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Category Archives: Progress
Posted: August 25, 2017 at 3:57 am
Schneider Defeats Dold In Illinois’ 10th Congressional District
Former one-term Democratic Congressman Brad Schneider has won Illinois’ 10th congressional district seat from Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Dold.
This year marked the third consecutive matchup between Dold and Schneider in the North Shore’s10th congressional district. The race, which political analystsexpected to be a toss-up,was tightthroughout the night. Schneider was trailing Dold for most of the evening, and pulled ahead at the very end after early voting results were included.
At about10:30 p.m., news of Schneider’s win broke at his election night party at the Northbrook Hilton.The crowderupted in chants of “Yes we did!”
By Ellyn Fortino
Wednesday, November 9th 12:15am
Illinois’ hotly contested and expensive race between incumbent stateRep. Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) and Democrat Merry Marwig is largely considered to be a proxy battle waged by GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
That’s how several voters on Chicago’s far Northwest Side characterized the 20th House district race after casting ballots today.
“I think there’s a real clear divide in the state between folks that support Rauner and, sadly, folks that support Madigan. I’m not a Madigan supporter, but I abhor what Rauner is doing, holding the state hostage” over his “turnaround agenda,” saidFrank Schulz, 58.
By Ellyn Fortino
Tuesday, November 8th 4:28pm
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth made an Election Day push for votes Tuesday morning at theRosemontTransit Center.
Duckworth, who is vying to unseat U.S. Sen.Mark Kirk (R-IL), greeted transit riders and encouraged them to vote today.
The Kirk v. Duckworth race could prove crucial in determining which party controls the U.S. Senate.The Cook Political Report rates the Illinois U.S. Senate raceas leaning Democratic.
“We’re confident but we’re not taking anything for granted,” Duckworth told reporters at the transit station. “We’re still pushing hard, campaigning hard. We’ll do it all the way through until the polls close. A lot of people have still not yet voted, and we need to make sure that we get people to the polls.”
By Ellyn Fortino
Tuesday, November 8th 4:12pm
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White nationalist Cantwell appears in Albemarle court after turning himself in, Fields to await Dec. hearing – The Daily Progress
Posted: at 3:57 am
The same day that white nationalist Christopher Cantwell appeared in Albemarle County court on assault charges related to the Aug. 11 torch-lit march at the University of Virginia, a hearing for James Fields Jr. the man accused of plowing his car into a group of protesters on Aug. 12 was pushed to the end of this year.
Cantwell, from Keene, New Hampshire, faces two charges of illegal use of tear gas, phosgene or other gases and one charge of malicious bodily injury by means of a caustic substance or agent, according to UVa police.
Emily Gorcenski, who filed the complaint against Cantwell, said she was scared for her life on the night of Aug. 11 when she and a small group of UVa students were confronted by white nationalist marchers. The small group of students and locals showed up to protest the group of white supremacists who marched through Grounds carrying tiki torches.
Standing in front of the statue of Thomas Jefferson at UVas Rotunda that night, Gorcenski said she was doused in lighter fluid and maced.
It was terrifying, said Gorcenski. Before the attacks happened, it was people in my face shouting hate and bigotry.
I literally expected to die that night, she said.
Gorcenski also filed a protective order against Cantwell earlier this week, which she said is a fairly standard procedure with violent crimes. After watching Cantwells interview on VICE News, Gorcenski said Cantwell appeared to be well-armed and wanted to become a more violent person.
I think it was the right thing I needed to do to protect myself and my family, she said.
In Virginia, a protective order prohibits acts of violence or threats against the petitioner, and prohibits contact by the subject of the order with the person filing the order, according to state code.
In Albemarle County General District Court Thursday, Cantwell told a judge he plans to hire his own attorney. The judge did not set a bond, but told Cantwell his attorney could request a bond hearing at a future date.
Albemarle County Commonwealths Attorney Robert Tracci told the judge the commonwealth would oppose bond for Cantwell.
Cantwells next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 12.
He is being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail after turning himself in to the Lynchburg Police Department on Wednesday afternoon.
Also on Thursday, a preliminary court hearing for Fields that was scheduled for Friday was continued until Dec. 14. Both the commonwealth and Fields defense attorney asked a judge to push the hearing to the later date, according to court documents.
Fields is accused of ramming his Dodge Challenger into a large group of counter-protesters marching through the downtown area following the failed Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12. The attack killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured 30 others.
Fields is charged with second-degree murder, five counts of malicious wounding, three counts of aggravated malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run.
Fields is also being held at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.
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Posted: at 3:57 am
I got about a dozen quotes. Roofers were knocking on my door when they saw my roof. Of the dozen or so estimates, 3 were the same price as Clearing. Checking BBB, etc, I found no concerns with Clearing. For 2800 sq. ft. the job was done in 1 day with 5 laborers. 2 roofs were torn off, bad wood replaced, used Timberline Architectural shingles (my choice). Painless, except for writing the check. I watched most of the job. Replaced my kitchen hood vent that did not have a flapper to keep cold air out. New lead stack. 1 trailer for scrap pulled by F150 truck, 2 vans. The crew did not even take a lunch break and had concrete for kidneys. I just wrote a check for about 1/2 when the crew and materials showed up and paid in full when they were done that day. I also did not sign a contract until they showed up to work so there would be no problem with a time line. Thus, I was in full control of the job. Nothing to complain about. Some of the material had to moved twice and the trailer would have to be dumped by hand. So I estimate they moved 13 tons of material. I figured I got my money’s worth. I also paid $1,200 less than the highest quote. No up charges. To get a rating on BBB, the contractor has to pay $500 a year, so many don’t join. Research Angie’s List online and find out about it. You may be surprised . If you call, please mention Jim B at 6613. That will be my way of saying thank you to Steve, the contractor. He could not get a permit immediately because my town runs a back ground check on contractors that are new to my town. He passed with flying colors. I researched roofing, and I know how the job should be done. This job was done right with no cheating.
By: Ed R.
I live in an upscale building in Downtown Evanston and Peter had re-done at least three unit’s in our building in the 8 years I’ve lived here (everyone was thrilled with their results, by the way!). I had never hired a contractor before and needed to update my master bathroom so needless to say it was an overwhelming experience having to shop around for a contractor, choose a design that would not only be something I like but that would add to my condo’s value, and be something that was affordable. Peter (the owner of PCH Construction) was terrific!!! First off, his pricing was the lowest of the three estimates but more importantly, Peter’s 20 years plus of contracting experience proved invaluable. Peter helped advise me every step of the way and even allows his clients to take advantage of the contractor discounts from suppliers. Peter always answers his calls promptly and worked with me to accomplish everything I was trying to do with this space. The job was scheduled to take 4-5 weeks and he finished in exactly 4 weeks as promised! His workmen are long-time employees and TOTAL PRO’s as their work and also work with only top vendors for things like the stone fabrication (cutting and installing the vanity top and shower stall threshold), Glass, and vanity cabinet)!!! Everything from the tile to the cabinetry, glass and stone vanity counter top was expertly done. Also, Peter and his staff keep things as clean and quiet as possible during the job, so no worries there either. You will be so glad you went with PCH!!! I could not be happier with the results!!!
This was my first remodeling project and to say I know absolutely, nothing about it is an understatement. I can confidently say that I know the very best contractor in Chicago: the owner of PCH Construction Company, Mr. Peter ! He deserve more than 5 stars! He was so patient and helpful to us, he spent an hour just going over all the things we want to do and answered all our questions. The whole time he’s so sweet and pleasant so you don’t feel bad asking at all. then he gave us a very detailed quote with very good price. Peter was always accessible by phone and would promptly accommodate our questions, concerns, and time frames for different phases of the project. He and his crew were very courteous and industrious; they arrived on time each morning and worked hard all day. They were excellent, trustworthy, very clean and respectful of the house. They set up the first day to keep things clean, like the floors and rugs, and then also cleaned at the end of every day and took the construction debris away. A pleasure and easy to work with, friendly to our dogs, professional from start to finish. We are very pleased with the end result of our kitchen and bathroom projects provided by PCH Construction Company.Highly recommended !!!
By: Holly W.
PCH Construction remodeled much of our home in 2008 with the exception of the kitchen. The 2008 remodel included completely renovating the master bath, guest bath, replacing all interior doors, replacing all light fixtures and painting the entire house. I am pleased to report that the improvements are holding up extremely well. Peter has been back to us several times over the years for other smaller projects. In October of 2013 Peter completed the renovation of our kitchen with a new granite counter top and stainless steel sink. As with the other projects, our kitchen remodeling project was extremely well planned and executed. Peter is aware of all the details of a project and can provide guidance to a homeowner if needed. He is excellent at keeping projects on track and his attention to detail is outstanding. His carpenters are always very courteous and neat too.
In early June of 2013, as result of flood damage, mold from our basement was discovered after my daughter experienced a severe asthma attack. TND transformed and delivered a newly constructed mold-free, impressively modern and sunny 4-room living space. More importantly they completed under schedule! In a considerate and accommodating manner, the contractor discussed and reviewed meticulously with me the process, suggested materials with in my budget and even relieved me of the daunting task of paint color selection; they chose colors I can happily live with for the next several years! What I deem particularly special about TND were the daily updates and progress reports on the work. We were unable to live at home during construction so it was reassuring to have virtual narratives of the progress. Honestly, Im saving for the next home improvement project with TND!
PCH Company is among the few stellar construction companies in the metropolitan Chicago area. I highly recommend Peter and his crew for any project big or small. I had a small nuisance job (installing new baseboard on my first floor) and I expected to be ignored or relegated to piecemeal visits. Within one week Peter gave me an estimate, his capable carpenter arrived on time, and in no time my small project was completed. At all times he was pleasant, professional, prompt, tidy, and a pleasure to do business with. I so appreciate that he helped me with a small project, on short notice. PCH is the Bentley of construction firms.
By: Natalia Z.
I have meet Peter when I had a kitchen faucet leak in my rental unit. They picked up the phone immediately and scheduled a crew. The crew arrived on time with parts and equipment. It took them 1.5 hour to unclog the toilet and exchange the kitchen faucet. The crew was professional and polite. Price included all parts and material. Top notch service – recommend without hesitation! Since2009 I continuously use PCH for my personal projects and my business. I can not imagine working with any other GC more than Peter. Tons of experience, knowledge and superior customer service skills. Highly recommended!!
We first met Peter 10 years ago when he remodeled our kitchen and turned our attached garage into an extension to our kitchen. So when we decided to finish our basement there was no question who we were going to call. Our basement had many air ducts located in an interesting arrangement but Peter created soffits that hide everything and still looks elegant. Peter worked with us to complete the basement we dreamed of within our budget. He is easy to work with, professional, and flexible that PCH is the only construction company we would ever call for work around our house.
By: Jack W.
I have a friend who just moved here to Trumbull Park Homes. Before the move in we noticed that there were no pictures of the inside of any units. Fast forward a few months and I see that the units are decent in size. The property itself is somewhat maintained but could use a bit more attention. The neighborhood is relatively quiet and free from riffraff. Its the winter months so I hope it continues throughout the summer. Overall it is an okay place to live.
We wanted to be sure we were going to get great quality work so we looked at their previous projects, and it all checked out. They were very helpful, and they weren’t interested in our money and prices but they were concerned on getting the job done in a timely manner. Not many businesses are like that today. I recommend these guys and if I need to I won’t think twice about hiring them again.
How do I protect myself from payment disputes with general contractors?
What is a reasonable pay schedule with a contractor?
What should be in the contract with a contractor?
How do I protect myself from the cost of contractor injuries?
Can I ask the contractor to clean up the mess?
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Posted: at 3:57 am
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government is turning the screws on companies that do business with North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions but has stopped short of taking the more aggressive, and riskier, move of targeting Chinese banks that facilitate Pyongyang’s trade in arms and other banned goods.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration blacklisted 16 Chinese, Russian and Singaporean companies and individuals for trading with banned North Korean entities, including in coal, oil and metals.
The campaign to pressure North Korea’s trading partners is aimed at eventually forcing Pyongyang to give up its nuclear and missile programs.
The latest measures did not, however, sanction the Chinese banks that experts and former U.S. officials say enable North Korea’s international trade, often by laundering funds through the United States.
Targeting those banks with measures known as “secondary sanctions” could effectively bar them from making U.S. dollar transactions or moving money through U.S. banks, a death knell for most financial institutions, or subject them to huge fines like those levied on European banks accused of failing to follow sanctions on Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.
China hawks within the Trump administration who have been frustrated by Beijing’s perceived inaction on North Korea have been pressing for secondary sanctions.
But a more moderate, pro-business faction, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, is concerned about the impact such sanctions would have on the economic relationship with Beijing.
“I am not surprised they held off on (sanctioning) Chinese financial institutions,” said Joseph DeThomas, a former State Department official who worked on Iran and North Korea sanctions, referring to Tuesday’s actions.
“Once we go down the road of hitting a Chinese bank that is deeply connected to the U.S. financial system, things will begin to move very fast and be quite unpredictable.”
China, the world’s second-largest economy, is the United States’ largest trading partner in terms of goods and an enormous market for American businesses, making the United States vulnerable to any retaliation by Beijing.
Earlier this month, China signed on to new U.N. sanctions on North Korea that banned the export of coal, iron, seafood, and lead.
Previous U.N. resolutions had restricted, rather than banned, some of those exports. Chinese and Russian support for the new sanctions was a major diplomatic win for the Trump administration.
Dan Fried, the State Department’s sanctions coordinator until February, said “as a general rule,” Washington should warn China before blacklisting Chinese banks, though that may not always be possible. Sanctioning Chinese companies violating U.N. sanctions by dealing with blacklisted North Korean firms would be a good step before going after banks broadly, he said.
“Coal and seafood exports from North Korea are now banned,” Fried said. “So we should go after any and all companies importing them.”
He said Washington should also consider “naming and shaming” companies, particularly in textiles, that use North Korean labor, adding that this could include both Chinese and Western firms.
Around 5,200 Chinese companies traded with North Korea from 2013 to 2016, according to an analysis by the non-profit research group C4ADS, a relatively small number that could be vulnerable to enforcement measures, experts said.
But David Cohen, a former deputy director of the CIA, said implementing U.N. resolutions likely would not entirely address financial relationships North Korean front companies in Hong Kong or China have with Chinese banks and which are “used to funnel funds back to the regime, particularly from illicit sales.”
“So that’s an area where secondary sanctions could be effective,” Cohen said.
A broad campaign to cut off North Korea’s financial links would have a successful recent precedent: the intensive U.S. effort to halt Iran’s nuclear program, which included levying $12 billion in fines against European banks that facilitated Iranian trade.
Both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations limited Iran’s access to financial channels, and eventually went after Iran’s broader trade links. That effort was backed by strong Congressional sanctions.
The measures worked. Iran’s oil exports dropped by more than half, inflation spiked, the currency plummeted, and economic output shrank 5.6 percent in 2012 and 1.7 percent in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund. Iran agreed to negotiate over its nuclear program, and eventually reached a deal with the United States and world powers.
In a warning shot against North Korea, the U.S. Treasury Department in June targeted a small Chinese bank, the Bank of Dandong, accusing it of laundering money for Pyongyang.
Also in June, the Department of Justice said a China-based company was laundering U.S. dollars through American banks for a sanctioned North Korean bank. And a handful of other recent U.S. measures have targeted North Korea’s international trade and finance networks.
But Washington has not targeted Chinese banks working with North Korea in a broad way, and Congress has not yet imposed the kinds of mandatory secondary sanctions that strengthened the hand of U.S. negotiators when dealing with Iran.
Anthony Ruggiero, a former U.S. Treasury official now with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, believes fears of Chinese retaliation for action against Chinese banks are overblown.
“There’s a way to do it,” he said. “You don’t have to freeze their assets; you don’t have to cut them off from the United States. You can basically declare that their compliance procedures are not appropriate and that they can get significant fines.
“(Then) they will start to ask the right questions.”
Congress is due to consider legislation requiring U.S. measures against any banks that deal with North Korea. The bill is based loosely on the same Congressional sanctions that were imposed on Iran.
“You’ve seen a series of administrations, Republicans and Democrats, who believed that China would cooperate when it came to applying economic pressure to North Korea,” Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat and one of the bill’s lead sponsors, said in an interview last week.
“We have to move from quiet requests for cooperation to very clear demands that China enforce these sanctions that it signed up for.”
Editing by Kieran Murray and James Dalgleish
Posted: at 3:57 am
Despite having no suspects in custody, Danville police say progress is being made in the investigation into the shooting death of a 16-year-old high school student earlier this month.
I will tell you that the investigation has not stalled and is moving forward, Danville Police Department Lt. Mike Wallace said.
Wallace said police have filed no charges related to the killing of Nitaya Adams, 16, of Danville. A shooting early in the morning on Aug. 6 along Paxton Street left Adams dead and sent bullet hole through walls of neighboring houses and at least one vehicle.
I will continue to make the plea to call us if they have any information, Wallace said.
Adams father Malcolm Plummer said that police had not told him any more information on his daughters shooting. Plummer said he was confident the investigation would lead to arrests, however.
The Virginia medical examiners officer would not reveal the cause or manner of death in the shooting, Tracie Cooper, administrator for the Roanoke office, said.
Theres a note in here to refer all calls to law enforcement, Cooper said.
Cooper added that police departments can ask the medical examiners office to refer questions to them when information on victims is related to an ongoing investigation.
Adams, who was a rising senior at George Washington High School, was out spending the last weekend before school started with friends before she was shot, family members said earlier this month. Family described Adams as funny and compassionate and said she wanted to pursue a career in nursing.
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Posted: at 3:57 am
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Brexit watchers doubt whether the U.K. has done enough to convince the European Union to allow trade talks to start as soon as October.
Despite a swathe of policy documents, with a new one on data protection scheduled for release on Thursday, analysts say Prime Minister Theresa Mays government is still hazy on where it matters most to the bloc.
It remains unlikely that enough progress can be made to move on to the future EU-U.K. relationship anytime soon, said Carsten Nickel, deputy director of research at Teneo Intelligence. Despite the position papers, the U.K.s preferences for the future relationship remain vague, and progress on key divorce items has been limited.
Thats not to say the U.K. hasnt made some concessions. On Wednesday it accepted EU law will have sway in Britain even after Brexit, potentially smoothing the way for deals on citizens rights and commerce. By seeking a transition for after March 2019 it has also dropped threats that no deal is better than a bad deal.
The problem is that while May is fixated on future relations the EU is concentrating on settling the terms of separation such as the Irish border, giving protection the Europeans living in the U.K. and the divorce bill.
Only when sufficient progress is made on those topics will the EU acquiesce to moving on. The danger is that the U.K. is deemed not to have caved enough and time is not on its side.
With talks set to resume next week in Brussels, European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein on Wednesday reminded the British of the blocs priorities.
Our own position is very clear, is very transparent, and is unchanged, he told reporters in Brussels. We hope to make progress on the three main issues that we — not only we but also the EU27 — have set out and need to be clarified upfront.
The U.K. is playing a “risky game” by not offering anything new on two sticking points — the divorce bill or the rights of EU citizens, said Andrew Goodwin at Oxford Economics.
“This increases the likelihood that progress will be slow, which would put further pressure on what is already a very tight timetable,” he said.
Others are more optimistic. The position papers represent a sensible U.K. approach hiding in plain sight, Rupert Harrison, a former Treasury adviser now at BlackRock Inc., said in a tweet on Wednesday.
As well as giving ground on the EU Court of Justice, the U.K. has also said EU citizens will continue to enjoy visa-free travel on Brexit and in July conceded it would make a financial settlement though it remains extremely cagey on what its willing to pay.
In the talks next week British negotiators wont reveal the amount the U.K. is willing to pay, nor even hint at where they believe it has financial obligations, according to a person familiar with the talks.
U.K. officials believe they will have more leverage if they refrain from revealing their position on the bill until far later in the negotiation process. They will though warn the EU not to make greater financial demands over its contributions to the blocs investment bank, a person familiar with the Brexit negotiations said.
The final paper this week reveals the government plans to adhere to European data-sharing rules, to minimize disruption for U.K.-based companies conducting business with the bloc. To be sure, its relatively easy for the U.K. to seek alignment with the EU when its convenient.
Global tech companies including Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Snap Inc. have been expanding operations in the U.K. over the past few years. Any issues with the transfer of data between the U.K. and Europe will cause these companies unwanted headaches.
The real test is still to come. May has paved the way for a compromise over ECJ jurisdiction, but now EU negotiators will be looking for any other red lines she is willing to blur.
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Posted: at 3:57 am
More progress for Matthews He took part in individual position drills Wednesday and that participation continued Thursday as Jordan Matthews inches closer to getting full clearance. That wont come in time for Saturdays preseason game at Baltimore, but the receiver will be making the trip with the team this weekend.
Jordan Matthews and Cordy Glenn both of whom are progressing well, will make the trip. Well continue to list them as day to day. We believe theyre headed in the right direction, said head coach Sean McDermott. I really dont think theyll play at this point. We do want to get them acclimated to traveling with us and going through that process. Staying in the hotel the night before and being involved in the meetings. We may even have them warm up with the team and be on the sideline too.
The urgency to get Matthews in a preseason game doesnt seem to be there for McDermott and his coaching staff. They have full confidence in Matthews capabilities as a receiver.
We know Jordan and what he can do, said McDermott. Hes made a tremendous amount of progress over the last week. He stays after and works with the quarterbacks.
RELATED: GLENN STICKING TO THE PLAN TO PLAY WEEK 1
Taylor puts in solid week After the preseason performance by the offense at Philadelphia, QB Tyrod Taylor said there are no excuses. Committed to making the offense function more consistently, Taylor redoubled his efforts in practice this week.
The first thing I noticed was his leadership. It hasnt changed. Hes the first one in the building and one of the last to leave, McDermott said. From a head coaching standpoint I appreciate that. I know his teammates appreciate that about him.
I feel like hes more decisive and playing more free within the offense. Hes developing some continuity and chemistry with his receivers. Even thought Jordan (Matthews) is probably not going to play Saturday night, youre seeing that develop through practice reps.
In his first two seasons as the Bills starting quarterback, Taylor at times was reluctant to take risks in the passing game. Even though hes in a new scheme, McDermott and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison have pushed the mantra of playing free and taking a few more calculated risks.
For our players I want them to know that playing free is powerful. Theres power in that, said McDermott. Were not going out there to think. Im the one who has to think. Theyve got to go out there and play and basically default into the habits that theyve built through the week or the preseason. When they do that theres power in that. You tend to put on display the best version of yourself when you play free and aggressive.
Taylor and the offense will get the opportunity to demonstrate that on Saturday night in Baltimore.
Ragland battling through each day He had a major uphill climb entering training camp. Returning from a major knee injury, in a new defensive scheme and with healthy competition at his position. From the start Reggie Ragland has battled and gone the extra mile, something that hasnt been lost of his head coach.
The thing I love about Reggie is hes doing a really good job off the field right now in terms of extra work before practice, extra work after practice in terms of his conditioning and getting himself where he needs to be, said McDermott. Coming off the injury that we know hes coming off of youre starting from a position of deficit. Hes really working hard. He continues to get himself comfortable with our system. His best football is in front of him.
Hes right, sometimes my knee feels good, sometimes its sore, Ragland said. I just know I have to keep getting better. I know Im young and I still have time, so Im not pressed about some of the things, but I know I still have to keep getting better. Coach McDermott, and all of the coaches tell me this all of the time, so Im just going to keep getting better.
Posted: at 3:57 am
If R.A. Long were to step inside the Monticello Hotel today, he would find it looking much like it did when he was busy founding the city of Longview in 1923.
The historic hotel, the first major building to rise in the new town, is nearing the end of a multimillion-dollar renovation. It is packed with turn-of-the-century antiques and old paintings. The ceiling plasterwork of its Crystal Ballroom, long covered by a drop ceiling, is fully restored, and the arched ceiling is again flanked by plaster columns.
Mr. Long would find plenty of new features, too: a red-hued speakeasy with burgundy wood bar, crystal chandeliers, a stage for performers and dozens of newly-renovated apartments in the second and third floors.
Ten months after purchasing the iconic property for $2.8 million, the new owners are celebrating the complete remodel of the Crystal Ballroom and progress in other areas of the hotels renovation with a Prohibition-era themed party Friday night. The sold-out party is expected to attract more than 300 attendees.
The new owners faced a host of challenges along the way, from shakeups with management, financial constraints that forced out local owners, negative media coverage and struggles finding a company to run the hotels restaurant.
In spite of the drama, the $3 million to $4 million restoration project is nearing completion. The restaurant remodel will be done within 60 days, according to management. Monticello Place, the corporate owner, is negotiating with potential partners to run the hotels restaurant. The hotels 52 apartments are nearly all full, and there is a long waiting list of prospective tenants.
And the owners are the early stages of planning for a renovation of the adjacent ugly-duckling motel, with an idea of expanding it from 20 rooms currently to 70 to 120 rooms and refacing the exterior to match the colonial brick facade of the main hotel.
It feels great just to say, Hey this is where were going to go with this. Its a 20s atmosphere. We want to bring it back to the original look, said Sharon Walker, general manager of Monticello. We want to bring it back to the community and make it a landmark.
Heres a review some of the work that has been done so far and whats on the horizon.
Restaurant: About 60 days away from completion, much of the floor of the restaurant was lowered four feet, revealing the original tiling. The walls will feature dark burgundy wood paneling and 1920s-style wallpaper with a red background and a gold floursih pattern on the top. Patrons can order drinks from a 1904-vintage zebra wood bar or watch chefs prepare meals in front of display cooking bar. Carpet will be installed in the next month in some sections of the restaurant. During restoration, workers discovered a heavy-duty crane wheel that historically was used to hoist food from the basement to the first floor. The crane will be on display at the restaurant. A massive, six-foot high crystal chandelier originally from the Orpheum Theatre in Seattle will be installed above the dining area (it was previously in the Crystal Ballroom.) Outside the restaurant is original mint green tiling previously covered up by concrete, as well as a concrete patio for outdoor seating.
Restaurant management: With a working title of the Rogue Steakhouse, the restaurant will have a fine dining menu of steaks and seafood, although thats subject to change depending on the final partners who manage the restaurant. The owners say they have prospective restaurant, but no deals have been finalized.
Cafe: The old Fireside Lounge has been gutted and will be replaced by a bakery and cafe. The owners expect to begin the 90-day project to build out the cafe soon, once the restaurant is complete. The hotel is still negotiating a potential partner for the cafe.
Crystal Ballroom: The old drop ceiling was removed, as were the concrete floors that covered original tiling. Thousands of dollars were poured into intricately restoring the plasterwork ceiling. A salvaged column was sent to Las Vegas to be replicated, and now 42 mint-green and gold columns line the ballroom, mimicking photos of the original space.
Speakeasy: To the right of the ballroom is the Speakeasy, a red-toned, dark wood-themed room featuring an 1920s-era Al Capone wood bar from Chicago, VIP seating and a separate stage. The speakeasys red chairs and red doors on the far wall are all from an old popular restaurant in in downtown Kelso, Peters. Right now the doors are shuttered close but eventually theyll lead into the hotels future gift shop. Nearby the red doors is a 200-year old stained glass window mounted on the wall, and two large stained-glass, four-foot tall lamps marking the corners of the stage,which will be host to live music, jazz, comedians and other performances.
Apartment remodel of second and third floors: All but one of 10 luxury apartments have been rented out, Walker said. A new fire alarm system was installed, along with a new heating/cooling system, and new electrical, plumbing, steel stud framing and sheetrock is complete. New tiles, six-foot tubs and new appliances, and new kitchen cabinets were installed, too. The second floor apartments also got a significant refreshing, too.
Throughout the renovations, Walker said shes been overwhelmed with an outpouring of community support in the form of donated time, materials or just simple encouragement from people who want to see the hotel succeed after a long history of financial struggles and troubled ownerships.
On a daily basis, we get people wandering into the ballroom to look around, Walker said. The Longview Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce and other civic groups already have signed up to host events at the hotel. The ballroom is booked through the holiday season.Its great to have someone pat you on the back. It keeps you going and keeps you positive, Walker said.
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