Stories by patty wetli

Park District Budget Anticipates Return to Normal, at Least in Terms of Programming, Staff Levels

The Chicago Park District’s proposed 2022 budget anticipates programming and staffing to rebound to pre-pandemic levels. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The district’s proposed $510.9 million budget for 2022 includes a property tax increase that will add $4.3 million to its bottom line. The tax will cost the average homeowner an extra $4 a year, officials said.

The Bells Are Still Clanging, But Donations to Salvation Army’s Red Kettles Have Gotten Quieter

(The Salvation Army Chicago Metropolitan Division / Facebook)

The bells will be clanging, but coins won’t necessarily be clinking as the Salvation Army kicks off its annual Red Kettle campaign Monday. With people carrying less cash, the Salvation Army has adjusted to accept more contactless payment methods in 2021.

Enjoy the Mild Temps, It's All Downhill From Here, National Weather Service Says

(Linus Schutz / Pixabay)

The National Weather Service is encouraging folks to get out and enjoy what could be the last day to reach the mid- to upper-60s in 2021. 

Get Ready To Fall Back to Standard Time This Weekend

(Rudy and Peter Skitterians / Pixabay)

Clocks turn back an hour this weekend as time reverts to standard at 2 a.m. Sunday. The switch means the sun will rise before 7 a.m. in Chicago — for a brief period, at least — but will set well before 5 p.m. 

Logan Square Blue Spruce to Star as Chicago’s Christmas Tree

Chicago's official 2021 Christmas tree, loaded up and ready for transport from Logan Square to Millennium Park. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Chicago’s official 2021 Christmas tree was hoisted from its longtime home on a Logan Square block and loaded onto a trailer Friday morning. Destination: Millennium Park.

Natural Born Grub Killers: Why Not Use Skunks, Chickens? Experts Weigh In

The beetle grubs that ate Welles Park have been dispatched with insecticidal efficiency. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The use of chemicals to treat a grub infestation in Welles Park led some people to question whether there weren't natural alternatives. Why not let skunks take care of the problem? How about setting loose a flock of backyard chickens?

First Flakes of the Season Have Fallen, But Don’t Break Out the Boots Just Yet

(Nikita Khandelwal / Pexels)

The first snow of the season has officially hit the ground in the Chicago region, with a trace amount recorded at Rockford on Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Mr. Pritzker Goes to Glasgow, Positioning Illinois as the State To Partner With on Climate Change Solutions

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaking Nov. 1, 2021, at a COP26 kick-off event hosted by the British Consulate General in Chicago. (UK Consulate Chicago / Twitter)

Buoyed by the recent passage of the ambitious Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is heading to the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland, to present Illinois as a global player in the emerging green economy.

Prairies Are Making Headlines. But What Exactly Are They? Here’s an Explainer

Big bluestem grass creates a colorful burgundy ribbon in a prairie. (Laura Hubers / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

So little prairie still exists in Illinois, most residents of the state have never encountered this rare landscape. Here, then, is an introduction.

Here Comes the Freeze, Gardeners. RIP Green Tomatoes

(HBH-MEDIA-photography / Pixabay)

All those green tomatoes still on the vine are in for a shock as November kicks off with a string of overnight temperatures dipping below freezing, according to the National Weather Service.

What Is COP26? Here’s a Quick Guide to the Global Climate Summit

(Gerd Altmann / Pixabay)

COP26 is making global headlines as leaders from around the world meet to confront climate change. What exactly is this gathering and what makes it different from other summits?

Bell Bowl Advocates Say Work Is Just Beginning: ‘This Is a Lot Bigger Than Rockford Airport’

Bell Bowl Prairie, a high-quality remnant of Illinois prairie, located within the boundary of Chicago Rockford International Airport. (Courtesy of Cassi Saari)

Members of the coalition that sprung up to save Bell Bowl Prairie from demolition by the Rockford Airport are allowing themselves a brief victory lap to celebrate a temporary suspension of construction.

Don’t Let Jack-O’-Lanterns Go to Waste, Compost Them at Chicago-Wide Pumpkin Smash Event

(webandi / Pixabay)

The annual Pumpkin Smash event encourages people to compost their gourds instead of trashing them. Dozens of sites across the Chicago region will be collecting jack-o’-lanterns and gourds on Nov. 6.

June Beetle ID’d as Grub That Ate Welles Park, And It’s Likely to Raise a Stink on Its Way Out

The grubs that laid waste to a pair of North Side parks have been ID'd as the larvae of the June beetle. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

June beetle larvae are responsible for devastating a pair of North Side parks. The Chicago Park District is set to begin treating the infestation, but things could get worse before they get better. 

Bell Bowl Proponents Sue To Stop Rockford Airport’s Bulldozers, Say ‘Prairies Are Illinois’ Redwoods’

Bell Bowl Prairie, a high-quality remnant of Illinois prairie, located within the boundary of Chicago Rockford International Airport. (Courtesy of Cassi Saari)

The Natural Land Institute filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court to stop the Greater Rockford Airport Authority from tearing up the 8,000-year-old Bell Bowl Prairie as part of an airport expansion project.

Bell Bowl Prairie Reprieve, Rockford Airport Temporarily Pauses Construction

Bell Bowl Prairie, a high-quality remnant of Illinois prairie, located within the boundary of Chicago Rockford International Airport. (Courtesy of Cassi Saari)

In a dramatic 11th-hour turnaround, Chicago Rockford International Airport officials announced Thursday a change in plans affecting the 8,000-year-old Bell Bowl Prairie remnant. Construction slated to resume Monday has been suspended until further consultations with federal agencies are completed.

Grubs’ Days Are Numbered as Chicago Park District Preps to Combat Infestation in Welles Park

Grubs have laid waste to Welles Park, making it hard to tell where ball diamonds' infields end and outfields begin. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Treatment by the Chicago Park District of a grub infestation, which laid waste to a third of Welles Park’s 15 acres, will shut down the affected area to all activity for months, and spring sports are in jeopardy.

Pritzker: Illinois Expecting 500K ‘Kid-Sized’ COVID-19 Vaccines

(WTTW News)

Illinois will have a “robust supply” of COVID-19 vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11 as soon as they receive approval, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “Parents should be able to breathe a sigh of relief they’ve been holding in for 18 months,” he said.

Batten Down the Halloween Decorations: Gusty Winds, High Waves Forecast To Start the Week

(Kaique Rocha / Pexels)

Mother Nature is throwing the kitchen sink at Chicago, weather-wise, to kick off the work week.

New Twist to Piping Plover Saga: The Chick That Wouldn’t Migrate

A piping plover. (Cadop / Pixabay)

One of Monty and Rose’s grand-chicks, which hatched this summer in Ohio, never migrated south. The plover will spend the winter being cared for at the Detroit Zoo.

Trick or Major Treat: 10-Pound Chocolate Bars up for Grabs in Citywide Halloween Costume Contest

(Public Domain Pictures / Pixabay)

Attention chocoholics: Chicago has announced a citywide Halloween costume contest, with 10-pound bars of chocolate being dangled as the top prize.

The Mystery of the Grubs That Ate Welles Park – Even Experts Are Shocked and Awed

An infestation of beetle grubs has decimated a huge swath of Welles Park in Lincoln Square. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

A freak grub infestation has laid waste to roughly one-third of Welles Park’s 15 acres in Lincoln Square. The scope of the destruction — which the Chicago Park District is working to address — is so out of the ordinary, even experts say they’re stunned.

Bell Bowl Prairie Proponents Have a Proposal to Save Rare Land and Allow Rockford Airport to Expand

Construction on the Rockford Airport cargo expansion has come right to the edge of Bell Bowl Prairie. (Courtesy of Cassi Saari)

Supporters of the movement to save Bell Bowl Prairie, a small patch of rare remnant prairie situated within the boundaries of Chicago Rockford International Airport, say they have a simple solution that preserves the prairie and allows the airport to expand: Just move a road.

Chicago Park District Issues Vaccine Mandate to Employees: No Jab? No Pay

Park District staff face losing pay if they refuse to comply with a new vaccine mandate. (Chicago Park District / Facebook)

Staff who have haven’t received accommodations and still remain unvaccinated as of March 1, 2022, will be placed on a non-disciplinary no-pay status until they comply with the mandate.

Welcome to SkyTown. City Celebrating WNBA Champs With Parade, Rally on Tuesday

The Chicago Sky are the 2021 WNBA champs. (Chicago Sky / Facebook)

A downtown parade and rally are planned for Tuesday to celebrate Chicago’s newest championship sports team: the Chicago Sky.

What Happened to Fall Color? Chicago’s Peak Is Still a Week or Two Away

Green trees along the North Branch of the Chicago River, Oct. 14, 2021. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Sunny days and cool nights are the key to brilliant fall foliage. If the weather cooperates, expect things to take a turn for the colorful as Chicago’s trees hit their peak within the next two weeks.