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How Healthy Is Your Town - Best and Worst

Diagnosing the well-being of 191 Chicago suburbs—and the city itself.

(page 4 of 6)

 

 

Best and Worst - 15,000-24,999 Population
Hinsdale

 

HIGH SCORE
“You know, taxes are really high here,” says Carol Fitzgerald, a 20-year resident who routinely walks the nine blocks between her house and Hinsdale’s stylish downtown. “You figure for the taxes you pay, you should get the best there is to offer.”

 

 

14.9%
(and climbing)

The percentage of uninsured persons under age 65 in the Chicago metropolitan region

Source: Gilead Outreach & Referral Center

Residents do get what they pay for in this lovely, historic community-the healthiest (but not the wealthiest) of our mid-sized suburbs. Hinsdale has little local industry, but lots of safe streets, tall trees, public parks, and doctors-19 for every 1,000 residents. Concerned about the effects of cancer on their community, a group of Hinsdale residents joined forces in 1990 to start Wellness House, a free cancer support and education center. The nonprofit serves western Cook and all of DuPage County; however, the donor list reads like a who’s who of Hinsdale. Local banks, community foundations, and businesses contribute, as does the Hinsdale Junior Woman’s Club, whose 230 members have donated $190,000 (through 2006) and pledged volunteer help. The grant funds, in part, a support group for kids whose families are battling cancer.

 

“These children are coping with a lot,” says one staffer, “as are all families facing the disease.” That is one reason why a big part of the center’s mission is dealing with cancer’s “ripple effect": 40 percent of people who use Wellness House services have a friend or relative fighting cancer, though they themselves do not have it.

Bellwood

 

LOW SCORE
Miscreants, take note. If you cross into Bellwood, you may unwittingly step into a law enforcement version of the TV show Candid Camera. Earlier this year, officials in the town-which, with its high rate of violent and property crime, earned the lowest score among mid-sized suburbs-began installing surveillance cameras in the community. While only a few cameras are in place, the plan is to make every public street visible to remote monitors by 2007.

 

 

TOP 10
Towns with Conservation Acreage*

Hoffman Estates
Lyons
Countryside
River Forest
River Grove
Bartlett
Lake Villa
Island Lake
Schiller Park
La Grange Park

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*Based on the percentage of town acreage dedicated to conservation.
Source: Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission

“When you put the camera in one place, you just move crime to another part of town,” says Wilson Pierce, who, until this past August, was the village’s police chief and safety director. “Our system will be throughout the village, so hopefully people get the message that if you want to commit crimes in Bellwood, we will see you and we will catch you.”

 

According to Pierce, half the town’s crimes are committed by nonresidents who travel along the Eisenhower Expressway and other nearby high-traffic corridors. Placing cameras along entry roads like Mannheim and Washington is tantamount to laying out big “UNwelcome” mats.

Mayor Frank Pasquale and others are eyeing additional initiatives. Later this year the town will open three community service centers to handle domestic violence and other crimes, and it is buying up buildings to house government employees, re-establishing paramedic service after a 30-year absence, and pushing to extend the CTA’s Blue Line through Bellwood to Mannheim Road. “We’re a town in transition,” says Bell-wood’s comptroller, Roy F. McCampbell.

View the complete ratings for towns with 15,000 - 24,999 population

 

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