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New Lenox police end investigation of former Providence Catholic High School presidentPolice have closed their investigation into the Rev. Richard McGrath without ever being able to see the cellphone that led to his sudden resignation as president of Providence Catholic High School in December.The Rev. Richard McGrathRev. Richard McGrath enters a car Jan. 24 after appearing before a grand jury in Joliet. McGrath, who headed Providence Catholic High School as principal and then president for 32 years, suddenly retired Dec. 23 after a report of what has been characterized as “potentially inappropriate material” found on his phone.

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 17:51:00 GMT

NEW LENOX – Police have closed their investigation into the Rev. Richard McGrath without ever being able to see the cellphone that led to his sudden resignation as president of Providence Catholic High School in December. The cellphone might no longer exist, according to police reports. "There are a lot of unanswered questions that unfortunately will never be answered," New Lenox Police Chief Bob Sterba said Friday. The investigation began after a girl initially reported to a school maintenance employee that she saw "what she believed to be a photo of a nude 13-year-old male juvenile" on McGrath's cellphone while he was sitting in the bleachers at a Providence wrestling match Dec. 8, according to a police report filed three days later. McGrath refused to give the cellphone to police or a Providence Catholic official when they questioned him about it, according to police reports. In the following weeks, Patrick Reardon, an attorney for McGrath, told police that the cellphone might no longer exist. "Mr. Reardon indicated that he doesn't believe the he (sic) cellular phone exists and that it would be a huge waste of time looking for the cellular phone," according to Jan. 16 report. "Mr. Reardon further indicated that he wasn't making any admissions on behalf of his client, Mr. McGrath. Mr. Reardon explained that he does not think the cellphone will surface or ever turn up." Sterba said police could not continue their investigation without the phone. "Without the telephone, there is no case," he said. "The evidence of the case would have been found on the telephone." The investigation also was complicated by the witness' initial unwillingness to talk to police, although she eventually did, according to a summary of the investigation filed Thursday when it was closed. The witness talked with police Jan. 15. In that interview, the girl told police that she saw on the cellphone a photo of an unclothed male between 12 and 15 years old, according to a police report. "The photo was of an image of the male from the shoulders down to above the knees," the report states. "She further described that the body was unclothed and in a standing position with both arms down to his side. [Name redacted] stated that she wasn't completely certain if she saw male genitalia." Without sufficient probable cause, police were unable to obtain a search warrant for the cellphone. Sterba said that once police had talked to the witness, they had been informed by McGrath's attorney that the cellphone was no longer available. Police tried to get the cellphone Dec. 11, according to another police report. Both Detective Sgt. Micah Nuesse and the Rev. John Merkelis, who since has replaced McGrath as president, tried to obtain the phone, which was the property of Providence. "Fr. Merkelis told Fr. McGrath to give him the phone," the report states. "Fr. McGrath told Fr. Merkelis and myself that he would not turn his cellphone over. Fr. McGrath stood up and walked out of the office, advising that he needed to get to the theater." Police took McGrath's office computer with Merkelis' permission, the report said. The computer was examined by the Will County State's Attorney Office's Computer Crimes Unit, but "nothing worth noting of evidentiary value" was found, according to a subsequent report. McGrath, 71, resigned Dec. 23 after leading Providence for 32 years first as principal and then as president, when the position was created. His resignation was announced that day in a joint statement put out by Providence and the Diocese of Joliet. They attributed th[...]


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Northwood Middle School in Woodstock hosts energy fairJJ Stokes, 10, of Mary Endres Elementary School participates in a game Thursday at Northwood Middle School's energy fair.Northwood Middle School students Faith Eddy (left), 14, and Maddi Fogarty, 14, work together to launch a foam rocket for an audience of Mary Endres Elementary School students at an energy fair Thursday.Northwood Middle School students Summer Dziewior (left), 14, and Serena Leon, 13, interact with a project focused on the properties of radar.Rolando Gomez, 14, demonstrates how a lightbulb works Thursday at Northwood Middle School in Woodstock.Marko Ortiz (left), 13, and Alexis Licona, 14, demonstrate a project focused on electricity Thursday at Northwood Middle School in Woodstock.

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 17:49:00 GMT

Northwood Middle School students demonstrated various projects focused on energy to Mary Endres Elementary School students during a fair Thursday in Woodstock.

JJ Stokes, 10, of Mary Endres Elementary School participates in a game Thursday at Northwood Middle School's energy fair.Northwood Middle School students Faith Eddy (left), 14, and Maddi Fogarty, 14, work together to launch a foam rocket for an audience of Mary Endres Elementary School students at an energy fair Thursday.Northwood Middle School students Summer Dziewior (left), 14, and Serena Leon, 13, interact with a project focused on the properties of radar.Rolando Gomez, 14, demonstrates how a lightbulb works Thursday at Northwood Middle School in Woodstock.Marko Ortiz (left), 13, and Alexis Licona, 14, demonstrate a project focused on electricity Thursday at Northwood Middle School in Woodstock.


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STEM scholars tour Marengo's UniCarriersStudents, who are part of the 14th Congressional District STEM Scholars program, watch a presentation during their visit Saturday to UniCarriers in Marengo.U.S Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, tours UniCarriers on Saturday in Marengo

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 06:08:00 GMT

MARENGO – About 30 students from across Illinois gathered at UniCarriers facility in Marengo on Saturday morning to explore the world of manufacturing and engineering technology.

The students are all a part of U.S Rep. Randy Hultgren’s 14th Congressional District STEM Scholars program. The program is in its second year and allows high schoolers in the 14th District to connect with like minded students and leaders in the field. The group takes trips to various workplaces that rely on science, technology, engineering and math.

“In Illinois, often our biggest export is some of our brightest students moving elsewhere,” Hultgren said. “We want them here. We want them to see that there are some amazing career opportunities right here in Illinois, whether its at our national laboratories or places like UniCarriers, where they can have a career, do incredibly well and make some of the best things in the world.”

Headquartered in Marengo with manufacturing operations that cover more than half a million square feet, UniCarrier has a worldwide presence.

The company manufactures forklifts that target numerous industries such as warehousing, manufacturing, recycling, lumber and brickyards, shipping and receiving and trailer loading and unloading.

Students were able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the operation Saturday, and parents were able to find out more about the company and what future careers could exist for their children as well. Many parents said they got their kids involved in the program because it is a rare opportunity to dig deeper into STEM education.

“We came from Minnesota to [Illinois] and my daughter was in a STEM school there,” said Marci Kloberdanz of Joliet. “The kinds of schools that offer that here are few and far between.”

Manufacturing in Illinois accounts for 12.7 percent of total state output, according to the latest statistics from the National Association of Manufacturers.

McHenry County’s manufacturing sector employs 13 percent of the county workforce, according to the McHenry County Economic Development Corp.

About 15 percent of UniCarrier’s workforce at the Marengo facility is new graduates, human resources director Christy Willis said.

One of the aims of the STEM scholars program is to get students to broaden their horizons when it comes to STEM careers and that is one thing Shayne Hare of Sugar Grove said was important to him. His 18-year-old is in the program.

“With all the technology these kids have now, you think their world would be opened up,” he said. “But it’s not. Its very narrow because they experience everything through a screen at home. A program like this gets them out and broadens how they view it.”

If you or your teen are interested in the program visit hultgren.house.gov/serving-you/stem-scholars or call Susan Russell at 630- 584-2734. An application process is required.

Students, who are part of the 14th Congressional District STEM Scholars program, watch a presentation during their visit Saturday to UniCarriers in Marengo.U.S Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, tours UniCarriers on Saturday in Marengo


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Norge's Kevin Bickner finishes 20th in large hill competitionKevin Bickner, of the United States, soars through the air during men's large hill Individual ski jumping competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018.

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 06:04:00 GMT

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Another event, another milestone for Norge Ski Club product Kevin Bickner in the Winter Olympics.

The Wauconda native, only 21, smiled after jumping to a 20th-place finish in Saturday’s large hill event, becoming the first U.S. jumper to place in the top 20 since Alan Alborn placed fourth in Salt Lake City’s 2002 games. Bickner did so with a jump of 124 meters, good for a combined final round score of 235.4.

“To be in the top 20 in both events is an accomplishment,” Bickner said. “It shows the level I’m at now I think.”

U.S. teammate and fellow Norge ski jumper Michael Glasder, of Cary, finished 46th after jumping 114 meters for a score of 90.5. Glasder, 28, jumped only once because skiers who don’t place in the top 30 after the first jump don’t jump a second time.

Poland’s Kamil Stoch took the gold medal with a combined score of 285.7. After winning gold in the normal hill, Germany’s Andreas Wellinger earned silver Saturday with a combined score of 282.3 after a second jump of 142 meters, the furthest of the night. Normal hill silver medal winner Robert Johansson took bronze Saturday.

Bickner said his performance was not “my best,” but that he “wouldn’t complain” with a top-20 finish.

“Back at the beginning of my season that was my ultimate Olympic goal,” he said.Casey Larson, the third Norge ski jumper to compete in this month’s Olympics did not qualify for Saturday’s final rounds after placing 53rd in Friday’s qualifying event.

Larson, 19, of Barrington, will join Bickner, Glasder and Utah’s Will Rhoads, the fourth member of the U.S. team, for team competition finals Monday. That event will begin at 8:30 a.m. Monday on NBCSN.

Kevin Bickner, of the United States, soars through the air during men's large hill Individual ski jumping competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018.


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Gov. Bruce Rauner on consolidation: 'People of McHenry should be empowered to make their own choices'Gregory Shaver for Shaw Media Gov. Bruce Rauner answers a question during a meeting with members of the editorial board of Shaw Media’s Northwest Herald Friday morning, Feb. 16, 2018, at the newspaper's office in Crystal Lake.

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 05:52:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – There has been a lot of talk about the consolidation and abolishment of McHenry County townships and road districts.

Count Gov. Bruce Rauner as one of the movement’s biggest backers.

“What I stand for is local control,” the Republican told the Northwest Herald Editorial Board on Friday morning as he visited McHenry County to pitch why voters should elect him for a second term. “The people of McHenry should be empowered to make their own choices very easily.”

Rauner spoke to the Editorial Board for about 30 minutes, discussing property taxes in McHenry County, pensions – and why voters should be able to consolidate or dissolve local governments at the polls.

“If we find that we free up local residents to determine themselves what they want to consolidate, and which services they want to share, we will come to a good solution and over time will bring down our costs,” Rauner said. “What’s clear is Illinois is an outlier. ... We have way more units of government than any other state – and is it a coincidence that we have the highest property taxes in America? I think it’s probably not a coincidence.”

Rauner’s push for local control and consolidation comes at a time when the attack on townships is as intense as ever. Voters and homeowners tired of high property taxes and the state’s worsening economic climate have been looking to cut anything from anywhere they can.

Several bills have moved through Springfield to give voters the power to change what their government looks like.

On Jan. 1, House Bill 607 became a state law – a measure that allows township trustees to ask voters whether they want the road district abolished and its responsibilities given to the township supervisor. A majority vote would push that plan into motion, eliminating the road district at the end of the current highway commissioner’s term. McHenry Township officials voted Feb. 13 to put a referendum to voters on the November ballot.

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, filed a bill in January that would give voters an opportunity to eliminate township government with a majority vote. The move would shift the services provided by townships to local municipalities and the county.

McSweeney shifted his focus to Algonquin Township, which recently has endured unruly in-house lawsuits, budget-busting legal fees and numerous corruption allegations leveled against the former leader of the highway department.

Rauner stands behind efforts such as McSweeney’s.

“Let’s empower local residents to figure it out,” Rauner said. “Let’s free up the people of Illinois and give power to the people to decide, and I’ll think we’ll get to a good solution.”

Gregory Shaver for Shaw Media Gov. Bruce Rauner answers a question during a meeting with members of the editorial board of Shaw Media’s Northwest Herald Friday morning, Feb. 16, 2018, at the newspaper's office in Crystal Lake.


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Retired Lake in the Hills deputy police chief facing sex assault, gun charges offered plea dealAlan R. Bokowski, of the 1300 block of Dola Rosa Vista, Crystal Lake

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 05:50:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Prosecutors offered a negotiated plea Friday to a retired Lake in the Hills deputy police chief who is facing felony sex abuse and gun charges.

Attorneys met with McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather on Friday to talk about 61-year-old Alan R. Bokowski’s cases. The former police official has until Wednesday to accept the deal – the details of which were not discussed in open court.

McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein made the offer Friday, less than two weeks before Bokowski is scheduled for a Feb. 26 jury trial.

Neither Eisenstein nor Bokowski’s private attorney, Peggy Gerkin, could be reached for comment on the terms of the negotiation.

Bokowski, of the 1300 block of Dolo Rosa Vista, Crystal Lake, was charged in 2016 with criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse, according to an eight-count criminal complaint filed in McHenry County court.

Crystal Lake police began their investigation after meeting with concerned parents who reported that their juvenile daughter was sexually assaulted at Bokowski’s home, according to a news release from Crystal Lake police at the time.

He later was charged with possessing firearm ammunition, several shotguns, and pistol and rifle rounds without a firearm owner’s identification card.

According to a 2017 complaint, Bokowski illegally had a .375 Magnum revolver; Western Field .22 long rifle; Harrington and Richardson shotgun; Winchester shotgun; Mauser 7.92-by-57 mm rifle; Sig Sauer semi-automatic handgun; Ruger .44 Magnum revolver; Taurus .38 Special revolver; Beretta Gardone UT .380 semi-automatic handgun; and Galand Tuetue 8 mm revolver.

He also is accused of inappropriately touching a woman in 2015, according to the same complaint.

Before retiring in 2006, Bokowski worked for the Lake in the Hills Police Department for 26 years.

At the time of his arrest, Lake in the Hills police said they had plans to review Bokowski’s time with the department to see whether any criminal activity took place during his employment.

Alan R. Bokowski, of the 1300 block of Dola Rosa Vista, Crystal Lake


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Centegra Health System, Northwestern Medicine merger talks ongoing nearly 2 years laterThe exterior of Centegra Hospital – Huntley appears Feb. 16, 2016. It’s been about two years since Centegra Health System and Northwestern Medicine announced plans to explore an affiliation, but the deal has yet to solidify.Discussions continue to progress between Centegra Health System and Northwestern Medicine. “The health systems continue to determine how Centegra will integrate with Northwestern Medicine, including opportunities to increase the depth of Centegra’s clinical capabilities, enhance physician collaboration and improve efficiencies to prove the best possible care for patients and their families," Centegra Health System CEO Michael Eesley said in Centegra’s 2017 Annual Report.

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 05:49:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – It’s been about two years since Centegra Health System and Northwestern Medicine announced plans to explore an affiliation, but the deal has yet to solidify.

The health systems signed a letter of intent to discuss an affiliation in 2016, and in June 2017, representatives said it was likely that Centegra would join Northwestern by the end of the year. That didn’t happen, and officials now have said the merger likely will close later this year.

“Discussions continue to progress, and we hope to be part of their health system by the end of the year,” Centegra spokeswoman Michelle Green said in a statement. “I have no additional information at this time.”

Northwestern and Centegra extended a nonbinding letter of intent in 2017, but a definitive agreement is not in place. Any plans also must go through state regulatory reviews and approvals, according to Centegra’s 2017 Annual Report.

“The health systems continue to determine how Centegra will integrate with Northwestern Medicine, including opportunities to increase the depth of Centegra’s clinical capabilities, enhance physician collaboration and improve efficiencies to prove the best possible care for patients and their families,” Centegra Health System CEO Michael Eesley said in the report.  

Northwestern merged with Cadence Health about six months after announcing plans. KishHealth System joined Northwestern about seven months after discussions began between the two systems. Representatives from the systems declined to comment on why this deal is taking longer.

Officials have remained mum on what effect the merger could have on Centegra, which is McHenry County’s largest employer. The health system operates hospitals in Woodstock, McHenry and Huntley, and it has numerous clinics and facilities in the county.

Northwestern Memorial HealthCare is the corporate parent for the Northwestern Medicine health system, which has a staff of more than 30,000. The system manages seven hospitals in Chicago and its surrounding northwest and southwest suburbs, according to its website.

Green has said money will not be exchanged to make the deal between Centegra and Northwestern happen. In business dealings, a merger or acquisition typically involves a money exchange or a corporate governance change. Both health systems are nonprofits.

The exterior of Centegra Hospital – Huntley appears Feb. 16, 2016. It’s been about two years since Centegra Health System and Northwestern Medicine announced plans to explore an affiliation, but the deal has yet to solidify.Discussions continue to progress between Centegra Health System and Northwestern Medicine. “The health systems continue to determine how Centegra will integrate with Northwestern Medicine, including opportunities to increase the depth of Centegra’s clinical capabilities, enhance physician collaboration and improve efficiencies to prove the best possible care for patients and their families," Centegra Health System CEO Michael Eesley said in Centegra’s 2017 Annual Report.


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Crisiswear Clothing plans to open retail space on Woodstock SquareFashion designer Matthew Deponte works on creating a piece of clothing at Crisiswear Clothing on Tuesday in Woodstock. Co-owners Andrew Wright and Deponte run their business online and hope to open a storefront in the summer on the Square.Fashion designer Matthew Deponte shows some of the apparel he creates at Crisiswear Clothing on Tuesday in Woodstock. Co-owners Andrew Wright and Deponte run their business online, and they hope to open a storefront in the summer on the Square.Andrew Wright (left) and Matthew Deponte discuss search engine optimization for their online sales Tuesday at Crisiswear Clothing in Woodstock.Fashion designer Matthew Deponte shows specialized stitching that he uses for apparel he creates at Crisiswear Clothing.

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 05:49:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Crisiswear Clothing – which offers custom-made, high-end clothes with a cyber-punk twist – has landed a space on the Woodstock Square.

Owners Matthew Deponte and Andrew Wright have been operating Crisiswear online since 2001, but they decided to make the jump to retail as the brand undergoes a major pivot. The company wants to expand its reach, offer new items and show potential customers that the gear can be inclusive to different fashion styles.

“I think on a very surface level, it looks like this is the kind of clothing that not everyone is allowed to wear,” Wright said.

“But once you get your hands on the clothes, you realize you can fold it into your everyday wardrobe and not feel like you’re at a goth festival.”

Deponte started the brand during his last year at The Art Institute of Chicago, so the company originally was based in Chicago.

He had gone into school with plans to become a painter, but he found another passion along the way.

“I got addicted to [fashion design],” Deponte said. “It’s like, ‘Oh my god, I can design the clothing that’s in my head. I can make the world that I see and have people interact with that.’ ”

Crisiswear offers not only fashionable clothes, but practicality, as well, Deponte said.

“When I started Crisiswear in the early 2000s, there were major conflicts happening in the world, there was all this insane weather,” he said. “I thought, ‘I need to make clothing that can survive whatever is thrown at it.’”

Crisiswear is operating on a made-to-order system right now, but Deponte and Wright plan to expand its retail offerings.

The 3,000-square-foot space at 222 Main St. will serve as the company’s base of operations. The building – which formerly housed Capo Cigars – is undergoing renovations, but Deponte and Wright hope to open the space to the public by the summer.

Follow the company’s progress on its Facebook page at Facebook.com/CrisiswearOfficial.

Fashion designer Matthew Deponte works on creating a piece of clothing at Crisiswear Clothing on Tuesday in Woodstock. Co-owners Andrew Wright and Deponte run their business online and hope to open a storefront in the summer on the Square.Fashion designer Matthew Deponte shows some of the apparel he creates at Crisiswear Clothing on Tuesday in Woodstock. Co-owners Andrew Wright and Deponte run their business online, and they hope to open a storefront in the summer on the Square.Andrew Wright (left) and Matthew Deponte discuss search engine optimization for their online sales Tuesday at Crisiswear Clothing in Woodstock.Fashion designer Matthew Deponte shows specialized stitching that he uses for apparel he creates at Crisiswear Clothing.


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Algonquin Township Highway Department paid more than $260K in unexplained bonusesShaw Media file photo Anna May Miller (center) attends a McHenry County Board Committee of the Whole meeting June 3, 2016, in Woodstock.Shaw Media file photo Former Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Bob Miller

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 05:47:00 GMT

ALGONQUIN TOWNSHIP – Prosecutors are homing in on more than $260,000 in unexplained bonuses amid a wider probe into official misconduct during Bob Miller’s time at the Algonquin Township Highway Department. The bonuses, characterized as miscellaneous pay, have been paid to employees since May 2013, according to a Northwest Herald investigation of payroll documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Township officials have no written policy explaining or supporting those payments – a detail that has the attorney who wrote the handbook for township officials concerned. “If there are side payments and there is no accountability, we have no basis to measure whether it’s lawful,” said Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, an Ancel Glink attorney who co-authored The Township Officials of Illinois’ “Laws & Duties Handbook.” “I think they really need to tighten things up over there.”  The bonuses inside Miller’s highway department are one of the main pillars of a corruption probe churning inside the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office, according to sources close to the investigation. The bonuses are in payroll reports under a line item labeled “Misc.” Pay for regular hours, overtime, vacation, holidays and sick leave are listed as separate earnings. The flat payments ranged from $100 to $1,900 a period, according to payroll reports. Miller’s highway department distributed the bulk of those payments, about $242,000, to employees from May 2013 to May 2017. Miller, who led the highway department for 24 years, lost in an upset in the 2017 election to Andrew Gasser. The first-term highway commissioner has continued the payments on a smaller scale, but said he put policies in place to codify the pay practices. A review of payroll records over the nine months between May 15, when Gasser took office, and Feb. 13 revealed that nine highway department employees received more than $21,000 in miscellaneous pay. The payments came in increments of $100, $350, $450, $700 and $800. Gasser said he instituted a policy to compensate employees for being on call for snowplowing work during the winter months. Workers are paid a $350 stipend every two weeks from November to March under terms of the policy, he said. Further, one employee is on call every week to handle road emergencies. That person gets a $100 stipend for each on-call week, Gasser said.  Gasser said he was unaware of the on-call and winter pay policies of his predecessor. “I see no policies for any miscellaneous pay,” Gasser said. The Northwest Herald requested a copy of the pay policies Gasser said he implemented. He didn’t provide them. In response to a previous Freedom of Information Act records request seeking an official description of miscellaneous payments on payroll records, Gasser wrote: “The highway department has no records of Misc payouts.” Miller declined to comment, but his attorney, Tom Gooch, explained how miscellaneous payouts worked. “The miscellaneous payments included the bonuses employees were paid at various times of the year,” Gooch said. “They were also paid for special projects over and above what they were expected to do and beyond their normal working hours.” Those special projects included concrete inspection, recycling detail, streetlight inspection and attendance at Algonquin Township events, such as “Touch A Truck.” Other Algonquin Township officials have be[...]


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House fire causes $15K in damage to Crystal Lake home Friday

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 05:47:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A house fire caused $15,000 in damage to a Crystal Lake home Friday evening, fire officials said.

Crystal Lake Fire Rescue Department responded to a report of smoke coming from the roof of a building on the 1390 block of North Avenue about 5:40 p.m. Friday. When crews arrived at the scene, light smoke was visible coming from the roof near the chimney, according to the department.

Fire crews deployed a hose into the residence to battle the fire and search for residents. Responders extinguished the fire before damage could spread beyond the roof area. No one was injured during the incident, according to the department.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

Algonquin-Lake in the Hills, McHenry Township and Huntley Fire Protection Districts assisted at the scene.




Breaking: McHenry County under hazardous weather outlook

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 22:35:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County is under a hazardous weather outlook as snow begins to fall this afternoon.

The National Weather Service issued the alert Saturday for limited excessive cold risk and limited snow risk.

Light snow is expected this afternoon with very light accumulation. There may be flooding and thunderstorm risks Monday, according to the service.


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Olympic ski jumpers Kevin Bickner, Mike Glasder advance in large hill competitionKevin Bickner, of the United States, takes off during qualification for the men's large hill individual ski jumping competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018.Michael Glasder, of the United States, soars through the air during qualification for the men's large hill individual ski jumping competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018.

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 06:12:00 GMT

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Two of the three first Olympic ski jumpers from Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove made it 2 for 2 Friday in qualifying for the final day of competition during their first events of the Winter Games. U.S. ski jumpers Kevin Bickner, 21, of Wauconda and Mike Glasder, 28, of Cary qualified for Saturday’s final in the large hill event by cruising to top-50 finishes in Friday’s qualifying jump, while Casey Larson of Barrington finished 53rd. “I made a small mistake in my flight where I pushed a little bit too much in the air,” Glasder said. “I wanted it a little bit too much, and more times than not if you try too hard it hurts you.” Glasder recorded the longest jump of the night for the Americans at 124.5 meters, but it was Bickner who again led the way on the scoreboard, which factors distance, wind and jumpers’ style. Bickner’s score of 91.1 was good for 35th in the stacked field of the world’s best ski jumpers, while Glasder’s 88.7 tally placed him 38th overall.  Bickner has notched the top score for the U.S. in each of the qualifying and championship events this Olympics. Despite that feat, he stood frowning and shrugging his shoulders after Friday’s jump. “There was a huge gust of wind that knocked me around a bit. I wasn’t on balance at takeoff, so my flight was a little bit twisted at the start,” he said. “I probably could have handled it a little bit better.” Larson scored 61.1 points after a jump of 104.5 meters. And like Larson, U.S. jumper Will Rhoads of Utah also failed to qualify for Saturday’s final after finishing 51st Friday. Qualifying round leaders Robert Johansson and Johann Andre Forfang of Norway recorded jumps of 135 and 137 meters, with Johansson earning more points despite the shorter jump because of wind.  Friday’s results will not be factored into Saturday’s final rounds other than setting the order of the jumpers. Friday’s 50th-place finisher, Sebastian Colloredo of Italy, will jump first Saturday, and Johansson will jump last. Saturday’s championship will air at 1:30 p.m. on NBCSN with the long jump’s first round, which will narrow the field from 50 to 30. The final jump to determine large hill medalists will follow.  For Larson, Friday’s failure to qualify was “frustrating” despite being well-rested and not having nerves different than “the usual” before his events. The Barrington native said he was frustrated knowing he’s capable of a jump that’s “pretty darn good.” He’ll have another chance to compete for a medal as a member of the four-person U.S. team during team jumps Monday. “It’s awesome to be here, but you still want to be able to show your best jump,” Larson said. “It’s nothing other than me; I’m the one up there getting flagged, so I have to throw it down.” The local trio earlier advanced from the normal hill qualifying round Feb. 8 before competing in the event’s final rounds Feb. 10. Kevin Bickner, of the United States, takes off during qualification for the men's large hill individual ski jumping competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018.Michael Glasder, of the United States, soars through the air during qualification for the men's large hill individual ski jumping competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018.[...]


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State Rep. David McSweeney calls Algonquin Township a 'disgrace'State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, speaks to lawmakers while on the House floor during a veto session Nov. 30, 2016, at the state Capitol in Springfield.Algonquin Township Trustees Melissa Victor and Dave Chapman attend a meeting Wednesday.

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 06:11:00 GMT

ALGONQUIN TOWNSHIP – In response to recent comments from Algonquin Township trustees telling him to mind his own business, state Rep. David McSweeney said the officials “should be ashamed of themselves.”

The Barrington Hills Republican swiped at Algonquin Township trustees after a meeting Wednesday, where a majority of them spoke against the representative’s ongoing efforts to give voters the power to abolish township government at the polls.

“You’re wasting taxpayer money,” McSweeney said. “You can run, but you can’t hide from you constituents.”

McSweeney filed a bill in January that would give voters the power to eliminate McHenry County townships with a majority vote. The move would shift the services provided by townships to local municipalities and the county.

McSweeney is using Algonquin Township as the “poster child” to push his agenda in Springfield. McHenry County’s most populous township has endured unruly in-house lawsuits, budget-busting legal fees and numerous corruption allegations leveled against the former leader of the highway department.

McSweeney has taken a particular interest in Algonquin Township’s ballooning legal costs – more than $340,000 through Wednesday – and the failure of elected officials to communicate or govern.

The push to consolidate small governments in McHenry County comes at a time when the attack on townships is as intense as ever. Voters and homeowners tired of high property taxes and the state’s worsening economic climate have been looking to cut anything from anywhere they can.

Trustee Dan Shea called McSweeney’s bill political grandstanding.

Trustee Dave Chapman said the consolidation movement is moving too fast for voters and township officials to get a grasp on whether eliminating governments would save taxpayers money.

Trustee Melissa Victor said she does not believe consolidation is the answer to lowering property taxes.

Trustee Rachael Lawrence did not attend the meeting Wednesday and could not be reached for comment on this story.

“We’ll take care of our township,” Chapman said at the meeting. “You take care of your job, David McSweeney, and stay out of Algonquin Township.”

McSweeney said there’s no chance he’s backing off.

“The taxpayers know what a disgrace Algonquin Township is, and strongly support my efforts to consolidate local governments and cut property taxes,” McSweeney said.

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, speaks to lawmakers while on the House floor during a veto session Nov. 30, 2016, at the state Capitol in Springfield.Algonquin Township Trustees Melissa Victor and Dave Chapman attend a meeting Wednesday.


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Prairie Ridge teacher, basketball coach facing felony charges still works at high schoolRick Lima

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 06:11:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A Prairie Ridge High School teacher and basketball coach facing felony financial exploitation charges continues to work at the school, district officials confirmed in an email Friday evening.

Until Friday, Community High School District 155 had remained silent about the charges against physical education teacher and varsity girls basketball coach Rick Lima.

“Rick Lima is employed by District 155 and is in the classroom,” District 155 director of communications Shannon Podzimek wrote in an email Friday. “We cannot comment on personnel and/or private matters, and cannot discuss this matter further.”

Lima was arrested Jan. 30 and charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person – an offense that typically is punishable by one to three years in prison.

Police have said that Lima stole more than $50,000 from an elderly woman and used the money to buy a home.

Sophomore coach Brett Collins served as the interim varsity girls basketball head coach in Lima’s temporary absence, sources with knowledge of the situation said.

Lima has hired a private attorney, Michael Krejci, to represent him. Krejci did not return a phone call seeking comment about the teacher’s charges.

Lima is scheduled to appear in court March 23.

Rick Lima


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Main Street in Crystal Lake reopens after electrical problem

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 06:11:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Main Street was closed temporarily Friday because of an electrical problem.

Crystal Lake police said in a Nixle alert about 8:44 a.m. that drivers should avoid northbound Main Street between Congress Parkway and Crystal Lake Avenue. A police dispatcher said Friday afternoon that the road had reopened.

The road closed because of an electrical problem with the electrical transformer box.


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McHenry man charged with delivering meth accused of sexually abusing teen girlJoseph McCormick, of the 4000 block of West Lillian Street, McHenry

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 06:11:00 GMT

McHENRY – A 33-year-old man arrested Thursday for selling methamphetamine is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl, court records show.

According to an order of protection filed in McHenry County court Feb. 8, a local mother recently learned that her daughter had sexual contact on more than one occasion with Joseph McCormick, of the 4000 block of West Lillian Street, McHenry.

McCormick and a McHenry woman, 27-year-old Amber Cechini, were arrested Thursday and taken to the McHenry County Jail. Police had gone to McCormick’s home to arrest him on sexual abuse charges, but when they arrived, they found evidence of drug activity, according to a news release from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office.

Both McCormick and Cechini face a series of drug charges. McCormick additionally is charged with three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a complaint filed Friday afternoon in McHenry County court shows.

McCormick called the teen girl from multiple phone numbers while she was at school, the girl’s mother wrote in the order of protection. During the conversations, he reportedly told her to deny the accusations against him and stop talking to the police, and that he would help to have her emancipated so he could “take her with [him].”

The alleged abuse began in December, and the girl often was present while McCormick took drugs, according to the order.

“I do believe the drugs he provided may have swayed her judgment,” the mother wrote.

McCormick remained at the McHenry County Jail on Friday on a $120,000 bond, meaning he would need to post $12,000 bail to be released.

Bond for Cechini, who is not connected with the sex abuse investigation, is set at $40,000. Her connection to McCormick and the drugs that police said they found at his home is unclear.

McHenry County court officials have notified the girl’s school about the order of protection.

Both McCormick and Cechini are due in court Tuesday for bond reduction hearings.

Joseph McCormick, of the 4000 block of West Lillian Street, McHenry


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Gov. Bruce Rauner: Shifting pension payments to schools will lower property taxesGov. Bruce Rauner answers a question during a meeting Friday with members of the Northwest Herald Editorial Board at the office in Crystal Lake.Gov. Bruce Rauner meets with members of the Northwest Herald Editorial Board on Friday at the office in Crystal Lake.

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 06:10:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Shifting the employer’s portion of teacher pension payments to public school districts is a move that will lower property taxes in McHenry County, Gov. Bruce Rauner said.

The Republican visited Crystal Lake on Friday morning to speak with the Northwest Herald Editorial Board. Rauner is trying to win a second gubernatorial term, and he spoke with the board for about 30 minutes, discussing property taxes in McHenry County, pensions and more.

“We’re not only shifting pension responsibilities to where the decisions are made on what the pension costs will be in terms of deciding who gets what salaries, when they retire, what their terms are,” Rauner said. “We need to align responsibility for decision-making with responsibility for paying. ... If we align the interests, there will be economic incentive to keep the pension costs reasonable.”

Rauner unveiled his plan to redirect pension costs to school districts Wednesday as part of his proposed budget for fiscal 2019, which begins July 1.

The pension shift would reverse a long-standing practice of the state paying local schools’ portion of pension costs. The one exception was Chicago Public Schools. The local Chicago school budget paid teacher pensions until an overhaul of education funding last summer.

Rauner would save $2 billion in state spending through the pension change and by taking health care costs out of the mix of benefits for which union employees can bargain in contract negotiations. But that must be approved by the General Assembly. The Democrats who control it likely won’t go along.

Rauner said other states, such as Maryland, already have adopted such pension measures.

“If you look at the states that have deep financial trouble and unfunded pensions and pension problems – the top 12 states that have the biggest problems – they all have the state pick up pension payments, even though the decisions and responsibility for who’s getting the pension and how they’re structured is done at the local level. There’s a disconnect,” Rauner said.

The governor shifted his focus to mention the importance of “local control” – a philosophy that also will lower property taxes.

“How do we bring down property taxes? Local control of bargaining,” Rauner said. “Local control of bidding and contracting, local control of consolidation, local control of shared services, local control of the property tax levy.”

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gov. Bruce Rauner answers a question during a meeting Friday with members of the Northwest Herald Editorial Board at the office in Crystal Lake.Gov. Bruce Rauner meets with members of the Northwest Herald Editorial Board on Friday at the office in Crystal Lake.


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Clarification

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 06:10:00 GMT

A story on page A6 of Thursday’s edition included a quote from Algonquin Township resident Mike Tauler that had inaccurate information. CCleaner is a secure deletion tool.




Bruce Rauner tours Spring Grove-based Scot ForgeGov. Bruce Rauner talks with Scot Forge CEO John Cain as Rauner tours the company facility Friday in Spring Grove.Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses employees at Scot Forge in Spring Grove on Friday.Scot Forge employees listen to Gov. Bruce Rauner speak as he tours the company Friday in Spring Grove.A Scot Forge employee works with a hot piece of metal as Gov. Bruce Rauner tours the company facility Friday in Spring Grove.Gov. Bruce Rauner talks with Scot Forge CEO John Cain as Rauner tours the Spring Grove manufacturing facility Friday. The governor learned about the company, which is celebrating 125 years in business this year, and talked about his plans for the next four years if he is re-elected governor.

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 06:10:00 GMT

SPRING GROVE – On Friday, Gov. Bruce Rauner visited and praised Spring Grove-based Scot Forge, an open die and ring rolling forging company celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

Rauner toured the 350,000-square-foot manufacturing plant Friday morning. Scot Forge is an employee-owned business with plants in Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The company works in numerous markets, including aerospace, infrastructure, mining and defense, according to its website.

State Sen. Pamela Althoff and McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks also attended Friday’s tour and spoke briefly about Forge’s importance to the community.

“Not only are you important to Illinois, but you are extremely important to McHenry County and its business community,” Althoff said. “Not just for your leadership and professionalism … but also because you guys are community partners.”

Rauner praised the company and said the success of manufacturing in America is necessary for success in many other industries.

“Your success – providing high-quality, high-tech products – enables all the other successes of America’s defense, America’s auto industry, America’s construction industry, America’s agriculture industry,” he said. “You guys are the foundation.”

Manufacturing in Illinois accounts for 12.7 percent of total state output, according to the latest statistics from the National Association of Manufacturers.

McHenry County’s manufacturing sector employs 13 percent of the county workforce, according to the McHenry County Economic Development Corp.

Rauner said he wants to see manufacturing grow.

“We are driving a major resurgence in America,” Rauner said. “Proud and strong. Build it. Buy it. Hire and grow in America, and we will restore manufacturing to America. [We will] bring manufacturing from around the world and bring it right back home to America, and right home to the great state of Illinois.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner talks with Scot Forge CEO John Cain as Rauner tours the company facility Friday in Spring Grove.Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses employees at Scot Forge in Spring Grove on Friday.Scot Forge employees listen to Gov. Bruce Rauner speak as he tours the company Friday in Spring Grove.A Scot Forge employee works with a hot piece of metal as Gov. Bruce Rauner tours the company facility Friday in Spring Grove.Gov. Bruce Rauner talks with Scot Forge CEO John Cain as Rauner tours the Spring Grove manufacturing facility Friday. The governor learned about the company, which is celebrating 125 years in business this year, and talked about his plans for the next four years if he is re-elected governor.


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13 Russians charged with interfering in the 2016 election in Mueller investigationFILE - In this June 21, 2017, file photo, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington. While the country waits to see if President Donald Trump will sit for an interview with prosecutors, scores of people sucked into the investigation are waiting for their own signal from special counsel Mueller: whether he’s done with them or not. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 18:50:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Thirteen Russians and three Russian entities were charged Friday with an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

The indictment , brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, alleges that Russians used bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the race between Republican Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

The charges are the most direct allegation to date of illegal Russian meddling in the election.

The goal, the indictment says, was to "sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 presidential election."

Charges include conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

The charges arise from Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the election and whether there was improper coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Before Friday, four people, including Trump's former national security adviser and former campaign chairman, had been charged in Mueller's investigation.

The White House had no immediate response to the indictment.

FILE - In this June 21, 2017, file photo, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington. While the country waits to see if President Donald Trump will sit for an interview with prosecutors, scores of people sucked into the investigation are waiting for their own signal from special counsel Mueller: whether he’s done with them or not. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)


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FBI received tip on Florida suspect but did not investigateStudents grieve at Pine Trails Park for the victims of the Wednesday shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Nikolas Cruz, a former student, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 18:01:00 GMT

PARKLAND, Fla. – The FBI received a specific report in January that the suspect in the Florida school shooting could be plotting an attack, but agents failed to investigate the tip, the agency said Friday. A tipster who was close to Nikola Cruz called the FBI and provided information about Cruz's guns and his erratic behavior, including his expressed desire to kill people and his disturbing social media posts. The caller was concerned that Cruz could attack a school. In a statement issued Friday, the agency acknowledged that the tip should have been investigated thoroughly. The FBI was also notified about a comment on a YouTube video posted by a "Nikolas Cruz" last year. It investigated the comment but did not determine who made it. Cruz has been charged with killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, north of Miami. Also Friday, mourners gathered for the first funeral for a shooting victim, packing the Star of David chapel to remember 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff. From outside the chapel, other mourners strained to hear the voices chanting Jewish prayers and remembering the star soccer player as having "the strongest personality." She was also remembered as a creative writer with a memorable smile. A day earlier, details of Wednesday's attack began to emerge, showing how the assailant moved through the school in just minutes before escaping with the same students he had targeted. Cruz jumped out of an Uber car and walked toward building 12 of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, carrying a black duffel bag and a black backpack. A man inside spotted Cruz and knew he was a former student, a troubled kid. He radioed a co-worker, and within a minute heard gunshots. The 19-year-old was wearing a maroon shirt, black pants and a black hat. The man, whose name was blacked out from a sheriff's affidavit, told detectives Cruz was moving "purposefully." Cruz slipped into the building, entered a stairwell and extracted a rifle from his bag, authorities said. He shot into four rooms on the first floor — going back to spray bullets into two of the rooms a second time — then went upstairs and shot a single victim on the second floor. He ran to the third floor, where according to a timeline released by the Broward County Sheriff's Office, three minutes passed before he dropped the rifle and backpack, ran back down the stairs and quickly blended in with panicked, fleeing students. Florida State Sen. Bill Galvano, who visited the third floor, said authorities told him it appeared that Cruz tried to fire point-blank out the third-floor windows at students as they were leaving the school, but the windows didn't shatter. Police told Galvano that it was not that difficult to open the windows. "Thank God he didn't," Galvano said. From the time Cruz entered the building until the time he left, only six minutes passed. During that brief time, he shot more than two dozen people, including 17 fatally. After the rampage, he walked to a Wal-Mart and bought a drink at a Subway restaurant, then went to a McDonald's. About 40 minutes later, a deputy saw him [...]


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Can middle-class candidate Daniel Biss defeat millionaires in Illinois?In this Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Illinois Sen. Daniel Biss, of Evanston, talks to students during a campaign stop on the University of Chicago campus in Chicago. The former math professor who reported income of less than $35,000 last year is campaigning as a middle-class candidate in an Illinois governor’s race that includes a couple millionaires and a billionaire. Biss seems to be gaining support for his progressive campaign. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 18:00:00 GMT

CHICAGO – In an Illinois governor race that includes a couple millionaires and a billionaire, Daniel Biss likes to tell people he's given his campaign just $25 — and then his wife decided to one-up him and donate $50. "We're pretty well maxed out, but we'll see what we can do going forward," the Democratic state senator from Evanston said at a recent event, drawing laughs from some and serious nods from others. Biss, a former math professor who reported income of less than $35,000 last year, has gained support in recent weeks campaigning as a progressive who's something the other top candidates are not: part of the middle class. In TV ads filmed in his family's modest home, he talks about sending his kids to public school and living on a budget. In another ad, he links wealthy Democratic rivals J.B. Pritzker and Chris Kennedy to two Republicans, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and President Donald Trump, calling them all "rich guys" who've avoided taxes. Several recent polls have shown him surpassing Kennedy, the son of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, and gaining ground on Pritzker. The billionaire heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune and perceived front-runner has the support of many Democratic leaders in the March 20 primary — partly because he has the money to take on Rauner. Other candidates across the U.S. also are making wealth — or their lack of it — a campaign theme. In Florida, Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum talks about growing up poor and how he can't write his campaign for governor a big check, unlike his wealthier rivals. Wisconsin Democrat Mike McCabe, a former director of a government watchdog group who's long complained about the influence of money in politics, wears jeans to all his gubernatorial campaign functions, and is the founder of Blue Jean Nation, a group he says is dedicated to electing "regular people." But none of them has so far faced a financial disadvantage as large as the one confronting Biss, who has raised about $4.8 million, mostly through individual donations. That includes about $1 million he carried over from prior races. Pritzker has already sunk close to $50 million into his campaign — a number Biss notes is more than Trump spent in the GOP presidential primary. Rauner, who's seeking his second full term, has raised more than $75 million, most from his own bank account. If Pritzker and Rauner face off in the November general election, the contest is expected to be the most expensive governor's race in U.S. history. Biss calls the race "a referendum on money in politics." "Do we need in the era of Trump and Rauner to just pick another inexperienced billionaire?" he asks. First elected to the Legislature in 2010, the graduate of Harvard and MIT became known as a numbers guy who tackled issues such as Illinois' hugely underfunded pension system. He still has a wonky streak, including publishing a series of videos where he does such things as juggle flaming objects while explaining the pension and state budget mess. His bid for governor was met early on by "a thunderous chorus of yawns," Biss says. But he has picked up support from several colleagues in the General Assembly and the endorsement [...]


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Lots of talk, little action in Congress after shootingsHouse Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., speaks to the media during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 14:37:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – For a brief moment after the Las Vegas massacre last fall, Republicans and Democrats in Congress talked about taking a rare step to tighten the nation's gun laws. Four months later, the only gun legislation that has moved in the House or Senate instead eases restrictions for gun owners. The October deaths of 58 people in Las Vegas and other mass shootings have sparked debate but have had scant impact on the march toward looser gun laws under the Republican-controlled Congress. There's little sign that the shooting deaths of 17 people at a Florida high school Wednesday will change that dynamic. The conversation at the Capitol Thursday followed a familiar pattern. Many Democrats revived calls for tighter gun laws, while Republicans focused on the mental health of the accused shooter. "As a parent, it scares me to death that this body doesn't take seriously the safety of my children, and it seems like a lot of parents in South Florida are going to be asking that same question," said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a leading advocate of tighter gun control. In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, Murphy and other lawmakers from both parties pushed to ban bump stocks, the device that allowed the shooter's semi-automatic rifles to mimic the rapid fire of machine guns. Those efforts soon fizzled amid opposition from Republican leaders. Instead, the GOP-controlled House approved a bill in December making it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines. The concealed carry measure, a top priority of the National Rifle Association, would allow gun owners with a state-issued concealed-carry permit to carry a handgun in any state that allows concealed weapons. The bill includes a provision to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers — a response to another shooting in which a gunman slaughtered more than two dozen people at a Texas church in November. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that Congress should focus on whether existing laws — including those designed to prevent mentally ill people from getting guns — are working. "We need to think less about taking sides and fighting each other politically" and should instead pull together, Ryan said in comments that have become familiar. The Florida massacre was the 17th school shooting so far this year. President Donald Trump, in a solemn address to the nation, promised to "tackle the difficult issue of mental health," but avoided any mention of guns. The 19-year-old suspect, Nikolas Cruz, is a troubled teenager who posted disturbing material on social media. He had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, for "disciplinary reasons," Broward County, Florida, Sheriff Scott Israel said. The latest deadly shooting prompted Florida Sen. Bill Nelson to declare, "enough is enough." Addressing those who say it's too soon to talk about gun violence, Nelson asked, "When is the right time? How many more times do we want to do this? How many more folks have to die?" Nelson and other Democrats said Congress must do more than talk about men[...]


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Abortion-rights supporters push back against gains by foesFILE - In this Jan. 22, 2018 file photo, supporters attend a rally held by Planned Parenthood, commemorating the 45th anniversary of the landmark Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. The landmark 1973 decision affirmed a woman's right to have an abortion. On Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, Planned Parenthood announced an initiative of its own aimed at promoting reproductive health care initiatives in all 50 states over the coming months. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 07:00:00 GMT

Foes of abortion have pushed through several hundred state laws restricting access to the procedure over the past decade. This year, as never before, abortion-rights supporters are fighting back nationwide with proposals to protect and expand access to abortion and contraception. Successes most likely are in the dozen or so states where Democrats control policymaking. But the initiatives unfolding this year aspire to at least raise the issue of reproductive rights even in conservative states that have passed the toughest anti-abortion laws. In January, more than 200 legislators from 41 states formed the Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council to promote “a bold, unapologetic stance in favor of abortion rights.” Among its leaders are lawmakers from Missouri, Arizona and Georgia – states that show no sign of softening their multiple restrictions on abortion. On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood announced an initiative of its own aimed at promoting reproductive health care initiatives in all 50 states over the coming months. Several of the measures cited by Planned Parenthood already have been introduced. They include: • A bill in Maine that would allow nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants – as well as doctors – to perform abortions. It’s intended to increase access to abortion for women in remote rural areas. • A bill in New Jersey that would restore state funding for Planned Parenthood that was stripped away by former Republican Gov. Chris Christie. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who succeeded Christie in January, has promised to sign the bill. • A measure in Rhode Island that would repeal existing restrictions on abortion and seek to safeguard access in the face of possible anti-abortion initiatives by President Donald Trump’s administration. • A bill in California, already approved by the Senate, that would make the state the first to require public universities to make abortion pills available on campuses. It is pending in the state Assembly. Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president, said the multistate campaign marked a shift to the offensive after a long stretch on defense combating federal and state efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and curtail access to abortion. “We need to do more than just fight against the bad policies; now is the time to push for good ones,” Laguens said. Some of the measures cited by Planned Parenthood stand virtually no chance of passage – for example, a measure in Missouri seeking to repeal the state’s mandatory 72-hour waiting period before a woman can get an abortion. In some other Republican-controlled states, such as Tennessee, Planned Parenthood’s allies are proposing bills that deal with birth control access, not abortion. And on Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging an Ohio law prohibiting doctors from performing abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome. The abortion-rights initiatives coincide with a continuing push for tougher anti-abortion legislation in many GOP-controlled states. A pending measure in Mississippi would[...]


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South African limbo ends with new president, Cyril RamaphosaActing President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa addresses Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa Feb. 15, 2018, prior to being sworn in later. Ramaphosa replaces Jacob Zuma who resigned yesterday. (AP Photo/Mike Hutchings / Pool)

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 07:00:00 GMT

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Cyril Ramaphosa became South Africa’s president with a message of clean government and inclusiveness Thursday, stirring the hopes of many South Africans that he can reverse a corrosive period of decline and division under his predecessor, Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa, a lead negotiator in the transition from apartheid to democracy in the early 1990s, was elected by jubilant ruling party legislators anxious to shed political limbo and get the leadership of the country back on track. In an indication of the challenges facing Ramaphosa, the two main opposition parties did not participate in the National Assembly vote, arguing it was a sham process because the ruling African National Congress party was tainted by its association with corruption scandals during the Zuma era. Even so, the 65-year-old Ramaphosa delivered a measured, conciliatory speech to lawmakers in a chamber that had been the scene of heckling and sometimes scuffles during appearances by Zuma, who resigned Wednesday after protracted discussions with ANC leaders who told him to step down or face a parliamentary motion of no confidence. “I will try very hard not to disappoint the people of South Africa,” Ramaphosa said soon after he was nominated as an unopposed presidential candidate and elected by his party. He said the issue of corruption and mismanagement is on “our radar screen” and that one of his first aims is to meet rival party leaders so that “we can try to find a way of working together.” Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng presided over the parliamentary election as well as a separate swearing-in ceremony for Ramaphosa, who had been Zuma’s deputy and in December was narrowly elected leader of the ruling party over Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Noting the celebrations by the ruling party legislators after days of national anxiety over whether or when Zuma would resign, the robed chief justice said: “I’m trying to adapt to the environment. I’m not used to it. In a court of law, no singing is allowed.” While Ramaphosa has consolidated his control of the ANC in recent weeks, he still faces the delicate task of removing compromised figures from the old administration as part of his anti-corruption drive while trying to avoid alienating ruling party factions that could try to undercut him. He also must restore the reputation of the ANC, which fought apartheid and has been in power since Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president in the first all-race elections in 1994. The party’s popularity fell as anger over corruption allegations grew and it suffered its worst showing at the polls in municipal elections in 2016. Investor jitters over the political situation contributed to sluggish economic growth, compounding generational problems of poverty and economic inequity that will put early pressure on Ramaphosa’s administration. Still, the South African rand strengthened Thursday to its highest level against the dollar in several years amid a sense that the new president represents stability and transparency lacking under his predecessor. The foundation of Mandela, who died in 2013, said the state no[...]


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Charming Charlie in Algonquin Commons to closeThe Charming Charlie in Algonquin Commons is closing. The accessories chain store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December and entered a restructuring agreement that kept most stores open through the holiday season, according to a news release.

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 06:50:00 GMT

ALGONQUIN – The Charming Charlie in Algonquin Commons is closing.

The store, 2120 S. Randall Road, displays signs that list sales for 25 percent to 40 percent off merchandise.

The accessories chain store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December and entered a restructuring agreement that kept most stores open through the holiday season, according to a news release.

Of the 97 stores the company sought court approval to close, six already have closed in Illinois – Lombard, South Barrington, Mount Prospect, Vernon Hills, Wheaton and Killdeer.

It was said in December that 75 more locations could close at a later date. The Algonquin location is one of 12 stores that is part of a second phase of closures, according to bankruptcy court filings.

The company said it is returning to a “back-to-basics” strategy, and it announced plans to close underperforming stores, close its Los Angeles office and cut workforce at its headquarters.

“We are confident that by reducing the size and scale of our business, we can focus on the core strengths that make the company successful,” interim CEO Lana Krater said in the release.

The Charming Charlie in Algonquin Commons is closing. The accessories chain store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December and entered a restructuring agreement that kept most stores open through the holiday season, according to a news release.


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Huntley High School, police determine reported threat posed no danger to schoolShaw Media file photo A Huntley police officer arrives Friday, Jan. 19 at Huntley High School after a student found bullets in the hallway. A threat reported Wednesday through Huntley High School's anonymous tip line has been determined as no danger to school safety.

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 06:50:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – The threat reported Wednesday through Huntley High School’s anonymous tip line has been determined to pose no danger to the school.

Building administration and the Huntley Police Department completed the investigation Wednesday into the unsubstantiated threat. The anonymous tip was based on rumors the tipster heard approximately two weeks ago, according to a message posted on the district’s website.

Principal Scott Rowe reminded students that it is important to immediately report troubling information to the school and police, according to the message.

Police were present at the high school throughout the day Wednesday and interviewed students.

Huntley Deputy Police Chief Michael Klunk said that the threat was received about 6:30 a.m. When asked whether the threat regarded a specific student or the school as a whole, Klunk said the threat was not specific in its manner.

On Jan. 18, police placed the school on lockdown after finding two 9 mm bullets in a hallway. That investigation was closed earlier this month.

It’s not the first time in recent months local police and the district have had to work together.

A Marlowe Middle School student was charged with a hate crime and disorderly conduct in October after allegedly posting a threatening video on social media. Another case of racially motivated threats toward a District 158 student was investigated by Huntley police in November.

Students can report threats through the anonymous tip line at 847-659-4636 or Text a Tip to 866-435-7684. They also can visit www.district158.org/bullying-information, the McHelp App at http://www.mccfdn.org/mchelp and call the high school’s main phone number 847-659-6600.

Shaw Media file photo A Huntley police officer arrives Friday, Jan. 19 at Huntley High School after a student found bullets in the hallway. A threat reported Wednesday through Huntley High School's anonymous tip line has been determined as no danger to school safety.


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Coroner identifies 48-year-old McHenry County Jail inmate who died at hospitalShaw Media file photo The McHenry County Coroner is investigating the death of a 48-year-old Spring Grove inmate who died at Centegra Hospital – McHenry due to an ulcer.

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 06:48:00 GMT

McHENRY – The McHenry County coroner is investigating the death of a 48-year-old jail inmate who died at Centegra Hospital – McHenry.

Jody T. Fortino of Spring Grove was taken about 6 p.m. Tuesday from the McHenry County Jail to the emergency room for evaluation of abdominal pain, according to a news release from McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski. Fortino was pronounced dead at 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Preliminary findings from her autopsy show the presence of a perforated duodenal ulcer with spillage of fecal contents into the abdominal cavity, Majewski said. No evidence of trauma or foul play was found.

The final cause of death will be determined after results of a comprehensive autopsy, Majewski said.

Fortino’s boyfriend, Shane Colberg, made a court appearance Wednesday to ask McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather to release him from the McHenry County Jail for the weekend so he could make funeral arrangements for Fortino.

Colberg and Fortino both were arrested Feb. 7 for possession of an anabolic steroid, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to complaints filed in McHenry County court.

Colberg’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Richard Behof, told Prather on Wednesday in court that Fortino had been in court Tuesday in a wheelchair and had since died.

Colberg was crying in court Wednesday, which also was his 44th birthday.

Prosecutors objected to his release, and Prather denied the request based on his criminal history.

Behof then asked Prather to reduce Colberg’s bond to $5,000, allowing him to post bail at $500 to be released. Prather also denied that request. On Tuesday, Prather reduced Fortino’s bond to $20,000.

Colberg is due back in court March 5.

Shaw Media file photo The McHenry County Coroner is investigating the death of a 48-year-old Spring Grove inmate who died at Centegra Hospital – McHenry due to an ulcer.


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Some McHenry County schools increase police presence Thursday after Florida school shootingSarah Nader file photo – snader@shawmedia.com District 300 Superintendent Fred Heid

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 06:48:00 GMT

ALGONQUIN – Some McHenry County schools had an increased police presence in school buildings Thursday after Wednesday’s massacre at a Florida high school.

A former student opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida, killing at least 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut.

All three Algonquin-based District 300 high schools and Woodstock School District 200 buildings had more police than normal onsite Thursday.

Algonquin Deputy Chief Ryan Markham said that while there is no threat to the schools, extra police presence helps ease people’s minds.

“It isn’t in response to any specific threat, but it’s a proactive step,” Markham said. “After an event like what occurred yesterday, everyone is tense, and seeing additional presence helps to give them some sense of peace of mind that we’re there and we’re keeping an eye on all the students.”

Markham said that the Algonquin Police Department had one school resource officer and six patrol officers on duty Thursday.

District 200 held a half-day of school because of parent-teacher conferences and had increased police presence at school buildings.

“Student safety is always our utmost concern in Woodstock Community Unit School District 200,” Woodstock School District 200 Director of Communications Kevin Lyons said. “Children deserve the safest possible learning environment.”

Crystal Lake-based School District 155 Director of Communications Shannon Podzimek said school resource officers from the Crystal Lake Police Department and Cary Police Department were at district buildings.

District 300 adheres to guidelines and procedures set by the FBI and other federal agencies, Superintendent Fred Heid said.

Todd Rohlwing, director of student safety with District 300, has more than 27 years of law enforcement and safety experience and served as the district commander for three districts within the Illinois State Police Department, Heid said.

“Todd implements staff planning, practice and drills for various emergencies, and our school staff are well prepared to manage these types of events,” Heid said.

In addition to police presence, counseling and support services are available to all students at any time, Heid said.

“On behalf of the District 300 community, I would like to send my deepest condolences to Broward County,” Heid said.

Sarah Nader file photo – snader@shawmedia.com District 300 Superintendent Fred Heid


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2 face felony charges in McHenry area sex abuse, drug investigationJoseph McCormickAmber Cechini

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 06:48:00 GMT

McHENRY – A McHenry man and woman were arrested Thursday after police said that they found drugs and more than $2,000 in cash in a home where they originally had gone to arrest the man on unrelated sex abuse charges.

Officers arrived at the McHenry home Thursday morning with a $70,000 warrant to arrest 33-year-old Joseph McCormick for aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The warrant was issued after an investigation by the McHenry Police Department and the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office into complaints of sex abuse and illegal drug activity, according to a news release from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office.

When police arrived at McCormick’s home, they saw evidence of illegal drugs and obtained a search warrant. The search yielded 9.3 grams of methamphetamine, eight Xanax pills, drug paraphernalia and $2,015 in cash, according to the release.

The estimated street value of the drugs totaled $1,000.

Police also arrested 27-year-old Amber A. Cechini of McHenry, according to the release. Her involvement with the investigation was not immediately clear.

Both McCormick and Cechini were charged with delivery of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The most serious charge, delivery of methamphetamine, typically is punishable by four to 15 years in prison.

Their bond has not yet been set.

The pair is due in court Friday morning.

Joseph McCormickAmber Cechini


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Crystal Lake-based District 155 board considers $14 million in summer construction projectsCrystal Lake-based Community High School District 155 board member Dave Secrest speaks Monday about upcoming improvements to district schools. Secrest said Prairie Ridge High School, the newest of the four in the district, could use some work and it was built cheaply.School District 155 Director of Operations Jeff Daurer presents board members with a proposal at a meeting Monday, Feb. 12.

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 06:47:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Community High School District 155 board likely is to vote Tuesday on about $14 million in summer improvements to all four high schools. The Crystal Lake-based district is anticipating nearly $50 million in capital improvements over the next 10 years aimed at keeping the schools – of varying ages – operating well into the future. The highest-priority items identified in the district’s facility needs assessment and state-mandated Health/Life Safety inspections are up first. Crystal Lake Central High School, the oldest school in the district, opened in 1924 and had several additions over the years. District 155 Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Jeremy Davis said Central has the most deferred maintenance, but all schools will be seeing extensive work this year and in following years. At Central, crews will do asbestos abatement on floor mastic and pipe insulation. According to mesothelioma.com, mastic is a heavy-duty adhesive that was primarily made out of asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral. The school’s parking lot will be replaced, along with new doors, a new water line, a new tennis court, a resurfaced track and a new air-conditioning system to service the cafeteria and kitchen. District 155 board member Ron Ludwig said that he’s glad to see that Central will get a new air-conditioning system in that section of the building. He said that the area is in use most of the day. Cary-Grove High School, opened in 1961, also will have some asbestos abatement done on pipe insulation. The school will get a new water line and some new windows. Crystal Lake South High School, opened in 1978, will get a new roof and intercom system, as well as possible renovations to the first floor to accommodate the moving of Haber Oaks Campus into South only 10 years after Haber Oaks alternative school opened. The board is expected to vote on the closing of Haber Oaks at Tuesday’s meeting. Prairie Ridge High School, opened in 1997, is slated for a new tennis court, resurfaced track, storage shed, intercom system and a new parking lot. But one District 155 board member, Dave Secrest, feels more could be done to improve Prairie Ridge. “When I walk through the buildings, I find Prairie Ridge to be in need of work,” Secrest said. “Part of it is that it was built on the cheap.” Secrest said the district does a lot of cosmetic improvements to Prairie Ridge, but not much of it is major work. “It was bad flooring when we opened the doors [in 1997],” Secrest said. District 155 Director of Operations Jeff Daurer said that he’d love to get more done at Prairie Ridge, but safety issues, such as the track, tennis courts, parking lots and a malfunctioning intercom system, take precedence. [...]Crystal Lake-based Community High School District 155 board member Dave Secrest speaks Monday about [...]


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Algonquin Township officials discuss consolidationWhitney Rupp for Shaw Media Board members Melissa Victor (from left) and Dave Chapman and Township Assessor Richard Alexander listen to a public comment during a Feb. 14 board meeting.

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 06:47:00 GMT

ALGONQUIN TOWNSHIP – A majority of Algonquin Township trustees have a message for state Rep. David McSweeney, the Barrington Hills Republican trying to abolish townships in McHenry County: Stay out and mind your own business. “I’m going to tell David McSweeney to stay out and mind his own business,” said Trustee Dave Chapman at Algonquin Township’s monthly meeting Wednesday night. Officials traded their opinions regarding the legislator’s efforts to push an agenda to abolish townships in Springfield. “We’ll take care of our township. You take care of your job, David McSweeney, and stay out of Algonquin Township,” Chapman said. McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, filed a bill in January that would give voters an opportunity to eliminate township government with a majority vote. The move would shift the services provided by townships to local municipalities and the county. McSweeney shifted his focus to Algonquin Township, which recently has endured unruly in-house lawsuits, budget-busting legal fees and numerous corruption allegations leveled against the former leader of the highway department. McSweeney has taken a particular interest in Algonquin Township’s ballooning legal costs – more than $340,000 through Wednesday – and the failure of elected officials to communicate or govern. The attack on townships has intensified in recent years. Voters and homeowners tired of high property taxes and the state’s worsening economic climate have been looking to cut anything from anywhere they can. “I don’t believe consolidation is the way to go about it,” Trustee Melissa Victor said. In an interview with the Northwest Herald, Trustee Dan Shea said the McSweeney’s focus on Algonquin Township is “grandstanding” by a political figure who helped elect Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser. “Part of our problems were caused by a public figure who caused the problem and then comes and says we gotta do something,” Shea said. “Personally, I kinda liken it to a neighbor who busts your garage window and tells you your property is looking shoddy – and as far as I’m concerned, it’s just plain crazy.” Gasser helped McSweeney on the campaign trail in past elections. McSweeney donated $6,300 to the political efforts of Gasser, according to campaign finance records. Shea said voters and township officials should be skeptical about the motivations of politicians pushing agendas that could alter the way government looks. “When it gets down to it, and they start promising you they’re gonna save you money, run,” Shea said. “Don’t be foolish.” Trustee Rachael Lawrence did not attend Wednesday’s meeting. The Northwest Herald could not reach her for comment Thursday night. Whitney Rupp for Shaw Media Board members Melissa Victor (from left) and Dave Chapman and Township Assessor Richard Alexander listen to a public commen[...]


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Former Crystal Lake attorney sworn in as McHenry County circuit judgeKatie Smith – ksmith@shawmedia.com New McHenry County Circuit Judge David Gervais listens to 22nd Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Michael Sullivan as he summarizes Gervais' 36 years of legal experience. Gervais presides over traffic cases in McHenry County.Katie Smith – ksmith@shawmedia.com McHenry County Circuit Judge David Gervais addresses an audience gathered Thursday in a McHenry County courtroom, after being ceremoniously sworn in as a new judge. He will be up for election to retain the seat in 2020.Katie Smith – ksmith@shawmedia.com Former McHenry County attorney, David Gervais smiles as 22nd Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Michael Sullivan prepares to swear him in as a judge Thursday. Gervais has 36 years of experience in legal practice and previously founded his own firm, The Law Offices of David R. Gervais.Katie Smith – ksmith@shawmedia.com Crystal Lake attorney, George Kililis, of KRV Legal, Inc. speaks to a group of judges, attorneys and other county workers Thursday about newly appointed circuit judge, David Gervais' character. Kililis said Gervais' constant smile is an indication of good will.Katie Smith – ksmith@shawmedia.com Former Crystal Lake attorney, David Gervais takes an oath Thursday as he is sworn in by 22nd Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Michael Sullivan at the McHenry County Courthouse. Gervais appointment as a circuit clerk went into affect Feb. 5.

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 06:46:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Newly appointed McHenry County Circuit Judge David Gervais spoke through tears Thursday as he addressed the crowd gathered to watch the former attorney sworn into his new role. Onlookers packed themselves into a McHenry County courtroom while Chief Judge Michael Sullivan swore in Gervais in a ceremonial beginning to the start of his judicial career. “What I wanted to do is simple,” Gervais said. “Game plan: I want to begin court on time and I want to be prepared for court. ... Everyone will be treated with the dignity and respect that we all deserve. I promise that.” Gervais fills a vacancy left by former judge Michael T. Caldwell, who announced his retirement in December. The former Crystal Lake attorney has 36 years of law practice under his belt, and has been on the bench overseeing traffic cases since his appointment went into effect Feb. 5. For now, Gervais will preside over traffic matters, although he plans to move up the rungs in time, his wife, Susan Gervais, said. Gervais first became interested in practicing law in eighth grade after reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” for a class assignment. He saw in Atticus Finch – one of the novel’s lead characters and a small-town attorney – what he hoped to amount to someday. “My path, I think, is different than most people who are sitting here today wearing black robes,” Gervais said. “I’m one of eight children. I have two brothers here today. My father was of modest means. Mom was a stay-at-home mother. There wasn’t really any expectation that I would go to college. There wasn’t much of an expectation that I would go to law school, either.” Gervais went on to become the founder of The Law Offices of David R. Gervais, now recognized as Metz, Gilmore and Vaclavek LLC. He served as a park board commissioner and former board president of the Cary Park District, is a member and past president of the McHenry County Historical Society, and is a commissioner and former president of the McHenry County Historic Preservation Commission. In his spare time, Gervais enjoys beekeeping, gardening, sailing and golfing. In his new role, Gervais plans to have cases resolved in a timely fashion by being thorough in his preparation and swift in his decision making, he said. Others, such as defense attorney George Kililis, think Gervais will bring a sense of respect and humility to the bench. “His smile is always there as he walks though the hallways – for everyone,” Kililis said. “I think that is an expression of good will, and today I feel very strongly the need to reciprocate that good will and wish you well and wish you excel in what is a very tough job.” Gervais’ term will end Dec. 7, 2020, at which point he would need to seek election to keep his judicial seat. “This is real[...]


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Wonder Lake crash sends two drivers to hospitalTwo cars collided in Wonder Lake Thursday afternoon. The crash sent both drivers to Centegra Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 02:15:00 GMT

WONDER LAKE – A crash involving one driver who deputies said was drunk landed two people in the hospital Thursday afternoon.

The crash happened about 3 p.m. near the 7500 block of Hancock Drive in Wonder Lake. McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Sandra Rogers did not have the full narrative to share with the Northwest Herald on Thursday night, but she said the crash involved two cars – one driven by Lu Henderlight, 60, of McHenry.

The crash sent both Henderlight and the unnamed driver of the other car to Centegra Hospital – McHenry with injuries that were not life-threatening, Rogers said.

Henderlight was charged with improper lane usage, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and driving under the influence.

Two cars collided in Wonder Lake Thursday afternoon. The crash sent both drivers to Centegra Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.


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Senate rejects bipartisan immigration plan and Trump's, tooSen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., left, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., walk together outside the chamber during debate in the Senate on immigration, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Schumer said on the Senate floor that "the one person who seems most intent on not getting a deal is President Trump." (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 21:44:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The Senate rejected both a bipartisan immigration plan and a more restrictive proposal by President Donald Trump on Thursday, suggesting the latest election-year debate on an issue that fires up both parties' voters will produce a familiar outcome: stalemate. Facing a White House veto threat and opposition from the Senate's GOP leaders, the chamber derailed a plan by bipartisan senators that would have helped 1.8 million young immigrant "Dreamers" achieve citizenship. It also would have doled out $25 billion for Trump's coveted wall with Mexico and for other border security measures, but it didn't go as far as Trump wanted in curbing legal immigration. It lost 54-45, six short of the 60 votes that were needed for passage. That scuttled what had seemed the likeliest chance for sweeping immigration legislation to make it through the Senate this year. Trump's own plan fared even worse as 60 senators voted no and just 39 voted for it — 21 shy of the 60 needed. The embarrassing outcome for the president underscored the feelings of Republicans concerned about election damage in swing states with high numbers of Hispanic voters. Top Democrats had held out faint hopes that the bipartisan package would prevail, or at least force Trump to negotiate further. But he proved unwilling to fold on his demands for a tougher bill, reflecting the hard-line immigration stance that was a cornerstone of his 2016 presidential run. In a written statement earlier Thursday, the White House labeled the bipartisan proposal "dangerous policy that will harm the nation." It singled out a provision that directed the government to prioritize enforcement efforts against immigrants who arrive illegally beginning in July. Trump and GOP leaders said he'd already shown flexibility by offering a 10- to 12-year path to citizenship for so many Dreamers, a key demand for Democrats and some Republicans. Minutes later, the chamber voted against Trump's proposal. Besides helping Dreamers achieve citizenship, the president's measure would have provided wall funding in one burst, rather than doling it out over 10 years as the bipartisan plan proposed. In addition, Trump's bill would have prevented legal immigrants from sponsoring parents and siblings for citizenship and would have ended a visa lottery aimed at allowing more diverse immigrants into the U.S. The compromise bill would have left that lottery intact but barred Dreamers who obtain citizenship from sponsoring their parents. "Dreamers" are immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children who risk deportation because they lack permanent authorization to stay. Trump annulled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, that President Barack Obama created that's protected the Dreamers. He's given Congress until March 5 to restore the program, though federal courts have blocked him temporarily from dismantling it. [...]


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The 7 best places for Chinese food in McHenry County1: Plum Garden ADDRESS: 3917 Main St, McHenry HOURS: Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. WEBSITE: http://www.plumgardenrestaurant.com/menus2: The Breakers Restaurant ADDRESS: 7728 US-14, Crystal Lake HOURS: Wednesday-Thursday: 4 p.m. - 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 4 p.m. - 11 p.m. Sunday: 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.3: Chen Chinese Cuisine ADDRESSES: 270 Randall Rd, Lake in the Hills 6100 Northwest Hwy, Crystal Lake HOURS: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.4: Chop Suey Hut, Woodstock ADDRESS: 218 N Throop St, Woodstock HOURS: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. Friday: 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Saturday: 4 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Sunday: Noon - 8 p.m.5: New China Fox River Grove ADDRESS: 308 Northwest Hwy, Fox River Grove HOURS: Monday-Friday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Saturday: 4 p.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday: 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.6: Green Garden, Woodstock ADDRESS: 1678 S Eastwood Dr, Woodstock HOURS: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday: 11:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.7: China Bistro Algonquin ADDRESS: 3979 W Algonquin Rd HOURS: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Friday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Saturday: Noon - 10 p.m. Sunday: Noon - 9 p.m.

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 21:10:00 GMT

In the mood for Chinese food tonight? Here are the seven best places in McHenry County, as voted on by Northwest Herald readers in 2017 Best of the Fox voting.

1: Plum Garden ADDRESS: 3917 Main St, McHenry HOURS: Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. WEBSITE: http://www.plumgardenrestaurant.com/menus2: The Breakers Restaurant ADDRESS: 7728 US-14, Crystal Lake HOURS: Wednesday-Thursday: 4 p.m. - 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 4 p.m. - 11 p.m. Sunday: 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.3: Chen Chinese Cuisine ADDRESSES: 270 Randall Rd, Lake in the Hills 6100 Northwest Hwy, Crystal Lake HOURS: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.4: Chop Suey Hut, Woodstock ADDRESS: 218 N Throop St, Woodstock HOURS: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. Friday: 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Saturday: 4 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Sunday: Noon - 8 p.m.5: New China Fox River Grove ADDRESS: 308 Northwest Hwy, Fox River Grove HOURS: Monday-Friday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Saturday: 4 p.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday: 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.6: Green Garden, Woodstock ADDRESS: 1678 S Eastwood Dr, Woodstock HOURS: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday: 11:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.7: China Bistro Algonquin ADDRESS: 3979 W Algonquin Rd HOURS: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Friday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Saturday: Noon - 10 p.m. Sunday: Noon - 9 p.m.


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Florida school shooting suspect belonged to white nationalist groupMedical personnel tend to a victim following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 18:36:00 GMT

PARKLAND, Fla. – An orphaned 19-year-old who participated in paramilitary drills with a white nationalist group was charged with murder Thursday in the deaths of 17 people who were fatally shot at a huge Florida high school in the nation's deadliest school attack in five years. Nikolas Cruz legally purchased the AR-15 rifle used in the assault at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. As the criminal case against the suspect took shape, the leader of a white nationalist militia called the Republic of Florida said Cruz was a member of his group and participated in exercises in Tallahassee. Jordan Jereb told The Associated Press that did not know Cruz personally and that "he acted on his own behalf" and is "solely responsible for what he just did." The group wants Florida to become its own white ethno-state. Jereb said his organization holds "spontaneous random demonstrations" and tries not to participate in the modern world. He also said Cruz had "trouble with a girl" and that he believed the timing of the attack, on Valentine's Day, was not a coincidence. In a national address from the White House, President Donald Trump said he wanted America's children to know, "You are never alone, and you never will be." He said no child should have to go to school in fear of getting killed. He planned to travel to Florida meet with victims' families, explore how to better secure schools and to "tackle the difficult issue of mental health." At no point did Trump mention guns or how to control them. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he wants the Justice Department to study how mental illness affects criminal behavior, to better understand how law enforcement can use existing laws to prevent school shootings. "It cannot be denied that something dangerous and unhealthy is happening in our country," Sessions told a group of sheriffs in Washington. In "every one of these cases, we've had advance indications and perhaps we haven't been effective enough in intervening." Republican Gov. Rick Scott said he's already told Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran that "if someone is mentally ill, he should not have access to a gun." Broward County Schools Superintendent Rob Runcie said "now is the time to have a real conversation about gun control legislation." And if adults cannot manage that in their lifetimes, he said, students will do it. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel called for giving law enforcement more power to detain people who make threats. "What I'm asking our lawmakers to do is go back to places like Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., to give police the power," the sheriff said, to detain people who make graphic threats or post disturbing [...]


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Crystal Lake police reports

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 18:07:00 GMT

Information in police reports is obtained from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and municipal police departments. Individuals listed in police reports who have been charged with a crime have not been proven guilty in court.

• Omar Garcia-Mendez, 38, of the 7200 block of Cowlin Street, Crystal Lake, was charged Friday, Dec. 22, with aggravated battery.

• Michael U. Lim, 40, of the 10700 block of Santa Fe Trail, Huntley, was charged Thursday, Dec. 7, with battery.

• Graham K. Anderson, 19, of the 1500 block of Yellowstone Circle, Crystal Lake, was charged Wednesday, Nov. 29, with delivery and manufacturing of marijuana between 2.5 and 10 grams and delivery of marijuana on school grounds.

• Richard C. Morrison, 71, of the 4600 block of Rolling Hills Drive, Lake in the Hills, was charged Friday, Nov. 24, with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08 percent, improper traffic lane use, operating an uninsured motor vehicle and illegal transportation of liquor by a driver.

• Allison A. Yazel, 23, of the 1600 block of Brigham Lane, Crystal Lake, was charged Saturday, Nov. 18, with driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08 percent.

• David Wiechec, 21, of the 9700 Aberdeen Lane, Huntley, was charged Wednesday, Oct. 25, with domestic battery and criminal damage to property.

• Debra A. Kolanko, 32, of the 200 block of Washington Avenue, Hampshire, was charged Monday, Oct. 9, with retail theft greater than $300.

• Pablo A. Perez, 18, of the 1700 block of Deerhaven Drive, Crystal Lake, was charged Saturday, Sept. 23, with delivery and manufacturing of marijuana less than 30 grams.




Crystal Lake police reports

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:59:00 GMT

Information in police reports is obtained from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and municipal police departments. Individuals listed in police reports who have been charged with a crime have not been proven guilty in court.

• Ian I. Hernandez, 29, of the 3000 block of Lincoln Road, McHenry, was charged Sunday, Sept. 24, with domestic battery.

• Anthony P. Magro, 52, of the 5200 block of W. Henderson, Chicago, was charged Tuesday, Sept. 26, with retail theft and violation of parole.

• Kalpeshkumar A. Solanki, 44, of the 14400 block of Kishwaukee Valley Road, Woodstock, was charged Friday, Sept. 29, with criminal trespassing.

• John T. Miks, 18, of the 1600 block of North Mason Avenue, Chicago, was charged Sunday, Nov. 12, with retail theft and possession of a controlled substance.

• Scott L. Callicot, 36, of the 1100 block of Manchester Mall, McHenry, was charged Tuesday, Nov. 21, with driving under the influence and driving with a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08 percent.

• David A. Alvarez, 22, of the 8600 block of South Hill Road, Marengo, was charged Friday, Nov. 24, with driving while license suspended, operating an uninsured motor vehicle and use of an electronic communication device while driving.

• Paul A. Rinaldi, 43, of the 700 block of South McHenry Avenue, Crystal Lake, was charged Monday, Dec. 25 with domestic battery.

• Henry R. Kocmond, 39, of the 3600 block of North Lakeshore Drive, Chicago, was charged Saturday, Dec. 30, with retail theft and possession of a controlled substance.

• Adam B. White, 25, of the 26300 block of West Karen Drive, Wauconda, was charged Monday, Jan. 1, with battery.

• Tristan L. Taggart, 32, of the 900 block of Viewpoint Drive, Lake in the Hills, was charged Saturday, Jan. 9, with criminal damage to property and domestic battery.




Woodstock police reports

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:52:00 GMT

Information in police reports is obtained from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and municipal police departments. Individuals listed in police reports who have been charged with a crime have not been proven guilty in court.

• Vincent M. Baldocchi, 33, transient, was charged Saturday, Feb. 3, with criminal trespassing to property.

• Gustavo R. Amacende, 20, of the 600 block of St. Johns Road, Woodstock, was charged Monday, Feb. 5, with domestic battery and a warrant for contempt of court in McHenry County.

• Paul Leinweber, 51, of the 11N100 block of Romeo Drive, Elgin, was charged Wednesday, Feb. 7, with driving under the influence, driving with a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08 percent, improper lane use and failure to wear a seatbelt.

• Derek A. Dean, 25, of the 200 block of South Eastwood Drive, Woodstock, was charged Saturday, Feb. 10, with driving under the influence.

• Kenneth A. Sabaj, 35, of the 300 block of Schryver Avenue, Woodstock, was charged Friday, Jan. 26, with resisting a peace officer and a warrant out of Cook County.

• Virginia M. Oliver, 52, transient, was charged Friday, Jan 26, with criminal trespassing to property, obstructing a peace officer and resisting a peace officer.

• James S. Jensen, 53, transient, was charged Friday, Jan. 26, with retail theft.

• Amy M. Migliorato, 34, of the 14400 block of Kishwaukee Valley Road, Woodstock, was charged Friday, Jan. 27, with criminal trespassing to property.

• Derrick L. Owens, 26, of the 4900 block of West Van Buren Street, Chicago, was charged Tuesday, Jan. 30, with domestic battery and interference with reporting a domestic violence.




Trump cites mental health in Florida high school shooting, no mention of gunsPresident Donald Trump pauses as he arrives to speak about the mass shooting at a South Florida High School from the White House, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:17:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump struck a solemn tone Thursday after the deadly school shooting in Florida, describing a "scene of terrible violence, hatred and evil" and promising to "tackle the difficult issue of mental health," but avoiding any mention of guns. Taking up the now-familiar ritual of public consolation after terrible violence, Trump spoke from the White House Diplomatic Room. In a slow, deliberate style, he sought to reassure a troubled nation as well as students' families and shooting survivors in Florida. "We are all joined together as one American family, and your suffering is our burden also," Trump said. "No child, no teacher, should ever be in danger in an American school." The president's address came a day after a former student opened fire at the Parkland, Florida, high school with an AR-15 rifle, killing 17 people and injuring 14 more. It was the nation's deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago. At the Capitol, the usual divisions over gun laws were evident. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in a statement that it is time for action. "Congress has a moral responsibility to take common-sense action to prevent the daily tragedy of gun violence in communities across America," she said. "Enough is enough." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, did not mention guns as he said the Senate would observe a moment of silence at noon. "To say that such brutal, pointless violence is unconscionable is an understatement," he said. Before he was a candidate, Trump at one point favored some stricter gun restrictions. However, early in his administration, he told the National Rifle Association he was their "friend and champion." He signed a resolution passed by the GOP-led Congress blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people. Trump, who owns a private club in Palm Beach, Florida about 40 miles from Parkland, said Thursday he was making plans to visit the grieving community. He praised teachers and first responders and also offered a direct message to children. "I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be," Trump said. "You have people who care about you who love you and who will do anything at all to protect you. If you need help, turn to a teacher, a family member, a local police officer or a faith leader. Answer hate with love, answer cruelty with kindness." Trump pledged that his administration would work with state and local officials on improving school safety, saying: "It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a [...]


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48-year-old woman in McHenry County Jail custody dies at hospital

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:35:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A McHenry County Jail inmate died Wednesday, according to a statement from the McHenry County Major Investigation Assistance Team.

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from the team on an investigation into the death of the 48-year-old woman, who was being held at the McHenry County Jail, officials said.

The agency conducted the investigation and said the circumstances surrounding her death don’t appear suspicious.

The inmate’s name is being held pending a news release from the McHenry County Coroner’s Office. The investigation is ongoing, and a cause and manner of death have not yet been determined.

No further information was released Wednesday evening.

This is the second recent inmate death at the county jail.

Thomas Doheny reportedly committed suicide while he was being held at the jail in November. He was taken to Centegra Hospital – Woodstock and pronounced dead.

Preliminary findings did not show suspicious injuries or significant disease.




Jon Styf named Northwest Herald editorJon Styf recently was named editor of the Northwest Herald.

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:59:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Jon Styf recently was named editor of the Northwest Herald.

He will oversee the flagship paper of Sterling-based Shaw Media, publisher of close to 100 print and digital publications in Illinois and Iowa.

Styf, 37, is coming to Crystal Lake after spending more than a year as editor of the Joliet Herald-News. Before that, he was the Northwest Herald sports editor for four years, the DeKalb Daily Chronicle sports editor for two years, and an assistant news editor and news reporter at other publications.

"I am very excited that Jon Styf has agreed to return to the Northwest Herald as our editor," said Jim Ringness, general manager of the Northwest Herald and Lake County Journal. "Jon brings a passion for the Northwest Herald marketplace that will help us to continue as the market leader in providing local news."

Styf's previous experience with the company made him a perfect fit for his new role, Ringness said.

"I look forward to working with Jon to fulfill one of our core missions, which is to provide relevant information for all our readers," Ringness said.

Styf has lived near Plainfield for the past year, and he lived in McHenry County four years before that with his wife and three elementary school-age children.

“I’m so happy to be moving back to McHenry County, a place that my family considers home, to lead a newspaper that I am so passionate about,” Styf said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to take a key role in telling the story of McHenry County as we cover everything from breaking news to informing the public on how their tax money is spent and serve as a watchdog for the community.”

Shaw Media has about 550 employees at newspapers, magazines and other publications in northern Illinois and Iowa. Its daily newspapers include the Joliet Herald-News, the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake and the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb.

Jon Styf recently was named editor of the Northwest Herald.


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McHenry County College to host first Supporting Undocumented Students Summit

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:41:14 GMT

Undocumented students can often feel isolated in a university setting.

To address the issue, McHenry County College has slated its first Supporting Undocumented Students Summit for Feb. 24.

“Students from the Latinos Unidos Club and the Student Peace Action Network (SPAN) brought to our attention that we should offer a workshop where they could highlight how administrators, staff and faculty could support students who are undocumented,” said Elizabeth Rosiles, MCC coordinator of multicultural affairs.

“Many of them say they are afraid to reach out to those in leadership positions,” Rosiles said. “They’ve been afraid to ask questions or ask for support.”

The summit will feature Sandy Lopez, Assistant to the Director of Latino and Latin American Studies at Northern Illinois University, and Shirley Sadjadi, principal attorney and founder at Law Offices of Shirley Sadjadi, who will speak about support and what resources are available. Additionally, Mano a Mano Family Resource Center and the Hispanic American Community Education and Services (HACES) will have an information booth.

Latinos Unidos Club and SPAN stated the following:

“All students should have the opportunity to learn without the fear and distress that result from unfair immigration policies. Many educators are observing the impact of this distress on our students, their families and our communities.”

“The speakers will be able to interpret whatever the latest rulings will be on DACA,” said Patricia Gaughan, SPAN  faculty advisor. “The March deadline was set by the administration to either come up with a plan or stop renewing permits. It will be helpful to understand what that will mean for undocumented students. It's also important for teachers, administrators, and community members to understand the stress this puts on DACA students, not being sure of their future.”

The event, scheduled for 9-11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, in Room A240 (Bersted Lecture Hall),is open to the public. Register at  erosiles@mchenry.edu. Questions? Call 815-479-7749.

McHenry County College, 8900 U.S. Hwy 14, Crystal Lake, Illinois 60012-2761

(815) 455-3700


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Chile sex abuse victim's credibility praised, challengedChile's Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa attends Mass for the election of a new pope April 13, 2013, inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2014 file photo, Pope Francis, right, walks with Chile's Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati to a session of the synod, a two-week meeting of cardinals and bishops from around the world, at the Vatican. Ezzati and Chilean Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz have questioned the credibility and motives of sex abuse survivor Juan Carlos Cruz, who is to testify Feb. 17, 2018 before a Vatican investigator looking into his allegations of abuse cover-up by Chilean bishop Juan Barros. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 07:09:00 GMT

VATICAN CITY – When a Vatican court convicted a Chilean predator priest of sex crimes, it went out of its way to affirm the credibility of his victims. Their testimony had been consistent and corroborated, while their motives in coming forward had been only to “free themselves of a weight that had tormented their consciences,” the tribunal said. One key witness in the Rev. Fernando Karadima’s 2010 trial is preparing to testify again, this time in a spinoff case with potentially more significant consequences. Juan Carlos Cruz’s allegations of a cover-up raise questions about Pope Francis’ already shaky track record on preventing clergy sex abuse and concealment. Cruz has accused Chilean Bishop Juan Barros of having been present when Karadima kissed and fondled him as a 17-year-old, and of then ignoring the abuse. One of Francis’ top advisers privately has called Cruz a liar who is out to destroy the Chilean church. Francis, who has called allegations against Barros slander, may have accepted the adviser’s take. After his defense of Barros sparked an outcry during his recent trip to Chile, Francis did an about-face and asked Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, a former Vatican sex crimes investigator, to gather testimony about Barros and then report back. Cruz, who now works in communications in the U.S., is his first witness Saturday. “We’ve been giving this testimony for years and years, but finally it’s being heard,” Cruz told The Associated Press. “So when the pope says he needs evidence, he’s had it for a long time.” Francis named Barros to head the diocese of Osorno, Chile in January 2015 over the opposition of some Chilean bishops. They were worried about fallout from the Karadima scandal, and had recommended that Barros and two other Karadima-trained bishops resign and take year-long sabbaticals. Francis has said he rejected the recommendation because he couldn’t in good faith accept Barros’ resignation without any evidence of wrongdoing. Barros has repeatedly denied witnessing any abuse or covering it up. “I never knew anything about, nor ever imagined, the serious abuses which that priest committed against the victims,” he told the AP last month. Dozens of former parishioners and seminarians have told Chilean and Vatican prosecutors about how public Karadima’s groping was, including of minors, within the tight-knit community where Barros was a top lieutenant of the now-disgraced priest. A handful of victims have also told the courts how, behind closed doors, Karadima would masturbate his young charges, and have them confess on their knees in front of his c[...]


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President Donald Trump at last denounces abuse; Chief of Staff John Kelly's future in doubtPresident Donald Trump speaks about domestic violence during a working session regarding the opportunity zones provided by tax reform Wednesday in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. Trump responded to a question and said, "I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind – everyone knows that, and it almost wouldn't even have to be said."

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 07:09:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump at last broke his silence Wednesday to explicitly denounce domestic violence in the wake of allegations that a top White House aide had abused two former wives. Chief of staff John Kelly, under fire for mishandling the situation, stayed largely out of sight, his future in doubt and the White House in tumult. The chaos surrounding the departure of aide Rob Porter put a harsh spotlight on Kelly, the retired general who was brought on last summer to instill military-like discipline in the free-wheeling West Wing. Questions persisted about what and when Kelly knew about the abuse allegations against Porter, who resigned as staff secretary last week after the accusations became public. West Wing aides have had their faith in the chief of staff shaken, and morale has plunged to levels not seen since last spring’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and the August uproar over Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacists after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. This White House scandal erupted initially without the president’s involvement. But Trump fed the fury last week when he defended Porter and questioned the #MeToo movement that sprang up in recent months to protest the mistreatment of many women. In Trump’s first comments after Porter resigned, he praised his former aide. Next, he appeared to cast doubt on the ex-wives’ allegations by tweeting: “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.” Finally, on Wednesday, Trump said the words that Democrats and Republicans alike had been listening for: “I am totally opposed to domestic violence and everybody here knows that,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that, and it almost wouldn’t even have to be said. So now you hear it, but you all know it.” The denunciation of domestic violence was greeted with relief by some West Wing aides. But a sense of unease about Kelly’s fate persisted. For months, Kelly – with help from Porter – had established a semblance of stability in a White House often rattled by an unpredictable president. That has eroded in a week’s time, as accounts about the handling of the Porter matter continue to shift and some aides have come to believe Kelly lied to save face and save his job. Trump has complained to confidants that Kelly let the scandal spin out of control and that the constantly shifting narratives make the White House – and, by extension, Trump himself – look amateurish and incompetent, according to one person familiar with the discussions but no[...]


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Former student opens fire at Florida high school, killing 17Parents wait for news after reports of a shooting Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 07:09:00 GMT

PARKLAND, Fla. – A former student opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at a Florida high school Wednesday, killing at least 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets in the nation's deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. The shooter, who was equipped with a gas mask and smoke grenades, set off a fire alarm to draw students out of classrooms shortly before the day ended at one of the state's largest schools, officials said. Authorities offered no immediate details on the 19-year-old suspect or any possible motive, except to say that he had been kicked out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which has about 3,000 students. Students who knew the shooter, identified as Nikolas Cruz, described a volatile teenager whose strange behavior had caused others to end friendships with him, particularly after the fight that led to his expulsion. Frantic parents rushed to the school to find SWAT team members and ambulances surrounding the huge campus. Live television footage showed emergency workers who appeared to be treating the wounded on sidewalks. "It is a horrific situation," said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, about an hour's drive north of Miami. "It is a horrible day for us." The suspect was taken into custody without a fight in a residential neighborhood about a mile away. He had multiple magazines of ammunition, authorities said. "It's catastrophic. There really are no words," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters. The attacker used the fire alarm "so the kids would come pouring out of the classrooms into the hall," Sen. Bill Nelson told CNN. "And there the carnage began," said Nelson, who said he was briefed by the FBI. The Florida Democrat said he did not know if the gunman used the smoke grenades, but he assumed that's why he had a gas mask on. Most of the fatalities were inside the building, though some victims were found outside. The dead included a football coach, the sheriff said. More than a dozen other people were wounded and taken to hospitals, doctors said. Victoria Olvera, a junior at the school, said Cruz was expelled last school year because he got into a fight with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. She said he had been abusive to his girlfriend. "I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him," she said. [...]


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Porn star who alleged Trump affair: I can now tell my storyStormy Daniels arrives for the 49th Annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 11, 2007, in Los Angeles. President Donald Trump's personal attorney said he paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to a porn actress who allegedly had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006.

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 07:09:00 GMT

NEW YORK – Stormy Daniels, the porn star whom Donald Trump’s attorney acknowledges paying $130,000 just before Election Day, believes she now is free to discuss an alleged sexual encounter with the man who now is president, her manager told The Associated Press Wednesday. At the same time, developments in the bizarre case are fueling questions about whether such a payment could violate federal campaign finance laws. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, believes that Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, invalidated a non-disclosure agreement after two news stories were published Tuesday: one in which Cohen told The New York Times he made the six-figure payment with his personal funds, and another in the Daily Beast, which reported that Cohen was shopping a book proposal that would touch on Daniels’ story, said the manager, Gina Rodriguez. “Everything is off now, and Stormy is going to tell her story,” Rodriguez said. At issue is what, exactly, happened inside a Lake Tahoe, Nevada, hotel room in 2006 between Trump, then a reality TV star, and Clifford, who was promoting a porn production company during a celebrity golf tournament. In the years since, Clifford has claimed that she and Trump had sex once and then carried on a subsequent yearslong platonic relationship. But through a lawyer, she also has denied the two had an affair. Trump’s lawyer, Cohen, has denied there was ever an affair. The actress first detailed her account of an alleged extramarital affair with Trump in 2011, when the celebrity website The Dirty published it but then removed the material under the threat of a lawsuit, said the site’s founder, Nik Richie. Her story then remained largely out of public view until a month before the 2016 presidential election, when the website The Smoking Gun published an account that went mostly unnoted by major news organizations. In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that a limited liability company in Delaware formed by Cohen made the six-figure payment to the actress to keep her from discussing the affair during the presidential campaign. Cohen said the payment was made with his own money, and that “neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly.” He was responding to inquiries from the Federal Election Commission, which is investigating an advocacy group’s complaint that the October 2016 transaction violated campaign finan[...]


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NSA: Several hospitalized after vehicle tried to enterIn this image made from video and provided by WUSA TV-9, authorities investigate the scene of a shooting at Fort Meade, Md. on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. A suspect has been held, taken from the black SUV that stopped at barrier after a shooting outside National Security Agency. (WUSA TV-9 via AP)

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 07:08:00 GMT

FORT MEADE, Md. – An unauthorized vehicle tried to enter the secure campus of the National Security Agency at Fort Meade on Wednesday morning, sparking a confrontation that left three people injured, authorities said. Gunshots were fired during the incident, but officials said they did not believe any of the injuries resulted from gunfire. Gordon Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore field office, would not give details about who opened fire but did say that, preliminarily, it looks like all gunfire was directed toward the vehicle. At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Johnson said the FBI was still collecting evidence but believes it was an isolated incident. "I cannot emphasize enough that we believe there is no indication that this has a nexus to terrorism," Johnson told reporters gathered at a parking lot next to the National Cryptologic Museum. Johnson said the three injured were the driver of the vehicle, an NSA police officer and a civilian onlooker. He would not give any details about how they were injured. Two other people who were in the vehicle have been taken into custody and were being questioned, Johnson said. The injuries suffered by the police officer and the onlooker did not appear to be life threatening, he said. He did not have any information about the driver's injuries. The incident began when the vehicle tried to enter the spy agency's campus without authorization around 7 a.m., the NSA said in a statement. The statement said weapons were fired but "preliminary reports do not presently indicate that there are injuries attributable to gunfire." The FBI is leading the investigation. Images from local news outlets showed authorities surrounding two handcuffed people after a black SUV ran into a barrier outside the Maryland base. Johnson said the vehicle had New York license plates and he believed it was a rental car. He said he did not know why the people in the vehicle were at the facility. "I don't have the answer to that that," he said. "We are trying to put that as our question one as to what put these individuals on this compound earlier this morning." President Donald Trump has been "briefed on the shooting at Ft. Meade," and the White House offered thoughts and prayers with those who have been affected, spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said. An image taken from a WRC-TV helicopter showed the police and fire department response outside the facility. WRC said bullet holes cou[...]


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Students, alumni challenge legacy preference at top collegesFILE - In this April 29, 2015 file photo, students sit on the steps of Columbia University's Low Memorial Library next to Daniel Chester French's sculpture, Alma Mater, on the school's campus in New York. A new coalition of students and alumni from 11 top U.S. colleges, including Columbia, are asking their schools in 2018 to rethink legacy admissions policies. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 07:08:00 GMT

BOSTON – Students and alumni at some of the nation's top universities are urging their schools to reconsider admissions policies that give an edge to relatives of alumni. Campus groups for first-generation and low-income students at 12 elite universities issued a joint letter Wednesday asking their schools to review the impact of so-called legacy admissions policies through proposed campus panels that would include students and alumni. The coalition also called on their schools to publicize policies and data on the topic. "This campaign is not about whether or not legacy applicants like our future children deserve their place in their respective universities," the group wrote. "It is about ensuring that all students have equal footing in the admissions process regardless of whether or not their parents attended a certain university." Officials from the 12 schools did not comment on the letter Wednesday. Although most colleges closely guard the weight they give to legacy status, data released by some Ivy League universities show that relatives of alumni are admitted at far higher rates than the overall applicant pool. The letter is signed by student groups at Harvard, Brown, Yale and all other Ivy League schools except Dartmouth College, which does not have a campus group for first-generation students, the coalition said. Others in the group come from prestigious private schools including Amherst College and the University of Chicago. While students in the coalition acknowledge they could benefit from the practice – and some said they felt conflicted about challenging it – they argue that ending legacy preferences would give more low-income and first-generation students a shot at attending prestigious schools. "No matter how hard you work, you can't make yourself a legacy. No amount of SAT studying could make up for that," said Alfredo Dominguez, a 20-year-old first-generation Columbia student and a member of the coalition. "They do actively try to admit students from diverse backgrounds, but this is another step or barrier to getting to a more equitable place." Students aren't immediately asking schools to ban the practice but say they want to start a conversation. The group opposes legacy policies but recognizes it's a complicated issue that deserves a thorough review, said Viet Nguyen, a Brown alumnus leading the effort. The coalition is adding pressure to elite admissions offices at a time when they're already under renewed scrutiny. Harvard, for example, is be[...]


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