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Giuliani to join Trump legal team in Russia probeThen-President-elect Donald Trump (right) and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pose for photographs Nov. 20, 2016, as Giuliani arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:21:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump since the early days of his campaign, is joining the team of lawyers representing the president in the special counsel’s Russia investigation. With the addition of Giuliani, Trump gains a former U.S. attorney, a past presidential candidate and a TV-savvy defender at a time when the White House is looking for ways to bring the president’s involvement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to a close. The president has been weighing whether to sit for questioning by Mueller’s team, and his legal team repeatedly has met with investigators to define the scope of the questions he would face. Giuliani will enter those negotiations, filling the void left by attorney John Dowd, who resigned last month. It’s a precarious time for Trump. His legal team has been told by Mueller that the president is not a target of the investigation, suggesting he’s not in imminent criminal jeopardy. But he currently is a subject of the probe – a designation that could change at any time. Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow told The Associated Press that Giuliani will be focusing on the Mueller investigation – not the legal matters raised by the ongoing investigation into Trump attorney Michael Cohen. That probe is being led by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, an office that Giuliani headed in the mid- to late 1980s. Cohen’s office, home and hotel room were raided last week by the FBI, who are investigating the lawyer’s business dealings, including suspected bank fraud. They also sought records related to payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who both claim to have had sexual encounters with Trump several years ago. The White House has denied the claims. The raids enraged Trump, prompting him to publicly weigh whether to fire Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He also intensified his public attacks on the Mueller investigation, calling it “an attack on our country.” In a statement announcing Giuliani’s hire, Trump expressed his wish that the investigation wrap up soon and praised Giuliani, a fellow New Yorker, confidant and Mar-a-Lago regular. “Rudy is great,” Trump said. “He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country.” Giuliani will be joining Sekulow on Trump’s personal legal team but will be working closely with White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who has also been handling the administration’s cooperation with the Mueller investigation. “It is an honor to be a part of such an important legal team, and I look forward to not only working with the President but with Jay, Ty and their colleagues,” Giuliani said in a statement. In addition to Giuliani, two other former federal prosecutors – Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin – will be joining Trump’s legal team. The two, who are married and run a law firm together, are based in Florida but handle cases across the U.S.. Both have extensive experience prosecuting organized crime and representing defendants in complex white-collar and fraud investigations. Giuliani, who was New York mayor during the Sept. 11 attacks, has known Trump for decades and his aggressive, hard-charging rhetorical style can at times mirror that of the president. He had widely been expected to join Trump’s administration. But Giuliani rejected the idea of becoming attorney general, lobbying Trump to name him secretary of state. Trump picked Rex Tillerson and Giuliani was left without a Cabinet post. The two men share similar policy ideals, publicly supporting [...]


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Protests erupt in Sweden over Nobel scandalWomen wear bow ties as a large crowd gathers in the Stortorget square in Stockholm, while the Swedish Academy held its usual meeting Thursday at the Old Stock Exchange building. The crowd gathered to show its support for former Academy member and Permanent Secretary Sara Danius who stepped down wearing her hallmark pussy bow last week.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:20:00 GMT

STOCKHOLM – Thousands of protesters called Thursday for the resignation of the secretive board that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature after a sex-abuse scandal linked to the prestigious Swedish academy forced the ouster of its first woman head and tarnished the reputation of the coveted prize. The ugly internal feud already has reached the top levels of public life in the Scandinavian nation known for its promotion of gender equality, with the prime minister, the king and the Nobel board weighing in. On Thursday evening, thousands of protesters gathered on Stockholm’s picturesque Stortorget Square outside the headquarters of the Swedish Academy, which has awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901, to demand all of its remaining members resign. Parallel demonstrations were planned in Goteborg, Helsingborg, Eskilstuna, Vasteras, and Borgholm. The national protests have grown out of what began as Sweden’s own #MeToo moment in November when the country saw thousands of sexual misconduct allegations surfacing from all walks of life. It hit the academy when 18 women came forward with accusations against Jean-Claude Arnault, a major cultural figure in Sweden who is married to Katarina Frostenson, a poet who is a member of the academy. Police are investigating the allegations, which Arnault denies, but the case has exposed bitter divisions within the academy, whose members are appointed for life, and given rise to accusations of patriarchal leanings among some members. The turmoil began when some of the committee’s 18 members pushed for the removal of Frostenson after the allegations were levied against her husband, who runs a cultural club that has received money from the academy. In addition to sexual misconduct, Arnault also is accused of leaking Nobel winners’ names for years. After a closed-door vote failed to oust her, three male members behind the push – Klas Ostergren, Kjell Espmark and Peter Englund – themselves resigned. That prompted Horace Engdahl, a committee member who has supported Arnault, to label them a “clique of sore losers” and criticize the three for airing their case in public. He also lashed out at Sara Danius, the first woman to lead the Swedish Academy, who was forced out last week amid criticism from male members of her handling of the scandal. Danius, a Swedish literature historian at Stockholm University, had cut the academy’s ties with Arnault and hired investigators to examine its relationship to the club he ran with Frostenson. Their report is expected soon. Supporters of Danius have described her as progressive leader who pushed reforms that riled the old guard. At Thursday’s protests, many participants wore pussy-bow blouses such as the ones worn by Danius. The high-necked blouses with a loosely tied bow at the neck have become a rallying symbol for those critical of the Swedish Academy’s handling of the case. Birgitta Hojlund, 70, who traveled several hours to attend the protest, said despite Sweden’s progressive image, women still face inequality. “There are still differences, in wages and in honors and in professions,” she said, calling for the Swedish academy to be “recreated from the bottom, and balance male and female.” “They’re pushing women away, saying that sexism is OK, in this academy,” agreed Torun Carrfors, a 31-year-old nurse. “They should leave, and we need to have new ones.” Last week, Frostenson announced she too was leaving the academy. On Thursday, a sixth member, writer Lotta Lotass, said she, was also planning to step down, citing backlash from tradition-minded male members of the board who questioned her credentials, the Dagens Nyheter newspaper rep[...]


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2 black men arrested at Starbucks get an apology from policeIn this Wednesday April 18, 2018 photo, Rashon Nelson, left, and Donte Robinson, right, sit on their attorney's sofa as they pose for a portrait following an interview with The Associated Press in Philadelphia. Their arrests at a local Starbucks quickly became a viral video and galvanized people around the country who saw the incident as modern-day racism. In the week since, Nelson and Robinson have met with Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson and are pushing for lasting changes to ensure that what happened to them doesn't happen to future patrons. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:18:00 GMT

PHILADELPHIA – Rashon Nelson initially brushed it off when the Starbucks manager told him he couldn’t use the restroom because he wasn’t a paying customer. He thought nothing of it when he and his childhood friend and business partner, Donte Robinson, were approached at their table and were asked if they needed help. The 23-year-old entrepreneurs declined, explaining they were just waiting for a business meeting. A few minutes later, they hardly noticed when the police came into the coffee shop – until officers started walking in their direction. “That’s when we knew she called the police on us,” Nelson told The Associated Press in the first interview by the two black men since video of their April 12 trespassing arrests touched off a furor around the U.S. over racial profiling or what has been dubbed “retail racism” or “shopping while black.” Nelson and Robinson were led away in handcuffs from the shop in the city’s well-to-do Rittenhouse Square neighborhood in an incident recorded on a white customer’s cellphone. In the week since, the men have met with Starbucks’ apologetic CEO and have started pushing for lasting change at the coffee shop chain, including new policies on discrimination and ejecting customers. “We do want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anybody again,” Robinson said. “What if it wasn’t us sitting there? What if it was the kid that didn’t know somebody that knew somebody? Do they make it to jail? Do they die? What happens?” On Thursday, they also got an apology from Philadelphia police Commissioner Richard Ross, a black man who at first staunchly defended his officers’ handling of the encounter. “I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law, and not that they didn’t do anything wrong,” Ross said. “Words are very important.” At a news conference, a somber Ross said he “failed miserably” in addressing the arrests. He said that the issue of race is not lost on him and that he shouldn’t be the person making things worse. “Shame on me if, in any way, I’ve done that,” he said. He also said the police department did not have a policy for dealing for such situations but does now and it will be released soon. Nelson and Robinson said they went to the Starbucks to meet Andrew Yaffe, a white local businessman, over a potential real estate opportunity. Three officers showed up not long after. Nelson said they weren’t questioned but were told to leave immediately. Yaffe showed up as the men were being handcuffed and could be seen in the video demanding an explanation for the officers’ actions. Nelson and Robinson did not resist arrest. “When you know that you did nothing wrong, how do you really react to it?” Nelson said. “You can either be ignorant or you can show some type of sophistication and act like you have class. That was the choice we had.” It was not their first encounter with police. But neither had been arrested before, setting them apart from many of those they grew up with in their gritty southwest Philadelphia neighborhood. Nelson and Robinson spent hours in a jail cell and were released after midnight, when the district attorney declined to prosecute them. Nelson said he wondered if he’d make it home alive. “Any time I’m encountered by cops, I can honestly say it’s a thought that runs through my mind,” Nelson said. “You never know what’s going to happen.” Starbucks has said the coffee shop where the [...]


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Illinois plan: Replace armed school officers with therapistsFILE - In this May 25, 2016 file photo, Illinois Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch, D-Westchester, speaks to lawmakers at the Capitol in Springfield, Ill. Legislation before the Illinois House would replace school-based police officers with social workers. Rep. Welch is sponsoring the plan to address what proponents say is needless arrests of blacks and other minority students. A group called Voices of Youth in Chicago Education says police officers aren't equipped to handle behavioral health issues and commonly arrest students for non-violent behavior. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:18:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – Some Illinois lawmakers want to give extra money to schools that replace armed security officers with unarmed social workers and behavior therapists, an approach to safety that’s far different than a national push to add police or arm teachers after a mass shooting at a Florida high school. Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a Hillside Democrat, said he proposed the plan after hearing from advocates who argue that investing in mental health resources is the best way of treating the epidemic of violence. His plan, which is backed by 16 other Democrats in the House, would allow schools to apply to an optional grant if they promise to reallocate funding for school-based law enforcement to mental health services, including social workers or other practices “designed to promote school safety and healthy environments.” But the measure could be a tough sell, especially amid a widespread effort to employ more of what’s known as school resource officers – fully armed law enforcement officers often paid for by schools. As of early April, 200 bills or resolutions have been introduced in 39 states regarding school safety, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than half of these measures were introduced after the events in Parkland, Florida. Thirty-four bills in 19 states address regulations and training for school resource officers. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions proposed a school safety plan in March that included a measure prioritizing grants to states that agree to use the money to put more law enforcement in schools. Michelle Mbekani-Wiley, from the Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law, said this approach is wrongheaded and that police are unequipped to recognize or respond to mental health problems. She said that many minority students within the Chicago Public School system are arrested by school resource officers for nonserious offenses, which could jeopardize their chances of applying for jobs and to colleges in the future. “This increased presence of law enforcement in schools does not necessarily enhance school safety,” Mbekani-Wiley said. “Instead, it dramatically increases the likelihood that students will be unnecessarily swept into the criminal justice system often for mere adolescent or disruptive behavior.” However, advocates for school resource officers argue their role is essential to keep students safe, especially in the event of a school shooting. After Parkland, Deputy Kip Heinle, former president of the Illinois School Resource Officers Association, said he was “fielding two to three phone calls a day” from school districts asking how they can add more patrolling officers. While there’s no official count on how many school resource officers are employed in Illinois, he puts the estimate at about 500. Heinle, who works as a school resource officer in an Illinois suburb of St. Louis, said he believes that the officers are “the best line of defense to keep students safe in school.” He added that, beyond preserving law and order in schools, many officers also act like a mentor and an informal counselor to many of their students, with the goal of “shaping them to be successful adults someday.” School resource officers are not required to be trained in Illinois, but they can pay to take part in an optional annual training session each summer in Bloomington. About 85 to 100 officers from around the state typically attend, said Heinle. No Chicago Public School officers have ever attended, he added. FILE - In this May 25, 2016 file photo, Illinois Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch, D-Westchester, speaks to lawmakers at the Ca[...]


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Woodstock School District 200 uses Google Expeditions to create virtual reality experienceDean Street Elementary School fifth-grader Julia Laidig looks through a virtual reality device during a school program Thursday.Fifth-grader Brittany Cortes Landa after taking off her virtual reality device used to view a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock on Thursday at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.The Old Courthouse and Sheriff's Jail are seen through a virtual reality device Thursday during a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock. The students photographed multiple locations in the city using a 3-D camera, which then were published on Google.Fourth-grader Alex Benites (left) and fifth-grader Joselin Ortiz Ayala look through a virtual reality device to view a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock on Thursday at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.Fifth-graders Brian Kus and Jessica Ayala look through a virtual reality device to view a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock on Thursday at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:17:00 GMT

Woodstock School District 200 elementary students recently had a chance to create their own virtual reality experience of the Square and their school through Google Expeditions.

Katie Jacobson, who teaches fourth- and fifth-grade dual language students at Dean Street Elementary School, introduced the worldwide project through a Google pilot program that allows students to showcase the world around them.

Google Expeditions allows users to immerse themselves in different virtual reality spaces using a 360-degree camera and the Google app. Many educators use the program to let students take virtual field trips around the world. Through the pilot program, participants have a chance to create their own tours.

Dean Street Elementary fourth- and fifth-graders created a tour of the Woodstock Square, and the experience now is published through the Google Expeditions app.

“We worked really hard on it, and I am sure everyone here is really proud of what we did,” fifth-grader Lauren Ribbe said. “My favorite place was probably the mural.”

Classmate Lilyana Espina, 11, said she enjoyed the field trip to the Square and learned new things about her town.

“I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about Woodstock,” she said. “Like it used to be called Centerville.”

In addition to taking pictures of about seven different locations, the students had to research and write about the featured places.

“We talked about ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘Dick Tracy,’ ” Jacobson said. “We talked about the history of the Square, like the fire and the Opera House. We also took pictures of the front and back of the school and talked about the history of Dean Street Elementary. The research and collaboration was very extensive.”

Dean Street Elementary School fifth-grader Julia Laidig looks through a virtual reality device during a school program Thursday.Fifth-grader Brittany Cortes Landa after taking off her virtual reality device used to view a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock on Thursday at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.The Old Courthouse and Sheriff's Jail are seen through a virtual reality device Thursday during a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock. The students photographed multiple locations in the city using a 3-D camera, which then were published on Google.Fourth-grader Alex Benites (left) and fifth-grader Joselin Ortiz Ayala look through a virtual reality device to view a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock on Thursday at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.Fifth-graders Brian Kus and Jessica Ayala look through a virtual reality device to view a Google Expedition tour of Woodstock on Thursday at Dean Street Elementary School in Woodstock.


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Diane Evertsen elected McHenry County Republican Party chairwomanDiane Evertsen, R-Harvard, is the new chairwoman of the McHenry County Republican Party.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:12:00 GMT

The McHenry County Republican Party has a new leader.

Her name is Diane Evertsen, a 73-year-old Harvard grandmother and political insider with a long resume – a history that includes a stint as president of Minutemen Midwest, an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center designated a “nativist extremist” group.

Evertsen won election as the GOP’s chairwoman Wednesday night at the party’s annual convention, beating out Old Guard representative Mark Daniel.

Precinct committeemen from across the county descended on McHenry VFW Post 4600 to cast a weighted vote and cement the GOP’s leadership for the next two years.

With votes counted, Evertsen ran away with the win, collecting 8,668 votes to Daniel’s 6,678.

Evertsen – a retired real estate agent who served on the Harvard School District 50 Board for 11 years, the McHenry County Board and currently serves as a McHenry County College trustee – was president of the Minutemen Midwest, which the SPLC named several times on its annual list of nativist extremist groups between 2007 and 2010.

The Alabama-based civil rights nonprofit defines nativist extremist groups as organizations that go beyond mere advocacy to personally confront suspected undocumented immigrants or those who hire or help them.

In its Spring 2007 issue of Intelligence Report, the SPLC quoted this statement from the Harvard-based Minutemen Midwest: “There is a conspiracy afoot to merge the U.S. and Mexico. This heinous ongoing treason has been engineered by an entrenched cabal of legislators, courts, military brass and government employees embedded at all levels of the executive branch, constituting a ‘Shadow Government,’ who are working to dismantle this country in plain sight.”

Evertsen – who had six children with her husband, Evert, and enjoys cooking, gardening and reading books by thriller writer Brad Thor – could not be reached for comment.

Her opponent, Daniel, is a precinct committeeman in Nunda Township and once served as the vice chairman of the McHenry County Republican Party under Mike Tryon.

To Daniel, Evertsen’s election, coupled with her ties to the Minutemen group, does not bode well for the McHenry County GOP.

“I think the Democrats are going to win some races,” Daniel said. “I’m not sure the party is going to move forward because of this.”

Chuck Wheeler, a District 4 McHenry County Board member, won election as the party’s vice chairman, collecting 8,787 votes to McHenry County Board District 6 representative Jim Kearns’ 5,975.

To Wheeler, the GOP’s new leadership represents a catalyst for change in a place where many Republicans describe the party as fragmented.

“Last night was a step in the right direction,” said Wheeler, the first black man elected to the McHenry County Board. “The Republican Party is going to come together.”

Karen Tirio, a McHenry County College trustee, defeated former Richmond Township Supervisor Tamara Valentine-Garza, 9,703 to 5,423. Tirio was not available for comment.

Rachael Lawrence – an Algonquin Township trustee – won election as treasurer. She ran unopposed.

“It was a very big win for a group that’s going to breathe new life into the Republican Party,” Lawrence said.

Diane Evertsen, R-Harvard, is the new chairwoman of the McHenry County Republican Party.


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Huntley School District 158 chooses new high school principalMarcus Belin

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:12:00 GMT

Marcus Belin will serve as the new principal of Huntley High School starting in the fall.

The Huntley School District 158 Board approved Belin’s hire at its meeting Thursday, according to a news release.

Belin will begin the position July 1 and take over for Scott Rowe, who recently was promoted to associate superintendent for District 158.

Belin serves as the assistant principal of Dunlap High School, which is north of Peoria. During his time there, Belin has managed a broad portfolio of administrative duties and driven initiatives that have helped the school maintain its place among the top schools in the state, the release said.

He is from the South Side of Chicago and attended Bradley University in Peoria, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. He is pursuing a doctorate in education at National Louis University.

Belin previously served as a teacher, dean of students and assistant principal at Quest Charter Academy, a public charter middle school and high school in Peoria.

“Those of us who were part of the interview process with Marcus were immediately struck by his passion for the transformative power of education, his vision for driving meaningful change, and his infectiously positive attitude,” interim District 158 Superintendent Brad Hawk said.

Belin and his wife, Monique, have three children.

Rowe has served as principal for the past five years, and he previously was principal at Marlowe Middle School in Lake in the Hills.

Marcus Belin


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Harvard man had about 19 ounces of marijuana, $11,000 in cash, police sayJack D. Hoschouer, 20, of the 400 block of Cobblestone Road, Harvard

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:11:00 GMT

A 20-year-old Harvard man faces drug charges after the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office discovered he posted photos of narcotics and weapons on social media.

Jack D. Hoschouer caught the sheriff’s office’s attention after someone tipped police off to “racially derogatory” comments posted on social media, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

Deputies soon learned there was an active warrant out for Hoschouer’s arrest tied to an unrelated case.

On Wednesday, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Police Narcotics Task Force and the U.S. Marshal’s Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Hoschouer on the warrant at his home in the 400 block of Cobblestone Road.

During Hoschouer’s arrest, officers observed numerous items related to narcotics sales and use in plain view, and a search warrant was granted to enter the residence, police said.

Detectives seized $10,974 in cash, about 19 ounces of marijuana, 11 grams of marijuana wax, digital scales, packaging materials and drug paraphernalia. 

The estimated street value of the seized drugs is about $10,800, police said. Hoschouer faces charges of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He is set to appear in court at 9 a.m. Monday. A judge set his bond at $25,000.

Jack D. Hoschouer, 20, of the 400 block of Cobblestone Road, Harvard


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Round Lake Park woman dies in Volo crash Wednesday

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:10:00 GMT

A 24-year-old Round Lake Park woman died after a Volo crash Wednesday.

Lake County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched about 12:23 p.m. to Route 120 at Ellis Drive in Volo for reports of a crash with injuries, according to a news release from police.

Off-duty paramedics were administering CPR to someone when sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene.

A 55-year-old Gurnee woman was driving an SUV east on Route 120, west of Ellis Drive, when for an unknown reason a sedan driven by the Round Lake Park woman entered the eastbound lanes of Route 120 and struck the SUV, police said.

The Round Lake Park woman was sent to an area hospital, where she later died, police said. The driver of the SUV was sent to the hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening.

The name of the woman who died is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of family. The Lake County Coroner’s Office was scheduled to perform an autopsy Thursday morning.

The Sheriff’s Office Technical Crash Investigations Team continues to investigate.

– Northwest Herald


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63-year-old Harvard man dies in house fire ThursdayA man boards up a second-story window of a home in the 400 block of East Blackman Street on Thursday in Harvard. A fire at about 3 a.m. killed a 63-year-old man at the residence.A man boards up a second-story window of a home in the 400 block of East Blackman Street on Thursday in Harvard. A fire at about 3 a.m. killed a 63-year-old man at the residence.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:09:00 GMT

A 63-year-old man was found dead Thursday morning in the basement of a Harvard home after a house fire.

The Harvard Police Department and Harvard Fire Protection District responded about 3:15 a.m. to the 400 block of East Blackman Street for a fire that began in the basement of the home, according to a news release from the police department.

The 63-year-old man was declared dead at the scene, Fire Chief Steve Harter said. A 10-year-old boy, 14-year-old girl and 55-year-old woman escaped the fire, police said.

“Officers, upon our arrival, were able to hear him calling out, but in terms of his cause of death, we are unsure,” Police Chief Mark Krause said, adding that the McHenry County Coroner’s Office will conduct an autopsy.

Krause said the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office is conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire, and it appears to be accidental and attributed to careless smoking.

The fire caused about $75,000 in damage and mostly was contained to the basement, Harter said. A man boarded up a second-story window of the home Thursday morning.

The three other residents of the home were uninjured, Harter said. The man was temporarily staying at the residence, Krause said.

Hebron and Capron rescues crews, as well as Marengo, Woodstock, McHenry and Sharon fire departments, also responded.

The incident and cause of fire is under investigation, Harter said.

The coroner’s office could not be reached for comment Thursday.

A man boards up a second-story window of a home in the 400 block of East Blackman Street on Thursday in Harvard. A fire at about 3 a.m. killed a 63-year-old man at the residence.A man boards up a second-story window of a home in the 400 block of East Blackman Street on Thursday in Harvard. A fire at about 3 a.m. killed a 63-year-old man at the residence.


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Corrections for April 20

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:09:00 GMT

A story on page A4 of Thursday’s edition incorrectly reported the day a former student testified in court. The former student testified Wednesday that Justin Hubly had kissed her and tried to touch her at a party in October 2016. The Northwest Herald regrets the error.

• A story on page A6 of Wednesday’s edition included inaccurate information about Diane Evertsen’s background. She is a former member of the McHenry County Board.

The Northwest Herald regrets the errors.




McHenry man facing charges after being found with cocaine, heroin, pills, police sayRyan B. Hurst, 35, of the 1300 block of North Riverside Drive, McHenry

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:08:00 GMT

A man who police said they found in a vehicle with drugs and more than $800 cash remained in the McHenry County Jail on Thursday afternoon.

McHenry County Judge Joel Berg set bond for 35-year-old Ryan B. Hurst at $100,000 Wednesday.

Johnsburg police said they found Hurst, of the 1300 block of North Riverside Drive, McHenry, with fewer than 15 grams of cocaine, heroin, buprenorphine, Xanax, oxycodone, Ativan and hydrocodone, according to a criminal complaint filed in McHenry County court.

He also had $892 in cash with him at the time, prosecutors said.

Hurst is charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license, possession of a controlled substance and manufacturing or delivering heroin.

He could face four to 15 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge.

McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Miller requested that Hurst prove the source of any bond money he might post, to make sure it wasn’t earned illegally. Berg granted the request Wednesday.

Hurst’s first court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday.

Ryan B. Hurst, 35, of the 1300 block of North Riverside Drive, McHenry


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Mariano's to open May 1 in former Sears on Route 14 in Crystal LakeMariano's, shown Thursday in Crystal Lake, is set to open to the public May 1.Mariano's Facebook page announced the Crystal Lake store's opening date.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:08:00 GMT

Mariano’s will open May 1 in Crystal Lake.

The grocery store’s doors will open at 6 a.m. at 105 Route 14, according to a Mariano’s Facebook post.

The 74,800-square-foot building in Crystal Lake will feature Mariano’s signature glass rotunda, which houses a cafe area, and a 19,000-square-foot gas station.

The grand opening will feature live piano music, according to the post.

City officials have said the store could generate between $35 million and $40 million in sales annually.

The city’s community development department specifically sought out the chain because of the “catalyst” effect it has on communities, city officials have said.

“Mariano’s is a premier grocer that offers quality products, variety, exceptional service and convenience, and this is a perfect location for them,” Mayor Aaron Shepley previously said.

The amenities that are offered differ by store, but include specialties such as an Italian coffee shop with a gelato bar, wood-fired pizza, a sit-down sushi bar, a juice bar and others.

Mariano’s is hiring for the new Crystal Lake location, including a bartender and meat cutter, according to job postings online.

This will be the first Mariano’s in McHenry County, with the closest stores located in Lake Zurich, Palatine, Hoffman Estates, Buffalo Grove and Gurnee.

The Sears building that was on the property was demolished in April 2017, and construction then began on the Mariano’s. Jewel-Osco, The Fresh Market and Fresh Thyme also sit along Route 14 near the Mariano’s site.

Mariano’s is a subsidiary of Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc., which operates more than 150 grocery stores in Wisconsin and Illinois under the Pick ’n Save, Copps, Metro Market and Mariano’s retail banners.

Mariano’s representatives could not be reached for details Thursday.

Mariano's, shown Thursday in Crystal Lake, is set to open to the public May 1.Mariano's Facebook page announced the Crystal Lake store's opening date.


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Judge denies acquittal motion in Crystal Lake choir director's battery casesFormer Crystal Lake Central High School choir director Justin Hubly arrives for court with supporters Tuesday in Woodstock. Hubly is accused of inappropriately touching former students and giving them alcohol while they were younger than 21.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:06:00 GMT

On Thursday, defense attorney Hank Sugden said Justin Hubly didn’t break the law by allowing former students younger than 21 to drink at his home.

The second day of trial in two cases filed against the former Crystal Lake Central choir director included brief testimony from a Crystal Lake police detective. The trial only was in session for about an hour, however, before Sugden asked McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt to acquit Hubly of the charges, claiming prosecutors did not prove he had committed a crime.

The 36-year-old was arrested more than a month after allegations surfaced that he had former students at his house on several occasions, gave them alcohol when they were younger than 21 and had inappropriate contact with two of them.

One of those former students testified Wednesday that she had made plans to “get very drunk” with him the night he’s accused of kissing her multiple times and trying to touch her in a sexual manner.

According to her testimony, the former student, who was 19 years old at the time, went to Hubly’s Crystal Lake townhouse Oct. 7, 2016. She arrived at the party with a bottle of wine in hand but left nervous and clutching her purse.

Hubly greeted the young woman when she arrived at his house, and proceeded to give her two mixed drinks and a shot of tequila before kissing and touching her in ways that made her uneasy, she said.

“I wasn’t doing anything,” the now 21-year-old said in court Wednesday. “I was not reciprocating the action.”

Sugden, however, chalked the night up to a bad kiss from a man she wasn’t interested in. The attorney also referenced the woman’s testimony that her parents bought her the bottle of wine she arrived with that night, knowing she was going to Hubly’s house.

Sugden argued Hubly’s presence exempted him from criminal charges because he was supervising the group of mostly 19-year-olds. Assistant State’s Attorney Brette Dunbar called Sugden’s logic a “slap in the face of the Liquor Control Act,” and Wilbrandt ultimately denied the defense attorney’s request.

According to the Liquor Control Act, a person younger than 21 can drink alcohol as part of a religious service or ceremony or under the direct supervision and approval of their parents or guardian in the privacy of a home.

Closing arguments are expected to be heard Friday afternoon.

Former Crystal Lake Central High School choir director Justin Hubly arrives for court with supporters Tuesday in Woodstock. Hubly is accused of inappropriately touching former students and giving them alcohol while they were younger than 21.


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Man stole car from Cary gas station, crashed it in Crystal Lake before fleeing, police sayA man fled police on foot Wednesday night after stealing a car in Cary and crashing it into a traffic signal in Crystal Lake about a half-hour later, police said.Police directed traffic Wednesday night when the traffic light went out at the intersection of Randall Road and McHenry Avenue in Crystal Lake after a man crashed a stolen car into it, Crystal Lake Deputy Police Chief Derek Hyrkas said.A man fled police on foot Wednesday night after stealing a car in Cary and crashing it into a traffic signal in Crystal Lake about a half-hour later, police said.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:05:00 GMT

A man fled police on foot Wednesday night after stealing a vehicle in Cary and crashing it into a traffic signal in Crystal Lake, Cary Deputy Police Chief Jim Fillmore said.

A woman stopped at Bob’s Amoco BP Station, 400 Silver Lake Road, Cary, and was away from her vehicle when the male suspect jumped into her car and drove off about 9 p.m., Fillmore said.

About 9:30 p.m., a vehicle crashed into a traffic signal at Randall Road and McHenry Avenue, hitting the Illinois Department of Transportation box that controls traffic signals, Crystal Lake Deputy Police Chief Derek Hyrkas said. Police directed traffic while the lights were out.

“The car wasn’t there when we got there, but there were a number of car pieces left behind,” Hyrkas said.

A deputy from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office later found the crashed vehicle, and when the deputy approached the car, the man inside took off on foot, Sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Rogers said. Hyrkas said the car was found near Cardinal Wines & Liquors, 305 W. Virginia St.

The suspect has shoulder-length blond hair and was wearing jeans and a camouflage jacket, Fillmore said.

No arrests had been made as of Thursday evening, and police still are investigating the crash, officials said.

Police are actively looking for the suspect, and anyone with information can call the Cary Police Department at 847-639-2341, Crystal Lake police at 815-356-3620 or McHenry County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-762-7867.

To avoid vehicle theft, people should lock vehicle doors when they walk away and take their keys with them, Hyrkas said.

A man fled police on foot Wednesday night after stealing a car in Cary and crashing it into a traffic signal in Crystal Lake about a half-hour later, police said.Police directed traffic Wednesday night when the traffic light went out at the intersection of Randall Road and McHenry Avenue in Crystal Lake after a man crashed a stolen car into it, Crystal Lake Deputy Police Chief Derek Hyrkas said.A man fled police on foot Wednesday night after stealing a car in Cary and crashing it into a traffic signal in Crystal Lake about a half-hour later, police said.


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Huntley police: Downtown construction closes part of Coral StreetA portion of Coral Street in downtown Huntley will close Thursday for construction.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 15:39:00 GMT

A portion of Coral Street in downtown Huntley will close Thursday for construction.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Coral Street between Church and Woodstock streets will be closed, according to an alert from Huntley police sent Thursday morning.

A portion of Coral Street in downtown Huntley will close Thursday for construction.


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Global warming has changed the Great Barrier Reef 'forever,' scientists sayA dead reef covered in turf algae. The mass mortality event at Christmas Island is believed to be one of the worst casualties of the ongoing global bleaching event.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:09:00 GMT

Two years after a long-lasting undersea heat wave scalded large sections of the Great Barrier Reef, scientists have now found that because so many corals died, much of the reef has likely been altered "forever." "What we just experienced is one hell of a natural selection event," said Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Queensland. In a notably blunt study in the journal Nature - laden with words like "unprecedented," "radical" and "catastrophic" - Hughes and 15 colleagues report that in 2016 alone, about 30 percent of the Great Barrier Reef's corals were lost, with the most severe damage in the isolated northern sector. (In 2017, another ocean heat wave claimed another roughly 20 percent of corals, Hughes said.) Many corals died faster than expected and at a lower level of sustained heat than had been predicted to be deadly. The researchers add that since losses in certain species were much greater than in others, the entire ecological identity of much of the reef system has likely changed. In particular, elaborate branching corals that provide key fish habitat are being replaced by bulky, less intricate "dome-shaped" corals, Hughes said. And because it takes about 10 years for even the fastest growing corals to recover, the study warns that there is probably no reversing the sweeping change to the most damaged sectors of the world's largest barrier reef. Not before yet another bleaching event occurs. That certainly doesn't mean the end of the reef as a whole. The south, in particular, escaped much of the bleaching in 2016 and 2017. But it does mean that much of the reef will probably shift into a new ecological state with a less diverse, but more resilient, set of corals. "The 2016 marine heatwave has triggered the initial phase of that transition on the northern, most-pristine region of the Great Barrier Reef, changing it forever as the intensity of global warming continues to escalate," reads the study, written by scientists from numerous Australian institutions as well as the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In 2016 and 2017, the Great Barrier Reef was pummeled by two successive summers in which ocean temperatures far exceeded normal for key portions of the reef - and stayed that way for a considerable time. Extremely warm ocean temperatures stress corals and cause a phenomenon called "bleaching," in which tiny algae called zooxanthellae abandon the corals they live with, causing the corals to lose their color. The consequence is not just outward - zooxanthellae are partners with coral in an ancient symbiotic relationship, conducting photosynthesis necessary for the corals to survive. If the algae are gone for too long, the corals die. Hughes and his colleagues have been directly studying this extreme die-off at the reef since its beginning during the 2016 El Nino event, when they took observations through aircraft surveys and dives, revealing scenes like this: The researchers then reported back dire dispatches about the destruction, documenting coral reefs' surprisingly immediate vulnerability to warming ocean waters. One widely circulated tweet from Hughes amid the frantic research captured the mood: "I showed the results of aerial surveys of" bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef "to my students, And then we wept," he wrote. The new results, Hughes said, show that roughly half of the corals along the 1,400 mile long reef died in the past two years of bleaching. (Hughes has previously reported that 900 of those 1,400 miles saw "severe" coral bleach[...]


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Pittsburgh police readying riot gear for 'large scale protest' if Trump fires MuellerSpecial Counsel Robert Mueller leaves a meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on June 21, 2017. Bloomberg photo by Eric Thayer.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:14:00 GMT

President Donald Trump suggested Wednesday that he is in no rush to fire either special counsel Robert Mueller or Mueller's boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. But that hasn't stopped thousands of people across the country from planning protests in the event that the president does choose to give Mueller and Rosenstein the boot from the Russian investigation. One city's police agency is already preparing for the worst. Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has ordered its plainclothes detectives to bring full uniform and riot gear to work starting Thursday, "until further notice." "We have received information of a potential large scale protest in the Central Business District," read an internal email from Victor Joseph, commander of major crimes, according to a copy obtained by a WTAE reporter and confirmed by Pittsburgh's mayor. The email was sent to plainclothes detectives, according to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. "There is a belief that President Trump will soon move to fire Special Prosecutor Mueller," Joseph's email continued. "This would result in a large protest within 24 hours of the firing. The protest would be semi-spontaneous and more than likely happen on short notice." "We may be needed to assist in the event that there is a large scale protest," Joseph added in the email. The memo, which circulated on Twitter, quickly raised questions about what may have spurred the agency's preparations. Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich clarified in a statement that although authorities received information about potential events, "we have not assessed the credibility of the potential for disturbances, and we do not have any knowledge of the President's decision-making process." "The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police receives information daily that we evaluate and prepare for if the event should occur," Hissrich said. "Events can include anything from extreme weather to potential demonstrations. Often the events we prepare for do not occur. However, through an abundance of caution, we attempt to adequately prepare for an appropriate response." Indeed, plans are in the works for potentially large protests if Trump does fire Mueller. Thousands of people in cities across the country have signed up to participate in a series of "emergency" protests called "Nobody is Above the Law." "Donald Trump could be preparing to put himself above the law. We won't allow it," the group says on its web page. "Trump will create a constitutional crisis if he fires special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller, or attempts to compromise the investigation by other means." "Our response in the hours following a potential power grab will dictate what happens next - whether Congress will stand up to Trump or allow him to move our democracy toward authoritarianism," the group says. In Pittsburgh, more than 2,300 people have registered to participate in a potential rally at the Pittsburgh City-County Building, as of early Thursday. If news were to break about a Mueller firing before 3 p.m. on any given day, the rally would begin at 6 p.m. that day. If the news were to break after 3 p.m., the protest would start at noon the following day. City officials faced criticism on social media from both sides of the political aisle. Some suggested police were trying to clamp down on protesters or that the Pittsburgh mayor was "scaring his constituents" into thinking Trump will fire Mueller. Peduto fired back at the "conspiracies" on Twitter, saying the police memo "doesn't claim to know what the President will do.[...]


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'She has nerves of steel': The story of the pilot who calmly landed the Southwest Airlines flightNTSB investigators examine damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia on Tuesday. NTSB handout

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:08:00 GMT

The pilot's voice was calm yet focused as her plane descended, telling air traffic control she had "149 souls" on board and was carrying 21,000 pounds - or about five hours' worth - of fuel. "Southwest 1380, we're single engine," said Capt. Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the Navy. "We have part of the aircraft missing, so we're going to need to slow down a bit." She asked for medical personnel to meet her aircraft on the runway. "We've got injured passengers." "Injured passengers, OK, and is your airplane physically on fire?" asked the air traffic controller, according to audio of the interaction. "No, it's not on fire, but part of it's missing," Shults said, pausing for a moment. "They said there's a hole, and, uh, someone went out." The engine on Shults's plane had, in fact, exploded Tuesday, spraying shrapnel into the aircraft, causing a window to be blown out and leaving one woman dead and seven other people injured. The National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday that investigators will examine whether metal fatigue caused an engine fan of the Boeing 737-700 to snap midflight. The protective engine housing broke off, and pieces were later recovered in fields in Berks County, Pennsylvania, 70 miles northwest of Philadelphia International Airport. The wing on the side of the plane where the explosion occurred suffered damage that left it "banged up pretty good," NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said. The cabin window blew out with such force that none of the materials were recovered inside the plane, baffling investigators, he said. "We didn't see any shards of glass [that blew in] - I say glass, but it's acrylic," Sumwalt said. "We found no evidence at all of any broken acrylic inside." In the midst of the chaos, Shults deftly guided the plane onto the runway, touching down at 190 mph, saving the lives of 148 people aboard and averting a far worse catastrophe. "She has nerves of steel," passenger Alfred Tumlinson said Wednesday. When the engine exploded, Tumlinson, 55, was sitting with his wife on the plane's left side, in the second aisle from the back. The couple from George West, Texas, sent texts to their children, telling them the plane was going down and that they loved them. "Did we think we were going to make it?" Tumlinson asked, turning to his wife. "No." "I got another day of my life because of that lady and the co-pilot," he said. "What do you want to know about [Shults] other than she's an angel?" Tumlinson described how soon after the explosion, a soothing voice came over the intercom. "She was talking to us very calmly," Tumlinson said. " 'We're descending, we're not going down, we're descending, just stay calm, brace yourselves,' " he recalled Shults saying. " 'Everybody keep your masks on.' " Finally, passengers were told to brace themselves, he said. " 'Everybody, you got to lean forward - hands up on the seat in the front, you got to know that you're coming down, and you're coming down hard,' " Tumlinson said, becoming emotional while recounting the experience. "But she didn't slam it down. She brought the bird down very carefully." The plane stabilized on the runway. Then, a moment of relief. "She was so cool when she brought that down into the Philadelphia airport," Tumlinson said. "Everybody just was applauding. I'm just telling you they were just applauding. It was amazing that we made it to the ground." The passengers were told to remain calm while medics came on board. Soon after, Shults came into the cabin to check on passengers. "She came back and talked to every[...]


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Police chiefs implore Congress not to pass concealed-carry reciprocity gun lawHouston Police Chief Art Acevedo speaks at a meeting of police chiefs and prosecutors in Washington in October. Washington Post photo by Tom Jackman

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:07:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The nation's police chiefs are rising up against another conservative crime-fighting initiative, sending a letter to leaders of Congress on Thursday opposing a bill that would allow gun owners with concealed-carry permits in one state to carry their concealed weapons in all 50 states. The letter from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, representing 18,000 police departments across the United States, and Boston Police Commissioner William Evans targets the "Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act," which passed the House in December and is now assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter is endorsed by 473 police officials from 39 states, from large departments such as Los Angeles and Atlanta to small departments such as Spanish Fork, Utah, and Falls Church, Virginia. "This legislation," the letter states, "is a dangerous encroachment on individual state efforts to protect public safety, and it would effectively nullify duly enacted state laws and hamper law enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence." The letter sets up a second conflict between American law enforcement on one hand and Republicans in Congress and the White House on the other. Last fall, a group of current and former big city chiefs of police and prosecutors urged the Trump administration not to return to the era of "lock 'em all up" policing by seeking maximum sentences and reducing oversight of police departments. The call in response to initiatives announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The group Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration said that modern policing techniques had reduced crime significantly and did not need to be rolled back. On concealed weapons, states currently issue permits to individual gun owners to carry concealed weapons, and different states have different criteria for issuing the permits. Some states require training and proof of proficiency, while some states require no qualifications. Some states recognize the permits of certain other states, but many do not. And a dozen states now have "constitutional carry," meaning weapons can be concealed without a permit. The bill in Congress, described by the National Rifle Association as its "highest legislative priority," would require all states simply to recognize the permits of all other states, regardless of the conditions imposed by individual states for obtaining the permits. The bill also allows visitors to national parks and other federal lands to carry concealed weapons, and it would let certain permit holders - off-duty or retired law enforcement officers - to carry concealed weapons in school zones. When the bill passed the House by 231 to 198 in December, NRA lobbyist Chris W. Cox called it "a watershed moment for Second Amendment rights" and the "culmination of a 30-year movement recognizing the right of all law-abiding Americans to defend themselves, and their loved ones, including when they cross state lines." House Majority Whip Steve Scalise R-La., the most seriously wounded victim of the Alexandria, Virginia, baseball field shooting last year, said that "concealed carry reciprocity will increase gun safety." Many police chiefs do not see it that way. The main objection is that some states have devised strict requirements for concealed-carry permits and do not want t[...]


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Crystal Lake Brewing to be featured at Long Grove's Craft Beer FestivalCrystal Lake Brewing general manager Beth Alberger pours a beer May 21, 2015. The brewery will be featured at Long Grove's Craft Beer Festival from noon to 6 p.m. April 28.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:26:00 GMT

Long Grove will transform into the suburbs’ biggest outdoor beer garden for a Craft Beer Festival from noon to 6 p.m. April 28. One of the participating brewers is Crystal Lake Brewing.

In addition to several local brewers, headlined by Long Grove’s Buffalo Creek Brewery, local food vendors and musicians will be featured at the event.

Along with unlimited beer samplings from 24 brewers and two wineries, Craft Beer Festival will include live music by Bellwether Blues (noon to 2:30 p.m.) and Jake Mack and the Lesser Stags (3 to 5:30 p.m.). There also will be multiple food vendors to provide nourishment during the day dedicated to imbibing.    

Participating brewers include 350 Brewing Co. Aleman Brewing Co., Babble Home Brewers, Blue Crane Imports BuckleDown Brewing, Buffalo Creek Brewing, Crystal Lake Brewing, Half Day Brewing Co. and more.

Full-access tickets for those 21 and older cost $40 in advance (includes a commemorative 3-ounce glass and unlimited beer samples) or $50 at the door, if still available.

Tickets for nondrinkers and designated drivers cost $15 (includes a commemorative glass and free water).  

The event will be in the Stempel Parking Lot in front of Buffalo Creek Brewing, 360 Historical Lane, Long Grove.  

Crystal Lake Brewing general manager Beth Alberger pours a beer May 21, 2015. The brewery will be featured at Long Grove's Craft Beer Festival from noon to 6 p.m. April 28.


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U.N. team fired on at suspected Syria chemical attack siteA child receives oxygen through a respirator after an alleged poison gas attack April 8 in the rebel-held town of Douma near Damascus, Syria.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:23:00 GMT

BEIRUT – Assailants opened fire at a U.N. security team visiting the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, an official said Wednesday, forcing it to retreat to its base and further delaying a fact-finding mission by outside experts to examine the claims. Gunmen shot at the U.N. team in Douma on Tuesday and detonated an explosive, leading it to return to Damascus, said the head of the international chemical weapons watchdog, Ahmet Uzumcu. He did not identify the assailants. Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have been waiting since Saturday to visit Douma, the site of the alleged April 7 attack. They initially were blocked by the Syrian government and its ally, Russia, on Monday. Then on Tuesday, the advance security team from the U.N. came under fire, compounding the delays. The OPCW inspectors have not yet been able to visit the site, and Uzumcu did not say when they would deploy. The United Nations said more security measures were needed before the inspectors could go in. “There is still a lot of volatility in the area,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, adding that the U.N. security team needed to make at least another visit before the fact-finding mission could go ahead. The town is under the protection of Russia’s military police. The Russian military said a Syrian security employee was slightly wounded in the crossfire Tuesday, but no Russian servicemen were at the site of the attack. Journalists visiting Douma on a government-organized tour Monday did not report any security threats. The Associated Press met with residents who said they were overwhelmed by chlorine fumes on the night of the alleged attack, and lost their loved ones. With 11 days now having passed, concerns are growing that evidence could fall prey to tampering or be otherwise compromised. In response, the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense, whose first responders were operating in Douma on the night of the alleged attack, gave the chemical weapons watchdog the locations of victims’ graves so it could salvage evidence, the group’s chief, Raed Saleh, told the AP. The Civil Defense no longer has a presence in Douma after being evacuated to rebel-held areas of northern Syria when the government took over the town. The government said the Civil Defense is a terrorist organization. Russia and the Syrian government have denied responsibility for the alleged attack, which took place during a government assault on the then rebel-held town. The Army of Islam surrendered Douma two days later. The U.S., which has drawn its own conclusions about the attack on Douma, has accused the Syrian government and Russia of trying to cover up evidence of their culpability. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the evidence was at risk of being tampered with as the delays dragged on. “We are very much aware of the delay that the regime imposed on that delegation. But we are also very much aware of how they have operated in the past. ... In other words, using the pause after a strike like that to try to clean up the evidence before the investigation team gets in,” Mattis said. [...]


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Miguel Diaz-Canel, 57, selected as next president of CubaCuba President Raul Castro observes a monitor with the day's proceedings during the start of two-day session of the Legislature on Wednesday in Havana, Cuba.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:23:00 GMT

HAVANA – The Cuban government on Wednesday selected 57-year-old first Vice President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez as the sole candidate to succeed President Raul Castro in a transition aimed at ensuring that the country’s single-party system outlasts the aging revolutionaries who created it. The certain approval of Diaz-Canel by members of the unfailingly unanimous National Assembly will install someone from outside the Castro family in the country’s highest government office for the first time in nearly six decades. The 86-year-old Castro will remain head of the Communist Party, designated by the constitution as “the superior guiding force of society and the state.” As a result, Castro will remain the most powerful person in Cuba for the time being. His departure from the presidency nonetheless is a symbolically charged moment for a country accustomed to 60 years of absolute rule first by revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and, for the past decade, his younger brother. Facing biological reality but still active and apparently healthy, Raul Castro is stepping down as president in an effort to guarantee that new leaders can maintain the government’s grip on power in the face of economic stagnation, an aging population and increasing disenchantment among younger generations. “I like sticking with the ideas of President Fidel Castro because he did a lot for the people of Cuba, but we need rejuvenation, above all in the economy,” said Melissa Mederos, a 21-year-old schoolteacher. “Diaz-Canel needs to work hard on the economy, because people need to live a little better.” Most Cubans know their first vice president as an uncharismatic figure who until recently maintained a public profile so low it virtually was nonexistent. That image slightly changed this year as state media placed an increasing spotlight on Diaz-Canel’s public appearances, including remarks to the press last month that included his promise to make Cuba’s government more responsive to its people. “We’re building a relationship between the government and the people here,” he said then after casting a ballot for members of the National Assembly. “The lives of those who will be elected have to be focused on relating to the people, listening to the people, investigating their problems and encouraging debate.” Diaz-Canel gained prominence in central Villa Clara province as the top Communist Party official, a post equivalent to governor. There, people described him as a hard-working, modest-living technocrat dedicated to improving public services. He became higher education minister in 2009 before moving into the vice presidency. In a video of a Communist Party meeting that inexplicably leaked to the public last year, Diaz-Canel expressed a series of orthodox positions that included somberly pledging to shutter some independent media and labeling some European embassies as outposts of foreign subversion. But he has also defended academics and bloggers who became targets of hardliners, leading some to describe him a potential advocate for greater openness in a system intolerant of virtually any criticism or dissent. International observers and Cubans alike will be scrutinizing every move he makes afte[...]


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Trump says unless N. Korea summit is 'fruitful,' he'll leaveA South Korean army soldier passes by a TV screen showing file footage of CIA Director Mike Pompeo, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, April 18, 2018. Pompeo recently traveled to North Korea to meet with leader Kim Jong Un, a highly unusual, secret visit undertaken as the enemy nations prepare for a meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The signs read: " Mike Pompeo meets with Kim Jong Un." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:23:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Wednesday that although he’s optimistically looking ahead to a historic summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un he could still pull out if he feels it’s “not going to be fruitful.” Trump said that CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Kim “got along really well” in their recent secret meeting, and he declared, “We’ve never been in a position like this” to address worldwide concerns over North Korea’s nuclear weapons. But speaking alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, after the allies met at Trump’s Florida resort, he made it clear that he’d still be ready to pull the plug on what is being billed as an extraordinary meeting between the leaders of longtime adversaries. “If I think that if it’s a meeting that is not going to be fruitful we’re not going to go. If the meeting when I’m there is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting,” Trump told a news conference. He also said that a U.S.-led “maximum pressure” campaign of tough economic sanctions on North Korea would continue until the isolated nation “denuclearizes.” Abe echoed the sentiment. “Just because North Korea is responding to dialogue, there should be no reward. Maximum pressure should be maintained,” he said. Trump has said his summit with Kim, with whom he traded bitter insults and threats last year as North Korea conducted nuclear and missile tests, could take place by June, although the venue has yet to be decided. It would be the first such leadership summit between the two nations after six decades of hostility after the Korean War. Other than the threat posed to by North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction, another issue overhanging the summit plans is the fate of three Americans detained there. Trump said that was under negotiation and there was a “good chance” of winning their release, but he wouldn’t say whether that was a precondition for sitting down with Kim. Pompeo raised the question of the three Americans in his meeting with Kim, a U.S. official said. Trump also said he had promised Abe he would work hard for the return of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea. Tokyo said at least a dozen Japanese said to have been taken in the 1970s and 1980s remain unaccounted for. News of Pompeo’s trip to North Korea, which took place more than two weeks ago, emerged Tuesday, as lawmakers weighed whether he should be confirmed to become secretary of state. Trump and Republican senators held up his highly unusual, secret mission as a sign of Pompeo’s diplomatic ability. But the prospect of his confirmation hung in the balance as Democrats lined up against him. Sen. Robert Menendez, top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that will have the first vote on confirmation, expressed frustration that the CIA chief had not briefed him on the visit that took place more than a week before Pompeo’s public hearing April 12. He is the most senior U.S. official to meet with a North Korean leader since Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim’s father in Pyongyang in 2000. [...]


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U.S., Japan plan new talks on 'fair and reciprocal' trade dealPresident Donald Trump speaks to members of the media during a working lunch with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday at Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:22:00 GMT

PALM BEACH, Fla. – The U.S. and Japan said Wednesday they've agreed to start talks to develop what President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe described as a new "free, fair and reciprocal" trade deal between the two countries following two days of talks. But the leaders said they had failed to reach a deal that would exempt Japan from new U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, as Abe had wanted. "If we can come to an arrangement on a new deal, that would certainly be something we would discuss," Trump said during a joint press conference at his private Mar-a-Lago club. But he said the current trade deficit between the two countries is too high for him to offer an exemption now. Most other key U.S. allies – among them Australia, Canada, the European Union and Mexico – already have been granted exemptions to Trump's protectionist measures on steel and aluminum. The U.S. trade deficit with Japan last year was $56.1 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Trump said he was working to reduce that imbalance and pushing to remove barriers to U.S. exports. "We're committed to pursuing a bilateral trading relationship that benefits both of our great countries," he said. Japan has previously voiced reluctance to a bilateral trade deal with the U.S. Trump also made clear that he has little interest in rejoining negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal unless the terms are dramatically altered. "While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don't like the deal for the United States," Trump tweeted Tuesday, following a dinner with Abe and their respective wives at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. "Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn't work. Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for OUR workers." Trump pulled the U.S. out of TPP days after his inauguration but recently said he might be open to rejoining. During Abe's two-day visit, Trump appeared to be seeking to reassure him of the pair's close alliance as the president prepares for a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump and Abe spent Wednesday morning golfing at one of Trump's nearby courses in their latest show of "golf diplomacy," and had an intimate dinner on Tuesday evening with their wives. The Trump-Abe summit has played out amid growing tensions between the two countries over North Korea and trade. Japan has raised concerns that the U.S. might press Kim only on long-range missiles that could hit the mainland United States – and not on the short- and medium-range missiles that pose an immediate threat to Japan – as they discuss North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Abe on Tuesday praised Trump for his courage in agreeing to meet with Kim and suggested he and Trump had already come to terms on several issues. Speaking through a translator during one of their meetings, Abe said that he and Trump had had "very in-depth discussions" on both North Korea and economic issues and that "on those two points" they had "successfully forged [...]


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Lithuanian jailed in Chicago claims pedophile ring in extraditionThis 2012 photo provided by Juozas Valiušaitis shows Neringa Venckiene in Lithuania. Venckiene, a former Lithuanian judge and parliamentarian jailed in Chicago at her homeland's request fears death if she's extradited because she helped expose a network of influential pedophiles in the country. Unless the Trump administration intervenes, 47-year-old Neringa Venckiene could be sent back home within weeks. "I never want to go back to Lithuania," she told the AP by phone from jail, adding that she'd embrace becoming a U.S. citizen. (photo courtesy Juozas Valiušaitis via AP)

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:21:00 GMT

CHICAGO –A former Lithuanian judge and parliamentarian jailed in Chicago at her homeland’s request fears death if she’s extradited because she helped expose a network of influential pedophiles in the country, she told The Associated Press in her first interview since becoming a fugitive. Unless the Trump administration intervenes, 47-year-old Neringa Venckiene could be sent back home within weeks. “I never want to go back to Lithuania,” she told the AP by phone from jail, adding that she would embrace becoming a U.S. citizen. The improbable story of how Venckiene, once a rising judicial star in Lithuania, ended up in a high-rise federal jail in downtown Chicago goes back a decade. For years, the drama enthralled and bitterly divided the Baltic Sea nation. It involves the slaying of a fellow judge accused of molesting her 4-year-old niece; the death of Venckiene’s brother who leveled the accusation and was suspected in the killing; and Venckiene’s election to parliament after a burst of popularity as head of a new anti-pedophilia party named after her dead brother. After fleeing Lithuania in 2013, Venckiene lived in Crystal Lake with her teenage son, Karolis. She worked as a nursing-home aide, then a florist. She had documents allowing her to live and work legally in the U.S., but she turned herself in Feb. 13 after learning American authorities were seeking her arrest on the Lithuanian charges. Kathleen Miller, a friend of Venckiene’s from Crystal Lake, said Venckiene stood out as bright and kind. Over lunch or while grocery shopping together, she often spoke of the turmoil that engulfed her in Lithuania. “Our whole family loves her,” Miller said. “It was a terrible shock when she was arrested.” At the Metropolitan Correctional Center, which typically holds drug- and gun-crime suspects, Venckiene gets outside to a deck atop the 26-story jail for one hour each day. She plays basketball, goes to Mass and reads a lot, she said. She recently has been reading “The Diary of Anne Frank,” written by the Jewish girl as she hid from Nazis in occupied Amsterdam. Hollywood depictions of U.S. jails initially worried her, she said, but neither inmates nor guards have mistreated her. “It’s better than what I have seen in movies,” she said. “I don’t want to sit in jail for crimes I didn’t commit. But it’s not that bad.” Lithuania issued an arrest warrant in 2015. But American authorities haven’t explained why they arrested her only three years later. If she is extradited, Venckiene said politically connected pedophiles would target her both for exposing their network and for campaigning on the issue in 2012, when her fledging party won seven parliamentary seats. “They have no reason to have me back but to kill me,” said Venckiene, who also answered some questions by email. There’s no history of extrajudicial killings in Lithuania, which restored independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and now belongs to NATO and the European Union. Asked about Venckiene’s safety conc[...]


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George H.W. Bush buoyed by tributes to wifeThe Mensch International Foundation presents its annual Mensch Award to former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush at an awards ceremony March 8, 2017, hosted by Congregation Beth Israel in Houston.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:20:00 GMT

HOUSTON – In his first public comments since his wife’s death, former President George H.W. Bush said Wednesday that he used to tease his spouse of 73 years that he had a complex about how much people liked her. That fact, he said, is buoyed by stories about Barbara Bush’s warmth and wit following her death. Tributes have rolled in from around the world, from former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to a U.S. Navy commander, who recalled Mrs. Bush handing out cookies to sailors on a battleship. “I always knew Barbara was the most beloved woman in the world, and in fact I used to tease her that I had a complex about that fact,” the nation’s 41st president said in a statement released Wednesday. His wife died Tuesday as their Houston home, where he held her hand, all day, before she died at age 92. They had been married longer than any other presidential couple. The former president referred to his wife as “The Enforcer,” a term of endearment bestowed by her family as she ran their household while he pursued careers in the Texas oil business and later politics and public service. He said the outpouring of support and friendship toward his wife following her death “is lifting us all up.” Their son, former President George W. Bush, told an audience at his presidential library in Dallas on Wednesday that his mother was “funny to the end.” He recalled a phone conversation they had this week. “The day before she died, I said ‘Mom, I just want you know you’ve been a fabulous mother and I love you dearly.’ And she said, ‘I want you to know that you’re my favorite son – on the phone,’ ” Bush told the audience. “I hope you don’t feel sorry for any of us, particularly me,” he added. He said he was at peace because his mother was at peace. “She believes in an afterlife and was joyously looking forward to that afterlife,” he said. A tearful Laura Bush added that watching her mother-in-law taught her “how to be a first lady, and I’m so grateful for her example.” Other tributes heralded the former first lady as a warm woman of strength devoted to not only her family, but to child and adult literacy programs. Current first lady Melania Trump, who will attend Barbara Bush’s funeral on Saturday in Houston, praised her for putting “family and country above all else.” Among her greatest achievements, President Donald Trump added in a statement, “was recognizing the importance of literacy as a fundamental family value that requires nurturing and protection.” Gorbachev, whose last years in office overlapped George H.W. Bush’s presidency, remembered Barbara Bush as warm and astute, saying “she immediately developed a warm relationship” with his wife. Gorbachev visited with the Bushes at the former president’s library at Texas A&M University, where Barbara Bush will be buried. In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram to the former president offering his condolences. [...]


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Cary School District 26 announces openings for at-risk preschoolCary School District 26 has openings for its At-Risk Preschool Program for the 2018-19 school year at Oak Knoll Early Childhood Center.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:19:00 GMT

Cary School District 26 has openings for its At-Risk Preschool Program for the 2018-19 school year at Oak Knoll Early Childhood Center.

The program is designed to provide a preschool experience for children ages 3 to 5 who are residents of Cary who qualify for preschool programming because of a variety of factors, including economic need, low performance on screening, primary language other than English and chronic illness/health concerns.

The sessions will be 2½ hours a day, five days a week. The program is free.

Potential students must participate in an at-risk preschool screening. Free screenings will be held May 7 at Living Grace Church in Cary.

An appointment is required. To schedule an appointment, call Briargate Elementary School at 224-357-5250.

Cary School District 26 has openings for its At-Risk Preschool Program for the 2018-19 school year at Oak Knoll Early Childhood Center.


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Marengo City Council to consider controversial gun range developmentBrian Pacheco (left) and his brother, Brandon Pacheco, practice shooting during a free gun training class for school employees at On Target Range and Tactical Training Center in Crystal Lake.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:19:00 GMT

The Marengo City Council is set to consider a proposed gun range and shop at its next meeting, but some residents are opposed to it.

D5 Ranges Inc., a Union-based developer, wants to take over the former McGill property – most recently owned by Marengo United Methodist Church – and redevelop it into a range and gun shop. Rich Lindner, president of the company, will need a special use permit to go through with the plan.

Marengo’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend the proposal to the City Council.

But not everyone thinks the plan is a good idea.

John Wyrostek, a Marengo resident and member of the Marengo Union Elementary School District 165 Board, said he doesn’t think the location is right for a gun range.

The building, at 131 E. Prairie St., doesn’t have its own parking lot and is located off State Street downtown. The property is across the street from

the Marengo Police Department and the Marengo Fire Protection District, and is near a church and preschool.

“It boggles my mind that it got this far,” Wyrostek said. “I don’t think this is what we should be doing, especially in this climate.”

D5 Ranges has worked with clients from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and numerous military bases to private facilities and police departments. The range would be subject to federal, state and local rules and regulations.

The range also would include ventilation and filtration systems, target retrievers, a bullet containment system and sound diminishing acoustics.

The planning commission added provisions to the recommended permit that require the range to have an on-site Breathalyzer and zero tolerance policy.

D5 Ranges also would need to incorporate 24/7 lighting, security cameras and a cooperative working relationship with Marengo’s police and fire officials, according to city documents.

Third Ward Alderman Matt Keenum said he isn’t in favor of the proposal because of its location.

“There are safety concerns with the church and school,” he said. “And I think a lot of it goes to the vision and branding of the downtown. I don’t think it’s what most people want to see in the downtown. That is my personal opinion, of course, but it’s one effected broadly in the community, as well.”

The Marengo City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 132 E. Prairie St.

Brian Pacheco (left) and his brother, Brandon Pacheco, practice shooting during a free gun training class for school employees at On Target Range and Tactical Training Center in Crystal Lake.


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Crystal Lake-based School District 155 Board appoints new assistant superintendent of HRJay Sargeant, District 155 assistant superintendent of human resources

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:18:00 GMT

The Community High School District 155 Board appointed a new assistant superintendent of human resources Tuesday.

Jay Sargeant – who has worked in the district for 28 years in various roles – will start his new job July 1, according to a news release from the district.

He will be replacing Tom Kim, who was in the position for less than a year. Kim is starting a new job in July as the assistant superintendent of human resources at Niles Township High Schools District 219.

Sargeant has taught math at Prairie Ridge High School for the past year and coached baseball and basketball. Before that, he spent 17 years in administrative roles, including Cary-Grove principal, Crystal Lake Central principal and Crystal Lake South dean.

“Our greatest resource is our truly phenomenal staff,” Sargeant said. “Every day, they make positive changes and improve the quality of education and high school experiences for our students. I’m excited about providing highly effective services for D-155 personnel while aspiring to recruit, train and retain a world-class staff.”

His contract is pending attorney review, District 155 spokeswoman Shannon Podzimek said.

Jay Sargeant, District 155 assistant superintendent of human resources


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McHenry County grand jury indictments

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:13:00 GMT

A McHenry County grand jury last week indicted these people on these charges:

• Ali Jafar Al-Rifaei, 24, of Algonquin; unlawful possession of marijuana.

• Mackenzie R. Killian, 20, of the 1200 block of North Green Street, McHenry; possession of a controlled substance.

• Michael S. Majewski, 1200 North Green Street, McHenry; possession of a controlled substance.

• Sandor Rogowski, 35, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

• Carl W. Purcell Sr., 33, of the 300 block of North Hill Road, McHenry; possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and unlawful display of a license plate.

• Brandon M. McArthur, 33, of the 700 block of South Jefferson Street, Woodstock; possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and retail theft.

• Paul Leinweber, 51, of Romeo Drive, Elgin; possession of a controlled substance.

• Karl L. Keller, 52, of the 700 block of West Brown Street, Harvard; domestic battery.

• Kyle Campbell, 19, of the 100 block of Surrey Lane, Crystal Lake; aggravated battery, robbery and residential burglary.




Shannon Teresi appointed as McHenry County auditorShannon Teresi, McHenry County auditor

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:13:00 GMT

Shannon Teresi has been appointed McHenry County auditor.

Nominated by McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks to fill the position of the retired Pam Palmer, Teresi took the job after County Board members voted, 20-1, to approve her appointment with no discussion. Don Kopsell was the sole “no” vote.

“I want to thank the County Board and Chairman Jack Franks for supporting me in this role,” Teresi told the board after her appointment. “I am just so excited to get to work and make McHenry County an example of good government.”

Teresi, who has worked in the office since 2010, has been leading the office since Palmer retired in January. She is a certified public accountant, certified internal auditor and certified fraud examiner.

“I think she’s a great fit,” Franks said. “She was worth the wait.”

Teresi started her career in the auditor’s office as an internal auditor, and she was promoted in 2016 to financial reporting manager and chief deputy auditor.

Teresi received her master’s degree in accounting from Northern Illinois University in 2007.

Teresi will run in the November election to fill the remaining two years of Palmer’s term.

The county’s financial responsibilities are split between the county administration – which is in charge of the county budget, payroll, purchasing and managing contracts – and the auditor’s office, which handles accounting and management of the county’s financial reporting system.

State law gives elected auditors in counties with a population of fewer than 275,000 people the responsibility of acting as the county’s accountant and controlling financial reporting.

McHenry County exceeded that population with the 2010 U.S. census.

The County Board approved a proposal, 20-1, Tuesday night to shift the functions of accounting and financial reporting from the auditor’s office to the Finance Division of County Administration, which will allow the office to spend more time auditing and investigating waste, fraud and abuse. Jeffrey Thorsen voted “no.”

That would bring the office more in line with the responsibilities granted to it by state law, Franks said.

Shannon Teresi, McHenry County auditor


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Photos: Cary Junior High School students participate in Ellis Island immigration exerciseJackson Chambers sits with classmates dressed as an immigrant while filling out paperwork for a currency exchange and purchase of train tickets during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School. About 300 seventh-graders participated in the exercise, which took them to various stations in the school to experience what it might have been like to travel to a new country and go through the immigration process.Logan West (center, left) and Emma Hyde stand among a sea of classmates traveling through the hallway to their destinations – simulated boats – during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Reese Salus (front) and Natalie Massat wait in line with other students participating in an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Tazia Machl (from left), Katie Vogt and Morgan Provance try to distinguish different languages and identify their origin during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Jake Martin laughs with classmates during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Allison Whyte wears a shawl as she sits with classmates inside a mental health examination station during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Logan West (left) talks with Emilie Van Dyne during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Kelsey Harmsen sits in an interview with teacher Caitlyn Burton during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Students line up with their mock passports during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Nick Anthony checks his locker while dressed as an immigrant during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:13:00 GMT

Seventh-grade students at Cary Junior High School learned about what it was like to immigrate to the U.S. as they participated in an Ellis Island immigration event during their half-day of school Wednesday in Cary.

Jackson Chambers sits with classmates dressed as an immigrant while filling out paperwork for a currency exchange and purchase of train tickets during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School. About 300 seventh-graders participated in the exercise, which took them to various stations in the school to experience what it might have been like to travel to a new country and go through the immigration process.Logan West (center, left) and Emma Hyde stand among a sea of classmates traveling through the hallway to their destinations – simulated boats – during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Reese Salus (front) and Natalie Massat wait in line with other students participating in an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Tazia Machl (from left), Katie Vogt and Morgan Provance try to distinguish different languages and identify their origin during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Jake Martin laughs with classmates during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Allison Whyte wears a shawl as she sits with classmates inside a mental health examination station during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Logan West (left) talks with Emilie Van Dyne during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Kelsey Harmsen sits in an interview with teacher Caitlyn Burton during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Students line up with their mock passports during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.Nick Anthony checks his locker while dressed as an immigrant during an Ellis Island immigration exercise Wednesday at Cary Junior High School.


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Harvard baby sitter left infant, toddlers home alone, police sayMargarita Troncoso-Davila, 34, of the 700 block of West Thompson Street, Harvard

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:12:00 GMT

Police arrested a woman they said left three children home alone for about 30 minutes, including an infant, who the baby sitter allegedly put in a closet.

Margarita Troncoso-Davila, 34, of the 700 block of West Thompson Street, Harvard, is charged with three counts of endangering a child – one count for each of the children she was meant to be supervising, according to a criminal complaint.

Troncoso-Davila was baby-sitting a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old and a 9-month-old child April 11 when she was asked to pick up another child from school, Harvard Police Chief Mark Krause said. The children’s mother came home while the baby sitter was out, Krause said.

Troncoso-Davila remained in jail Wednesday without bond.

She’s due in court Thursday.

Margarita Troncoso-Davila, 34, of the 700 block of West Thompson Street, Harvard


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McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks pushes for property tax cuts, consolidationMcHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks delivered a speech Tuesday to the County Board that focused on cutting property taxes and consolidating local governments.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:12:00 GMT

McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks has a message for Springfield politicians: wake up.

That was the sentiment of an address he delivered Tuesday at the County Board’s meeting, where Franks pushed for Illinois leaders to focus on cutting property taxes and consolidating local governments to stop the population from hemorrhaging.

“It won’t be long until our struggling homeowners and businesses have to fork over the first of their two installments [of property taxes],” Franks said. “In June, they’ll be giving the arm, and in the fall, they’ll be giving their leg.”

Before Tuesday’s meeting, Franks stuffed an April 6 article published in Crain’s Chicago Business into the mailboxes of County Board members. The piece revealed that McHenry County homeowners last year paid higher property taxes than 96 percent of the U.S.

Those property tax bills in McHenry County averaged $6,783. 

“That’s almost double the national average for single-family homes,” Franks said. “Our constituents are being taxed out of their homes. And yes, we did something about it. We worked together to reduce our property tax levy by 11.2 percent, but we have to do more.”

Illinois and McHenry County have been losing population to “tax-friendlier” locations, Franks said.

In the coming weeks, the County Board plans to invite local school districts to explore what tools and resources they need to reduce their own property tax levies by at least 10 percent, Franks said.

On the March primary ballot, a referendum sought voters’ perspectives about whether school districts should cut their property tax levies by 10 percent. More than 74 percent of voters said “yes.”

The County Board approved putting the advisory referendum question on the ballot in November, encouraging school districts to cut their property tax levies by 10 percent.

“We also need [the] General Assembly to wake up and embrace an agenda that includes major property tax reform and major government consolidation,” Franks said. “Otherwise, outmigration will keep accelerating until we hit an economic and demographic point of no return.”

McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks delivered a speech Tuesday to the County Board that focused on cutting property taxes and consolidating local governments.


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Demolition of former Huntley Outlet Center beginsConstruction crews work on demolishing the Huntley Outlet Center on Wednesday in Huntley.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:12:00 GMT

Demolition has begun on the former Huntley Outlet Center.

In March, the village issued a demolition permit to the outlet center owners. By court order, demolition had to begin this week and finish by June 15.

The village sued the owners in February to compel them to either make repairs on the deteriorating property or completely demolish it. Demolition already had taken place on the 8 acres on the west side of the property that General RV Center bought to expand its business.

The property, 11800 Factory Shops Blvd., has been empty since Banana Republic Factory Store shuttered in May. Huntley Investment Partners LLC bought it in 2016 from Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group.

Owner representative Michael Reschke Jr., who wasn’t available for comment Wednesday, told the Northwest Herald in March that the owners had been open to repairing and reusing the center but hadn’t found an adequate user.

The group put an application in with the village to rezone the property from its current neighborhood retail district designation to office/research industrial district, which could allow for manufacturing and assembly operations or business offices, according to city documents. The rezone request is pending.

Construction crews work on demolishing the Huntley Outlet Center on Wednesday in Huntley.


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Mother of 4 sentenced in McHenry County court on shaken baby chargesRebecca A. Bowers, 32

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:11:00 GMT

A 32-year-old woman convicted of shaking her son said Wednesday she takes full accountability for causing him serious harm.

A judge sentenced Rebecca A. Bowers to serve 364 days in the county jail and 2½ years of probation for aggravated domestic battery.

McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather told the woman she understands the kind of pressure and stress Bowers must have been under caring for four children with little help, but that didn’t excuse shaking the 4-month-old boy July 7.

Hebron police arrested Bowers on aggravated domestic battery charges stemming from serious injuries with which her son was brought to hospital.

Originally, Bowers lied to first responders and hospital employees about how her son was injured, prosecutors said in court.

The boy continues to see a neurologist as a result, and it is unknown how severely the shaking could affect him in the long term.

“I wish it didn’t happen,” Bowers said in court.

The mother accepted a negotiated plea March 2, and she pleaded guilty to the felony charge, which carries a punishment of as many as seven years in prison.

McHenry County Assistant Public Defender Richard Behof said Bowers acted “at a time of frustration,” and he noted that his client suffered from possible postpartum depression at the time.

He went on to say that Bowers’ significant other “was of little to no help” in caring for the children.

Any future contact with minors, including her own children, will need to be supervised, Prather ordered.

Bowers also will be required to take parenting and anger management classes.

It was not clear where Bowers’ children will stay, or what the young boy’s condition is.

Rebecca A. Bowers, 32


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Crystal Lake Central graduates testify at trial of former choir directorCrystal Lake Central High School choir director Justin Hubly leads students in learning their parts for a performance of "Legally Blonde: The Musical" during a practice Feb. 19, 2013, at the high school.Former Crystal Lake Central High School choir director Justin Hubly arrives April 5 at the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock. He faces misdemeanor charges stemming from claims that he had inappropriate contact with former students and gave them alcohol during parties at his home.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:10:00 GMT

Four Crystal Lake Central High School graduates testified Wednesday at the trial of a former choir director accused of inappropriately touching former students and giving them alcohol while they were younger than 21. Justin Hubly, 36, of the 300 block of Hambletonian Drive, Oak Brook, was charged Nov. 30, 2016, with battery and giving alcohol to a minor. One of his former students told a judge Thursday that Hubly kissed her and tried to touch her at a party at his home in October 2016. “I felt really scared. I was trying to think of a way to get to my phone to text my sister to come pick me up,” she said. About a week earlier, the two had exchanged texts about wanting to “get very drunk,” and the woman said Hubly later asked whether she wanted to spend the night, but she declined. When the then-19-year-old arrived at Hubly’s Crystal Lake home, he poured her a shot of tequila and made her a rum and Coke, she testified. She said after Hubly tried to kiss her a second time and she again pulled away, he talked about taking her on a trip to New York. The woman left shortly after and told a family member what happened. Another woman found herself in a similar situation in the summer of 2016, when she visited Hubly’s home during a break from college. “He had a shot of tequila waiting for me when I got there,” the 19-year-old said, adding that he also inappropriately touched her. Both women said they trusted Hubly and had formed friendships with him, but still viewed him as a teacher. The alleged victim in the June 2016 accusation said she tried to “brush it off” and continued to have a friendly relationship with Hubly, until she learned about other possible victims when Crystal Lake police contacted her later that year. “It was just uncomfortable, and I didn’t really know how to react to it because I trusted him,” she said. Hubly had worked as the high school’s choir director since 2004. He also served as student activities director and as president of the District 155 Education Association. Hubly resigned in November 2016 after being put on administrative leave while police investigated the charges against him. Hubly’s attorney, Henry Sugden, showed a video in court of a group of seemingly drunk former Crystal Lake Central students laughing and talking about going to visit Hubly. Sugden said that those who attended parties at Hubly’s house arrived drunk and brought their own alcohol. The trial will continue Thursday afternoon. Crystal Lake Central High School choir director Justin Hubly leads students in learning their parts for a performance of "Legally Blonde: The Musical" during a practice Feb. 19, 2013, at the high school.Former Crystal Lake Central High School choir director Justin Hubly arrives April 5 at the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock. He faces misdemeanor charges stemming from claims that he had inappropriate contact with former students and gave them alcohol during parties at his home.


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Algonquin Township trustees pass resolution urging Lake in the Hills to stop water main saleJames Wilson speaks during the public comment portion of an Algonquin Township town meeting April 10.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:10:00 GMT

Algonquin Township officials passed a resolution Tuesday urging Lake in the Hills officials to hold off the sale of a deteriorating water main system to a private company residents fear will make their water bills unaffordable.

“Water is a human right, and it should not be monetized for exceptional profit,” Trustee Dave Chapman told the Northwest Herald. “It should not be on the backs of 71 residents.”

The resolution, passed with a unanimous vote at a special meeting Tuesday, reads: “[The] Algonquin Township Board hereby requests that the village of Lake in the Hills not sell the infrastructure which currently provides water to the 71 residents of unincorporated Algonquin Township, and take no action on the sale of the infrastructure until such time [as] it can be determined that water can be provided to these residents at a reasonable and affordable rate, which is consistent with water rates in the area.”

The concerns of trustees and residents center on the impending sale of the unincorporated water main system – an action Lake in the Hills trustees have tabled twice to allow residents to research water companies that could buy the system.

The village bought the system in the 1970s. The main was installed in the 1950s in the unincorporated area south of Algonquin Road.

The 71 unincorporated residents who use the main live on Scotty Avenue, Dennis Road, Rosemarie Street, Marie Avenue, Isabel Avenue, Ethel Avenue, Craig Street, Roger Street, Willy Avenue, Nevin Avenue and Joan Street.

Many of those residents showed up at Algonquin Township meetings this month to urge officials to do something.

The village of Lake in the Hills will discuss the sale at its next Committee of the Whole meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Village Hall, 600 Harvest Gate.

James Wilson speaks during the public comment portion of an Algonquin Township town meeting April 10.


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Whaa! Some senators worry about babies on the floorSen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., speaks to Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit Feb. 14 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Babies do not care about Senate decorum. But in a bow to working parents, the tradition-bound institution is considering letting the newborns of senators in. The inspiration is Duckworth's daughter, born April 9. Duckworth wants to continue voting, and the Senate requires that votes be cast in person. So shs's proposing that babies be allowed into the chamber.

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 23:26:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Who doesn't like babies? That question quietly wound through back channels in the Senate this week after a proposal to allow tiny humans, the progeny of senators, into the tradition-bound, male-dominated chamber. The inspiration is a small bundle named Maile Pearl, born April 9 to Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth – now the only sitting senator in U.S. history to give birth. Teleworking is not an option in the Senate, which requires members to vote in-person. So Duckworth raised a rare question that split her colleagues more along generational lines than well-worn partisan ones, according to interviews Wednesday. Duckworth proposed changing the rules to allow senators with newborns – not just Duckworth, and not just women – to bring their babies onto the floor of the Senate. This, recalls Sen. Amy Klobuchar, did not go entirely smoothly for the two months she privately took questions about the idea and its potential consequences – diaper changes, fussing and notably, nursing. More than one senator joked that those things happen on the Senate floor now. The proposal, which could get a vote this week, marks another moment for an institution that, at times, seems to relish its resistance to change. But with 23 women serving in Senate, some 70 percent of mothers working in the United States and a midterm election looming, no senator was willing to publicly declare he or she was a "nay" on babies. But, there were concerns. "I'm not going to object to anything like that, not in this day and age," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., father of three and grandfather of six. He then noted that a person can stand in the door of the cloakroom, a lounge just off the chamber, and vote. "I've done it," he said. Allowing babies on the Senate floor, he said, "I don't think is necessary." The concerns, Klobuchar said, came mostly from older senators, and mostly from men. "It is a big change," Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in a telephone interview Wednesday, as leaders of both parties sought to pass the new rule without objection. The discussion, though, she said, "has been going on for weeks." Sen. Tom Cotton, father of two, said he has no problem with the rule change. But the Arkansas Republican acknowledged that some of his colleagues do, "so the cloakroom might be a good compromise." Klobuchar's answer to that suggestion noted that Duckworth is a double-amputee who lost both legs and partial use of an arm in Iraq, and mostly gets around by wheelchair. "Yes, you can vote from the doorway of the cloakroom, but how is she going to get to the cloakroom when it's not wheelchair accessible?" she asked. Some senators proposed making an exception for Duckworth. But her allies said the Senate should make work easier for ne[...]


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Sean Hannity's rising role in Trump's world: 'He basically has a desk in the place.'In this April 12, 2018 file photo, Fox News personality Sean Hannity attends The Hollywood Reporter's annual 35 Most Powerful People in Media event in New York. Hannity is President Donald Trump's most vocal defender on television, and a week ago he was on the air criticizing the FBI raid on the president's personal attorney Michael Cohen as evidence that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's "witch hunt" against the president has become a runaway train. It was revealed in a court hearing Monday, April 16, that Cohen also represented Hannity. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:23:00 GMT

The phone calls between President Donald Trump and Sean Hannity come early in the morning or late at night, after the Fox News host goes off the air. They discuss ideas for Hannity's show, Trump's frustration with the ongoing special counsel probe and even, at times, what the president should tweet, according to people familiar with the conversations. When he's off the phone, Trump is known to cite Hannity when he talks with White House advisers. The revelation this week that the two men share an attorney is just the latest sign of how Hannity is intertwined with Trump's world - an increasingly powerful confidant who offers the media-driven president a sympathetic ear and shared grievances. The conservative commentator is so close to Trump that some White House aides have dubbed him the unofficial chief of staff. This portrait of the interactions between the president and the talk-show host is based on interviews with more than a dozen friends, advisers and associates of the two men, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. For a president who feels, intensely, that he is under siege, Hannity offers what he prizes: loyalty and a mass audience. And Trump, in turn, has directed his supporters to Hannity's show - urging people on Twitter last week to watch the commentator attack special counsel Robert Mueller III, who heads the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. Their bond intensified during the 2016 campaign and has grown even stronger during Trump's time in office. "The bottom line is, during the heat of the campaign when relationships are forged, he was always there, offering good advice, in person and on television," former deputy Trump campaign manager David Bossie said of Hannity. "The president sees him as incredibly smart and articulate spokesman for the agenda." Trump and Hannity usually speak several times a week, according to people familiar with their relationship. The Fox News host, whose show averages more than 3 million viewers daily, is one of the few people who gets patched immediately to Trump. The two men review news stories and aspects of Hannity's show, and occasionally debate specifics about whatever the president is considering typing out on Twitter. There have also been times when Trump has assessed the merits of various White House aides with Hannity. The frequency of Hannity's contact with Trump means that "he basically has a desk in the place," one presidential adviser said. Hannity and White House officials did not respond to requests for comment. Several West Wing officials and friends of the president pointed to their running conversations - whether they take place over the phone or on the golf course in Florida as they did in late March - as crucial to understanding this moment in the Trump presidency, when the president is eager to return to the combative and television-infused style of his business career and more isolated t[...]


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CIA Director Pompeo met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over Easter weekendCIA Director and Secretary of State nominee Michael Pompeo during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Washington on April 12, 2018. Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer.

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:20:00 GMT

CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a top-secret visit to North Korea as an envoy for President Donald Trump to meet with Kim Jong Un, and plans for a possible summit between the two leaders are underway, Trump confirmed Wednesday. The extraordinary meeting between one of Trump's most trusted emissaries and the authoritarian head of a rogue state was part of an effort to lay the groundwork for direct talks between Trump and Kim about North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The clandestine mission came late last month, soon after Pompeo was nominated to be secretary of state. The Pompeo mission was first reported Tuesday by The Washington Post, citing two people with direct knowledge of the trip. On Wednesday, Trump acknowledged the outreach and said "a good relationship was formed" that could lead to a landmark meeting between the president and Kim. "Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week," Trump tweeted. "Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!" Trump did not give further details of the talks, which took place over Easter weekend, according to the two people who first described the Pompeo trip to The Post. It was unclear why Trump referred to "last week" in his tweet. "I'm optimistic that the United States government can set the conditions for that appropriately so that the president and the North Korean leader can have that conversation [that] will set us down the course of achieving a diplomatic outcome that America so desperately - America and the world so desperately need," Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week during his confirmation hearing. Speaking at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Tuesday, Trump appeared to allude to the extraordinary face-to-face meeting between Kim and Pompeo when he said the United States has had direct talks with North Korea "at very high levels." The president didn't elaborate at the time. Trump said that he would sit down with Kim probably in early June, if not sooner. Pompeo has taken the lead on the administration's negotiations with Pyongyang. His meeting with Kim marks the highest-level contact between the two countries since 2000, when then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim Jong Il, the current leader's late father, to discuss strategic issues. Then-Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. visited the country in 2014 to secure the release of two American captives and met with a lower-level intelligence official. The CIA declined to comment. Diplomats at the North Korean mission to the United Nations in New York, which is the main conduit for messages between Washington and Pyongyang, declined to comment. About a week after Pompeo's trip to North Korea, U.S. officials said that officials there had directly confirmed that Kim was willing to negotiate about poten[...]


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First chlorine, then chaos and death in Syria attackKahled Mahmoud Nuseir (center), 25 – who lost his nine-month pregnant wife, Fatmeh Karout, and daughters, Qama, 18 months, and Nour, 2, during the alleged chemical weapons attack – speaks to The Associated Press on Monday in front of a hospital that locals refer as Point One only yards away from the site of the attack near Damascus, Syria.

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 05:13:00 GMT

BEIRUT – Residents of the Syrian town of Douma were packed into underground shelters amid bombardment when the gas began to spread. Suddenly, panic ensued. As shouts of “chlorine, chlorine!” rang out, some ran into the night and fainted in the street. Others climbed to rooftops, hoping they’d be safer rising above the gas. Dozens didn’t make it out at all, some stumbling on stairwells, out of breath, where they were later found dead. The bodies were still there the next morning, strewn around the buildings, including toddlers and young children. Much about the April 7 suspected chemical weapons attack in Douma, just east of Damascus, remains unknown, including the exact death toll, because of the lack of an independent investigation. Experts from the international chemical weapons watchdog entered the town on Tuesday, 10 days after the attack. The Associated Press spoke to rescuers, medics and numerous residents of Douma for their accounts of what took place. Some were reached in rebel-held areas in northern Syria where they were evacuated after the attack, while others still were in Douma. They spoke of at least two buildings with people sheltering in the basements that were overwhelmed with gas so strong that it was hard to breathe hundreds of yards away. More than 40 people were killed, many of them children, according to medics and opposition activists in the town. The World Health Organization said an estimated 500 patients exhibited symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals, including respiratory failure. The U.N.-mandated Independent International Commission on Syria has documented more than 30 chemical attacks in Syria between 2013 and the end of 2017 – at least 25 of them carried out by the Syrian military, the commission says. For the rest, it had insufficient evidence to determine the perpetrator. Most involved chlorine gas, usually causing only a few injuries. But in this case, it appeared the gas hit dozens of people crammed into confined spaces, huddling away from the bombs outside. The U.S. and France said they have evidence the Syrian government carried out the April 7 strike, while Syria and its ally, Russia, have denied any gas attack even took place. An AP team visited the site on a Syrian government-organized tour Monday, including a two-room underground shelter where one resident said 47 people were killed, including his pregnant wife and two young daughters. A strange smell lingered, nine days after the attack. The floors of the shelter were covered with carpets and pillows were lined up against a wall. There were no signs of blood [...]


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As GOP balks, McConnell shuts down bill to protect MuellerSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined by Sen. John Thune (from left), R-S.D., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks to reporters after a closed-door strategy session Tuesday on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 05:13:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday thwarted a bipartisan effort to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s job, saying he will not hold a floor vote on the legislation even if it is approved next week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. McConnell said the bill is unnecessary because President Donald Trump will not fire Mueller. “We’ll not be having this on the floor of the Senate,” McConnell said on Fox News. His comments came amid widespread opposition to the bill among members of his caucus, with several GOP senators saying the bill is unconstitutional. Others said it’s simply not good politics to try and tell Trump what to do, likening the legislation to “poking the bear.” The bipartisan legislation was introduced last week as Trump publicly criticized Mueller, who is investigating potential ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign as well as possible obstruction of justice by the president. Trump, fuming about a raid of his personal lawyer’s office by a different division of the FBI, said last week that the Mueller investigation is “an attack on our country” and is “corrupt.” Trump has also privately pondered firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mueller’s investigation. Within a day of Trump’s criticism, Republicans Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina combined two bills they introduced last summer to protect special counsels. They introduced the new bill along with Democratic Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware and Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican, announced that his committee would vote on the bill. The legislation would give any special counsel a 10-day window to seek expedited judicial review of a firing, and would put into law existing Justice Department regulations that require a firing to be for “good cause.” Democrats immediately jumped on the legislation, but many Republicans have been cool to it. At least three of the 11 GOP members of the Judiciary panel have said they will vote against it and five more have said they have questions about its constitutionality. Grassley is one of those with concerns, but said he felt obligated to hold a vote. Republicans off the committee had questions too – and some acknowledged that it could be politically difficult. South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds said Tuesday that Trump should make the decision on his own and be responsible for the consequences. “I think having Congress tell him what we believe he should do in this case is sim[...]


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Trump: U.S., N. Korea talk at ‘high levels’President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands during a meeting Tuesday at Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla.

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 05:13:00 GMT

PALM BEACH, Fla. – President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the U.S. and North Korea are holding direct talks at “extremely high levels” in preparation for a potential summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. At his private Mar-a-Lago club with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump also confirmed that North and South Korea are working to negotiate an end to hostilities before next week’s meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The meeting will be the third inter-Korean summit since the Koreas’ 1945 division. “They do have my blessing to discuss the end of the war,” said Trump, who welcomed Abe to his Florida resort on Tuesday. Trump is looking to hold his own summit with Kim in the next two months and said five locations are under consideration. The president would not disclose the sites but said the U.S. was not among them. The proposed summit follows months of increasingly heated rhetoric over the North’s nuclear weapons program. “We have had direct talks at very high levels – extremely high levels – with North Korea,” Trump said. “We’ll either have a very good meeting or we won’t have a good meeting,” he added. “And maybe we won’t even have a meeting at all, depending on what’s going in. But I think that there’s a great chance to solve a world problem.” The president did not answer shouted questions about whether he has spoken with Kim. Kim’s offer for a summit was initially conveyed to Trump by South Korea last month, and the president shocked many when it was announced that he had accepted. U.S. officials have indicated over the past two weeks that North Korea’s government has communicated directly with Washington that it is ready to discuss its nuclear weapons program. Abe, who has voiced fears that short- and medium-range missiles that pose a threat to Japan might not be part of the U.S. negotiations, praised Trump on Tuesday for his bravery in agreeing to meet with the North Korean dictator. “I’d like to commend Donald’s courage in his decision to have the upcoming summit meeting with the North Korean leader,” Abe said. Trump took credit for the inter-Korean talks, saying, “Without us and without me, in particular, I guess you would have to say, they wouldn’t be discussing anything.” North Korea has long sought a peace treaty with the U.S. to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War. But it is unusual for the North to seek to broach the issue directly with South Korea rather than with Washington. The armistice that ended the fighting w[...]


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Former first lady Barbara Bush dies at age 92First lady Barbara Bush poses with her dog, Millie, in 1990 in Washington. A family spokesman said Tuesday that Barbara Bush died at age 92.

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 05:13:00 GMT

HOUSTON – Barbara Bush, the snowy-haired first lady and mother of a president whose plainspoken manner and utter lack of pretense made her more popular at times than her husband, President George H.W. Bush, died Tuesday, a family spokesman said. She was 92. Mrs. Bush brought a grandmotherly style to buttoned-down Washington, often appearing in her trademark fake pearl chokers and displaying no vanity about her white hair and wrinkles. "What you see with me is what you get. I'm not running for president – George Bush is," she said at the 1988 Republican National Convention, where her husband, then vice president, was nominated to succeed Ronald Reagan. The Bushes, who were married Jan. 6, 1945, had the longest marriage of any presidential couple in American history. And Mrs. Bush was one of only two first ladies who had a child who was elected president. The other was Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams. "I had the best job in America," she wrote in a 1994 memoir describing her time in the White House. "Every single day was interesting, rewarding, and sometimes just plain fun." On Sunday, family spokesman Jim McGrath said the former first lady had decided to decline further medical treatment for health problems and focus instead on "comfort care" at home in Houston. She had been in the hospital recently for congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In 2009, she had heart valve replacement surgery, and she had a long history of treatment for Graves' disease, a thyroid condition. "My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was," former President George W. Bush said in a statement Tuesday. "Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I'm a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes." George H.W. Bush held his wife's hand all day Tuesday and was at her side when she died, according to Jean Becker, chief of staff at George H.W. Bush's office in Houston. A funeral is planned Saturday at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, which Mrs. Bush and her husband regularly attended. Mrs. Bush will lie in repose Friday at the church for members of the public who want to pay respects. Saturday's service will be by invitation only, according to the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. "Barbara Bus[...]


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Marijuana-based drug gets positive review from U.S. agencyDavis Cromar (center) holds his son, Holden, 10, who suffers from epilepsy, while standing with other patients, caregivers and supporters during the Utah Patients Coalition news conference June 26 in Salt Lake City.

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 05:11:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – A closely watched medicine made from the marijuana plant reduces seizures in children with severe forms of epilepsy and warrants approval in the United States, health officials said Tuesday. British drugmaker GW Pharmaceuticals is seeking permission to sell its purified form of an ingredient found in cannabis – one that doesn't get users high – as a medication for rare, hard-to-treat seizures in children. If successful, the company's liquid formula would be the first government-approved drug derived from the cannabis plant in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration's approval would technically limit the treatment to a small group of epilepsy patients. But doctors would have the option to prescribe it for other uses and it could spur new pharmaceutical research and interest into other cannabis-based products. Man-made versions of a different marijuana ingredient have previously been approved for other purposes. The FDA posted its review of the experimental medication Epidiolex ahead of a public meeting Thursday when a panel of outside experts will vote on the medicine's safety and effectiveness. It's a non-binding recommendation that the FDA will consider in its final decision by late June. Patients taking the treatment had fewer seizures, according to the FDA's internal review posted online. Scientists concluded that GW Pharmaceutical's submission "appears to support approval" despite some potential side effects including risks of liver injury. More than two dozen states allow marijuana use for a variety of ailments, but the FDA has not approved it for any medical use. In 2016, the agency recommended against easing federal restrictions on marijuana. The U.S. continues to classify marijuana as a high-risk substance with no medical use, alongside other illicit drugs like heroin and LSD. For years, desperate patients and parents have pushed for wider access to medical marijuana products for a host of conditions including pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and epilepsy, with only anecdotal stories and limited studies on their side. But studies conducted by GW Pharmaceuticals have begun to change that picture. Across three studies involving more than 500 patients, Epidiolex generally cut the number of monthly seizures by about 40 percent, compared with reductions between 15 and 20 percent for patients taking a dummy medicine. Most patients in the study were already taking at least three other medications to try and control their seizures. Epidiolex is essentially a pharmaceutical-grade version of cannabidi[...]


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Chicago body armor ban criticized as too restrictive

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 05:11:00 GMT

CHICAGO – Chicago’s City Council is expected to water down its ban on most residents wearing body armor after criticism that it could put in danger people such as 7-Eleven store clerks in crime-ridden neighborhoods. The ban, which experts say is the most restrictive in the U.S., was passed last month in the wake of the shooting death of a respected police commander, allegedly by a convicted felon wearing body armor. “We are going to revisit it [because] we realize you have a guy working in a 7-Eleven in a tough neighborhood who might have a legitimate reason to want one,” said Alderman Patrick O’Connor, one of the co-sponsors of the ban. “I mean, you have these companies selling kids’ backpacks that have them [bulletproof plates] in them, so if I am a law-abiding citizen and I want to wear body armor, why in the world shouldn’t I be able to?” The City Council on Wednesday is expected to add exemptions for journalists when they are out covering stories and actors who need body armor as props to a list of exemptions that already includes police officers, emergency responders, firefighters and a few others. The revised ordinance also would delay enforcement for 120 days to allow state lawmakers time to consider a bill that would toughen penalties for people who commit crimes while wearing body armor. Although the expected revisions don’t include the shopkeepers O’Connor said he was concerned about, he said the hope is the delay will give the state enough time to craft a bill that would protect them. If it does not, he said the council would once again discuss expanding the ordinance to allow more people to legally wear body armor in the city. Almost immediately after the measure was passed last month, the blowback began. “If there is a need for it somewhere, we don’t want to be an obstacle for those people’s safety,” said Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who was a close friend of Paul Bauer, the police commander fatally shot in February. Johnson said that there is proposed legislation before state lawmakers that “is addressing that exact issue.” The Chicago ordinance, which mentions Bauer by name, warns of “the “insurmountable threat” faced by city residents if “felons and others potential offenders continue to acquire such protection ...” Mass shootings carried out by people wearing body armor also have made authorities increasingly worried about stopping heavily armed gunmen. The shooter in the 2012 shooting in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater wore body armor, and the man who killed 49 people at an Orlando, F[...]



Friends start GoFundMe for Richmond Township firefighter ill with unknown infectionRichmond Township Fire Capt. Eric Schwind, 29, poses with his wife, Tabetha, and their two sons. Doctors gave Schwind the OK to go home Tuesday after he had spent days in the hospital.

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 05:11:00 GMT

What began as a seemingly benign ear infection snowballed into weeks of unpaid time off and piles of medical bills for Richmond Township Fire Capt. Eric Schwind.

The 29-year-old has been out from work since late February after an undiagnosed infection partially paralyzed his face and hindered his ability to walk.

Friends have started a GoFundMe page to help Schwind make up for the missed shifts at the part-time fire department. As of Tuesday evening, the campaign had raised $7,390 of its $10,000 goal.

“It’s just amazing what people do,” said Schwind’s mother, Darlene Schwind.

About two months ago, Eric Schwind went to the doctor complaining of an ear infection, but as his symptoms worsened, a slight paralysis began to set in, and he struggled to walk.

He was admitted to the hospital Thursday for dizziness, and he was treated for what doctors believed to have been kidney failure from dehydration. By Tuesday, doctors gave Schwind the OK to return home.

“There for a while he was pretty down and depressed not knowing the answer and wondering what’s wrong,” Darlene Schwind said.

May 1 will mark the fire captain’s 10th year with the department, where he assumes the roles of a firefighter, paramedic and emergency medical services coordinator, Assistant Fire Chief Rod Feltner said.

“He’s a second-generation here. His dad was here for quite some time,” Feltner said.

It’s not typical for Eric Schwind to take time off, said his sister, Amy Schwind.

“Eric positively impacts the lives of all those he touches,” she said. “He loves what he does and has so much pride in serving the community. It has been hard to watch him go through all he has over the past few months.”

In Eric Schwind’s absence, colleagues have taken it upon themselves to pick up extra shifts and forward their pay to him.

With multiple sclerosis and other more aggressive diagnoses ruled out, Eric Schwind has been in somewhat lighter spirits, family members said. Doctors believe he should regain movement in his face.

“At least we got some answers,” Darlene Schwind said.

Richmond Township Fire Capt. Eric Schwind, 29, poses with his wife, Tabetha, and their two sons. Doctors gave Schwind the OK to go home Tuesday after he had spent days in the hospital.


Media Files:
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Woodstock City Council approves 5 percent water rate increase

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 05:10:00 GMT

Woodstock residents can expect to see higher water bills starting May 1. The City Council approved its second water rate increase in as many years Tuesday. Council members voted on the 5 percent hike at its meeting, where they also adopted the city’s fiscal 2019 budget. The increase will raise rates from an average of $126.72 to $132.88, or about $25 a year, according to city documents. The estimate is based on an average quarterly use of 2,200 cubic feet. The city is required to review its water and sewer rates annually, according to Woodstock ordinance. The council raised rates for Woodstock residents by 3 percent as part of its annual budget process last April. Payments go toward the water and sewer utility fund. “The city needs to be cognizant of upcoming major projects and capital costs that will be required by this fund to maintain existing service levels,” Assistant City Manager Paul Christensen, who also serves as the city’s finance director, wrote in a note to City Council members. “The city also must ensure that current and proposed rates are competitive with surrounding municipalities.” Revenues for this fund can be volatile because things such as weather and green incentives can affect water use, Christensen said. “Extreme summer drought conditions can result in residents watering their lawn more and generating more revenue,” he said. “On the reverse side, a cold, wet summer will significantly decrease outdoor water usage and often will cause the city to end the year below its budget projections.” Green devices, such as low-flow toilets and shower heads, also can lead to people using less water, Christensen said. Woodstock is projected to net about $4.4 million for its water and sewer utility fund with the rate increase. Operating expenses cost about $3.1 million, and about $1.1 million would be transferred for capital improvements, according to city documents. The council also voted to approve a new liquor license for the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and it approved an agreement with Gary W. Anderson Architects for work on the Old Courthouse. The city will pay the architect about $6,875 to complete repairs and restoration of the historic property’s main entry, ground floor openings and downspouts. The Chamber wants to host more community events with alcohol and requested the city halve th[...]


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http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2018/04/17/20f5f8088ff8425092ed6ce3b1b9f502/0c2d8542-2584-4e4d-bb1a-fc0a545ffb21/image-pv_web.jpg