Stories by Evan Garcia

Warm Winter Doesn’t Halt Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition

Snow sculptor George Burnette works on his sculpture “Don't Look Under the Bed” on Friday during the Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition in Rockford, Illinois. (Evan Garcia / WTTW)

Every year, artists meet about 80 miles northwest of Chicago to sculpt works of art from an unusual material. We take a look at their frozen creations at the 34th annual competition in Rockford.

Cook County Jail Inmates Turn Vegetable Oil into Diesel Fuel

Cook County Jail inmate Harris Coteus, standing, fills the biodiesel processor with used vegetable oil from the jail’s officer dining hall. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

A small group of detainees are learning how to make biodiesel fuel from reclaimed cooking oil. Hundreds of gallons have so far been produced – and thousands of dollars saved – but officials also tout the program’s rehabilitative value.

How Should Chicago Handle a ‘Climate Emergency’?

(Roman Boed / Flickr)

Ald. Matt Martin recently introduced a resolution in City Council declaring a state of climate emergency. The plan calls for citywide budgetary measures and policies to reduce carbon emissions, but some worry about its economic impact. 

The Week in Review: Pritzker Urges Madigan Aide to Cooperate in Federal Probe

Pritzker gets heated over Madigan aide. Hurt feelings between the mayor and City Council over LGBTQ language. Preckwinkle’s Cook County Health power play. And a new national newscast out of Chicago.

Interim Top Cop Charlie Beck on the Future of Policing in Chicago

Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (WTTW News)

It’s a temporary job, but a big one: Chicago’s interim police superintendent talks about restructuring the police force, parallels between LA and Chicago and the search for the city’s next top cop.

Englewood Aldermen Address Political Divisions at Historic Town Hall

Ald. Stephanie Coleman, 16th Ward, speaks to Paris Schutz of “Chicago Tonight” at a town hall for the Englewood community on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. (WTTW News)

Can one Chicago neighborhood overcome its political divisions to exert more influence in City Council? Five aldermen representing portions of Englewood held a historic town hall Tuesday to try and do just that.

White House Releases Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence Technology

(Photo by Franck V. / Unsplash)

As artificial intelligence becomes more widespread, the White House lays out best practices for developing and using the technology.

US Stocks Surge Amid Easing Tension with Iran, Imminent China Trade Talks

The closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (WTTW News via CNN)

The U.S. stock market closed at record highs Thursday, indicating investor confidence as relations between the U.S. and Iran appear to cool down. Ed Stuart and Michael Miller share their thoughts on current economic conditions.

Trump’s Threat to Attack 52 Iranian Sites Draws Criticism, Concern

President Donald Trump speaks during an “Evangelicals for Trump Coalition Launch” at King Jesus International Ministry, Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)

An expert on Iranian culture says he was “appalled” by President Donald Trump’s threat to attack dozens of Iranian sites. We speak with Matthew Stolper of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute.

The Week in Review: Legal Pot Brings Long Lines, Millions in Revenue

The launch of legal marijuana in Illinois. Chicago homicides drop for the third straight year. What the future holds for Chicago-based Boeing. And the Bears are all in on Mitchell Trubisky in 2020.

AI Technology Used to Detect Strokes at Chicago-Area Hospital

The AI-powered software analyzes brain scans by using an algorithm and deep learning. (Courtesy:, Inc.)

Advocate Lutheran General Hospital is using artificial intelligence software to detect strokes via brain scans – and they say it allows them to initiate treatment faster than ever before.

Northwestern Scientists Study the ‘Shocking’ Mystery of Static Electricity

(Ken Bosma / Wikimedia Commons)

Static electricity was first described more than 2,500 years ago, but scientists have never been able to fully explain what causes it. Researchers at Northwestern University now think they may have solved the mystery.

‘Labor of Love’ Drives Meticulous Stivers Coffee Operation in Pilsen

Donnie Hunt, the roastmaster of Stivers Coffee, checks the color of coffee beans as they roast in the company’s gas-driven roaster. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

For more than 30 years, Stivers Coffee has used a large, gas-driven machine to roast coffee beans from all over the world for Chicago’s restaurants, offices, farmers markets and more. We go for a look.

The Week in Review: Eddie Johnson Out

Mayor Lori Lightfoot fires top cop Eddie Johnson weeks before his retirement. Are the feds eyeing House Speaker Michael Madigan? Legal pot hits a roadblock. And Mitchell Trubisky shines in a Bears win over Dallas.

Preservationists Rally Around Thompson Center as Pritzker Prepares for Sale

Jonathon Solomon, left, of the James R. Thompson Center Historical Society introduces his group at the start of their public tour. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

The state says the building is too expensive to maintain and repair, but architectural activists are determined to highlight its unique features and its role in the city’s past, present and future.

Trump Impeachment Inquiry: House Dems, GOP Trade Barbs on Day 1

Analysis of Wednesday’s public impeachment hearings from three local legal minds: Renato Mariotti, Martin Redish and Christine Svenson.

‘OK Boomer’: Behind the Meme Making Waves on Social Media

(JESHOOTS-com / Pixabay)

Whether it’s used comically or in connection with serious topics, a new internet meme may be underscoring deeper generational divides. 

The Week in Review: Top Cop to Retire, Former LAPD Chief to Step In

Eddie Johnson will make way for interim Superintendent Charlie Beck at the end of the year. Lawmakers talk up lobbying reforms amid a ComEd investigation. And can the Bears salvage their season?

What Some Companies Are Doing with Your ‘Secret’ Consumer Score

(AhmadArdity / Pixabay)

When you send messages to an Airbnb host or order food through Yelp, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about where else that information goes – or who it goes to. But that data has the potential to affect you in surprising ways.

There’s Plenty of Time for Play at Arcade-Themed Rescue The Catcade

Catcade co-founder Chris Gutierrez shows off one of the rescue shelter’s free arcade games. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

In Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, there’s an animal shelter with a twist. We visit an arcade-themed cat rescue and lounge that’s helping foster feline friendships.

Growing Giant Pumpkins ‘A Tough Hobby’ for Illinois Enthusiasts

Joe Adkins of Wheaton, Illinois prepares to weigh a giant pumpkin he grew. At 1,258 pounds, the gourd took first place in a contest on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

Inside a barn about 60 miles southwest of Chicago, six giant pumpkins are hoisted by forklift onto an industrial scale and weighed, one by one, so their growers can claim cash prizes for the heaviest – and bragging rights.

Congress Grills Zuckerberg on Facebook’s Digital Currency Plans

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Committee on Financial Services on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. (WTTW News)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced tough questions Wednesday from members of Congress about his social media platform’s digital currency project. We discuss the billionaire tech entrepreneur’s plans for Libra.

How Parents of CPS Students Are Coping With Canceled Classes

Parents across the city again have to figure out what to do with their children who attend Chicago Public Schools. We check in with four parents of CPS students who joined us last week ahead of the expected strike.

The Story of Mold-A-Rama, Chicago’s Very Own Souvenir Machine

Paul Jones of Mold-A-Rama Inc. checks on a souvenir machine at Lincoln Park Zoo. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

For more than 50 years, vending machines scattered throughout Chicago-area zoos and museums have sold visitors souvenirs made of melted plastic. Meet the man keeping the vintage technology alive.

The Week in Review: Chicago’s Teachers on Strike

Chicago teachers take to the picket lines. Will the city delay the start of legal pot sales? A federal probe into ComEd widens. And the Bears try to bounce back against the Saints.