суббота, 15 сентября 2012 г.

Block Club celebrates achievements of Ald. DeVille - Chicago Defender

Members of the block club at 83rd and Morgan Streets hosted a luncheon for Alderman Leonard DeVille to acknowledge his services to the 21st Ward and to show their appreciation for his dedication as he transitions out of the role of active politician.

Plentiful, but unpretentious, the down home fare of the serve-yourself buffet -- salad, green beans, potatoes, beef and chicken, an assortment of desserts and soft drinks -- gave constituents and friends an opportunity to swap stories and share memories with each other and with the Alderman in a relaxed, family style atmosphere.

Leonard DeVille was appointed Alderman of the 21st Ward by Mayor Daley on Dec. 7, 1997 and elected in 1999, but he recounts: 'Since I was eight years old, I have been involved in politics. Though I am the first to hold political office, my family was always extremely involved as citizens in politics.'

As pastor for the past 13 years of Alpha Temple Baptist Church, 6701 S. Emerald, Rev. DeVille is and has been well-known as an activist in the community. He is sure that is why neighbors and other supporters first encouraged him to take the position of alderman.

'I decided being an elected official was another way I could serve the community. I could help even more people in that position. My father always said, `The more people you help; the more you are helped.' I went into the job wholeheartedly, which I do in everything,' DeVille said.

'Politics takes a great deal out of a person, but I found it is a means of empowerment for the people of the 21st Ward. Our people so often know little to nothing about many city programs that are in place to help them. I am proud of having been able to introduce the Facade Program to the 21st Ward for the first time. This city program makes available up to $10,000 for single homes and $20,000 for 2 flats to qualified citizens.

'Citizens in the 21st Ward,' DeVille said, 'had not had access to tax appeal until we were able to bring Commissioner Shaw to the community for seminars and to help individuals make applications on the spot. The first year, only about 100 people benefited from this effort, but this year, we have held three seminars with the Commissioner and his staff accommodating many more citizens.'

DeVille believes, 'People usually think the alderman's job is to get streets cleaned, garbage picked up, good police service provided, but city departments exist for those services; the alderman's role is to provide legislation making it possible for all citizens to enjoy the best conditions in their city.'

Looking back over what he has been able to achieve during his tenure, DeVille says he is most proud of the new Simeon High School at 83rd and Vincennes which will open in September. Announcing that the school will accommodate 1,600 students, DeVille reports: 'Students were tested two weeks ago, and are already registering to attend this new, comprehensive high school with a first-class computer center and science labs, carpentry and mechanical welding. The new Simeon will attract young families to our community and will enhance property values.'

Deville is proud also of another project: new single family homes ranging from $175,000 to $250,000 now being built between 84th and 87th on Purnell.

'A park is going in front of these homes, and a city program will give up to $40,000 to qualifying families toward purchasing them,' DeVille said.

'These new homes being here,' he continued, 'will encourage present homeowners in the on-going process to fix up and beautify their properties and will help escalate property values.'

As he leaves office, Deville announces his plans to continue working on getting churches and hospitals involved in his Access Community Health Center to make available mammograms for breast cancer screening and pap smears for cervical cancer screening, and to continue working, very closely with senior citizens, who are constantly being exploited and taken advantage of by unethical individuals and businesses that prey on them.

Saying he has been a business man all his life, DeVille expressed his hopes that businesses will be brought into the community.

'That includes some large enterprise, such as a Marshall Field's or Carson's department store, that will provide jobs,' he said.

Explaining, he said the 21st Ward is one of the most permanent, middle-income communities in Chicago, and it has the space and the drawing power 'to attract more than the type of small businesses that provide only minimum wage jobs which cannot support families.'

He hopes to see the ward also get more and more involved in 'recycling which is inexpensive and creates many jobs. In a period of years, a major issue for the next generation will be trying to get rid of garbage. Instead of always trying to depend on the city, we need to take the initiative to clean up to the fence lines of our own alleys and to the curbs in front of our own properties.'

DeVille hopes his ordinance is passed making it possible for police to fine individuals up to $300 when their license numbers are reported by citizens who witness them throwing garbage into the streets.

Asked what he will do next, DeVille said: 'I will rest; I love fishing and I will be at home.' That reply received a chuckle which seemed to indicate that DeVille is still expected where he has always been -- on the case in the community.

Photograph (Leonard DeVille)