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The Historical Society of Forest Park needs a place to call home. And what better place could there be than St. Peter's, the gracious old church, whose limestone walls were raised by Forest Park's early German immigrants, the men and women who also shaped the foundation of this village. That St. Peter's Lutheran Church, and its Andrew Carnegie-donated organ, are on the National Historic Register makes this match more fitting still.
With its congregation dwindling - down to 37 from a peak of 400+ - St. Peter's has been up for sale for months. But so far the market for handsome stone churches has not produced a buyer. The Historical Society, meanwhile, doesn't have much cash, but it does have heart and the clear sense that this is the moment when it must reach higher than it ever has.
So between the need of the fading congregation to get out from under the heavy costs of maintaining the church building and the energy of the Historical Society to raise funds and eventually own its own roof, there seems to be a deal that might get made. It could start with the church leasing to the society or self-financing a sale to the society. The church could continue its monthly services in the building.
There are many options and mutual needs that can be sorted out here.
The Historical Society is in the positive position of having a newly formulated and highly energized board. To raise the funds necessary to not only secure a home but to maintain it will take all that effort. The society also benefits from the very strong support of village leaders who recognize that Forest Park is a town with a great history that needs to be told.
To its credit, the Historical Society has politely refused sincere offers by the village government to locate it in one of two village-owned two-flats. While generous, the contrast between the potential of a Historical Society in the gracious Hannah Avenue Lutheran church and one oddly tucked away in a two-flat is stark.
Now is the time for the Historical Society to make its bold move. There will never be a more historic opportunity.
The usual Welch maneuvers
During his campaign for state rep, Chris Welch plainly promised that he would resign as president of the Proviso Township High School board if he was elected to state office. Well, Welch won the unchallenged nomination for the state rep's seat, even it was by a pathetic and embarrassing 37-vote margin.
But, of course, he is not resigning from the school board. Welch has announced that he won't seek re-election to the school board next year and expects that to salve his critics. In the meanwhile though it is fully clear that Welch is hard at work consolidating his hold on the patronage fiefdom he has built at Proviso so that he can control it all even after he has installed some patsy in the board president's seat.
Right now he is railing within the district and testing out his new Springfield muscles to throw off the yoke of the state's financial oversight board. Welch can bray about reduced band trips and consolidating sports as evidence that the oversight board doesn't care about students. We know the truth. For 10 years the welfare of students has been the furthest thing from Chris Welch's mind.