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One hospitalized after rollover crash in RingwoodA vehicle is shown resting against a utility pole at the intersection of Ringwood Road and Route 31 in Ringwood, to which McHenry County Sheriff's deputies responded at 9:11 p.m. Friday night.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 14:20:00 GMT

RINGWOOD – One person was taken to the hospital after a two-vehicle crash Friday night at the intersection of Ringwood Road and Route 31, according to a McHenry County Sheriff's deputy's report.

Deputies responded about 9:11 p.m. to the intersection, where one vehicle had gone into the ditch, and the other was found rolled onto its side and resting against a utility pole.

One person was taken to Northern Illinois Medical Center and another refused medical treatment, according to the report written by investigator Derick Waters.

The McHenry Township Fire Protection District also assisted at the scene.

A vehicle is shown resting against a utility pole at the intersection of Ringwood Road and Route 31 in Ringwood, to which McHenry County Sheriff's deputies responded at 9:11 p.m. Friday night.


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Mount Zion woman creates woven hats to honor Abraham LincolnDonna Johnson poses with her wicker stove top hats and other Lincoln items at her home in Mount Zion. Johnson created them to sell to honor the 16th president. Johnson, a basket weaver, fashioned some of her basket creations to look like stovepipe hats, similar to the ones made popular by Lincoln. She adds memorabilia or details, such as cookie cutters, ribbons or recipes.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 11:30:00 GMT

MOUNT ZION – As Donna Johnson sought to honor the 16th president, particularly in light of his Feb. 12 birthday, she decided to draw on a craft she’s been practicing for more than a decade: basket weaving. Johnson, a basket weaver from Mount Zion, fashioned some of her basket creations to look like a stovepipe hat, similar to the ones made popular by Abraham Lincoln. Johnson adds memorabilia or details, such as cookie cutters, ribbons or recipes. Lincoln’s stovepipe hat wasn’t just a fashion statement, according to “10 Facts about the Other Abe,” by Elizabeth Downing. He also used it to store and carry notes, letters, even bills. It was this inspiration that encouraged Johnson to honor Lincoln. “He was 6-foot-4. He surely didn’t need any more height,” Johnson said. Similar to Lincoln’s hat, the wicker baskets made to resemble it can be used to hold memos and other office supplies. “They would also make a great candy dish,” Johnson said. Since the hat baskets are handmade, they range in size. They average about a foot tall and the base is about 10 inches wide. Johnson plans to make smaller baskets that would be an appropriate size for pens, pencils and highlighters. Lincoln has become the focus of many of Johnson's pieces. Because of the historical and political aspects of being the state capital, Springfield has many tourists traveling through its downtown area. Johnson noticed one of the more popular shops had many nice items for sale, but few Lincoln pieces. Johnson was given the opportunity to display her baskets at the store, Studio on 6th. To her surprise, they sold quickly. “The hats do well, because they are different,” she said. “And I reduced my price.” All of the items sold at Studio on 6th are made by local artists. Cynthia Wilkin is a booth owner and volunteer for the store. “We look for quality artists, as well as Illinois items,” she said. Wilkin admired the unique hat baskets, as well as Johnson’s other products. “They are sturdy and the variety is excellent,” Wilkin said. “She has Valentine’s Day, Illini and Cubs and Cardinals [baskets] with ribbons woven in them. She covers the gamut.” Johnson soon will be adding her products to another shop, Expressions Gift and Consignment in Cerro Gordo. She has limited where her products are displayed, so not to compete with her mentor, Bonnie Rideout. “I have taken her classes for 15 years,” Johnson said. “And I get my supplies from her.” Rideout has taught basket weaving classes since 1994. Johnson is just one of her many students. “She was enthusiastic and always wanting to learn more,” Rideout said of her student and friend. The teacher watched Johnson became more creative in her own style. One of her other popular pieces are the wall or door baskets – containers that can be hung on a flat surface. She continues to keep Lincoln as a theme, adding cookie cutters and wooden ornaments. Johnson creates most of her pieces using colored reeds. “When you start weaving them, you have to manipulate it with hot, hot water. The black seems to be so much ornerier to bend,” she said. “It’s not as pliable as the natural ones.” ___ Source: (Decatur) Herald & Review, http://bit.ly/2Bw8edH ___ Information from: Herald & Review, http://www.herald-review.com This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by the (Decatur) Herald & Review. [...]Donna Johnson poses with her wick[...]


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Graham’s journey began and ended in N.C.Tracey DeBruhl, of Asheville, N.C., views a memorial display in tribute to the Rev. Billy Graham inside the chapel at the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove on Feb. 21, 2018, in Asheville. DeBruhl came to pay his respects since he had attended several of Graham's revivals and was inspired by his teachings.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 11:30:00 GMT

MONTREAT, N.C. – While the Rev. Billy Graham’s travels took him as far away as the Soviet Union and China, he always came back to his native North Carolina, a place of refuge, reflection and spiritual refueling. In the process, the most famous evangelist in American history became one of North Carolina’s favorite sons. The highway that runs past the world headquarters of his evangelical empire in Charlotte is called Billy Graham Parkway. The chapel in the quiet mountain town of Montreat where he was married in 1943 is named in his honor. And a 2011 poll found him to be the most revered person in the state, beating out TV star Andy Griffith and University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith. Graham, who died Wednesday at 99 and will be buried at his library in Charlotte on Friday, spent the final years of his life at his secluded home in Montreat, about 100 miles to the west, where, as he did even in his heyday, he worked on his sermons or quietly dropped in on local church services almost unnoticed. To the end, his family said, he saw his North Carolina heritage as an essential part of who he was. “My father was a very humble person. He never saw himself as a celebrity. He always saw himself as a farm boy from Mecklenburg County,” the Rev. Franklin Graham said Thursday on the “Today” show. North Carolina was the site of the beginning and the end of Graham’s spiritual life, bookending trips to scores of countries to preach the Gospel. Born on Nov. 7, 1918, Graham grew up on a Charlotte dairy farm that is now the site of office buildings. It was in Charlotte in 1934 that a 16-year-old Graham committed himself to Jesus at a traveling revival. Over the years, he would return periodically for crusades, including one in 1995 before a packed crowd at the city’s football stadium. On the road, “he’d be preaching in some city or place, and he always liked to say that if he had to live somewhere else, it would be there, but ‘My home is in North Carolina,’” recalled Cliff Barrows, Graham’s longtime music director, who died in 2016. “His heart is in North Carolina.” Graham broke ground in Charlotte on the new headquarters for his Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 2002, moving it from Minnesota, where he had once worked as a college administrator. “This move to Charlotte anchors us firmly to our roots,” he said at the time. It was Montreat, however, that was his home base, where he raised his five children, where his wife’s family had roots, and where the two were married in what is now Graham Chapel on the campus of Montreat College. “This was a refuge for Billy. It was a place where he could rest and recuperate between his international travels. You can just imagine the demands on his life,” college President Paul Maurer said. Around Montreat, resident Brad Hestir said, Graham would sometimes slip into a church service to participate as a worshipper without drawing attention to himself. “You would occasionally at the end of a church service realize he was here in the balcony,” Hestir said. “The man was private for the last several decades, and the whole town was organized around protecting that privacy,” said Hestir’s wife, Jean Norris. “They were known as down-to-earth, lovely people.” North Carolina took special pride in being the home of “America’s Pastor.” This week, after his death, video billboards along North Carolina interstates paid their respects with messages such as one showing Graham’s name against a heavenly blue sky, with a white dove. Charlotte historian Tom Hanchett said it was fitti[...]


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Illinois officials announce plan to stabilize mine

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:33:00 GMT

BELLEVILLE – State officials have a plan to stabilize a mine that collapsed under a school in southwestern Illinois.

The ground beneath the Wolf Branch Middle School in Swansea dropped almost 25 inches when the abandoned Summit Mine collapsed in September, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The agency said the collapse caused “extensive structural damage” to the building.

The department announced Wednesday that it will pump a concrete mixture into the mine to halt gradual sinking, The Belleville News-Democrat reported. It estimated that the project will begin in mid-April and be completed by early summer.

After the stabilization plan is complete, the school will be monitored for a number of months before any rebuilding can begin, Superintendent Scott Harres said in a post to the district’s Facebook page.

According to the agency, the school district plans to rebuild the damaged portions of the building with district money. The portion that’s “heavily damaged” will be removed, and the agency will assist the district with the cost.

“The efficient leveraging of available funds will allow the school building to reopen and, most importantly, to ensure a safe place for the children to learn,” said Tom Benner, director of the IDNR Office of Mines and Minerals.




Former county commissioner named to lead Illinois Tollway

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:33:00 GMT

DOWNERS GROVE – The Illinois Tollway has a new executive director.

The tollway board of directors on Thursday named former Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Gorman to the post effective March 1.

Tollway Chairman Bob Schillerstrom said Gorman is a leader who will provide “an intimate understanding of the power of collaboration, technology and innovation.”

As executive director, Gorman will oversee Illinois’ nearly 300-mile tollway system and the agency’s $1.45 billion annual budget.

Gorman served 13 years as a county commissioner, including on the county’s transportation committee. She is a former member of the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission and was working most recently as director of state and local government at Pricewaterhouse-Coopers.

She will replace Greg Bedalov, who left this month to become the head of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority.




Chicago fires back at Feds' request in sanctuary city fight

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:33:00 GMT

CHICAGO – The city of Chicago is telling the federal government it is complying with a request for documents related to the battle with President Donald Trump’s administration over the city’s status as a so-called “sanctuary city” and doesn’t collect some of the information it has been asked for.

In a letter on Friday, Chicago’s law department dismissed “insinuations” by federal officials that Chicago may be violating federal law by not sending documents the Justice Department requested of municipalities that haven’t agreed to follow the administration’s tough immigration policies.

The city said it’s provided various documents. But the federal officials asked for proof that Chicago provides information to agents regarding the immigration status of people in custody and the law department said the city doesn’t collect such data.




U.S. tightens sanctions on North Korean shippingTreasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington on Feb. 23. The Trump administration announced new sanctions on more than 50 vessels, shipping companies and trade businesses in its latest bid to pressure North Korea over its nuclear program.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:32:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration escalated pressure on North Korea on Friday by slapping sanctions on scores of companies and ships accused of illicit trading with the pariah nation. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. now has blacklisted virtually all ships being used by the North. The administration billed it as the largest installment of North Korean economic restrictions to date as it intensifies its campaign of “maximum pressure” to get the North to give up its nuclear weapons. President Donald Trump went further, declaring in a speech Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference that it was “the heaviest sanctions ever imposed on a country before.” While that claim was questionable – previous U.S. measures have targeted bigger players in the North Korean economy, including Chinese and Russian banks and business networks – it significantly tightens the noose on North Korean trading. Mnuchin told reporters that the U.S. has now imposed more than 450 sanctions against the North, about half of them in the last year – including “virtually all their ships that they’re using at this moment in time.” The U.N. Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on North Korea in the past year. The restrictions are intended to deprive it of revenue and resources for its nuclear and ballistic missile development that pose an emerging threat to the U.S. mainland. Washington is particularly concerned about exports of North Korean coal that are prohibited by the U.N. sanctions and ship-to-ship transfers of imported oil and petroleum products. The Treasury Department said it was barring U.S. business transactions with nine international shipping companies from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Panama, and nine of their vessels. It also blacklisted 16 North shipping companies and 19 of their North Korean-flagged vessels. Additionally, the department designated a Taiwanese citizen, Tsang Yung Yuan, and two companies he owns or controls. Tsang was said to have coordinated North Korean coal exports with a Russia-based North Korean broker, and attempted a $1 million oil deal with a Russian company sanctioned for dealing with the North. Mnuchin said the actions will significantly hinder North Korea’s ability to conduct evasive maritime activities that facilitate illicit coal and fuel transports, and “erode its abilities to ship goods through international waters.” He vowed the U.S. would “do everything” to stop the ship-to-ship transfers. “We are putting companies and countries across the world on notice that this administration views compliance with U.S. and U.N. sanctions as a national security imperative. Those who trade with North Korea do so at their own peril,” Mnuchin said. In his speech, Trump said “hopefully something positive can happen” from the sanctions pressure. The announcement comes as South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics, an occasion the two Koreas have used as an opportunity to ease tensions and restart talks. Although South Korea is a close U.S. ally, animosity between Washington and Pyongyang still runs high. Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, arrived in South Korea on Friday to attend the closing ceremony this weekend. At a dinner with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, she reaffirmed “our commitment to our maximum pressure campaign to ensure that the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized.” Mnuchin said Ivanka Trump had spoken to Moon about the new sanctions before the announcement. The U.S. government also issued Friday a global shipping advisory highlighting the sanctions ris[...]


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U.S. weighs Sheldon Adelson offer to fund Jerusalem embassyChief Executive of Las Vegas Sands Corporation Sheldon Adelson sits with his wife Miriam on Sept. 26, 2016, and waits for the presidential debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Adelson has proposed paying for at least part of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, four U.S. officials told The Associated Press, and the Trump administration is considering the offer.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:32:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is considering an offer from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, four U.S. officials told The Associated Press. Lawyers at the State Department are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to cover some or all of the embassy costs, the officials said. The discussions are occurring as the administration plans a ribbon-cutting for a scaled-down, temporary embassy that will open in May – more than a year ahead of schedule. In one possible scenario, the administration would solicit contributions not only from Adelson but potentially from other donors in the evangelical Christian and American Jewish communities, too. One official said Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate and staunch Israel supporter, had offered to pay the difference between the total cost – expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars – and what the administration is able to raise. Under any circumstance, letting private citizens cover the costs of an official government building would mark a significant departure from historical practice. In the Jerusalem case, it would add yet another layer of controversy to Trump’s politically charged decision to move the embassy, given Adelson’s long-standing affiliation with right-wing Israeli politics. The move of the embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed holy city cleared a final bureaucratic hurdle this week when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed off on the security plan. In a letter sent to Congress, the State Department said the interim facility’s inauguration will coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence on May 14. “It’s the right thing to do,” Trump said Friday of the embassy relocation. Adelson’s unconventional offer, made around the time Trump announced in December that the embassy would move, would address the president’s stated distaste for shelling out eye-popping sums for overseas diplomatic facilities. Although Trump has promoted the Jerusalem move as fulfilling a key campaign promise, he also was outspoken last month in blasting the $1 billion price tag for a new embassy in London. How quickly to move the embassy has been a source of intense debate within Trump’s administration, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly and demanded anonymity. Tillerson, who opposed moving the embassy in the first place, advocated a go-slow approach and said it could take years. But Ambassador David Friedman, who lobbied Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, has pushed to move it sooner. To enable a May opening, the administration settled on a phased approach to building out the embassy at an existing U.S. facility in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood that currently handles consular affairs such as passports and visas. Initially, the U.S. will merely retrofit a small suite of offices there to accommodate Friedman and one or two top aides. The rest of the staff will remain at first in America’s current facility in Tel Aviv. The Arnona facility will be expanded accommodate a regular contingent of embassy personnel by the end of 2019, and ultimately is likely to spill into an adjacent U.S.-controlled property that currently houses a home for senior citizens, officials said. The State Department said a separate search was starting “in parallel” to eventually plan and build a permanent embassy. Israel’s government hailed the impending move, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying on [...]


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No bail for Chicago father charged in 2-year-old son's deathThis undated photo provided by the Chicago Police Department shows Rolando Ortiz. Ortiz the father of 2-year-old Mateo Garcia Aguayo found stabbed to death in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood has been charged with first-degree murder in the Aguayo's death. Police responding to a call from relatives Feb. 21 found the child in an upstairs room of a home. The boy had stab wounds so severe he was nearly decapitated.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:32:00 GMT

CHICAGO – A judge has ordered the father of a 2-year-old found stabbed to death in Chicago held without bond on first-degree murder charges.

Cook County prosecutors said Friday that 37-year-old Rolando Ortiz re-enacted how he slit Mateo Garcia Aguayo’s throat as the father gave police a video confession.

Police responding to a call from relatives found the boy in a home in the city’s Little Village neighborhood. The boy had stab wounds so severe he was nearly decapitated.

Authorities have said Ortiz stabbed the boy after becoming frustrated because he was keeping him awake. Police said Ortiz put the boy’s body in a garbage bag. He then fled and was arrested during a traffic stop in Kankakee County.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Ortiz had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

This undated photo provided by the Chicago Police Department shows Rolando Ortiz. Ortiz the father of 2-year-old Mateo Garcia Aguayo found stabbed to death in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood has been charged with first-degree murder in the Aguayo's death. Police responding to a call from relatives Feb. 21 found the child in an upstairs room of a home. The boy had stab wounds so severe he was nearly decapitated.


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Online scam pretends to be Illinois Attorney General

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:32:00 GMT

CHICAGO – The Illinois Attorney General’s Office warns that a social media scam is soliciting personal information with promises of “free money” through her office.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she received complaints of fake Facebook and Instagram accounts falsely claiming association with her office. The accounts provide links to get “free money” through government grant funding.

Madigan said the scam asks for a user’s Social Security number as well as other personal information. She advised those who receive the message not to click the link as her office would never ask for personal information over email or social media.

The attorney general also advised those who encounter the fraudulent posts to call her Consumer Fraud Hotline or to file a complaint online.




Deaths mount in Syria as UN weighs cease-fire resolutionIn this photo released on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows flames rising from a truck in a convoy headed to Afrin, Syria. According to Syrian state TV on Thursday night, a convoy carrying aid and heading toward Afrin was targeted by Turkish artillery, in al-Ziara village. The TV gave no further details about Thursday's incident, which came two days after pro-government fighters began entering the predominantly Kurdish town to shore up the Kurdish forces, after reaching an agreement with the YPG.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:31:00 GMT

BEIRUT – Syrian government warplanes carried out a sixth day of airstrikes Friday in the rebel-held suburbs east of Damascus, killing 32 people, activists said, as the death toll from a week of bombardment soared over 400. At the United Nations, last-minute negotiations were underway ahead of an expected vote on a Security Council resolution demanding a 30-day humanitarian cease-fire. The new bombings came a day after Syrian army helicopters dropped leaflets over the rebel-controlled areas of eastern Ghouta, urging residents of those suburbs to leave for their own safety and calling on opposition fighters to surrender because they were surrounded by government troops. Opposition activists reported airstrikes and artillery shelling on a string of towns on the edge of Damascus or eastern Ghouta. At least 32 people were killed in raids on areas including Hammouriyeh, Zamalka, Douma and al-Marj, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that monitors the civil war through a network of activists in Syria. The Ghouta Media Center, an activist collective, also reported 32 killed, saying the victims included 13 people in the Damascus suburb of Douma, five in Ein Tarma and five in Shiefouniyeh. Syrian state TV reported that insurgents fired 70 shells on Damascus, killing one person and wounding 60 others. It said one of the shells hit a hospital, damaging its intensive care unit as well as cars parked nearby. The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense rescue group reported new airstrikes in Douma, Arbeen and other towns east of Damascus. At the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump blamed Russia, Iran and the Syrian government for the recent violence in Syria, calling it a “humanitarian disgrace.” His comments came at a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura called again for an urgent cease-fire to relieve the “appalling suffering” of civilians in eastern Ghouta by stopping the bombing there and the “indiscriminate” shelling of Damascus. He said the cease-fire must be followed by an “immediate, unhindered humanitarian access to eastern Ghouta and evacuation of sick and injured.” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also had urged an immediate suspension of “all war activities” in eastern Ghouta, saying 400,000 people are living “in hell on Earth.” European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said “unhindered humanitarian access and the protection of civilians is a moral duty and a matter of urgency.” The U.N. draft resolution demands that as soon as the cease-fire takes effect, all parties should allow humanitarian convoys and medical evacuations in areas requested by the U.N. It states that 5.6 million people in 1,244 communities are in “acute need,” including 2.9 million in hard-to-reach and besieged locations. The Syrian government and its Russian allies want to continue attacking extremists from the Islamic State group and all al-Qaida affiliates. Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called a 30-day cease-fire unrealistic and said it couldn’t be enforced. But Sweden and Kuwait, which sponsored the resolution, have been pressing for immediate action. They rejected a key Russian-proposed amendment that would have ruled out an immediate cease-fire. It was not immediatel[...]


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After school shooting, Florida leaders propose new gun lawsMarjory Stoneman Douglas High School bus driver Pearlie Corker gets a hug at the school on Friday as some teachers return for the first time since the shooting in Parkland, Fla. Corker arrived at the school as Nikolas Cruz began to shoot students and teachers on Feb. 14. She stayed on the bus in front of the school praying for the students and teachers. The school is scheduled to reopen next week.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:30:00 GMT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s governor announced plans Friday to put more armed guards in schools and to make it harder for young adults and some with mental illness to buy guns, responding to days of intense lobbying from survivors of last week’s shooting at a Florida high school.

Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his school safety proposals as teachers returned for the first time to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since the shooting nine days ago that killed 17 people.

The shooting sparked an intense push to restrict access to assault rifles fueled by student activists who swarmed the state Capitol demanding concrete gun control measures.

President Donald Trump said repeatedly Friday that he favored arming teachers to protect students, an idea many educators rejected out of hand.

“I am totally against arming teachers,” Broward schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said. “They have a challenging job as it is.”

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School bus driver Pearlie Corker gets a hug at the school on Friday as some teachers return for the first time since the shooting in Parkland, Fla. Corker arrived at the school as Nikolas Cruz began to shoot students and teachers on Feb. 14. She stayed on the bus in front of the school praying for the students and teachers. The school is scheduled to reopen next week.


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Trump says arm U.S. teachers; they love kids as others don'tPresident Donald Trump delivers remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 23 in Oxon Hill, Md.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:30:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump told conservatives Friday that even Second Amendment supporters can get behind steps to fight gun violence in schools, offering a red-meat call for arming teachers and suggesting they would be more likely to protect students than a security guard who "doesn't love the children." Trump said the armed officer who failed to confront the gunman in last week's school shooting in Parkland, Florida, was either a "coward" or "didn't react properly under pressure." "He was not a credit to law enforcement," Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference. Trump tailored his talking points Friday to his conservative audience, pushing the idea of arming some teachers who are "gun-adept people" but making no mention of another proposal he's advanced in recent days that is opposed by the National Rifle Association: increasing the minimum age for buying assault rifles from 18 to 21. During a later appearance with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in which he again addressed gun violence, Trump declared the United States was "well on our way to solving that horrible problem" – even though the administration has yet to deliver a firm plan to Congress. As for arming teachers, Trump said, the U.S. needs "people that can take care of our children" in schools. "A security guard doesn't know the children, doesn't love the children. This man standing outside of the school the other day doesn't love the children, probably doesn't know the children. The teachers love their children. They love their pupils." His comments drew a rebuke from a top teachers' union leader. "Denigrating the work of campus security guards is reprehensible," said National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García. Trump got pushback, too, from Florida's Broward County, where last week's shootings took place. Said Superintendent Robert Runcie: "I am totally against arming teachers. They have a challenging job as it is." Separately, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced plans to put more armed guards in schools and to make it harder for young adults and some with mental illness to buy guns. He favors barring sales of all firearms to anyone under 21. Trump, long supported by the NRA, has sought to maintain his backing among gun rights activists even as he has called for strengthening background checks and raising the minimum age for certain weapons purchases. Trump said that past efforts to address school safety and gun violence had faded and "nothing ever gets done. We want to see if we can get it done." He added, "Most of it's just common sense. It's not 'do you love guns, do you hate guns.' It's common sense." His remarks came at the end of a week that included meetings with students and teachers and state and local officials on ways to bolster school safety and address gun violence. He said the "evil massacre" of 17 people at the Florida high school had "broken our hearts." Trump has advanced a variety of ideas to counter gun violence, and the White House this week asked the Justice Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for recommendations: everything from faster ballistics testing to more prosecutions for those who lie on gun background check forms. The White House has said Trump will soon lay out a package of school and gun safety proposals for Congress to consider. While Trump the [...]


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Greitens blames politics, but even some in GOP concernedEdward L. Dowd Jr., the attorney for Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, makes a brief statement to media Thursday after the governor was indicted for felony invasion of privacy by a St. Louis city grand jury in St. Louis.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:30:00 GMT

ST. LOUIS – Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is blaming his felony invasion of privacy indictment on a "reckless liberal prosecutor," holding fast to the assertion that any case stemming from his admitted extramarital affair is politically driven. The Republican governor and St. Louis' Democratic circuit attorney, both just a little more than a year into their offices, certainly are political opposites. But a growing number of GOP lawmakers on Friday were questioning whether Greitens can continue to effectively lead while facing the indictment. The indictment – handed down by a grand jury and stemming from an investigation launched by Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner – alleges that Greitens took a compromising photo of a woman without her consent and transmitted the image to a computer. Greitens has admitted being unfaithful to his wife before he won election as governor but has denied criminal wrongdoing and has insisted that the affair with his former hairdresser was consensual. His attorney filed a motion to dismiss the indictment. Greitens claims the criminal case is politically motivated. "The people of Missouri deserve better than a reckless liberal prosecutor who uses her office to score political points," Greitens said in a statement Thursday. Gardner didn't respond, but her spokeswoman Susan Ryan said the prosecutor "will not be playing political games during this process." "These personal attacks, while disappointing, will not distract her from her duty to serve justice and the citizens of this community," Ryan said Friday. While the state Republican Party was still supporting Greitens, some lawmakers, including some Republicans, were calling on him to resign or face legislative impeachment proceedings. "In the wake of the grand jury criminal indictment, and with legal proceedings to come, I cannot see how he could effectively perform the duties of his office, let alone to lead with the kind of moral authority needed to make a positive impact," said Sen. Kevin Corlew, of Kansas City, one of at least four Republicans who were newly calling for Greitens' resignation. Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, a Republican from Jefferson City, said the indictment "causes me to question whether the governor has the ability to effectively lead the state going forward," but he stopped short of calling for Greitens' resignation. Other Republicans remained reserved in their judgment but expressed support for a legislative investigation into Greitens announced Thursday by GOP House leaders. An investigation is a necessary first step before an impeachment proceeding but does not necessarily lead to one. Former Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Wolff said it's up to the House to decide whether a state official can be impeached for conduct that occurred before he took office. The only statewide Missouri official to be convicted, impeached and ousted from office was Democratic Secretary of State Judy Moriarty in 1994. She was convicted of a misdemeanor for backdating her son's candidacy paperwork for a state House seat, then later impeached by the House and removed by the state Supreme Court. The prosecutor pursuing the case against Greitens was once a Missouri House member herself, serving two terms starting in 2012. Gardner came to politics after serving as a prosecutor in the circuit attorney's office under her predecessor, Jennife[...]


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Ex-Trump aide pleads guilty in Mueller probeRick Gates leaves the federal court in Washington on Feb. 23, 2018. Gates, a former top adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign pleaded guilty in the special counsel's Russia investigation to federal conspiracy and false statements charges.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:30:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – A former senior adviser to President Donald Trump’s election campaign pleaded guilty Friday to federal conspiracy and false-statements charges, switching from defendant to cooperating witness in the special counsel’s probe of Trump’s campaign and Russia’s election interference. The plea by Rick Gates revealed that he will help special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in “any and all matters” as prosecutors continue to probe the 2016 campaign, Russian meddling and Gates’ longtime business associate, onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. With his cooperation, Gates gives Mueller a witness willing to provide information on Manafort about his finances and political consulting work in Ukraine, and also someone who had access at the highest levels of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Gates, 45, of Richmond, Virginia, made the plea at the federal courthouse in Washington. He somberly stood beside his attorney and did not speak during his hearing except to answer routine questions from the judge about whether he understood the rights he was giving up. He admitted to charges accusing him of conspiring against the U.S. government related to fraud and unregistered foreign lobbying as well as lying to federal authorities in a recent interview. Under the terms of the plea, he is estimated to face between 57 and 71 months behind bars and a possible fine ranging from $20,000 to $200,000. Prosecutors may seek a shortened sentence depending on his cooperation. The plea came a day after a federal grand jury in Virginia returned a 32-count indictment against Gates and Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, accusing them of tax evasion and bank fraud. Gates is the fifth defendant to plead guilty in Mueller’s investigation. The indictment in Virginia was the second round of charges against Gates and Manafort, who initially were charged in October with unregistered lobbying and conspiring to launder millions of dollars they earned while working on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. Manafort continues to maintain his innocence. “I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence. For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise,” Manafort said Friday. “This does not alter my commitment to defend myself against the untrue piled-up charges contained in the indictments against me.” In court filings over the past few months, Gates gradually began to show the strain the case was placing on him and his family. He frequently pleaded with U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson for leniency in his house arrest to let him attend sporting events with his four children. Even on Friday, ahead of his plea, Gates had asked the judge to let him take his children to Boston for spring break so they could “learn about American history in general, and the Revolutionary War in particular.” Gates’ plea comes on the heels of the stunning indictment last week that laid out a broad operation of election meddling by Russia, which began in 2014, and employed fake social media accounts and on-the-ground politicking to promote Trump’s campaign, disparage Hillary Clinton and sow division and discord widely among the U.S. electorate. The charges to which Gates is pleading guilty don’t involve any conduct connect[...]


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Illinois group homes still troubled despite reform promise

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:24:00 GMT

CHICAGO – A newspaper investigation has found that despite Illinois officials’ promise to reform troubled group homes for disabled adults, allegations of abuse and neglect have risen, staffing levels have fallen and state oversight has been slow.

State officials and legislators pledged to fix the system after a 2016 Chicago Tribune investigation revealed that the state concealed evidence of harm and death at group homes.

In a follow-up investigation, the newspaper obtained state enforcement records that show many group homes still are unprepared.

According to the Tribune, more than half of group homes aren’t wheelchair accessible. More than 1,600 homes are not compliant with the American with Disabilities Act, inspection records show.

The newspaper also found state oversight remains inconsistent. Some victims waited weeks before they were interviewed by state investigators, audit records from fiscal 2017 show.

Staffing shortages also continue to affect the industry, according to some group home owners.

According to the office of the Illinois Auditor General, allegations of abuse and neglect reached a record high with more than 3,600 cases in fiscal 2017.

The Illinois Department of Human Services said reforms set to launch this year will address some of those problems.

An online scorecard will rank group homes and will include inspection results and links to online copies of investigative findings involving abuse, neglect or financial exploitation. But state officials will black out addresses to protect patients’ privacy.

Spokeswoman Meghan Powers said copies of investigative report summaries can be downloaded. She said officials also are planning to change state policy so families of group home residents automatically receive copies of state investigations.




Police evacuate Dixmoor care facility due to filth

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:24:00 GMT

DIXMOOR – Authorities in the southern Chicago suburb of Dixmoor said they’ve evacuated about 30 residents of an assisted living facility found with no staff and in filthy conditions.

Dixmoor Police Chief Ron Burge said residents of Mothers House were removed overnight Thursday into Friday and taken to several hospitals. They were between the ages of 24 and 50. He said the facility had no hot water and was infested with bed bugs. He said no staff members were in the building when officers arrived responding to complaints of no hot water.

Burge called the conditions deplorable and said “no one should live like this.”

The facility is run by the nonprofit Value Care Centers, which provides care for those with mental issues and disabilities. The group didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.




McHenry County schools respond to increased tension after Florida shootingWoodstock police officer Joshua Rapacz, school resource officer for Woodstock School District 200, uses his radio on Friday after noticing a door to Woodstock North High School was unlocked near the auditorium.Woodstock police officer Joshua Rapacz (top left), school resource officer for Woodstock School District 200, stops to talk to Woodstock North students as they filter through the hallways between classes Friday.Rapacz checks the safety of the school building on Friday.Rapacz stops to talk to students as they travel through the hallways between classes Friday.Rapacz works out of his office Friday at Woodstock North.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 06:16:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – When Elizabeth Salada’s 6-year-old daughter returned home from school after 17 people were shot and killed at a Florida school, she asked her mother: “What if this happens to us?” It’s a fear that parents, teachers, school administrators and school resource officers all have and try to prepare for, with safety procedures constantly evolving. Tensions are high in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida – and local schools are reviewing what they can do to keep students safe. “She said the shooter did it on purpose, and it surprised me that my 6-year-old knew so much of what had happened,” said Salada, of Pingree Grove. “It’s scary as a parent, but also good in a way that she is so aware.” Police in McHenry County have taken recent threats seriously – whether it’s a Marlowe Middle School student posting a threatening video on social media, a racially charged threat made on Xbox Live, two 9 mm bullets found in the hallway of Huntley High School or a Woodstock North High School student sending a threatening message and photo of a gun on social media. Many schools point to school resource officers as the “on-the-ground” officer who can investigate scenarios before they become a crisis. In the case of the Parkland shooting, the armed school resource officer stayed outside as the shooting unfolded. Woodstock’s school resource officer, Josh Rapacz, said the protocol for every officer, not just the school officer, would be to respond immediately, save as many lives as possible and eliminate the threat. Cary Deputy Chief of Support Services Jim Fillmore said that in the days of the Columbine school shooting, the protocol was to form a perimeter and wait for SWAT personnel before making entry. “Now, we’ve learned over the years that you can’t really sit back and wait, you have to engage at a much faster pace,” Fillmore said. In reaction to President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm highly trained teachers with guns, Woodstock School District 200 director of communications Kevin Lyons said the district is open to many security solutions – but arming teachers isn’t one of them. “We have a lot of great teachers and a lot of great police officers, but they are entirely different jobs, and they should be,” Lyons said. Schools hold active shooter drills annually in conjunction with police departments. Lyons said each of the district’s 12 buildings has its own handbook and staff are assigned to specific roles. The district’s crisis plan was formed in 2009 and is updated regularly. Nationally, students are walking out of school in protest and demanding stricter gun control to prevent mass shootings, with a National School Walkout planned for March 14. During a preplanned active shooter drill at Prairie Ridge High School, students were asked how they felt within the building and how things could be made safer. Their answers were compiled for the administration and are being evaluated, said Scott Shepard, High School District 155 assistant superintendent of educational services. District 200 Superintendent Mike Moan is planning to visit both high schools next week to hear directly from students about their safety concerns a[...]


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McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks on Florida shooting: 'We have to act before it’s too late'A week after a shooter slaughtered 17 people in a Florida high school on Valentine's Day, McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks (pictured at a previous event) delivered an address to his constituents urging sweeping changes to prevent future massacres.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 04:50:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A week after a shooter slaughtered 17 people on Valentine’s Day in a Florida high school, McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks delivered an address to his constituents urging sweeping changes to prevent future massacres.

“I can’t take this anymore, and I know that you can’t, either. These killings are an epidemic as serious as opioids,” Franks said at the County Board’s Feb. 20 meeting. “I’m sick and tired of seeing our flags out front flying at half-staff – seemingly all the time – because some troubled individual got his hands on a gun and killed innocent people.”

While Franks said he’s a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, the chairman pushed for strengthened background checks and more mental health funding.

“It makes no sense to pay hundreds of billions of dollars for national defense while our citizens are being slaughtered, not in acts of war by foreign aggressors, but in schools, parks and movie theaters,” Franks said. “Gun owners need to be asked if they really need to own weapons that can quickly spit out hundreds of rounds for the sole purpose of killing people.”

The suspect in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, has been jailed on 17 counts of murder.

Defense attorneys, state records and people who knew him indicate that he displayed behavioral troubles for years, including getting kicked out of the Parkland school. He owned a collection of weapons.

Franks encouraged people on both sides of the firearms debate – gun rights and gun control – to talk to each other.

“Not at each other. Not about each other. To each other,” Franks said. “Not on Facebook, not on screaming talking-head news shows, but to each other, and to our state and federal lawmakers.”

The fabric of society depends on an open dialogue between both sides, Franks said.

“We have to act, and quickly, before it’s too late,” Franks said. “Telling the victims’ families that they are in our thoughts and prayers is not enough.”

Hours before Franks delivered his remarks, students who survived the shooting at Stoneman Douglas began a 400-mile journey to Florida’s capital to urge lawmakers to prevent a repeat of the massacre.

The normally staid Florida Statehouse filled with students, among them more than 100 survivors of the attack.

They held signs, chanted slogans and burst into lawmakers’ offices demanding to be heard.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

A week after a shooter slaughtered 17 people in a Florida high school on Valentine's Day, McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks (pictured at a previous event) delivered an address to his constituents urging sweeping changes to prevent future massacres.


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2018 Primary Election Questionnaire: Larry Smith- R, McHenry County Board District 6

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 03:36:00 GMT

Name: Larry W. Smith Age: 63 Town: Harvard Office Sought: McHenry County Board District 6 Occupation: Real Estate Broker, Property Manager, Farm Owner Education: McHenry County College, University of Wisconsin and Northern Illinois University Elected Offices Held: McHenry County Board Member, District 6 Website: Vote-Smith.com Twitter: none Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Larry-W-Smith-280715659085450/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel 1. What skills, qualities or experience do you possess that separates you from your opponents? I am an experienced decision-maker, a self-employed business owner in McHenry County for over 30 years, and a current county board member. I have the work ethic to dig to the bottom of issues. I believe that understanding both the immediate and the long-term consequences of my vote, is essential. As a current county board member, I have earned the respect and confidence of my colleagues. I have been voted to chair the Planning, Environmental & Development Committee and the Community Development and Housing Block Grant Commission. I will cooperate with and support any county board member who brings forth ideas and plans to make McHenry County better, and save the taxpayers money. I will continue to bring a positive approach to County Board business and strive to represent my constituents free of the bipartisan politics that has so hindered good government in the past. 2. What can the McHenry County Board do and what should it do to ease the property tax burden on homeowners? We did it! We reduced your county real estate taxes by 11.2 percent. McHenry County will collect 11.2 percent less in taxes for the 2018 tax year. This was accomplished by utilizing a tax abatement, which I consider to be the most prudent way to lower taxes this year. The state of Illinois has statutes in place that regulate what a county can or cannot do relative to the county tax levy. The precarious financial position of the state, and our budget being continually negatively impacted by unfunded State mandates*, led me to the decision that utilizing an abatement to lower taxes for the year 2018, was in the best interest of the taxpayers of McHenry County. Leaving the tax levy as is for 2018, effectively creates a financial “safety net” for the residents of McHenry County. I am hopeful this year will bring some financial stability on the state level, which would allow us to reduce the levy, as opposed to an abatement, and lock in the tax savings for McHenry County taxpayers. *Recently, (after we approved the 2018 budget), the unfunded state mandates include (1) updated election equipment at a cost of approximately $2.5 million; (2) requiring a state’s attorney to be present at all bond hearings, which required the hiring of another assistant state’s attorney. The current county board has led by example to lower taxes. We have shown other taxing bodies that it can be done. 3. Do you think the McHenry County Board should evaluate the possibility of leasing or privatizing Valley Hi Nursing Home? [...]



2018 Primary Election Questionnaire: Ersel Schuster - R, McHenry County Board District 6Ersel Schuster

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 03:27:00 GMT

Name: Ersel C. Schuster Age: 78 Town: Harvard Office sought: McHenry County Board – Dist 6 Occupation: Retired Education: Masters’ Degree - Counselling Elected offices held: 3.5 terms McHenry County Board Four terms Seneca Township Supervisor Website: www.electschuster.com or www.taxpayertotaxpayer.com Twitter: I have an account but do not use it. Facebook: I have an account but do not use it. 1) What skills, qualities or experience do you possess that separate you from your opponents? SKILLS: My background is in accounting/bookkeeping; consulting; business ownership; and published writer. QUALITIES: I am proud to have been a “go-to source” for fellow public officials needing to discuss issues and those interested in holding public office. EXPERIENCE: My experience includes hands-on work on the family dairy farm, critical background and understanding since half of McHenry county consists of family farms; Public relations; work in accounting and auditing; built and operated two businesses, selling one and continuing the second on a limited basis. Public service experience: Four terms as Supervisor/CEO of Seneca Township personally handling all aspects of running the township; and, 3.5 terms on the McHenry County Board serving as a member of nearly every committee and chairing several. In these positions, it is documented that my underlying goals, accomplishments, and philosophies have been to cut costs and reduce government. Accomplishments: Managed a citizen initiative requiring public officials to disclosure additional financial interests and property holdings. After years of talk, I was instrumental in kicking of dead-center, real-time audio of county board meetings. After a great deal of work, I was able to convince fellow board members to start cutting costs and stop the “normal,” and annual, tax increases. 2) What can the McHenry County Board do and what should it do to ease the property tax burden on homeowners? Every person running for elected office suggests they have either reduced, or will reduce, taxes. Unfortunately, at the county, those claiming to have reduced taxes are deliberately misleading taxpayers. They claim false reductions, shuffle expenses between departments, and claim that “user fees” are not taxes. The only way to reduce the county board’s levy (taxes) is to reduce the size of county government. Until board members grasp that concept, nothing will change. 3) Do you think the McHenry County Board should evaluate the possibility of leasing or privatizing Valley Hi Nursing Home? No. The public already made that decision and it is the county board’s responsibility to follow their wishes. 4) Do you think the size of the McHenry County Board should be reduced from 24 members to 12 members? Why or why not? At one point I thought reducing the size of the county board had merit. However, after serious reviewing [...]Ersel Schuster


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2018 Primary Election Questionnaire: Orville Brettman - R, McHenry County Board District 6Orville Brettman

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 03:22:00 GMT

Name: Orville Brettman Age: 70 Town: Huntley Office sought: McHenry County Board District 6 Occupation: Retired Education: Northern Illinois University – Business Administration & History Elected offices held: Village President Carpentersville Illinois Elected 1977 Website: http://www.orvillebrettman.com/ Twitter: None Facebook: Orville Brettman 1. What skills, qualities or experience do you possess that separate you from your opponents? I was elected Village President of Carpentersville in 1977. During my tenure, I served on the advisory board of the North Eastern Illinois planning commission and its 208 water study group. I’ve been an officer, director, or partner in four Illinois Corporations. In addition I served two terms as President of one of America’s largest scientific societies, the Astronomical League. 2. What can the McHenry County Board do and what should it do to ease the property tax burden on homeowners? Reduce the Levy 3. Do you think the McHenry County Board should evaluate the possibility of leasing or privatizing Valley Hi Nursing Home? No. The voters spoke when the enabling referendum was passed. It said “Build operate and maintain”. It gave no permission to lease or privatize. 4. Do you think the size of the McHenry County Board should be reduced from 24 members to 12 members? Why or why not? No. Less representation is not better representation, and with the workload of the current board causing their meeting packets to run to multiple hundreds of pages, doubling the per person workload would be untenable. In addition, the viability of the committee structure would suffer as well. 5. What can the county board do to make McHenry County a more attractive place for businesses? Having operated a business in McHenry County for a decade, I never found it to be unattractive. I would be more than delighted however to listen at length to any proposals the might originate with our various Chambers of Commerce as to how the County might improve the situation so long as the Counties role in doing so does not raise the levy. 6. What do you think is the most pressing issue the county board will face in the next two years and how will you address it? To stop the creation of a patronage cabal now being assembled by the current County Chairman Jack Franks, who was recently dubbed “The most evil kind of political servant” by the Edgar County Watchdogs (see: https://www.lyingjackfranks.com/). Our county’s future is too precious to be squandered by a narcissistic self-serving Mike Madigan wannabe. Stopping this will literally require a massive education initiative to inform the voters how they are getting fleeced. This issue will I feel lead the way in the 2020 election. [...]Orville Brettman


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2018 Primary Election Questionnaire: Michele Aavang - R, McHenry County Board District 6Michele Aavang

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 03:17:00 GMT

Name: Michele Aavang Age: 57 Town: Woodstock Office sought: McHenry County Board Member, District 6 Occupation: Self-employed farmer Education: A.S. (HighbHonors) McHenry County College Elected offices held: Currently serving in my second term as a McHenry County Board Member, formerly two-term Village of Greenwood Trustee  1. What skills, qualities or experience do you possess thatseparate you from your opponents?     I have the leadership experience and passion for service to the community necessary to continue to be an effective member of the county board, including my present role as a county board committee chairperson, District Director of Illinois Farm Bureau, and Secretary of the Greenwood Cemetery Association. I am also the immediate past President of McHenry County Farm Bureau, past president of the Woodstock Farmers Market board, former two-term trustee for the Village of Greenwood, and the former leader of the largest 4-H club in the county.  I have decades of practical managerial andbusiness experience. I have controlled spending and prepared and analyzed budgets for successful operations. Since the economic well-being of the county is a priority, this background is important. My farm background has given me strong work ethic and a common-sense approach to seeking solutions. I also have a keen interest in the future of the county as a local business owner, and member of a family that has rootshere dating back to the 1840s.   2) What can the McHenry County Board do and what should it do to ease the property tax burden on homeowners? I was pleased to recently vote in favor of cutting 11.2 percent of the county’s property tax levy, and to help lead efforts to encourage other taxing entities, specifically school districts, to do the same. However, the work to ease the tax burden should not stop there. Spending of taxpayer money on capital projects should be done thoughtfully, within budgetary restraints, and with long term goals in mind. Priority should be given to infrastructure projects that address safety concerns and that will provide benefits to the businesses and work force located here, withoutadversely impacting the quality of life that we enjoy.  Our property values continue to stagnate andour county has a heavy reliance on property taxes for revenue. To ease this reliance, we need to continue to work on retaining our existing businesses and industries by allowing them to operate and grow in a supportive environment, and by making continued efforts to attract new businesses.  Leaders entrusted with our future should welcome and accept input from the public and make informed, careful decisions. 3) Do you think the McHenry County Board should evaluate the possibility of leasing or privatizing Valley Hi Nursing Home? I believe that Valley Hi has been and continues to be a tremendous asset to our county, and that the services offered by Valley Hi remain in high demand. The Valley Hi Operating Board has begun the process of gathering information to assess various options, including leasing or privatizing, for the future. The results will be presented to the full county board for in-dep[...]


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2018 Primary Election Questionnaire: Pamela Althoff - R, McHenry County Board District 4Pamela Althoff speaks at a candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of McHenry County at McHenry County College Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. Althoff is seeking a spot on the McHenry County Board.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 03:10:00 GMT

Name: Pamela Althoff Age: Senior citizen status Town: McHenry Office sought: County Board District 4 Occupation: Current State Senator/District 32 Education: BSEd from Illinois State University and Masters from Northeastern Illinois University in Special Education Elected offices held: City Clerk of McHenry 1994-2001 Fox Waterway Board 1998-2001 Mayor of McHenry 2001-2003 State Senator/District 32 2003-2018 1) What skills, qualities or experience do you possess that separate you from your opponents? I possess great familiarity with parliamentary procedure, the ability to work collaboratively with people of both opposing and similar perspectives, as well as being accessible and responsive to constituent services and inquiry. I also have a vast understanding of the county’s challenges and opportunities, strengths and weaknesses, needs and wants. In addition I also possess an immense network of state and federal contacts/resources. I have also worked collaboratively with every one of the current seated board members. 2) What can the McHenry County Board do and what should it do to ease the property tax burden on homeowners? With regard to property tax ease, McHenry County can continue to lead by example; retaining a flat levy and reducing unnecessary expenses. I also believe McHenry County can take the lead in educating our residents on how property taxes are determined as well as how to afford themselves access to the tax protest process. We also need to continue to work with our state representatives to ensure full state education funding as our education property tax line items are the most expensive. 3) Do you think the McHenry County Board should evaluate the possibility of leasing or privatizing Valley Hi Nursing Home? Yes, I believe the board should evaluate the possibility of leasing or privatizing Valley Hi Nursing Home. 4) Do you think the size of the McHenry County Board should be reduced from 24 members to 12 members? Why or why not? I absolutely believe the size of the McHenry County Board should be reduced. I also believe the reduction should be determined based on how a new district map is determined and whether it will incorporate single-member districts. 5) What can the county board do to make McHenry County a more attractive place for businesses? To make McHenry County a more attractive place for people and businesses the board should continue to pursue transportation improvements; roads as well as public transit. In addition tourism opportunities should be encouraged; specifically agritourism experiences and Fox River enhancements. 6) What do you think is the most pressing issue the county board will face in the next two years and how will you address it? The most pressing issue facing the county board in the next two years will continue to be property taxes and government reductions and efficiencies. I will help focus attention[...]


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Man sentenced to 6 months in jail for fatal 2012 DUI crash near MarengoLeonardo Martinez

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 02:28:00 GMT

SENECA TOWNSHIP – A group gathered in a McHenry County courtroom Friday let out sighs of relief when 48-year-old Leonardo Martinez was sentenced to two years of probation in a DUI crash that killed a young girl.

In the next breath, however, McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather told Martinez he also would have to spend nearly six months in the McHenry County Jail. The man asked if he could be excused from serving the time if he followed the conditions of his probation, but Prather denied the request, and Martinez was taken away in handcuffs moments later.

Martinez pleaded guilty in October to aggravated driving under the influence of drugs in the 2012 crash that killed 4-year-old Daniela Gomez.

On Sept. 2, 2012, Martinez ran a stop sign at the intersection of Millstream Road and Route 176 and crashed into the Gomez family’s Jeep Cherokee. Blood and urine tests showed unspecified amounts of cocaine in his system, the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office has said.

Martinez’s attorney, Darryl Goldberg, has argued the crash was caused by a diabetic episode and a dysfunctional streetlight above the intersection.

The girl’s father, Francisco Gomez, cried as he testified Friday that he didn’t want to see another family torn apart as a result of the crash. He told Prather a sentence of probation would be appropriate, especially considering the case’s longevity.

“We want to give our forgiveness to him...” Gomez said. “We know it was an accident.”

Martinez was driving with two passengers – one of them a 5-year-old – at the time of the crash, police said. The Gomez family also had their 1-year-old son with them in the vehicle.

The crash ejected Daniela Gomez from the Jeep, and several passers-by stopped to help free the 40-pound girl from the wreckage, McHenry County Sheriff’s Sgt. Alan Sabol said in court Friday.

Goldberg and Martinez’s accountant, Jorge Duemas, said they worried if Martinez went to prison, the 16 muffler shops he operates would fail, leaving 86 employees without jobs.

They added that since the crash, Martinez has donated 5,000 Breathalyzers to Fathers Against Drunk Driving and spoken to students about the affects of impaired driving – although he maintains he felt OK to drive the day of the crash.

“I know that I was fine to drive that day, but I hold myself responsible for getting behind the wheel,” Martinez said in court Friday.

While Martinez is out on probation, he will be barred from drinking alcohol or consuming drugs, Prather ordered.

Leonardo Martinez


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Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District rescues cat from top of utility poleAlgonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District crews were dispatched about 5 p.m. to the 300 block of Wander Way, Lake in the Hills, to rescue a cat who had climbed to the top of a utility pole.Resident Craig Hack called the police department after noticing the cat on top of the pole. At first, he thought it was a large bird.Photo provided by Craig HackPhoto provided by Craig Hack

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 01:44:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Algonquin-Lake in the Hills firefighters responded to an unusual call Thursday night.

Crews were dispatched about 5 p.m. to the 300 block of Wander Way, Lake in the Hills, to rescue a cat who had climbed to the top of a utility pole, Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Mike Kern said.

“We don’t normally go out for cat rescues, but it is a community service, and we decided to go out there, check on it and see if we could be of assistance,” Kern said.

Resident Craig Hack called the police department after noticing the cat on top of the pole. At first, he thought it was a large bird. The cat had a collar on it with no tags and was given to the police department to identify its owner.

Firefighters used a ladder truck to rescue the cat.

“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you the last time we had to do that, in years,” Kern said. “It was just unusual because years ago, you’d see a cat up in a tree, and it would just crawl down. But this time, it was on top of a pole. It must have climbed its way up somehow.”

Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District crews were dispatched about 5 p.m. to the 300 block of Wander Way, Lake in the Hills, to rescue a cat who had climbed to the top of a utility pole.Resident Craig Hack called the police department after noticing the cat on top of the pole. At first, he thought it was a large bird.Photo provided by Craig HackPhoto provided by Craig Hack


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Former Huntley fire chief resigns from local police department after being investigated for moonlightingFormer Huntley Fire Protection District Chief Ken Caudle resigned Feb. 12 from his part-time police officer position with the Prairie Grove Police Department.Huntley Fire Protection District Chief Scott Ravagnie (left) and Deputy Chief Al Schlick discuss on Jan. 29 some of the questionable equipment purchases made by former Chief Ken Caudle at the Fire Protection District Annex Building in Huntley.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:50:00 GMT

PRAIRIE GROVE – Former Huntley Fire Protection District Chief Ken Caudle resigned from his part-time police officer position following an investigation from the fire district into his unauthorized moonlighting.

Caudle resigned from the Prairie Grove Police Department on Feb. 12, after telling the village on Feb. 6 he planned on leaving, Village Administrator William Beith said.

In his resignation letter, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, Caudle wrote he received another job offer that was “too exciting for me to decline.”

“It has been a pleasure working with you and your department for the past two years,” Caudle wrote. “One of the highlights of my career was seeing the department grow to what it is today.”

When reached by phone Friday, Caudle confirmed he left Prairie Grove police, and would not say where his next job was. He had worked for Prairie Grove since June 23, 2016.

An investigation into Caudle’s time at the Huntley Fire Protection District showed he spent tens of thousands of dollars in public funds on items of questionable use to the department, according to records obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request.

Some items seem to apply to more police-oriented work than others, such as an armor-bearing duty vest, “ballistics,” handcuff restraints, tactical jackets and belts, and a taser recertification course.

Authorities also questioned Caudle for activating his lights while driving his fire district vehicle and pulling behind a police car to assist an officer in a traffic stop, records show.

Despite a clause in his contract with the Huntley Fire Protection District that said he could not work other jobs while earning almost $150,000 a year as fire chief, Caudle held several others during his time as chief, records show.

Prairie Grove Police Department Chief Tony Colatorti said Caudle was not asked to resign and said he had no knowledge of Caudle’s double-logged hours to both Prairie Grove and the Huntley Fire Protection District. The hours were logged in May and Colatorti was officially appointed as police chief in November 2017.

Caudle earned around $19 an hour as a part-time officer and he had no spending authority with the police department, Colatorti said.

Former Huntley Fire Protection District Chief Ken Caudle resigned Feb. 12 from his part-time police officer position with the Prairie Grove Police Department.Huntley Fire Protection District Chief Scott Ravagnie (left) and Deputy Chief Al Schlick discuss on Jan. 29 some of the questionable equipment purchases made by former Chief Ken Caudle at the Fire Protection District Annex Building in Huntley.


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Joseph's Marketplace in Crystal Lake closesA shopper heads into Joseph's Marketplace on Thursday in Crystal Lake. The grocery store, which opened on 2005, closed Friday.Herbert and wife Luana Schardt of Cary load their car on Thursday with groceries purchased at 70 percent off at Joseph's Marketplace in Crystal Lake. The grocery store closed Friday.

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:21:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Joseph’s Marketplace closed Friday evening.

Customers tried to enter the independent grocery store up until the last minute before it shut its doors for good around 5 p.m., store manager Ron Presta said.

Presta said Friday was a consistently busy day with customers coming in for the last time.

More than 95 percent of the retail space in the store was empty Thursday afternoon. The store had advertised steep discounts in recent days, and the stocking of shelves continued to dwindle in recent weeks.

Joseph’s survived the recession after it opened in 2005, filling the space left vacant by an Eagle Food Center Inc. store.

It also bounced back from a three-month closure in 2011 after a partial roof collapse caused by a powerful summer storm.

Many in Crystal Lake and on social media have speculated that the anticipated opening of Mariano’s this spring, across the street on Route 14, led to the decision to close.

Joseph’s Marketplace management has declined to comment on the reason for the closure.

A shopper heads into Joseph's Marketplace on Thursday in Crystal Lake. The grocery store, which opened on 2005, closed Friday.Herbert and wife Luana Schardt of Cary load their car on Thursday with groceries purchased at 70 percent off at Joseph's Marketplace in Crystal Lake. The grocery store closed Friday.


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Joseph's Marketplace expected to close FridayBreads were discounted Wednesday to less than a $1 at Joseph's Marketplace on Route 14 ahead of the store closing Friday. The store said "thank you" on the labels of bread and deli items, such as this $.50 bag of dinner rolls.Produce shelves at Joseph's Marketplace on Route 14 were nearly empty Wednesday ahead of the store closing Friday. The store offered 70 percent off of all groceries on Thursday.Matthew Apgar - mapgar@shawmedia.com Alfa Bourey of Crystal Lake heads to her car after doing some shopping at Joseph's Marketplace on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 in Crystal Lake. Bourey was a regular at the grocery store, making most of her produce purchases there, however she stocked up on non-perishable items such as cleaning supplies purchased at 70% off during the store's going out of business sale.Matthew Apgar - mapgar@shawmedia.com Construction continues at Mariano's on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 in Crystal Lake.Matthew Apgar - mapgar@shawmedia.com A shopper heads into Joseph's Marketplace on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 in Crystal Lake. The grocery store is closing when all of its fresh produce are sold out.

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 23:22:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Judi Spizzirri was perusing Facebook on Thursday afternoon when she saw that all groceries in Joseph’s Marketplace were 70 percent off. Fifteen minutes later, she was combing the aisles for the best of what was left. The independent grocer will close Friday. “I’m going to miss it,” Spizzirri said. “They had good prices, variety, ethnic foods, their lunch meat couldn’t be beat. I was always here for the produce, too.” Customers and cashiers said the store would close Friday at the latest. More than 95 percent of the retail space in the store was empty Thursday afternoon. The store had advertised steep discounts in recent days, and the stocking of shelves continued to dwindle in recent weeks. As shoppers waited in line a couple of minutes before 4 p.m. Thursday, some of the lights were turned off. Customers stocked up on sports drinks, bread, tomato sauces and household items. There was no meat on display in the store, unless it was in the deli or frozen section, as of Wednesday, when groceries were 50 percent off. Produce shelves were close to empty. Donna Brennecke was introduced to Joseph’s Marketplace about 10 years ago through her job as a caregiver. She would shop at the store with her clients. On Thursday, she was using an outstanding gift certificate to take advantage of the deals. “I’m sad to see it go,” Brennecke said Thursday, just minutes before the store closed at 4 p.m. “They had a lot of stuff I wouldn’t normally buy, but I was introduced to all of these ethnic foods they had because of my clients.” Brennecke, an Algonquin resident, was examining an aisle of plasticware and napkins at 70 percent off when she said, “I already filled my car once and came back in to buy more stuff.” Joseph’s survived the recession after it opened in 2005, filling the space left vacant by an Eagle Food Center Inc. store. It also bounced back from a three-month closure in 2011 after a partial roof collapse caused by a powerful summer storm. Many in Crystal Lake and on social media have speculated that the anticipated opening of Mariano’s this spring, across the street on Route 14, led to the decision to close. Joseph’s Marketplace management declined to comment in January, aside from confirming the store would close soon, and declined again to provide more information Wednesday and Thursday. Crystal Lake economic development manager Heather Maieritsch said the store’s investment group considered closing in fall 2015 when Fresh Thyme Farmers Market opened on Route 14. But it’s unclear what specifically pushed the investors to close the store. Mayor Aaron Shepley dispelled the rumor that Mariano’s coming to town is the reason Joseph’s decided to close in comments he made Feb. 2 at the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce State of the Community Luncheon. He said that, based on information Joseph’s shared with the city, Marian[...]


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Kinzinger: Bump stocks should be banned; Congress needs to find middle groundCongressman Adam Kinzinger speaks to the SVM editorial board.

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 21:13:00 GMT

DIXON – In the wake of the Florida school shooting killing 17 people, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger said the aisles of Congress need to find common ground on gun control.

The Channahon Republican, who's running for re-election in the 16th Congressional District, told the Sauk Valley Media Editorial Board on Thursday that gun control is a bipartisan issue that needs to be approached outside of the far-leaning stances, the "ban all guns" or "do nothing" sides of the spectrum. Sauk Valley Media, is a part of Shaw Media.

Specifically, he said there needs to be a ban on bump stocks, attachments that enable a semiautomatic rifle to fire faster.

That might not prevent future shootings, but it would keep a shooter from being able to fire 100 rounds within a few seconds, he said.

"I think it's the right thing to do," he said.

Bump stocks were used in the Las Vegas concert shooting that killed 58 people and injured hundreds more in October.

The former Stoneman Douglas High School student who opened fire inside the Parkland, Florida, school last week used an AR-15 rifle without a bump stock.

Kinzinger said he's not in favor of arming teachers because without proper training, they might not be able to do much good in a shooter situation.

"I don't want to turn schools into military zones," he said.

Kinzinger will be running against Republican challenger Jim Marter, an Oswego businessman, during the March 20 primary. Democrats looking to unseat him are Neill Mohammad from DeKalb, Sara Dady from Rockford, Beth Vercolio-Osmund from Ottawa and Amy "Murri" Briel from Joliet.

The 16th District covers all of Lee, Ogle,Bureau, Boone, Grundy, Iroquois, LaSalle, Livingston, and Putnam counties, and parts of DeKalb, Ford, Stark, Will and Winnebago counties.

Congressman Adam Kinzinger speaks to the SVM editorial board.


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The 8 best places for a first date in McHenry CountyT-7: Duke's Alehouse Address: 110 N Main St, Crystal Lake Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 1 a.m. Friday-Saturday: 11:30 a.m. - 2 a.m.T-7: Epic Deli Address: 2616 Schaid Ct, McHenry Hours: Sunday: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.6: Woods Creek Tavern Address: 251 Randall Rd, Lake in the Hills Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m. - Midnight5: Retro Bistro Address: 83 N Williams St, Crystal Lake Hours: Monday: Closed Tuesday-Wednesday: 4:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. Thursday: 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. Friday: 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. Saturday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.4: Chop Suey Hut Address: 218 N Throop St, Woodstock Hours: Monday: Closed Tuesday - Thursday: 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. Friday: 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Saturday: 4 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Sunday: Noon - 8 p.m.3: Cary Ale House Address: 208 W Main St, Cary Hours: Sunday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m. - 2 a.m.2: Cucina Bella - Algonquin Address: 220 S Main St, Algonquin Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 4 p.m. - 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.1: Pablo's Mexican Restaurant Address: 230 W Virginia St # 300, Crystal Lake Hours: Sunday-Wednesday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 20:50:00 GMT

Where do you go for that first date? Northwest Herald readers voted these as the best places to take your first date in the most recent Best of the Fox contest.

T-7: Duke's Alehouse Address: 110 N Main St, Crystal Lake Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 1 a.m. Friday-Saturday: 11:30 a.m. - 2 a.m.T-7: Epic Deli Address: 2616 Schaid Ct, McHenry Hours: Sunday: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.6: Woods Creek Tavern Address: 251 Randall Rd, Lake in the Hills Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m. - Midnight5: Retro Bistro Address: 83 N Williams St, Crystal Lake Hours: Monday: Closed Tuesday-Wednesday: 4:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. Thursday: 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. Friday: 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. Saturday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.4: Chop Suey Hut Address: 218 N Throop St, Woodstock Hours: Monday: Closed Tuesday - Thursday: 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. Friday: 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Saturday: 4 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Sunday: Noon - 8 p.m.3: Cary Ale House Address: 208 W Main St, Cary Hours: Sunday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m. - 2 a.m.2: Cucina Bella - Algonquin Address: 220 S Main St, Algonquin Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 4 p.m. - 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.1: Pablo's Mexican Restaurant Address: 230 W Virginia St # 300, Crystal Lake Hours: Sunday-Wednesday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.


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Why didn't the officer rush into Florida's Parkland school mass shooting?Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Madisyn Menthaca, 15, places roses on the memorials on a hillside with her mother, Kelly Savino, where 17 students and teachers were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the second-deadliest shooting at a U.S. public school.

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 20:12:00 GMT

The sheriff deputy was armed and in uniform, standing outside the Florida school where a gunman was methodically killing students, authorities said Thursday night. And yet he did nothing. In the hours since authorities described the deputy's response, he has been vilified by his own department, the community and the president. The deputy, Scot Peterson, "clearly" knew there was a shooter inside, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference, something that Israel said made him "sick to my stomach." President Donald Trump called Peterson a coward. "When it came time to get in there or do something, he didn't have the courage," Trump told reporters Friday morning. The 54-year-old deputy, a resource officer at the school since 2009, has resigned. Peterson had served with the Broward County Sheriff's Office since 1985, and was considered a trusted and exemplary deputy, according to performance reviews reported by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. What could have been going though his mind that stopped him from going in? And what usually happens afterward to a first responder who fails to respond? Most people are familiar with the classic psychological responses to threat: fight or flight. These evolutionary responses are found throughout the animal world. But police psychologists often encounter a third path, a freezing response. "What police are called on to do is not natural," said Ellen Kirschman, a clinical psychologist who has worked with police departments across the country for more than 30 years. "Instead of running away from danger, they run toward it." No one except Peterson knows exactly what happened, Kirschman said, but she has worked with officers in the past with similar experiences. One officer she counseled had been involved in a shooting incident. On his first night back on patrol, he encountered almost the same situation. "He got these suspects out of their car and onto the ground, but once he pointed his weapon at them, he could no longer move," she said. "When other officers arrived, they could barely pry his fingers off the gun." When our brains perceive danger, adrenaline floods our body. The amygdala, a part of the brain in charge of emotional responses, becomes more active and can overrule the prefrontal cortex, which is in charge of nuanced cognitive functions like complex decision-making. Our senses can become distorted. Many officers describe experiencing tunnel vision or tunnel hearing, where they become entirely focused on something like a suspect's gun or voice. Their sense of time becomes similarly distorted. "You are not processing things like you normally would," Kirschman said. For some animals, such as deer or opossums, the freeze response immobilizes them so a motion-sensitive predator will not see them or will lose interest. Police officers do undergo extensive training to help them overcome instinctive responses to a crisis. "You see this for soldiers, firefighters, pilots. The training serves as a kind of stress inoculation. It puts you in that exact scenario so you see this is how your body responds and this is how you fight through that and overcome it," said Steve Albrecht, who was a San Diego police officer for[...]


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Rick Gates, ex-Trump campaign aide, agrees to guilty plea in Russia probeRick Gates arrives at federal court in Washington, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. Gates, a former top adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign is scheduled to plead guilty in the special counsel's Russia investigation to federal conspiracy and false statements charges. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 18:55:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – A former top adviser to President Donald Trump's election campaign is to plead guilty to federal conspiracy and false statements charges Friday in the special counsel's Russia investigation. The plea by Rick Gates is a strong indication that he is planning to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation as it continues to probe the Trump campaign, Russian election interference and Gates' longtime business associate, Paul Manafort. Gates, 45, of Richmond, Virginia, is appearing at the Federal Courthouse in Washington for his plea agreement hearing. A court filing shows Gates has agreed to plead to charges accusing him of conspiring against the U.S. government related to fraud and unregistered foreign lobbying as well as lying to federal authorities in a recent interview. Gates' decision to admit to the crimes comes a day after a federal grand jury in Virginia returned a 32-count indictment against him and Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, accusing them of tax evasion and bank fraud. The indictment in Virginia was the second round of charges against Gates and against Manafort, who has denied any wrongdoing. The two men were initially charged last October with unregistered lobbying and conspiring to launder millions of dollars they earned while working on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. Gates' decision marks the fifth publicly known guilty plea in the special counsel probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign. The plea also comes quickly on the heels of the stunning indictment last week that laid out a broad operation of election meddling by Russia, which began in 2014, and employed fake social media accounts and on-the-ground politicking to promote Trump's campaign, disparage Hillary Clinton and sow division and discord widely among the U.S. electorate. The charges to which Gates is pleading guilty don't involve any conduct connected to the Trump campaign. They largely relate to a conspiracy laid out in his indictments, but they do reveal that Gates is accused of lying to the FBI during an interview earlier this month. The court papers accuse Gates of lying about a 2013 meeting involving Manafort, a lobbyist and a member of Congress. Gates said the meeting did not include discussion of Ukraine, when in fact prosecutors say it did. The court filing doesn't name the lobbyist or the lawmaker. Gates' lawyers filed a motion this month indicating they had reached "irreconcilable differences" with him. His new lawyer, veteran Washington white-collar attorney Thomas Green, formally took over Thursday. Green did not respond to a request for comment Friday. As Gates was kept on house arrest, he frequently pleaded with U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson for leniency to attend sporting events with his four children. His court filings gradually began to show the s[...]


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President Trump calls for arming many teachers, more guards at schoolsPresident Donald Trump speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md., Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 18:49:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Before a friendly crowd of conservatives, President Donald Trump pressed Friday for the arming of many teachers and school security guards, questioning the inaction of an armed officer who failed to stop the gunman who carried out last week's Florida massacre. "He was not a credit to law enforcement," Trump said. Basking in the glow of the cheering crowd, Trump offered a greatest-hits recap of his campaign themes during wide-ranging remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference. He urged activists to help Republicans in the fall midterm elections and heed his recent calls to address gun violence. Departing the White House for CPAC, Trump told reporters that "when it came time to get in there and do something," Florida deputy Scot Peterson "didn't have the courage or something happened." "He certainly did a poor job. But that's a case where somebody was outside, they're trained, they didn't react properly under pressure, or they were a coward," Trump said. Long supported by the National Rifle Association, the president has sought to maintain his backing among gun rights activists even as he has called for strengthening background checks and raising the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles in the wake of the mass killing. Trump said that past efforts to address school safety and gun violence had faded and "nothing ever gets done. We want to see if we can get it done. Let's get it done right, we really owe it to our country." He added, "most of it's just common sense. It's not 'do you love guns, do you hate guns.' It's common sense." Turning to this year's elections, Trump told conservative activists at CPAC that Republicans must not be complacent in the fall midterms, warning of terrible consequences if Democrats take control of Congress. Trump predicted Democrats would "take away those massive tax cuts," referencing to his signature tax law signed in December, "and they will take away your Second Amendment." Trump then surveyed the audience of conservatives on which issue was more important to them, and listened as the crowd cheered loudly in support of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Near the end of a roughly 75-minute speech, Trump recited the lyrics from the 1960s song, "The Snake," a campaign staple that served as an allegory to warn of what he views as the dangers of some refugees and immigrants being allowed into the United States. Trump reiterated his campaign pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and charged Democrats with failing to engage on a plan to provide protections for young immigrants, even though he ended the program. Trump argued that his administration has kept his campaign promises, boasting as he often does that he "had the most successful first year in the history of the presidency." And he re-aired rhetoric from his 2016 campaign, citing a "very crooked media, we had a crooked candidate, t[...]


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More companies are cutting ties with gun lobby as #BoycottNRA movement gains steamNational Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md., Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 18:47:00 GMT

Three major companies - Enterprise Holdings, First National Bank of Omaha, and the cybersecurity giant Symantec - have ended co-branding partnerships with the National Rifle Association as a #BoycottNRA social media movement picks up steam. Enterprise is the parent company of three car-rental brands: Enterprise, Alamo and National. The arrangement that offered discounts to NRA members was discontinued Thursday. First National Bank of Omaha, one of the country's largest privately held banks, announced the end of a credit-card co-branding deal with the NRA. The bank had issued what its ads described as the "Official Credit Card of the NRA," according to the Omaha World-Herald. The Visa card offered 5 percent back on gas and sporting goods store purchases and a $40 bonus card. On Friday, Symantec Corp. announced in a terse statement on Twitter that it had also ended its discount program with the gun-rights organization. The company, which provides cybersecurity solutions worldwide, had been offering discounts on Norton anti-virus and malware protection, cutting prices on its premium package from $110 to $48 for NRA members. The decisions came as the names of companies with NRA associations began circulating widely on the Internet and social media under the #BoycottNRA hashtag following the deadly Valentine's Day attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. A gunman wielding an AR-15 left 17 dead and scores of people injured and drew anguished calls for a ban on assault weapons from students and families. The mass killing focused renewed attention on the NRA, which is credited with blocking gun control measures for years through millions of dollars in campaign contributions and pressure from its large membership base. American businesses have become increasingly aware politically and have participated in boycotts over the past few years against states over LGBT rights. But the NRA is a well-funded membership operation devoted to a single cause - guns - and unlikely to be moved by the actions of companies with which it has such loose and peripheral ties. Like many other organizations, the NRA has benefit deals with companies designed to make membership more appealing. The NRA "member benefits" page offers savings on a credit card, hearing aids, car rentals, travel, car purchases and prescription drugs, among other things. FedEx, for example, gives NRA Business Alliance members up to a 26 percent discount on shipping expenses. FedEx has not said anything publicly about its NRA association in recent days; company officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Hashtags urging boycotts of specific companies involved in the deals have sprouted up across social media over the past several days. People then started posting comments on the social media platforms of many of the companies urging them to take action. The Omaha bank appears to have been the first to respond. "Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA," the bank said in a statement posted on Twitter. "As a result, First National Bank of Omaha will not renew its contract[...]


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Florida governor Rick Scott: Ban gun sales to those under 21 years oldMarjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez wipes away tears during a CNN town hall meeting, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Fla. (Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 17:33:00 GMT

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – As teachers returned Friday to a high school where a shooter killed 17 people, Florida's governor proposed banning the sale of firearms to anyone younger than 21. Gov. Rick Scott announced the proposal as part of a three-point plan to prevent gun violence. He also called for a trained law enforcement officer in every school in Florida by the time the 2018 school year begins. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland had one armed resource officer, who never entered the school during the Feb. 14 shooting. That failure, plus reports of a delay in security camera footage scanned by responding police and several records indicating the 19-year-old suspect displayed behavioral troubles for years added to what the Florida House speaker described as an "abject breakdown at all levels." The Valentine's Day shooting has reignited national debate over gun laws and school safety, including proposals by President Donald Trump and others to designate more people — such as trained teachers — to carry arms on school grounds. Gun-control advocates, meanwhile, have redoubled calls for bans or further restrictions on assault rifles. Teachers have beguun returning to the school to collect belongings from classrooms that have been off-limits since the slayings. The school plans an orientation Sunday for teachers and students, and to restart classes Wednesday. "Our new normal has yet to be defined, but we want to get back to it," said geography teacher Ernest Rospierski, whose classroom is on the third floor of the three-story building attacked Feb. 14. Officials have said that building will be torn down. History teacher Ivy Schamis was teaching a Holocaust class when the shooter fired into her classroom. She's planning to return Monday to collect items from the room, including a big yellow banner that reads, "Never Again," referring to the Holocaust. She wants it hanging in her next classroom. "That's a Holocaust banner and now that's what our slogan is becoming after this tragedy." The school resource officer took up a position viewing the western entrance of that building for more than four minutes after the shooting started on Feb. 14, but "he never went in," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference. The shooting lasted about six minutes. The officer, Scot Peterson, was suspended without pay and placed under investigation, then chose to resign, Israel said. When asked what Peterson should have done, Israel said the deputy should have "went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer." The sheriff said he was "devastated, sick to my stomach. There are no words. I mean these families lost their children. We lost coaches. I've been to the funerals. ... I've been to the vigils. It's just, ah, there are no words." Trump weighed in Friday, saying Peterson was[...]


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The racist history of the 'crisis actor' attacks on Parkland school shooting survivorsArkia Gordon, 17, rallies outside the Florida's state Capitol in Tallahassee in support of stronger gun-control laws.

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 16:22:00 GMT

It was a moment of turmoil, when a school became a lightning rod for debates about American values and the Constitution. At the center of it all was a clutch of students, their teenage faces beamed across the country by television cameras. But no sooner had they emerged as heroes than they were branded as phonies. The year was 1957. Sixty-one years before teens at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, would survive a mass shooting only to be labeled "crisis actors," the nine African American teens who braved racist crowds to enroll in Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas were also accused of being impostors. False rumors that the Little Rock Nine were paid protesters even forced the NAACP to issue a statement condemning the stories as "pure propaganda." The students were not, in fact, "imported" from the North, said the NAACP's Clarence A. Laws, but rather the children of local residents, including veterans. When Princeton history professor Kevin M. Kruse pointed out the parallel between Parkland and Little Rock earlier this week, his tweet went viral. "It's funny," Kruse told The Washington Post on Thursday. "I'm teaching a class right now that does deep dives into three historical moments as a way to teach students how to use documents, and the first one we're doing is on Little Rock. . . . So when the 'these students must be paid' thing came up in the news, it took me a day and then I was like, wait a minute, I just read about this." But the practice of dismissing witnesses to major historical events as mere paid actors goes back much further than the Little Rock Nine. "It's a theme that crops up throughout civil rights history," said Kruse. " Back then, it was an assumption that African Americans in the South couldn't possibly be upset. They m ust have been stirred up from the outside, either paid to do this or inspired to do this by propaganda. They couldn't have come up with this on their own. "I think this is what we see in the Parkland case today," he added. "There's a belief that somehow these 17- or 18-year-olds who witnessed a school shooting . . . who saw their friends die, somehow could not have been motivated to respond to that on their own, that they would need some sort of outside direction for that protest to take shape." The crisis actor slur dates back to shortly after the Civil War, when former slaves who testified before Congress were slandered by Southern politicians as stooges paid to lie about their experiences, according to Boston College history professor Heather Cox Richardson. In December 1865, six months after the war's end, Congress convened a special Joint Committee on Reconstruction to "inquire into the condition of the States which formed the so-called Confederate States of America, and report whether they, or any of them, are entitled to be represented in either house of Congress." The future of the country was at stake. Northerners feared that full representation for freed slaves could, ironically, hand control of Congress over to many of the same Southern politicians[...]


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2018 Primary Election Questionnaire: Steve Bellmore - R, McHenry County Board District 4Steve Bellmore

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 14:38:00 GMT

Name: Steve Bellmore Age: 58 Town: McHenry Office sought: McHenry County Board Occupation: Self- employed/Marketing Education: Technical school Elected office held: McHenry High School District 156 Board Member 2011 to present. (4 years as President) 1) What skills, qualities or experience do you possess that separate you from your opponents? I will bring a common -sense approach to the county board. I am a true fiscal conservative. While working as president of the school board that was in dire shape, at that time, we cut spending and realigned the pay structure. We inherited a $2.4 million deficit and 7 years later there is a $2 million surplus. If elected, unlike my opponent Chuck Wheeler, I will not take health care benefits or mileage, saving the county $100,000 during a four-year term. Unlike Mr. Wheeler, I believe in full transparency and will not violate the open meetings law, saving the county tens of thousands of dollars. 2) What can the McHenry County Board do and what should it do to ease the property tax burden on homeowners? We need to continue to reduce property taxes, cut the levy and reduce spending. Valley Hi has a $40 million surplus. I would like to see an abatement of at least half of that money back to the taxpayers. I applaud the work that the county board started, but there is much more to do. Mr. Wheeler suggested increasing fee’s to balance the budget, which I disagree with. My idea is to cut spending. 3) Do you think the McHenry County Board should evaluate the possibility of leasing or privatizing Valley Hi Nursing Home? Mr. Wheeler did not want to address the issue with Valley Hi. It is incumbent upon us to look at all options and then come to a viable solution. Healthcare delivery is changing dramatically. As stewards of the tax payers’ money we must look at all viable options, while ensuring our seniors receive a world class residence and health care 4) Do you think the size of the McHenry County Board should be reduced from 24 members to 12 members? Why or why not? I am in complete favor of reducing the size of the board from 24 to 12. This would be a huge savings to the taxpayers. The board would be much more efficient. I would also like to see single-member districts, making the board members more directly accountable to the voters. 5) What can the county board do to make McHenry County a more attractive place for businesses? This all goes hand in hand with reducing property taxes. We need to be able to attract businesses and keep them. We must reduce our property taxes for this to occur. 6) What do you think is the most pressing issue the [...]


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'We're going to take action': Inside Trump's shifting stance on gun rightsPresident Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with state and local officials to discuss school safety in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 14:15:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's decision to place himself at the center of the roiling debate over the nation's gun laws began hours after last week's Florida high school massacre, when images of angry yet poised teenage survivors were beamed into the White House on live television. Trump's aides almost immediately recognized the power of their message and argued that before the president could propose any solutions, he needed to hear personally from these young adults, according to administration officials. Trump agreed. The plans culminated six days later under the grand chandelier of the White House's state dining room, where Trump sat face-to-face with survivors of gun violence and the relatives of victims and witnessed their angst and raw anger. The president, who has often struggled to convey empathy, clutched a slim notecard with reminders about how to communicate with the grieving - "I hear you," read one - that officials said White House Communications Director Hope Hicks jotted down during a huddle with Trump to prepare for the event. In the end, the response to the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School unfurled in classic Trump fashion: He floated policies without offering specifics. He shaped his views by surveying friends and reacting to the testimonials he saw on cable news. And he cast himself as the main protagonist in the unfolding gun drama. "We're going to do something about this horrible situation that's going on, and we're going to all figure it out together," Trump said as he opened Wednesday's session. "I want to listen. And then after I listen, we're going to get things done." Inside the West Wing, his advisers were anxious about what might unfold in such a charged and unscripted atmosphere, according to aides familiar with the debate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal discussions. Some had pressed to limit the amount of time television cameras were permitted to broadcast, but others - including the president himself - felt it was worth the risk to allow the media see the entire event. "He wanted it to be largely unscripted because he wanted it to be real," one senior White House official said. "He wanted a free-flowing dialogue. . . . He wanted to listen to these kids." Earlier, Trump met privately with Andrew Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, was among the 17 people killed at the high school in Parkland, Florida. Pollack was initially not slated to attend the broader media session, but Trump made a personal appeal, according to the senior White House official. Pollack did attend and provided one of the most intense and moving moments of the day. "I'm very angry that this happened, because it keeps happening," he told the president with the cameras rolling. "I'm pissed. It was my daughter I am not going to see again." At Wednesday's event and elsewhere, Trump broached several policies - more comprehensive background checks for gun purchases, raising the minimum age for buying an assault rifle, banni[...]


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Crystal Lake selects new garbage, recycling disposal company

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 07:19:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Residents will save money with the city’s new garbage disposal and recycling company. The Crystal Lake City Council unanimously approved a five-year contract Tuesday night with Prairieland Disposal after the city’s long-term deal with Marengo Disposal Co. Environmental Services expires April 30. Under terms of the new pact, single-family homeowners will pay $6.24 less a month, seniors will pay $4.05 less a month and multifamily home residents will pay $1.63 less monthly. The service schedule will be the same, which means the day that residents take their garbage and recycling out is not changing. Deputy City Manager Eric Helm said staff conducted surveys and research of the going rates in the market for disposal services. Based on their findings, Helm said he was not surprised to see such a decrease in rates. Not only was Prairieland the lowest bidder, but it proposed the lowest annual price increase. Rate increases with Prairieland will be in accordance with the annual rise in the consumer price index, which can range from 1.5 percent to 3 percent. Under the deal with MDCES, the rate increased 3 percent each year. The city first contracted with MDCES 15 years ago for five years and renewed the deal two times for five years each. Per the terms of the contract, the two parties reached the maximum number of contract extensions. That’s why the city went out to bid. Mayor Aaron Shepley said it’s clear that competitors have entered the marketplace and driven down prices, evidenced by the decreased rates that were proposed. Five of the six bidders offered rates lower than the current $23.13 that single-family home residents pay each month. Shepley said the City Council received frantic phone calls over the weekend when word spread that the city might be changing disposal services. He also addressed rumors that MDCES offered to lower its price to match Prairieland after the original bids came in. He said if the city went that route, no one ever would bid on future projects. “The fact of the matter is, MDCES wasn’t the low proposer, and if they really wanted the business, they would have been [the lowest],” Shepley said. Some residents apparently received robocalls from MDCES, and several addressed City Council members during public comment, but most concerns were addressed by Helm and Shepley. Some residents were upset to find out about the possible switch through a robocall from the company rather than the city. An important aspect of the new service, Helm said, is that Prairieland Disposal will pick up both garbage and recycling on the same truck with separate compartments. This means fewer trucks will be on city streets on collectio[...]


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After a year, Trump holds firm grip on conservative movementWearing custom hats in support of President Donald Trump, Priscilla Confrey, left, of Spring Lake, N.J., and her daughter Olivia Confrey, 13, attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md., Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. "I think it's a great way to understand what our country is going through right now," says Olivia Confrey, who was attending her first CPAC. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:59:00 GMT

OXON HILL, Md. – Donald Trump’s outsider candidacy rattled the conservative movement. But more than a year into his presidency, the onetime Democrat now holds what seems to be a near-total grip.

The largest annual gathering of conservatives has all the looks of a Trump festival, with Republican critics absent from the event outside the nation’s capital. Republicans are facing a challenging election season, and the Trump administration wants to motivate conservative activists so they will give endangered Republicans another term.

Vice President Mike Pence addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, offering a defense of the Trump agenda and trying to rally activists for the fall elections.

“Your president and I need you to show up,” Pence told activists as he urged them to “defend all that we’ve accomplished.”

Wearing custom hats in support of President Donald Trump, Priscilla Confrey, left, of Spring Lake, N.J., and her daughter Olivia Confrey, 13, attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md., Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. "I think it's a great way to understand what our country is going through right now," says Olivia Confrey, who was attending her first CPAC. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


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World leaders urge Syria cease-fire as fighting escalatesFormer Syrian opposition leader George Sabra, centre, chants slogans, as he joins others protesting attacks on rebel-held suburb of eastern Ghouta in Syria's capital Damascus, during a rally outside the Russian Consulate in Istanbul, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. Scores of people have gathered chanting Syrian songs and slogans denouncing a Syrian government forces' bombing campaign that has targeted hospitals, apartment blocks and other civilian sites. Hundreds of people have been killed or wounded in the campaign in recent days. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:43:00 GMT

BEIRUT – World leaders called Thursday for an urgent cease-fire in Syria as government forces pounded the opposition-controlled eastern suburbs of the capital in a crushing campaign that has left hundreds of people dead in recent days. The U.N. Security Council heard a briefing from U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock on what he called “the humanitarian disaster unfolding before our eyes” in the rebel-held suburbs known as eastern Ghouta. Sweden and Kuwait were seeking a vote on a resolution ordering a 30-day cease-fire to allow relief agencies to deliver aid and evacuate the critically sick and wounded from besieged areas to receive medical care. But Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, who called Thursday’s meeting, put forward last-minute amendments, saying the proposed resolution was “simply unrealistic.” He also accused global media outlets of a massive disinformation campaign that ignored what he claimed were thousands of fighters, including al-Qaida-linked militants, that were shelling Damascus from eastern Ghouta and taking refuge in hospitals and schools. Council members said they needed to study the Russian proposals. “We will try and find a way forward that works for everyone,” Sweden’s U.N. Ambassador Olof Skoog told reporters, adding that a vote was likely on Friday. In eastern Ghouta, medical workers said they hadn’t been able to see their families for days as they worked round the clock at hospitals that have been moved underground to protect them from bombing, while their spouses and children stay in shelters. “You can’t be above ground for even 15 minutes,” said a nurse in the town of Kafr Batna, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect the identity of family members still living in government areas. “At any moment I expect to have to treat my relatives for wounds,” he said. In the background the deep boom of a bomb could be heard exploding as the nurse spoke by Skype to The Associated Press. He said a barrel bomb had fallen less than one-third of a mile away. A spokesman for the Syrian Civil Defense search-and-rescue group said eastern Ghouta was being targeted for “extermination.” “This is a war against civilians,” said the spokesman, Siraj Mahmoud. “The civil defense is being targeted as they rescue women and children, evacuate civilians from targeted areas and put out fires.” Four rescue workers of the organization, also known as the White Helmets, have been killed since Sunday, Mahmoud said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said 400 people, including dozens o[...]


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Trump comments point to deep divisions over arming teachersFrom left, President Donald Trump, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student students Carson Abt, and Ariana Klein, listen as Carson's father Frederick Abt, speaks during a listening session with high school students, teachers, and others in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. In the aftermath of yet another mass school shooting, Trump says that if one of the victims, a football coach, had been armed “he would have shot and that would have been the end of it.” Revisiting an idea he raised in his campaign, Trump’s comments in favor of allowing teachers to be armed come as lawmakers in several states are wrestling with the idea, including in Florida, where the 17 most recent school shooting victims are being mourned.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:42:00 GMT

Lawmakers in several states are wrestling with the contentious of arming teachers, including Florida, where the 17 victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland are being mourned.

Trump said during a listening session Wednesday with parents and survivors of school shootings that a teacher adept at firearms “could very well end the attack very quickly.” He followed that up with a tweet Thursday that “highly trained teachers would act as a deterrent to the cowards that do this” and later suggested they receive bonuses for the added responsibility.

From left, President Donald Trump, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student students Carson Abt, and Ariana Klein, listen as Carson's father Frederick Abt, speaks during a listening session with high school students, teachers, and others in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. In the aftermath of yet another mass school shooting, Trump says that if one of the victims, a football coach, had been armed “he would have shot and that would have been the end of it.” Revisiting an idea he raised in his campaign, Trump’s comments in favor of allowing teachers to be armed come as lawmakers in several states are wrestling with the idea, including in Florida, where the 17 most recent school shooting victims are being mourned.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


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Trump endorses raising minimum age to 21 for more weaponsPresident Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with state and local officials to discuss school safety in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:41:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Thursday endorsed a higher minimum age for buying certain rifles and tighter background checks for purchasers, saying “there’s nothing more important than protecting our children,” amid a public outcry for action after the Florida school shooting. Trump said he spoke Wednesday night with many members of Congress and “they’re into background checks.” The president commented as he opened a school safety discussion at the White House with state and local officials from around the country. Early Thursday, Trump tweeted his strongest stance on gun control one day after an emotional White House session where students and parents poured out wrenching tales of lost lives and pleaded for action. Trump said on Twitter, “I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks!” The president did not immediately offer more details. Trump’s focus on gun violence came as leaders of the National Rifle Association offered a vigorous defense of gun rights during the Conservative Political Action Conference, urging enhanced – and armed – security at schools. An armed Broward County sheriff’s deputy, the regular school resource officer, was on the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, at the time of the shooting. “Evil walks among us, and God help us if we don’t harden our schools and protect our kids,” said NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre. “The whole idea from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous.” The NRA officials didn’t address whether the federal government should raise the age limit for young adults to buy weapons, accusing Democrats and media outlets of exploiting the Florida shooting. The NRA on Wednesday announced it opposes raising the age limit. “Many in legacy media love mass shootings, you guys love it,” said NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch at CPAC. “Now I’m not saying that you love the tragedy, but I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold.” The current federal minimum age for buying or possessing handguns is 21, but the limit is 18 for rifles, including assault-style weapons such as the AR-15 used by a former student in last week’s attack in Florida that killed 17 students and staff members. “We’re going to work on getting the age up to 21 instead of 18,” Trump said at the White House, adding that he thinks the NRA will back it – despite the group’s stated opposition. “The NRA will back it and so will Congress,” the presiden[...]


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Wonder Lake man gets 7 years in 2016 battery, rapeBohdan Y. Ostryzniuk

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:40:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A Wonder Lake man will spend the next seven years in prison for beating and raping a woman he previously had a relationship with and allowing her son to witness some of the violence.

McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather called 38-year-old Bohdan Ostryzniuk’s actions “heartless, cruel and humiliating,” before handing down his sentence Wednesday.

Ostryzniuk previously pleaded guilty to criminal sexual assault and domestic battery in connection with the attack that occurred Nov. 16, 2016.

According to an order of protection filed in McHenry County court, Ostryzniuk repeatedly punched the woman in the face before forcing her to engage in a sexual act and raping her. He reportedly told the victim’s son, who witnessed some of the abuse, “It’s OK to hit women,” according to the order.

“Bohdan is an extremely dangerous criminal,” the victim wrote in a statement that was read aloud in court.

The woman said in the order of protection that she didn’t think she would make it out of the assault alive, and she begged Ostryzniuk to stop.

“Bohdan was trying to get into one of the kitchen drawers that we keep the knives in. I believed he was trying to grab a knife out of the drawer to kill me,” she wrote. “I begged him for my life. I thought I was going to die that night.”

Ostryzniuk’s public defender, Angelo Mourelatos, asked Prather for the minimum four-year sentence, adding that the man has been a “model detainee” and was unlikely to reoffend, but Prather ordered Ostryzniuk to serve more time.

“It was heartless. It was cruel,” Prather said in court Wednesday. “It was humiliating, and what makes it even worse is that the act was committed in front of [a child].”

Ostryzniuk is required to serve 85 percent of his prison sentence, followed by a minimum three years of parole.

In court Wednesday, Ostryzniuk cried through his apology, and asked the woman for forgiveness.

“You did not deserve this,” he said.

Bohdan Y. Ostryzniuk


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Luxury camping company debuts plan for Camp AlgonquinMatthew Apgar - mapgar@shawmedia.com Modcamp LLC co-owners Todd Donohue (left) and Amy Haiar (center) speak with local business owner Julie Ninos, owner of Handmade on Main in Algonquin during a presentation put on by the McHenry County Conservation District and Modcamping LLC on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 at the Prairieview Education Center in Crystal Lake. "We need this in our town," Ninos said, sensing a potential opportunity for the two local business owners to collaborate down the road. The proposal could bring a luxury camping experience with the comforts of home while being emersed in nature at the Fox Bluff Conservation Area in 2020.

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:40:00 GMT

ALGONQUIN – A small group of residents got a look Thursday night at a company’s proposal to turn the unused, but historic, Camp Algonquin site near the Cary-Algonquin border into a luxury camping experience. Officials from the McHenry County Conservation District and ModCamp, a new company with sights on providing an “outdoor hospitality” experience in the Chicago metropolitan region, detailed their plan to revive Camp Algonquin after it closed in 2011. ModCamp’s pitch for Camp Algonquin features a few different dwelling options for visitors to stay at when visiting the Fox Bluff Conservation Area along the Fox River. Guests could choose from a small cabin, Airstream travel trailers or a luxury tent. The latter two are geared more toward visitors during spring, summer and fall, while the cabin could stay open year-round and offer guests a chance to cross country ski or snowshoe through Fox Bluff. “This does not currently exist in the Chicago metropolitan area,” said Amy Haiar of ModCamp. MCCD publicized in early February that it would have two introductory meetings open to the public regarding the proposal, the first of which was Tuesday night. MCCD Executive Director Elizabeth Kessler said the district got a phone call out of the blue from Haiar in July. She wanted to talk with the district about collaborating on a public-private partnership to accommodate her outdoor hospitality idea. At the time, she wasn’t sure which site she’d be interested in, but was pointed in the direction of Camp Algonquin given its history and potential. “I hiked every property the district had,” Haiar said. “And I learned the unique history of Camp Algonquin.” Camp Algonquin is one of only four camps built in the U.S. as part of the “Fresh Air in the Country” movement started during the late 1800s. The 50-plus buildings that were on the site have hosted underprivileged kids from Chicago, victims displaced by Hurricane Katrina, veterans and school groups. About half the buildings have since been torn down. Kessler said the district has been looking for ways to create interest in Camp Algonquin, which closed when the McHenry County YMCA filed for bankruptcy. That chapter of the YMCA was leasing Camp Algonquin from MCCD at the time and ran camping outings in conjunction with other groups. In 2014, Camp Algonquin was named by Landmarks Illinois as one of the top 10 most endangered historic places in the state. The district wants to make Camp Algonquin a destination again, and officials believe [...]


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Russian indicted by U.S. seen as doing favors for PutinFILE - In this Monday, Sept. 20, 2010 file photo, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, around his factory which produces school means, outside St. Petersburg, Russia. One of those indicted in the Russia probe is a businessman with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prigozhin is an entrepreneur from St. Petersburg who's been dubbed "Putin's chef" by Russian media. His restaurants and catering businesses have hosted the Kremlin leader's dinners with foreign dignitaries. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:40:00 GMT

MOSCOW – Thirty years ago, he was in prison. A decade ago, he was serving fancy meals to President Vladimir Putin. A week ago, he was among 13 Russians indicted in Washington on charges of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The journey of Yevgeny Prigozhin from troubled youth to ex-con entrepreneur with companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars reflects what one expert said is a typical pathway to riches in post-Soviet Russia: the willingness to do favors and “dirty tasks” for Putin that others would find too risky. On Feb. 16, Prigozhin was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller in an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 election. The indictment said he funded the Internet Research Agency, a “troll factory” that used social media accounts to “sow discord in the U.S. political system.” It said workers at the firm used YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to conduct “information warfare” against the U.S. to promote or disparage political candidates. After his indictment, Prigozhin was quoted by the state news agency RIA Novosti as saying: “Americans are very impressionable people; they see what they want to see. ... I’m not at all upset that I’m on this list. If they want to see the devil, let them see him.” Alexandra Garmazhapova, a reporter who briefly worked undercover at the agency in 2013 to write about it for her newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, said workers at the building in suburban St. Petersburg at that time were focused on domestic politics, targeting the opposition inside Russia. The factory was just starting out, Garmazhapova said, adding that she saw signs of an expansion. The firm went from several dozen employees to at least 300 full-time workers. “They were actively hiring, had several meetings a day, the work was ongoing. The feeling was that [Prigozhin] wanted to do Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] a favor – but didn’t harbor plans to conquer the world.” Prigozhin, a restaurateur who ran a catering company and was dubbed “Putin’s chef,” had other projects on his plate. He has been linked to a shadowy military firm that has sent private Russian contractors to fight in Ukraine and Syria on the side of Moscow’s allies. The 56-year-old Prigozhin is an “ideal villain who gets asked to handle various delicate and dirty tasks,” said Andrei Kolesnikov of the Carnegie Moscow Center. “Actually, it is typical of authoritarian regimes to outsource violence.” A graduate of a boarding school for promising athletes, Prigozhin ran into problems with the law at age 18, when he was c[...]


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Lake in the Hills village trustees ponder selling portion of water main systemMegan Jones — mjones@shawmedia.com The village tabled selling its unincorporated water main system south of Algonquin and Pyott roads Thursday, admist resident concern about how the sale will impact their service.Photo provided by village documents

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:39:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – The village tabled selling its unincorporated water main system south of Algonquin and Pyott roads Thursday, amid residents’ concerns about how the proposed sale to Central States Water Resources will affect their service. The Village Board unanimously agreed to table a vote of the sale at its Thursday meeting, and agreed to wait until more information could be gathered. It is unclear whether rates will increase for residents under the new company, Public Works Director Dan Kaup said. If the system is sold, the company would go in front of the Illinois Commerce Commission, similar to any other private utility such as ComEd or Nicor Gas. The commission would look at the cost of operating the system and then set the rates residents pay. Rachel Zastow, a resident of unincorporated Algonquin, asked trustees to wait before voting until the company can provide the plans it will bring to the commission. Trustee David McPhee motioned to table the vote. “More specifically, [residents need to] know exactly what the pluses and minuses involved are,” McPhee said. The village was generating $30,000 a year from the system, according to village documents. “[The main reason we are selling] is to eliminate the liability of the village of owning a system that does not turn a profit,” Kaup said. The water system, along with fire hydrants, must be replaced, which is expected to cost $1,793,357. The water main system could be sold for $1 to Central States Water Resources, a private water and wastewater utility company. The company would take control of the maintenance and upkeep of the system. Residents have been paying a quarterly $6 water main replacement fee to fix the main since May 2002. Each customer has paid $372 since its inception, Kaup said. Because of this, village staff members recommended returning 10 years’ worth of the fee to each property owner, costing the village about $20,880. Jim Wilson, a resident of unincorporated Algonquin, said neighbors purchased their homes based on having city water, and he worries how it will affect their property value. “You’ve done the least amount of maintenance in our section of the water system; you’ve taken all of our money. The system is crumbling apart, and you want to sell us for $1,” Wilson said. “I promise you all that every ‘I’ and every ‘T’ in whatever contract better be dotted and crossed, because us as a whole are going to fight this like hell.” [...]


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U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam talks health care, tax bill, gun controlMatthew Apgar - mapgar@shawmedia.com US Representative Peter Roskam of the 6th congressional district meets with the editorial board at the Northwest Herald on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 in Crystal Lake. Among topics Roskam addressed were the tax code, the opioid epidemic, and gun control.

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:35:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam has begun a new role leading a congressional subcommittee focused on health as he continues a bid to hold his seat in the 6th Congressional District. Roskam, R-Wheaton, met with the Northwest Herald Editorial Board on Thursday to discuss the subcommittee and health care, gun control and tax reform. He represents Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, which stretches from the Crystal Lake area to the Naperville area and covers parts of McHenry, Lake, Kane, Cook and DuPage counties. Roskam’s seat is up for election this year, and seven Democratic candidates are vying to challenge him for the spot. Democratic candidates running in the March primary include scientist and engineer Sean Casten of Downers Grove; Becky Anderson Wilkins, co-owner of Anderson’s Bookshops and a member of the Naperville City Council; College of Lake County Trustee Amanda Howland, who lost to Roskam in the November 2016 general election; regulatory attorney and Clarendon Hills resident Jennifer Zordani; Palatine resident Ryan Huffman; Barrington Hills plan commissioner Kelly Mazeski; and Carole Cheney of Naperville. On the health committee, Roskam said he has heard numerous accounts from proponents and opponents of the Affordable Care Act. He said there are people who say ACA saved their lives, but there are other people, particularly business owners, who say it’s costly and driving them out of business. “It has become a zero-sum game enterprise,” Roskam said. “Some people have benefited, but it has come at the expense of others.” He added that there are core principles of health care in America that should be kept in place as changes to the system potentially are made. Those included a free-market model, innovation and medical technology and pre-existing conditions protection. When asked whether he would support various gun control measures that could come down the pipeline, Roskam said he would support some actions such as a ban on bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic guns to fire more quickly. He added a focus on behavioral health care and stricter guards on who has access to guns are needed to prevent mass shootings such as the deadly incident in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 17 people and injured more than a dozen others. “There is a rage out there that is significant,” Roskam said. “The Florida case is particularly heartbreaking. The community did the right thing as far as the people that were hearing and seeing things were communicating to law en[...]


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Grand jury indicts Missouri governor who admitted affairA booking photo provided by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department shows Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking a compromising photo of a woman with whom he had an affair in 2015, the city circuit attorney's office said Thursday. Greitens' attorney issued a scathing statement challenging the indictment. (St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 05:59:00 GMT

ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking a compromising photo of a woman with whom he had an affair in 2015, the city circuit attorney's office said Thursday. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner launched an investigation in January after Greitens admitted to an affair with his St. Louis hairdresser that began in March 2015. He was elected governor in November 2016. Gardner declined comment beyond a brief news release. Greitens' attorney issued a scathing statement challenging the indictment. "In 40 years of public and private practice, I have never seen anything like this," attorney Edward L. Dowd Jr. said in a statement. "The charges against my client are baseless and unfounded. My client is absolutely innocent. We will be filing a motion to dismiss." The indictment states that on March 21, 2015, Greitens photographed a woman identified only by her initials "in a state of full or partial nudity" without her knowledge or consent. The indictment said Greitens "transmitted the image contained in the photograph in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer." The penalty for first-degree invasion of privacy in Missouri is up to four years in prison. Greitens was taken into custody in St. Louis and released on his own recognizance, said Susan Ryan, a spokeswoman for Gardner. In 2015, the woman told her husband, who was secretly taping the conversation, that Greitens took the compromising photo of her at his home and threatened to use it as blackmail if she spoke about the affair. Gardner's news release said it is a felony if a person transmits an image "in a manner that allows access to that image via a computer." Greitens has repeatedly denied blackmailing the woman, but has repeatedly refused to answer questions about whether he took a photo. Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, a Jefferson City Republican, said he was shocked by the indictment and called it "certainly serious," but said he needed time to review it before weighing in on whether the governor should step down. Democrats were more forceful in their comments. House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty said in a statement it will be "extremely difficult for the governor to effectively do his job with a felony indictment hanging over his head. While the criminal justice system must run its course, the governor needs to consider whether remaining in o[...]


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