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Huntley oncology nurse remembered as loving caregiverPhoto provided Tiffanie Rodriguez (left), Ayden, 15, husband Joe Rodgiuez, Emma (bottom left), 10, and Andrew (bottom right)Photo provided Tiffanie Rodriguez dressed for a job interview the morning of Oct. 6. Her husband Joe Rodriguez took this photo of her because he thought she looked beautiful. She kissed her family members goodbye and went off for an interview. Joe received a call two hours later, notifying him that Tiffanie died unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm while leaving the interview in the parking lot. Members of the Huntley community began a fundraiser for the family, which has raised $35,000 as of Oct. 17.Photo provided Tiffanie Rodriguez (left) and Joe Rodriguez (right) during her graduation ceremony from Benedictine University for a master's degree. Tiffanie died unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm on Oct. 6. Members of the Huntley community began a fundraiser for the family, which has raised $35,000 as of Oct. 17.

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:08:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – Tiffanie Rodriguez lived and breathed hospitals. It was there that she met her husband, where she worked as an oncology nurse for 22 years and where she died at age 45 from a sudden brain aneurysm while leaving a job interview Oct. 6. Her family, including her husband, Joe, and her three children, Ayden, 15 who is nonverbal and autistic, Andrew, 11, and Emma, 10, are left without Tiffanie, who cared not only for them, but also for several cancer patients throughout the suburbs, her family said. Neighbors created an online fundraiser at www.youcaring.com/joerodriguez-975817 that had raised $35,000 as of Tuesday night. The family lived in Huntley for 13 years. “My neighbor Randy Hart [whose family started the fundraiser] came running over and said, ‘Oh my God, have you looked at the page?’ and I broke down in tears,” Joe said. “I couldn’t believe the amount of love and support we’ve received. Everyone just adored her and she was truly a one-of-a-kind person, and I’m not just saying that because I loved her with all my heart.” Tiffanie worked at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and received her master’s degree in 2016 from Benedictine University. “She didn’t go to a patient’s room just to change an IV and get out as fast as she could, but she’d speak with these patients and cry with them and every day she’d come home with genuine stories,” Joe said. Working in Park Ridge was a long drive, Joe said, traveling 40 miles each way, but she did not want leave her co-workers and patients. But she saw an ad for a new job at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin and was inspired to apply, Joe said. She quickly rewrote her résumé, flew past a phone interview and headed out for the interview at 9:30 a.m. “She was so happy that morning,” Joe said. “She was a little nervous, but I texted her and said she’s going to do great. I had to take a photo of her in her suit because she looked so beautiful. I had no idea it would be the last time I would see her.” Later, Joe saw that it was about noon and he wondered why his wife hadn’t called. He was making lunch for his children when he got a phone call from the hospital’s emergency room. He said he thought maybe she had a nervous breakdown or tripped and fell. “Never in a million years, though, did I think it would be worse than that,” Joe said. “I’ve worked in hospitals for a long time, and I know when you walk into the emergency room and there is a chaplain waiting for you and they try to escort you into a private room, nothing good is coming. I just kept saying, ‘no, no, no, no.’” It was then he found out that after the interview she was escorted to the exit, walked about 20 to 30 feet away and collapsed into a bush from a brain aneurysm. Even after her death, she still managed to save people, Joe said. Tiffanie was an organ donor and helped 16 people. Joe met Tiffanie at Lutheran General Hospital when he worked there as a security guard. They were both called to a room because one of her patients was trying to escape. “As I walked into that room, I saw her and she instantly caught my attention,” Joe said. “I never believed in love at first sight until I saw her, and I looked at my partner and we gave each other the guy nod.” At the end of their first date, they sat in the parking lot of the hospital until 5:30 a.m. talking for hours. Joe went to drop her off at her car when he realized his car battery died while they were listening to music. He had to sheepishly call friends working in security and get a jump-start, he said. “I went home and went to bed[...]


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U.S.-backed forces celebrate fall of IS 'capital' of RaqqaThis frame grab from video released Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017 and provided by Hawar News Agency, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows fighters from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) celebrating their victory in Raqqa, Syria. U.S.-backed Syrian forces liberated the city of Raqqa from Islamic State militants on Tuesday, a senior commander for the force said, adding that clearing operations were underway to remove land mines left behind and search for the extremist group's sleeper cells. (Hawar News Agency via AP)

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:07:00 GMT

BEIRUT – U.S.-backed Syrian forces celebrated in the devastated streets of Raqqa on Tuesday after gaining control of the northern city that once was the heart of the Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate, dealing a major defeat to the extremist group that has seen its territory shrink ever smaller since summer. Militants took over the vibrant metropolis on the Euphrates River in 2014, transforming it into the epicenter of their brutal rule, where opponents were beheaded and terror plots hatched. It took thousands of bombs dropped by the U.S.-led coalition and more than four months of grueling house-to-house battles for the Syrian Democratic Forces to recapture Raqqa, marking a new chapter in the fight against the group whose once vast territory has been reduced to a handful of towns in Syria and Iraq. “Liberating Raqqa is a triumph for humanity, especially women,” who suffered the most under IS, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior member of the SDF political wing. “It is a salvation for the will to live an honorable life. It is a defeat to the forces of darkness,” said Ahmed, speaking to The Associated Press from Ein Issa, just north of Raqqa. Fighters from the SDF celebrated by chanting and honking their horns as they spun doughnuts with their Humvees and armored personnel carriers, and hoisting yellow SDF flags around Naim, or Paradise Square. The infamous square was the site of public beheadings and other killings by the militants. Bodies and severed heads would be displayed there for days, mounted on posts and labeled with their alleged crimes, according to residents who later dubbed it “Hell Square.” Crumbled and flattened buildings stood behind the fighters as they drove around the square, a sign of the massive destruction the city has suffered since the militants took over. It was in Naim Square that the extremists paraded tanks and military hardware in 2014 in a chilling show of force that was a sign of things to come. SDF commanders later visited Raqqa’s sports stadium, which IS had turned into a notorious prison. Dozens of militants who refused to surrender made their last stand earlier Tuesday holed up inside. “Immortal martyrs!” chanted the men and women in SDF uniforms, saluting their comrades who died battling for the city. According to the coalition, about 1,100 SDF forces have been killed fighting IS in Raqqa and Deir el-Zour. “Military operations in Raqqa have ceased and we are now combing the city for sleeper cells and cleaning it from land mines,” Brig. Gen. Talal Sillo told the AP earlier in the day. A formal declaration that Raqqa has fallen would be made soon, once troops finish their clearing operations, Sillo said. Col. Ryan Dillon, the Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, was more cautious, saying only that “more than 90 percent” of Raqqa had been cleared. He estimated about 100 IS militants were still in the city and said he expects the SDF to encounter “pockets of resistance” during the clearing operations. The battle of Raqqa has killed more than 1,000 civilians, many of them in coalition airstrikes in recent months, and displaced tens of thousands of people who face the prospect of returning to ruined homes. The coalition and residents who managed to escape accused the militants of using civilians as human shields and tried to stop them from leaving the city. In a reminder of the humanitarian catastrophe unleashed by the fighting, the international charity group Save the Children said that camps housing tens of thousands of people who fled Raqqa are “bursting at the seams.” It said about 270,000 people from Raqqa are still i[...]


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Politics and the fallen: Trump hasn't called all familiesFILE - In this Aug. 21, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks at Fort Myer in Arlington Va., about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Trump on Oct. 17 will call the families of four soldiers killed this month in Niger, the White House says, as Trump again casts doubt on whether his predecessor appropriately consoled the families of military personnel who died in war. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:07:00 GMT

WASHINGTON –President Donald Trump has pulled bereaved military families into a painful political fight of his own making, going so far Tuesday as to cite the death of his chief of staff’s son in Afghanistan to question whether Barack Obama and other presidents did enough to honor the military dead. He’s boasted that “I think I’ve called every family of someone who’s died,” although The Associated Press found relatives of two soldiers who died overseas during Trump’s presidency who said they never received a call or a letter from him, as well as relatives of a third who did not get a call from him. The White House said Trump did telephone on Tuesday the families of four soldiers who were killed in Niger nearly two weeks ago, the issue that had spawned the controversy this week. “He offered condolences on behalf of a grateful nation and assured them their family’s extraordinary sacrifice to the country will never be forgotten,” a White House statement said. Contending that Trump’s propensity for a political fight has drifted into “sacred” territory, Democrats and some former government officials have expressed anger at his comments that he, almost alone among presidents, called the families of military members killed in war. They accused him of “inane cruelty” and a “sick game.” For their part, Gold Star families, which have lost members in wartime, told the AP of acts of intimate kindness from two presidents – Obama and George W. Bush – when those commanders in chief consoled them. Trump’s posture has been defensive in recent days after he was criticized for not reaching out right away to relatives of the soldiers killed in Niger. On Monday, Trump said he’d written letters that hadn’t yet been mailed; his aides they had been awaiting information on the soldiers before proceeding. Then Trump stirred things further Tuesday on Fox News radio, saying, “You could ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?” John Kelly, a Marine general under Obama, is Trump’s chief of staff. His son, Marine 2nd Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. John Kelly was not seen at Trump’s public events Tuesday. A White House official said Obama did not call Kelly after his son’s death but did not say whether the former president reached out in some other fashion. White House visitor records show Kelly attended a breakfast Obama hosted for Gold Star families six months after his son died. A person familiar with the breakfast – speaking on the condition of anonymity because the event was private – said the Kelly family sat at Michelle Obama’s table. Obama aides said it was difficult this many years later to determine whether he also had called Kelly, or when. Former Obama spokesman Ned Price tweeted: “Kelly, a man of honor & decency, should stop this inane cruelty. He saw up-close just how – & how much – Obama cared for the fallen’s families.” Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, an Iraq veteran who lost both legs when her helicopter was attacked, said Obama did right by the fallen. “I just wish that this commander in chief would stop using Gold Star families as pawns in whatever sick game he’s trying to play here,” she said. And retired Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, once chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tweeted that Bush, Obama and their wives “cared deeply, worked tirelessly for the serving, the fallen, and their families. Not politics. Sacred Trust.” Trump initially claimed, in a news conference Monday, that only he among presidents made sure to call families. Obama may have done so on oc[...]


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NTSB: Balloon crash pilot was as impaired as a drunken driverFILE - In this Aug. 1, 2016, file photo, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Robert Sumwalt speaks during a news conference at the scene of the worst hot air balloon crash in U.S. history that killed 16 people in July 2016 near Lockhart, Texas. The crash could result in federal investigators to call for hot air balloon pilots to obtain medical certificates. (Deborah Cannon/Austin American-Statesman via AP File)

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:07:00 GMT

AUSTIN, Texas – The pilot in the deadliest hot-air balloon crash in U.S. history was likely impaired by opioids and sedatives when he ignored weather warnings and flew the ride into a power line, investigators said Tuesday. Besides Valium and oxycodone, there was a high enough dosage of the over-the-counter antihistamine Benadryl in Alfred “Skip” Nichols’ system to mimic “the impairing effect of a blood-alcohol level” of a drunken driver, said Dr. Nicholas Webster, a National Transportation Safety Board medical officer. During a meeting in Washington, NTSB revealed its findings about the July 2016 crash near Austin that killed 16 people. Investigators scolded the Federal Aviation Administration for lax enforcement of the ballooning industry and recommended that balloon pilots submit to the same medical checks as airplane pilots. Nichols, 49, had at least four prior convictions for drunken driving, although no alcohol was found in his system after the crash. Investigators said Nichols was told during a weather briefing before the flight that clouds may be a problem. He brushed off the warning. “We just fly in between them,” Nichols allegedly answered back, according to NTSB investigators. “We find a hole and we go.” Visibility was 10 miles about two hours before the balloon took off from a Walmart parking lot near the rural town of Lockhart but had diminished to just 2 miles before the ride began. Investigators said Nichols told his psychiatrist three months before the crash that he was not using his antidepressant medication and that his psychiatrist documented his mood as “not good.” Nichols was prescribed 13 medications and was also being treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, which investigators say also was a contributing factor. The final public hearing by the NTSB into the crash wasn’t the first time the federal government’s crash-site investigators have urged the FAA to more closely regulate the balloon industry. NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt ripped the FAA and questioned why the agency was endorsing voluntary pilot requirements written by the Balloon Federation of America instead of tightening regulations. “Why is the FAA promoting it? It is not an FAA program,” Sumwalt said. “The FAA is treating this as the be-all, end-all. They are abdicating their responsibility to provide oversight. They are saying, ‘The BFA will take care of this so we do not have to do anything.’ That is what is sad.” The FAA said in a statement that it will carefully consider the NTSB recommendations but did not address Sumwalt’s criticism. Before the Texas crash, Nichols’ balloon-ride companies in Missouri and Illinois were the targets of various customer complaints dating back to 1997. Customers reported to the Better Business Bureau that their rides would get canceled at the last minute and their fees never refunded. Aviation experts say the FAA might allow a recovering alcoholic to fly commercial jets if the pilot could show that he or she was being successfully treated but that the agency is unlikely to accept pilots with drunken driving convictions. Scott Appelman, owner of the New Mexico-based balloon operator Rainbow Ryders Inc., said his pilots already meet the higher standard and that federal requirements won’t have an impact. He called Nichols a renegade who operated outside the rules anyway. He said the Texas crash has taken a toll on customers. “It was a significant effect on the balloon industry. The industry has not recovered,” Appelman said. [...]FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2016, file photo, National[...]


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A short-term health deal by senators – with Trump's blessingSen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., left, arrives with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., second from right, and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., right, to speak to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, after Murray and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., say they have the "basic outlines" of a bipartisan deal to resume payments to health insurers that President Donald Trump has blocked. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:07:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Republican and Democratic senators joined in announcing a plan Tuesday aimed at stabilizing America's health insurance markets in the wake of President Donald Trump's order to terminate "Obamacare" subsidies. Trump himself spoke approvingly of the deal, but some conservatives denounced it as an insurance company bailout, making its future uncertain. The agreement followed weeks of negotiations between Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington that sought to address health insurance markets that have been in limbo following GOP failures to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The talks took on added urgency when Trump announced last week that he would end monthly "cost sharing reduction" payments the government makes to help insurance companies reduce costs for lower-income people. Without that money, premiums for some people buying individual health plans would spike, and some insurers would flee the markets, industry officials warn. The Alexander-Murray deal would continue the insurer payments for two years, while establishing new flexibility for states under former President Barack Obama's law. "This would allow the Senate to continue its debate about the long term of health care, but over the next two years I think Americans won't have to worry about the possibility of being able to buy insurance in counties where they live," Alexander said in announcing the deal after a closed-door lunch where he presented it to GOP senators. "This agreement avoids chaos. I don't know a Republican or Democrat who benefits from chaos," he said. Alexander said the president had encouraged his efforts in phone calls over the past two weeks. And at the White House, Trump responded positively, expressing optimism that Republicans would ultimately succeed in repealing Obamacare, but until then, "For one year, two years, we're going to have a very good solution." Trump's position may seem contradictory in that he himself ordered an end to the payments, calling them a bailout, but is now encouraging legislation to reinstitute them. Indeed White House officials had said they would want more in exchange than the additional state flexibility offered in the Alexander-Murray agreement. Just minutes before Alexander announced the deal, White House legislative director Marc Short emerged from the Senate GOP lunch saying that "a starting point" in exchange for restoring the cost-sharing payments "is eliminating the individual mandate and employer mandate" – the central pillars of Obamacare. That suggested some disagreement within the administration on the issue. If so, it does not bode well for ultimate passage of Alexander-Murray, since the president's full support will be crucial in persuading Republicans to get on board. Initially as president, Trump continued making the payments though resisting, but he declared last week he would pull the plug. The payments, which cost around $7 billion this year, lower expenses like co-payments and deductibles for more than 6 million people. But discontinuing them would actually cost the government more money under Obamacare's complicated structure, because some people facing higher premiums would end up getting bigger tax subsidies to help pay for them. The Alexander-Murray deal does include a host of provisions allowing states faster and easier access to waivers that would allow them to shape their own marketplace plans under Obamacare. It also would provide for a new low-cost catastrophic coverage insurance option for all consumers. Reaction from the GOP was decidedly mixed. For many conservatives it's practi[...]


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Taliban launch wave of attacks in Afghanistan, kill 74Afghan National Amy commandos open fire during a military exercise in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:07:00 GMT

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban unleashed a wave of attacks across Afghanistan on Tuesday, targeting police compounds and government facilities with suicide bombers in the country’s south, east and west, and killing at least 74 people, officials said. Among those killed in one of the attacks was a provincial police chief. Scores were also wounded, both police officers and civilians. Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister, Murad Ali Murad, called the onslaught the “biggest terrorist attack this year.” Murad told a news conference in Kabul that attacks in Ghazni and Paktia provinces killed 71 people. In southern Paktia province, 41 people – 21 police officers and 20 civilians – were killed when the Taliban targeted a police compound in the provincial capital of Gardez with two suicide car bombs. Among the wounded were 48 police officers and 110 civilians. The provincial police chief, Toryalai Abdyani, was killed in the Paktia attack, Murad said. The Interior Ministry said in a statement earlier Tuesday that after the two cars blew up in Gardez, five attackers with suicide belts tried to storm the compound but were killed by Afghan security forces. Health Ministry spokesman Waheed Majroo said the Gardez city hospital reported receiving at least 130 wounded in the attack. Hamza Aqmhal, a student at the Paktia University, told The Associated Press that he heard a very powerful blast that shattered glass and broke all the windows at the building he was in. The university is about 1.25 miles from the training academy, said Aqmhal, who was slightly injured by the glass. A lawmaker from Paktia, Mujeeb Rahman Chamkani, said that along with the provincial police chief, several of his staff were killed. Most of the casualties were civilians who had come to the center, which also serves a government passport department, Chamkani said. In southern Ghazni province, the insurgents stormed a security compound in Andar district, using a suicide car bomb and killing 25 police and five civilians, Murad said. At least 15 people were wounded, including 10 police officers, he added. Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor in Ghazni, said the Taliban attack there lasted nine hours. By the time the attackers were repelled, there were 13 bodies of Taliban fighters on the ground, Noori added. And in western Farah province, police chief Abdul Maruf Fulad said the Taliban attacked a government compound in Shibkho district, killing three police officers. The Taliban claimed responsibility for all three attacks. Despite the staggering numbers, Murad said Afghan forces are confident in their “readiness to fight terrorists and eliminate them from Afghanistan.” He said the Taliban have suffered heavy defeats over the past six months at the hands of Afghan forces and were seeking revenge. Later on Tuesday, an Afghan official said drone strikes killed 35 Taliban fighters in the country’s east, near the border with Pakistan. Abdullah Asrat, spokesman for the governor of Paktia province, said drones fired missiles at four locations in Anzarki Kandaw, killing the insurgents and wounding 15 others. He said a commander of the Pakistani Taliban, Abu Bakr, and other senior insurgents were among the dead. He did not provide further details. Chamkani, the lawmaker from Paktia, said the drones struck as the Taliban were collecting the bodies of 20 militants killed in a strike Monday on a militant base near the border. Pakist[...]


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McHenry County Sheriff's Office investigating Pistakee Highlands car burglaries

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:02:00 GMT

PISTAKEE HIGHLANDS – The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office is investigating several overnight car burglaries.

Several unlocked vehicles were broken into in the Pistakee Highlands area of McHenry County, north of Johnsburg, according to a Nixle alert sent Tuesday by the sheriff’s office.

Anyone with information can call 815-338-2144 and can remain anony-mous.

The sheriff’s office encourages people to lock their cars, take valuables out of vehicles and report any suspicious activity.


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Police find missing 84-year-old McHenry man safeAn 84-year-old McHenry man who police reported missing Monday night was found safe later the same night.

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:00:00 GMT

McHENRY – An 84-year-old McHenry man who police reported missing Monday night was found safe later the same night.

Pablo Lopez left his home Monday morning and had not been heard from or seen as of 5:30 p.m. Monday, according to a post on the McHenry Police Department’s Facebook page. Police asked for the public’s assistance in finding the man. Lopez left his residence on foot, according to a comment from police on the post.

Police said in a Nixle alert sent about 11:15 p.m. Monday the man was safely located.

“Missing subject out of McHenry located and is OK,” the alert stated.

An 84-year-old McHenry man who police reported missing Monday night was found safe later the same night.


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McHenry firefighters respond to boarded-up home for third timeFirefighters responded several times in the last week to fires at a home in the 6700 block of Waterford Drive in McHenry. Though little damage can be seen from in front of the home, it was ruled inhabitable.

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:00:00 GMT

McHENRY – McHenry firefighters received a call Monday night that has become more common in the past few days – a possible fire at 6709 Waterford Drive in McHenry.

The home was deemed uninhabitable after an overnight fire Oct. 11, which resulted in $50,000 in damage, according to a news release from the McHenry Township Fire Protection District. The fire also rekindled once, McHenry Fire Battalion Chief Mike Majercik said.

McHenry firefighters responded about 6:55 p.m. Monday to the home after a neighbor reported smoke coming from the chimney. After last week’s fire, the house was boarded up, Majercik said. Crews forcibly entered the home and found a fire burning in the fireplace, but did not see anyone in the home, Majercik said.

“We notified a company to resecure the house,” Majercik said.

McHenry police also responded to the scene Monday night.

“It does appear that someone made entry when they shouldn’t have because the city said it wasn’t safe,” McHenry Deputy Police Chief John Birk said.

Birk said at this time it is unknown who was in the home, but nothing inside appeared to be disturbed or damaged. A McHenry police detective is working with the fire protection district to determine the original fire’s cause and whether it was suspicious, Birk said.

Firefighters responded several times in the last week to fires at a home in the 6700 block of Waterford Drive in McHenry. Though little damage can be seen from in front of the home, it was ruled inhabitable.


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Crystal Lake-area man gets stolen antique cement pig backPhoto provided Someone returned a stolen antique cement pig to a Crystal Lake-area couple after public outreach led to it being found about 4 miles away. The pig was dumped in the couple's ditch.

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:00:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A family is rejoicing after being reunited with its antique cement pig.

Nancy Bartholomew said public outreach led to the finding of a pink cement pig that she and her husband, Gary Bartholomew, display in the woods by their Crystal Lake-area home.

After an Oct. 5 article in the Northwest Herald about the decorative pig – which was stolen and recovered once before a year or two ago – the Bartholomews received several calls from people in a neighborhood north of Route 176 who said they saw the pig sitting out by the street on garbage day.

They jumped in the car and headed that way from their home on Carrie Court, but by the time they arrived, the garbage was picked up and the pig was nowhere in sight.

They tracked down a garbage truck driver, who told them he didn’t pick up the pig and it could only be collected with a special pickup because it’s more than 100 pounds.

Gary Bartholomew, a collector of pig-related items of all kinds, knocked on the door of the home that supposedly had the pig out for the garbage. A teenager answered and said his brother might know where the pig was.

Gary left his phone number.

“In the middle of the night, Friday the 13th, we heard a knock on the door and saw the pig lying in the ditch in front of our house,” Nancy said. “We couldn’t believe it.”

The pig’s left ear was broken off, but they’re just glad to have him back.

A neighbor escorted the pig back to its usual spot in the woods with his golf cart. They chained the pig to a pine tree for safe keeping.

“Gary has named the pig ‘Vincent Ham Gogh’ in light of his missing ear,” Nancy said.

The pig might be 40 to 50 years old and was given to Gary by a good friend.

The Bartholomews already have Halloween decorations up around the pig, and were decorating the woods a couple of weeks ago when they discovered the pig was gone. Their grandkids like to play around the pig.

Photo provided Someone returned a stolen antique cement pig to a Crystal Lake-area couple after public outreach led to it being found about 4 miles away. The pig was dumped in the couple's ditch.


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Harvard man charged with DUI after hit-and-runMario Casas, 29, of the 600 block of Church Street in HarvardGuadencio E. Herrera, 33, of the 800 block of West Metzen Street in HarvardShaw Media file photo

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:00:00 GMT

HARVARD – A Harvard man was charged with driving under the influence Saturday after he struck a parked car and left the scene, police said. His passenger, who police said had a small amount of cocaine in his pocket, also was charged in the incident.

Harvard police responded just after 11 a.m. Saturday to the 100 block of Garfield Street in Harvard for a report of a hit-and-run crash in the area, according to a news release from the Harvard Police Department. An unknown vehicle had struck a parked car and left the scene but still was nearby, according to the release.

When police arrived, they spoke with witnesses who identified the car Guadencio E. Herrera, 33, of the 800 block of West Metzen Street in Harvard, was driving as the one that had struck the other, scraping the driver’s side of the vehicle, Harvard Deputy Police Chief Tyson Bauman said.

Police pulled over Herrera’s car and he “did not want to cooperate,” Bauman said.

“[He] ended up pulling away from the officers,” Bauman said.

Herrera eventually was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, failing to report a crash and resisting police. He posted $100 bail and was released. Herrera is next due in court Nov. 1.

Mario Casas, 29, of the 600 block of Church Street in Harvard, was a passenger in Herrera’s vehicle and began walking away when police arrived.

Casas also struggled with officers before being arrested. Police found a small amount of cocaine in his pocket, Bauman said.

Casas was charged with possessing a controlled substance, transporting alcohol and resisting police. He was confined for several days in McHenry County Jail before posting bail Monday afternoon.

Mario Casas, 29, of the 600 block of Church Street in HarvardGuadencio E. Herrera, 33, of the 800 block of West Metzen Street in HarvardShaw Media file photo


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Woodstock man charged with arson after setting parents' home on fireCarl K. Rice

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 05:58:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Police charged a Woodstock man with arson in connection with a fire that caused $200,000 worth of damage to his parents’ home.

McHenry County sheriff’s deputies arrested Carl K. Rice, 28, on Friday after an investigation uncovered information that tied him to starting a house fire Sept. 22 in the 2900 block of Raycraft Road, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

Police charged Rice with residential arson for the fire. His bond was set at $150,000.

Rice is prohibited from communicating with his parents and can’t go to their home as a condition of his bond, according to court documents.

Rice wrote on an affidavit that he lived with his parents and was dependent on them for support. He wrote that he receives about $819 a month in Social Security payments and is unemployed.

The Woodstock Fire/Rescue District was called about 7 p.m. Sept. 22 to the residence, in an area without fire hydrants, and saw that flames engulfed half of the first floor of the home.

Firefighters used water to keep the fire in check, but they had to wait for other units arrive before they could put it out. Firefighters from Algonquin – Lake in the Hills, Cary, Crystal Lake, Harvard, Hebron – Alden– Greenwood, Huntley, McHenry, Marengo, Richmond, Spring Grove and Wonder Lake assisted Woodstock because of the lack of hydrants. Some units brought large tanks carrying about 3,000 gallons of water.

McHenry County Sheriff’s Office arson investigators began an investigation, which led to the charge.

Rice’s next court date is Oct. 31. He could face up to 15 years in prison, if convicted.

McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Rogers said Tuesday that no one was injured in the fire, according to a call log.

However, Rogers said, Harvard first responders took someone to the Woodstock emergency department by ambulance for a mental evaluation, possibly because of anxiety related to the fire.

Carl K. Rice


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Illinois' pension chief: Taking pensions away from elected county officials is illegalEd Komenda – ekomenda@shawmedia.com McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks speaks at a meeting Tuesday. Louis Kosiba, executive director of the $35.8 billion Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, spoke at the meeting, telling board members and the public that Franks' resolution to cut pensions for elected county officials is illegal.

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 05:56:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Louis Kosiba, executive director of the $35.8 billion Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, showed up to the McHenry County Board meeting Tuesday night to let board members and the public know Chairman Jack Franks’ resolution to kill pensions for all elected county officials is illegal. “The rule of law does not mean that laws [that] are inconvenient or inconsistent with one’s point of view can be ignored or overwritten by a form of government,” Kosiba said. “In this case, state law cannot be changed by the action of county or city government.” Kosiba highlighted Article 13, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution, which states membership in any pension or retirement system of the state, local government or school district is an “enforceable contractual relationship” and the benefits of those pension systems cannot be diminished or impaired. “I’ve taken the position that to remove elected county officials from IMRF participation is inconsistent with the law,” Kosiba said. Kosiba shared his opinion during public comment at Tuesday’s meeting, where Franks and board members tabled discussion of the pension resolution to give board members time to draft alternative measures to discuss and develop at a later meeting. “We need to get this right,” Franks said before the County Board tabled the resolution. “In working together, I am confident that we will pass an existing resolution or craft another viable one to address the unsustainable pension obligations that overburden our taxpayers.” Franks’ resolution would remove IMRF eligibility for the offices of County Board chairman, state’s attorney, county clerk, circuit clerk, treasurer, auditor, recorder, coroner and sheriff. The move would not affect the positions until the end of their terms. The county’s coroner, recorder and sheriff already have opted out of receiving pensions. Franks said that the resolution is nothing against any elected official in particular; it’s about saving money. Cutting pensions for newly elected officials in those positions would save the county $110,000 a year based on current officeholder’s salaries, Franks said. The pension debate has been a hot button topic at recent meetings, where some County Board members worried that cutting the pensions of elected officials would be a problem in the courts. Stripping pensions from elected county officials requires action by the Illinois General Assembly, Kosiba said. On Oct. 2, Kosiba wrote Franks a letter saying the cancellation of pensions “will not help achieve the good government you seek.” “Disqualifying these positions from IMRF can be detrimental to good government,” Kosiba wrote. “If you believe these nine positions should not receive a pension through IMRF, then I think your only resort is to seek a legislative change.” During board members’ comment, District 3 Rep. Michael J. Walkup said he wished that Franks would have shared that letter with County Board members before the resolution popped up at a recent committee meeting at which members did not second a motion to discuss it. “This is something that was embarked upon in a half-baked, half-thought out fashion, probably simply to garner newspaper headlines,” Walkup said. “Government by grandstand is not good government.” [...]Ed Komenda – ekomenda@shawmedia.com McHenry County B[...]


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Huntley oncology nurse remembered as loving caregiverHer family, including her husband, Joe, and her three children, Ayden, 15 who is nonverbal and autistic, Andrew, 11, and Emma, 10, are left without Tiffanie, who cared not only for them but for several cancer patients throughout the suburbs, her family said. Neighbors created an online fundraiser at www.youcaring.com/joerodriguez-975817 that had raised $35,000 as of Tuesday night. The family lived in Huntley for 13 years. “My neighbor Randy Hart [whose family started the fundraiser] came running over and said, ‘Oh my god, have you looked at the page?’ and I broke down in tears,” Joe said. “I couldn’t believe the amount of love and support we’ve received. Everyone just adored her and she was truly a one-of-a-kind person, and I’m not just saying that because I loved her with all my heart.” Tiffanie worked at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and received her master’s degree in 2016 from Benedictine University. “She didn’t go to a patient’s room just to change an IV and get out as fast as she could, but she’d speak with these patients and cry with them and every day she’d come home with genuine stories,” Joe said. Working in Park Ridge was a long drive, Joe said, traveling 40 miles each way, but she did not want leave her co-workers and patients. But she saw an ad for a new job at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin and was inspired to apply, Joe said. She quickly rewrote her resume, flew past a phone interview and headed out for the interview at 9:30 a.m. “She was so happy that morning,” Joe said. “She was a little nervous, but I texted her and said she’s going to do great. I had to take a photo of her in her suit because she looked so beautiful. I had no idea it would be the last time I would see her.”Later, Joe saw that it was about noon and he wondered why his wife hadn’t called. He was making lunch for his children when he got a phone call from the hospital’s emergency room. He said he thought maybe she had a nervous breakdown or tripped and fell. “Never in a million years, though, did I think it would be worse than that,” Joe said. “I’ve worked in hospitals for a long time, and I know when you walk into the emergency room and there is a chaplain waiting for you and they try to escort you into a private room, nothing good is coming. I just kept saying, ‘no, no, no, no.’” It was then he found out that after the interview she was escorted to the exit, walked about 20 to 30 feet away and collapsed into a bush from a brain aneurysm. Even after her death, she still managed to save people, Joe said. Tiffanie was an organ donor and helped 16 people. Joe met Tiffanie at Lutheran General Hospital when he worked there as a security guard. They were both called to a room because one of her patients was trying to escape. “As I walked into that room, I saw her and she instantly caught my attention,” Joe said. “I never believed in love at first sight until I saw her, and I looked at my partner and we gave each other the guy nod.”At the end of their first date, they sat in the parking lot of the hospital until 5:30 a.m. talking for hours. Joe went to drop her off at her car when he realized his car battery died while they were listening to music. He had to sheepishly call friends working in security and get a jump-start, he said. “I went home and went to bed and I called my mom later the next day and told her, ‘Mom, I’m going to marry this girl.’ I just knew it,” Joe said. “We spent 15 wonderful years together, had three beautiful babies, and I feel so lost without her.” Joe has been a stay-at-home father for the past seven years in order to take care of the children after he was unable to get routine hours as a security guard. He said Ayden requires routine, and it was more affordable for him to take care of the kids than to hire day care. Tiffanie’s mother, Beverly Collins of Elgin, said every parents knows their child is wonderful, but she didn’t realize how many people Tiffanie had helped until she saw an outpouring at her wake, with people from doctors to housekeeping in attendance. Collins said she also is thankful for the fundraiser created and wants to keep all the comments said online about Tiffanie so her children can read it when they are older. “Emma was concerned if they’d be able to stay in their house, but everyone’s help has just been great,” Collins said. “She was a great mom and would do everything and anything for those kids. Even when she had to work a 12-hour shift, was taking classes for her master’s degree and driving [80 miles] a day to work, 'no' wasn’t in her vocabulary for those kids.” [Photos provided]

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 05:54:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – Tiffanie Rodriguez lived and breathed hospitals. It was there that she met her husband, where she worked as an oncology nurse for 22 years and where she died at age 45 from a sudden brain aneurysm while leaving a job interview Oct. 6. Her family, including her husband, Joe, and her three children, Ayden, 15 who is nonverbal and autistic, Andrew, 11, and Emma, 10, are left without Tiffanie, who cared not only for them but for several cancer patients throughout the suburbs, her family said. Neighbors created an online fundraiser at www.youcaring.com/joerodriguez-975817 that had raised $35,000 as of Tuesday night. The family lived in Huntley for 13 years. “My neighbor Randy Hart [whose family started the fundraiser] came running over and said, ‘Oh my god, have you looked at the page?’ and I broke down in tears,” Joe said. “I couldn’t believe the amount of love and support we’ve received. Everyone just adored her and she was truly a one-of-a-kind person, and I’m not just saying that because I loved her with all my heart.” Tiffanie worked at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and received her master’s degree in 2016 from Benedictine University. “She didn’t go to a patient’s room just to change an IV and get out as fast as she could, but she’d speak with these patients and cry with them and every day she’d come home with genuine stories,” Joe said. Working in Park Ridge was a long drive, Joe said, traveling 40 miles each way, but she did not want leave her co-workers and patients. But she saw an ad for a new job at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin and was inspired to apply, Joe said. She quickly rewrote her resume, flew past a phone interview and headed out for the interview at 9:30 a.m. “She was so happy that morning,” Joe said. “She was a little nervous, but I texted her and said she’s going to do great. I had to take a photo of her in her suit because she looked so beautiful. I had no idea it would be the last time I would see her.”Later, Joe saw that it was about noon and he wondered why his wife hadn’t called. He was making lunch for his children when he got a phone call from the hospital’s emergency room. He said he thought maybe she had a nervous breakdown or tripped and fell. “Never in a million years, though, did I think it would be worse than that,” Joe said. “I’ve worked in hospitals for a long time, and I know when you walk into the emergency room and there is a chaplain waiting for you and they try to escort you into a private room, nothing good is coming. I just kept saying, ‘no, no, no, no.’” It was then he found out that after the interview she was escorted to the exit, walked about 20 to 30 feet away and collapsed into a bush from a brain aneurysm. Even after her death, she still managed to save people, Joe said. Tiffanie was an organ donor and helped 16 people. Joe met Tiffanie at Lutheran General Hospital when he worked there as a security guard. They were both called to a room because one of her patients was trying to escape. “As I walked into that room, I saw her and she instantly caught my attention,” Joe said. “I never believed in love at first sight until I saw her, and I looked at my partner and we gave each other the guy nod.”At the end of their first date, they sat in the parking lot of the hospital until 5:30 a.m. talking for hours. Joe went to drop her off at her car when he realized his car battery died while they were listening to music. He had to sheepishly call friends working in security and get a jump-start, he said. “I went home and went to bed and I called my mom later the next day and tol[...]


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Crystal Lake High School District 155 Board approves tentative tax levy increaseCrystal Lake High School District 155 met Tuesday to discuss a tax levy increase that would boost revenue

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 05:52:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Residents, real estate agents and a state representative crowded the Crystal Lake School District 155 boardroom to voice concerns over the proposed increase of the tax levy, which board members tentatively approved Tuesday. The board met to consider its annual levy, which this year includes a requested 4.45 percent increase over the previous year. The $3.2 million hike could mean taxpayers will see a higher property tax bill. Although the district is asking for a $75.8 million levy, it expects to receive a $74.3 million extension, which is about a 2.4 percent increase, according to district documents. The board approved the tentative levy including its increase and likely will make a final vote in November. Board members Adam Guss, Amy Blazier, Ron Ludwig, Nicole Pavoris, and Dave Secrest voted yes on the item, while Jason Blake and Rosemary Kurtz voted no. Residents said they wouldn’t be able to stay in the county much longer because of tax costs. “I am now retired and on a fixed income,” resident Jim Young said. “Property taxes are onerous on me. … If there is a raise, I think what you are asking me to do is move.” A district resident with a $250,000 home would pay about $50 more toward the district’s portion of a property tax bill. The increased cash flow primarily would go toward the education fund and the operations and maintenance fund, according to district documents. Resident Anna Wagner voiced the same concern as Young. Wagner’s husband is retired, and they moved to the area to be closer to their family. Wagner had planned to retire as well and said raised taxes will make that impossible. “Please think about the elderly people who are trying to retire and stay in the state,” she said. The district relies on taxpayer funding as its largest source of revenue, with 74 percent of its total revenue coming from the tax levy. State aid provides the district with between 10 percent and 12 percent of its revenue. A resident who owns a $250,000 house in 2016 paid about $2,357 to the district in taxes, according to the district. District 155 held its levy flat in 2015 rather than taking advantage of its allowable 0.8 percent tax increase, which would have resulted in $789,411 in funding. The district is tax-capped, which means officials are limited in how much they can increase annually. Property tax extensions are limited to 5 percent or the consumer price index, whichever is less. This year, the CPI – which is a measure of inflation – will increase 2.1 percent, according to district documents. ”Significant” levels of deferred maintenance to the tune of $50 million worth in work is one of the main reasons for the hike, according to district documents. The work is needed over the next 10 years. Officials also are concerned about financial sustainability if the district doesn’t take advantage of an allowed increase. “Holding the tax levy flat further limits all future potential tax extensions,” Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Jeremy Davis wrote in the tax levy presentation. “District 155 already has reduced its tax extensions and tax rates each of the prior two fiscal years.” State Rep. Allen Skillicorn addressed the board Tuesday as well and urged the board to reduce its levy, rather than consider an increase. [...]


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Judge in Hawaii blocks latest version of Trump's travel banThis Dec. 2015 file photo shows U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu. Watson on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, blocked the Trump administration from enforcing its latest travel ban, just hours before it was set to take effect.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 21:24:00 GMT

HONOLULU – A federal judge in Hawaii blocked the Trump administration Tuesday from enforcing its latest travel ban just hours before it was set to take effect, saying the president's revised order "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor." It was the third set of travel restrictions issued by President Donald Trump to be thwarted in some way by the courts. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued the ruling after the ban was challenged by the state of Hawaii, which warned that the restrictions would separate families and undermine the recruiting of diverse college students. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the ruling "dangerously flawed" and said it "undercuts the president's efforts to keep the American people safe." The Justice Department said it will quickly appeal. At issue was a ban, announced in September and set to go into effect early Wednesday, on travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, along with some Venezuelan government officials and their families. The Trump administration said the ban was based on an assessment of each country's security situation and willingness to share information with the U.S. Watson, appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama, said the new restrictions ignore a federal appeals court ruling that found Trump's previous ban exceeded the scope of his authority. The latest version "plainly discriminates based on nationality in the manner that the 9th Circuit has found antithetical to ... the founding principles of this nation," Watson wrote. The judge's ruling does not affect the restrictions against North Korea or Venezuela, because the state of Hawaii did not ask for that. "This is the third time Hawaii has gone to court to stop President Trump from issuing a travel ban that discriminates against people based on their nation of origin or religion," Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said in a statement. "Today is another victory for the rule of law." Hawaii argued the updated ban was a continuation of Trump's campaign call for a ban on Muslims, despite the addition to the list of two countries without a Muslim majority. In his ruling, the judge said the new ban, like its predecessor, fails to show that nationality alone makes a person a greater security risk to the U.S. "The categorical restrictions on entire populations of men, women and children, based upon nationality, are a poor fit for the issues regarding the sharing of 'public-safety and terrorism-related information' that the president identifies," Watson said. He also said the ban in inconsistent in the way some countries are included or excluded. The judge said he would set an expedited hearing to determine whether his temporary restraining order blocking the ban should be extended. Other courts are weighing challenges to the ban. In Maryland, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are seeking to block the visa and entry restrictions. Washington state, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, New York and Maryland are challenging the order in front of the same federal judge in Seattle who struck down Trump's initial ban in January. That ban – aimed mostly at Muslim-majority countries [...]


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Trump warns 'I fight back' after McCain hits foreign policyPresident Donald Trump sits for a radio interview in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., receives the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. The honor is given annually to an individual who displays courage and conviction while striving to secure liberty for people worldwide. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 21:12:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned Sen. John McCain that "I fight back" after McCain questioned "half-baked, spurious nationalism" in America's foreign policy. McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent 5½ years in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp and is battling brain cancer, offered a simple response to Trump: "I have faced tougher adversaries." Trump said in a radio interview with WMAL in Washington, "I'm being very, very nice but at some point I fight back and it won't be pretty." He bemoaned McCain's decisive vote this past summer in opposition to a GOP bill to dismantle Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, a move that caused the failure of GOP efforts to repeal and replace "Obamacare." In Philadelphia on Monday night, the six-term Republican senator from Arizona received an award for a lifetime of service and sacrifice to the country. In addition to recalling his more than two decades of military service and his imprisonment during the war, McCain took a moment to go a step further than the night's other speakers, who lamented what many described as a fractured political climate. "To abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems," he said, "is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history." He continued: "We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil." Former Vice President Joe Biden presented McCain with the Liberty Medal. Though members of opposing parties, the two men worked together during their time in the Senate. Former President Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in his bid for the presidency in 2008, congratulated the senator on the award in a tweet Monday night. "I'm grateful to @SenJohnMcCain for his lifetime of service to our country. Congratulations, John, on receiving this year's Liberty Medal," Obama wrote. Another political foe, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said on Twitter: "Ran against him, sometimes disagree, but proud to be a friend of @SenJohnMcCain: hero, champion of character and last night, Lincolnesque." The back-and-forth between the president and McCain represented the latest skirmish between the two Republican party heavyweights and another example of Trump tangling with GOP senators who could undermine his agenda in Congress. Trump in recent weeks has feuded with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, although the president joined with the Kentucky senator at the White House to publicly declare they were on the same page. McCain played a consequential role in the health care debate and will be lobbied heavily to support the president's push to overhaul the tax system. In the radio interview, Trump aired his frustration with fellow Republicans who have eluded him in his attempt to overhaul the health care law approved during President Barack Obama's administration. "We need some votes from some of the Republicans. For some reason, they weren't there on health care. They should have been," Trump told WMAL's Chris Plante. "We thought we had it. John McCain voted no, which was a shocker." As a pre[...]


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Sign up for the McHenry County Board newsletter

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:26:23 GMT

The decisions of the McHenry County Board affect all county residents, and the Northwest Herald now has a newsletter to keep you up to date on what the county board is up to, how it affects you, and what's coming next.

We'll provide you with exclusive content, whether it's analysis from our reporters on the beat, a Q and A with a county board member, or what's coming up and why it's important. You won't find this content anywhere else except our newsletter. Get it here.


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Local organizations to co-host 'Equal Means Equal' documentary showings at McHenry County CollegeMatthew Apgar - mapgar@shawmedia.com McHenry County Board Member Carolyn Schofield meets with members of the League of Women Voters to discuss the consolidation of township government inside the community room at Home State Bank on Saturday, July 11, 2015 in Crystal Lake.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:09:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Three local organizations are coming together Wednesday afternoon and Thursday night to host viewings of the documentary “Equal Means Equal” at McHenry County College.

The League of Women Voters of McHenry County, the Student Peace Action Network at MCC and the MCC chapter of the American Association of University Women will co-sponsor the showings of the documentary, according to a news release from the league.

The film focuses on how woman are treated in the U.S. today, and it urges ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, which states the rights guaranteed to American citizens apply equally, regardless of sex.

The free event will take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday at MCC in the Scot Room (B178) and at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Room B166-167.

For information, visit www.mchenrycounty.il.lwvnet.org or contact the MCC Student Life Office at 815-455-8550.

Matthew Apgar - mapgar@shawmedia.com McHenry County Board Member Carolyn Schofield meets with members of the League of Women Voters to discuss the consolidation of township government inside the community room at Home State Bank on Saturday, July 11, 2015 in Crystal Lake.


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Thinking About College? Head to MCC Night!

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 14:48:03 GMT

Whether you’re considering your college options or restarting a degree that got sidetracked, save the date for McHenry County College’s annual open house on November 15.

Scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30p.m., MCC Night is free and will feature faculty from every department conducting demonstrations and sharing information about the myriad of degrees and certificates available.

“It’s all about MCC,” said Kellie Carper, manager of New Student Transitions, Recruitment and Admissions.

“We’ve had it every year since 2005,” Carper said. “Our primary target area is high school seniors and returning adult students, to get them interested in becoming students at MCC.”

Even if you’re already in the workforce and looking to upgrade your skills or to advance in your position, MCC Night can give you all the information you need to get started.

As an added bonus for attending, the $15 application fee is waived that night for those attending.

Academic advisors will also be on hand, plus there are many workshops to learn about financial aid, scholarships, college classes for high school students (dual credit), how to transfer college credits to a four-year college, and services for students with disabilities.

The event draws nearly 1,200 people, Carper said.

“It’s an opportunity for folks to get information and all their questions answered about the programs we offer and different department services,” she said.

The night also features demonstrations by various MCC departments, including art students doing pottery throwing, and culinary and baking and pastry students, who will be offering free samples of their handiwork.

For more information on MCC Night, visit www.mchenry.edu/mccnight.

MCC Night will be located in Buildings A and B, the gymnasium, and the cafeteria/commons area from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

McHenry County College

8900 US-14

Crystal Lake, IL 60012

815.455.3700

http://www.mchenry.edu/


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Huntley contractor pleads guilty to fraud, failing to pay taxesShaw Media file photo

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 14:40:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – A Huntley concrete contractor pleaded guilty to defrauding labor union benefit plans and failing to pay more than $600,000 in taxes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In March 2015, a 27-count federal indictment claimed that Thomas Manning, 60, president of T. Manning Concrete Inc., underpaid required monthly contributions for the company’s labor union employees and falsified the number of hours the employees worked.

Manning was unavailable for comment Monday. Phone numbers listed for his company have been disconnected. The company’s website is no longer active. The state of Illinois dissolved T. Manning Concrete Inc. as a business in 2012, according to online records.

The indictment alleged that Manning failed to collect and pay nearly $600,680 in taxes for the employees’ share of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act.

Manning pleaded guilty to the charges in a written plea agreement filed this week, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Hiring cement masons and workers from labor unions in northern Illinois, Manning was required by collective bargaining agreements to report monthly to benefit plans the number of hours each union employee worked and disclose the company’s contributions to the plans.

Beginning in 2006, Manning started to defraud the benefit plans, underreporting the number of hours employees worked in the monthly reports and underpaying the required monthly contributions for the company’s covered employees, according to the U.S. State’s Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.

In an effort to conceal the understatements, Manning paid the covered employees for additional hours “under the table,” using checks drawn from nonpayroll accounts controlled by Manning. Manning sent the reports and contribution checks to the benefit plans via U.S. mail.

Because of the falsified reports, Manning caused the benefit plans to make false statements in annual reports required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the federal indictment alleges. Because he paid covered employees under the table, Manning also failed to collect, account and pay $600,680 in federal taxes for the employees’ share of FICA between 2007 and 2010, the indictment said.

Manning also submitted falsified forms to the Internal Revenue Service because of the underreported wages and withheld taxes, the indictment said.

Under the 27-count indictment, Manning was charged with five counts of mail fraud, five counts of causing false statements to be made on forms required by ERISA, 16 counts of failing to collect and pay FICA taxes, and one count of obstructing the IRS.

Manning is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 24. 

Manning faces a $250,000 fine, up to five years in prison and three years of supervised release for each count, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Shaw Media file photo


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Trump: Drug czar nominee pulls his name from considerationFILE - In this Sept. 23, 2011 file photo, Rep. Thomas Marino, R-Pa., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is demanding that the White House withdraw the nomination of Marino to be the nation's drug czar. Manchin says Marino played a key role in passing a bill weakening the Drug Enforcement Administration's authority to stop companies from distributing opioids. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 14:32:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Rep. Tom Marino, President Donald Trump's nominee to be the nation's drug czar, is withdrawing from consideration following reports that he played a key role in weakening the federal government's authority to stop companies from distributing opioids. Marino "has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!" Trump's announcement comes a day after the president raised the possibility of nixing the nomination following reports by The Washington Post and CBS News. The reports detailed the Pennsylvania lawmaker's involvement in crafting a 2016 law, signed by President Barack Obama, that weakened the Drug Enforcement Administration's authority to curb opioid distribution. Trump told reporters during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden on Monday that he will look "very closely" at the news reports. He added: "If I think it's 1 percent negative to doing what we want to do, I will make a change," he said. Democrats had called on Trump to withdraw the nomination. Marino could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, whose home state of West Virginia has been among the hardest-hit by the opioid epidemic, said he was horrified at the accounts of the 2016 law and Marino's role in it. Manchin scolded the Obama administration for failing to "sound the alarm on how harmful that bill would be for our efforts to effectively fight the opioid epidemic," which kills an estimated 142 people a day nationwide. In a letter to Trump, Manchin called the opioid crisis "the biggest public health crisis since HIV/AIDS," and said, "we need someone leading the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy who believes we must protect our people, not the pharmaceutical industry." The Post reported Sunday that the drug industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, including Marino, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns. The major drug distributors prevailed upon the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Justice Department to agree to the industry-friendly law, which undermined efforts to restrict the flow of pain pills that have led to tens of thousands of deaths. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the bill's lead Senate sponsor, defended the measure Monday, calling allegations that he or Marino "conspired" with drug companies "utterly ridiculous." Hatch, a 40-year veteran of the Senate, said he was "no patsy" of the drug industry. The language affecting DEA enforcement authority was suggested by DEA and the Justice Department, Hatch said, adding that the agencies could have tried to stop the bill at any time — or recommended that Obama veto the measure. "Let's not pretend that DEA, both houses of Congress and the Obama White House all somehow wilted under Representative Marino's nefarious influences," Hatch said. A White House commission convened by Trump and led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has called on Trump to declare a national emergency to help deal with the growing opioid crisis. An initial report from the commission in July noted that the a[...]


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Video: Turning broken skateboards into artMatthew Apgar – mapgar@shawmedia.com Jacobs High School junior Chloe Frank, 16, uses clear nail polish to coat a ring she created out of a broken skateboard Thursday at Fargo Skateboarding in DeKalb.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 14:03:00 GMT

Students from Algonquin-based School District 300, including Hampshire, Jacobs and Dundee-Crown high schools, took a trip to Fargo Skateboarding in DeKalb on Thursday to learn how to make jewelry out of broken skateboards from shop owner Ariel Ries.

Matthew Apgar – mapgar@shawmedia.com Jacobs High School junior Chloe Frank, 16, uses clear nail polish to coat a ring she created out of a broken skateboard Thursday at Fargo Skateboarding in DeKalb.


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Ophelia batters UK after pummeling Ireland, leaves 3 deadA woman stands as waves crash against the sea wall at Penzanze, Cornwall southwestern England, as the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia begins to hit parts of Britain and Ireland. Ireland's meteorological service is predicting wind gusts of 120 kph to 150 kph (75 mph to 93 mph), sparking fears of travel chaos. Some flights have been cancelled, and aviation officials are warning travelers to check the latest information before going to the airport Monday. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)Waves break around the church in the harbour at Porthleven, Cornwall southwestern England, as the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia begins to hit parts of Britain and Ireland. Ireland's meteorological service is predicting wind gusts of 120 kph to 150 kph (75 mph to 93 mph), sparking fears of travel chaos. Some flights have been cancelled, and aviation officials are warning travelers to check the latest information before going to the airport Monday. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)A family walks along a seawall during storm Ophelia on East Pier in Howth, Dublin, Ireland, as the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia batter Ireland and the United Kingdom with gusts of up to 80mph (129kph), Monday Oct. 16, 2017. Three people have been confirmed dead in Ireland in incidents related to Storm Ophelia. (Caroline Quinn/PA via AP)

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 12:15:00 GMT

LONDON — Storm Ophelia is battering Scotland and northern England after leaving three people dead and hundreds of thousands without power in Ireland. The former Atlantic hurricane downed trees and power lines, sent waves surging over coastal defenses and disrupted transport again Tuesday, a day after making landfall on Ireland's south coast with gusts of almost 100 miles an hour (160 kilometers an hour). Britain's Met Office weather service said Scotland could see heavy rain and gusts of up to 70 mph (113 kph), with winds gradually diminishing through Tuesday. Schools in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were closed for a second day as authorities assessed the damage from the worst storm to hit Ireland in decades. Irish authorities said it could take several days to restore power to 330,000 homes. Commuters faced delays and downed trees blocked rail lines. Train services between the Scottish cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and from London to Aberdeen, Dundee and Perth were slowed down by trees that were blown onto the tracks. In Dumfries and Galloway in western Scotland, a scout hall roof was blown off amid winds of up of up to 77 mph (124 kph). In Cumbria in northwest England, part of a soccer club's stand was ripped off by the wind. Some areas hit by the storm were affected by water shortages. By Tuesday, the UK Met Office reduced the area covered by a yellow weather warning, though it said windy weather is still likely. Parts of southern Norway reported a smoky smell on Tuesday morning, which the local meteorological institute said it was likely carried there by Ophelia from the wave of forest fires in Portugal and Spain that killed at least 41 people over the weekend. In Sweden, people in the capital of Stockholm and elsewhere launched a flurry of calls to authorities, saying the skies were much darker than usual Tuesday morning. That was also probably due to Ophelia's strong winds, which carried a mix of red sand from the Sahara and tiny particles from the Iberian forest fires across western Europe. A woman stands as waves crash against the sea wall at Penzanze, Cornwall southwestern England, as the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia begins to hit parts of Britain and Ireland. Ireland's meteorological service is predicting wind gusts of 120 kph to 150 kph (75 mph to 93 mph), sparking fears of travel chaos. Some flights have been cancelled, and aviation officials are warning travelers to check the latest information before going to the airport Monday. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)Waves break around the church in the harbour at Porthleven, Cornwall southwestern England, as the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia begins to hit parts of Britain and Ireland. Ireland's meteorological service is predicting wind gusts of 120 kph to 150 kph (75 mph to 93 mph), sparking fears of travel chaos. Some flights have been cancelled, and aviation officials are warning travelers to check the latest information before going to the airport Monday. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)A family walks along a seawall during storm Ophelia on East Pier in Howth, Dublin, Ireland, as the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia ba[...]


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In Weinstein's wake, is Hollywood truly capable of change?FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2017, file photo, SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris speaks at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles. Carteris says people are finally saying "No more" about covering up sexual harassment, and that may lead to some meaningful change to a culture in Hollywood that has preyed on young women for decades. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:25:00 GMT

LOS ANGELES – “That’s how it works,” actress and director Sarah Polley recalls Harvey Weinstein saying to her years ago in his office. If she agreed to a “very close relationship” with him she could go on to be a star and win awards, he said. He told her that a famous actress had once sat in her seat and that her success was because of their “close relationship,” she wrote in an essay for The New York Times on Saturday. Polley was 19 at the time and wasn’t particularly interested in being a star or continuing to act. “I was purely lucky that I didn’t care,” she wrote. “That’s how it works” has been Hollywood’s dirty little open secret for its entire history, where men in power have been able to prey on the dreams of stardom of many young women. The quid pro quo sexual harassment even got a cutesy name: The casting couch. And yet Weinstein’s downfall after a surge of accusations of sexual harassment and assault from women over the past three decades, suddenly calls for “change” are a common refrain from the industry’s most well-known names. But is meaningful change even possible in a business that relishes in its own mythology of ambition, ego, art and money that has allowed and enabled systematic sexual harassment for so long? Weinstein was a man whose aggression and anger was turned into legend, whose bullying was canonized, whose devil-may-care attitude attracted the edgiest directors and whose companies put out cinematic classics that big studios wouldn’t dare touch. Outside of public accusations, does the power structure in Hollywood even want to disrupt the way things work? “Leadership has to come from the top in stopping harassment,” said Chai Feldblum, the commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Sexual harassment is a widespread issue across the country and in many industries, but the entertainment sector presents a uniquely difficult environment for reporting instances when those who work there are essentially independent contractors and freelancers. Oftentimes the harassment is coming from the top – a director, a producer, a CEO who is often considered more worthwhile to protect than the accuser. And even when accusations reach the level of a lawsuit, they have a tendency to disappear under settlements and nondisclosure agreements. Condemnation for Weinstein’s alleged conduct has been nearly universal and the fallout dramatic – he was fired from his company, stripped of his Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences membership, and his Producers Guild status is up for debate Monday. But statements pledging meaningful change and or introspection from the institutions that run the business – from the studios to the talent agencies and guilds – have been few. The labor union SAG-AFTRA, which represents some 160,000 actors and media professionals, was among the first to state that it would do more to ensure the safety of women in the industry and reminded of its Safety Hotline, where members can report safety violations, including harassment and inappropriate behavior. Jeremy Zimmer, the CEO of UTA, one of the top agencies in Holl[...]


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70-year-old woman, teenage girl injured in Marengo rollover crashShaw Media file photo

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:22:00 GMT

MARENGO – A 70-year-old Aurora woman and a Roselle teenage girl were taken to area hospitals Sunday after a rollover crash in Marengo.

The Marengo Fire Protection District and Marengo police responded about 2:20 p.m. Sunday to Route 23 and Harmony Road in Marengo for a report of a crash, Marengo Police Chief Richard Solarz said. When emergency responders arrived, they found two vehicles off the road. One was upside down.

A Berwyn 18-year-old was driving west on Harmony Road when he said he could not stop at the stop sign because of gravel on the road, Solarz said. The 18-year-old told police his vehicle slid through a stop sign and struck another vehicle, which the Aurora woman was driving south on Route 23.

The vehicle that was struck then struck a road sign and came to rest upside down. The 18-year-old’s vehicle left the road and struck a utility pole.

The teenage girl, who was a passenger in the first vehicle, was taken to an area hospital in unknown condition, Solarz said. The Aurora woman also was taken to the hospital.

The 18-year-old man was cited for disobeying a stop sign. Both vehicles were towed from the scene. Solarz would not provide the name of the teenager who was cited.

Marengo fire officials said they could not provide more details.

Shaw Media file photo


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Manhunt continues for Hebron man accused of sexually assaulting childPolice are searching for Esau Ancheyta Hernandez of Hebron, who allegedly sexually assaulted a child at a residence near Hebron.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:22:00 GMT

HEBRON – A 26-year-old Hebron man accused of sexually assaulting a child continues to elude police, McHenry County Sheriff’s Office officials said Monday.

Esau Ancheyta Hernandez of Hebron allegedly sexually assaulted a child about 6:45 a.m. Friday at a home in the 12000 block of Hebron Road near Hebron. After being confronted by family members, Hernandez fled on foot from the scene, police said.

“There are no updates. We are still actively searching for him and encourage the public to contact us with any information,” McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Rogers said in an email. “Callers can remain anonymous.”

K-9 units, drones and a helicopter initially were deployed Friday near Hebron Road and the Illinois-Wisconsin state line, but they did not yield any results. Rogers did not respond to question about where the sheriff’s office thinks Hernandez might have gone or how he could have fled on foot.

Hernandez is described as 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighing 135 pounds with dark brown hair and brown eyes. He last was seen wearing gray pants, a teal shirt and tennis shoes.

Police obtained an arrest warrant for predatory criminal sexual assault of a child with a bond amount of $250,000. If arrested and convicted, Hernandez could face six to 30 years in prison.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 815-338-2144.

Police are searching for Esau Ancheyta Hernandez of Hebron, who allegedly sexually assaulted a child at a residence near Hebron.


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McHenry police investigating gas station car theft

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:21:00 GMT

McHENRY – McHenry police are investigating a car theft that took place while a woman was filling up her gas tank at a McHenry gas station.

The incident happened Wednesday at the McHenry BP, 508 S. Route 31. The victim was getting gas when a man in his 20s jumped into the open door of the car and drove away. The woman tried to hold onto the car for a few seconds and was injured in the process, according to a message on McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett’s Facebook page.

Police reviewed security video, and it appears that the man entered the lot on foot after possibly trying to steal a truck near Sam’s Liquor and Wine nearby. The victim of the car theft had her work cellphone in the back seat of the car, and coordinates came back from Rockford near the airport, Jett’s post stated.

Rockford police could not locate the car, phone or suspect.

The investigation is ongoing, and the suspect is described as a man in his 20s; shorter than 5 feet, 6 inches; and last seen wearing a tan coat with grey sleeves and a grey hooded sweatshirt.

McHenry police did not respond to a call requesting information on the theft or why the public was not notified of the incident sooner.


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Holiday Hills police honor late Deputy Dwight Maness with new plaqueH. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com A plaque honoring McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Maness was dedicated Monday at the Holiday Hills Police Department. Maness and his partner, Deputy Khalia Satkiewicz, were shot during a domestic incident at the Holiday Hills home of Scott B. Peters, who fired more than a dozen rounds at the two officers. Maness died suddenly during a physical therapy appointment Sept. 14, 2015, at age 47.Sarah Nader file photo – snader@shawmedia.com McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Maness poses for a photo Sept. 3, 2015, at his McHenry home. Maness died Sept. 14, 2015.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:18:00 GMT

HOLIDAY HILLS – Sue Maness said she is happy that her husband is receiving recognition for the great sacrifice he made.

The late McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Maness was honored with a new plaque for his life and service.

“He deserves to be remembered, especially in this area, for the sacrifices he made,” Sue Maness said. “The last two years have been horrible, and police really need to be supported and need cooperation from everyone.”

A plaque dedication ceremony was held Monday at the Holiday Hills Police Department, 1304 Sunset Drive.

Maness and his partner, Deputy Khalia Satkiewicz, responded in October 2014 to a domestic incident at the Holiday Hills home of Scott B. Peters, who fired more than a dozen rounds at the two officers.

Maness’ femur was shattered, and a vein in his leg was severed in the shooting. After 15 surgeries, he never regained the ability to walk.

He spent months recovering, but developed a blood clot in his lungs and died unexpectedly at age 47 during a physical therapy appointment Sept. 14, 2015. Peters was sentenced to 135 years in prison.

Holiday Hills Village President Louis French said the village always will be thankful for Maness’ sacrifice.

“In the last few months we’ve lost a lot of first responders, and maybe it’s time this gets addressed by our governors and presidents, to get some relief, maybe through some sort of property tax or something to fallen officers or first responders,” French said.

Holiday Hills Police Chief Tony Colatorti said he was honored he had the chance to meet Maness and was amazed at his good spirits before his passing.

Colatorti said he worked with the village of Holiday Hills and the police department to create the dedication. Benches also will be added to the plaque area in the future, Colatorti said.

Before working for the sheriff’s office for eight years, Maness spent 20 years with the U.S. Army and saw combat in Iraq from 1990 to 1991. He retired with the rank of sergeant first class.

H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com A plaque honoring McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Maness was dedicated Monday at the Holiday Hills Police Department. Maness and his partner, Deputy Khalia Satkiewicz, were shot during a domestic incident at the Holiday Hills home of Scott B. Peters, who fired more than a dozen rounds at the two officers. Maness died suddenly during a physical therapy appointment Sept. 14, 2015, at age 47.Sarah Nader file photo – snader@shawmedia.com McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Maness poses for a photo Sept. 3, 2015, at his McHenry home. Maness died Sept. 14, 2015.


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Holiday Hills police honor late Deputy Dwight Maness with new plaqueThe late McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Maness was honored with a new plaque for his life and service. "He deserves to be remembered, especially in this area, for the sacrifices he made," Sue Maness said. "The last two years have been horrible, and police really need to be supported and need cooperation from everyone."A plaque dedication ceremony was held Monday at the Holiday Hills Police Department, 1304 Sunset Drive. Maness and his partner, Deputy Khalia Satkiewicz, responded in October 2014 to a domestic incident at the Holiday Hills home of Scott B. Peters, who fired more than a dozen rounds at the two officers. Maness' femur was shattered, and a vein in his leg was severed in the shooting. After 15 surgeries, he never regained the ability to walk. He spent months recovering, but developed a blood clot in his lungs and died suddenly at age 47 during a physical therapy appointment Sept. 14, 2015. Peters was sentenced to 135 years in prison.Holiday Hills Village President Louis French said the village always will be thankful for Maness' sacrifice. "In the last few months we've lost a lot of first responders, and maybe it's time this gets addressed by our governors and presidents, to get some relief, maybe through some sort of property tax or something to fallen officers or first responders," French said.Holiday Hills Police Chief Tony Colatorti said he was honored he had the chance to meet Maness and was amazed at his good spirits before his passing. Colatorti said he worked with the village of Holiday Hills and the police department to create the dedication. Benches also will be added to the plaque area in the future, Colatorti said.Before working for the sheriff's office for eight years, Maness spent 20 years with the U.S. Army and saw combat in Iraq from 1990 to 1991. He retired with the rank of sergeant first class.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:18:00 GMT

HOLIDAY HILLS – Sue Maness said she is happy that her husband is receiving recognition for the great sacrifice he made.

The late McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Maness was honored with a new plaque for his life and service. "He deserves to be remembered, especially in this area, for the sacrifices he made," Sue Maness said. "The last two years have been horrible, and police really need to be supported and need cooperation from everyone."A plaque dedication ceremony was held Monday at the Holiday Hills Police Department, 1304 Sunset Drive. Maness and his partner, Deputy Khalia Satkiewicz, responded in October 2014 to a domestic incident at the Holiday Hills home of Scott B. Peters, who fired more than a dozen rounds at the two officers. Maness' femur was shattered, and a vein in his leg was severed in the shooting. After 15 surgeries, he never regained the ability to walk. He spent months recovering, but developed a blood clot in his lungs and died suddenly at age 47 during a physical therapy appointment Sept. 14, 2015. Peters was sentenced to 135 years in prison.Holiday Hills Village President Louis French said the village always will be thankful for Maness' sacrifice. "In the last few months we've lost a lot of first responders, and maybe it's time this gets addressed by our governors and presidents, to get some relief, maybe through some sort of property tax or something to fallen officers or first responders," French said.Holiday Hills Police Chief Tony Colatorti said he was honored he had the chance to meet Maness and was amazed at his good spirits before his passing. Colatorti said he worked with the village of Holiday Hills and the police department to create the dedication. Benches also will be added to the plaque area in the future, Colatorti said.Before working for the sheriff's office for eight years, Maness spent 20 years with the U.S. Army and saw combat in Iraq from 1990 to 1991. He retired with the rank of sergeant first class.


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Defendants seek dismissal of PTSD claim by Delnor hospital patient after nurse hostage situationFour defendants named in a federal lawsuit are asking the court to dismiss claims filed by a patient at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a May 13 incident in which nurses were taken hostage.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:17:00 GMT

GENEVA – Four defendants named in a federal lawsuit are asking the court to dismiss claims filed by a patient at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a May 13 incident in which nurses were taken hostage. The lawsuit, filed Aug. 22 by Victoria Weiland, states that as a result of hearing screams she believed were from nurses, she has been “afraid to return to any medical facility for required testing and treatment for unrelated medical conditions based upon her post-traumatic stress disorder.” The incident at Delnor involved inmate Tywon Salters, 21, who reportedly was unshackled so he could use the restroom, took a correctional officer’s handgun, took a nurse hostage, released her, then took a second nurse hostage before he was shot and killed by a SWAT team. Weiland’s lawsuit names Kane County, correctional officer Shawn Loomis, Apex3 Security LLC and Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, and seeks an unspecified amount to make up for medical care and services; compensatory and punitive damages; lawyer’s fees; and court costs. In separate filings, the defendants all assert that Weiland has no legal claim that any of them are responsible for her emotional injuries. Attorney Michael Atkus for Kane County said that Weiland’s lawsuit should be dismissed because she “fails to state a single claim against Loomis” and that she was not a victim of “state-created danger.” Atkus also cited case law that “there is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen.” In the filing from Delnor, attorney Ruth Enright argued that the Kane County Sheriff’s Office had sole custody and control of Salters, not the hospital. The law does not impose a duty on the hospital to prevent Salters from escaping and committing crimes against others; therefore, it cannot be held liable for Weiland’s claims, Enright’s filing stated. The hospital is obligated by law to accept and treat prisoner patients, but even at another location, the sheriff’s office still was the only entity responsible for Salters, Enright’s filing stated. In his court filing, Apex3 Security attorney Adam Jagadich said that the hospital’s security firm cannot be held liable for Weiland’s claims because the inmate patient was entirely under the legal control of the sheriff’s office, not the hospital’s security company. In his filing, Loomis’ attorney, Michael Bersani, said that negligence and failure to act on the part of his client are not enough for a federal claim of “state-created danger.” “No one has a federal constitutional right to have an arrestee guarded by an infallible equivalent of RoboCop,” Bersani’s filing stated. RoboCop refers to a science-fiction character that is a crime-fighting cyborg superhero. “If a s[...]


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New Jersey man convicted in New York bombing that injured 30FILE - In this file photo from Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, Ahmad Khan Rahimi, the man accused of setting off bombs in New Jersey and New York in September is led into court in Elizabeth, N.J. On Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 jurors found Rahimi guilty of all charges, including counts of using a weapon of mass destruction and bombing a public place. The Afghanistan-born man who was living in Elizabeth, New Jersey at the time of the bombing, faces a maximum punishment of life in prison. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:14:00 GMT

NEW YORK – A New Jersey man was convicted Monday of planting two pressure-cooker bombs on New York City streets, including one that injured 30 people with a rain of shrapnel when it detonated in a bustling neighborhood on a weekend night last summer. The verdict in Manhattan came after a two-week trial of 29-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahimi, an Afghanistan-born man living in Elizabeth. The charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction and bombing a public place, carry a mandatory punishment of life in prison. Prosecutors said Rahimi considered himself “a soldier in a holy war against Americans” and was inspired by the Islamic State group and al-Qaida to carry out the late summer attacks in New York and New Jersey. Rahimi, wearing a wrinkled blue shirt and beige pants, stared straight ahead and at the jury as he was found guilty of all eight charges against him. The defense promised to appeal. Sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 18. “Today’s verdict is a victory for New York City, a victory for America in its fight against terror, and a victory for all who believe in the cause of justice,” said Joon H. Kim, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Assistant federal defender Sabrina Shroff said her client, who smiled as he was led from the courtroom, remained calm as the verdict was delivered. “We all handle bad news in our own way,” she said. In the prosecution’s closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Emil Bove described an unusually large amount of evidence that pointed to Rahimi. His fingerprints and DNA were found on bombs in the Sept. 17, 2016, attacks. Dozens of videos tracked his movements as he dragged the bombs in suitcases through Manhattan streets, and they also captured the explosion at 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood that injured 30 people. The second bomb didn’t detonate. As a bomb squad investigator testified, prosecutors showed jurors a mangled, waist-high trash bin that was sent flying 120 feet across a busy street by the bomb. The government called it a miracle that nobody was killed by the explosive, which scattered ball bearings meant to serve as shrapnel. If that wasn’t enough, Bove said, jurors could look at a small notebook that was on Rahimi when he was arrested two days after the attack following a shootout with police in New Jersey. The prosecutor said Rahimi’s written words provided a confession as he took responsibility for the bombings in a “claim of credit” for attacks that left him feeling proud. He still faces charges in New Jersey related to the shootout. He has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder of police officers. Shroff did not deny evidence linking Rahimi to the 23rd Street bomb but asked jurors to question whether Rahimi really intended for the 27th Street bomb to go off. She urged jurors to acquit Rahimi of three charges that could result in a mandatory life prison sentence.[...]


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Iraqi forces push into disputed city as Kurds withdrawAP photo Local police are deployed Monday in Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraqi Kurdish officials said early Monday that federal forces and state-backed militias have launched a "major, multipronged" attack aimed at retaking the disputed northern city of Kirkuk, causing "lots of casualties" in fighting south of the city.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:13:00 GMT

KIRKUK, Iraq – Two weeks after fighting together against the Islamic State, Iraqi forces pushed their Kurdish allies out of the disputed city of Kirkuk on Monday, seizing oil fields and other facilities amid soaring tensions over last month’s Kurdish vote for independence. The move by the Iraqi military and its allied militias so soon after neutralizing the Islamic State in northern Iraq hinted at a country that could once again turn on itself after disposing of a common enemy. Civilians and federal troops pulled down Kurdish flags around the city. Kurdish Gov. Najmaddin Karim, who had stayed at his post despite being dismissed by Baghdad weeks ago, fled to Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish zone. Revelers waving Iraq’s national flag and the flag of its Turkmen minority flooded central Kirkuk in an evening celebration. But it was the Shiite sectarian chants heard above the din of the rally that underscored the coming political battles between Iraq and its Kurdish region. Iraqi forces were supported – as they always are now in major operations – by the country’s Popular Mobilization Forces, a predominantly Shiite militia coalition that the Kurds see as an instrument of Iranian policy. In their bid to keep Kirkuk and its oil-rich countryside, Kurdish leaders whipped up fears that the central government in Baghdad is dominated by Tehran and would oppress Kurds if they recaptured the ethnically mixed city. Their fears were further affirmed after Iran came out forcefully against the Kurdish region’s nonbinding referendum for independence on Sept. 25 and then closed its official crossings to the region on Sunday. Iraq’s Kurds, too, remember the brutal campaigns waged by Saddam Hussein, himself an enemy of Tehran, against the minority, including a poison gas attack on the town of Halabja in 1988 that killed thousands. As Arab and Turkmen revelers celebrated the change of power in Kirkuk, thousands of Kurdish residents, fearful of federal and militia rule, packed the roads north to Irbil. But Baghdad was eyeing its Kurdish partners warily as well. Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said he was reclaiming a city that was never within the legal boundaries of the Kurdish autonomous region. When Iraq’s armed forces crumbled in the face of an advance by Islamic State group in 2014, Kurdish forces moved into Kirkuk to secure the city and its surrounding oil wells. The city is 32 kilometers (20 miles) outside the Kurds’ autonomous region in northeast Iraq. Baghdad insisted the city and its province be returned, but matters came to a head when the Kurdish authorities expanded their referendum to include Kirkuk. To the Iraqi central government, that looked like a provocation that underscored what it sees as unchecked Kurdish expansionism. The city of more than 1 million is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, as well as Chris[...]


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Not having to get door a plus of new status, Kagan says

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:13:00 GMT

CHICAGO – Elena Kagan said one advantage of no longer being the most junior member of the Supreme Court is that she no longer has to answer the door when someone knocks as the nine justices are meeting.

The 57-year-old spoke Monday at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. Kagan didn’t veer into potentially sensitive topics and wasn’t asked to by students.

She also relinquishes her chairmanship of the high-court cafeteria committee. She said that might include asking cooks, “What happened to the good recipe for chocolate chip cookies?”

Who would knock while justices are meeting? Kagan said it might be someone bringing justices their eyeglasses or coffee.

It’s now Donald Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch’s duty, by tradition, to attend to the door. But Kagan joked that she still flinches whenever anyone knocks.




Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell: No matter what people say, we're friendsAP photo President Donald Trump answers questions with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the Rose Garden after their meeting Monday at the White House.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:13:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell reaffirmed their alliance of necessity Monday in a raucous Rose Garden news conference that also underscored their sharp differences. The garrulous president claimed they were longtime friends now closer than ever; the reserved Senate Republican leader allowed that they share goals and speak often. It was a spectacle that mesmerized Washington, as Trump and McConnell appeared side by side for more than a half-hour, the president tossing off answers – sometimes mini-speeches – on all topics, while McConnell, disciplined as always, delivered brief, scholarly explanations about the legislative process and the risks to their party of nominating candidates who can’t win. At various points, the president denounced the Russia-Trump campaign investigation, lauded himself for his record on judicial nominations, argued wrongly that “it took years for the Reagan administration to get taxes done,” and claimed that past presidents hadn’t necessarily contacted bereaved family members to mourn lost service members – before backtracking on that assertion when pressed. He also noted, as he often does, that he won the presidential election last fall, and he implored Hillary Clinton to run again. In front of a hastily assembled White House press corps, jostling each other on the lawn because there wasn’t time to bring out chairs, Trump began his remarks by saluting McConnell and, as he described it, their longstanding friendship. “We’re probably now closer than ever before,” the president proclaimed as McConnell grinned stiffly at his side. “My relationship with this gentleman is outstanding.” Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, over the weekend declared all-out political war on the GOP establishment, including McConnell and incumbent Republican senators Bannon has deemed unsupportive of the president’s agenda. Trump said earlier Monday during a Cabinet meeting that he “can understand fully how Steve Bannon feels” and even that some in the party “should be ashamed of themselves.” But he later suggested he might try to talk Bannon out of challenging some Senate Republicans whom McConnell has pledged to defend. “Some of the people that he may be looking at, I’m going to see if we talk him out of that, because frankly, they’re great people,” Trump said. Trump’s change in tone suggested that McConnell, whose allies regularly do battle with Bannon, might have talked Trump into intervening during their lunch together. “Just so you understand, the Republican Party is very, very unified,” Trump insisted. McConnell took the opportunity to lay out, for the public and for the audience of one standing beside him, why he and GOP allies work to protect Senate incumbents. He argued that some conservative Republicans nominated in the 2010 and 2012 cycles didn’t win because they weren’t able to[...]


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Best Buy in McHenry to close; other stores will staySarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com An empty store sits Thursday at the Shops of Fox River shopping center in McHenry. Best Buy plans to close by Oct. 28, according to its website.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:03:00 GMT

McHENRY – The city will lose retail giant Best Buy by the end of the month, but rumors that other retail stores in town are closing are unfounded, McHenry officials said. McHenry’s Best Buy store is located along with more than 20 other stores in the Shops at Fox River complex that straddles McHenry and Johnsburg. The electronics store announced its plans to close by Oct. 28 on its website earlier this month. Best Buy Co. Inc. has closed 17 stores in fiscal 2017, according to investor reports. The complex has been at the center of store closing rumors this month, but no store closures have been announced for the shopping center other than Best Buy, McHenry officials said. “I have seen multiple posts on social media that all of the McHenry stores are closing on the north corridor of town,” McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett said in a September social media post on his political page. “DDR is a great corporation, and they are doing their best to facilitate a new leasing option [with Best Buy]; however they are the ONLY business on the bubble of closing. All the other stores are in long-term leases and are doing well. … I really encourage everyone in our community to buy local.” McHenry City Administrator Derik Morefield reiterated Monday that as far as he knew, no other stores were closing, and that the city would work with the complex’s management company, DDR Corp., to fill the space if needed. The 30,364-square-foot space will become the sixth vacant spot at the Shops at Fox River, according to the management company’s website. DDR officials were not available for comment Monday. Morefield said McHenry has lost retail giants in the past, and it recruited other businesses quickly, such as when Target closed in 2015. “By the time Target had closed, we identified Big R and got a lease agreement,” Morefield said. “The site was only empty for about nine months while Big R renovated and moved in. … DDR also has locations all over the county, and works with different users and may know who is looking.” The city works aggressively to keep businesses in town and bring in more, Morefield said. “We do that every single day,” he said. “Typically as soon as we find out there is going to be a business leaving, we want to do all we can in our power to keep them. If that can’t happen, we work with property owners to identify new users or provide other assistance.” Assistance can be anything from meeting with potential business owners, identifying potential renovations or building alterations that could make the space more accessible, as well as providing future developers with the codes and processes to make sure the transition goes smoothly, Morefield said. There aren’t any negotiations in the works for the soon-to-be-empt[...]


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Crystal Lake-based School District 155 asking for more property tax dollarsSarah Nader file photo – snader@shawmedia.com Chris West, technical theater director, walks across the catwalk of the new Cary-Grove Fine Arts Center in 2015. The Cary-Grove Fine Arts Foundation contributed about $1.5 million to the project, while the remaining $7 million came from District 155’s annual budget. District 155 could ask residents for about $3.2 million in new money in tax levy to cover rising contract costs and future maintenance of its facilities.

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 15:22:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake-based Community High School District 155 Board members could vote this week on a tentative tax levy increase of about $3.2 million more than the actual total extended the previous year, which would amount to a 4.45 percent increase. If the proposed levy is approved, it could mean an increase in taxes for District 155 residents. District officials have estimated that a District 155 resident with a $250,000 home would pay about $49.50 more toward the district’s portion of his or her property tax bill than last year. The funds that would see the bulk of the proposed increase are the education fund and the operations and maintenance fund, according to a 2017 tax levy presentation on the district’s website. The presentation lists rising employee contract costs and anticipated building and grounds cost increases as two key reasons for requesting more tax dollars. The board will meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the District 155 Center for Education, 1 S. Virginia Road, Crystal Lake. The meeting agenda lists the presentation of the proposed 2017 levy and a resolution to adopt the tentative 2017 levy as two action items. A November meeting is targeted for the board to officially approve the final tax levy. Under the proposed levy, the education fund would jump to about $63.4 million, up from about $60.7 million. The operations and maintenance fund would jump to about $5.3 million, up from about $5.1 million. No other fund would increase more than $100,000. Although the district is asking for a $75.8 million levy, it expects to receive a $74.3 million extension, the levy presentation shows. The District 155 facilities condition assessment, referenced in the levy presentation, indicates that about $50 million of work in the next 10 years would address deferred maintenance. The presentation notes that District 155 reduced its tax extensions and tax rates each of the previous two fiscal years, but holding the tax levy flat further limits all future potential tax extensions. “Tax caps are designed to keep up with inflation,” the presentation states. “Money is worth less this year than in the previous year.” The district said previous fiscal projections indicate that “we need to take advantage of our future allowable consumer price index increases to remain fiscally solvent.” The annual increase in property tax extensions is limited to 5 percent or the consumer price index, a measure of inflation – whichever is less. The district is estimating that the CPI will increase 2.1 percent, according to the presentation packet. Sarah Nader file photo – snader@shawmedia.com Chris West, technical theater director, walks across the catwalk of the new Cary-Grove Fine Arts Center in 2015. The C[...]


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Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl pleading guilty to desertion, misbehaviorFILE- In this Sept. 27, 2017, file photo, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl leaves a motions hearing during a lunch break in Fort Bragg, N.C. Bergdahl is expected to plead guilty on Monday, Oct. 16, to charges that he endangered comrades by walking away from a remote post in Afghanistan in 2009. The U.S. Army said Bergdahl asked to enter his plea before the military judge at Fort Bragg. (Andrew Craft/The Fayetteville Observer via AP, File)

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 15:14:00 GMT

FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl told a military judge on Monday that he's pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. "I understand that leaving was against the law," said Bergdahl, whose decision to walk off his remote post in Afghanistan in 2009 prompted intense search and recovery missions, during which some of his comrades were seriously wounded. "At the time, I had no intention of causing search and recovery operations," Bergdahl said, but he added that now he does understand that his decision prompted efforts to find him. Bergdahl, 31, is accused of endangering his comrades by abandoning his post without authorization. He told a general after his release from five years in enemy hands that he did it with the intention of reaching other commanders and drawing attention to what he saw as problems with his unit. It wasn't immediately clear whether his defense has conceded that he's responsible for a long chain of events that his desertion prompted, which included many decisions by others on how to conduct the searches. Despite his plea, the prosecution and defense have not agreed to a stipulation of facts, said one of his lawyers, Maj. Oren Gleich. This indicates that they did not reach a deal to limit his punishment, and that he may be hoping for leniency from the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance. The misbehavior charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, while the desertion charge is punishable by up to five years. The guilty pleas bring the highly politicized saga closer to an end eight years after Bergdahl vanished in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama, who approved the Taliban prisoner swap that brought Bergdahl home in 2014, said the U.S. does not leave its service members on the battlefield, but he was roundly criticized by Republicans. Campaigning for president, Donald Trump suggested Bergdahl would have been executed in a previous era. While Berghdahl's pleas enable him to avoid a trial, he'll still face a sentencing hearing scheduled to begin Oct. 23. His years as a captive of the Taliban and its allies could be factored into his punishment, but the hearing also will likely feature damning testimony from his fellow service members. The judge has ruled that a Navy SEAL who suffered a career-ending leg wound and an Army National Guard sergeant whose head wound put him in a wheel chair would not have been hurt in firefights had they not been searching for Bergdahl. The defense also was rebuffed in an effort to prove that Trump had unfairly swayed the case with his scathing criticism from the campaign trail. The judge ruled in February that the new president's comments were "disturbing and disappointing" but did not constitute unlawful command influence by the soon-to-be commander in chief. Bergdahl, who's from Hailey, Idaho, has been assig[...]


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Trump voters confront climate change in wake of hurricaneA residential neighborhood sits next to an oil refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The region's economy is tied to the petroleum industry more than in any other place in America: the concentration of people here employed by refineries is 81 times higher than the rest of the country. Though research suggests most in Jefferson County believe that humans have contributed to the warming of the globe, many struggle still to know what to expect their leaders to do about it without at the same time crippling their own economy. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:08:00 GMT

PORT ARTHUR, Texas – The church was empty, except for the piano too heavy for one man to move. It had been 21 days since the greatest storm Wayne Christopher had ever seen dumped a year's worth of rain on his town, drowning this church he'd attended his whole life. He had piled the ruined pews out on the curb, next to water-logged hymnals and molding Sunday school lesson plans and chunks of drywall that used to be a mural of Noah's Ark. Now he tilted his head up to take in the mountain of rubble, and Christopher, an evangelical Christian and a conservative Republican, considered what caused this destruction: that the violent act of nature had been made worse by acts of man. "I think the Lord put us over the care of his creation, and when we pollute like we do, destroy the land, there's consequences to that," he said. "It might not catch up with us just right now, but it's gonna catch up. Like a wound that needs to be healed." Jefferson County, Texas, is among the low-lying coastal areas that could lose the most as the ice caps melt and the seas warm and rise. At the same time, it is economically dependent on oil refineries that stand like cityscapes across the community. Residents seemed to choose between the two last November, abandoning a pattern of voting Democratic in presidential elections to support Donald Trump. Then came Hurricane Harvey. Now some conservatives here are newly confronting some of the most polarizing questions in American political discourse: What role do humans play in global warming and the worsening of storms like Harvey? And what should they expect their leaders to do about the problem now? "It's a Catch-22 kind of thing. Do you want to build your economy, or do you want to save the world?" said Christopher, who, like most people in Jefferson County, believed that global warming was real before the storm hit. Post-Harvey, he thinks the president's rejection of the scientific consensus is no longer good enough. Climate change doesn't create hurricanes. But most scientists agree that warming and rising seas amplify storms that form naturally, feeding more water and intensity as they plow toward land. Trump has referred to climate change as a hoax, and his administration has worked aggressively to undo policies designed to mitigate the damage. He announced his intention to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and has dismantled environmental regulations. In Jefferson County, as the downpour from Hurricane Harvey stretched into its second day, Joe Evans watched from the window of his home and an unexpected sense of guilt overcame him: "What have we been doing to the planet for all of these years?" Evans, a Republican, once ran unsuccessfully for local office. He ignored climate change, as he thought Republicans were supposed to do, and h[...]


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McHenry County grand jury indictmentsShaw Media file photo

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 13:15:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A McHenry County grand jury this past week indicted these people on these charges: • Tina M. Gonzaque, 55, zero to 100 block of Ayer Street, Harvard; retail theft.  • Damien A. Vansickle, 22, 800 block of Pleasant Street, Woodstock; aggravated domestic battery, restraint and domestic battery. • Douglas M. Enders, 34, 2100 block of MacArthur Drive, McHenry; domestic battery and obstructing justice. • Jasmine N. Singleton, 24, zero to 100 block of Highview Avenue, Fox Lake; retail theft of items more than $300. • Alexis N. Tucci, 18, 900 block of Golf Course Road, Crystal Lake; aggravated battery, resisting a peace officer, domestic battery and consumption of alcohol. • Nicole R. DePew, 38, 1200 block of North State Street, Marengo; burglary, theft of less than $500 and criminal damage to property. • Robert H. Charping, 56, 1200 block of North State Street, Marengo; burglary, theft of less than $500 and criminal damage to property. • Steven L. Grady, 28, 5200 block of Miller Road, Wonder Lake; aggravated fleeing or trying to elude a police officer, criminal damage to government-supported property and driving with a revoked license. • Brynn E. Schendl, 20, zero to 100 block of Talcott Avenue, Crystal Lake; delivery of marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.  • Dylan G. Moore, 22, 400 block of Wright Drive, Lake in the Hills; delivery of marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. • Jonathan K. Jordan, 22, 10000 block of Cindy Jo Avenue, Huntley; delivery of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.   • Philip J. Dawson, 30, 4800 block of Daniel Drive, Crystal Lake; possession of a controlled substance. • Antonio M. Schneider, 24, 4500 block Sorrel Terrace, Crystal Lake; possession of a controlled substance. • Sarah N. Castillo, 27, 3100 block of Lockwood Boulevard, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; possession of a controlled substance. • Matthew M. Pawelko, 18, 3300 block of Southport Drive, Island Lake; delivery of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana. • Jorge A. Navas, 37, 700 block of Wayne Street, Belvidere; possession of a controlled substance. • Julia M. Saban, 37, zero to 100 block of South Hill Street, Woodstock; possession of a controlled substance, possession of a hypodermic syringe and possession of drug paraphernalia. • Kyle W. Rosenthal, 26, zero to 100 block of Hunters Path, Lake in the Hills[...]Shaw Media file photo


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1 missing, after oil rig explodes on Louisiana lakeJefferson Parish, La., authorities and others from other parishes respond to an oil rig explosion in Lake Pontchartrain off Kenner, La., Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. (Matthew Hinton/The Advocate via AP)Jefferson Parish authorities and others from other parishes respond to an oil rig explosion in Lake Pontchartrain from a staging area near the Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, La. Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. (Matthew Hinton/The Advocate via AP)Jefferson Parish authorities and others from other parishes respond to an oil rig explosion in Lake Pontchartrain as seen from a staging area near the Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, La., Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. (Matthew Hinton/The Advocate via AP)Jefferson Parish authorities and others from other parishes respond to an oil rig explosion in Lake Pontchartrain near the Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, La. Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. (Matthew Hinton/The Advocate via AP)Jefferson Parish authorities and others from other parishes respond to an oil rig explosion in Lake Pontchartrain from a staging area near the Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, La. Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. (Matthew Hinton/The Advocate via AP)Rescue boats surround a rig in Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans, La., after the rig exploded late on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. The explosion took place Sunday night in Lake Pontchartrain in St. Charles Parish, a Louisiana police department said. (Chris Granger/NOLA.com The Times-Picayune via AP)A U. S. Coast Guard helicopter searches for a missing body around an oil rig in Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans, La., after the rig exploded late on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. The explosion took place Sunday night in Lake Pontchartrain in St. Charles Parish, a Louisiana police department said. (Chris Granger/NOLA.com The Times-Picayune via AP)

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:12:00 GMT

KENNER, La. — An oil rig explosion on a lake north of New Orleans, apparently caused when cleaning chemicals ignited, injured seven people and left authorities searching for another who was missing. There were "a lot of injuries," many of them serious, with at least seven confirmed and more expected from the Sunday evening explosion on Lake Pontchartrain, Kenner Police Department spokesman Sgt. Brian McGregor told The Times-Picayune . No deaths were immediately reported. Five of the injured people were hospitalized with "blast-type injuries and burns" Mike Guillot, director of East Jefferson Emergency Medical Services, told reporters. They were in critical condition, he said. "Authorities on the scene report that cleaning chemicals ignited on the surface of the oil rig platform," the City of Kenner Government posted on its Facebook page Sunday evening. Reports of fire and smoke being seen from Lake Pontchartrain came into the Emergency Operations center around 7:15 p.m., Jefferson Parish spokesman Antwan Harris said in a news release Sunday night. Clovelly Oil Co. owns the platform that is in production, said Taylor Darden, a lawyer for the company who is listed as its registered agent with the Louisiana Secretary of State. The platform, located in Jefferson Parish, is used for the transfer of oil, said Chief David Tibbets of the East Bank Consolidated Fire Department. He said the department's current goal is to stop oil flow and, if needed, let it burn off safely. Authorities acknowledged there was a possibility that the fire meant oil could be leaking into the lake, but noted that Jefferson Parish drinking water will remain safe because it is pulled from the Mississippi River. Social media users reported hearing a loud noise that even rattled some homes. Andrew Love, 32, told the newspaper he was inside his house about 10 blocks away when he heard the explosion. "My house actually shook," he said. "At first I thought it was a sonic boom or something, I had no idea what was happening." Flames could be seen from the area and the air smelled of burning rubber, according to the newspaper. The Coast Guard will be conducting a water quality evaluation as well as the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. Jefferson Parish, La., authorities and others from other parishes respond to an oil rig explosion in Lake Pontchartrain off Kenner, La., Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. (Matthew Hinton/The Advocate via AP)Jefferson Parish authorities and others from other parishes respond to an oil rig explosion in Lake Pontchartrain from a staging area near the Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, La. Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. (Matthew Hinton/The Advocate via AP)[...[...]


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Halloween events in McHenry CountySarah Nader file photo – snader@shawmedia.com Dressed as a monkey, Jake Hunter, 2, of Lakewood walks along North Williams Street eating candy Oct. 31, 2016, during the annual Halloween Handout in downtown Crystal Lake.Sarah Nader file photo – snader@shawmedia.com Alex Reznik, owner of Shoe Repair, hands candy to Johannes Johnson, 3, of Island Lake during the annual Halloween Handout last year in downtown Crystal Lake.Sarah Nader file photo – snader@shawmedia.com LJ Gaughran, 2, of Crystal Lake and his sister, Addison Gaughran, 4, collect candy during the annual Halloween Handout last year in downtown Crystal Lake.Sarah Nader file photo snader@shawmedia.com Dressed as a dinosaur, LJ Gaughram, 2, of Crystal Lake runs down North Williams Street collecting candy during the annual Halloween Handout last year in downtown Crystal Lake.Sarah Nader file photo – snader@shawmedia.com Amy Odom (left) hands candy to Addison Krallitsch, 9, of Crystal Lake as she collects candy Oct. 31, 2016, along North Williams Street during the annual Halloween Handout in downtown Crystal Lake.Sarah Nader file photo – snader@shawmedia.com Dressed as a banana, Taylor Kuhlman of Crystal Lake walks along North Williams Street during the annual Halloween Handout last year in downtown Crystal Lake.

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 05:55:00 GMT

HALLOWEEN 2017 Here is a complete roundup of Halloween-related events in McHenry County and beyond. To have your event listed, visit PlanitNorthwest.com. "THE ADDAMS FAMILY," through Oct. 22, Woodstock Opera House, 121 W. Van Buren St., Woodstock. A new musical comedy presented by the Woodstock Musical Theatre Co. Wednesday Addams has fallen in love with a young man from a respectable family her parents have never met. Gomez Addams decides to keep the secret from Morticia. Everything will change when her "normal" boyfriend and his parents come for dinner. Schedule: 8 p.m. Oct. 14, 20 and 21; 2 p.m. Oct. 15 and 22. Tickets: $24 adults, $21 seniors and students. Tickets and information: 815-338-5300 or woodstockoperahouse.com. DANGEROUS LULLABIES, through Oct. 27, Dole Mansion at Lakeside Legacy Arts Park, 401 Country Club Road. The third annual national exhibition showcasing more than 30 fine artists from throughout the country and curated by J + K Isacson in partnership. The group fine art exhibition explores the curious allure of things that frighten us. Paintings, sculptures and fine art creations will examine the beauty found in the ashes of terror and the magnetic pull of things disturbing, on edge or dark. The Dole Mansion, an intricately detailed 1800s building, is rumored to be haunted by its previous owner, Eliza, widow of the circus magnate Al Ringling. This year's opening night will include a new "living art" element to experience by performer J. Lindsay Brown. Information: www.lakesidelegacy.org or www.xculturearts.com. KARNIVAL OF KARNAGE, through Oct. 28, Boone County Fairgrounds, Belvidere. An indoor haunt. Not recommended for those younger than 13. Tickets: $15; $20 RIP Speed Pass. Tickets and information: www.karnivalofkarnage.com. "LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS," through Oct. 29, Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. A gleefully gruesome Broadway smash musical. Presented by Williams Street Repertory. This campy musical based on the 1960s cult horror film has devoured the hearts of theatergoers for more than 30 years. Schedule: 8 p.m. Oct. 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28; 3 p.m. Oct. 15, 21, 27, 28 and 29. Tickets: $35.50. Tickets and information: 815-356-9212 or rauecenter.ticketforce.com/?search=little%20shop. DUNGEON OF DOOM, through Nov. 4, 600 29th St., Zion. An in-your-face, maximum intensity haunted house that has more technology, theatrics and special effects to inflict an hour of horror upon guests as they travel through 42,000 square feet of terror. With new and improved attractions and a chance to be buried alive, this is the place where nightmares loom. See website for exact dates and hours. Tickets start at $25. Tickets and information: 262-331-0092 or www.dungeonofdoom.com. REALM OF TERROR, through Nov.[...]


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McHenry County Department of Health orders Harvard-area resident to clean up garbage piled on propertyThen there’s the home of Thomas Jaszczak, the man who the McHenry County Department of Health ordered to appear in court this month to try to get him to clear piles of garbage and debris stacked around his property – a place neighbors have considered an eyesore for years. “We get a lot of garbage complaints every year,” said Patricia Nomm, director of environmental health with the McHenry County Department of Health. “It’s unusual to have one with this volume on a single residential property like that.” On Oct. 6, a health department investigator delivered a “final notice of violation” to Jaszczak’s home, where two previous violations hung on his doorknob in plastic bags for weeks. Jaszczak has been summoned to McHenry County court to address the violations brought against him. Those violations include allowing an infestation of vermin in a structure, accumulation of rubbish and refuse on the property, and failing to eradicate noxious weeds within 150 feet of the property line, according to records obtained by the Northwest Herald. Residents on Robin Road were not willing to share their names and stories with the Northwest Herald. Many of them said they were afraid and concerned for their safety. The Northwest Herald could not reach Jaszczak for this story. Knocks on his door and notes left in plain sight on his property went unanswered. Linda Pieczynski, a former state prosecutor and building code expert, said it appears McHenry County officials are at the beginning of a long journey to clear the garbage from Robin Road. "It could take years to resolve," she said.On July 5, 2016, the McHenry County Department of Health received a complaint about a Harvard home surrounded with an unruly accumulation of refuse and rubbish. The next day, the investigator spoke with the neighbor who filed the complaint, a longtime resident who had been dealing with stomach-turning sights and smells of his neighbor for years, documents show. “Spoke with complainant,” the investigator logged in his report. “Property has gotten worse.” Two days later, the department sent an investigator to the home in the 21000 block of Robin Road. There, he found buckets, plants, tarps and recyclables littering the driveway. A car parked there appeared in working condition and had a current license plate. The investigator knocked at the door, but there was no answer. On the porch, he noticed a pile of rubbish and personal items. With no one home, the investigator posted a notice of inspection to the front door. On July 10, the investigator returned to the home. Again, he knocked, and again, no one answered, records show.On the property, the investigator counted 15 5-gallon buckets filled with “stagnant water” littered through the walk path and driveway. Construction debris and garbage littered the front yard and driveway. Logging the items, the investigator found cardboard boxes, wooden pallets, plastic tarps and garbage bags containing refuse. “Noxious weeds were observed throughout property,” he wrote, “including giant ragweed.” The investigator posted another notice to the door, listing alleged violations as “accumulation of waste” and “mosquito harborage.” On Sept. 12, the McHenry County Department of Health mailed a violation to the owner of the home, Jaszczak. The notice included a summary of the investigator’s observations: “Accumulations of litter observed in the form of general construction debris, rubbish and garbage on front walk and in driveway. Multiple buckets with stagnant water. Presence of noxious weeds on the property.” Health department officials ordered Jaszczak to remove and properly dispose of any litter; remove or empty containers that hold water; and eradicate all noxious weeds within 150 feet of any property line. By Oct. 4, Jaszczak had not taken any of those measures. On Oct. 6, the health department investigator delivered a final notice of violation and a court summons. Jaszczak is due to appear in court Nov. 13.Although the McHenry County Department of Health inspected the Robin Road property multiple times and served Jaszczak numerous violations – including a final notice – the department’s authority is limited. “We don’t have the ability just to send someone out there automatically and correct it,” Nomm said. If Jaszczak appears in court, he could plead guilty to the violations brought against him and face a fine. A judge could strike a deal with him to clean up the property over a certain period of time. If Jaszczak chooses not to show up to court, a judge can do nothing but summon him to court. If he doesn’t respond to the summons, a warrant can be issued for his arrest. All the while, the property remains blighted. “Even fines are not enough motivation,” Pieczynski said. In 2016, the McHenry County Department of Health received 662 complaints for public health nuisances. Of those, 148 complaints described buildings with unsanitary conditions. In most cases, Nomm said, residents are cooperative and clean up their property. In some instances, residents are incapable, physically or mentally, to help themselves, Nomm said. “In severe cases,” Nomm said, “we can request a court order to go on the property and get a contractor to clean up.” Health department investigators try to contact residents about violations in person to see whether there are any visible signs of distress or mental health struggles, Nomm said. If a resident appears mentally unfit, a court can request a mental health evaluation to determine whether an intervention is needed to clean up the property. In any case, the health department aims to get residents the help they need. “We try to link them with social service agencies,” Nomm said. “Sometimes, they’re unable to do it.” Some residents are reluctant to ask for help until it's too late. “In DuPage, I had a woman die,” Pieczynski said. “She suffered some kind of attack. By the time the firefighters cut through the debris, she died. This can be a matter of life and death.”

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 05:53:00 GMT

HARVARD – The McHenry County Department of Health is taking a homeowner to court as part of ongoing efforts to clean up a Robin Road property near Harvard that has been the source of repeated complaints. Robin Road is a place where, in most cases, residents keep their properties tidy. Here, on this short stretch of road tucked between Routes 23 and 14, 2 miles south of downtown Harvard, the landscaping is tight – even though the county has no high grass ordinance. The garbage makes it to the garbage bins. There’s a clear path to the front door. Then there’s the home of Thomas Jaszczak, the man who the McHenry County Department of Health ordered to appear in court this month to try to get him to clear piles of garbage and debris stacked around his property – a place neighbors have considered an eyesore for years. “We get a lot of garbage complaints every year,” said Patricia Nomm, director of environmental health with the McHenry County Department of Health. “It’s unusual to have one with this volume on a single residential property like that.” On Oct. 6, a health department investigator delivered a “final notice of violation” to Jaszczak’s home, where two previous violations hung on his doorknob in plastic bags for weeks. Jaszczak has been summoned to McHenry County court to address the violations brought against him. Those violations include allowing an infestation of vermin in a structure, accumulation of rubbish and refuse on the property, and failing to eradicate noxious weeds within 150 feet of the property line, according to records obtained by the Northwest Herald. Residents on Robin Road were not willing to share their names and stories with the Northwest Herald. Many of them said they were afraid and concerned for their safety. The Northwest Herald could not reach Jaszczak for this story. Knocks on his door and notes left in plain sight on his property went unanswered. Linda Pieczynski, a former state prosecutor and building code expert, said it appears McHenry County officials are at the beginning of a long journey to clear the garbage from Robin Road. "It could take years to resolve," she said.On July 5, 2016, the McHenry County Department of Health received a complaint about a Harvard home surrounded with an unruly accumulation of refuse and rubbish. The next day, the investigator spoke with the neighbor who filed the complaint, a longtime resident who had been dealing with stomach-turning sights and smells of his neighbor for years, documents show. “Spoke with complainant,” the investigator logged in his report. “Property has gotten worse.” Two days later, the department sent an investigator to the home in the 21000 block of Robin Road. There, he found buckets, plants, tarps and recyclables littering the driveway. A car parked ther[...]


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McHenry County Department of Health orders Harvard-area resident to clean up garbage piled on propertySarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com The McHenry County Department of Health is taking Thomas Jaszcak of Harvard to court to try to make him clear piles of garbage and debris from outside his Harvard home.

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 05:50:00 GMT

HARVARD – The McHenry County Department of Health is taking a homeowner to court as part of ongoing efforts to clean up a Robin Road property near Harvard that has been the source of repeated complaints. Robin Road is a place where, in most cases, residents keep their properties tidy. Here, on this short stretch of road tucked between Routes 23 and 14, 2 miles south of downtown Harvard, the landscaping is tight – even though the county has no high grass ordinance. The garbage makes it to the garbage bins. There’s a clear path to the front door. Then there’s the home of Thomas Jaszczak, the man who the McHenry County Department of Health ordered to appear in court this month to try to get him to clear piles of garbage and debris stacked around his property – a place neighbors have considered an eyesore for years. “We get a lot of garbage complaints every year,” said Patricia Nomm, director of environmental health with the McHenry County Department of Health. “It’s unusual to have one with this volume on a single residential property like that.”  On Oct. 6, a health department investigator delivered a “final notice of violation” to Jaszczak’s home, where two previous violations hung on his doorknob in plastic bags for weeks. Jaszczak has been summoned to McHenry County court to address the violations brought against him. Those violations include allowing an infestation of vermin in a structure, accumulation of rubbish and refuse on the property, and failing to eradicate noxious weeds within 150 feet of the property line, according to records obtained by the Northwest Herald. Residents on Robin Road were not willing to share their names and stories with the Northwest Herald. Many of them said they were afraid and concerned for their safety. The Northwest Herald could not reach Jaszczak for this story. Knocks on his door and notes left in plain sight on his property went unanswered. Linda Pieczynski, a former state prosecutor and building code expert, said it appears McHenry County officials are at the beginning of a long journey to clear the garbage from Robin Road. “It could take years to resolve,” she said. ‘Property has gotten worse’ On July 5, 2016, the McHenry County Department of Health received a complaint about a Harvard home surrounded with an unruly accumulation of refuse and rubbish. The next day, the investigator spoke with the neighbor who filed the complaint, a longtime resident who had been dealing with stomach-turning sights[...]


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Care4 Breast Cancer 5K in Woodstock raises funds for early detection screeningsAmanda (left) and Julie Zapata surpass the halfway point during the Care4 Breast Cancer 5K run/walk Sunday in Woodstock.Joselyn Perea of McHenry participates in the Care4 Breast Cancer 5K run/walk Sunday in Woodstock.Simon Pedersen of Union makes it past the halfway point of the course during the Care4 Breast Cancer 5K run/walk Sunday in Woodstock.Lincoln Buening of Woodstock gives out water to runners during the Care4 Breast Cancer 5K run/walk Sunday in Woodstock.

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 05:50:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Five kilometers. About 1,400 participants. One cause. With flood watches over McHenry County throughout the weekend, residents still participated in the 17th annual Care4 Breast Cancer 5K run/walk Sunday, which started and ended at Woodstock North High School, 3000 Raffel Road. Suzanne Hoban, executive director for Family Health Partnership Clinic, said the event staff was thrilled that only 62 registered people didn’t show up to take part in the event. “The people who came out [Sunday] are really committed,” Hoban said. The streets were lined with bundled-up volunteers handing out water for runners or simply cheering them on. That included Woodstock resident Corinne Buening and her two sons, Lincoln and Shane. Buening said she ran in the annual race with people from work the past few years, but a lot of her co-workers were out of town during the race this year. Since her husband’s mother died from breast cancer in 2011, she said, the family does anything they can to help raise awareness. “We decided that if we can’t walk, we’ll cheer people on,” Buening said. Hoban said there was a $150,000 fundraising goal for the event, and she said they looked to be on track to meet that goal. When the race first started in 2000, she said, there were only 200 participants who raised $5,000. Hoban said the funds go toward giving the community more access to early cancer screenings, which she said people can’t afford to become jaded about. “It’s critically important that people pay attention to that, that they urge their loved ones to get checked – and if they can’t find those services for [a] low cost, call us,” Hoban said. Woodstock residents Steve and Melody Emricson said they have participated in the race whenever they could since the race used to be held at Lippold Park in Crystal Lake. Melody Emricson said she had relatives who died from breast cancer, while Steve Emricson said he had an aunt who beat it. Steve Emricson, who placed first in the male age 55 to 59 division during Sunday’s race, said the event is a good way to raise funds for and encourage people to get regular screenings that would help prevent them from being affected by such a “nasty disease.” “If you can get together and run 3.1 miles to help do that, I’m in,” he said. Amanda (left) and Julie Zapata surpass the halfway point during the Care4 Breast Cancer 5K run/walk Sunday in Woodstock.[...]Joselyn Perea of McHenry participates in the Care4 Breast Cancer 5K r[...]


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McConnell preps for chilly health care talk with TrumpAP file photo Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., listens as President Donald Trump speaks Sept. 5 during a meeting with congressional leaders and administration officials in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. Trump and McConnell are scheduled to meet Monday.

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 05:49:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump blames the Senate’s GOP leader for the health overhaul failure, hints at tantalizing deals with Democrats and watches his former strategist work to bulldoze the Republican establishment on Capitol Hill. There’s no need for air conditioning at the White House with that chill in the air when Trump, a public official since January, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, first elected to Congress in 1984, meet on Monday. “Mitch McConnell’s not our problem. Our problem is that we promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, and we failed. We promised to cut taxes and we have yet to do it,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of Congress since 1995. “If we’re successful, Mitch McConnell’s fine. If we’re not, we’re all in trouble. We lose our majority and I think President Trump will not get re-elected.” Steve Bannon, back at Breitbart News after helping Trump win the presidency and serving in the West Wing, is committed to dumping McConnell, R-Ky. In a speech to religious conservatives Saturday, Bannon put on notice some of those incumbents who are at risk of a challenge from his flank of the party. He said the lawmakers possibly can avoid that wrath if they disavow McConnell and meet other conditions. “This is our war,” Bannon said. “The establishment started it. ... You all are gonna finish it.” Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine moderate who just passed up a run for governor and was a pivotal “no” vote on health care, said Bannon’s rhetoric is exactly what the American people are tired of. “They don’t want this hyper-partisanship. They want us to work together. And they want us to get things done,” she said. Collins, who’s served in the Senate since 1997, added that Bannon’s “over-the-top rhetoric is not helpful. Mitch McConnell is the Senate majority leader. The president needs him. I’m glad they’re working together on tax reform and a lot of other issues. And I’m glad they’re meeting this week.” McConnell responded to Trump’s Twitter barrage after the failed health care effort by saying that the challenges of governing should come as no surprise. “A lot of people look at all that and find it frustrating, messy. Well, welcome to the democratic process. That’s the way it is in our country,” McConnell said at a GOP event in Kentucky this summer. Trump, a former Democrat himself, cut a deal with Democratic leaders on raising the U.S. borrowing limit and keeping the government running into the winter. The president also has talked about future arrangements, though his recent list[...]


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Illinois’ 200th birthday party gets late startAP file photo Stuart Layne, executive director of the Illinois Bicentennial Commission, speaks to reporters after addressing the Conference on Illinois History on Oct. 5 in Springfield. The kickoff to the start of Illinois' 200th birthday year is weeks away, but is the financially battered state ready? Organizer won't say how much the effort has raised, but Layne estimates a good celebration will cost as much as $6 million.

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 05:49:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois is on the brink of its bicentennial bash , but political skirmishing that has battered the state could be blamed for late party planning, a comparatively low budget – and ultimately, its contribution to future generations. The plans to celebrate Illinois’ Dec. 3, 1818, admission to the Union seem to pale compared with the two states that joined just before. Indiana and Mississippi spent tens of millions of dollars and have flashy “legacy” projects to show off. The Prairie State, just seven weeks from kickoff of its yearlong festivities, is aiming to raise a modest $4 million to $6 million. Stuart Layne, executive director of the Illinois Bicentennial, acknowledges planning got a belated start with his appointment just a year ago. While he said significant corporate and other donors are stepping up, he would not say how much has been raised. But he dismissed the idea that two years of infighting in the 21st state between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who appointed him, and Democrats who control the General Assembly over a budget that is billions in the red, has hamstrung the project. He said he’s taken two things from virtually every conversation he’s had about the Illinois celebration. “People want us to use the bicentennial as a platform to change the conversation about the state of Illinois, to talk about all the great things that Illinois has contributed to society,” Layne said in a speech in Springfield this month. “The second is pride. People are proud to be from this state. ... That has become our mantra.” There are plans for exhibits; a school curriculum; a United Center ceremony honoring 200 Illinoisans in arts, entertainment, sports, agriculture and business; and more. But it’s hard not to notice what’s been done elsewhere. Raising $55 million by leasing unused state-owned cell-tower space, Indiana, which celebrated its bicentennial last December, built a state archives building, a statehouse-lawn bicentennial plaza, a state-library learning center and an inn at a state park. In Mississippi, years of planning went into the celebration, along with over $100 million – including $90 million from taxpayers – for construction of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in downtown Jackson. Katie Blount, the bicentennial organizer and director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, said the museums will open Dec. 9, on the eve of Mississippi’s birthday. In Mississippi, Blount agreed that people are key. The state-of-the-art museums cover the sweep o[...]


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U.S., states struggling to pay cost of fighting firesFILE--In this Oct. 9, 2017, file photo, firefighters battle flames along Jamboree Road in Orange, Calif. The long and brutal 2017 wildfire season is stressing the state and federal agencies that have to pay for the army of ground crews and machinery required to fight them. (Will Lester/The Orange County Register via AP, file)

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 05:49:00 GMT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The long and brutal 2017 wildfire season is stressing the state and federal agencies that have to pay for the army of ground crews and machinery required to fight them. The federal government spent more than $2.7 billion on firefighting in its most recently finished budget year, a record that far surpassed the previous high point of $2.1 billion set only two years ago. In California, firefighting costs already have chewed through more than half of the state’s $469 million emergency fund for big fires only three months in – and that doesn’t include the costs of the recent catastrophic fires that have claimed dozens of lives and thousands of buildings. California officials said Friday they expect the cost of fighting those fires will be hundreds of millions of dollars. Montana also struggled to pay for firefighting this year, with costs approaching $400 million by late September. With pressure increasing on lawmakers and forest managers to find new ways to pay for firefighting and for fire prevention, here’s a look at some of key questions: Why are costs going up? The U.S. is seeing more and bigger wildfires, and the wildfire season is getting longer. The reasons are hotter, drier weather and a buildup of dead and dying trees because of past fire-suppression practices, said Jennifer Jones, a spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates firefighting nationwide. The old practice of putting out all fires led to overgrown forests, some with huge tracts of trees that died at about the same time, leaving them prone to large, hot, fast-moving blazes, researchers said. Some climate and forestry experts have said global warming is a factor in the increasing number of fires because it’s contributing to the hot, dry weather. Jones said another development driving up costs is the increasing number of homes being built in or near forests, a number that the U.S. Forest Service estimates is about 43 million homes. Keeping fires away from people, houses, power lines and other infrastructure is more complicated and costly than firefighting in the wilds. Who pays to fight fires? The federal government, most states and some local agencies have firefighting budgets. Who gets the bill for any one fire depends on where it starts and whether it burns on land owned by the federal government, a state or local government or a private individual. The Forest Service is the nation’s prim[...]


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276 killed in deadliest attack in Somalia’s historySomalis walk past the wreckage of vehicles at the scene of a blast in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. A huge explosion from a truck bomb has killed at least 20 people in Somalia's capital, police said Saturday, as shaken residents called it the most powerful blast they'd heard in years. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 05:49:00 GMT

MOGADISHU, Somalia – The most powerful bomb blast ever witnessed in Somalia’s capital killed 276 people with around 300 others injured, the country’s information minister said early Monday, making it the deadliest single attack in this Horn of Africa nation. The toll was expected to rise.

In a tweet, Abdirahman Osman called the attack “barbaric” and said countries including Turkey and Kenya had already offered to send medical aid. Hospitals were overwhelmed a day after a truck bomb targeted a crowded street near key government ministries, including foreign affairs.

As angry protesters gathered near the scene of the attack, Somalia’s government blamed the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group for what it called a “national disaster.” However, Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group, which often targets high-profile areas of the capital, had yet to comment.

Somalis walk past the wreckage of vehicles at the scene of a blast in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. A huge explosion from a truck bomb has killed at least 20 people in Somalia's capital, police said Saturday, as shaken residents called it the most powerful blast they'd heard in years. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)


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Collins urges Trump to back effort to restore health subsidyAP photo Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, smiles during a news conference Friday in Rockland, Maine, after announcing she will remain in the U.S. Senate and not run for governor.

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 05:49:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – A key moderate Republican urged President Donald Trump on Sunday to back a bipartisan Senate effort to shield consumers from rising premiums after his abrupt decision to halt federal payments to insurers. Sen. Susan Collins called the move “disruptive” and an immediate threat to access to health care. “What the president is doing is affecting people’s access and the cost of health care right now,” said Collins of Maine, who has cast pivotal votes on health care in the narrowly divided Senate. “This is not a bailout of the insurers. What this money is used for is to help low-income people afford their deductibles and their copays.” “Congress needs to step in, and I hope that the president will take a look at what we’re doing,” she said. Her comments reflected an increasing focus Sunday on the bipartisan Senate effort led by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., to at least temporarily reinstate the payments to avoid immediate turmoil in the insurance market, even as Trump signaled he wouldn’t back a deal without getting something he wants in return. The payments will be stopped beginning this week, with signup season for subsidized private insurance set to start Nov. 1. “The president is not going to continue to throw good money after bad, give $7 billion to insurance companies unless something changes about Obamacare that would justify it,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who golfed with Trump on Saturday at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia. “It’s got to be a good deal,” Graham said. In his decision last week, Trump derided the $7 billion in subsidies as bailouts to insurers and suggested he was trying to get Democrats to negotiate and agree to a broader effort to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law, a bid that repeatedly crashed in the GOP-run Senate this summer. The payments seek to lower out-of-pocket costs for insurers, which are required under Obama’s law to reduce poorer people’s expenses – about 6 million people. To recoup the lost money, carriers are likely to raise 2018 premiums for people buying their own health insurance policies. Alexander and Murray have been seeking a deal that the Tennessee Republican has said would reinstate the payments for two years. In exchange, Alexander said, Republicans want “meaningful flexibility for states” to offer lower-cost insurance policies with less coverage than Obama’s law mandates. [...]


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