Mexico comes to Lansing, Illinois

Mexico Lansing Illinois

Mexico Lansing Illinois
Lansing’s Memorial Junior High played host to about 700 visitors who came to see the performance.
LANSING, Ill. (August 26, 2017) – A crowd of about 700 people from Lansing, Lynwood, Dyer, Schererville, and beyond filed into the auditorium at Memorial Junior High School for a two-hour performance—México en el Corazón—by Guadalajara’s Ballet Folklórico. The performance troupe is visiting the United States as part of a collaboration with NAIMA (North American Institute for Mexican Advancement) and the Guadalajara government. They will cover 7,000 miles in 30 days.

The tour includes 17 live shows in 14 cities in states with the highest Mexican population: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Texas, and Illinois. The group chose Lansing, Illinois, because of the vibrant, hardworking, and growing Latino community, which has similarities to the people of Jalisco, Mexico. The Federacion Jalisciense, a group of hometown associations from Jalisco, sponsored the event to “build bridges between Mexican-Americans in the United States and Mexicans in our native state of Jalisco, in the knowledge that improving communities on both sides of the border strengthens both countries and improves the lives of all people.”

Mexico Lansing Illinois
Colorful costumes and lively dance steps are all part of the Mexican ballet.
Mexico Lansing Illinois
“Yo soy Mexicana!” said Superintendent Cecilia Heiberger as she welcomed the guests.
Information provided by the troupe’s publicity team explains that the Ballet Folklórico was formed in 1984 by Guadalajara’s Secretary of Culture, to preserve and share the traditions, music, dances, and folklore of Guadalajara. They have toured internationally as ambassadors of Mexican folklore. The Federacion Jalisciense, a group of hometown associations from Jalisco, Mexico, sponsored the event to “build bridges between Mexican-Americans in the United States and Mexicans in our native state of Jalisco, in the knowledge that improving communities on both sides of the border strengthens both countries and improves the lives of all people.”

Dr. Cecilia Heiberger, Superintendent of School District 158, welcomed the ambassadors by saying, “It gives me great pleasure to welcome the dance troupe, and to be celebrating the fine arts of Mexico and its contributions to our United States as well. I love that my family’s here, and you may not be aware, but yo soy Mexicana!” (“I am Mexican.”)

Mayor Patty Eidam also spoke words of welcome: “On behalf of the Village of Lansing, ladies and gentlemen, welcome. We’re very excited to have this production here today, and we’re all looking forward to learning something new about the culture.”

Mexico Lansing Illinois
The performance opened with mariachi-style folk songs.

Mexico Lansing Illinois
Audience participation was part of the fun.
Mexico Lansing Illinois
After more than two hours of non-stop singing and dancing, the performers received a standing ovation.

From Lansing, the Ballet Folklórico takes México en el Corazón to Cicero, where they will perform on Tuesday. On Wednesday they perform in Chicago’s Millennium Park. All performances are free.

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Family, Fun, and Fireworks—a special Lansing, Ill, event by LACE

LANSING, Ill. (posted August 2017) – “You can’t replace AutumnFest. This is not an AutumnFest replacement,” said Jean McCall and Debbie Waitekus at the planning meeting for the September 9 “Family, Fun, & Fireworks” event. McCall and Waitekus are on the Board of LACE—the Lansing Association for Community Events—whose annual AutumnFest quickly became a popular event for Lansing and surrounding towns. But with Fox Pointe undergoing major construction this year, AutumnFest is on hiatus.

LACE considered alternate locations, but none would able to accommodate the booths, stage, parking, foot traffic, food, and libations that AutumnFest involves.

Lansing Ill event
LACE Board members discuss details surrounding their September 9 “Family, Fun, & Fireworks” event.
“We couldn’t do the Fest this year, so we just wanted to do something good for the community. This is a one-time event,” Waitekus explained.

At an August 23 planning meeting, LACE Board members spent about an hour finalizing details surrounding entertainment, food, security, advertising, and other particulars. Though Family, Fun, & Fireworks will not be as big an event as AutumnFest, LACE hopes it will bring the community together for fall fun and fellowship.

Family, Fun, & Fireworks

At Lansing Country Club (18600 Wentworth Ave):

  • Saturday, September 9, 4:00pm–11:00pm
  • Free admission!

Tentative schedule

Includes all of the following and more:

  • 4:00pm—Jayme Jay Meyer
  • 4:30pm—Magician Ken Mate
  • 5:30pm—Traveling World of Reptiles
  • 6:00pm—Balloons and canvas painting
  • 6:00pm—DJ Leo Valencia
  • 8:30pm—Fireworks
  • 9:00pm—Latin Satin Soul

Other instructions

  • Bring blankets and lawn chairs for maximum fireworks enjoyment
  • Leave your pets at home
  • No coolers or outside alcoholic beverages


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Thornton Township shares property tax appeal tips in Lansing

property tax appeal
An estimated 340 people filled the Lansing Public Library to receive property tax appeal tips from the Thornton Township Assessor’s office.
property tax appeal
Guillermo Garcia and his family attended the workshop. He believes the information will help him save money when he appeals his reassessment.
LANSING, Ill. (August 22, 2017) – “We have not had this many people in the library since the planes were here!” said Library Director Debbie Albrecht, referring to the 2006 Tri Motors “In Plane View” project. Albrecht and other Lansing Public Library staff had set up chairs and tables to accommodate the approximately 150 people they anticipated would attend the Thornton Township Property Tax Appeal Workshop. As 200, then 300, then more arrived, they found themselves scrambling to set up additional chairs and make additional photocopies of the handouts.

Thornton Township Assessor Cassandra Holbert had predicted the crowd would be larger than usual. She has spent the summer doing presentations throughout Thornton Township, and they have been well attended. But the Lansing workshop was the first since the triennial reassessment notices were mailed to all of Thornton Township on August 15. Holbert spent 30 years as an Assessor in Cook County, and she knows that these notices can cause alarm and confusion. She encouraged residents to bring their notices to the Lansing workshop and get their questions answered.

Holbert and her staff explained what reassessment is, how to file an appeal, and which tax-saving exemptions are available. Copies of the required forms were on hand for workshop participants, and staff gave step-by-step instructions for completing the forms right there.

property tax appeal
Hector (seated), from Thornton Township, answers questions from a resident.
Following the large-group presentations, Thornton Township staff made themselves available to answer one-on-one questions from participants. Though the event was scheduled to end at 8:00pm, they stayed until nearly 9:00pm to ensure that all residents received the help they needed.

The next Thornton Township Property Tax Workshop is scheduled for Thursday, August 24, at the Riverdale Senior Center. Contact Thornton Township for more information.

Events like these are important for Lansing residents. The Lansing Journal was there, covering the story. Visit to sign up for your free subscription online.

Lansing residents, police, and government discuss solutions

community meeting
Village of Lansing officials failed to attract a demographically representative sampling of Lansing residents to the August 16 Community Meeting.
Matthew J. Splant/TLJ
LANSING, Ill. (August 16, 2017) – An estimated 125 people gathered in the auditorium of T. F. South High School for a Community Meeting to discuss police/community relations in Lansing. Alongside The Lansing Journal, media coverage was provided by Fox 32, WGN, the Northwest Indiana Times, and LNN. The meeting was part of a series of responses to a June 24 incident involving an off-duty police officer and an African-American teenager. Video of the incident was posted to Facebook on June 26 and soon went viral.

community meeting
Fox 32 News interviewed Saad Abbasy and other Lansing residents for their 9:00pm broadcast.
Melanie Jongsma/TLJ
“I recognize the importance of the reason we’re all here tonight,” said Mayor Patty Eidam in her opening remarks, and she assured the audience that the videoed incident “does not define our community.” After offering several examples of positive programs that Lansing residents are involved in, the Mayor included diversity in a list of qualities that make Lansing special.

Lansing Police Chief Dennis Murrin took the floor and apologized for not being able to speak in specifics about the event due to the ongoing investigation by the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. Murrin admitted that he is “not proud of” what happened, and he invited community members to offer ideas about changes that need to be made.

The community had opportunity to do that during the Community Dialogue section of the meeting, which was moderated by Pastor Leroy Childress of Grace Church and Ken Bergeron of the U. S. Department of Justice. Approximately 10 community members came forward to voice concerns about the Lansing Police Department. Each speaker was limited to two minutes, and Chief Murrin and Mayor Eidam answered questions directly whenever possible. Two T. F. South students served as scribes, summarizing and recording the concerns on a large whiteboard and pad of paper for the audience to see. At the end of 40 minutes, the list of concerns included:

  1. Lack of diversity in Lansing government and police force
  2. Diversity training for police
  3. More community dialogue on race
  4. De-escalation training for police
  5. Limited bilingual staff in government and police force
  6. Lack of communication with the public
  7. Lack of communication with youth
  8. Limited online information in Spanish
  9. Unclear status of Human Relations Commission
  10. Need to improve police complaint process

The next step involved making recommendations to address these concerns, and residents again stepped to the microphones to offer ideas. At the end of 20 minutes, the list of recommendations included:

  1. Create the Human Relations Commission ASAP
  2. Show support for police
  3. Teach conflict resolution to youth
  4. Develop pride between police and youth
  5. Increase civic engagement in government
  6. Use the Library chat room as a public forum for youth
  7. Find new ways to communicate to our diverse community
  8. Encourage community discussion of race and implicit bias
  9. Arrange book discussions about race
  10. Encourage block parties
  11. Use Social Media to promote public forums as events

“I paid very close attention to all of your comments and concerns—and your suggestions,” said Mayor Eidam in her closing remarks. “Your suggestions will be taken to heart.” Mayor Eidam specifically promised to start a Human Relations Commission immediately, and she implied that she already has people in mind whom she will appoint to that Commission.

community meeting
Mayor Eidam was available after the Town Hall meeting to listen to constituents.
Matthew J. Splant/TLJ
Though the mood following the event was generally positive, some residents expressed doubts about the administration’s intentionality to make meaningful change.

The Community Meeting was organized by a coalition of Lansing’s elected officials, staff, school administrators, police department leaders, and clergy, with guidance from the Department of Justice.

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