In all of the hard-nosed, often petty, political nonsense that has too often defined Forest Park’s civic life in recent years, it would be hard to find two more determined foes than Mark Hosty, the former village commissioner, and Steve Backman, long associated with dissident voices in town.
These men just don’t like each other.
So while they may not soon have a beer together at Healy’s Westside, the bar Hosty manages, we have this week a story of a perhaps unintended collaborative effort that is good for Forest Park and the great history that all residents share and celebrate.
Healy’s Westside moved into the long, longtime furniture store at Madison and Circle in the 1990s. Left in place was the lovely and prominent “Wolf Bros.” stained glass sign that graced the Circle Avenue side of the building.
After seeing a suggestion in a Facebook post that the sign ought to end up eventually at the Historical Society of Forest Park, Hosty generously decided to make the donation.
That led Hosty and historical society volunteers to lovingly move the deteriorating and fragile sign to the society’s new home on Elgin Avenue. It was at this point that Backman joined the story. A retired UIC professor in Industrial Design and Fine Arts Sculpture, Backman spent the next four months painstakingly cleaning the sign. The grout that held the pieces of art glass together was coming out and much of the glass was covered in layers of paint. Working most mornings, Backman gradually restored the many pieces of the sign. He describes the work as “very satisfying,” and said that he “appreciated the workmanship. The lettering was fantastic; it was genius.”
Diane Grah, executive director of the society, says more work still needs to be done to replace cracked or missing pieces from the sign. But she envisions it hanging proudly in a window at the society, a reminder of the 100-plus years when a prominent corner of Madison was devoted to furniture.
We like the pairing of two rivals, even indirectly, teaming up to make something very special happen in a hometown they both feel passionately about.
Hispanic perspective in Proviso
It is embarrassing to admit but until the election last spring, which brought new energy and priorities to the school board of the Proviso Township High Schools, we simply didn’t understand the size and the importance of the Hispanic enrollment of these schools.
Claudia Medina, a Forest Parker and the first Latina elected to that board, last week asked her colleagues to consider steps the school district might take to facilitate the process toward citizenship for young Proviso students. She ably made the case that helping students begin such a process early would ease their path to a potential college career.
She also asked the board to consider making the schools “Safe Zones,” protected from immigration officials where families could gather to process paperwork. That issue was rightly sent to the district’s lawyers for input.
We are fortunate to have this wider perspective on this elected board.