Local Man Submits to Underpass After Exhaustive Search for Fastest Way Home

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Inching his way south along Robert T. Palmer Dr. toward York St., local resident and Metra commuter Doug Trout told reporters crammed into the backseat of his Audi S5 Sportback on Tuesday that after an exhaustive search to find the fastest route home from one of the city’s 17 parking garages, he has officially surrendered to the Palmer underpass, joining the long and slow-moving line of SUV’s and luxury sedans headed toward south Elmhurst each weekday between the hours of 5-7 p.m.

“I hate using the Robert Palmer underpass,” said Trout, referring to the curved downtown Elmhurst roadway that runs under First St. and the train tracks and is named after the British singer-songwriter known for his 1980’s hits like “Addicted to Love” and “Simply Irresistible”. “But I’ve been burned too many times by using other ways home.”

Like thousands of Elmhurstonites who ride the Metra each day and all live within one square mile of each other on the city’s south side, Trout has tested every railroad crossing and side street in his struggle to find the quickest drive home, including unconventional paths like Route 83 and Taft Ave. in Berkeley.

“I’ve been ticketed about 5-6 times in Berkeley,” continued Trout, noting the town’s 30 m.p.h. speed limit on St. Charles Rd. that is strictly enforced against outsiders. “That’s also the reason I stopped getting Chinese take-out from Moon Temple.”

Local crossings of the Union Pacific West rail line and the inconvenience of driving through residential neighborhoods riddled with stop signs and pedestrians have also led Trout to using the underpass.

“I don’t know why so many people are outside just walking around or on their bikes,” said Trout, who added that the residents who live immediately east and west of York St. should be quarantined during rush hour. “Don’t they see that there are a bunch of cars doing 40 (m.p.h.) down their street? What are these people thinking?”

At press time, Trout told reporters “Hold on tight. I’m going to try something,” as he turned east on Adelia St.

Elmhurst 7-Elevens Brace for Onslaught of ‘420’ Customers

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Fully staffed and prepared to serve a staggering number of candy bars, Slurpees and anything spinning on hot metal rollers behind the glass counter, employees of local 7-Elevens are expecting a huge spike in sales today as an estimated 10,000 Elmhurst residents will partake in the counterculture holiday “420”.

Often referred to as “Weed Day” and observed on April 20th each year, 420 is when people are invited to celebrate the cannabis culture by smoking marijuana. With only three 7-Eleven stores in Elmhurst, those who participate in the event will have limited options to satisfy their strong urge for snacks (or “munchies”) that coincides with smoking marijuana.

“We’ll be busy all day and all night,” said Spring Rd. 7-Eleven clerk Bobby Aguirre on Wednesday morning, stocking an auxiliary snack aisle with packages of Twinkies and 7-Select brand beef jerky. “It’s like ‘Black Friday’ for convenience stores, except nothing is on sale, and no one is in a big hurry.”

At the First St. 7-Eleven, Assistant Overnight Manager Sanjay Thompson is also preparing for a record-breaking day in sales, despite being located a half block from the Elmhurst Police Station.

“We’ll probably sell about 700 Slurpees throughout the day,” said Thompson, referring to the slushy frozen carbonated beverage that comes in a variety of tantalizing flavors like Pineapple Lime and Sour Patch Watermelon, and is one of the most desired beverages for those who are under the influence of marijuana, along with Red Bull and Tang. “People like to mix the flavors together, so I’ll probably be over there cleaning up spills throughout my shift.”

Over at the York St. 7-Eleven, franchise owner Frank Strada has scheduled an unprecedented second counter clerk from 4:00 p.m. Thursday until 3:00 a.m. Friday, and will have to work the registers himself for part of the day.

“Everybody who works here requested the day off,” said Strada, who noted that eye drops and disposable lighters will account for most of the non-consumable purchases at his store today. “But when you’re selling about 50 Taquitos per hour, you need a second person behind the counter.”

Other businesses in town that expect to see an increase in the number of customers for 420 include pizza restaurants and the Bob James Magic and Curiosities Shop.

Sandburg Principal Reflects on Return of ‘Primitive’ Parent-Teacher Conferences in 2017-18

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Nearly a week after announcing the return of Parent-Teacher Conferences to Sandburg Middle School for the 2017-18 school year, principal Linda Fehrenbacher told reporters seated at a corner table in the school’s cafeteria Monday afternoon that a splinter cell of meddling parents who are against innovation and forward-thinking – and lack faith in the presentation skills of their own flesh and blood – created too much of a distraction for the school to continue with “Student-Led Conferences”, which debuted at Sandburg last fall.

“Apparently, moms and dads prefer ‘one-on-one’ time with teachers, which is a rather outdated form of communication,” said Fehrenbacher, commandeering the funnel cake dessert from each of the reporter’s lunch trays while explaining how some parents made it very clear that they are opposed to the inherent benefits of Student-Led Conferences, like accountability, responsibility, and ownership. “During the Student-Led Conferences, students created Power Point presentations to self-evaluate their progress and to set goals for themselves. There isn’t a teacher in the world that can give more relevant feedback than that.”

Arguing that Student-Led Conferences showed parents what kind of “learner” their child is with informative slide shows detailing school supply needs and color-coded maps illustrating the hierarchy of cafeteria and bus seating, Fehrenbacher noted that she first attempted to compromise with overzealous parents who started a petition earlier this year and began showing up at school board meetings.

“My proposal was to keep the student-led conferences and add an optional ‘drop-in time’ for parents to stand in line and have a decent chance to see one of the teacher before the session ends,” continued Fehrenbacher, paraphrasing her gracious offer emailed to Sandburg parents last month in the critically-acclaimed “Message from the Principal” newsletter. “But that wasn’t good enough for them.”

Reached by telephone for his reaction to the return of Parent-Teacher Conferences at Sandburg, Elmhurst Unit District 205 superintendent David Moyer stated that Fehrenbacher has his endorsement to reinstate Student-Led conferences whenever she feels like pushing parents into the 21st Century.

More Eggs, Less Parental Involvement Expected at Wilder Park Egg Hunt 

by Dave Noble, Your Neighbors and Your Neighborhoods Staff Writer

ELMHURST – Eager to please children and parents slighted by an insufficient number of Easter Eggs filled with candy at previous egg hunts, the Elmhurst Park District has “guaranteed” that at least one in seven children participating in this year’s annual event will find an egg during the mad scramble scheduled to take place at Wilder Park on Saturday, March 26th at 10 a.m.

“(Administrative Assistant) Betty Jacobson is going over to Costco next week to buy one of those jumbo bags of candy,” said Park District Executive Director Jim Rogers, who admitted that he usually purchases a few packages of Skittles and M&Ms at 7-Eleven to fill 40-50 plastic eggs for the hunt.   “I imagine we’ll have about 100 eggs out there this year.”

Adults entering the ring and assisting children during the egg hunt has also been addressed by the Park District this year, as parents will be required to wear human leashes affixed to nearby trees.

The Egg Hunt is followed by “Doggie EGGstravaganza” at 10:30 a.m. and “Unrestrained Exotic Pets” at 11:00 a.m.

Elmhurst Nursing Home Resident: ‘Fight is Not Over’ for Fremont Avenue Access

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Indiscreetly dipping a previously-used Lipton tea bag into a 16-ounce fiber-based cup full of piping hot water, Elmhurst Extended Care Center O.G. Phyllis Royal told reporters sharing a booth with her at the York Street Arby’s on Wednesday afternoon that “the fight is not over” for she and the other long-term care residents, who are disappointed that the city’s Zoning and Planning Commission rejected a conditional use permit last week for building expansion at the nursing home that would have included an additional parking lot just south of the existing facility, with access from the residential street of Fremont Avenue.

“I don’t care about a bigger building with larger rooms,” said Royal, squeezing a fourth packet of Horsey Sauce on top of her Jr Bacon Cheddar Melt. “I want the parking lot and a way to get in and out of that place on the down-low.”

Citing a strict care center curfew of 10:00 p.m. on weekdays and 11:00 p.m. on weekends, Royal said that she and her posse want to avoid detection when returning after midnight from excursions to Gold Strike Bingo in Melrose Park or a local drinking establishment she referred to as “Galway’s”.

“Nobody needs to know when we’re coming or going,” said Royal, who added that she had also planned to leave her Crown Victoria in the new parking lot so that she can “get the hell out of Dodge” whenever her son-in-law unexpectedly showed up for a visit.  “I keep a ‘go bag’ in my car at all times with a few hundred dollars and an open-ended Amtrak ticket for those types of situations.”

While the nursing home’s requests for a zoning change and property consolidation passed fairly easily, the commissioners rejected the amended conditional use permit based on a concern that the proposed parking lot and its access from Fremont would damage the residential nature of the neighborhood.  Royal dismissed the feelings of Fremont residents as “jibberish” and promised that the city hasn’t heard the last from her and fellow care center residents.

The proposal now moves on to the City Council’s Development, Planning and Zoning Committee, who are expected to uphold the decision by the commission when they take up the issue of the nursing home facility at its April 10 or April 24 meeting.

City Dyes Salt Creek in Honor of Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day Parade

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Mayor Steve Morley – with the help of Elmhurst City Council members and Park District officials – temporarily changed the color of Salt Creek’s water to an emerald green this morning in honor of today’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, pouring 15 pounds of an eco-friendly vegetable-based dye into the creek.

The process took place at the Elmhurst Salt Creek County Forest Preserve, just north of St. Charles Road and west of Route 83, where flour sifters were used to pour the powdery substance into the water. A small motorboat piloted by Mayor Morley helped spread the dye, and within an hour, nearly the entire Elmhurst segment of Salt Creek had turned green.

The creek color will return to its natural murky-brown by Sunday morning.

Filming Begins in Elmhurst for New ‘Million Dollar Listing’ Reality TV Series

by Dave Noble, Entertainment Editor

ELMHURST – Move over New York, Miami and San Francisco! The city of Elmhurst is ready to be featured in the next series spin-off from the hit Bravo cable television reality show “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles”. Set to air this fall, shooting for “Million Dollar Listing Elmhurst” began earlier this month. The series chronicles the professional and personal lives of local real estate agents and the whirlwind adventures of selling high-end residential properties in Elmhurst.

“There’s a lot of competitiveness in the real estate market here, and some juicy storylines,” said series producer Ralph Gunner, who selected Elmhurst as the location for the fourth spin-off of Million Dollar Listing based on its rising million-dollar home sales and the propensity of Elmhurst homebuyers to tear down perfectly good houses and replace them with “McMansions” that often occupy up 95% of the lot size. “By the time we’re done filming this spring, we’ll have enough material for two or three seasons of shows.”

One of the agents featured on the series is Schiller Real Estate’s Mike Sparrow, known for being the man who not only sold the most expensive house ever listed in Elmhurst, but managed to unload a famously difficult property that had been on the market for more than ten years.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to close the deal,” said Sparrow, who in the opening episode slips one client a pair of free tickets to an Elmhurst College men’s basketball game and is later shown closing a deal with another client during the Turtle Racing Finals at The Club Shot & Beer. “If I have to wine and dine a client to make the deal, then that’s what I’m going to do.”

The series also features some of the home buyers, who are typically a husband and wife from Chicago with two kids, a disposable income and an urge to live in the Bank Robbery and Lost Dog Capital of the Western Suburbs. Agent Suzanne Phelps of Berkshire Hathaway is featured in an episode trying to meet the eccentric wishes of one couple who will only look at homes that are less than six months old and have a direct view of Wilder Mansion, The Prairie Path or Salt Creek.

“Most families looking at million-dollar listings just want an outdoor fireplace, an in-ground pool and a couple of media rooms,” said a frustrated Phelps in a scene filmed outside of Ace Hardware, where the 30-year veteran of the Elmhurst real estate market came up empty in her search for a water feature of any kind that would have been used to depict Salt Creek for her clients. “But I seem to get all the most difficult buyers.”

Local viewers will recognize various parts of Elmhurst that serve as a picturesque backdrop throughout the series, including the town’s majestic parking garages, empty downtown storefronts, and the quarry.  

Elmhurst Crumbles Under the Weight of ‘Spring Fever’

by Dave Noble, City News Editor 
ELMHURST – Record-breaking weather unleashed by Mother Nature this weekend upon the unsuspecting and unprepared residents of Elmhurst wreaked havoc throughout town on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as citizens and businesses struggled with unseasonably warm temperatures, bright sunshine, and a city-wide epidemic of “Spring Fever” in the middle of February.

Hundreds of potential customers were reportedly left feeling hungry and frustrated at Hamburger Heaven on Friday afternoon, as window replacement activity outside the legendary food stand known for burgers, root beer, and speeding 80,000-pound semi-trailer trucks whizzing by within arm’s length of the pick-up window inadvertently gave passersby the impression that it was open for business.

On the city’s west side, resident Brenda Rose told reporters on Saturday that she was still recovering from a terrifying event at her home that took place earlier that morning, where she struggled for more than 20 minutes to locate her son’s lightweight North Face Mack Mays Full Zip Hoodie, which was lost in a sea of winter North Face Triclimate jackets, North Face Himalayan parkas and North Face Thermoball vests hanging in his walk-in closet. Rose was further distraught after learning that two of her three children had already stepped in dog feces within ten minutes of playing in the family’s River Glen Avenue backyard.

Along the Prairie Path, drivers and path users reported a temporary loss of vision on both Saturday and Sunday as bicyclists, walkers, and joggers blinded each other throughout the day with their winter-white legs. Victims were treated with water and shade and were later released to continue their activities.

On Sunday evening, Bryan Street homeowner Tony Guidry summed up the mayhem in Elmhurst caused by three consecutive days of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-60’s.

“I was really looking forward to shooting the puck around with my kids this weekend,” said Guidry, who also owns the property next to his house, where he built a 125-foot by 50-foot hockey rink back in December that is clearly not a membrane structure nor a potential contributor to flooding and is surely covered by his homeowners insurance policy. “I didn’t build this thing for my kids to play soccer in the month of February.  So we’re all praying that Elmhurst can return to normal weather before people lose their minds.”

According to the National Weather Service, the high temperature in Elmhurst is expected to be 66 degrees both Monday and Tuesday.

Elmhurst “Have-Nots” Endure Elements, Each Other to Sign Up for YMCA After-School Program

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Hundreds of local parents inexplicably living in something called a “two-income household” and unable to afford a nanny or to rely on a single breadwinner for their family braved the frigid temperature, the constant rumbling of nearby freight trains, and the company of fellow Elmhurst residents by standing in line for hours outside the First Street YMCA Saturday morning for the opportunity to register their kids for a prized after-school program offered by the local community center that transports children from their school to the “Y” every day and allows parents to pick them up as late as 6:00 p.m.

With space for the 2017-2018 school year program limited by the maximum occupancy of one bus per District 205 school and further reduced by a grandfather clause that allows early registration for current program members, parents began lining up outside the First Street YMCA around midnight for the 6:00 a.m. registration start and were challenged to stay awake, to keep warm, and to interact on friendly terms with other Elmhurst residents competing for same program spots and whose demeanor ranged from “slaphappy” to “irritated”.

“I’ve been out here since about 2:00 a.m.,” said Emerson Elementary dad Max Knight, angrily clutching a Shell gas station large “regular” coffee diluted with an off-brand sugar substitute and a powdered non-dairy creamer while standing in front of the warming flames of a burning Elmhurst Park District garbage can, placed on the sidewalk about 20 feet from the front door of the YMCA. “If we don’t get into this program, then my wife will probably have to quit her job so she can pick up our daughter from school every day. And then there goes our trip to the Wisconsin Dells this summer.”

While the stress weighed heavily on the minds of many parents waiting to find out if their children would get into the swanky after-school program noted for turning meagerly-athletic children into adequate swimmers, skaters, and mixed-martial arts competitors, others clearly embraced the comradery of waiting outside in the cold with their fellow residents.

“I’ve had three shots of Fireball, so I’m feeling pretty warm inside,” said Jackson Elementary mom Sandy Meyer, referring to the popular cinnamon-flavored whiskey often compared to the flavor of Red Hots candy soaked in water and associated with a complex history of bad decisions by those who have over-consumed the spirit. “It’s just so nice to share this nice experience with other nice people, and to share a drink or two.”

YMCA front desk clerk Brian Smoltz – scheduled to open the doors for registration at precisely 6:00 a.m. and instructed to “get the hell out of the way” after he does so – was concerned that some parents would display unhappiness or frustration if their kids weren’t able to get into the Y’s after-school program.

“I’m not the ‘bad guy’ here,” said Smoltz, wearing swim trunks, a tank top and flip-flops while staring out the YMCA windows at a large crowd of drowsy, shivering zombies waiting to complete the registration process and go back home to bed. “So if they can’t get into the program, it’s not my fault. Maybe these people should have thought about child care first before moving to Elmhurst.” 

Elmhurst Restores Town Dignity by Squashing Hoop House

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – A collective sigh of relief was felt throughout Elmhurst last week as an administrative judge ordered a local family to remove their unsightly backyard membrane structure (commonly referred to as a “hoop house” and bearing no aesthetic value whatsoever) by the end of February, or face fines from the city.

Rising a couple of feet above every privacy fence in the neighborhood and constructed primarily with plain one-inch PVC piping and HDX six-millimeter polyethylene clear plastic sheeting typically used by painters and axe murderers, the now-famous hoop house built by Fairview resident Nicole Virgil and her family for the purpose of gardening during the winter left many citizens wondering over the last several weeks if the backyards throughout their town would eventually resemble “Tijuana junkyards” had the city upheld its unofficially-official stance on the subject, which inexplicably allowed the ghastly 12 x 20 foot atrocity to exist over the previous two winters.

“I’ll be happy when this nightmare is over,” said N. Van Auken resident Karen O’Neil, who admitted that the only time she’s ever driven through the Virgils’ neighborhood located west of Spring Road was when she got lost trying to find parking for the Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day Parade a few years ago. “I don’t have to see it every day to know that I don’t want it in my town.”

Residents who live closer to the Virgils’ home echoed what the overwhelming majority of Elmhurst residents feel about the hoop house.

“Until all this came up in the news, I thought they had a speedboat or an RV tucked under there to prevent it from the winter elements, which was cool with me,” said Jeff Canseco, who lives one block west of the Virgils and can point to the exact spot on his street where anyone driving by can clearly see the peak of the 9-foot tall hoop house if they are heading southbound and traveling at less than 10 miles per hour. “But to grow vegetables in the winter in a town that has both a Mariano’s and a Whole Foods? That’s ridiculous.”

In addition to the dreadful sight of the structure – which one neighbor reports is 100% visible from both her deck and her bedroom terrace – Elmhurst residents have also accused the Virgils of using their winter harvest in a lucrative summer business called “Fairfield Produce”, where their children are forced to sell vegetables from the front yard for two full hours each and every Saturday morning from June through August.

“I’ve had to wait a couple of times while the kids try to figure out how much change I have coming back to me when I drop down a hundred dollar bill for six bucks worth of kale,” said Brendon Cooper, who added that he only shops at Fairview Produce because it’s easier to keep an eye on his Range Rover when he’s away from the vehicle. “If they’re struggling with that, then you know their parents are skimming off the top of the kitty. Where is that money going?”.

The Virgils are reportedly exploring all other options before surrendering to the city and removing the hoop house.