News and stuff about Lake Forest and Lake Bluff

Celebration of Jim Gantt’s Life Is Saturday at 11 a.m.

From Lake Forest High School

A celebration of Jim Gantt’s life will be held at Wenban Funeral Home on Saturday, September 20, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wenban is located at 320 Vine Ave, Lake Forest, IL. At 11:30 a.m., friends and family will have an opportunity to share remembrances. All are welcome in celebrating Jim’s life and legacy.

Jim’s family has made arrangements for visitation and funeral services in his home town of LaGrange, Missouri on Monday. Information about the visitation and services can be found below. Please note, if you’d like to sign the guest book or send private condolences to the family you can use this link or the links below:

The following is his obituary:

Dr. L. James Gantt (December 2, 1950 – September 17, 2014)

Dr. L. James Gantt, age 63, of Lake Bluff , IL died Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at his residence in Lake Bluff. He was born December 2, 1950 in Quincy, IL a son of Lloyd James and Phyllis Ellen Davis Gantt.

Jim was a member of Green Chapel Baptist Church in La Grange. He was a 1968 graduate of La Grange High School and graduated from N.M.S.U. in Kirksville with his bachelors and masters degrees and from Stanford University with his Ph.D. Jim taught school at Boys Town in Omaha, NE, North Hollywood, CA, Wading Rivers Elementary at Shoreham, N.Y. and at Lake Forest High School in Lake Forest, IL. He loved to run, bike, play tennis, read and be with his students.

Survivors include one sister, Lisa Gantt of La Grange; two brothers, Michael (Sheila) Gantt of Iowa City, IA and Jeffrey (Cindy) Gantt of Cedar Rapids, IA; three aunts, Edna Williams of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, Edith Henderson of Rome, N.Y. and Doris Thompson of Kansas City, MO and several nieces, nephews and other relatives. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 2 p.m. at Green Chapel Baptist Church in La Grange with Rev. John H. Mims officiating. Burial will be in Riverview Cemetery, La Grange, MO. Visitation will be held Monday, September 22, 2014 from 4 until 7 p.m. with family meeting friends from 5 until 7 the Davis Funeral Home in La Grange.

The family suggests memorials be made to Lake Forest High School, Green Chapel Baptist Church Building Fund or to the Kidney Foundation.

Pallbearers: Claude Humphrey, Shorty Lewis, Paul Lewis, Donald Weathers, Darwin Henderson and Billy Gantt
Music: Pam Mims

Lake Forest Man Accused Of Sexual Assault Arrested Overseas

By Adrienne Fawcett

The Lake Forest man who is accused of sexual assault has been arrested in Europe, where Lake County police believe he fled after a girl under age 13 accused him of having inappropriate sexual contact with her multiple times in 2012.

Lake County Undersheriff Raymond Rose said Michael R. Vucic is in custody in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovinia, and that the Lake County Sheriff’s Offices is working to extradite him to the U.S.  He could not comment on allegations by two additional girls “due to the sensitivity and critical point of the investigation. As it becomes appropriate to release additional information we along with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office will do so,” he said.

Lake County Sheriff’s officers on Aug. 29 issued an arrest warrant for Vucic, 41, who lives with his mother on the 100 block of east Laurel Avenue in Lake Forest. He was charged with five counts of Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault (Class X Felony) and five counts of Criminal Sexual Assault (Class 1 Felony).

According to a press release issued by the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 2, a female under the age of 13 on Aug. 25 told her grandparents that Vucic had inappropriate sexual contact with her multiple times in 2012 when she was a student in his class. Bond was set at $1 million for the arrest warrant.

On Sept. 2, Sgt. Sara Balmes said Interpol confirmed that Vucic boarded a flight to Germany on Air Berlin on Tuesday, Aug. 26. She said he was traveling on a U.S. passport, and that authorities believe he has family in Croatia.

The Sheriff’s Office requests that anyone who has any information on Vucic to contact the office’s non-emergency communications center at 847-549-5200.

Can Better Signage Save Lives In West Lake Forest?

A Metra arrives at the west Lake Forest train station on Telegraph Road.

Metra arrives at the west Lake Forest train station on Telegraph Road.

By Adrienne Fawcett

Metra’s top brass was in Lake Forest for a meet and greet with the Men’s Club at Dickenson Hall on Thursday. Most of the presentation by CEO Donald Orseno, board Chairman Martin Oberman and board member Norm Carlson focused on Metra’s financial issues, but many of the guests were interested in something else: Is anything being done to enhance safety at the west Lake Forest Metra station? The depot has been the site of five of the 12 pedestrian deaths that have occurred in Lake Forest since 2003.

“There’s no funding for a tunnel,” said Mr. Carlson, when asked about the potential for a pedestrian underpass.

Metra provided $3.7 million for a pedestrian underpass that is under construction in Lombard, and Union Pacific Railroad is covering $3.3 million of the estimated $8.1 million expense.

If a tunnel can be funded in Lombard, why not in Lake Forest? Lake Forest has the 2nd highest pedestrian railroad fatality rate per capita in the Chicago metropolitan area, tied with Villa Park and second only to Barrington, according to research by Northwestern University economics professor Ian Savage.

Metra Board Chairman Oberman said Lombard’s underpass was years in the making and driven largely by Union Pacific Railroad. Canadian Pacific travels through west Lake Forest on the Milwaukee District Line and has not expressed an interest in funding a tunnel.  Metra presently has no money for such a project, Mr. Oberman said, echoing his colleague. The City of Lake Forest has secured about $2.5 million in federal and state grants toward what it estimates would be a $6.5 million expense, but does not have an extra $4 million in its capital budget to cover the gap, City Manager Robert Kiely Jr. told GazeboNews in July.

An Amtrak spokesman earlier this week told GazeboNews that Amtrak has “no plans at all to stop in Lake Forest” nor would it fund an underpass at the station.

What about signs? Can signage at the west Lake Forest depot be improved to make it clear where to go and that the station has dangerous dynamics?

As it is now, signage is scarce. For example:

  1. There are no signs to indicate that high-speed Amtrak and Canadian Pacific trains go thru the station without stopping.
  2. Metra’s automated announcements mention only the arrival of Metra trains; there is no mention of incoming Amtrak or freight trains. Prior to the start of Thursday’s meeting, one of the attendees who lives close to the west Lake Forest station mentioned a dangerous scenario she has seen at the station countless times: as a Metra train approaches, an announcement is broadcast to the platform identifying the incoming Metra train. As riders look in one direction to see the Metra train, they are unaware and uninformed that another train – Amtrak at times – is approaching from the other direction at 70 miles per hour and will pass thru the station without stopping.
  3. The three standard “Lake Forest” Metra signs, one on the west side and two on the east of the platform,  are 100 yards apart from each other and basically impossible to see from the platform outside the station. The sign at the south end of the platform is 35 yards from the station; the sign to the north is 65 yards from the station at the pedestrian crossing.
  4. The only directional cues are 3-inch subheads on the standard Metra signs that say “To Chicago” with an arrow pointing south, and “From Chicago” with an arrow pointing north.
  5. The Metra schedule on the station’s exterior wall shows Chicago as the southbound destination and Fox Lake as the northern destination. But on the platform, Fox Lake isn’t on any sign. This is unusual and a possible source of confusion for travelers unfamiliar with the station. Many railroad companies indicate direction by posting the endpoints of the line.
  6. Even the orientation of the Metra map is confusing: When you are facing the Metra schedule (which is located on the exterior of the station wall, behind a plexiglass frame), the Chicago stop is on your right. But the actual city of Chicago is to your left. If you are not from here, how do you know that?
  7. There are no signs anywhere that say tracks might switch and point trains in the opposite direction from their regular route.


Four-Week Multi-Cultural Art Exhibit Opens Friday at Re-invent of Lake Forest

Submitted by Re-invent Gallery, a GazeboNews sponsor:

Alchemy Junction: Markings In Between Spaces
An Exhibition of Individual and Collaborative Works
by Sadia Uqaili and Zafar Malik
September 19-October 18, Re-invent Gallery, Lake Forest

An art exhibit like no other debuts at Re-invent Gallery of Lake Forest on September 19, bringing together the individual and collaborative works of two noted Pakistani-American artists – Sadia Uqaili and Zafar Malik.

According to Sadia, “This exhibition attempts to acknowledge, explore, celebrate and share Zafar’s and my individual and collective histories of migration, distance, loss and the inevitable adjustment to new environments.”


Alchemy Junction

Alchemy Junction: Markings Between Spaces at Re-invent Gallery in Lake Forest



Sadia and Zafar simultaneously present the experienced present with an imagined and distant past. The pieces are personal and invite the viewer in with quiet restraint and sensitivity. Their studio practice revels in chance and accidental markings as much as well thought out and planned imagery. They are particularly attracted to encounters of artistic experimentation, such as painting a piece together, side by side in the studio, building off each others’ inspirations to create one cohesive piece by two artists.

“I thought it might be painful for two artists to create pieces together. But, it’s been the opposite for us, and taken us to exciting new places in our art, ” said Zafar.

Their collaborative pieces in the exhibit are informed and resourced from the memories of multiple cultures they belong to. The incredibly intricate and rich craft traditions of their Eastern heritage and the abstractions and spatial arrangements of their Western and modernist reality feature in their work as a homage to the past, and an embrace of their present and future. These works have succeeded in creating a visual vocabulary that intersects with their individual personal styles but also expands on it and synthesizes to produce works of great strength and brilliance.

Alchemy Junction: Markings in Between Spaces, runs September 19-October 18 at the Re-invent Gallery, 202 E. Wisconsin, Lake Forest. An Opening Night Celebration is planned for Friday, Sept. 19, from 6-9pm. Freewill admission. For details, visit or call 224-544-5961. Re-invent is a 4000sf arts hub in downtown Lake Forest comprised of the main gallery, with an adjacent artisans’ gift shop, and studio and workshop spaces.

Lake Bluff Commission OKs Preliminary Plan For Stonebridge

By Sam Eichner, GazeboNews reporter

Updated September 19th: Now that the PCZBA has passed the preliminary planned residential development plan for Stonebridge, the PRD will be passed back the Lake Bluff Village Board, who will consider the PCZBA’s recommendation.   Then, it will be passed onto both the Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) and the Architectural Board of Review (ABR) before coming once more before the PCZBA, who will be tasked with giving a final recommendation to the Village Board.

A smattering of applause greeted the Lake Bluff’s Joint Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals (PCZBA) Wednesday evening, as they voted to pass a preliminary motion in support of the proposed planned residential development at Stonebridge, which would bring 98 residential units to the area and call for significant restoration and preservation of the site’s historic Manor House.

The Village Board of Trustees had initially approved an ordinance in 2006 authorizing the construction of an 85-unit residential development on the property, so the PCZBA’s motion, at least in the preliminary stages, ultimately boiled down to whether or not to amend the PRD to incorporate the additional 13 units requested by The Roanoke Group. While more specific details remain unresolved—regarding the calculations of density in the area,  the impact on the flow of traffic, and the preservation and restoration of the property—the board appeared to agree that, on a conceptual level, the impact to the surrounding community would not be substantially greater with 98 units versus the original 85.

The board stipulated several conditions along with the motion, including a recommendation to study the configuration of the proposed housing at the coach house site; that the construction phasing be strictly followed; and that the PCZBA set up an informal process for interaction with the other boards.

GazeboNews will continue to update this story as more information comes in.

A Celebration of Life for Murray Michelsen

Submitted by the Lake Bluff Police Department


Murray Michelsen

Murray Michelsen when he was on staff at the LBPD

The family and friends of Murray Michelsen are planning a Celebration of Life Service on Saturday, Sept. 20, for the retired Lake Bluff Police Sergeant who passed away on August 30 in Michigan. He was 65.

Lake Bluff Police Chief David Belmonte said: “Murray was one of those people you meet in your life that you instantly like. His caring and helping attitude touched everyone he met, and made his a great police officer, community member, and friend.”

Sgt. Michelsen served on the Lake Bluff Police Department from 1971 to 1999. During that time he rose to the rank of Sergeant and was third in command of the department. His career was filled with many accomplishments and commendations for life saving and successful investigations. Belmonte, who worked with Sgt. Michelsen from 1989-1999, said he remembers him as a person who would take on any project. “His concern was always Lake Bluff; what was best for the community. If it needed to be done, he would do it. He truly loved the Village.”

Sgt. Michelsen received the Department’s Award of Valor in 1980 for his rescue of a man from a burning car. Sgt. Michelsen and another patrol officer entered the car and pulled the driver to safety. He was recognized again in 1984 after a successful investigation of a string of burglaries in Highwood, Lake Forest and Lake Bluff resulted in the arrest of the suspect by Sgt. Michelsen in Lake Bluff. A month later, Sgt. Michelsen spotted and arrested four armed suspects for a home invasion.

He also started the Lake Bluff Police Department’s holiday charity efforts. This started with the Food Drive, which became so successful it would fill the entire police garage bays with canned food.

“I remember it became so large, we had to rent two large moving trucks to haul all the food to the pantry, “ Belmonte said. The food drive evolved over the years, and is now the department works with the Marine Corps for the Toys for Tots program. “Murray was very proud of the charity work we did, and giving back to the community.”

Toward the end of his career in Lake Bluff, Sgt. Michelsen was assigned the responsibility to coordinate the Lake Bluff Police Department’s efforts to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies. He conducted policy reviews, document preparation and in 1998 the Lake Bluff Police Department became the smallest agency to accredited by the Commission. This year, the Police Department received their sixth award of accreditation.

Outside of the Police Department, Murray was a founding member of the Vliet Museum of Lake Bluff History. He also coordinated the framing and hanging of all the pictures of past village presidents at the Lake Bluff Village Hall, as well as collecting the names of all the past members of the Lake Bluff Police Department since its creation.

The service will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20 at the Lake Bluff Middle School gymnasium. The public is welcome to attend.



LFHS Mourns Loss of Jim Gantt

Lake Forest High School students and staff learned sad news that Jim Gantt, chair of the social studies department, died of natural causes on Wednesday, Sept. 17. LFHS Principal Barry Rodgers sent the following note to parents on Wednesday afternoon:

Dear LFHS Families,

It is with extreme sadness that I share with you that Jim Gantt, our Social Studies Department Chair, passed away today, apparently due to natural causes. Jim was an exceptional educator, leader and valued member of our faculty for many years. He will be dearly missed.

Once Jim’s family was notified, we wanted you to have the information so you could process the loss as a family. As our school community grieves, we will provide support to our students and staff. Tomorrow, social workers and counselors will meet specifically with students in Mr. Gantt’s classes. Throughout the week, we will have social workers and counselors available if your child needs to talk to someone. Please inform your child that he or she is welcome anytime in the social workers’ conference room (160J) on the first floor.

For additional information on how to best support teens during times of grief, I have included the following resource:

We send our deepest sympathies to Jim’s family as the LFHS school community mourns this loss.


Barry Rodgers, principal

Winter Coats for Kids: Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Rotary Steps In To Help

Submitted by the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Rotary Club

Operation Warm in action

Operation Warm in action

Continuing its tradition of community service, the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Rotary Club plans to distribute new winter coats to needy children through the North Chicago School District, Foss Park District in North Chicago, and the Nuestro Center in Highwood. Over the past five years, the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Rotary Club has distributed more than 2,000 new winter coats to children in need in these communities.

A winter coat is an essential item in Illinois winters. A coat provides more than just warmth; it makes it easier for children to attend school, where they receive not just an education but hot meals. A new coat provides the added benefit of increasing self-esteem – who doesn’t like getting new things?

The Rotary Club is working with Operation Warm, Inc., a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to distributing high-quality, new winter coats to children who need coats. To date, Operation Warm has distributed more than 1.4 million new winter coats to children throughout America. The Rotary Club acquires coats at wholesale – like prices – less than $20 per coat – from Operation Warm’s inventory.

Area residents are invited to help the Rotary Club with this project by donating on the Rotary Club’s website at or contacting David Schafer at 847-234-5000, ext. 5410.

The Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Rotary Club meets Wednesday mornings at 7:15 at the Lake Forest Club for breakfast and a guest speaker. Membership is open to service-oriented residents and workers in the area. Guests are welcome to attend. Rotary connects leaders to exchange ideas and take action to solve problems in our community and the world. Club projects include local, national, and international humanitarian efforts. To learn more about the Club and its programs, visit

Ride the Only Remaining Private Commuter Car in the Country

Submitted by the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society

Car 553

Car 553

Relive the “Millionaire’s Special!” The Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical is offering an exclusive chance to ride the Lake Forest private railroad car on its evening commute from Chicago to Lake Forest.

The program takes place on Friday September 19, 2014. Established in 1929, Car 553 is the only remaining private commuter railway car in the country. During the commute, club member Richard Norton and railroad historian Norman Carlson will talk about history of this special car. Tickets are $75 and include happy hour refreshments. Tickets must be reserved in advance and space is limited. Information about how to board the 5:03 pm train in Chicago will be sent to participants.

A Local Take On Scottish Independence

Editor’s note: When we were looking for local angles to the Scottish Independence issue, I remembered a perfect source: Ingrid Lustig, Lake Forest High School Class of 2013, who is a sophomore at University of St. Andrews near Edinburgh. Ingrid asked some of her friends how they feel about the issue — here are some quotes. She also shared photos of the Yes/No signs and posters around campus.

“Looking at economics, we get more money from Westminster than we give. There’s no point in basing the economic plan on oil because they doing know how much there is. Besides, England still has the right to tap “Scottish” oil because they’re on the North Sea as well. It’s not going to happen.”
– Charlie, Edinburgh (in the photo below)


Charlie, Edinburgh

Charlie, Edinburgh

“Scotland joined with England in 1788 because it was sinking economically and asked England to give some support. This put England in a position of power, so for almost 250 years, Scotland has felt like the smaller man under England’s stare. Scotland has felt like the minority ever since its union with England, and now is the time for Scotland to break from the oppression.”
– Julien, Germany

“I’m voting no. I think it’s quite a scary prospect. On a personal perspective, I was born in England, I have lots of family there, and I feel just as British as I do Scottish. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive and I don’t want that part of my identity taken away. But from a political perspective, I think the situation now is the best of both worlds in that we have autonomy in areas like health care and education, which matter to the Scottish people, but have the security of belonging to a strong currency union and a powerful diplomatic presence.”
– Anna, Glasgow

“As an American with UK citizenship, I’m worried because I don’t want my citizenship to become more exclusive if Scotland splits. The limitation of solely being a Scottish citizen would really limit my job opportunities; a huge number of St Andrews grads work in London after university, and that would be much harder for me.”
– Isla, Boston


Photos by Ingrid Lustig

Photos by Ingrid Lustig