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Letters to the Editor

Updated: November 25, 2012 11:25AM

The Ambassadors

On Oct. 13, the North Chicago Exchange Club hosted the Harlem Ambassadors professional show basketball team for a night of high-flying slam dunks, hilarious comedy and feel-good family entertainment.

The Harlem Ambassadors would like to extend a special thank you to event organizers Paula Carballido and Stella Jones who planned and promoted the game. The North Chicago Exchange proved to be an energetic, enthusiastic and challenging team and we thank all of the players for their good sportsmanship. The event would not have been possible without the support and generosity of local community sponsors, the North Chicago Exchange club members and the event volunteers.

The Harlem Ambassadors thank the community of North Chicago for its warm hospitality and look forward to returning to North Chicago in the future!

Dale Moss


Harlem Ambassadors

Fort Collins, Colo.

YMCA issues

On Sept. 28, the board of directors of the Lake County Family YMCA announced that it would close, effective Oct. 31, due to “insufficient financial resources to sustain operations on a long-term basis.” For members, employees and the Waukegan community at large, this announcement was the first news that the Y in Waukegan had financial difficulties.

The announcement, and the news stories that followed, raised more questions than they answered. What exactly does “insufficient financial resources for the long term” mean? Why hasn’t the board released detailed financial information about its operations?

Does it make financial sense to separate the Vernon Hills operation from the Waukegan operation? Can the board sell the real property in Vernon Hills, where the community has a higher average income and therefore is likely to have less trouble in replacing the services the Y provides, to pay down some of its debt? I don’t think it can sell the Waukegan land, both because real property values in Waukegan right now are depressed and because I think the Waukegan Y sits on part of the Yeoman Creek landfill pollution site.)

Has the board talked with the Waukegan Park District, which has no indoor pool, about the possibility of some sort of shared operation or takeover of the Waukegan building? Has the board talked with the wellness programs at Vista hospital in Waukegan about some sort of aid, or shared programs?

Has the board talked with the city of Waukegan to explore any creative approaches the city may be able to provide? Has the board talked with local corporations and corporate foundations? Who is on the board? Are they members of the Waukegan community?

We know the board didn’t talk with members. And I suspect the board members haven’t spent much time in the Waukegan Y lately. Have they seen the parents dropping off their children before school in the morning on their way to work, where the Y provides a safe and welcoming place?

Have they seen the retirees in the lobby in the morning, sharing news and caring about each other, in the truest sense of “community”? Have they watched all the people in the pool and the gym and the “learn to swim” classes? Have they talked to the kids on the swim teams?

The Oct. 4 News-Sun article reported that Y spokeswoman Anne O’Connell stated that the board is “evaluating all options for appropriately maximizing value for its stakeholders,” and that “stakeholders” include “creditors.”

I’m not suggesting that the Y can ignore its debts, but it’s pretty disheartening that the “stakeholders” who seem to matter to the board are creditors, rather than children and retirees and employees and the Waukegan community. Sounds like they’ve forgotten their mission.

So here’s a proposal for the board: Why not commit to keep the Y open until June 30, 2013? Then provide the community with the information we need to understand the Y’s financial situation. Then commit to working with interested members of the Waukegan community to explore ways to keep the Y open and to strengthen its presence.

Mary Rose Strubbe


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