Cook County News Briefs

Chronicle Media

Jay Friedman conducts the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest. The symphony will open its new season with a concert celebrating Columbus Day at 4 p.m. Oct. 7 in the Concordia University Chapel, 7400 Augusta, River Forest.


Report shows suburban schools test positive for lead in water

Illinois PIRG Education Fund has released first-of-its-kind analysis of new data obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) finding that 78 percent of suburban Cook County schools tested positive for lead in at least one water fixture. The data, acquired through a Freedom of Information Act Request, includes testing results from schools across the state that tested school water fixtures using a 2 parts per billion standard.

Illinois PIRG Education Fund has a new toolkit to help parents, teachers, and administrators get the lead out of schools’ drinking water. See it at

A state law passed in January of 2017 requires testing for lead in Illinois schools built before 1987 within the 2017 year. Schools built between 1987 and 2000 are required to have tested by the end of 2018. IDPH requires schools take remediation action for fixtures testing positive for lead.

Registered suburban voters hit record number

A record 1.5 million suburban Cook County residents are registered to vote in the Nov. 6 election, according to figures released by Cook County Clerk David Orr. That’s about 120,000 more voters than the roughly 1.4 million on the rolls in 2016, according to data provided by the clerk’s office.

Orr attributes the uptick in voter registration to a change in law that allows people to register online, which could be making it easier for younger people to go through the process. The political climate of the country and social movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo are also factors in voter registration.

In 2014, about 40 percent of eligible voters turned out for the mid-term elections compared to 60 percent of eligible voters who cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential race, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. A survey conducted by Pew months before the 2016 presidential election found that eligible voters didn’t register for a variety of reasons, ranging from not wanting to vote to simply not getting around to sign up. Still others said they didn’t feel inspired by a candidate or an issue to vote.

Des Plaines

Award-winning poet to read her work

Chicago area poet Virginia Bell will give a special reading 6-7:30 p.m. Oct. 10, at Oakton Community College’s Studio One Theater, 1600 E. Golf Road, Des Plaines. Admission to this Chicago Writers Series event is free.

The Chicago Writers Series has been successful in bringing celebrated authors and poets to campus for readings and discussions. 

The award-winning Bell is the author of “From the Belly,” a book-length collection of poetry. Her poetry will be featured in the forthcoming “Kettle Blue Review,” an online literary journal, and “50/50: Poems and Translations by Women Over 50,” a QuillsEdge Press anthology. Learn more about her work at Bell is an instructor at Loyola University Chicago and teacher at the Chicago High School for Arts.  

For more information about the event, contact David Kelly at 847-635-1950 or 


Symphony opens season with first of five concerts

The Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest will open its new season with a concert celebrating Columbus Day at 4 p.m. Oct. 7 in the Concordia University Chapel, 7400 Augusta, River Forest. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Ode to Joy” will be performed with soloists Jessica Coe, soprano; Julia Hardin, mezzo-soprano; Christian Ketter, tenor; and Daniel Eifert, baritone; and features The Symphony Chorus.

Free parking is available in the garage located at 1124 N. Bonnie Brae Place (one block west of Harlem Avenue between Division and Thomas streets).

There will be a pre-concert conversation at 3 p.m., and a reception immediately following the concert.

FlexTix subscriptions are $125 for the five-concert season, $100 for seniors 65+. Single tickets are $28. Students through college attend the River Forest concerts free. Subscriptions and tickets are available at and also at the door.

The audience is asked to bring items for the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry.


Teens invited to design messages about speeding, win prizes

The Arlington Heights Police Department is calling high school students to enter a contest seeking to develop public service announcements about the negative impacts of speeding.

The Speed Awareness Video Education Challenge, or SAVE, invites anyone enrolled in a Northwest Suburban High School District 214 school or any private high school in Arlington Heights to create videos that could be used as part of the department’s traffic safety educational campaigns on public access television and social media.

Applications, available at, are due by Oct. 15, and videos are due by Dec. 15.

Entries will be judged by law enforcement, school officials and community members, and an award will be presented to the students and home school producing the winning entry.



–Cook County News Briefs–