by T. C. Mayfield, The Chicago Times

May 18, 2021

ELMHURST, IL — According to authorities, a 25-year-old Elmhurst University student was accused Monday with fraudulently reporting a gunman on campus last month.  Elmhurst police accused Darnel Baalbaki of Bellwood with felony disorderly behavior.

Baalbaki is accused of buying meth from a man in a university parking lot on April 28 and then fleeing without paying the agreed-upon sum.  He then acknowledged to filing a fake complaint that there was a gunman on campus, according to Elmhurst police.

Police sources confirmed that Baalbaki confessed that he had never seen someone with a gun.

After university officials stated an armed person was reported near Dinkmeyer residence hall and again near Niebuhr residence hall approximately half an hour later, students were instructed to stay in place for nearly two hours on April 28.

York High School was placed on soft lockdown as a precaution.

Baalbaki’s bail was set at $25,000.


Museum of Science & Industry

May 13, 2021

CHICAGO — The popular Boeing 727 at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) reopens in a new exhibit that celebrates the historic United Airlines plane and explores how the airline industry connects people around the world.  

More than 25 years after MSI first unveiled Take Flight, the new exhibit invites guests aboard a commercial airliner that made history during the early age of jet travel.

“United’s 727 airplane, dramatically positioned high above the Museum’s main floor, has been a one-of-a-kind sight that has amazed millions of guests. We’re excited to showcase the plane in a new way that highlights modern advances in aviation,” said MSI President and CEO Chevy Humphrey. 

The project involved restoring and highlighting the plane’s interior and creating brand-new interactives to bring flying to life. Guests will discover what made the airliner soar, explore changes in the airline industry, and understand the science of flying.

The plane’s fuselage bears the name of Captain William Norwood, the first African-American pilot for United, whose story is featured in the exhibit. A 150-foot display takes guests on a behind-the-scenes journey from aircraft assembly to takeoff, showcasing the variety of careers and people working in aviation. This spectacular wall reveals the complex systems that help people build new planes, manage airport operations and track flights and passengers all around the world.

“As pioneers and innovators in commercial aviation, United Airlines is proud of the relationship we’ve shared with MSI and its guests over the last 35 years,” said Suzi Cabo, managing director of global community engagement for United Airlines. “MSI has done a remarkable job reimagining the Take Flight exhibit showcasing some our talented United employees and sparking curiosity, discussion and education about science and aviation.”

Exhibit highlights include:

  • Aviation history: See a section of the 727 as it looked on its first flights in 1964 and imagine being one of its first passengers. Outside the plane, suspended above the balcony is a “flock” of models of 25 influential airliners from 1911 to futuristic concepts that make flying more sustainable and comfortable.
  • How it works: We peeled back the skin of the airplane to show mechanical, electronic and hydraulic systems. Guests can see wings, engines, landing gear, lavatories and even the fabled black box. A glass floor shows the cables and pulleys used to steer the plane, while a media presentation demonstrates the 727’s technology in action, from takeoff to landing. The newly conserved cockpit explains how pilots communicate, navigate and fly.
  • Your body during flight: Learn about the science behind side effects passengers may experience at high altitudes, like turbulence and dehydration, and ways to overcome them.

Guests can talk to United Airlines pilots who volunteer at the exhibit, sharing stories about their career and answering questions about how planes fly. 

The Boeing 727 memorably landed at Meigs Field on September 28, 1992 on a runway not built for jet airliners. The plane was taken apart – and one of the Museum’s columns was removed – so that it could be moved inside while a crowd of thousands watched. The original Take Flight exhibit opened in 1994 and was visited by over 30 million guests before closing for renovation on Oct. 5, 2020.

“Boeing is proud to support the Take Flight exhibit that gives visitors a unique and inspiring perspective on the history and science of flight,” said Greg Hyslop, Boeing’s chief engineer, executive vice president of engineering, test and technology, and MSI board member. “We hope MSI visitors for years to come will enjoy learning about the pilots, engineers and mechanics who make air travel possible.”

Take Flight is included in Museum Entry.

Take Flight is supported by Boeing and United Airlines.


DuPage County State’s Attorney

May 18, 2021

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin and Wood Dale Chief of Police Greg Vesta announced today that bond has been set for a Wood Dale man charged with the murder of his father, Robert Castellano, also of Wood Dale. Joshua Castellano, 30 (d.o.b. 04/24/1991) of the 200 block of Forest View, appeared at a bond hearing this morning in front of Judge Brian Telander who set bond at $2 million with 10% to apply. Castellano has been charged with one count of First-Degree Murder.

On May 16, 2021 at approximately 3:55 a.m., officers with the Wood Dale Police Department were dispatched to the Forest View house the men shared in response to an alleged fall of the homeowner, Robert Castellano. Upon their arrival, officers located Robert Castellano laying on his back on a bed having difficulty breathing and suffering from a one-inch laceration near his ribs. Castellano was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers also observed blood on the floor and bed. Following an investigation by the Wood Dale Police Department it is alleged that at some point in the night, a verbal altercation between Robert Castellano and his son Joshua turned physical at which time Joshua stabbed his father with a large sword, which was found wrapped in a blanket under the bed in which Robert Castellano was laying.

“This case is a tragic reminder that domestic violence is not confined to the traditional intimate partner scenario that most of us think of when we hear domestic violence,” Berlin said. “In fact, according to the FBI, in 2019, nationally there were 344 murders in which a child murdered their parent. I would like to thank the Wood Dale Police Department as well as Assistant State’s Attorney Lynn Cavallo for her efforts on this very sad case.”

“Domestic violence is a problem that unfortunately affects every single community and our thoughts are with the family that is dealing with this loss,” Vesta said. “I would like to thank members of the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office and investigators from the DuPage M.E.R.I.T. Major Crimes and Forensic Investigations units for their assistance in bringing this case to a timely and thorough conclusion.”       

Castellano’s next court appearance is scheduled for May 27, 2021, for arraignment in front of Judge Telander.    

Members of the public are reminded that this complaint contains only charges and is not proof of the defendant’s guilt.  A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the government’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

DuPage County State’s Attorney


by James R. Scott, The Chicago Times

May 18, 2021

CHICAGO — The mayor’s office announced Tuesday that Lollapalooza would return to Chicago this summer, a year after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the music festival that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the lakefront.

According to the Mayor Lightfoot’s office, Lollapalooza will return to Grant Park at full capacity July 29-Aug. 1, and the line-up of entertainers will be released at 10 a.m. Wednesday, with tickets going on sale two hours later.

Officials said that people attending the music festival must be completely vaccinated for COVID-19 or have negative COVID-19 test results the day before entry.  The festival entry process will be detailed in early July.

Lollapalooza attracts 100,000 people every day to see more than 170 acts perform on eight stages.

Last year’s festival was cancelled in June 2020 due to concerns about COVID-19 spreading among concertgoers.

Lollapalooza’s return was made possible, according to Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, by the city’s “tremendous success” in containing the spread of the coronavirus.  Arwady claims regular case numbers, positivity rates, and other “leading indicators” are all constant or declining.


by Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

May 18, 2021

SPRINGFIELD — On Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced expanded housing and rental aid for Illinois residents, offering grants of up to $25,000 in federal aid.

Pritzker’s housing assistance announcement included more than just the fresh funds.  He also stated that the state’s eviction moratorium will come to an end in August, with a “gradual phase out over the next few months.”

Pritzker stated, “The Illinois Rental Assistance Program is a testament to how good government can make a life-changing difference for people when our dollars… follow our values.” “With this program expansion, we will be able to increase the impact for tens of thousands of Illinois residents.”

The Governor was joined by state senators and representatives from Chicago, as well as other state officials, for the announcement of the rental aid program, which is projected to help 120,000 renters.

Beginning later this summer, struggling homeowners will be able to access $400 million in mortgage assistance, according to Pritzker.  The $25,000 one-time award will cover missing rent payments as far back as June 2020, as well as pre-payments until August 2021, or until the funds are depleted.

Any Illinois renter whose household income in 2020 was less than 80% of the area median income, who is behind on their rent payments, and has faced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, is eligible for up to $25,000 in rental assistance, which will be given directly to their housing provider or landlord.

According to a news release introducing the initiative, those who earn less than half of their area’s median income and households with one or more people who have been unemployed for at least 90 days would be given priority.  Residents can apply for the rental payment program from Monday to June 7.


by Bunko Dolus, The Chicago Times

May 17, 2021

CHICAGO – Chicago Fire rescue crew walked a suicidal parrot of an office building ledge this weekend.  On Sunday, a fire rescue team was returning from an emergency medical call when the owner of the bird signaled them to retrieve a macaw from a second-floor ledge of the Railway Exchange Building.

According to city officials, the bird was reportedly with its owner who took it to a protest rally on Sunday.  Thousands of protesters gathered outside the building on Michigan Avenue, waving Palestinian flags and demanding an end to the Middle East’s violence and “ethnic cleansing.”

Out of an abundance of caution, Chicago Fire Department officials called in a net crew and city psychologist.  The parrot’s owner requested a ladder, but a CFD crew member used a pole to grab the brightly colored bird, according to fire department spokesman Larry Merritt.

When the bird stepped atop the pole and was slowly lowered from a second-floor window to street level, onlookers started cheering.  “Hurray!” the crowd roared.

According to Merritt, the bird was rescued and returned to its owner.  No charges have been filed.