through. Everyone still approaches the intersections with caution just to be on the safe side.

Sherwin Williams Research Center — Sherwin Williams recently completed the $11.3 billion purchase of their much smaller competitor Valspar. As a result of their merging, Sherwin Williams will be closing its research facility now located in Pullman. Some employees were offered opportunities to move to the research facility located in Minnesota. The current plan is to demolish the building while keeping the existing facility operating.

McDonalds — The local McDonalds at 115th and St. Lawrence has a new franchise owner who has made some changes. The former seating arrangement and decor have been completely redone. It is now a much more open space and, in my opinion, looks like it is now suitable to handle busloads of customers. That potential scenario exists due to the ever-growing popularity of the Pullman National Monument as a tourist destination. Those tourists will easily be including students arriving by bus for class historical projects.

Greenstone Church — The church is becoming a booming center for scouting. The scouting program is going full-steam and the events and programs the church sponsors also allow scouts to complete the requirements for the different steps each badge requires. The church and its congregation are to be praised for their efforts in helping numerous young men to attain the highest scouting honor of Eagle Scout.

Share Your Soles — This non-profit has accomplished much good since its founding in 1999 by Mona Purdy, a Richards High School graduate and Pullman resident. Among the things the organization has accomplished is rescuing the old Pullman Stables located at 112th and Cottage Grove.

The stables have previously been used for various automotive businesses such as a gas station or auto repair garage. In its most recent incarnation, before Mona and Share Your Soles took over the stables, the site was overrun with automobiles awaiting repair and the interior was a cavernous bleak space lacking in any signs of real life. Today, the Share Your Soles building teems with volunteers working at their mission of sharing gently used shoes with those less fortunate in third world countries and elsewhere.

Casino Gambling — Mayor Emanuel put forth a proposal in December to turn the Calumet Harbor area where the grain elevators are visible just east of the Bishop Ford into the site of a gambling casino. This was one of his last-ditch proposals on how to save the city from its pension crisis. How it will pan out after the election of a new mayor remains to be seen. However, the fact that so many Chicagoans are driving the short distance to Hammond and other casinos to spend their money is a strong consideration to aid in solving Chicago’s financial problems.

St. Anthony’s New Pastor — A meeting was held back in November for parishioners to advance their considerations for the replacement for Fr. Mark Krylowicz, whose 12 years as St. Anthony’s pastor are coming to an end in June. On that same day, two earlier meetings were held with various parish officers and then with the various committees.

The parishioner’s meeting was run by a Fr. Roger and a Fr. Mike, both Chicagoland pastors, with Bishop Perry merely in attendance. A few parishioners spoke up with the main concern being the continuation of the wonderful work Fr. Mark has done with the many parish committees and the parish youth. Also brought up was the need for parishioners to have the availability of the church hall for fellowship, meetings and other events.

The meeting closed with Fr. Roger informing the attendees that the archdiocese will consider all the facts presented, and offer it to priests seeking a pastor’s position. The archdiocese placement committee will then consider those interested, narrow the selection to two or three candidates whom they feel are best suited and offer the position to them. From those still interested, the permanent St. Anthony’s Pastor will be selected. The timeline will cover a number of months and the final selection will probably not be made until April or May, which will give ample time for the new pastor to transition under the direction and assistance of Fr. Mark.

If there are any questions, or if there is any information or discussion concerning these events, feel free to contact me. I will do my best to serve as a resource to find out any information that will help in answering any questions.

Contact me at 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; 773-701-6756; or cjfranoi@yahoo.com; or visit Roseland Roundtable on Facebook.

About C.J. Martello

CJ Martello has returned to his roots as the author of “Petals from Roseland.” After five years of writing his column as a resident of Chicago's North Side, CJ put his money where his heart is and moved to Pullman, near the Roseland area in which he grew up. Having joined the Spaghetti-Os, Veneti nel Mondo and St. Anthony of Padua Parish and being one of the founders of the Roseland Roundtable Facebook page, CJ has become reacquainted with countless friends and acquaintances from his youth. CJ is looking forward to retirement and completing the books he has put on hold, including one that will encompass as much of Roseland's rich, beloved history as possible.