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Retailers want to work out your wallet – and your bodyAP Photo Coss Marte, second from right, conducts a workout class at ConBody Bootcamp Studio at The Wellery on the second floor of the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York. Saks' New York flagship opened a 16,000-square foot wellness sanctuary in May that offers 1,200 different fitness classes, a salt chamber and meditation classes alongside wellness merchandise.

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:50:00 GMT

NEW YORK — Stores such as Saks and Urban Outfitters are looking to work out more than your wallet. As retailers struggle to draw in shoppers who have migrated online, stores are seizing on one of the few bright spots in the industry – fitness and wellness – in hopes of engaging consumers. That means meditation lectures with Deepak Chopra at ABC Carpet & Home in New York, a yoga class at Bloomingdale’s or a wellness getaway with Free People. One recent Wednesday, a dozen women walked into Saks on Fifth Avenue, tucked their purses into lockers and got to work performing squat thrusts and jumping jack intervals during an hour-long boot camp. After class, they could browse through a rack of $85 Phat Buddha leggings and try Glow Recipe’s $58 oil essence with cactus extract. Mila Petrova, who wasn’t part of the class that day but has attended other sessions at Saks, said it’s the location more than the shopping that has drawn her – it’s closer to her office. “I probably would have gone (to the workout) wherever they put it,” she said. The 27-year-old browsed the store only on the first night and hasn’t made any purchases – she’s usually rushing to the class from work and anxious to get home afterward. Still, however, she’s not a big shopper in general, she can see herself buying holidays gifts at Saks’ Wellery section because she’s already in the store. Several stores have opened stand-alone locations with vast areas carved out for exercise classes and seminars. Urban Outfitters’ five-story Space Ninety 8 in Brooklyn scheduled a chakra meditation and sound bath this month. None of the chains are talking about how much the wellness business has increased sales – or if it has. It may be too soon to tell. But while clothing stores struggle, U.S. activewear sales have increased. In 2016, they rose 11 percent over the previous year to nearly $46 billion, according to The NPD Group, a consumer tracking service, and are up from $36.9 billion in 2014. So it’s no surprise retailers want to offer those customers more and keep them in the stores longer. Saks’ New York flagship has devoted an entire floor to the 16,000 square-foot wellness sanctuary that opened in May and offers fitness classes, a salt chamber and meditation alongside other merchandise. Celebrity fitness guru Tracy Anderson was the marquee name on opening night. After a sweat session, fitness aficionados can test the latest home gym equipment such as a Peloton bike, get custom-fitted for golf clubs or get their nails done – a day’s worth of self-care in one spot. “We need to be their sanctuary, whether they need retail therapy or want to feel good about themselves,” Saks President Marc Metrick said. “After a good workout it’s a big rush, so it’s great. We want people to feel good in our stores ... it doesn’t always have to be because you bought a killer pair of shoes.” The Wellery is full circle for the upscale chain that constructed an indoor ski slope at its flagship store in 1935, and offered skiing lessons for a time as a novelty activity to bring customers in. Before the wellness trend, department stores like Sears and J.C. Penney positioned themselves as destinations through photo studios and beauty salons. Penney has also had success with small Sephora locations inside stores. The wellness trend taps into what analysts and retailers said is people’s desire for experiences. Magdalena Kondej, head of apparel and footwear at Euromonitor, characterized it as “the prioritization of doing, seeing and feeling over having more stuff.” AP Photo Coss Marte, second from right, conducts a workout class at ConBody Bootcamp Studio at The Wellery on the second floor of the Saks Fifth Avenue flagsh[...]


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Stabbing suspect was caretaker, studied insurance salesAP photo Timothy Wiley, FBI public affairs specialist, holds a photo Amor Ftouhi after a news conference in Detroit, Thursday, June 22. Amor Ftouhi, a Canadian man, shouted in Arabic before stabbing a police officer in the neck at the Bishop International Airport in Flint, Mich., on Wednesday, and referenced people being killed overseas during the attack that's now being investigated as an act of terrorism, federal officials said.

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:50:00 GMT

DETROIT – The Canadian man charged with stabbing a police officer at the Flint airport in a possible act of terrorism was a part-time caretaker at the Montreal apartment building where he lived and had once studied to sell insurance, a landlord and an insurance company spokesman said Thursday.

Amor Ftouhi kept the building stairwells clean and always paid his rent on time, his landlord said. The 49-year-old originally from Tunisia lived in a two-bedroom apartment with his wife and children and “never made any trouble,” Luciano Piazza said.

Investigators are working to learn more about Ftouhi, whom they describe as a lone-wolf attacker who made his way to the seemingly random destination of Flint, a struggling Michigan city once known for its sprawling General Motors factories but now better known for lead-tainted water.

Once in the U.S., he unsuccessfully tried to buy a gun, but instead managed to buy a knife, David Gelios, head of the FBI in Detroit said Thursday. He did not elaborate.

Licensed gun dealers first must put purchasers through an electronic background check of U.S. law enforcement databases, which could make Canadians ineligible, said Brady Schickinger, director of the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners.

The attack Wednesday at Bishop International Airport, about 50 miles northwest of Detroit, was being investigated as an act of terrorism, but authorities said they have no indication that the suspect was involved in a “wider plot,” Gelios said.

Ftouhi, a dual citizen of Canada and Tunisia, stabbed airport police Lt. Jeff Neville with a large knife after yelling “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great.” According to the FBI, Ftouhi said something similar to “you have killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die.”

He was immediately taken into custody and was charged in a criminal complaint with committing violence at an airport. Acting U.S. Attorney Dan Lemisch said more charges are coming in the days ahead. Ftouhi is in custody and has a bond hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

He wanted to identify an international airport, but, Gelios said, authorities “have absolutely no indication that he had any association with anyone in the Flint area or, thus far, in Michigan.”

Ftouhi was “neither on the radar of Canadian authorities or FBI or United States authorities,” Gelios said.

AP photo Timothy Wiley, FBI public affairs specialist, holds a photo Amor Ftouhi after a news conference in Detroit, Thursday, June 22. Amor Ftouhi, a Canadian man, shouted in Arabic before stabbing a police officer in the neck at the Bishop International Airport in Flint, Mich., on Wednesday, and referenced people being killed overseas during the attack that's now being investigated as an act of terrorism, federal officials said.


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Illinois man charged with threatening to assassinate TrumpThis 2007 booking photo provided by the Troy Police Department shows Joseph Lynn Pickett. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that Pickett of Edwardsville, Ill., was charged June 15, 2017, with threatening the president of the United States. U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Vincent Pescitelli says in a criminal complaint that Pickett "did knowingly and willfully make a threat to take the life of, to kidnap, and to inflict bodily harm" against President Trump on Facebook. (Troy Police Department via AP)

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:49:00 GMT

EDWARDSVILLE – An Illinois man has been charged after posting online several times that he wants to assassinate President Donald Trump.

Joseph Lynn Pickett of Edwardsville was charged June 15 with threatening the president of the United States, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.

U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Vincent Pescitelli said in a criminal complaint that Pickett “did knowingly and willfully make a threat to take the life of, to kidnap, and to inflict bodily harm” against Trump on Facebook.

The posts included frequent profanity as well as detailed death threats to the president.

After making the online threats, Pickett also posted several times that he was “still waiting” for the Secret Service to come arrest him.

The complaint said two of Pickett’s co-workers at Lowe’s contacted the Secret Service indicating that Pickett had posted threatening messages against Trump on Facebook.

Pickett also bragged about having weapons.

“Please call the Cops on me now so I have an,excuse to use my firepower .... AR 15, AK 47, s and w 40, Sig sauer 9 mm. Oh I’m so afraid of the police now..,” he wrote.

Pickett will be detained until a trial because the court can’t ensure the safety of other people in community because of “mental instability,” according to court documents.

A phone message left by The Associated Press seeking comment from Public Defender Thomas Gabel was not immediately returned.

This 2007 booking photo provided by the Troy Police Department shows Joseph Lynn Pickett. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that Pickett of Edwardsville, Ill., was charged June 15, 2017, with threatening the president of the United States. U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Vincent Pescitelli says in a criminal complaint that Pickett "did knowingly and willfully make a threat to take the life of, to kidnap, and to inflict bodily harm" against President Trump on Facebook. (Troy Police Department via AP)


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Americans and guns: It's complicatedAP file photo This photo shows a rack of rifles at Firing-Line gun store in Aurora, Colo. A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows Americans have grown more divided over gun issues.

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:49:00 GMT

ATLANTA – Americans have long had a complex relationship with guns.

Now, a new study shows that the country’s deep political divide is reflected in attitudes toward gun control. The Pew survey released Thursday found a sharp drop since 2000 in overall support for gun control despite common ground on some key issues.

For example, when people were asked whether it was more important to protect gun rights or control gun ownership, 51 percent favored gun control and 47 percent favored gun rights. Compare that with responses in 2000, when two-thirds of those surveyed said they supported gun control measures.

People in the new survey were in broad agreement when asked about specific gun control measures.

Some 89 percent supported preventing the mentally ill from buying guns and 84 percent of all adults supported background checks for private sales and at gun shows.

Barring gun purchases for people on no-fly lists won support from 83 percent, while 71 percent of adults, including a small majority of gun owners, supported a federal database tracking gun sales.

The survey showed wide disparities in how people view firearms along political, gender, racial and geographic lines. The gaps come at the start of President Donald Trump’s term. He is seen as one of the most gun-friendly presidents and could be supported by a GOP-controlled Congress, although there has been little action on gun issues since January.

About half of the public said making it more difficult to purchase a firearm would mean fewer mass shootings, while a little over one-third said it would have no impact.

Most people attribute gun violence to the ease in illegally getting access to a firearm, and the public can’t decide whether making it easier to legally purchase a firearm would lower or raise the crime rate.

Republicans have made the most significant shifts on guns while Democrats have remained consistent in their views, said Kim Parker, Pew’s director of social trends research.

“This reflects that the issue has really become more polarized, more driven by partisan attitudes,” Parker said.

The study also showed that people in the United States, whether they own a firearm or not, have broad exposure to guns. At least two-thirds have lived in a household with guns and about 70 percent have fired a gun.

The main reason most cited for wanting to own a gun? Protection.

Two-thirds of gun owners say they own a gun to protect themselves or loved ones. Nearly one-third of gun owners have five or more. Still, just one-quarter of them said they usually carry a firearm outside the home.

That willingness to purchase a firearm is despite the fact that 44 percent of adults said they personally know someone who was shot and about one-quarter say they or a family member have been threatened or intimidated by someone with a gun.

The Pew Research Center sought to better understand Americans’ “complex relationship” with firearms. Researchers wanted to see people’s views on various policy issues.

AP file photo This photo shows a rack of rifles at Firing-Line gun store in Aurora, Colo. A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows Americans have grown more divided over gun issues.


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Senate GOP unveils 'Obamacare' overhaul, but not all aboardSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017, as Senate Republicans work on a health reform bill. Senate Republicans would cut Medicaid, end penalties for people not buying insurance and erase a raft of tax increases as part of their long-awaited plan to scuttle Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:49:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans launched their plan for shriveling Barack Obama’s health care law Thursday, edging a step closer to their dream of repeal with a bill that would slice and reshape Medicaid for the poor, relax rules on insurers and end tax increases on higher earners that have helped finance expanded coverage for millions. Four conservative GOP senators quickly announced initial opposition to the measure and others were evasive, raising the specter of a jarring rejection by the Republican-controlled body. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., indicated he was open to discussion and seemed determined to muscle the measure through his chamber next week. Release of the 142-page proposal ended the long wait for one of the most closely guarded bills in years. McConnell stitched it together behind closed doors, potentially moving President Donald Trump and the GOP toward achieving perhaps their fondest goal – repealing former President Obama’s 2010 statute, his proudest domestic legacy. On Twitter, Trump said he was “very supportive” of the bill. On Facebook, Obama said at the heart of the bill was “fundamental meanness.” The bill would end Obama’s tax penalties on people who don’t buy insurance – effectively ending the so-called individual mandate – and on larger companies that don’t offer coverage to their workers. It would offer less generous subsidies for people than Obama’s law but provide billions to states and insurance companies to buttress markets that in some areas have been abandoned by insurers. McConnell must navigate a narrow route in which defections by only three of the 52 Republican senators would doom the legislation. He and others said the measure would make health insurance more affordable and eliminate Obama coverage requirements that some people find onerous. “We have to act,” McConnell said. “Because Obamacare is a direct attack on the middle class, and American families deserve better than its failing status quo.” Democrats said the measure would result in skimpier policies and higher out-of-pocket costs for many and erode gains made under Obama that saw about 20 million additional Americans gain coverage. “We live in the wealthiest country on earth. Surely we can do better than what the Republican health care bill promises,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Four conservative senators expressed opposition but openness to talks: Ted Cruz of Texas, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson from Wisconsin. They said the measure falls short, missing “the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.” On the other hand, Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada, facing a competitive 2018 re-election battle, Ohio’s Rob Portman and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia expressed concerns about the bill’s cuts to Medicaid and drug addiction efforts. And Susan Collins of Maine reiterated her opposition to language blocking federal money for Planned Parenthood, which many Republicans oppose because it provides abortions. Late Thursday, Trump tweeted, “I am very supportive of the Senate #HealthcareBill. Look forward to making it really special! Remember, ObamaCare is dead.” Obama was more than skeptical. “If there’s a chance you might get sick, get old or start a family, this bill will do you harm,” he wrote. He said “small tweaks” during the upcoming debate “cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.” The House approved its version of the [...]


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103.9 the Fox hosting radiothon to benefit Marengo explosion victims

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:48:00 GMT

MARENGO – WFXF/103.9 the Fox is hosting a #MarengoStrong Radiothon fundraiser Friday for victims of the Marengo home explosion that took place June 11.

Proceeds from the station’s 13-hour radiothon will directly benefit the M.O.R.E. Center, a nonprofit organization that has been helping those affected by the explosion with clothing, food and money to help pay for expenses and bills related to the incident.

“Anytime we can use our station’s powers for good, we should. I’m confident that 103.9 the Fox listeners will come through big time for their unfortunate neighbors in Marengo,” program director Alex Quigley said.

The radiothon will continue through the morning drive with Eddie Volkman, midday with Quigs, and afternoon drive with Pat Capone.

Anyone looking to donate can visit www.rockthefox.com anytime from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Twisted Rose of Algonquin will be matching the first $5,000 in donations collected starting at 6 a.m., according to a news release.

All money raised will go directly to the M.O.R.E. Center of Marengo.




Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County hosting annual kids golf

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:47:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS — Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County is hosting its 15th annual Swing for Kids’ Sake Golf Outing to raise funds for the program’s one-to-one mentoring program July 24 at Boulder Ridge Country Club.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County works with more than 450 kids ages 6 to 14 with its one-to-one mentoring program designed to boost kids’ academic performance and self-confidence while discouraging illegal drug use and skipping school.

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria will provide lunch, and Bonefish Grill of Algonquin will provide dinner. There also will be silent and live auctions. Other sponsors include: Crystal Lake Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, Intren, Plote Homes, BMO Harris Bank, Gray & Gray LLC, Elastic Cord & Webbing, Home State Bank and Crystal Lake Bank & Trust.

The outing is open to the public but does require registration: as an individual ($210), foursome ($800) or corporate foursome/tee box sponsor ($900). Registration includes golf, lunch and dinner and carts for foursomes.

Registration can be done online or over the phone at 815-358-3855.




Crystal Lake-based School District 155 Board approves new assistant superintendent

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:47:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Community High School District 155 Board approved Tom Kim as the new assistant superintendent of human resources, effective July 1.

Kim will replace Randy Davis, who has held the position since July 2007 but resigned at Tuesday night’s board meeting for a “personal reason,” director of communications Shannon Podzimek said.

Kim, who was selected among 40 candidates, has 17 years of education experience and has held multiple leadership positions, such as athletic director, associate principal and principal. He is working on his doctorate in education leadership and supervision at Loyola University.

“I am thrilled to join the D-155 family,” Kim said in a news release. “Already, it has been a welcoming atmosphere, and I am looking forward to meeting the wonderful people in our district. I am committed to continuing the excellent work in all of our D-155 high schools, and I will work to ensure the district’s mission to inspire, empower and nurture is achieved in our district.”

Davis’ resignation will be effective June 30, while Kim will officially assume his duties July 1.




McHenry fundraiser to benefit local man battling cancerColleen D'Angelo, Tim D’Angelo, and their 2-year-old son Timmy. Tim D'Angelo was diagnosed with cancer this past year and a fundraiser is planned for Saturday to help the family's financial burden of chemotherapy costs.

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:47:00 GMT

McHENRY – The public is invited to attend a fundraiser Saturday benefiting McHenry native Tim D’Angelo, who was diagnosed with cancer this past year.

The fundraising event will be from 5 to 9 p.m. at The Church Of Holy Apostles, 5211 Bull Valley Road, McHenry.

Around Christmas 2016, Joe D’Angelo said his 36-year-old son who grew up in McHenry wasn’t feeling well, prompting him to pay a visit to the doctor. The D’Angelo family eventually found out Tim has colon cancer after he underwent a colonoscopy.

“There were also two spots on his liver they found,” Joe D’Angelo said.

Tim is now undergoing chemotherapy – which has helped shrink the tumors so far – and has taken time off from his occupation as a laborer as a result.

“He can’t work right now because of the cancer,” Joe D’Angelo said. “That’s the reason we decided to do the fundraiser to help tide his family over in the meanwhile.”

Tim lives in Island Lake with his wife, Colleen, and 2-year-old son, Timmy.

“He’s a great father, a great friend and someone you can always depend on to be there for you,” said Dan Loud, Tim’s best friend.

Loud said that when he found out the news, he was shocked.

“He was a young, healthy man,” Loud said. “But just the support through the church and the whole community has been great. It seems like it will be a really fun night and everyone is just pulling together to help out Tim.”

The Turn Out for Tim fundraiser will feature a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle. Auction items will consist of Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls and Bears tickets for sports fans, among many other items.

“Tim loves sports,” Joe D’Angelo said. “How fun would that be do a fundraiser also where we serve ballpark foods? We’ve got hot dogs, brats, ice cream and Cracker Jack.”

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for teenagers. Children 10 and younger can join for free.

Tickets can be bought at the door.

Colleen D'Angelo, Tim D’Angelo, and their 2-year-old son Timmy. Tim D'Angelo was diagnosed with cancer this past year and a fundraiser is planned for Saturday to help the family's financial burden of chemotherapy costs.


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Algonquin Township Highway Department to host Saturday recycling event for residents

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:46:00 GMT

The Algonquin Township Highway Department is hosting a recycling event for township residents from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, but there will be some changes.

Recyclables will be accepted at the township building at 3702 Route 14 in Crystal Lake. However, entrance to the event will be at The Hollows, the neighboring McHenry County Conservation District recreation area – the entrance to the township offices will be used for exit only.

Township residents can drop off window-unit air conditioners, answering machines, computers and video game consoles, camcorders and cameras, cellphones and landline phones, small humidifiers and dehumidifiers, fax machines, microwave ovens, MP3 and music players, power tools, small appliances, stereos, typewriters, car batteries, used motor oil and tires. A recycling fee will be charged for tires.

The township will not be accepting paint, refrigerators, freezers, hazardous waste, fluorescent tubes and bulbs, or household batteries.

Recyclables will only be accepted from residents of Algonquin Township.

Brush and log drop-off, and mulch pickup, will be suspended during the recycling event, but will resume when it ends.

For information, call 847-639-2700, ext. 6, or follow the highway department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AlgonquinTownshipHighwayDepartment.




Crystal Lake School District 47 changes leadership at Bernotas, North Elementary

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:46:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 has made changes to three leadership positions at Bernotas Middle School and North Elementary for the 2017-18 school year.

Steve Scarfe, principal at North Elementary for the past two years, will become the new principal at Bernotas Middle School and replaces former Principal Jeff Prickett, who accepted the role as principal at McHenry East High School in May.

Scarfe’s 2017-18 salary has not been determined, coordinator of community relations Denise Barr said. His 2016-17 salary was $102,432.

“I began my career in education as a middle school math teacher, so for me, this feels like coming home again,” Scarfe said in a news release. “My own children attend Bernotas, and I am very excited to be joining a great staff at a great school.”

The School District 47 Board also voted unanimously Monday to approve Christina Moran as the next principal of North Elementary, where she has served as assistant principal since 2014. Her salary will be $102,471 for the 2017-18 school year.

“I’m just excited to continue all the wonderful things that are happening at North and continue serving the students, staff and community,” Moran said.

Ken Hommowun will become the new assistant principal at North Elementary after two years serving as the dean of students for Old Orchard Junior High School in Skokie. He also has previous teaching experience in music at the middle school and elementary levels.

Hommowun’s salary is $74,595 for the upcoming school year.




London man arrested after police pursuit through McHenry County awaits mental health treatmentSidhekur Rahman, 29, of London

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:45:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – An Englisman who led police on a chase in April through several local towns in a stolen truck claiming he couldn’t stop because he thought he was being filmed for a movie was deemed unfit for trial and is awaiting mental health treatment.

Sidhekur Rahman, 29, of London, was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on several felony charges, but the matter was continued until he can get treatment from a mental health facility. The Department of Human Services deemed him unfit to stand trial last month.

Rahman didn’t appear before Judge Sharon Prather, but his lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Angelo Mourelatos, appeared on his behalf. Mourelatos said his client will be taken to a treatment facility as soon as a spot is made available.

Police have said Rahman was involved in a hit-and-run crash in Fox Lake while driving a stolen 1996 GMC 2500. Rahman fled and continued toward McHenry County when Woodstock police officers started following him at Route 47 and Ware Road. Officers followed Sidhekur into Crystal Lake until they arrived at Route 176 and Route 31.

Crystal Lake police officers eventually arrested him when they found him at Pauly Toyota in Crystal Lake.

Sidhekur is facing charges of aggravated fleeing, criminal trespass to a vehicle, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, disorderly conduct, reckless driving, speeding 21 to 25 mph above the speed limit, disregarding a traffic control light, improper use of a designated lane and improper traffic lane usage.

The most serious charge, a Class 2 felony, is typically punishable by three to seven years in prison.

He remained in McHenry County Jail custody as of Thursday afternoon. His next court date is scheduled for July 20.

Sidhekur Rahman, 29, of London


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Changes to Woodstock hospital could end up costing residentsSarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com Centegra Chief Executive Officer Michael Easley (left) and Hadley Streng, senior vice president for strategy and development for Centegra announce plans to suspend in-patient care at its Woodstock hospital Wednesday, June 21, 2017.

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:44:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK — Centegra Health System’s decision to suspend much of its inpatient care at its 108-bed Woodstock hospital could pose challenges both medically and financially for residents, depending on the extent to which services are affected.    Centegra officials announced Wednesday plans to end intensive care and medical-surgical operations at its Woodstock facility by Aug. 14 and move those services to hospitals in McHenry and Huntley as a cost-saving measure. In turn, patients needing inpatient hospital services would be taken or referred to other facilities should Centegra get approval from the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board. Woodstock Fire/Rescue District Chief Michael Hill said Centegra reached out to him Wednesday to keep the department informed about the upcoming service changes. Centegra also offered to assist with implementing the changes and with the adjustment process. But regardless of Centegra’s help, Hill said any changes requiring patients to be brought to either Huntley or McHenry facilities would affect both residents and his department. “It’s an inconvenience for us and an inconvenience for (patients),” Hill said of taking patients to Huntley and McHenry. “Obviously, the quicker you can get to medical attention, the better off you’re going to be and just the easier it’s going to be.” Concerns about the number of available ambulances at any given time also come into play. Hill said his district averages 12 to 13 calls on a daily basis and has a minimum of two staffed ambulances at all times, with a third either fully staffed or a jump company — when a crew will respond with either a fire engine or an ambulance, depending on the call. Hill said his district could seek assistance from surrounding communities in dire situations, as is common practice; however, Hill added that making it a regular thing would mean a higher level of service in the district is necessary. For calls needing to take patients to either Huntley or McHenry, Hill said he estimates the time an ambulance would be unavailable would increase by 30 to 45 minutes. Each hospital is about 10 miles away from the Woodstock’s downtown area. “If that’s the case and if it becomes a problem where we don’t have ambulances available for significant portions of the days, we’re talking about getting more equipment (and) more personnel to make up for the change,” Hill said. “And that’s going to affect people financially.” Since Woodstock Fire/Rescue District receives its funding directly from the taxpayers — accounting for 7 percent of district homeowners’ property tax bill — the district would need to submit and pass a referendum to increase its tax levy and increase funding to afford additional equipment and personnel. “At this time, we don’t have any plans to run a referendum,” Hill said, “but we need to assess the ramifications of this change.” Less concerned with the possibility of tax hikes, Woodstock resident Brian Vinson thought about his newborn daughter, Shelby, who was born last week with Down syndrome and consequently faces greater risks of infectious diseases, according to the Mayo Clinic. Should an emergency situation arise, Vinson said he worries about the increased time it would take for her to receive care. He also said he would hope Centegra would inform local residents which services are no longer offered to avoid [...]


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McHenry County Board chairman: LITH Sanitary District pulling 'shenanigans' to avoid consolidationH. Rick Bamman file photo - hbamman@shawmedia.com Lake In The Hills waste water treatment facility 515 Plum St, Lake in the Hills. A political and legal battle is brewing over a move by the Lake in the Hills Sanitary District to purchase land in Kane County, which if successful would negate an ongoing effort to consolidate it into the village.

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:43:00 GMT

A political and legal battle is brewing over a move by the Lake in the Hills Sanitary District to buy land in Kane County, which, if successful, would negate an ongoing effort to consolidate it into the village. To the legal counsel retained by some of its members, the impending purchase makes the district a multicounty entity, which means that the McHenry County Board not only can’t consolidate it under a new law but also loses the authority to appoint its three-member board. But to County Board Chairman Jack Franks, who as a state representative wrote the law allowing the county to abolish certain small units of government, the move is an illegal and immoral attempt to stymie taxpayer relief and accountability. “This, in my opinion, is a scheme to defraud the taxpayers to perpetrate a fiefdom where the insiders are taking advantage of the taxpayers, and that’s exactly why I wrote the law to consolidate,” Franks, D-Marengo, said Wednesday morning. About 40,000 residents in Lake in the Hills, Huntley and Crystal Lake are served by the district, which was created in 1963 by voter referendum to handle wastewater management and water pollution control. The district, one of a handful of county bodies that could be eliminated under state law, has been singled out by Franks as a prime candidate for dissolution in a state with almost 7,000 units of local government. But Derke Price, an attorney representing the district in the land deal and several district members, including its ousted former board president, said the County Board now has no power to do so. He is filing a challenge to the County Board’s vote Tuesday evening to fill two board vacancies. “The consolidation act that Mr. Franks authored says that it has to be an entity that exists solely within McHenry County, and whose officers are appointed by the county,” Price said. “Because [the sanitary district] is now in two counties, they can’t appoint the officers, and it’s not eligible under the consolidation act, either.” The land at the heart of the fight is 13.88 acres over the border in Kane County, down Square Barn Road – the district’s boundaries at their closest point are a mile and a half from the county line. Unlike most other governments, sanitary districts can annex down roads without contiguous parcels to help facilitate getting people off of well and septic. Sanitary district trustees voted in April to annex the right-of-way of all of Square Barn Road. Price said the district has not yet bought the land, but is under option to do so, pending the needed formalities. Under the consolidation law that Franks wrote and Gov. Bruce Rauner signed in August, the McHenry and Lake county boards can eliminate governments that are entirely within the respective counties, and to which the boards appoint a majority of the trustees. If the land purchase goes through, the County Board could lose not only the ability to consolidate the sanitary district, but also the power to appoint its trustees, which for multicounty districts falls to the state lawmakers whose districts include its boundaries. Franks on Tuesday evening, and in a scathing letter he wrote to Price and read on the board floor, called the purchase nothing more than “shenanigans” aimed at stopping the consolidation effort. He spoke immediately after Price addressed the board during public comment. Franks said the purchase, and a price tag he[...]


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Centenarian looks back at life of travel and educationH. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Robert (left) and Anna Fitzpatrick and Brian Fitzpatrick surprise the brother's grandmother Helene Fitzparick for her 100th birthday Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at Three Oaks Assisted Living in Cary. Fitzpatrick's secret to longevity could lie in her lifelong love of sports starting with joining her high school basketball teams and expanding to tennis and other sports increasing her appreciation for the outdoors.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Three Oaks Assisted Living resident Helene Fitzpatrick clebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 in Cary. At age 12, the stock market crashed. Fitzpatrick was nearing 27 when the Western Allies invaded Normandy. She was born June 20, 2017, the eldest of three girls, in Philadephia.

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:43:00 GMT

Blowing out the candles, even at 100, is no daunting task for Helene Fitzpatrick, who let out a confident gust of air during her birthday celebration.

Her secret to longevity could lie in her lifelong love of sports, starting with joining her high school basketball teams and extending to tennis and other sports increasing her appreciation for the outdoors. Fitzpatrick said it may be attributed to good genes – both her parents lived well into their 90s.

No matter the reason for her long life, Fitzpatrick spent most of her lifetime traveling and learning and looking back. She emphasized the importance of education.

"Truthfully, some [eras] were good and some were bad," Fitzpatrick said, "but I've always thought that was life itself."

At age 12, the stock market crashed. Fitzpatrick was nearing 27 when the Western Allies invaded Normandy.

She was born June 20, 1917, the eldest of three girls, in Philadelphia. It wasn't until she married her husband, a World War II veteran, that her travels truly began.

Her husband, Robert, brought Fitzpatrick and their two children around the country with him because his work required him to travel. Fitzpatrick saw this as an adventure and enjoyed seeing most of the U.S.

She especially enjoyed living in New Jersey because they spent each summer by the ocean.

After her husband died in the mid-1970s, Fitzpatrick decided to go to college. She attended Elmhurst University where she received a degree in English, a subject chosen because of her love of language.

Her education didn't end there. Fitzpatrick went on to study Shakespeare at Oxford University for a semester. She also got to travel to Spain and Russia.

"[Russia] is very far, but it's a whole new world," Fitzpatrick said. "I liked everything I did."

She passed her love of language and the world to her grandchildren, who got to travel extensively. One of her grandsons went on to become proficient in Spanish, citing Fitzpatrick as a main inspiration.

On her 100th birthday Tuesday, she was surrounded by family and fellow residents of Three Oaks Assisted Living.

H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Robert (left) and Anna Fitzpatrick and Brian Fitzpatrick surprise the brother's grandmother Helene Fitzparick for her 100th birthday Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at Three Oaks Assisted Living in Cary. Fitzpatrick's secret to longevity could lie in her lifelong love of sports starting with joining her high school basketball teams and expanding to tennis and other sports increasing her appreciation for the outdoors.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Three Oaks Assisted Living resident Helene Fitzpatrick clebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 in Cary. At age 12, the stock market crashed. Fitzpatrick was nearing 27 when the Western Allies invaded Normandy. She was born June 20, 2017, the eldest of three girls, in Philadephia.


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Trump says he didn't tape his conversations with ComeyPresident Donald Trump speaks during the "American Leadership in Emerging Technology" event in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:26:00 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he "did not make" and doesn't have any recordings of his private conversations with James Comey — his fired FBI director.

Trump also tweets that he has "no idea" whether other "tapes" or recordings exist.

Trump has disputed Comey's assertion that Trump asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty during a dinner meeting they had.

When news of Comey's account broke, Trump tweeted that Comey "better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"

Under a post-Watergate law, presidential recordings belong to the people and eventually can be made public. Destroying them would be a crime.

The House committee investigating Russian meddling in the election set a Friday deadline for the White House to hand over any tapes.

President Donald Trump speaks during the "American Leadership in Emerging Technology" event in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


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The Results are in!

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:14:35 GMT

Who was voted Best of the Fox 2017? Click here to see the section that was in the paper!


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In Iowa, the president channels his inner candidate TrumpPresident Donald Trump arrives on stage to speak at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. This is Trump's first visit to Iowa since the election. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)President Donald Trump shakes hands with former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Ambassador to China as he speaks at Kirkwood Community College, which is recognized by the White House as a major center of agricultural innovation, during a visit to the campus in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. This is Trump's first visit to Iowa since the election. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 11:57:00 GMT

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Struggling to advance his agenda in Washington, President Donald Trump traveled to the Midwest for a raucous rally with his loyal supporters — the kind of event he relished before winning the White House. Trump touched down Wednesday evening in rainy Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and headed to a local community college, where he got a look at agriculture technology innovations before leading a campaign-style rally. He reveled in Georgia Republican Karen Handel's congressional victory in an election viewed as an early referendum on his presidency. "We're 5-0 in special elections," Trump said in front of a boisterous crowd that packed a downtown arena. "The truth is, people love us ... they haven't figured it out yet." He also applauded Republican Ralph Norman, who notched a slimmer-than-expected win in a special election to fill the South Carolina congressional seat vacated by Mick Mulvaney, his budget director, and mocked Handel's challenger, Jon Ossoff, saying the Democrats "spent $30 million on this kid who forgot to live in the district." Trump, no stranger to victory laps, turned his visit to a battleground state he captured in November into a celebration of his resilience despite the cloud of investigations that has enveloped his administration and sent his poll numbers tumbling. With the appearance in Cedar Rapids, he has held five rallies in the first five months in office. The event underscores Trump's comfort in a campaign setting. He laughed off the occasional heckler, repeated riffs from last year's rallies and appeared far more at ease when going after Democrats in front of adoring crowds than trying to push through his own legislative agenda from the confines of the White House. Trump's aides are making a renewed push to get the president out of Washington. The capital is consumed with the investigation into Russian meddling in last year's election and Trump's firing of his FBI director. Campaign rallies energize Trump by placing him in front of supporters who have stuck by him and are likely to dismiss the investigations as Beltway chatter. Iowa, with its large share of independent voters, could be a proving ground for whether Trump can count on the support of voters beyond his base. Unaffiliated voters — or "no party" voters, as they are known in Iowa — make up 36 percent of the electorate, compared with 33 percent who register Republican and 31 percent who register as Democrat. Self-identified independents in Iowa voted for Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton by a 13-percentage-point margin last year, according to exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks. That margin helped Trump take the state by nearly 9 points after Barack Obama won it for Democrats the previous two elections. Trump held a Des Moines rally in December as part of his transition-era "thank you" tour of states he had won, but has not been back to Iowa since. Wednesday night, he touted his administration's efforts to roll back regulations, mused about putting solar panels on a Mexican border wall, derided wind power for killing birds in a state that uses a lot of it and revealed that he urged the Senate to create a health care plan "with heart. Add some money to it!" [...]


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IS militants destroy 12th century mosque in Iraq's MosulFILE - In this Sunday, July 6, 2014 file photo, the gate of the Great Mosque or al-Nuri Mosque is seen in the northern city of Mosul, Iraq. The Islamic State group destroyed Mosul’s al-Nuri mosque and its iconic leaning minaret known as al-Hadba late Wednesday night on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 when fighters detonated explosives inside the structures, according to Iraq’s Ministry of Defense. The mosque is where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a so-called Islamic caliphate in 2014 shortly after the city was overrun by the militants and was seen as a key symbolic prize in the fight for Iraq’s second largest city. (AP Photo, File)FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2003 file photo, an electrician works on the roof of a shop in the Northern Iraqi city of Mosul. In the background is the leaning minaret. Iraq’s ministry of defense says IS destroyed the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul and the adjacent iconic leaning minaret when fighters detonated explosives inside the structures late Wednesday night on June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)FILE - This file image made from video posted on a militant website Saturday, July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq during his first public appearance. Iraq’s Ministry of Defense says the Islamic State group destroyed the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul and the iconic leaning minaret when fighters detonated explosives inside the structures late Wednesday night on June 21, 2017. The mosque — also known as Mosul’s Great Mosque — is where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a so-called Islamic caliphate in 2014 shortly after the city was overrun by the militants and was seen as a key symbolic prize in the fight for Iraq’s second largest city.(AP Photo/Militant video, File)

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 11:53:00 GMT

IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — The Islamic State group blew up a historic landmark in Mosul — the city's famed 12th century al-Nuri mosque with its iconic leaning minaret known as al-Hadba, from where the IS leader proclaimed the militant group's self-styled caliphate nearly three years ago. The explosion destroyed another piece of priceless Iraqi cultural heritage but also sent a strong message to U.S.-led coalition forces and Iraqi troops closing in on the last stronghold of IS, in Mosul's Old City neighborhood. Iraq's Ministry of Defense said the militants detonated explosives planted inside the structures on Wednesday night. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tweeted early on Thursday that the destruction was an admission by the militants that they are losing the fight for Iraq's second-largest city. "Daesh's bombing of the al-Hadba minaret and the al-Nuri Mosque is a formal declaration of their defeat," al-Abadi said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. "It is a shock, a real big shock," Amir al-Jumaili, a professor at the Archaeology College in Mosul told The Associated Press. The al-Nuri mosque, which is also known as Mosul's Great Mosque, is where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a rare public appearance, declaring a so-called Islamic caliphate in the summer of 2014, shortly after Mosul was overrun by the militants. The minaret that leaned like Italy's Tower of Pisa had stood for more than 840 years. The IS blew up the mosque during the celebrations of Laylat al Qadr, the holiest night of the year for Muslims. The "Night of Power" commemorates the night the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is now underway. An IS statement posted online shortly after the Ministry of Defense reported the mosque's destruction blamed an airstrike by the United States for the loss of the mosque and minaret. The U.S.-led coalition rejected the IS claim. Spokesman, U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon told the Associated Press coalition planes "did not conduct strikes in that area at that time." IS fighters initially attempted to destroy the minaret in July 2014. The militants said the structure contradicted their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, but Mosul residents converged on the area and formed a human chain to protect it. IS has demolished dozens of historic and archaeological sites in and around Mosul, saying they promoted idolatry. Earlier this month, Mosul residents reported IS fighters had begun sealing off the area around the mosque. Residents said that IS fighters ordered families living in the area to leave — likely in preparation for the militants' final stand. "This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organization must be annihilated," U.S. Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin, the commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq, said in a written statement. "The responsibility of this devastation is laid firmly at the doorstep of ISIS," he added. ISIS is another acronym for the Islamic State group. The mosque sat at the heart of the Old City, the last IS stronghold in Mosul. Iraqi forces launched a push into the Old City earlier this week, but have made slow progress as the last IS fighters [...]


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FBI: Gunman who shot congressman had no target in mindAP photo U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa, with Federal Bureau of Investigation Washington Field Office Special Agent in Charge Timothy Slater, speaks to reporters Wednesday outside the FBI Washington Field Office in Washington, D.C. The officials held a news conference about the investigative findings to date in the shooting that occurred June 14 at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Va.

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:31:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Adrift and nearly out of money after three months of living out of his van in the Washington area, the gunman who shot a top House Republican and four other people on a Virginia baseball field didn’t have any concrete plans to inflict violence on the Republicans he loathed, FBI officials said Wednesday. James T. Hodgkinson, 66, was shot and killed by police after he opened fire on Congressional Republicans practicing for their annual charity baseball game against Democrats last week. Rep. Steve Scalise of Lousiana, the House majority whip, was struck in the hip and gravely wounded. Scalise remains hospitalized, and his condition was upgraded to fair on Wednesday. All five people who were shot, including two U.S. Capitol police officers, survived their injuries. At a news conference on Wednesday, FBI officials gave an overview of the evidence they’ve gathered on Hodgkinson. They said he acted alone and had no connections to terror groups. But they said they had not yet clarified who, if anyone, he planned to target, or why, beyond his animus toward President Donald Trump and the Republicans he felt were ruining the country. It wasn’t even clear whether he had previous plans to attack the baseball practice or whether he just happened upon it the morning of June 14, said Tim Slater, who leads the criminal division of the FBI’s Washington field office. “At this point in the investigation, it appears more spontaneous,” Slater said. Hodgkinson had a piece of paper with the names of six members of Congress written on it, Slater said, but the note lacked any further context and there was no evidence from his computer, phone or other belongings that indicated he planned to target those officials. Slater declined to name the officials whose names were on the note or say whether they were Republicans or Democrats or were at the baseball practice. Scalise, 51, “continues to make good progress,” according to a statement issued Wednesday by MedStar Washington Hospital Center, “and is beginning an extended period of healing and rehabilitation.” House Speaker Paul Ryan said that Scalise “is on the road to recovery.” Hodgkinson was an unemployed home inspector from Belleville, Illinois, who frequently railed against Republicans in letters to the editor and angry social media posts. In November, shortly after Trump was elected, he purchased the two guns that he used in the shooting, a rifle and a 9mm handgun. Neighbors called police as Hodgkinson conducted target practice on his property, but he did not violate any laws, the FBI said. In March, Hodgkinson left Illinois and drove to Alexandria, Virginia, where he lived in his van in a YMCA parking lot. He rented out a storage unit where he kept more than 200 rounds of ammunition, among other belongings. He had two laptop computers, a cellphone and a digital camera. The FBI has not finished scouring those devices for evidence, Slater said. In April, Hogkinson made the tourist rounds in Washington, visiting monuments, museums, the U.S. Capitol and the Dirksen Senate Office Building and taking pictures, the FBI said. He also took pictures of the baseball field where he would later fire more than 60 shots. “The FBI does not believe that these photogra[...]


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Boy killed by log in surf as tropical storm churns in GulfTom McLaughlin – Northwest Florida Daily News via AP An unidentified man looks at a truck that was crushed by a falling tree Wednesday in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The Florida panhandle community was hit by a wave of severe weather Wednesday morning as Tropical Storm Cindy churns through the Gulf of Mexico.

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:31:00 GMT

NEW ORLEANS – A boy on an Alabama beach was struck and killed Wednesday by a log washed ashore by storm surge from Tropical Storm Cindy, which spun bands of severe weather ashore from the Florida panhandle to east Texas as it churned ever closer to the Gulf Coast. Baldwin County Sheriff’s Capt. Stephen Arthur said witnesses reported the 10-year-old boy from Missouri was standing outside a condominium in Fort Morgan when the log, carried in by a large wave, struck him. Arthur said the youth was vacationing with his family from the St. Louis area and that relatives and emergency workers tried to revive him. He wasn’t immediately identified. It was the first known fatality from Cindy. The storm formed Tuesday and was expected to make landfall some time late Wednesday or early Thursday. Rough seas also led to the rescue of a shrimp trawler in danger of sinking off the coast of Texas. The U.S. Coast Guard said crew of the trawler Footprint was about 80 miles southeast of Galveston when the crew radioed that the vessel was taking on water faster than onboard pumps could clear it. A helicopter crew lowered and extra pump that enabled the shrimp boat crew to clear enough water to stay afloat. A Coast Guard cutter escorted the vessel to Freeport, Texas. Cindy was expected to come ashore near the Louisiana-Texas line but the severe weather extended far to the east. National Weather Service forecasters estimated it had dumped anywhere from 2 to 10 inches of rain on various spots along the Gulf Coast from south Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle as of Wednesday. And more rain was on the way. Alek Krautmann at the weather service office in Slidell, Louisiana, said more moisture was heading in from the Gulf on Wednesday evening. “There were plenty of breaks today, but it’s filled in a little more this afternoon,” he said. Coastal roads and some buildings flooded. There were several reports of possible short-lived tornadoes. In Gulfport, Mississippi, Kathleen Bertucci said heavy rainfall Wednesday sent about 10 inches of water into her business, Top Shop, which sells and installs granite countertops. “It’s pretty disgusting, but I don’t have flood insurance because they took me out of the flood zone,” said Bertucci, whose store is near a bayou. “We’re just trying to clean everything up and hope it doesn’t happen again.” In nearby Biloxi, a waterspout moved ashore Wednesday morning. Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said there were no injuries but fences, trees and power lines were damaged. Storms also downed trees in the Florida Panhandle. Fort Walton Beach spokeswoman Jo Soria said fallen trees hit houses and cars in what she called “pockets of wind damage” in two or three residential neighborhoods. The White House said President Donald Trump was briefed on the storm Wednesday by Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert. Also Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, as his Alabama counterpart a day earlier. He was among authorities stressing that the storm’s danger wasn’t limited to the coast. In Knoxville, Tennessee, the power-generating [...]


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Sources: Senate GOP would halt Obamacare penalties, taxesAP photo Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined by Sen. John Barrasso (from left), R-Wyo.; Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks after a closed-door strategy session Tuesday at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. McConnell said Republicans will have a "discussion draft" of a GOP-only bill scuttling former President Barack Obama's health care law by Thursday.

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:31:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Top Senate Republicans prepared Wednesday to release their plan for dismantling President Barack Obama’s health care law, a proposal that would cut and revamp Medicaid, end penalties on people not buying coverage and eliminate tax increases that financed the statute’s expansion of coverage, lobbyists and congressional aides said. Departing from the House-approved version of the legislation – which President Donald Trump privately called “mean” last week – the Senate plan would drop the House bill’s waivers allowing states to let insurers boost premiums on some people with pre-existing conditions. It also would largely retain the subsidies Obama provided to help millions buy insurance, which are pegged mostly to people’s incomes and the premiums they pay. The House-approved tax credits were tied to people’s ages, a change the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said would boost out-of-pocket costs to many lower earners. Starting in 2020, the Senate version would begin shifting increasing amounts of tax credits away from higher earners, making more funds available to lower-income recipients, some of the officials said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell planned to release the measure Thursday morning and hopes to push it through the Senate next week. Some of its provisions were described by people on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss them publicly. “We believe we can do better than the Obamacare status quo, and we fully intend to do so,” said McConnell, R-Ky. McConnell was unveiling his plan even as GOP senators from across the party’s political spectrum complained about the package and the secretive, behind-closed-doors meetings he used to draft a measure reshaping the country’s medical system, which comprises one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Facing unanimous Democratic opposition, Republicans can suffer defections by no more than two of their 52 senators and still push the measure through the Senate. Enough have voiced concerns to make clear that McConnell and other leaders have work to do before passage is assured. GOP Senate leaders were eager to get a seal of approval from Trump, who had urged them to produce a bill more “generous” than the House’s. “They seem to be enthusiastic about what we’re producing tomorrow,” No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas told reporters. “It’s going to be important to get the president’s support to get us across the finish line.” At a campaign-style rally Wednesday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump said he urged Senate Republicans to add more money to their health care plan because he wants a plan with “heart.” He also suggested he would be willing to change the bill Republicans are crafting if Democrats would come onboard, saying, “A few votes from the Democrats, it could be so easy” and “so beautiful.” Scrapping Obama’s 2010 statute is a top priority of Trump and the GOP, but internal divisions have slowed its progress through the Republican-controlled Congress. Democrats say GOP characterizations of Obama’s law as failing are wrong, and say the Republican effort would boot millions off c[...]


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Slow start to Illinois legislative session called to solve budget fightRich Saal – The State Journal-Register via AP House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, stands on the House floor Wednesday on the first day of a special session. Gov. Bruce Rauner called lawmakers to Springfield in an effort to reach a budget deal before the end of the month.

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:26:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – The first day of a costly special legislative session aimed at solving Illinois’ unprecedented budget crisis got off to a slow start with both the House and Senate adjourning quickly Wednesday without making any substantive progress. Instead, Democrats and Republicans used news conferences and floor speeches to say they were ready to compromise and blame the other party for the gridlock that could stretch into a third year if lawmakers don’t approve a budget by July 1. Republicans touted their own budget, which caps spending at $36 billion and includes reforms GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner wants such as term limits and government consolidation, along with a temporary income tax increase. But House Republican Leader Jim Durkin brushed aside questions raised by House Democrats. “When Democrats claim that our budget isn’t balanced, it means we’re doing our job,” Durkin told reporters. “Because they couldn’t balance their way out of a wet paper bag and they haven’t for their time down here.” Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan told reporters his chamber was ready to answer the governor’s special session call, and work on a budget with anyone who wanted to compromise. But he later issued a statement saying his chamber would spend the next two days hearing testimony about how some of the governor’s proposed reforms would hurt the middle class, including workers’ compensation and a property tax freeze. A House committee heard tearful testimony Wednesday from nonprofits who help domestic violence victims. “We owe it to the people directly affected by these changes to give them a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion, not just to hear from the corporate CEOs whispering in Governor Rauner’s ear,” Madigan said in a statement. The special session could last the full 10 days Rauner has called for, with legislative leaders saying Wednesday that they intend to show up each day. The Senate met briefly Wednesday to consider appointments and then members of each party met privately to plan the week. Senate Democrats have approved a $37.3 billion spending plan that includes cuts and an income tax increase, and are pushing it as a compromise option. Still, no one seemed to budge Wednesday in the budget fight that began in in 2015 when Rauner took office. He wants pro-business reforms in conjunction with a budget that relies on a tax increase. Democrats have argued that they’ve taken up several ideas, but Republicans keep changing their demands. Republicans say Democrats water down their proposals. Bipartisan meetings between key leaders also have been sparse. Rauner and Madigan met privately in April, their first since December when all four legislative leaders sat down with the governor. Senate President John Cullerton and Rauner met a few times last month. The stakes are very high for Illinois, which already has the lowest credit rating of any U.S. state. Ratings agencies have said without a budget, Illinois will be downgraded to “junk” status. The state’s backlog of unpaid bills tops $15 billion with social service agencies and higher education among the hardest hit. Without a spending plan, transportation projects could be halted and some lottery [...]


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Angry Dems turn against leaders after House election lossesAP photo House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during a weekly news conference Friday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Democratic Party divisions are on stark display after a disappointing special election loss in a hard-fought Georgia congressional race.

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:26:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Democratic Party divisions were on glaring display Wednesday as a special election loss in a wildly expensive Georgia House race left bitter lawmakers turning their anger on their own leaders. “We as Democrats have to come to terms with the fact that we lost again,” said Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass. “Personally I think it’s time for a new generation of leadership in the party.” The loss in Georgia followed similar disappointments in special House elections in Kansas and Montana, as well as in South Carolina on Tuesday night. The Carolina outcome was closer than in Georgia but drew little national attention. In the well-to-do Atlanta suburbs, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California was the focus of torrents of negative advertising in a House race that cost more than $50 million, the most expensive in history. Republican Karen Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff by about 5 percentage points. Although the race was widely viewed as a referendum on President Donald Trump, he rarely was discussed by either candidate, and House Democrats were rattled that the attack ads casting the 77-year-old Pelosi as a San Francisco liberal proved so potent. Some expressed fears about the same tactic being used elsewhere as they aim to take back control of the House in next year’s midterms. Democrats need to pick up 24 House seats to retake the majority. “It makes it a heck of a lot harder,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who unsuccessfully challenged Pelosi in a leadership election last fall. “One of the disappointing things from the last couple days is that that approach has a little bit of punch to it, it still moves voters.” Trump’s election as president had papered over the intraparty disputes and generational divides among House Democrats, as lawmakers joined in opposing the White House and trying to channel the energy of their party’s liberal base. But now, after a string of disappointments, those divisions have re-emerged, though Pelosi appears unlikely to face an immediate challenge. Lawmakers also are bemoaning a weak Democratic bench of candidates nationally, and demanding a better strategy for success and a new and stronger economic message that differentiates them more clearly from the Republicans. “If we think we’re going to win these elections because President Trump’s at 35 percent, I think in districts like mine and certainly Georgia and South Carolina, it takes more than that,” said Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota. “And I’m not sure that that’s there yet. I certainly don’t feel it.” “We need to be focused on next November, and what happens with the reality of health care and trade, tax policies and the impact on working men and women,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan. She said she has told Democrats to stop focusing on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Put on defense, House Democratic leaders from Pelosi on down tried to spin the outcome in Georgia as positive, arguing that coming in a close second in the solidly Republican district augured well for their chances of taking back the House next year. “Unfortunately a los[...]


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Rep. Randy Hultgren constituents decry secrecy in Senate debate, seek stronger health care lawFrom left, Bill Scown of Geneva, Megan Bartlett of Geneva and Margaret Morgan of St. Charles at a June 20 protest at the Campton Hills district office of U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano.

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:18:00 GMT

CAMPTON HILLS – About 40 constituents came to the Campton Hills district office of U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, on Tuesday to protest his support of the House version of the health care bill now being debated in the U.S. Senate – and the lack of transparency of the bill’s details. Carrying a sign that read, “Save the ACA,” Dorothy Johnson-Linner of Aurora said she has a sister with polycystic kidney disease who is on Medicare. Johnson-Linner said the American Health Care Act would cut Medicare and affect her sister’s ability to stay healthy. She said she would prefer that Congress work to strengthen the Affordable Care Act. “And the secrecy, to me, is unconscionable,” Johnson-Linner said, referring to Republican Senators meeting privately to discuss their health care bill. According to media reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Republicans would see a draft of health care reform legislation by June 29. An email response from Hultgren’s office said that he is in the House and “supports an open and transparent legislative process.” “He encourages anyone concerned with Senate legislative processes to contact Sens. [Dick] Durbin and [Tammy] Duckworth,” the email said. But that did not stop protesters from staking out at Hultgren’s district office. Geneva resident Jeanne Neltnor’s sign said, “Save health care. Join the fight.” “I’m out here because I want to save the health care we have and improve that health care,” Neltnor said. “The secrecy – they are trying to hide something from us, and usually that’s not a good thing.” Geneva resident Teresa Bradley’s sign called for Medicare for all. Bradley said she’s been to Ireland and Canada and spoken to residents there who like having national health care coverage. “They never have to worry about being bankrupt or they can’t get access,” Bradley said. “I want better health care, and I don’t want to lose the health care we’ve got. They’re just trying to get a big tax cut – that’s an evil thing. “ Bradley was referring to the House bill – the American Health Care Act – that is intended to repeal tax increases imposed by Obamacare on high-income households to fund insurance subsidies and other provisions. “Part of the problem is [lawmakers] should be working for us. I don’t think they are,” Bradley said. “If you’re being secretive, you’re not doing something well.” Also attending the event was Batavia resident Victor Swanson, who has declared he would seek the Democratic nomination to run against Hultgren in the 2018 general election. “I’m out here supporting the Indivisible [Illinois] group with their signs and their protest for affordable care,” Swanson said. “Randy’s not doing much for his constituents. He’s voting with large banks, large corporations and large insurance companies, instead of what his people want and what his people need.” Swanson also criticized the secrecy s[...]


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Tree limb falls on power lines in Wonder Lake; almost 300 experience outage

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:18:00 GMT

WONDER LAKE – About 300 ComEd customers experienced a power outage for several hours Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the electric utility company said.

The spokesperson said that about 3 p.m. Tuesday, a large tree limb fell on several power lines in the 2900 block of Thomson Road in Wonder Lake. Once the tree limb was removed, power was restored by about 5 p.m.

The Wonder Lake Fire Protection District could not be reached for comment Wednesday.


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Downed wire in Crystal Lake causes traffic delays, power outages

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:18:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A downed wire near a credit union on Main Street in Crystal Lake caused traffic delays and power outages Wednesday. 

A wire snapped and fell to the ground about 2 p.m. outside of BCU, 415 S. Main St., Crystal Lake Police Sgt. Paul Olszak said. He did not know what caused the wire to snap. 

About 130 customers experienced power outages because of the downed wire, according to ComEd’s outage map.

Northbound lanes and one southbound lane on Main Street were closed for about five hours before reopening about 6:40 p.m., a Crystal Lake police dispatcher said.




Huntley crash sends 4 people to hospital, fire official says

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:18:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – A three-vehicle crash sent four people to the hospital Wednesday.

Huntley Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Michael Pierce said crews responded about 3:15 p.m. to Route 47 and Talamore Boulevard in Huntley. 

A 2015 Mercedes was traveling south on Route 47 when it crossed over the center line and struck a 2013 Acura and a 2014 Chevrolet Equinox, which was a Huntley Fire Protection District vehicle, Huntley Deputy Police Chief Mike Klunk said.

Three men and a woman were taken to Centegra Hospital – Huntley and Centegra Hospital – Woodstock with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, Pierce said. All three vehicles were towed, he said.

The driver of the Mercedes, Charles Barranco, 68, of Oak Brook, was issued a citation for improper lane use, Klunk said. Klunk said he did not know why Barranco crossed the center line. 


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Metra adds trains for Chicago Pride Parade

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:17:00 GMT

Metra announced an additional outbound train for the Union Pacific Northwest route, which runs from Harvard to Ogilvie Transportation Center, to accommodate large crowds expected for the 48th annual Chicago Pride Parade.

The added train will leave Chicago at 4:20 p.m. and arrive at its final stop at the Crystal Lake station at 5:45 p.m.

The Pacific Northwest Line, which normally serves an average of 6,500 passengers on a Sunday, transported about 11,500 customers after last year’s parade. Metra expects to see similar numbers this year, a Metra representative said.

Extra trains also will run for the Pacific North, West and BNSF railway lines. Metra will add extra seating capacity to all other lines.

Metra has anticipated and accommodated crowds from the pride parade by adding extra trains and seating for the past several years.

The parade begins at noon Sunday in Chicago’s Uptown Neighborhood at Montrose Avenue and Broadway Street.

The intersection of Diversey Parkway and Cannon Drive in Lincoln Park serves as the finish.

Metra partnered with Uber to offer another transportation option from Metra to the parade. By entering the promo code METRA2017, Uber is offering one free ride up to $15.

Metra cautions its customers that because of anticipated crowds, the space to accommodate bicycles might not be available.




All-terrain vehicle catches fire, explodes near Harvard home

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:17:00 GMT

HARVARD – An all-terrain vehicle that caught fire Tuesday night near a home in Harvard exploded and started a second ATV on fire.

The Harvard Fire Protection District responded about 6 p.m. Tuesday to a report that an ATV had caught fire near a residence on Streit Road in Harvard, Fire Lt. Mike Veronese said.

As firefighters responded to the call, they got another call that the first ATV that had caught fire had exploded and ignited a second ATV. Both ATVs were parked next to the homeowners’ garage, which contained boxes and other storage items. The homeowners’ truck also was parked nearby, surrounded by gas cans.

Once firefighters arrived, the flames were extinguished relatively quickly. Veronese said the homeowners parked their ATV near the attached garage and later noticed the flames. He said the cause likely was a vehicle malfunction.

Veronese said that the estimated damage included the cost of the ATVs and some pallets that had caught fire – in total, about $5,000. There was no damage to the home, and no firefighters or residents were injured.


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Police: Woodstock shooting investigation continues to progressSarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com The municipal lot where Woodstock police responded to reports of gunfire overnight appears Friday near the intersection of East Calhoun Street and South Jefferson Street in Woodstock.

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:17:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Police investigating the death of a Woodstock man who was shot Friday are reviewing video footage and combing through other evidence collected so far.

Cesar Rangel, 41, of Woodstock died at Centegra Hospital – Woodstock from blood loss from a gunshot wound. He was found in a municipal parking lot just off the Woodstock Square, according to a news release from the Woodstock Police Department.

No one had been arrested in connection with the homicide as of 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The investigation “continues to progress,” police said.

“Information that has been developed also continues to indicate that this is an isolated incident, and no heightened risk to the public safety appears to exist,” the department said in a statement. “No further information will be released at this time, as this is an active investigation.”

The Woodstock Police Department, the Major Investigations Assistance Team, the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office and the McHenry County Coroner’s Office are reviewing video surveillance footage and other physical evidence, according to the release.

Investigators also are offering a reward.

Those willing to provide their name for information that leads to the arrest of offenders involved in the homicide could get up to $1,000 through the McHenry County Crime Stoppers program, according to the release.

Anyone with information regarding the incident or offenders is asked to call the MIAT Tip Line at 815-363-2201. Callers may remain anonymous unless they wish to identify themselves to be eligible for the reward.

McHenry County Crime Stoppers is offering the reward.

Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com The municipal lot where Woodstock police responded to reports of gunfire overnight appears Friday near the intersection of East Calhoun Street and South Jefferson Street in Woodstock.


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Lakewood Police Chief Leigh Rawson resigns

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:16:00 GMT

LAKEWOOD – Lakewood Police Chief Leigh Rawson tendered his resignation Tuesday after three years leading the department.

Village President Paul Serwatka said he intends to appoint Lakewood Police Sgt. Michael Roth as the next police chief, subject to the “advice and consent of the board” at the next Village Board meeting Tuesday. If approved, Roth would assume the position July 3.

Roth’s salary has not yet been determined because Lakewood has an interim village manager; however, Serwatka said Roth volunteered to take a “substantially lower” salary than Rawson’s $102,800 to help offset other department costs, including additional training programs and new supervisory positions.

“Going along with the policy I believe in, I always think it’s a good policy to promote internally, to promote from within,” Serwatka said. “In this case, we are fortunate enough to be able to do that.”

Roth joined the department in August 2014 as a 28-year veteran of the Cary Police Department, with the latter 20 years being in management and leadership positions. He retired as deputy chief in 2014 before arriving in Lakewood.

He was promoted to sergeant in April 2015, a position in which Serwatka said he has been “instrumental” in helping lead the department and has earned the respect of his fellow officers.

As a former firefighter and paramedic, Rawson said he believes strongly in promoting internally to set a tone for advancement within the department and to boost morale. He added that Lakewood was fortunate to have someone on staff with the desired qualifications, considering the size of the department – eight officers, including the chief.

“Not only is it a smoother transition, less of a learning curve for a guy that has to come learn the village,” Serwatka said, “but I think even bigger than that is the moral it sets and inspires [other officers] to be a little more diligent.”

Cost adjustments within the program that also include increased police patrol and salary restructuring will not increase the annual budget, Serwatka said.

Rawson will continue to serve as chief until June 30, at which point he said he is considering moving somewhere south and pursuing opportunities outside of law enforcement.

“I’m looking forward to a new chapter, doing something different out of law enforcement,” Rawson said Wednesday. “I’ll look back fondly on the residents of Lakewood. They have been nothing but supportive and friendly.”




Marengo Fire Protection District honors tradition, welcomes new engine to Station 1Lt. Noel Gaines of the Marengo Fire Protection District talks about firehouse tradition during a "wash down" fire engine dedication ceremony Wednesday.Marengo Fire Protection District members take part in a "wash down" ceremony Wednesday as they push a new fire engine into Fire Station 1.

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:13:00 GMT

MARENGO – The Marengo Fire Protection District honored an old tradition Wednesday with a fire engine dedication ceremony.

The department bought the 2017 Pierce Enforcer engine for $460,000 and will replace Engine No. 1141 under the same number. The former No. 1141 will become a reserve engine – replacing a 1988 reserve engine – and be kept at Marengo Fire Station 2, at Routes 23 and 176.

“That engine has served its life and then some,” Capt. John Kimmel said. “So if this [new] one has to go in for maintenance, that one will come over and replace it for whatever period of time. It has some service life left in it.”

A fire engine “wash down” dedication ceremony consists of taking water from the old engine and washing the new one. Firefighters then push the new engine into the station.

The tradition comes from when fire service agencies had horse-drawn buggies instead of vehicles, and it has been carried on in departments nationwide since, Lt. Noel Gaines said.

“Everybody knows fire service is big on tradition,” he said. “The wipe down ceremony was such that when horses and buggies came back they would wash the horses down, and if they got a new piece of equipment, they would take the water from the old engine and sort of bless it.”

Pushing the vehicle into the station also is a nod to the 1800s, when firefighters would do the same for their drawn carriages and new equipment. The firehouse chaplain typically gives a blessing to the engine and a prayer to protect its crew as well, Gaines said.

“We try to set a precedence for [following] tradition,” he said. “We follow them from days’ past.”

Lt. Noel Gaines of the Marengo Fire Protection District talks about firehouse tradition during a "wash down" fire engine dedication ceremony Wednesday.Marengo Fire Protection District members take part in a "wash down" ceremony Wednesday as they push a new fire engine into Fire Station 1.


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McHenry man who died in plane crash remembered for his love of flyingRetired military officer Denny Hall, 66, of McHenry died May 26 from injuries suffered in a plane crash in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. “Flight was in his DNA," said Lisa Hall, his wife. "He was just full of life and adventure. He was ready to do anything at a minute’s notice and make it fun.”Retired military officer Denny Hall, 66, of McHenry died May 26 from injuries suffered in a plane crash in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin.

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:06:00 GMT

McHENRY – Retired military officer Denny Hall, who died in late May after his plane crashed, is remembered by friends and family for his passion for flying and high spirits. “Flight was in his DNA,” said Lisa Hall, his wife. “He was just full of life and adventure. He was ready to do anything at a minute’s notice and make it fun.” Denny Hall died May 26 from injuries suffered in a plane crash in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. Arriving officers confirmed that a single-engine plane had crashed in the field outside of Sheboygan city limits that day. The pilot of the plane was identified as Denny Hall, 66, of McHenry, and the passenger was Filip Smecko, 19, of Janesville, Wisconsin. Smecko also died in the crash. “Filip was Denny at 19,” Lisa Hall said. “He was a friend. They both shared that passion for flying.” Hall owned the Aerotek Pitts S-2A fixed-wing single-engine aircraft that crashed. The cause of the crash still is under investigation, the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office said. “It’s devastating,” Lisa Hall said. “He was passionate, kind and very pure of heart and spirit. He was very confident. He’d walk into a room and light it up.” Denny Hall was born in Toledo, Ohio. He graduated from Start High School in Toledo and from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics. He was commissioned as a U.S. Navy officer, where he served from 1975 to 1988. Hall would go on to earn the rank of Navy lieutenant and was a flight deck officer on an aircraft carrier. After serving in the Navy, Hall became a member of the U.S. Air National Guard in Toledo, Ohio, serving in the 180th Fighter Group, where he was involved in planning missions in a fighter jet. One of the combat missions Hall was involved in was Operation Just Cause – a U.S. invasion of Panama to overthrow military dictator Manuel Noriega. Hall joined American Airlines in 1985. He served as an international captain for 30 years. The McHenry resident had logged more than 16,000 hours in the air with routes to Europe, South America, the Caribbean, Asia, Hawaii and Alaska, according to his obituary. After Hall retired from American Airlines, he joined Super Mix USA in 2015 as a corporate chief pilot and director of flight operations. “We became very good friends over the two years we knew each other, and he was much more than our corporate pilot,” said Jack Pease, owner of both Super Mix Inc. and Super Aggregates. Hall is survived by several family members, including his wife, Lisa Hall, who he married Feb. 22, 2002, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Woodstock. “He could not have been a better husband and best friend,” Lisa Hall said. “He was the love of my life.” H[...]


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McHenry County Board approves March referendum to eliminate recorder's officeH. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan, (from left) McHenry County Recorder Joe Tirio and McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks, discuss a proposed referendum on the March ballot eliminating the recorder's office at the County Board consolidation committee meeting on Friday, June 9. The committee voted to move the proposal forward.

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:05:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – McHenry County voters will decide in March whether to keep or consolidate the office of recorder of deeds.

County Board members voted Tuesday evening to put a binding referendum to voters in the 2018 primary. The board approved the question without any debate as part of its routine consent agenda.

If voters approve the referendum, the office will be merged with the county clerk and will cease to exist on Dec. 1, 2020.

Republican Recorder Joe Tirio, who was elected last year on a platform of eliminating the office, hailed the board’s vote.

“If the people choose to integrate the two offices, it will be a historic decision, an observable expression of McHenry County government’s commitment to better government and a demonstration of how government can redefine itself to meet the changing needs of its citizens,” Tirio said.

The consolidation referendum was presented to the board and moved along by Republican County Clerk Mary McClellan and Democratic County Board Chairman Jack Franks.

Both called the vote to put the referendum on the ballot a win for taxpayers.

The recorder’s office, which has 3.4 million documents on file, is responsible for recording, retrieving and maintaining land records and real estate transactions, subdivision plans, military discharge papers and other records. 

Most of the state’s 102 counties have a combined clerk and recorder’s office because state law requires a county to have at least 60,000 people to separate them. But with the advance of scanning and computer storage technology, several of the handful of counties with separate offices have consolidated them as a cost-cutting measure.

Voters in four counties since 2011 – Tazewell, McLean, Peoria and Cook – have chosen to consolidate their recorders’ offices.

H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan, (from left) McHenry County Recorder Joe Tirio and McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks, discuss a proposed referendum on the March ballot eliminating the recorder's office at the County Board consolidation committee meeting on Friday, June 9. The committee voted to move the proposal forward.


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Fox River Grove resident IDs family pictured in photos from camera he found on Florida beachPhoto provided Kristen Cirillo; her daughter, Layni Cirillo; and niece, Gioia Fisk, were identified in photos recovered by a Fox River Grove resident.Fox River Grove resident Josh Zuelke, 24

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:03:00 GMT

FOX RIVER GROVE – A Florida woman has been reunited with more than 160 family photos she thought were long-lost, all thanks to a Fox River Grove man.

After 24-year-old freelance photographer Josh Zuelke found a camera washed up on a beach in Sanibel Island, Florida, he made it his mission to find the family pictured in the photos.

Zuelke made a Facebook post June 9 asking for help identifying the family in the photos, which were dated from 2012. His original post was shared more than 3,000 times and picked up by news outlets from Colorado to Florida.

“I couldn’t have done it without all the shares and all the people getting excited about it like I was,” Zuelke said.

The owner of the camera, Kristen Cirillo, saw the Facebook post Tuesday after her brother-in-law, Peter Fisk, tagged her in a comment on the post. Fisk found out about the photos after one of his former clients in San Francisco recognized Fisk’s daughter in the photos.

“It’s so amazing what people were doing to try to find us,” said Cirillo, of West Palm Beach, Florida.

Fisk’s daughter, Gioia, was the girl wearing the Colorado Special Olympics shirt – one of the few clues to where the family was from. At the time, the Fisks lived in Colorado, Cirillo said.

The photos had been taken during two separate family vacations, Cirillo said. One trip was in Key Largo, and the other was in Sanibel Island.

She said she remembers losing her camera on Sanibel Island and looking for it on the beach.

Five years after the camera was lost, Zuelke was on a family vacation in May when he picked up the camera while searching for shells on the beach. Although the camera was covered in barnacles and rust, Zuelke was able to download the photos onto his computer after taking apart the memory card and cleaning it. 

“Most people I think just would’ve thrown it out,” Cirillo said. “He’s a special person. That was really nice of him to do this work – and look where it got.”

Cirillo said the photographs are special to her because she doesn’t go on vacations often with her sister and her mother, who are pictured in the photos from Key Largo. Photos from the Sanibel Island trip feature her daughters.

“I’m just really happy to have [the photos] because when your kids are little, it’s just the most precious time,” Cirillo said.

Photo provided Kristen Cirillo; her daughter, Layni Cirillo; and niece, Gioia Fisk, were identified in photos recovered by a Fox River Grove resident.Fox River Grove resident Josh Zuelke, 24


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Centegra Health System to suspend most inpatient care at Woodstock hospitalSarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com Centegra Chief Executive Officer Michael Easley (left) and Hadley Streng, senior vice president for strategy and development for Centegra announce plans to suspend in-patient care at its Woodstock hospital Wednesday, June 21, 2017.H. Rick Bamman file photo - hbamman@shawmedia.com Centegra Health System announced Wednesday that it plans to suspend in-patient care at its Woodstock hospital to save money and improve care at its hospitals in Huntley and McHenry.

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:01:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Centegra Health System officials said they no longer will admit most patients at their 108-bed Woodstock hospital in a bid to save money and improve care at hospitals in Huntley and McHenry. With fewer patients and losses that topped $30 million through the first three quarters of its fiscal year, Centegra plans to close its intensive care and medical-surgical operations at the Woodstock facility and move those services – and hospital beds – to McHenry and Huntley. The Woodstock facility’s comprehensive emergency department would become a basic emergency department under plans approved by the nonprofit’s board. That means “all patients who need inpatient care or surgery” would be taken to Centegra hospitals in McHenry and Huntley, the memo said. The changes are to take effect by Aug. 14, according to the memo. Some services will be relocated to the Woodstock hospital, Centegra CEO Michael Eesley said. The hospital’s behavioral health inpatient program will remain, and outpatient mental health services will be moved from their existing location on South Street to the Woodstock hospital. “With changing reimbursements, increasing bad debt and today’s uncertain health care climate, Centegra Health System has continuously evaluated where and how we provide services to patients,” Eesley wrote in a memo to employees. “After careful consideration, we have made the decision to shift all acute inpatient care to Centegra Hospital – McHenry and Centegra Hospital – Huntley.” Centegra Hospital – Huntley, which opened in August 2016, has 128 beds, and Centegra Hospital – McHenry has 179 beds. Eesley said the changes will benefit patients. “When you get volume consolidated to one area, you get more efficient at it, you get better at it, and the clinical outcomes prove that,” he said. Woodstock City Council member Mike Turner, who is serving as interim mayor while Brian Sager is out of town, said he was let down by the news. “I am disappointed in their decision, and I am disappointed for the city,” he said. “The city doesn’t control those decisions, but we would prefer to see them stay and maintain their services in Woodstock.” Facing financial pressures Centegra Health System officials project their financial losses could reach $40 million by the June 30 end of its fiscal year, according to a May 3 filing with Fitch Ratings. Centegra’s leaders attribute the results in large part to the cost of opening the Huntley hospital and a rise in uncompensated care. The changes could save the health system $15 million annually, Eesley said. Executives also are working on other strategies to save money. Eesley said that the loss is not because it cannot fill the 128 beds at t[...]


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Mugs in the News for June 2017 in the McHenry County areaCharles A. Campo, 31, of McHenry, charged with first-degree murder, home invasion and residential burglary. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Byron Howard, 36, of Wonder Lake, charged with first-degree murder, home invasion and residential burglary. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Letrell K. Johnson, 25, of the 11600 block of South Loomis St., Chicago, with delivery of marijuana and possession of marijuana. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Victor Romero-Palos, 36, was arrested Friday by Woodstock police officers and charged with delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a park, delivery of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police said he had less than 15 grams of cocaine, according to court records. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Jared J. Fox, 25, of Wonder Lake, was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder, home invasion and residential burglary. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Jeffrey S. Rothermel, 35, of the 1500 block of Crabtree Lane, was charged Saturday with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting a peace officer. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Nancy A. Eiring, 40, and Timothy J. Hill, 28, of the 300 block of N. State St., were arrested about 2:15 p.m. Sunday after a three-hour manhunt and charged with aggravated robbery with a firearm. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Max Barraza, 27, of Spring Grove, charged with driving under the influence and aggravated driving under the influence causing death. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 17:23:00 GMT

The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Charles A. Campo, 31, of McHenry, charged with first-degree murder, home invasion and residential burglary. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Byron Howard, 36, of Wonder Lake, charged with first-degree murder, home invasion and residential burglary. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Letrell K. Johnson, 25, of the 11600 block of South Loomis St., Chicago, with delivery of marijuana and possession of marijuana. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Victor Romero-Palos, 36, was arrested Friday by Woodstock police officers and charged with delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a park, delivery of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police said he had less than 15 grams of cocaine, according to court records. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Jared J. Fox, 25, of Wonder Lake, was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder, home invasion and residential burglary. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Jeffrey S. Rothermel, 35, of the 1500 block of Crabtree Lane, was charged Saturday with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting a peace officer. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Nancy A. Eiring, 40, and Timothy J. Hill, 28, of the 300 block of N. State St., were arrested about 2:15 p.m. Sunday after a three-hour manhunt and charged with aggravated robbery with a firearm. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Max Barraza, 27, of Spring Grove, charged[...]


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Cheering 1st day of summer? Not in Phoenix as temps hit 119Jennifer Boushy, left, and Jennifer Rellinger, right, cool off their dogs in water at a dog park, Tuesday, June 20, 2017, in Las Vegas. The first day of summer is forecast to bring some of the worst heat the southwestern U.S. has seen in years. (AP Photo/John Locher)At Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport American Airlines regional jets sit on the tarmac as American Airlines says seven regional flights have been delayed and 43 have been canceled because of a heat wave as temperatures climb to near-record highs Tuesday, June 20, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)Julio Ruiz, left, who together with his father runs J.R.R. Roofing, hands a drink to one of his crew members replacing the shingles on house in Tucson, Ariz., Tuesday, June 20, 2017. The first day of summer was expected to bring some of the worst heat the Southwest U.S. has seen in years, forcing flights to be canceled, straining the power grid and making life miserable for workers toiling in temperatures that could reach 120 degrees in Phoenix. (Rick Wiley/Arizona Daily Star via AP)

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 11:49:00 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — The first day of summer brought some of the worst heat the Southwest U.S. has seen in years, forcing flights to be canceled, straining the power grid and making life miserable for workers toiling in temperatures that reached 120 degrees or higher in some desert cities. Arizona, Nevada and California saw dramatic temperatures Tuesday as researchers say deadly heat waves like this one were going to grow more frequent. Meteorologists in Phoenix said Tuesday evening the temperature topped out at 119 degrees_one that has only been matched or surpassed four other times. The forecast called for a high of 120 degrees (49 degrees Celsius) in Phoenix, which it hasn't seen in more than two decades. Death Valley, California, reached 125 and Palm Springs hit 121, still a degree lower than the same day last year. The operator of California's power grid called on people to conserve electricity during peak hours. Workers at a construction site in a Phoenix suburb huddled under an excavator to find a sliver of a shade during a break. At another building site, men in hard hats and yellow vests labored and sweated in the heat, downing water to stay hydrated. Project superintendent Tommy Russell says his company has held weekly safety meetings to prepare for the heat, and he will send his workers home if it hits 120. Las Vegas also baked. Visitors tried to stay inside air-conditioned casinos, and some tourists lugged packs of bottled water around the Strip. Others went to a bar where the temperature is set at 23 degrees and glasses, walls and seats are sculpted from ice. Tonya and Lavonda Williams traveled to Sin City from Orlando, Florida, to see the Backstreet Boys in concert. Walking on the Strip in 112 degrees was too much to handle, even for people accustomed to heat. "This is like the oven door is open," Lavonda Williams said as the sisters walked from a pedestrian bridge into The Palazzo casino-resort. "It's too hot to even drink alcohol," Tonya Williams added. Landscaper Juan Guadalupe scaled a spindly palm tree more than 50 feet tall in Phoenix, using a chain saw to hack the branches. He didn't mind being tethered to a tall tree because he occasionally catches a cool breeze. "Down here, it's hot," Guadalupe said. With cooling and hydration stations in full swing across the region, hundreds flocked to Grace Lutheran Church in Phoenix for water and refuge. "We have homeless people come from a long way to sit here," longtime volunteer Moses Elder said. "There are other spots where you can go get cold water and sit down and cool off, but there are few places you can lay down and get something to eat." Phoenix has hit 120 only thre[...]


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Uber CEO Kalanick resigns under investor pressureFILE - In this July 10, 2012, file photo, Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick arrives at a conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. Kalanick said in a statement to The New York Times on Tuesday that he has accepted a request from investors to step aside. Kalanick says the move will allow the ride-sharing company to go back to building itself rather than become distracted by another fight. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 11:35:00 GMT

DETROIT (AP) — Travis Kalanick, the combative and embattled CEO of ride-hailing giant Uber, has resigned under pressure from investors at a pivotal time for the company. Uber's board confirmed the move early Wednesday, saying in a statement that Kalanick is taking time to heal from the death of his mother in a boating accident "while giving the company room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber's history." He will remain on the Uber Technologies Inc. board. The move comes as Uber, the world's largest ride-hailing company, was having trouble morphing from a free-wheeling startup into a mature company that can stanch losses and post consistent profits. After eight years of phenomenal growth by upending the taxi business, Uber had reached a point where the culture that created the company had become a liability that threatened to kill it. In a statement, the 40-year-old co-founder said his resignation would help Uber go back to building "rather than be distracted with another fight," an apparent reference to efforts on the board to oust him. It was unclear who would replace Kalanick. The resignation came after a series of costly missteps under Kalanick that damaged Uber's reputation, including revelations of sexual harassment in its offices, allegations of trade secrets theft and a federal investigation into efforts to mislead local government regulators. Uber lost an expensive battle for supremacy in China against Didi Chuxing and had to be satisfied with taking a stake in Didi as a consolation prize. Uber posted a $708 million first-quarter loss, unable to turn $3.4 billion in revenue into a profit. The loss narrowed from the $991 million it posted in the previous quarter. Investors have talked about selling stock in Uber to the public, a move that would imply a transition to an established business. The company was valued at near $70 billion the last time it sought capital. Kalanick's penchant for conflict undermined the company's prospects, said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Ride-hailing itself remains a topic of intense interest for the tech and auto industries as they compete to see whether Silicon Valley or the automakers will reap the profits from the digitalization of how people get from one place to another. But "the significance of Uber has declined because the company has not managed to present itself in a stable and socially responsible way," Dudenhoeffer said. "When you're at war with customers, employees, service suppliers, you can't build up a business model and Kalanick was at war with everyone," said Dudenhoeffer. "There is no business model in being at war. " On Tuesday, the company embarked on a 180-day program t[...]


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Barclays, former CEO charged with fraud over Qatar dealAP file photo This July 27, 2009 file photo shows John Varley, the group chief executive of Barclays Bank, as he leaves after attending a meeting at the Treasury in London. Britain's Serious Fraud Office on Tuesday charged Barclays Plc, and John Varley and three other former executives with conspiracy to commit fraud when they sought investment from Qatar in 2008.

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:51:00 GMT

LONDON – British regulators charged Barclays bank and four former executives, including then-CEO John Varley, with conspiracy to commit fraud when they asked Qatar for a cash infusion to avoid a government bailout at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. The Serious Fraud Office announced the charges Tuesday after an investigation into two rounds of fundraising from Qatar in June and October of 2008. The probe centered on two side agreements under which Barclays paid the Qatari investors $406 million over five years, the bank disclosed in 2013. The question at the heart of the case is whether Barclays hid from authorities and other shareholders the true nature of the fundraising plan with Qatar. The charges are the first in Britain against a bank and former executives for activities during the 2008 financial crisis. They are a blow to current CEO Jes Staley, who is trying to rebuild Barclays’ reputation after a series of scandals. The bank is already facing litigation from the U.S. Department of Justice and a Financial Conduct Authority probe of allegations that Staley tried to uncover the identity of a whistleblower. “Skeletons seem to be jumping out of lots of closets at once for Barclays,” said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. “The spectacle of former executives being paraded through court will do nothing to strengthen the credentials of the bank as it continues to try to execute its turnaround plan.” Barclays said it is “considering its position” and “awaits further details of the charges from the SFO.” The bank’s shares fell 1.9 percent in London. Barclays says it disclosed the first advisory service agreement with Qatari investors that was reached in June 2008, but the second agreement and the fees payable under both were not included in public documents, according to a statement released in September 2013, when the bank was selling more shares. The bank and two former executives also face a charge of unlawful financial assistance related to a $3 billion loan facility Barclays made available to Qatar in November 2008. It is alleged Barclays lent money to Qatar with the understanding that the gulf nation could use the money to buy shares in the bank, making its financial position look more positive. The fundraising efforts of 2008 came as banks around the world struggled to keep their doors open. Britain’s Northern Rock collapsed early in the financial crisis, while Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group were forced to accept billions of pounds of state aid and the government oversight that came with it. Varley, 61; former investment banking chief Roger Jenkins, 61[...]


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Republicans' Medicaid rollback collides with opioid epidemicAP photo Paul Wright sits with Niki Campana on Thursday at the Neil Kennedy Recovery Clinic in Youngstown, Ohio. Republican efforts to roll back Obamacare are colliding with the opioid epidemic. Cutbacks would hit hard in states that are deeply affected by the addiction crisis and struggling to turn the corner. The issue is Medicaid, expanded under former President Barack Obama. Data show that Medicaid expansion is paying for a large share of treatment costs in hard hit states.

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:50:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The Republican campaign to roll back Barack Obama’s health care law is colliding with America’s opioid epidemic. Medicaid cutbacks would hit hard in states deeply affected by the addiction crisis and struggling to turn the corner, according to state data and concerned lawmakers in both parties. The central issue is that the House health care bill would phase out “Obamacare’s” expanded Medicaid, which allows states to provide federally backed insurance to low-income adults previously not eligible. Many people in that demographic are in their 20s and 30s and dealing with opioid addiction. Dollars from Washington have allowed states to boost their response to the crisis, paying for medication, counseling, therapy and other services. According to data compiled by The Associated Press, Medicaid expansion accounted for 61 percent of total Medicaid spending on substance abuse treatment in Kentucky, 47 percent in West Virginia, 56 percent in Michigan, 59 percent in Maryland, and 31 percent in Rhode Island. In Ohio, the expansion accounted for 43 percent of Medicaid spending in 2016 on behavioral health, a category that includes mental health and substance abuse. Those states accepted the Medicaid expansion and represent a cross-section of places hardest hit by the nation’s drug-overdose epidemic, which claimed more than 52,000 lives in 2015. Of the deaths, more than 6 in 10 were because of opioids, from prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone to street drugs such as heroin and an elephant tranquilizer. Tracy Plouck, Ohio’s director of mental health and addiction services, said Medicaid expansion dollars from Washington have allowed her state to redirect its own resources to priorities like providing recovery housing after detox. Reversing that would have real consequences for people who are trying to straighten their out lives, she said. “If you go back into an environment where people are using, that sets you up with a risk that’s nearly insurmountable.” In Youngstown, factory mechanic Paul Wright credits sustained help from Medicaid with his survival after he nearly died from a heroin overdose. Wright said he had started using as a teenager but now has been drug-free for 18 months. Before Medicaid expanded, his father’s health insurance would pay for detox but not for long-term treatment. Wright would relapse. With Medicaid, he’s been able to get follow-up. “It’s truly sad, but I’ve been to many funerals since I’ve been clean,” said Wright, who’s in his mid-20s. “I just think Medicaid – honestly – it saves people.” And he’s able to work. The House GOP bill would end the extra funding states get through expanded Medicaid in 2020, and place a limit on overall federal spending for[...]


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GOP leaders plan to finalize tax bill behind closed doorsAP photo House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin speaks Tuesday during the National Association of Manufacturers 2017 Manufacturing Summit in Washington, D.C. Overhauling the nation's tax code in a once-in-a-generation opportunity, said Ryan, who is promising to act by the end of the year despite political divisions among Republicans and a crowded legislative agenda for Congress.

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:50:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The White House plans to privately negotiate a massive overhaul of the tax system with Republican leaders in Congress, possibly giving rank-and-file members little if any say over the finished product, a top aide to President Donald Trump said Tuesday. Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic aide, said the administration doesn’t want to engage in prolonged negotiations after the package is made public this fall. Cohn said the goal is to release the overhaul in the first two weeks of September. “We don’t want to be negotiating the tax bill on the floor,” Cohn said at a meeting of technology executives. This type of top-down approach has a sketchy record on Capitol Hill, especially on issues as difficult to maneuver as the first remake of the nation’s tax code in 31 years. Earlier this year, House members balked when Trump officials demanded that they vote on a bill to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health law. The House narrowly passed the bill only after lengthy negotiations among lawmakers. Such an approach also would come as Senate Republicans have been widely criticized for crafting a health care bill behind closed doors, with even some in the GOP complaining about the secretive process. Nonetheless, Republican leaders put a happy face on their efforts Tuesday, despite offering no evidence of progress in overcoming their differences. “Let’s not talk about why we can’t do something. Let’s talk about how fantastic things will be if we get this done,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told the National Association of Manufacturers. “Let’s not talk about this little tax break or that little tax break. Let’s talk about the big picture.” In April, the administration unveiled a one-page proposal that called for massive tax cuts for businesses and a bigger standard tax deduction for middle-income families, lower investment taxes for the wealthy and an end to the federal estate tax for the superrich – such as the president and his family. The plan also calls for eliminating the federal deduction for state and local taxes, a proposal opposed by Democrats and some Republicans in states such as New York, New Jersey and California. Ryan said he is confident Congress can pass a tax package by the end of the year, despite political divisions among Republicans and a crowded legislative agenda for Congress. He acknowledged that it won’t be easy. But he preached against settling for something less than a complete overhaul of the tax system. A growing number of Republicans say they would rather just cut taxes than take on the diffic[...]


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Back-to-back Alaska fatal black bear maulings seen as flukesA sign warns people that the trailhead is closed Monday after a fatal bear mauling at Bird Ridge Trail in Anchorage, Alaska. Authorities said a black bear killed a 16-year-old runner while he was competing in an Alaska race on Sunday.

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:50:00 GMT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Back-to-back fatal maulings of people by black bears in Alaska appear to be flukes by rogue animals, experts said Tuesday. But they warn that people venturing into bear habitat should always carry repellent spray or guns. In the first attack, a black bear killed a 16-year-old runner Sunday who got lost competing in a mountain race south of Anchorage. On Monday, a worker at a remote gold exploration site several hundred miles away was mauled to death. A second worker was injured by the same black bear. Such predatory maulings by black bears are extremely rare, akin to being struck by lightning, state Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh said. “To have two in two days is an anomaly,” he said. “It just doesn’t happen.” Attacks by brown or grizzly bears are far more common, particularly in defensive actions, such as when a female bear is protecting her cubs, experts said. Now-retired state bear biologist John Hechtel tracked Alaska’s fatal bear maulings between 1980 and 2014 and counted only three fatal maulings by black bears. There were 15 killings of people by brown or grizzly bears during the same period and one fatal mauling by a polar bear. Hechtel said he can’t say why the most recent black bear attacks occurred, given so much remains unknown. But he doesn’t believe it points to any kind of trend. “I think it’s just a coincidence,” he said. “It does’t necessarily mean there’s anything related.” The best defense against bear attacks, said Hechtel and others, is for people who head into Alaska’s back country to carry bear repellent or guns with them. Hechtel is an advocate for carrying bear repellent, however, saying it’s a safer alternative than guns for people who aren’t sharpshooters. A nerve-wracking encounter with a black bear several years ago prompted Juneau mountain runner Dan Lesh to begin carrying bear repellent spray on his excursions. A black bear began stalking him at Blackerby Ridge near town, coming within 30 feet of him. Then a running partner joined him, and the two made it out together. They ended up warning four arriving hikers, hiking back with them to point out the bear. The animal then began approaching the group of six, and that’s when they decided to leave the mountain. Lesh said this week’s deaths are a key topic of conversation among Juneau runners. “It hits home,” he said. But he quickly added he will not give up running in the wilderness. “These are low-probability events,” Lesh said. Neither will Juneau mountain runner John Nagel. “Heck no,” he said. [...]


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Stratton Lock to resume daily operating scheduleSarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Debbie Brown (left) of Algonquin and Nicole Kremer of Fox River Grove are seen Friday at the William G. Stratton-Thomas A. Bolger Lock and Dam in McHenry.Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Operator Todd Miller walks across the the William G. Stratton Lock & Dam near McHenry Friday, June 16, 2017.

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:37:00 GMT

McHENRY – The William G. Stratton-Thomas A. Bolger Lock and Dam on the Fox River in McHenry will resume its daily schedule beginning June 28, according to a news release from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The full-time schedule will continue through the end of the 2017 boating season. The lock will be open from 8 a.m. to midnight each day from June 28 to Sept. 30. It will be operational between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily from Oct. 1 to 31. The lock is closed each year from November to April 30.

Previously, the Northwest Herald reported that the lock had been closed every Monday and Tuesday since the beginning of boating season on May 3 because of a lack of personnel. State Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, who represents much of McHenry County and the northwestern part of Lake County, said that one employee who operated the lock and dam retired, and another almost simultaneously gave notice.

“This is some serious machinery,” Althoff said. “Who would have ever guessed one person would have retired and another leave at this crucial time?”

She emphasized that the IDNR had been working hard to adequately replace its staff.

“I am pleased with the Department of Natural Resources. This is when government works pretty well together. We want people to enjoy boating season,” Althoff said.

Neither Althoff nor the IDNR was immediately available to confirm whether the employees had been replaced. Althoff previously had mentioned that one candidate was in training, and interviews to fill the positions were ongoing.

Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Debbie Brown (left) of Algonquin and Nicole Kremer of Fox River Grove are seen Friday at the William G. Stratton-Thomas A. Bolger Lock and Dam in McHenry.Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Operator Todd Miller walks across the the William G. Stratton Lock & Dam near McHenry Friday, June 16, 2017.


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DeKalb police officer earns good Samaritan badgeMatthew Apgar – mapgar@shawmedia.com DeKalb police officer Jeff Winters speaks Tuesday at the DeKalb Police Department in DeKalb. Winters saw a man in need last week and went out of his way to provide the man food and other useful items.Matthew Apgar – mapgar@shawmedia.com DeKalb police officer Jeff Winters talks to a man along Sycamore Road on June 13 near the Kishwaukee Country Club in DeKalb.

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:37:00 GMT

DeKALB – Officer Jeff Winters said he was running through the aisles of Walmart, refusing to let the subject get away. Just south on Sycamore Road, under a tree at Kishwaukee Country Club, was the guy the DeKalb police officer was running after: a homeless man who hadn’t eaten in a while, and who was desperate for respite June 13, which would be a sweltering day. Winters already had brought the man some breakfast sandwiches, danishes and bottles of water. “I figured that would help him out for a while, at least for the day, and it was getting hot out,” he said. A business had called that morning, concerned about a man sleeping under the tunnel near Bea’s Wok N Roll. Winters said he found him and tried to get to know him – where he’d come from, where he was going. He observed his condition and the condition of the grocery bags he was carrying his few belongings in. Winters said the man told him he was hoping to find a job and scratch together enough money for a duffel bag, so Winters made a dash for Walmart. “I’m running, because I don’t want him to disappear,” he said. “They’ll say they’re going to one spot, and then they don’t. I’m going up to a lady at Walmart asking, ‘Where are the duffel bags? Where are the travel pillows?’ I was trying to think of what else I could grab.” He returned with a duffel bag stuffed with travel pillows and bug spray. “I showed him the bag, and the pillows, and the stuff inside of it, and he got a big smile on his face and said, ‘You didn’t have to do that,’ ” he said. “ ‘God gave me a good job to provide for my family. I have plenty, and it’s my job to share it with you.’ I would hope someone would do it for me, if I was in their shoes.” Winters, who’s going on 23 years with the DeKalb force, said it’s actually commonplace to play the role of good Samaritan, and he knows other guys in the department have done such good deeds, too. He credits his upbringing in Crystal Lake, where his parents, Terrence and Barbara, spent much of their time helping out their parents, in-laws, distant relatives and anyone else who needed a hand. “I kind of evolved from there,” he said. Winters said he plans to buy some mini-tents and keep them in his locker, for such scenarios going forward. A little shelter or a bite to eat can go a long way for someone in need. “What a lot of folks don’t realize is these people don’t have anybody, and I’d say the majority of homeless people I come acros[...]


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Baby squirrels safely rescued from deputy's squad carA mechanic found four baby squirrels in a McHenry County Sheriff's deputy's squad car, according to a Facebook post from the office Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the McHenry County Sheriff's Office.A mechanic successfully removed four baby squirrels from a McHenry County Sheriff's deputy's squad car without waking them, according to a Facebook post from the office Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the McHenry County Sheriff's Office.A mechanic found four baby squirrels in a McHenry County Sheriff's deputy's squad car, according to a Facebook post from the office Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the McHenry County Sheriff's Office.

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:36:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A McHenry County Sheriff’s deputy discovered he had four unexpected passengers when he brought his squad car in to the mechanic for a new headlight.

The mechanic found four baby squirrels in the car’s wheel well, according to a Facebook post from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office.

“We just never know who might be getting a ride in one of our squad cars,” the post said.

The mechanics were able to extract the babies without waking them, and they were returned to the deputy’s home.

A mechanic found four baby squirrels in a McHenry County Sheriff's deputy's squad car, according to a Facebook post from the office Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the McHenry County Sheriff's Office.A mechanic successfully removed four baby squirrels from a McHenry County Sheriff's deputy's squad car without waking them, according to a Facebook post from the office Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the McHenry County Sheriff's Office.A mechanic found four baby squirrels in a McHenry County Sheriff's deputy's squad car, according to a Facebook post from the office Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the McHenry County Sheriff's Office.


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Mental Health Board offers resources to victims of Marengo explosion

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:36:00 GMT

The McHenry County Mental Health Board is offering crisis counseling for people affected by the house explosion June 11 in Marengo.

Crisis counselors will stop by the investigation site periodically as investigation begins into the explosion that leveled two homes and damaged 50 others and fortunately resulted in no deaths.

Some victims of the explosion may experience new feelings of grief and stress brought on by the investigation, Mental Health Board Executive Director Scott Block said.

“Together, we wish to provide access to any additional mental health counseling services or resources necessary to help individuals deal with any grief and stress concerns that stem from the event,” Block said.

People needing counseling resources to cope with the event can call the McHenry County Crisis Line at 800-892-8900, or the Mental Health Board at 815-455-2828.

– Kevin P. Craver




Judge acquits McHenry man of sexual assault chargeGodfrey Siwale, 39, McHenry, was acquitted of a Class X felony charge of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child charge.

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:35:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A judge acquitted a McHenry man Tuesday of a sexual assault charge stemming from an accusation involving an 8-year-old girl. McHenry County Judge Michael Feetterer returned a not guilty verdict on the Class X felony charge after the two-day bench trial of Godfrey Siwale. Siwale was charged in October 2016 with one count of predatory criminal sexual assault after prosecutors said he inappropriately touched a young girl on one occasion when she was staying at a family friend’s home for a few days last spring. The girl, now 9, took the stand and told the judge that she was watching YouTube videos Siwale posted of himself while sitting on his bed when he put her on his lap. Siwale was an in-home caregiver for family friend Sherry Christy’s father, who had dementia and needed 24-hour care. Christy testified that Siwale was paid $400 a week in addition to living in their home. He was hired in November 2015 after Christy posted an ad on a website, she said. The girl said he touched her inappropriately. She said she immediately pushed his hand away, told him to stop and left the room. The girl said she did not initially disclose what happened because she didn’t want anyone to be mad at her, and she still wanted to be able to go there. She eventually told her mother in August after she returned home from a summer vacation with her father. Siwale, who testified on his behalf, said the girl came over to watch YouTube videos and tried to sit on his lap, but both he and Christy told her that was not OK. He said they watched videos for no more than 10 minutes, then he went to take care of Christy’s father. Matthew Jura, Siwale’s defense lawyer, said he didn’t believe there was any sexual contact, and if there was, then it likely was accidental. He said it was not likely anything could have happened given the fact that the layout of the home was open and Christy’s father was in the room with the young girl and Siwale the entire time. Christy also was cooking in the kitchen at the time of the alleged incident about 20 feet away, Jura said. Christy said the floor plan of her house is such that Siwale and her father occupy a living room area on the first floor that is mostly open to the rest of the house. After weighing evidence and arguments presented by the state and defense, Feetterer said the testimony of the young girl and Siwale conflicted. He did say, however, that he thought Christy’s testimony was credible. [...]Godfrey Siwale, 39, McHenry, was acqui[...]


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Chicago man accused of possessing three pounds of marijuana in McHenry County appears in courtLetrell K. Johnson, 25, of Chicago, was recently arrested with 3.1 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $28,280, according to court records.Letrell K. Johnson, 25, of Chicago, was recently arrested with 3.1 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $28,280, according to court records.

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:35:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A Chicago man accused of having a little more than three pounds of marijuana in McHenry County remained in jail Tuesday.

Prosecutors charged Letrell K. Johnson, 25, of the 11600 block of South Loomis St., Chicago, with delivery of marijuana and possession of marijuana. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

McHenry County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Johnson about 6:30 a.m. June 14. Deputies said they found 3.1 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $28,280, according to court documents.

He remained in jail as of Tuesday evening in lieu of $60,000 bond, according to jail records.

He next will appear in court July 10 before Judge Sharon Prather.

Letrell K. Johnson, 25, of Chicago, was recently arrested with 3.1 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $28,280, according to court records.Letrell K. Johnson, 25, of Chicago, was recently arrested with 3.1 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $28,280, according to court records.


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