February is here again and that means it’s time to have a heart for your un-spayed and un-neutered cats and dogs. Your local friendly veterinarian is happy to spay or neuter your pet at a nominal fee during this month. Here we see baby male Midnight who has just been neutered by local veterinarian Dr. John Brancel of Prairie State Veterinary Hospital. Dr John’s loyal assistant, Luther, stands guard. Midnight is the young kitten of Derrick Gist, his wife Judy and kids Rashell and Leonard. Rashell and Leonard are students at Proviso East. The Gist family, all animal lovers, have taken in a stray dog, a cat Misty and now Midnight. Big happy dog Rumpy loves his cat roommates. By spaying or neutering a kitten you can literally save the lives of millions of kittens, who will never know hunger, cold, the feeling of abandonment and all that goes with overpopulation.

Please allow me to publicly thank some very kind neighbors who have been on hand to help me this past week when I was ill: Geri Grant, Geri Grant and Geri Grant – also Roger Grant, Rich Krieger, Peggy O’Rourke, and Ilir Ramanani.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to our neighbor, Nancy Millar. This tiny lady is undergoing chemo. You can see Nancy cleaning and sweeping around her beloved St. Bernardine School where she loves being near kids.

Congratulations to Forest Park’s Rev. John E. Helmke who has published a scholarly article in the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly about the great Lutheran Henry Adam Klein, a Missouri Synod pastor, a missionary in Brazil, and president of Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield during the 1930s.

Commissioner Chris Harris has a great, and somewhat novel, idea. He’ll be hosting a town hall, Feb. 23, about two properties owned by the village: the eight acres behind Altenheim and the burned-out building at 512 Desplaines Ave. He’d like to find out what the people actually want and try to get it for them. What kind of new democracy is that? Hooray for Chris. He may have started something.

Last week, those of us who contribute to the Forest Park Review had a meeting at the Forest Park Public Library. We are determined to get more local news to you. Call and tell us what’s happening and we’ll break our necks to get there and tell everyone.

A special free concert by the Monticello Ensemble will be offered by St. Peter and St. Paul Lutheran Church, 31st Street and Desplaines Avenue (just over the border, inside Riverside). The concert begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12. These are professional musicians who will delight you, I promise. Refreshments will follow the program.

A great asset of Forest Park is our very own Centuries & Sleuths award-winning bookstore. On Feb. 22 the world-famous mystery writer, creator of V.I.Warshawski, Sara Paretsky, will discuss and sign copies of her newest mystery, Breakdown. Be there by 7 p.m. or, better still, get there long before 7 p.m. so you’ll get a seat. Augie Aleksy’s programs fill up fast.

The G.K.Chesterton Society will explore literary criticism and appreciation of Charles Dickens this Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. on Feb. 11. Also at C&S at 11 a.m. that same day, Feb. 11, the Sisters in Crime meeting will feature William Wolf, Cook County criminal defense lawyer. Lots to learn around town.

Happy birthday this week to Marilyn Gotsch, Corinna Jantz, Karrie Schlichting, Kirsten Cursel, Paul Stahlke, Elisha Apilado, Eleanor Cole, Tiffany Greenberg, Christine Marshan, Cedric Javier, Ian McSheffrey, Daniel Marote, Paula Peterson, Emmaly Sansone, Tiffany Greenberg, Amelia Huebner, Michael Paulin, Hailey Reis, Timothy X. Lane, Kyle Clifton, Valentina Marusk, and Payton Schmidt. Happy anniversary wishes to Tim and Dorothy Gillian and Bonnie and Pat Cimiglia.

Hope to see you at Chris Harris’ meeting.

Jackie is a former Chicago and Elmwood Park schoolteacher with an undying love for music, friendly pets and a host of life’s other treasures too numerous to list. She was born on the far southwest side of Chicago in a great neighborhood when it was a great time to be young.