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McHenry County grand jury indictments

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 22:45:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A McHenry County grand jury this past week indicted these people on these charges:

• Tomasz Swiech, 40, 1430 Spring Hill Drive, Algonquin; arson, criminal damage to government-supported property.

• Brandon R. Smith, 21, 721 Webster St., Woodstock; two counts of disorderly conduct.

• Taylor J. Riemann, 21, 3401 Biscayne Road, McHenry; aggravated battery, consumption of alcohol by a minor.

• Ermel J. Rodas-Murillo, 24, 470 Buckingham Drive, Apt. 17, Crystal Lake; aggravated battery.

• Nicholas A. Holiday, 25, 109 N. Main St., Crystal Lake; identity theft, theft on a subsequent offense.

• Brian P. Cigrang, 36, 2610 Killarney Drive, Cary; criminal damage to property.

• Placido E. Hernandez-Estrada, 31, 12026 McKinley Ave., Apt. A, Hebron; predatory criminal sexual assault, two counts of criminal sexual assault, two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

• Ryan J. Pilat, 29, 4915 W. Wonder Lake Road, Wonder Lake; two counts of aggravated driving under the influence.

• Fidel Espinoza, 58, 3902 E. Crystal Lake Ave., Crystal Lake; two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

• Michael G. Robinson, 62, 9949 LaSalle St., Chicago; unauthorized possession of a prescription form.

• Scott S. Parsons, 36, 12N248 Randall Road, Elgin; domestic battery, interfering with the reporting of domestic violence.

• Suzanne M. Memmott, 34, 1475 Butternut Drive, Crystal Lake; two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

• Michael R. Zamorano, 25, 401 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock; unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

• Cristi M. Riedlinger, 39, 4315 W. Shamrock Lane, No. 1A, McHenry; unlawful possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a hypodermic syringe.




4 rescued from boat stalled under bridge in AlgonquinThe Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District responded to a call Friday evening of a boat in distress near the Algonquin Dam. Although everyone got out safely, the rescue was considered to be extremely dangerous and required members of the Swiftwater and Technical rescue teams.

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 21:46:00 GMT

ALGONQUIN – Fire crews rescued four people on a pontoon boat that was stalled under the Route 62 bridge and heading toward the dam Friday night.

The Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District was called at 6:30 p.m. for a report of a boat in distress that was nearing the low head dam on the Fox River at the Route 62 bridge.

First responding emergency personnel arrived at the scene within three minutes of the call and discovered the pontoon boat under the bridge.

According to a news release, the boat wasn’t working because of engine trouble and was drifting toward the low head dam aided by high water levels and a swift current.

Upon arrival, firefighters quickly dropped ropes to the boat and secured it in place until a fire district boat could rescue the occupants and tow them safely to a nearby pier, according to the release.

Although no one was injured from the incident, the rescue was considered to be extremely dangerous and required members of the Swiftwater and Technical rescue teams, according to the fire department's Facebook page.

The Huntley and Wonder Lake fire protection districts, Carpentersville and Barrington fire departments, and the Crystal Lake fire rescue department were called to the scene to assist.

The Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District responded to a call Friday evening of a boat in distress near the Algonquin Dam. Although everyone got out safely, the rescue was considered to be extremely dangerous and required members of the Swiftwater and Technical rescue teams.


Media Files:
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Social media time out as French election reaches final stage

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 21:02:00 GMT

PARIS – The final hours of many electoral campaigns are frantic affairs, dominated by last-minute pitches, late-breaking polls and massive social media campaigns aimed at drumming up turnout.

Not so in France.

Rules dating back more than half a century impose a 44-hour time out ahead of the polls' closure Sunday, meaning that politicians, journalists – and even ordinary citizens – are supposed to refrain from broadcasting any form of "electoral propaganda."

The Twitter feeds of France's 11 presidential candidates went quiet after midnight Friday. French television coverage was subdued. And if you're a journalist who has just received a newsworthy tip about one candidate or the other, you're just too late.

"The press can't publish such a story," said Pascal Jan, a professor of constitutional law at Sciences Po Bordeaux. "If there were a scandal, it should have been exposed Friday."

The national time out lasts from midnight Friday to 8 p.m. on Sunday in France and is intended to give voters time to reflect on their choice free from the distraction of surveys, radio commentary, and televised rallies.

The rules apply online as well, meaning that candidates and their campaigns can't do so much as post updates to Facebook or Instagram. The rules even apply to French voters – meaning that someone posting a pro-Socialist or pro-Republican message online could fall afoul of the law, at least in theory.

"It applies to all of us. It's totally forbidden," said Jan, although he acknowledged that, in practice, a single person posting wouldn't be sanctioned for expressing themselves online. "But if it became massive ... it would unbalance the contest and thus might influence the votes of those who were exposed to social media."

Amid chatter about foreign propaganda and so-called "fake news" possibly affecting the vote, French authorities seem to be keeping a close eye on potential violations of the law. Journalists have been sent repeated instructions about what is and isn't allowed in the last few days.

The various candidates' Twitter feeds, meanwhile, are frozen in time.

"Sunday, let's vote Francois Fillon!" says the last tweet from the right-wing candidate's campaign.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen's last tweet rebroadcasted a message by her niece, National Front lawmaker Marion Marechal-Le Pen, who said, "This Sunday, the only real question that matters: Who will have the courage to protect France and the French?"

Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon retweeted a message from Paris' mayor, Anne Hidalgo, "Sunday, I'm voting Benoit Hamon. Come vote, participate!" she said. "That's the power of being a citizen."

Left-wing firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon simply urged French citizens to "choose."

Centrist Emmanuel Macron, one of the top contenders, signed off late Friday with a picture of a handwritten note saying, "Now, everything is in your hands."

The top two vote-getters on Sunday move into a presidential runoff on May 7 – which comes with yet another 44-hour timeout.

___

Online:

Raphael Satter can be reached on: http://raphaelsatter.com




Secrecy decisions threaten ‘drain the swamp’ pledgeSupporters of then-candidate Donald Trump hold signs during an Oct. 27 campaign rally in Springfield, Ohio.Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn. talks with a reporter in October 2008 in Capitol Hill in Washington.

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:15:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The leader of a bipartisan good-government group, Zach Wamp, headed to the White House last week to ask whether President Donald Trump’s “drain the swamp” slogan would ever be more than a throwaway campaign slogan. One of the president’s closest aides, Steve Bannon, assured him it’s a priority. Bannon said he “agrees with the concept that Washington is rigged,” said Wamp, a former Republican congressman. “He said he just needs to figure out what to do about it.” Yet within 48 hours of the visit, the White House announced the end of an Obama administration practice aimed at greater transparency in government: It would no longer release the names of visitors to the executive mansion. It was another step away from the goal of “drainage,” curbing the outsized influence of Washington powerbrokers. Then, a filing this week showed that the president raised a record $107 million for his inauguration, much of it from companies and people who do business with the government. Trump also has brought scores of special-interest players into government. And he has yet to push any proposals to tighten campaign finance or lobbying disclosure rules. Trump’s boldest anti-swamp move – a January executive order limiting the lobbying of outgoing officials – has already been undermined by a waiver he granted to at least one departing employee. The administration says it will never share information about when or why it makes those decisions, another change from the Obama era. “What they do on ‘drain the swamp’ is very much to-be-determined,” Wamp said. “I think – at least I hope – my stop there last week was a reminder that these things matter.” Bannon did not respond to requests for comment, and the White House says it considers Trump’s early bureaucracy-slimming moves to be part of its drain-the-swamp work. At a rally last month in Louisville, Kentucky, Trump re-upped his vow: “We are going to drain the swamp of government corruption in Washington, D.C., and we are going to keep our promises, all of the promises that we made.” Indeed, “drain the swamp” is scrawled on one of chief strategist Bannon’s white boards documenting those campaign pledges. Rep. Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican who wrote a book about the corrupting influence that fundraising has on Congress (titled, conveniently, “Drain the Swamp”), said Trump has “surrounded himself with people who want to find solutions.” He is optimistic that the president will make good on his word but argues that a mile-long White House to-do list means it’ll take time. Democrats are skeptical Trump will ever deliver. “There’s a huge gap between what he’s said going back to his campaign days, and what he’s done,” said Rep. John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat who has introduced several bills aimed at reducing money in politics. “I don’t at this point have any confidence that anything he said about accountability and transparency was anything more than a head fake.” Tackling corruption in Washington – a goal tied to increasing transparency and decreasing the influence of lobbyists and major donors – interests people of all political persuasions. A January NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 66 percent of Americans agree that “reducing the influence of lobbyists and big money in politics” is an “absolute priority for this year.” Wamp works with a Washington-based nonprofit called Issue One, which has collected 180 past and current public officials from both major parties in what it calls the “reformers [...]Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn. talks with a reporter in October 2008 in Capitol Hill in Washington.


Media Files:
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Defense secretary: Syria keeps chemical weaponsIsraeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (left) and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis takes seats for a meeting Friday at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:15:00 GMT

TEL AVIV, Israel – Syria still possesses chemical weapons, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in Israel on Friday, warning against the banned munitions being used again.

At a news conference in Tel Aviv, Mattis also said that in recent days the Syrian Air Force has dispersed its combat aircraft. The implication is that Syria may be concerned about additional U.S. strikes after the cruise missile attack earlier this month in retaliation for alleged Syrian use of sarin gas.

“There can be no doubt in the international community’s mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all,” Mattis said. He said he didn’t want to elaborate on the amounts Syria has to avoid revealing sources of intelligence.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (left) and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis takes seats for a meeting Friday at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel.


Media Files:
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Blagojevich’s request for lighter sentence deniedFormer Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks to the media in March 2012 outside his home in Chicago as his wife, Patti, wipes away tears a day before he reported to prison after his conviction on corruption charges.

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:14:00 GMT

CHICAGO – An appeals court in Chicago took just three days to reject a request from imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich for another sentencing hearing, agreeing his 14-year prison term for corruption was a stiff punishment but was well within the sentencing judge’s discretion.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ unanimous Friday ruling also dismissed arguments that Judge James Zagel should have shortened the prison term in August because of Blagojevich’s good behavior mentoring fellow inmates and even putting together a band, The Jailhouse Rockers.

The defeat dashes one of the 60-year-old’s last hopes of winning his freedom anytime soon. It’s rare for rulings to be posted so quickly – an indication the judges considered this an easy decision. The Supreme Court in 2016 refused to take up a broader Blagojevich appeal and is unlikely to agree to hear one focused on sentencing.

“We’re incredibly disappointed and sad,” Blagojevich attorney Leonard Goodman said Friday. He said he’ll have to talk to Blagojevich before deciding any next steps.

One option would be to lobby President Donald Trump for clemency. Blagojevich was on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” TV show in 2010 as he awaited trial. While Trump eventually “fired” Blagojevich as a contestant, he praised Blagojevich for how he fought his criminal case, telling him, “You have a hell of a lot of guts.”

At Blagojevich’s initial 2011 sentencing, Zagel berated the former Democratic governor, saying he had “disfigured” Illinois, including by trying to trade an appointment to former President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat for campaign cash. He then imposed the longest sentence for public corruption in Illinois history – 14 years.

The three-judge panel’s written opinion concedes a different trial judge could have calculated sentencing guidelines differently and settled on a lesser punishment. But, the six-page ruling adds, “the fact that a judge could have ruled otherwise does not imply that [Judge Zagel] was compelled to rule otherwise.”

The 7th Circuit in 2015 tossed five of 18 convictions and ordered Zagel to resentence Blagojevich. But in August, Zagel imposed the same 14-year term. That led to the current appeal, about which oral arguments were heard Tuesday.

The panel rejected arguments that Zagel should have placed greater weight on 100 letters from fellow inmates who described how Blagojevich taught history and served as a life coach to prisoners. More relevant to a sentence, panelists said, was what the two-term governor did before his 2008 arrest.

“Blagojevich’s treatment of fellow inmates may show that outside of office he is an admirable person, but the court was entitled to impose punishment that reflects how Blagojevich behaved when he had a different menu of opportunities and to deter those who hold office today,” the ruling says.

Federal inmates must serve at least 85 percent of their sentences, making Blagojevich’s estimated released date May 2024. By then, he will have served about 12 years and will be 67 years old.

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks to the media in March 2012 outside his home in Chicago as his wife, Patti, wipes away tears a day before he reported to prison after his conviction on corruption charges.


Media Files:
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Village Squire’s liquor license suspended through April 30Village Squire in Crystal Lake will not be serving alcohol until the end of the month after failing a second underage compliance check in a five-year period. Its suspension began April 17 and stays in effect until April 30.

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:11:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Village Squire will not be serving alcohol until the end of the month after failing a second underage compliance check in a five-year period.

The restaurant at 4818 Route 14 was one of eight last August cited by Crystal Lake police for serving an underage buyer. Its suspension began April 17 and stays in effect until April 30 – businesses can be allowed at the discretion of Mayor Aaron Shepley, who serves as city liquor commissioner, to select the time period during which their liquor license gets suspended.

Sixty-one of the 69 establishments checked by police last August recognized the buyer as underage and passed the compliance check.

City ordinance sets forth a progressive discipline process for liquor violations within a five-year period. A first offense comes with a $750 fine, while a second offense comes with a $1,500 fine and a suspension. A third offense in a five-year period comes with a $2,500 fine and can be grounds for revoking the license.

The city and the police department created a system by which participating businesses can test their own employees to ensure compliance with liquor laws. Besides encouraging best practices, a participating business that fails an official compliance check can get some leniency on the penalty.

Shepley said that Village Squire did not participate in the program, and said he encouraged the restaurant to do so after its first offense. The restaurant last failed a compliance check in 2013.

Every business that is granted a liquor license by the City Council gets told the penalties, and is encouraged to participate in the voluntary testing program, prior to the council vote. Shepley did the same before a Tuesday vote by council members to grant a new business such a license.

“I don’t like levying out these fines and penalties and suspensions. I would prefer to just not have these incidents occur, and when you [participate], it puts me in a much better spot,” Shepley told the applicant.

Village Squire in Crystal Lake will not be serving alcohol until the end of the month after failing a second underage compliance check in a five-year period. Its suspension began April 17 and stays in effect until April 30.


Media Files:
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Canterbury Elementary holding ‘Comcast Cares Day’ event Saturday

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:11:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Canterbury Elementary School in Crystal Lake is partnering with Comcast to hold an event Saturday to improve Canterbury Fields and build a garden at the school.

The event, “Comcast Cares Day,” will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 875 Canterbury Drive.

Denise Barr, coordinator of community relations for District 47, said about 170 people have volunteered to help out.

Volunteers will spend Saturday morning working on the baseball facility and creating a school garden that will provide a clean, attractive and safe area for children. Each volunteer will also receive a free T-shirt, breakfast and lunch provided by Comcast Cares.

Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley recently proclaimed April 22 “Comcast Cares Day” to bring employees, families, friends and community partners together for a common mission and purpose.




Crystal Lake man gets 3 years for child sex abuseVincente Vasquez, 28, of Crystal Lake, must register for life as a sex offender after being sentenced to prison for sexually abusing a child he met though his job as a horse groomer.

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:10:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A Crystal Lake man was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison Thursday for sexually abusing a child he met through his job as a horse groomer.

Vincente Vasquez, 28, of the 100 block of South Heather Drive, Crystal Lake, pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a Class 2 felony, as part of a deal with Kane County prosecutors.

Prosecutors presented evidence that showed that between September 2012 and September 2014 Vasquez sexually abused the victim. Vasquez knew the victim, who was younger than 17 at the time, according to a news release from the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The abuse took place at the horse stable where Vasquez worked in West Dundee, the release said.

The case was prosecuted by Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Lori Schmidt, who is assigned to the Kane County Child Advocacy Center, and the plea was accepted by Circuit Judge Donald Tegeler Jr., according to the news release.

Under state law, Vasquez is eligible for day-for-day sentencing. He gets credit for 688 days he spent in the Kane County jail, the release said.

Vincente Vasquez, 28, of Crystal Lake, must register for life as a sex offender after being sentenced to prison for sexually abusing a child he met though his job as a horse groomer.


Media Files:
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Prosecution of ex-Crystal Lake Central choir director continues after judge bars some statementsFormer Crystal Lake Central High School choir director Justin Hubly claims he should not be prosecuted on allegations that he inappropriately touched two former students and provided alcohol to several others at his home because he signed a document granting him immunity.

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:10:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Prosecutors will go ahead with a case against a former Crystal Lake Central choir director accused of inappropriately touching former students and giving them alcohol despite a ruling Friday that barred the use at trial of statements made during a school district investigation. Justin Hubly, 35, was arrested Nov. 30, more than a month after allegations surfaced that he had former students at his house on several occasions, gave them alcohol when they were under 21 and had inappropriate contact with two of them. He faces charges of battery and unlawful delivery of alcohol to a minor, Class A misdemeanors. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail. Hubly’s attorney Hank Sugden filed a motion to suppress any evidence gathered during an interview on Oct. 19 between Hubly and Randy Davis, assistant superintendent of human resources for Community High School District 155, because Hubly signed a document that gave him immunity from criminal prosecution. Sugden said Hubly provided information that helped police investigate the case and later charge his client. Sugden said police wouldn’t have had it without the interview with District 155 officials. Sugden also said his client provided Davis the names of several students who were at his house at some point. Davis said he could not recall whether that was true when he took the stand Friday. Assistant State’s Attorney Taylor Nesbit agreed that the statements Hubly made to Davis would be inadmissible, but said investigators had other evidence from a former student who reported the incidents and other students who were later interviewed by the district and Crystal Lake police. On Oct. 15, a former student told a teacher about allegations of inappropriate behavior between Hubly and former students. Eleven days later, District 155 officials reported the matter to Crystal Lake police, according to court records. Prosecutors claim that between June 1 and July 31, Hubly inappropriately touched a former student and gave her alcohol when she was underage. Police also said on that Oct. 7, he inappropriately touched another former student and gave that student alcohol. Prosecutors also have charged Hubly with giving alcohol to three other former students on Dec. 30, 2015. The students were younger than 21 at the time, according to court records. Hubly was interviewed by Davis on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20. He confirmed he had had former students at his home, they had consumed alcohol and he had kissed a former student, Davis said. Davis said he provided Hubly with the at-will notice that gave him immunity and then asked him whether he had students over on Oct. 7 and if there was kissing and inappropriate touching at that time. Notes were taken during the two-day interview by Davis and Crystal Lake Central High School Principal Steve Olson. Davis said Hubly’s union representative stopped the meeting and rescheduled for the next day so they could speak further with officials on what he would and would not be able to disclose. The next day, he said, Hubly confirmed there was alcohol at his home and students were there but said he had not provided it to them. District officials put Hubly on administrative leave Oct. 19. Hubly resigned Nov. 8. Davis testified that he interviewed the former student who first reported the allegations. The student said he was reporting all of this because he had found out another former student had been inappropriately touched and given alcohol. Davis was pro[...]


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Ex-Chicago cop, Spring Grove man fit to stand trial; pleads not guilty to murder chargesLorin Volberding

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:10:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A former Chicago cop and Spring Grove resident accused of the first-degree murder of his wife was deemed psychologically competent to stand trial Friday.

Lorin Volberding, 71, appeared in court with his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Angelo Mourelatos, for an arraignment and to determine whether he was fit to stand trial. Mourelatos said his client was given an evaluation by Dr. Robert Meyer, a clinical psychologist, and Meyer found that Volberding was able to continue with all court proceedings.

Volberding was charged Feb. 3 after police said he fatally shot his wife, Elizabeth Volberding, also a former cop, on her birthday. She was found in their Spring Grove residence, in the 10800 block of Riviera Drive, after Lorin Volberding called a neighbor and told him what happened.

The neighbor then called 911, and members of the Spring Grove Police Department arrived to also find Lorin Volberding in the home, prosecutors have said.

Prosecutors said Lorin Volberding told police clearly and coherently that he shot his wife and then said, “Give me a few moments, and I’ll tell you everything.”

He was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Volberding was arraigned Friday and pleaded not guilty to all charges. He faces 20 years to natural life on the murder charge and an additional 25 years to natural life if it is found that a firearm was used in the commission of the crime.

Volberding is in McHenry County Jail custody in lieu of posting 10 percent of his $3 million bond. He will next appear in court May 26.

Lorin Volberding


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Ex-McHenry County prosecutor admits stealing more than $26K from former McHenry bossRobin L. Perry

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:10:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A former McHenry County assistant state’s attorney will have to pay back the thousands of dollars she stole from an ex-boss after she pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge Friday.

Robin L. Perry, 52, was convicted of one count of theft of an amount more than $10,000 but less than $100,000, a Class 2 felony.

Perry, of Spring Grove, was sentenced to three years of conditional discharge on the felony charge.

She was also ordered to pay $26,229.50 in restitution to the McHenry lawyer’s office – $15,000 of which she paid in court Friday. She will be required to make restitution payments on the remaining $11,229.50.

Perry was charged in February 2016 with two counts of theft of an amount more than $10,000 but less than $100,000 and four counts of theft of an amount between $500 and $10,000, Class 3 felonies. Authorities said Perry exerted unauthorized control over the property of Guy R. Youman at different times between 2012 and 2015.

Youman, the principal and managing attorney at the Law Offices of Rupp & Youman, said he discovered the theft while performing his annual accounting in early 2015. He said Perry was employed as an attorney at his firm for less than a year.

Perry worked as an assistant state’s attorney in the late 1990s. She also served as a Zoning Board of Appeals board member from 2003 to 2011. She is no longer a practicing attorney in the state, according to the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission.

Robin L. Perry


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Fox River Grove Village Board gives extension to developer for downtown redevelopment project

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:09:00 GMT

FOX RIVER GROVE – The Fox River Grove Village Board is giving developer Grove Residences LLC another chance to reboot a $250 million project to develop the village’s downtown.  The developer asked the village for more time to secure funding to start phase one of the four-phase project less than a month after the village approved the redevelopment agreement for the project.   While the Village Board granted the extension at its meeting Thursday, trustees also have asked the village president and staff to look into backup options. “We’re just doing essentially preliminary research to gain other interests in case, for whatever reason, this developer cannot make the phase one deal happen,” Village Administrator Derek Soderholm said. Grove Residences will now have until Aug. 31 to close on the majority of the properties necessary for the first phase – a three-month extension from the deadline in the original redevelopment agreement the Village Board approved on March 16. Three apartment buildings with up to 300 units would be built in the space, according to the redevelopment agreement. Jordan Glazov, a partner with Northbrook-based Realtelligence LLC, which owns Grove Residences LLC, has previously said phase one is estimated to cost between $61 million and $71 million. Trustees Thomas Anderson, Steve Knar, Andrew Migdal and Patrick Wall voted in favor of the amendment to the redevelopment agreement. Jennifer Curtiss opposed. Trustee Suzanne Blohm was absent. “It’s just been a constant struggle,” Curtiss said. “One day you think the project’s going to happen, the next day you find out it’s not going to happen.” For the past few years the development has been on and off, and Curtiss said it ultimately hurts the property owners who live in the phase one area who don’t know if and when they’ll be moving.  Phase one includes several lots southwest of Route 14, on both sides of Algonquin Road, according to village documents. The space includes three commercial buildings and four apartment buildings.  If plans go through, phase three will include no more than 200 apartments along Route 14 and phase four will be developed with retail uses and/or a hotel and marina on Route 14 at the river, according to the agreement.  “I’m not confident that the developer is going to be able to get his financing in 90 days, so for me, maybe this is a sign that we should be running,” Curtiss said, adding she would like to see another developer improve the downtown.  Wall said he voted in favor of the amendment only because village staff was starting to look at other options.  “The downtown needs to be redeveloped, and we need to bring a new infusion of people into the community,” Wall said. He said he was “optimistic but not confident” that Grove Residences would meet its new deadline.  The developer should have another chance because they’ve invested a lot of money in the project, Knar said, and residents want to see a developed downtown.  Developers wouldn’t have asked for the extension if there wasn’t a possibility of receiving funding, Glazov said. “Anything can happen between now and then,” Glazov said. “We don’t anticipate a negative occurrence, but the world turns without our control, we never know.”[...]



Victims of Woodstock Willow Brooke apartment fire pick up the pieces; preliminary cause identifiedFirefighters on the scene March 25 at the Willow Brook Apartments in Woodstock after a fire. According to the fire investigation report released by the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District on Friday, the cause of the fire is suspected to be accidental and caused by a possible malfunction in an electric baseboard heater or electric circuits.Devin Whiting (right) and his fiancée, Alex Romero, were among the people affected by the massive fire that broke out last month at Willow Brooke apartment complex. It displaced 30 families and caused $2.3 million in damage. The cause of the fire was initially ruled to be a possible malfunction by either an electric baseboard heater or electric circuits in one of the apartments, according to a report from the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District.Devin Whiting (right) thought someone was playing a prank when he heard banging on the doors 3 a.m. March 25 at his Woodstock apartment. He didn’t expect to look out the door to see flames. Whiting and his fiancée, Alex Romero, were two of the people affected by the massive fire that broke out last month at Willow Brooke apartment complex. Whiting and Romero met while working at the Woodstock Farm and Fleet.

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:04:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Devin Whiting thought someone was playing a prank when he heard banging on the doors at 3 a.m. March 25 at his Woodstock apartment. He didn’t expect to look out the door to see flames. “It was horrifying,” he said. “I heard a loud boom and the first two buildings are just completely engulfed in flames.” Whiting and his fiancée, Alex Romero, were two of the people affected by the massive fire that broke out last month at Willow Brooke apartment complex, displacing 30 families and causing $2.3 million in damage. The fire was caused by a possible malfunction of either an electric baseboard heater or electric circuits located in one of the apartments, according to a preliminary fire investigation report from the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District. The night of the fire, neighbor Abimael Sanchez’s dog woke him at 3 a.m. to go outside. He didn’t see anything, or smell smoke at the time. When he went back inside, he opened his window, which is when he could smell smoke and burning plastic, so he went out on the deck to check things out, according to the report. Sanchez could see smoke coming from the building next door, so he called 911 and went back outside and walked over to the apartments. He saw flames, then started pushing door buzzers in hopes of waking up residents. Residents Brian Rice and Casey Schilling woke up around 3:20 a.m. because they heard something breaking and their dog was whining. When Rice went to the living room to see what was going on, he saw fire shooting out from the wall. The patio door broke, and flames began dancing against the front door. The two and their dog left through the back, according to the report. Firefighters had the fire under control by about 4:30 a.m., but weren’t cleared to leave the scene until almost 2:30 p.m, according to the fire report. The Red Cross and the McHenry County Housing Authority were also on scene that day. Romero wasn’t home the night of the fire. She woke up to texts and phone calls asking her whether she was OK, and didn’t know what they were talking about until she got to Whiting’s messages. He had been sitting in his car watching the firefighters battle the flames all night, blocked into the parking lot by emergency vehicles. “It was really, really scary,” she said. “I was really worried about what happened to everything, to Devin, if the pets were OK.” Whiting and Romero – along with their ferret and cat, who did make it out safely – are currently living with Romero’s parents in Harvard. They plan to buy a house now, which had been on the back burner when they lived at Willow Brooke. “Life has a weird way of pushing you in the right direction,” Whiting said. “It’s kind of worked out for us.” Nonprofits such as Home of the Sparrow also assisted with vouchers for the victims, she said. The city of Woodstock’s fundraiser garnered $8,861.74, with donations still trickling in. The city plans to cut the last check to victims next week, officials said. Multiple GoFundMe pages were created for the victims as well, including one for Whiting and Romero. The majority of displaced people have been re[...]


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Florida senator who used racial slur resignsRepublican state senator Frank Artiles, R-Miami, asks a questions about a pip insurance bill during a March 9, 2012, house session in Tallahassee, Fla. Artiles, who used a racial slur and vulgar language in a conversation with two African-American colleagues, submitted a resignation letter to the Senate president's office on Friday.

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 01:08:00 GMT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Florida state senator who used a racial slur and vulgar language in a conversation with two African-American colleagues resigned Friday, saying the incident is causing a distraction to the legislative process.

Republican Sen. Frank Artiles submitted a resignation letter to Republican Senate President Joe Negron and issued a separate statement.

"I clearly made comments that were hurtful, unacceptable and inappropriate. The American people and Floridians want their leaders to be accountable and responsible, and by resigning my elected office I believe I am demonstrating those qualities they desire and deserve," Artiles said in the statement released by a publicist.

Negron said the resignation was the right thing to do, and he dropped an investigation into the incident.

"All of us are accountable for our actions and our comments, so I think it's an appropriate resignation," Negron said.

The Florida Legislative Black Caucus filed a complaint about the incident on Wednesday and asked that Artiles be removed from office.

The matter began Monday night during a private conversation with Sens. Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston at the Governors Club, a members-only establishment near the Capitol. Artiles used vulgarities in talking with Gibson, including one particularly offensive to women. Sen. Perry Thurston intervened and Artiles, a Cuban-American from the Miami area, used a variation of the "n-word" and used a vulgarity to describe Negron, according to the complaint filed Wednesday by Thurston.

Artiles, a Cuban-American from the Miami area, apologized for the comments on the Senate floor on Wednesday, but Democrats said that wasn't enough.

Democratic Senate Leader Oscar Braynon, who is African-American, issued a statement saying Artiles did the right thing by resigning.

"I take no pleasure in these unfortunate events. But I urge that we learn from them," Braynon said. "In our communities, our state, and our country, there should be a message of hope, of tolerance, of unity. We cannot afford the high cost words of divisiveness and cruelty leave in their wake."

Artiles won his seat in November in a district that's politically competitive. He previously served in the state House from 2010 to 2016. His resignation now gives Democrats a chance to gain a seat in the chamber, though Republicans still have a 24-15 majority even with his resignation.

"While I take full responsibility for using language that was vulgar and inappropriate, my family has fallen victim to a political process that can distort the truth for the sole purpose of political gain," Artiles said.

Gov. Rick Scott will have to set a date for a special election to replace him.

Republican state senator Frank Artiles, R-Miami, asks a questions about a pip insurance bill during a March 9, 2012, house session in Tallahassee, Fla. Artiles, who used a racial slur and vulgar language in a conversation with two African-American colleagues, submitted a resignation letter to the Senate president's office on Friday.


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Trump's budget chief says money for U.S.-Mexico border wall is a mustWhite House budget director Mick Mulvaney speaks March 16 at the White House, in Washington. Mulvaney says that Democratic negotiators on a massive spending bill need to agree to funding top priorities of President Donald Trump, such as a down payment on a border wall and hiring of additional immigration agents.

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 01:01:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Money for the wall President Donald Trump wants to build along the U.S. border with Mexico must be part of the massive spending bill Congress is preparing, the White House budget director says. Additional funding also must be included to hire more immigration agents, Mick Mulvaney told The Associated Press in an interview in which he laid out the top priorities of the president. Lawmakers hope to unveil the catchall spending bill next week. Democratic negotiators are likely to resist providing the down payment that Mulvaney says Trump wants for construction of the wall, but the former GOP congressman from South Carolina adds that "elections have consequences." Mulvaney also said the administration is open, though undecided, about a key Democratic demand that the measure pay for cost-sharing payments to insurance companies that help low-income people afford health policies under the Affordable Care Act. The $1 trillion-plus legislation is leftover business from last year's election-season gridlock and would cover the operating budgets of every Cabinet department except for Veterans Affairs. Talks on the measure have hit a rough patch as a deadline to avert a government shutdown looms late next week. Trump's presidency is approaching the symbolic 100-day mark, but his GOP allies in Congress have been tempering expectations that the president would emerge as a big winner. Democratic votes are likely to be needed to pass whatever bill emerges from the talks, and Senate Democrats could bottle it up entirely if they object to provisions that they deem to be "poison pills" – such as the money for the wall. Trump campaigned for president on the promise of building the wall and sticking Mexico with the tab. GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are eager to avert a shutdown, and the slow pace may make it necessary to enact another temporary spending bill to avert a shutdown next weekend. Mulvaney's hard line could foreshadow a protracted impasse and increases the chances of a government shutdown. "A shutdown is never a desired end and neither is it a strategy," Mulvaney said. Democrats are confident that Republicans, controlling both House and Senate, would bear the blame for any shutdown, even as Democrats wield power in the talks. "We have the leverage and they have the exposure," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told fellow Democrats on a Thursday conference call, according to a senior Democratic aide. Mulvaney said the White House delivered an offer to negotiators Wednesday night, with funding for the border wall a top demand. Other items on the White House priority list, Mulvaney said, are a $30 billion request for a cash infusion for the military and a controversial provision to give the administration greater latitude to deny certain federal grants to "sanctuary cities" that refuse to cooperate with immigration enforcement by federal authorities. "We want wall funding. We want [immigration] agents. Those are our priorities," Mulvaney said. "We know there are a lot of people on the Hill, especially in the Democratic Party, who don't like the wall, but they lost the election. And the president should, I think, at least have the opportunity to fund one of his highest priorities in the first funding bill under his administration." He said the wall is "something[...]


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Hearing probes Illinois auditor general Mautino's campaign spending

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:33:00 GMT

CHICAGO – An Illinois State Board of Elections hearing officer is expected to issue a recommendation next month regarding allegations that the state's auditor general violated campaign finance disclosure laws while serving as a Democratic state representative.

Hours of testimony were heard Thursday on the issue of whether Frank Mautino's now-defunct campaign committee must update spending reports to provide additional details about how money was spent.

The examination comes after a group called the Edgar County Watchdogs raised questions about why the fund reported spending more than $247,000 on fuel and car repairs over 16 years. It has expanded to include a look at $30,000 worth of expenditures to a local bank.

The federal government also has begun an investigation.

Mautino received overwhelming bipartisan support when lawmakers appointed him to a 10-year term as Illinois' chief financial watchdog in 2015.

Much of Thursday's hearing focused on a deposition Patricia Maunu, the former treasurer for Mautino's campaign committee, gave earlier. Jeffrey Schwab, an attorney for the Liberty Justice Center, which is affiliated with the conservative Illinois Policy Institute, cited Maunu's testimony. In it, she said the campaign had a credit account at a Spring Valley gas station, where Mautino, campaign workers and some family members frequently stopped for gas.

Schwab said the practice violated state campaign laws and that anyone doing campaign work should be reimbursed for mileage instead.

Maunu was acting as she interpreted the law, said Sergio Acosta, lead attorney for Mautino's committee.

The hearing officer's recommendation could be considered at a board meeting May 15.




Illinois' unemployment rate drops to 4.9 percent in March

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:33:00 GMT

CHICAGO – Illinois officials say the state's unemployment rate fell .5 percentage points to 4.9 percent in March.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security reported Thursday that the jobless level is now below 5 percent for the first time in a decade.

But Illinois' unemployment rate is still higher than the national unemployment rate for March, which dropped to 4.5 percent.

IDES reports the sectors with the largest employment gains were leisure and hospitality; trade, transportation and utilities and other services.

The state also revised its jobs data for February to show the state gained fewer jobs than initially reported. That change, along with the March numbers, means Illinois is still 19,600 jobs short of its previous peak employment reached in September 2000.




Illinois groups opposed to letting AT&T divert resources from landlines

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:33:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – AARP Illinois and consumer-rights groups in the state say they oppose legislation that would allow AT&T to divert its resources away from landlines.

The legislation would permit the utility giant to free itself from a legal obligation to provide landline service in areas with old technology. AT&T officials said almost 90 percent of customers have gotten rid of landlines in favor of wireless technology or internet-based communication.

AARP Illinois associate state director Andre Jordan said reliable phone service is a basic necessity for all individuals and that cutting some services could be disastrous.

"For older residents, telephone services are critical to maintain social contact, preserve their health and safety, and summon emergency assistance," Jordan said. "In fact, individuals 65 and older are more likely than any other age group to have and rely on home telephone service."

Citizens Utility Board spokesman Bryan McDaniel said easing the landline requirement was "too quick and too soon."

"First of all, there are no promises in this legislation to invest anywhere. This legislation is more about disinvestment than it is about investment," McDaniel said. "They also have talked about their wireless home phone, which works on cellphone tower technology. Inside of a structure, you could have real problems getting signals. You've always got to read the fine print with these guys, it's just the type of business they're in."

AT&T Illinois President Paul La Schiazza said in a statement that the implication that home phone service is going away "is absolutely false." He said AT&T wants to improve the technology customers use for voice calling service from old service to modern landlines and wireless.




Illinois Gov. Rauner: Expanding abortion coverage too controversial

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:33:00 GMT

CHICAGO – Gov. Bruce Rauner says he no longer supports expanding abortion coverage for state workers and Medicaid recipients because it's too controversial and Illinois needs to focus on other issues such as creating jobs.

As a candidate, the Republican stated in a 2014 questionnaire he disliked existing law restricting taxpayer-funded abortion coverage because it "unfairly restricts access based on income." He said he'd support a legislative effort to reverse the law.

But Rauner now opposes legislation Democrats are pushing.

He spoke publicly about the issue for the first time Friday.

Rauner says "what we should not do is take on controversial, divisive issues right now." He says "we need to focus" on getting a balanced budget, reduced property taxes and lawmaker term limits.

Rauner supports existing law, which provides coverage in cases of rape, incest, and for health and life of the mother.




For the Record: McHenry County incorporations, business licenses and commercial property transactions

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:21:00 GMT

Gathered as of March 10 by Record Information Services, a company that compiles public record information. This list contains business-to-business filings for McHenry County and does not represent the entire public record. Incorporations 01/13/17 - Onyii Photography Inc, 12326 Butler Ln, Huntley 60142-0109, Jude B Esekwe 01/13/17 - Custom Crime Labels Inc, 518 S State Route 31, Mchenry 60050-7464, Darren Dascott 01/13/17 - D5 Ranges Inc, 1798 Queensport Dr, Crystal Lake 60014-2978, Paul C Maurin 01/13/17 - Lisas Mobile Hair Salon Inc, 3712 Saint Johns Ave, Johnsburg 60051-5946, Lisa M Keenan 01/13/17 - Lively Kitchens Inc, 2028 Red Barn Rd, Woodstock 60098-6913, Joyce Lande 01/13/17 - Livfre Web Dev Inc, 755 Spruce Tree Dr, Cary 60013-3145, Ryan M Grambo 01/13/17 - Lucascore Builders Incorp, 306 N Division St, Harvard 60033-3050, Mary T Donahur 01/13/17 - Neis Partnership Inc, 7718 Oak Ridge Ct, Crystal Lake 60012-1600, Thomas J Neis 01/13/17 - Bauer Business Solutions Inc, 3919 E Lake Shore Dr, Wonder Lake 60097-8627, Robert Gelman CPA 01/20/17 - Intren Holdings Corp, 18202 W Union Rd, Union 60180-9710, Aleen Tiffany 01/20/17 - La Cocina De Emma Inc, 357 Marengo Rd, Harvard 60033-3423, Pedro Osorio 01/20/17 - Metals Tech Consulting Inc, 1798 Queensport Dr, Crystal Lake 60014-2978, Paul C Maurin 01/20/17 - MW Smart Solutions Inc, 2514 N Freedom Dr, Mchenry 60050-3410, Monika Wawrzyniak 01/20/17 - Walk By Faith Inernational Inc NFP, 11 Carl Ct, Lake In The Hills 60156-1595, Victoria Anderson 01/20/17 - Busy Beavers Tree Service & More Inc, 5307 N Lake St, Mchenry 60050-6914, Peter Roberts 02/03/17 - Saienca Natural Stones Corp, 16 Larkspur Ct, Lake In The Hills 60156-4662, Rosa Anna Pannarale 02/03/17 - Ic0disc Precision Vision Inc, 1725 Kilkenny Ct, Woodstock 60098-7437, Edward G Kopidlansky Jr 02/03/17 - JK Enterprises II Inc, 10906 N Main St, Richmond 60071-7729, Kevin Miller 02/03/17 - Johnsonburg Jr Skyhawks Cheerleaders, 2815 Hanging Fen Ct, Johnsburg 60051-5163, Christine Lyn Giovingo 02/24/17 - Zenpol Trans Inc, 5606 Farmbrook Ln, Crystal Lake 60014-3016, Zenon Pajak 02/24/17 - Visie Co, 7790 Vida Ave, Village Of Lakewood 60014-6642, Brian Overheidt 02/24/17 - Randall Legal Solutions PC, 9903 Allendale Rd, Woodstock 60098-8706, Evan Elliot Randall 02/24/17 - Midwest Professional Planners Ltd, 572 Alida Dr, Cary 60013-2002, Terri M Rau 02/24/17 - Limited Edition Lawn Care Inc, 827 Dartmouth Dr, Island Lake 60042-9164, Grant Schmidt 02/24/17 - Guardado Remodel Corp, 3904 Live Oak Rd, Crystal Lake 60012-1767, Claudia S Tuley 02/24/17 - GK Consulting Inc, 4903 N West St, Mchenry 60051-7968, Jon L Herlehy 02/24/17 - Gannon Construction Inc, 11348 Timer Dr, Huntley 60142-6933, Samuel Gannon 03/03/17 - The Tristen Sc[...]



McHenry County Board approves bid for roundabout north of Woodstock

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 19:42:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Board gave the official go-ahead to replace the two-way stop at Charles and Raffel roads with a roundabout, starting a project that spent a year in legislative limbo.

Board members voted, 20-4, to accept the $2.18 million bid from Landmark Contractors Inc., of Huntley, to replace the two-way stop just north of Woodstock. Construction is expected to start soon and wrap up later this year.

Improving the intersection has been on the county’s five-year highway improvement plan since 2009. It is in the top 5 percent of all county intersections under local control when it comes to the severity of accidents, according to county records. More than 60 percent of the accidents at the intersection just north of Woodstock North High School result in injuries, three-fourths of them requiring trips to the hospital.

The intersection gets about 16,000 vehicles a day, according to traffic counts made in 2012, when the project started being prioritized.

McHenry County Division of Transportation Director Joe Korpalski said that drivers who take either road know that the intersection needs to be improved. Both Greenwood Township and the City of Woodstock have spoken in favor of the project.

“The high speed at which cars approach, coupled with the amount of turning vehicles, makes this an ideal spot for a roundabout, which have been shown repeatedly to be safer than traditional four-way intersections and significantly less costly to maintain than those with traffic signals,” Korpalski said in a statement.

A roundabout, a common sight on roads in Europe, is a circular intersection that supporters say is a safer alternative to intersections. Because there is only one-way movement throughout the roundabout – cars travel counterclockwise until they find their turn – they all but eliminate the possibility of head-on and right-angle collisions.

The County Board in April 2016 was poised to approve a $2.6 million bid for a roundabout, but at the last minute sent it back to the Transportation Committee, which had struggled with whether to build a roundabout or stick with a traditional, but more expensive, signal intersection.

County Board Chairman Jack Franks, D-Marengo, called the vote a “two-fold win” in that a dangerous intersection will be made safer at a cost about $50,000 less than last year’s bid.

The only opposing board member who spoke prior to Tuesday’s vote was Craig Wilcox, R-McHenry, who said that he would like in future debates over construction projects to have more of a discussion when multiple design options are in play.

Board members John Hammerand, R-Wonder Lake, Tom Wilbeck, R-Barrington Hills, and Andrew Gasser, R-Fox River Grove, also voted no.

How they voted:

The McHenry County Board voted Tuesday, 20-4, to approve a bid to build a roundabout at the intersection of Charles and Raffel roads north of Woodstock. Board members John Hammerand, R-Wonder Lake, Tom Wilbeck, R-Barrington Hills, Craig Wilcox, R-McHenry, and Andrew Gasser, R-Fox River Grove, voted no.




PHOTOS: Fire Destroys Lakemoor HomeH. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Firefighters arrive at the scene of a house fire in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive, Lakemoor. The home was destroyed.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Flames are fueled by a natural gas line during a fire at a home in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive, in Lakemoor.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Fire fighters pour water onto a home in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive in Lakemoor. The home was destroyed. The McHenry County Housing Authority is providing temporary shelter for the family.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com A fire fighter checks the flow of water during operations to contain a house fire Friday, April 21, 2017 in Lakemoor.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com A firefighter points out a hot spot while battling a fire in a Lakemoor home in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive, The home was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Firefighters work in teams to contain a fire in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive in Lakemoor on Friday, April 21, 2017.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Firefighters work to contain a fire at a Lakemoor home at 300 block of Rosedale Drive. The home was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrivedH. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Firefighters stage while waiting to be called for duty during a house fire in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive, Lakemoor.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com McHenry Township Fire Protection District Deputy Fire Chief Steve Spraker (left) directs a firefighter crew during efforts to douse a house fire in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive, Lakemoor,H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Firefighters work through smoke and mist to contain flames of a house fire on Friday, April 21, 2017 in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive in Lakemoor.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Homeowner Thomas Damiano (left) said he believes the fire may have started in the laundry room. "I woke up from the fire alarms going off, helped tell my family to immediately get out and had to jump off of our balcony to escape," Damiano said. The home at 336 N. Rosedale Drive was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Fire fighters take a break after battling flames at a Lakemoor home Friday morning.

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 18:33:00 GMT

A Lakemoor home was destroyed in a fire Friday morning. No one was injured, but two pet birds have not been found since the fire started. Homeowner Thomas Damiano said he believes the fire may have started in the laundry room. "I woke up from the fire alarms going off, helped tell my family to immediately get out and had to jump off of our balcony to escape," Damiano said.

H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Firefighters arrive at the scene of a house fire in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive, Lakemoor. The home was destroyed.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Flames are fueled by a natural gas line during a fire at a home in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive, in Lakemoor.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Fire fighters pour water onto a home in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive in Lakemoor. The home was destroyed. The McHenry County Housing Authority is providing temporary shelter for the family.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com A fire fighter checks the flow of water during operations to contain a house fire Friday, April 21, 2017 in Lakemoor.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com A firefighter points out a hot spot while battling a fire in a Lakemoor home in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive, The home was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Firefighters work in teams to contain a fire in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive in Lakemoor on Friday, April 21, 2017.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Firefighters work to contain a fire at a Lakemoor home at 300 block of Rosedale Drive. The home was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrivedH. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Firefighters stage while waiting to be called for duty during a house fire in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive, Lakemoor.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com McHenry Township Fire Protection District Deputy Fire Chief Steve Spraker (left) directs a firefighter crew during efforts to douse a house fire in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive, Lakemoor,H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Firefighters work through smoke and mist to contain flames of a house fire on Friday, April 21, 2017 in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive in Lakemoor.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Homeowner Thomas Damiano (left) said he believes the fire may have started in the laundry room. "I woke up from the fire alarms going off, helped tell my family to immediately get out and had to jump off of our balcony to escape," Damiano said. The home at 336 N. Rosedale Drive was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Fire fighters take a break after battling flames at a Lakemoor home Friday morning.


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Justice Dept threatens sanctuary cities in immigration fightAttorney General Jeff Sessions, right, speaks as Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly listens after the pair toured the ports of entry and met with Department of Justice and DHS personnel in El Paso, Texas, Thursday, April 20, 2017. (Ruben R. Ramirez/The El Paso Times via AP)

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 17:26:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration intensified its effort to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities, sending letters Friday to nine jurisdictions threatening to withhold grant money unless they document cooperation.

The letters went to officials in California and in major cities including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans, all places the Justice Department's inspector general has identified as limiting the information local law enforcement can provide to federal immigration authorities about those in their custody.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has increasingly warned the administration will punish communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally.

In a statement Friday, the Justice Department said the recipients of its letters are "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime."

The letters warn officials they must provide proof from an attorney that they are following the law or risk losing thousands of dollars in federal grant money that police agencies use to fund anything from body cameras to bulletproof vests.

"Failure to comply with this condition could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant, ineligibility for future O.J.P. grants or subgrants, or other action, as appropriate," wrote Alan R. Hanson, acting head of the Office of Justice Programs, which administers the grant program. It's the leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions.

Cities have resisted the Trump administration's threats. Seattle, not one of the places targeted with a letter, and other jurisdictions have sued the Trump administration over the sanctuary issue.

Earlier this week, Sessions accused sanctuary cities of undermining law enforcement efforts to fight transnational street gangs.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, speaks as Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly listens after the pair toured the ports of entry and met with Department of Justice and DHS personnel in El Paso, Texas, Thursday, April 20, 2017. (Ruben R. Ramirez/The El Paso Times via AP)


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Mugs in the News for April 2017 in the McHenry County areaRahman Sidhekur, 28, of London, was arrested after he led police on a multi-jurisdictional pursuit through Lake and McHenry County in a vehicle that was reported stolen. He is now facing charges of aggravated fleeing, criminal trespass to a vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle, disorderly conduct, reckless driving, among others. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Jacob A. Fosco, 17, of West Dundee, was arrested April 19 and charged with possession with intent to deliver LSD, possession of LSD, possession with intent to deliver cannabis, possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Jose J. Navarro-Quiroz, 32, Waucaonda faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation into complaints of narcotics sales from employees and patrons of Las Adelitas, 461 W. Liberty St., Wauconda, police said. Undercover officers conducted numerous narcotics purchases in the establishment and in the parking lot, police said.Erick E. Rojas-Tafolla, 27, Round Lake Park, faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation into complaints of narcotics sales from employees and patrons of Las Adelitas, 461 W. Liberty St., Wauconda, police said. Undercover officers conducted numerous narcotics purchases in the establishment and in the parking lot, police said.Alfonso Mora, 33, Wauconda, faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation into complaints of narcotics sales from employees and patrons of Las Adelitas, 461 W. Liberty St., Wauconda, police said. Undercover officers conducted numerous narcotics purchases in the establishment and in the parking lot, police said.Miguel Guzman-Carrera, 28, Round Lake Beach, faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation into complaints of narcotics sales from employees and patrons of Las Adelitas, 461 W. Liberty St., Wauconda, police said. Undercover officers conducted numerous narcotics purchases in the establishment and in the parking lot, police said.Elias Aguilar, 45, Wauconda, faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation into complaints of narcotics sales from employees and patrons of Las Adelitas, 461 W. Liberty St., Wauconda, police said. Undercover officers conducted numerous narcotics purchases in the establishment and in the parking lot, police said.Cesar Mercado, 42, Island Lake, has pending charges, police said.

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 17:22:00 GMT

The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Rahman Sidhekur, 28, of London, was arrested after he led police on a multi-jurisdictional pursuit through Lake and McHenry County in a vehicle that was reported stolen. He is now facing charges of aggravated fleeing, criminal trespass to a vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle, disorderly conduct, reckless driving, among others. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Jacob A. Fosco, 17, of West Dundee, was arrested April 19 and charged with possession with intent to deliver LSD, possession of LSD, possession with intent to deliver cannabis, possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia. The charges against the individuals listed are not a proof of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Jose J. Navarro-Quiroz, 32, Waucaonda faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation into complaints of narcotics sales from employees and patrons of Las Adelitas, 461 W. Liberty St., Wauconda, police said. Undercover officers conducted numerous narcotics purchases in the establishment and in the parking lot, police said.Erick E. Rojas-Tafolla, 27, Round Lake Park, faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation into complaints of narcotics sales from employees and patrons of Las Adelitas, 461 W. Liberty St., Wauconda, police said. Undercover officers conducted numerous narcotics purchases in the establishment and in the parking lot, police said.Alfonso Mora, 33, Wauconda, faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation into complaints of narcotics sales from employees and patrons of Las Adelitas, 461 W. Liberty St., Wauconda, police said. Undercover officers conducted numerous narcotics purchases in the establishment and in the parking lot, police said.Miguel Guzman-Carrera, 28, Round Lake Beach, faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation into complaints of narcotics sales from employees and patrons of Las Adelitas, 461 W. Liberty St., Wauconda, police said. Undercover officers conducted numerous narcotics purchases in the establishment and in the parking lot, police said.Elias Aguilar, 45, Wauconda, faces multiple drug charges, police said. The charges came after a six-month investigation into complaints of narcotics sales from employees and patrons of Las Adelitas, 461 W. Liberty St., Wauconda, police said. Undercover officers conducted numerous narcotics purchases in the establishment and in the parking lot, police said.Cesar Mercado, 42, Island Lake, has pending charges, police said.


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Fire destroys Lakemoor homeFirefighters work through smoke and mist to contain flames of a house fire on Friday, April 21, 2017 in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive in Lakemoor. H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 17:14:00 GMT

LAKEMOOR – Thomas Damiano was asleep Friday when fire alarms went off and his house began filling with smoke. He woke up his family and got out of the home. "[I] had to jump off of our balcony to escape," he said.

While no one was injured, the home was destroyed and two pet birds have not been found. Damiano said he believes the fire may have started in the laundry room. "We just barely got out," he said.

Lakemoor Police Chief David Godlewski said crews were called at about 10:25 a.m. Friday to a fire in the 300 block of North Rosedale Drive, Lakemoor.

The home at 336 Rosedale Drive was engulfed in flames when crews arrived, and firefighters were still putting out some of the flames an hour after arriving at the home. Godlewski said the home as a total loss.

Brian Burkus, owner of Old Town Pizza & Catering Co., said Damiano and his sons have been longtime employees and are like a "second family" to him.

"My other employee Herman gave his shoes to [Damiano's son] Scotty today, and I'm struggling to find a pair of prescription glasses for Scotty, because Scotty lost his glasses in the fire and he can't see. So I'm working to get them some basic necessities right now," Burkus said.

"I'm also asking the community for help for my people," Burkus added. "They are a great, hardworking family."

Firefighters from several departments were called to the scene to assist, including McHenry Township, Antioch and Crystal Lake.

Red Cross and the McHenry County Housing Authority are working to help the family. "We can provide them with shelter vouchers at a hotel for up to eight weeks, then I'll help them with trying to find a new place and we purchased a new bed for everyone in the household," said Sue Rose, community service director with the McHenry County Housing Authority.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation as of Friday afternoon.  

Firefighters work through smoke and mist to contain flames of a house fire on Friday, April 21, 2017 in the 300 block of Rosedale Drive in Lakemoor. H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com


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Luxury home of the day: Check out this custom $799,900 Crystal Lake homeCrystal Lake home listed for sale in Zillow: 3317 Deep Wood Drive. 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 6,337 square feet. Listed price: $799,900. Estimated mortgage: $3,063 per month. This Crystal Lake estate features Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring and custom mill work. The vaulted living room has one of the home’s three fireplaces. The gourmet kitchen has custom cabinets, Wolf and Subzero appliances and granite countertops. The family room has a wood-burning fireplace. Also included: a four-car garage and a full walkout basement with a fireplace. Listing agent: Vince Romano - Re/Max - 847-380-1094Entryway/FoyerVaulted living room with one of three fireplacesGourmet kitchen with Subzero and Wolf appliances with granite countertopsGourmet kitchen with custom cabinets and Wolf stainless steel appliancesSecond kitchen with breakfast barGourmet kitchen with breakfast barButler's pantryDining roomDining room with Brazilian cherry hardwood flooringLiving room with fireplaceOfficeOverhead view of the foyerOne of five bedroomsMaster bedroom with sitting areaMaster bathroom tub and walk-in showerOne of five bedroomsOne of five bedroomsOne of five bedroomsLaundry roomSecond living quartersCrystal Lake home listed for sale in Zillow: 3317 Deep Wood Drive. 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 6,337 square feet. Listed price: $799,900. Estimated mortgage: $3,063 per month. This Crystal Lake estate features Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring and custom mill work. The vaulted living room has one of the home’s three fireplaces. The gourmet kitchen has custom cabinets, Wolf and Subzero appliances and granite countertops. The family room has a wood-burning fireplace. Also included: a four-car garage and a full walkout basement with a fireplace. Listing agent: Vince Romano - Re/Max - 847-380-1094Media room with fireplaceMedia room with fireplaceCrystal Lake home listed for sale in Zillow: 3317 Deep Wood Drive. 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 6,337 square feet. Listed price: $799,900. Estimated mortgage: $3,063 per month. This Crystal Lake estate features Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring and custom mill work. The vaulted living room has one of the home’s three fireplaces. The gourmet kitchen has custom cabinets, Wolf and Subzero appliances and granite countertops. The family room has a wood-burning fireplace. Also included: a four-car garage and a full walkout basement with a fireplace. Listing agent: Vince Romano - Re/Max - 847-380-1094One of six bathroomsCrystal Lake home listed for sale in Zillow: 3317 Deep Wood Drive. 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 6,337 square feet. Listed price: $799,900. Estimated mortgage: $3,063 per month. This Crystal Lake estate features Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring and custom mill work. The vaulted living room has one of the home’s three fireplaces. The gourmet kitchen has custom cabinets, Wolf and Subzero appliances and granite countertops. The family room has a wood-burning fireplace. Also included: a four-car garage and a full walkout basement with a fireplace. Listing agent: Vince Romano - Re/Max - 847-380-1094Patio/BackyardCrystal Lake home listed for sale in Zillow: 3317 Deep Wood Drive. 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 6,337 square feet. Listed price: $799,900. Estimated mortgage: $3,063 per month. This Crystal Lake estate features Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring and custom mill work. The vaulted living room has one of the home’s three fireplaces. The gourmet kitchen has custom cabinets, Wolf and Subzero appliances and granite countertops. The family room has a wood-burning fireplace. Also included: a four-car garage and a full walkout basement with a fireplace. Listing agent: Vince Romano - Re/Max - 847-380-1094

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 14:15:00 GMT

Check out 29 photos of this $799,900 Crystal Lake home, listed for sale on Zillow Crystal Lake home listed for sale in Zillow: 3317 Deep Wood Drive. 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 6,337 square feet. Listed price: $799,900. Estimated mortgage: $3,063 per month. This Crystal Lake estate features Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring and custom mill work. The vaulted living room has one of the home’s three fireplaces. The gourmet kitchen has custom cabinets, Wolf and Subzero appliances and granite countertops. The family room has a wood-burning fireplace. Also included: a four-car garage and a full walkout basement with a fireplace. Listing agent: Vince Romano - Re/Max - 847-380-1094Entryway/FoyerVaulted living room with one of three fireplacesGourmet kitchen with Subzero and Wolf appliances with granite countertopsGourmet kitchen with custom cabinets and Wolf stainless steel appliancesSecond kitchen with breakfast barGourmet kitchen with breakfast barButler's pantryDining roomDining room with Brazilian cherry hardwood flooringLiving room with fireplaceOfficeOverhead view of the foyerOne of five bedroomsMaster bedroom with sitting areaMaster bathroom tub and walk-in showerOne of five bedroomsOne of five bedroomsOne of five bedroomsLaundry roomSecond living quartersCrystal Lake home listed for sale in Zillow: 3317 Deep Wood Drive. 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 6,337 square feet. Listed price: $799,900. Estimated mortgage: $3,063 per month. This Crystal Lake estate features Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring and custom mill work. The vaulted living room has one of the home’s three fireplaces. The gourmet kitchen has custom cabinets, Wolf and Subzero appliances and granite countertops. The family room has a wood-burning fireplace. Also included: a four-car garage and a full walkout basement with a fireplace. Listing agent: Vince Romano - Re/Max - 847-380-1094Media room with fireplaceMedia room with fireplaceCrystal Lake home listed for sale in Zillow: 3317 Deep Wood Drive. 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 6,337 square feet. Listed price: $799,900. Estimated mortgage: $3,063 per month. This Crystal Lake estate features Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring and custom mill work. The vaulted living room has one of the home’s three fireplaces. The gourmet kitchen has custom cabinets, Wolf and Subzero appliances and granite countertops. The family room has a wood-burning fireplace. Also included: a four-car garage and a full walkout basement with a fireplace. Listing agent: Vince Romano - Re/Max - 847-380-1094One of six bathroomsCrystal Lake home listed for sale in Zillow: 3317 Deep Wood Drive. 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 6,337 square feet. Listed price: $799,900. Estimated mortgage: $3,063 per month. This Crystal Lake estate features Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring and custom mill work. The vaulted living room has one of the home’s three fireplaces. The gourmet kitchen has custom cabinets, Wolf and Subzero appliances and granite countertops. The family room has a wood-burning fireplace. Also included: a four-car garage and a full walkout basement with a fireplace. Listing agent: Vince Romano - Re/Max - 847-380-1094Patio/BackyardCrystal Lake home listed for sale in Zillow: 3317 Deep Wood Drive. 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 6,337 square feet. Listed price: $799,900. Estimated mortgage: $3,063 per month. This Crystal L[...]


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Under Trump, states may demand work for MedicaidAP file photo President Donald Trump arrives March 21 with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to rally support for the Republican health care overhaul. Work requirements for Medicaid could lead to major changes in the social safety net under Trump.

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:20:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Work requirements for Medicaid could lead to major changes in the social safety net under President Donald Trump. It sounds like a simple question: Should adults who are able to work be required to do so to get taxpayer provided health insurance? The federal-state Medicaid program for low-income and disabled people covers more than 70 million U.S. residents – about 1 in 5 – including an increasing number of working-age adults. In a break from past federal policy, the Health and Human Services department under Secretary Tom Price already has notified governors it stands ready to approve state waivers for “meritorious” programs that encourage work. Separately, an amendment to the still-stuck House GOP health care bill would allow individual states to require work or training for adults, with exceptions such as pregnant women, or parents of a disabled child. However, a surprising number of working-age adults with Medicaid already are employed. Nearly 60 percent work either full- or part-time, mainly for employers that don’t offer health insurance, says the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Most who are not working report reasons such as illness, caring for a family member, or going to school. Geraldine Stewart, a Medicaid beneficiary from Charlotte, N.C., questioned the effect of a work requirement on older adults. Stewart was incapacitated by painful problems with her feet, now relieved by surgery covered under the program. In her early 60s, she was able to return to part-time work as a home health aide after treatment. “To do work anywhere, I have to have my feet,” Stewart said. “I really hope that they do not force anyone who has a medical condition to work to have to pay for those services. I don’t think it’s been researched properly.” The debate over work requirements for safety net programs isn’t new. With Medicaid, it doesn’t break neatly along liberal-conservative lines. On the political right, some say the idea is flawed because a person who refuses to work will still be able to get free treatment by going to a hospital emergency room. Others say Medicaid was established by law as a health program, and work requirements would compromise that original mission. “It’s a policy that comes out of a misunderstanding of the situation facing low-income families,” Jason Helgerson, head of New York’s Medicaid program, said of work requirements. “People need health care to function in the work force. Threatening that, in my view, does not help in any meaningful way.” In a recent letter to governors, HHS Secretary Price and Seema Verma, the new head of Medicare and Medicaid, suggested that work itself can be good for health. “The best way to improve the long-term health of low-income Americans is to empower them with skills and employment,” they wrote. Liberals are relishing the contrast if Trump pursues tax cuts for the wealthy while putting the poor to work. “The Republican focus is backwards,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New Y[...]


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IS group claims responsibility for Paris police attack on Champs-ElyseesA police officer stands guard after a fatal shooting in which a police officer was killed along with an attacker on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France, Thursday, April 20, 2017. French media are reporting that two police officers were shot Thursday on the famed shopping boulevard. Many police vehicles can be seen on the avenue that passes many of the city's most iconic landmarks. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:19:00 GMT

PARIS – A gunman opened fire on police on Paris' iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard Thursday night, killing one officer and wounding three people before police shot and killed him. The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, which hit just three days before a tense presidential election. Security already has been a dominant theme in the campaign, and the violence on the sparkling avenue threatened to weigh on voters' decisions. Candidates canceled or rescheduled final campaign events ahead of Sunday's first round vote. Investigators searched a home early Friday in an eastern suburb of Paris believed linked to the attack. A police document obtained by The Associated Press identifies the address searched in the town of Chelles as the family home of Karim Cheurfi, a 39-year-old with a criminal record. Police tape surrounded the quiet, middle-class neighborhood in Chelles, and worried neighbors expressed surprise at the searches. Archive reports by French newspaper Le Parisien say that Cheurfi was convicted of attacking a police officer in 2001. Authorities are trying to determine whether "one or more people" might have helped the attacker, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told reporters at the scene of the shooting. One officer was killed and two police officers were seriously wounded when the attacker emerged from a car and used an automatic weapon to shoot at officers outside a Marks & Spencer's department store at the center of the Champs-Elysees, anti-terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins said. A female foreign tourist also was wounded, Molins said. The Islamic State group's claim of responsibility just a few hours after the attack came unusually swiftly for the extremist group, which has been losing territory in Iraq and Syria. In a statement from its Amaq news agency, the group gave a pseudonym for the shooter, Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki, indicating he was Belgian or had lived in Belgium. Belgian authorities said they had no information about the suspect. IS described the shootings as an attack "in the heart of Paris." The attacker had been flagged as an extremist, according to two police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss the investigation. Brandet said officers were "deliberately" targeted, as has happened repeatedly to French security forces in recent years, including in the run-up to the 2012 election. Police and soldiers sealed off the area, ordering tourists back into hotels and blocking people from approaching the scene. Emergency vehicles blocked the wide Champs-Elysees, an avenue lined with boutiques and normally packed with cars and tourists that cuts across central Paris between the Arc de Triomphe and the Tuileries Gardens. Subway stations were closed off. The gunfire sent scores of tourists fleeing into side streets. "They were running, running," said 55-year-old Badi Ftaïti, who lives i[...]


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Trump hails Italy for role in Libya, Iraq, AfghanistanPresident Donald Trump greets Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni as he arrives at the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:19:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Thursday hailed Italy's contributions to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and its efforts seeking stability in Libya, but dismissed the possibility of U.S. intervention in that country, saying the U.S. has "enough roles." After a White House meeting with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Trump stuck to his demand that European allies meet their financial obligations in their partnerships with the U.S., including NATO. He urged Italy to address the refugee crisis through a policy that "seeks the eventual return of refugees to their home countries so they can help to rebuild their own nations." Gentiloni, who took office in December, stressed the need for burden-sharing in the refugee crisis, given Italy's proximity to Libya, where large numbers of migrants take the risky voyage across the Mediterranean to reach Europe. Trump was quick to dismiss the notion that the U.S. would get involved in Libya, telling a joint news conference, "I do not see a role in Libya." "We have enough roles. We have a role everywhere," Trump said. Gentiloni noted Italy and America's "common commitment against terrorism." He said it requires social and economic collaboration with Muslim communities to be effective. He said that despite budgetary limitations, Italy was committed to increase its defense spending from 1 percent of gross domestic product to 2 percent – the threshold that Trump has called for all NATO members to adhere to. Trump has complained that the United States contributes more to the military alliance than it receives. "We are used to respecting our commitments," Gentiloni said. Trump plans to attend a NATO meeting in Belgium next month before attending a summit of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations. Italy will host the summit, and Gentiloni can shape the agenda on behalf of European leaders wary of Trump's position on some long-standing agreements. Trump has already pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact with 11 Asian and Pacific nations he said was "a disaster." This week he said he would make "some very big changes" to the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico or "we are going to get rid of NAFTA for once and for all." Gentiloni has been strongly critical of protectionist trade policies shielding a country's domestic industries from foreign competition by taxing imports. Italy has suffered sluggish economic growth and was a staunch backer of a proposed U.S.-European free trade agreement negotiated by the Obama administration. Trump favors bilateral trade deals and has used trade as a tool for pressuring countries to do more on national security matters. That was evident most recently with his public statements promising China a "better" trade arrangement if Beijing cracks down on North Korea. Thursday's U.S.-Italy meeting took place against a backdrop of high uncertainty in Europe, following Britain's decision to leave [...]


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George HW Bush still in hospital; George W Bush visits

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:19:00 GMT

HOUSTON – Former President George H.W. Bush got a hospital visit from another former president – his son.

A photograph was posted on Bush's Twitter account Thursday, showing him with former President George W. Bush. Both were smiling as the elder Bush spent another day at a Houston hospital where he's under observation after recovering from a mild case of pneumonia.

Family spokesman Jim McGrath reported no changes Thursday for the 92-year-old Bush. On Wednesday, Bush was said to be gaining strength and in good spirits.

He was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital last Friday for treatment of a persistent cough. Doctors determined he had pneumonia, and they said the illness was treated and has been resolved.

Bush served as president from 1989 to 1993. His son served from 2001 to 2009.




White House pushes uncertain bid to revive health care billPresident Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:19:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Eager for a victory, the White House expressed confidence Thursday that a breakthrough on the mired Republican health care bill could be achieved in the House next week. The chamber's GOP leaders, burned by a March debacle on the measure, were dubious and signs were scant that an emerging plan was gaining enough votes to succeed. During a White House news conference, Trump said progress was being made on a "great plan" for overhauling the nation's health care system, though he provided no details. "We have a good chance of getting it soon," Trump said. "I'd like to say next week." The White House optimism is driven largely by a deal brokered by leaders of the conservative Freedom Caucus and the moderate Tuesday Group aimed at giving states more flexibility to pull out of "Obamacare" provisions. A senior White House official acknowledged that it was unclear how many votes Republicans had, but said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has told the White House that a vote could come together quickly. Yet GOP lawmakers and aides to party leaders, conservatives and moderates alike were skeptical that the House would vote next week on the health legislation. They cited the higher priority of passing a spending bill within days to avert a government shutdown, uncertainty over details of the developing health agreement and a need to sell it to lawmakers. Trump said he planned to get "both" a health care deal and a spending bill. Many Republicans also expressed doubts that the health care compromise would win over enough lawmakers to put the bill over the top, especially among moderates. The bill would repeal President Barack Obama's health care law and replace it with less generous subsidies and eased insurance requirements. "Every time they move the scrimmage line, you risk losing other people who were 'yes' but this changes them to a 'no,'" Rep. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y., said Thursday of attempts to win over one end of the GOP spectrum without losing votes from the other side. The Staten Island centrist said he remained a no vote, partly because the legislation would increase Medicaid costs for New York City's five boroughs. The White House official and most lawmakers and GOP congressional aides who spoke were not authorized to discuss the internal process publicly and insisted on anonymity. An outline of a deal has been crafted by Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who heads the hard-line Freedom Caucus, and New Jersey Rep. Tom MacArthur, a Tuesday Group leader. Vice President Mike Pence also played a role in shaping that plan, Republicans say. It would deliver a win to moderates by amending the GOP bill to restore Obama's requirement that insurers cover specified services like maternity care. But in a bid for conservative support, states would be allowed to obtain federal waivers to abandon that obligation. In addition, states could obtain waivers to an Obama prohibition against insurers chargin[...]


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General Motors quits Venezuela after government seizes its factoryAdan Tortolero, a member of General Motors' workers union, addresses employees Thursday at the company's plant in Valencia, Venezuela. General Motors announced that it was shuttering operations in the country after authorities seized the factory on Wednesday.A man shouts anti-government slogans during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, April 20, 2017. Venezuela's opposition looks to keep up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro, taking to the streets again one day after three people were killed and hundreds arrested in the biggest anti-government demonstrations in years. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:18:00 GMT

VALENCIA, Venezuela – General Motors announced Thursday that it was shuttering its operations in Venezuela after authorities seized its factory in the country, a move that could draw the Trump administration into the escalating chaos engulfing the South American nation amid days of deadly protests. The plant in the industrial city of Valencia was confiscated Wednesday as anti-government protesters clashed with security forces and pro-government groups in a country battered by economic troubles, including food shortages and triple-digit inflation. Three people were killed and hundreds arrested in the deadliest day of protests since the unrest began three weeks ago. The seizure arose from an almost 20-year-old lawsuit brought by a former GM dealership in western Venezuela. The dealership had been seeking damages from GM of 476 million bolivars – about $665 million at the official exchange rate, or $115 million on the black market where many Venezuelans are forced to turn to sell their increasingly worthless currency. GM said it was notified this week that a low-level court ordered the seizure of its plant, bank accounts and other assets in the country. Hundreds of workers desperate for information about their jobs gathered at the plant Thursday to meet with government and military officials, as well as representatives of the dealership that brought the lawsuit. The neglected factory hasn’t produced a car since 2015 but GM still has 79 dealers that employ 3,900 people in Venezuela, where for decades it was the market leader. General Motors’ announcement came as Venezuela’s opposition moved to keep up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro, taking to the streets again Thursday a day after the biggest anti-government demonstrations in years. It’s not the first time the Venezuelan government has seized a foreign corporation’s facilities. Last July, the government said it would take over a factory belonging to Kimberly-Clark Corp. after the American personal care giant said it was halting manufacturing because materials weren’t available in Venezuela. But the move against GM, the U.S.’s biggest automaker, was a much more powerful statement, and could lead to a further erosion of relations between the two countries. “This is a test case for Trump,” said Raul Gallegos, a Bogota-based analyst at Control Risks consultancy. “His response to a rogue nation taking over the assets of a brand name U.S. company will be indicative of the road it wants to take with Venezuela.” The State Department said Thursday it was reviewing details of the GM case but called on authorities to act swiftly and transparently to resolve the dispute. “A fair, predictable and transparent judicial system is critical to implementing the essential economic reforms critical to restoring growth and addressing the needs of the Venezuelan people,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. Later Thursday, Maduro sai[...]


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Arkansas carries out first execution since 2005AP photo Anti-death penalty supporter Randy Gardner (right) embraces Abraham Bonowitz after they read about the decision to halt an execution in their taped off "protest corral" outside the Varner Unit late Monday near Varner, Ark.

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:18:00 GMT

VARNER, Ark. – Arkansas has executed an inmate for the first time in nearly a dozen years as part of its plan to execute several inmates before a drug expires April 30, despite court rulings that already have spared three men. Ledell Lee’s execution was the first in the state since 2005. He was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. Thursday, four minutes before his death warrant was due to expire. Lee, 51, was put on death row for the 1993 death of his neighbor Debra Reese, whom Lee struck 36 times with a tire tool her husband had given her for protection. Lee was arrested less than an hour after the killing after spending some of the $300 he had stolen from Reese. The state originally set four double executions over an 11-day period in April. The eight executions would have been the most by a state in such a compressed period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The state said the executions needed to be carried out before its supply of one lethal injection drug expires April 30. The first three executions were canceled because of court decisions. Two more inmates are set to die Monday, and one on April 27. Another inmate scheduled for execution next week has received a stay. The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for Lee’s execution less than an hour before his death warrant was set to expire at midnight, rejecting a round of last-minute appeals the condemned inmate’s attorneys had filed. An earlier ruling from the state Supreme Court allowing officials to use a lethal injection drug that a supplier said was obtained by misleading the company that cleared the way for Lee’s execution. Arkansas dropped plans to execute a second inmate, Stacey Johnson, on the same day after the state Supreme Court said it wouldn’t reconsider his stay, which was issued so Johnson could seek more DNA tests in hopes of proving his innocence. Justices on Thursday reversed an order by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray that halted the use of vecuronium bromide, one of three drugs used in the state’s lethal injection process, in any execution. McKesson Corp. said the state obtained the drug under false pretenses and that it wants nothing to do with executions. McKesson said it was disappointed in the court’s ruling. “We believe we have done all we can do at this time to recover our product,” the company said in a statement. Justices also denied an attempt by makers of midazolam and potassium chloride – the two other drugs in Arkansas’ execution plan – to intervene in McKesson’s fight over the vecuronium bromide. The pharmaceutical companies said there is a public health risk if their drugs are diverted for use in executions, and that the state’s possession of the drugs violates rules within their distribution networks. The legal delays in the executions frustrated Republican Gov. Asa H[...]


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Illinois lawmakers ponder proposal to legalize marijuanaFILE - This April 15, 2017 file photo shows marijuana plants for sale at the ShowGrow dispensary a medical marijuana provider in downtown Los Angeles. This year is poised to be a big one for legalized marijuana, with California and other states that recently approved recreational pot coming online. Yet uncertainty over the Trump administration's intents toward pot enforcement has created at least partial paralysis in those states on public consumption, licensing and other issues. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel,File)

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:12:00 GMT

CHICAGO – The head of Colorado’s Department of Revenue has spoken to Illinois legislators considering a proposal to legalize marijuana in the state.

The department’s executive director, Barbara Brohl, told lawmakers during a hearing Wednesday that she believes the legal market for marijuana is eating into the black market, funding drug abuse treatment and prevention, and providing a safer product, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Proposed legislation in Illinois would allow possession of up to an ounce of pot by people who are at least 21 years old. Smoking in public would be prohibited, and driving under the influence would remain illegal.

Sponsors of the plan said the measure won’t get a vote this legislative season, but they’re beginning a series of hearings on how to craft a potential law.

“Prohibition doesn’t work,” said Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat.

Steans said taxing and regulating pot would create jobs and generate an estimated $350 million to $700 million a year in tax revenues for debt-ridden Illinois.

Brohl said that in Colorado, the roughly $200 million in tax revenue from more than $1 billion in sales last year also provides $40 million for schools.

FILE - This April 15, 2017 file photo shows marijuana plants for sale at the ShowGrow dispensary a medical marijuana provider in downtown Los Angeles. This year is poised to be a big one for legalized marijuana, with California and other states that recently approved recreational pot coming online. Yet uncertainty over the Trump administration's intents toward pot enforcement has created at least partial paralysis in those states on public consumption, licensing and other issues. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel,File)


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Former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock asks court to toss corruption caseAP file photo Former Illinois U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock talks to reporters Nov. 10 in Peoria Heights. Schock, who resigned in 2015, has asked a judge to toss the corruption case against him, arguing that authorities misinterpreted the law and overreached. Lawyers for the Illinois Republican filed the motion to dismiss the case Thursday. Schock has pleaded not guilty to mail fraud, theft of government funds and other crimes.

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:11:00 GMT

CHICAGO – Former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock asked a federal judge Thursday to throw out his corruption case, arguing that the charges are grounded on ambiguous House spending rules and that his prosecution undermines longstanding protections for members of Congress. The 2016 indictment accuses the once-rising GOP star of illegally seeking reimbursement in government funds for lavish spending, including $5,000 on a chandelier for his Washington office, which he was redecorating in the style of the “Downton Abbey” TV series. Schock’s new filing points to a host of House rules that it says are imprecise, including ones barring reimbursement for the purchase of “furniture.” The rules don’t define the word and, it says, it’s “entirely unclear whether [a chandelier] would be considered furniture.” In a filing earlier this week, prosecutors denied allegations Schock’s attorneys made in March that investigators crossed legal lines by recruiting a confidential informant from Schock’s staff. Thursday’s filing doesn’t directly address that issue. Schock, who resigned in 2015 as scrutiny of his spending intensified, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include wire fraud, theft of government funds and falsification of election commission filings. His trial is set to begin July 10. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield, Sharon Paul, declined to comment on Schock’s new filing. In it, Schock’s attorneys said the House often intends for spending rules to be vague in order to give legislators latitude in how to spend. “Because Congress, and Congress alone, possesses the constitutional power to create and enforce House rules, a criminal prosecution cannot be premised on ... interpretation of ambiguous House rules,” it says. Doing so strikes at a foundation of the American system of government, the separation of powers, the attorneys wrote. “The wide-ranging Indictment against Mr. Schock repeatedly trespasses on land the Constitution reserves for Congress,” they wrote, adding that the rules are “so ambiguous as to invite” arbitrary enforcement by the country’s U.S. attorneys. Schock first garnered national attention after appearing on the cover of Men’s Health showing off his six-pack abs. He also successfully marketed himself during six years in Congress as an unwavering fiscal conservative. If convicted of wire fraud, Schock could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. AP file photo Former Illinois U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock talks to reporters Nov. 10 in Peoria Heights. Schock, who resigned in 2015, has asked a judge to toss the corruption case against him, arguing that authorities misinterpreted the law and overreached. Lawyers for the Illinois Republican filed the motion to dismi[...]


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Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce to host Community Clean Up Day

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 05:47:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Saturday is Earth Day, and the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce is hosting its annual Community Clean Up event at McCormick Park, 427 W. Virginia St., Crystal Lake.

A shredding truck as well as electronic and shoe recycling will be available on-site.

The Crystal Lake Police Department also will provide prescription drug take-back services. Donations to Home of the Sparrow will be accepted.

Games, activities and free breakfast and lunch will be provided for all volunteers.

Used or torn American flags will be collected and retired in accordance with the Flag Code.

Off-site Saturday, you can recycle used motor oil and tires at Douglas Automotive, 123 E. Virginia Road in Crystal Lake.

The cleanup event goes from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For information, visit clchamber.com/community-clean-up1.html.




Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission gives nod to proposed tattoo parlorTaylor Kuhlman of Crystal Lake is asking the city's Planning and Zoning Commission for a special use permit to open Monster Ink Tattoo & Piercing studio at 1520 Carlemont Drive, Unit D, in the Randall North Business Center, according to city documents. If approved, the parlor would be located in a 1,200-square-foot space between Buffalo Wings & Rings and Randall North Dental Care. Some neighboring businesses are concerned about the proposal.Taylor Kuhlman of Crystal Lake is asking the city's Planning and Zoning Commission for a special use permit to open Monster Ink Tattoo & Piercing studio at 1520 Carlemont Drive, Unit D, in the Randall North Business Center, according to city documents. If approved, the parlor would be located in a 1,200-square-foot space between Buffalo Wings & Rings and Randall North Dental Care.

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 05:45:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The City Council will consider plans for a tattoo parlor on Carlemont Drive in May after the project got the green light this week from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

The commission voted, 6-0, Wednesday to recommend approval of a special use permit for Monster Ink Tattoo & Piercing studio at 1520 Carlemont Drive, Unit D, in the Randall North Business Center.

Taylor Kuhlman of Crystal Lake requested the special use permit, which is required for tattoo parlors, to open a business with five tattoo stations and a body piercing area in a 1,200-square-foot space between Buffalo Wings & Rings and Randall North Dental Care. Some neighboring businesses had raised concerns about the plans. Supporters and opponents of the project spoke at Wednesday’s meeting, City Planner Katie Cowlin said.

Cowlin said the commission’s recommendation will go to the Crystal Lake City Council, which is set to consider the special use permit at its May 2 meeting.

Taylor Kuhlman of Crystal Lake is asking the city's Planning and Zoning Commission for a special use permit to open Monster Ink Tattoo & Piercing studio at 1520 Carlemont Drive, Unit D, in the Randall North Business Center, according to city documents. If approved, the parlor would be located in a 1,200-square-foot space between Buffalo Wings & Rings and Randall North Dental Care. Some neighboring businesses are concerned about the proposal.Taylor Kuhlman of Crystal Lake is asking the city's Planning and Zoning Commission for a special use permit to open Monster Ink Tattoo & Piercing studio at 1520 Carlemont Drive, Unit D, in the Randall North Business Center, according to city documents. If approved, the parlor would be located in a 1,200-square-foot space between Buffalo Wings & Rings and Randall North Dental Care.


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West Dundee teen arrested for possessing, selling LSD and marijuanaJacob A. Fosco, 18, of West Dundee, was arrested April 19 and charged with possession with intent to deliver LSD, possession of LSD, possession with intent to deliver cannabis, possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 05:44:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A West Dundee teen accused of selling LSD and marijuana faces a series of drug charges.

Jacob A. Fosco, 18, was charged Wednesday with possession with intent to deliver LSD, a Class X felony; unlawful possession of LSD, a Class 1 felony; possession with intent to deliver cannabis, a Class 4 felony; and unlawful possession of cannabis as well as unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, Class A misdemeanors.

If convicted of a Class X felony, he could face six to 30 years in prison.

Members of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office seized 19 tabs of LSD, 17 grams of marijuana, a digital scale and plastic baggies from Fosco, according to court documents. The street value of the drugs is estimated at $450, deputies said.

Fosco previously was arrested in September and charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Police said he had eight 1-milligram clonazepam tablets. Clonazepam is used to treat anxiety, seizures and panic disorder.

He will appear in court on the new charges Tuesday before McHenry County Judge Michael Feetterer.

Jacob A. Fosco, 18, of West Dundee, was arrested April 19 and charged with possession with intent to deliver LSD, possession of LSD, possession with intent to deliver cannabis, possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia.


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Letter from Lake in the Hills village employees sheds light on Gerald Sagona's resignation

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 05:44:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – The Village Board put its longtime top administrator on leave last summer to appease Lake in the Hills managers who were fed up with Gerald Sagona’s “abhorrent, undignified, embarrassing and degrading” conduct, according to a letter obtained by the Northwest Herald. The letter, signed by management staff, tells a story that contrasts with statements made by Sagona and Lake in the Hills Village President Paul Mulcahy at the time of the resignation. Sagona, who had served as village administrator for two decades, told the Northwest Herald in August that he was resigning for personal reasons and wanted to focus on his family. Mulcahy praised his leadership and his contributions to the village. Mulcahy wrote a glowing letter of recommendation for Sagona. Only after the newspaper filed an earlier Freedom of Information Act request in August did it become clear that Sagona had been put on leave before he resigned. In the letter sent to Mulcahy and all of the elected board members the day before Sagona was put on leave, management employees said Sagona’s management practices were “ineffective and inappropriate.” Village leaders fought to keep the letter private. They provided the letter to the Northwest Herald nearly two months after the Illinois Attorney General’s Office said village officials had “improperly withheld a copy of a letter concerning a public official.” The names and titles of the people who signed the letter were redacted. The village initially had denied the newspaper’s Freedom of Information Act request for the letter. The Northwest Herald challenged that decision with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. The Attorney General’s Office sided with the newspaper. Sagona was placed on administrative leave July 26, according to a letter sent to him from Mulcahy. Sagona resigned shortly after that. On July 25, an unknown number of people who identified themselves as “management staff” asked Mulcahy to address problems with Sagona’s management. In the letter, employees described the workplace culture under Sagona as one of “fear, intimidation and hostility.” They said the only way forward was for Sagona to be removed. “We can no longer ignore the risk of harm his unwanted conduct and unpredictable behavior has upon our mental and physical health; each of us reports experiencing undue stress and anxiety working under his direction,” the letter states. “We personally find his conduct abhorrent, undignified, embarrassing and degrading.” The letter notes that two times, in 2013 and 2015, attempts to fix problems with Sagona were “unsuccessful.” Sagona was responsible for a high turnover in the village’s staff, and the village had difficulty in replacing management positions because of the rep[...]



Andrew Gasser resigns from McHenry County Board to focus on highway commissioner jobH. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com McHenry County Board members John Reinert (left) and Andrew Gasser have a discussion during the Feb. 16 meeting of the Committee of the Whole in Woodstock. Newly elected Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Gasser has resigned from the County Board, saying he needs to focus his attention on the new office. Gasser could hold both offices under state law, but he opposes the idea of double-dipping.

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 05:44:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner-elect Andrew Gasser resigned from his seat on the McHenry County Board to give full attention to his new office. Gasser, R-Fox River Grove, told his fellow County Board members at the end of Tuesday’s meeting that it would be his last. His resignation comes almost two months after he upset incumbent Highway Commissioner Bob Miller in the Feb. 28 Republican primary – Gasser ran unopposed in the April 4 election. “It’s always been an honor and a privilege to serve on this McHenry County Board. I have never taken anything for granted. Every day has brought many interesting challenges, and I have grown so much personally, and it’s because of all the people I’ve served on this board with,” Gasser told his fellow members and county staff. Although state law allows a county board member to simultaneously hold a highway commissioner office, Gasser said he would not have time to fully devote to both. He also said he did not want to double-dip government salaries. Although he only served on the County Board for two years, Gasser made a name for himself in county Republican politics after returning to his native Fox River Grove in 2012 after a 20-year military career. Gasser, a Tea Party candidate, was part of a slate that successfully took over leadership of the county Republican Party in 2014 and worked to better mobilize and encourage precinct committeemen. He won the vice presidency of the party, and voters that November elected him to represent County Board District 1, which covers parts of Algonquin and Grafton townships in the county’s heavily populated southeast corner. Gasser became a vocal proponent of tax relief and became well-known on the board floor and in interviews for reciting McHenry County’s ranking by a Washington, D.C., think tank as having the 29th highest property tax burden in the nation. He recited that number one last time during his farewell speech, eliciting laughs from fellow members. He was just as vociferous of an opponent of board members having Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund pensions – he turned down both the pension and the health insurance benefits that came with the seat at the time. Gasser raised eyebrows among his fellow Republicans for supporting their abolition in the wake of a state investigation into board members’ eligibility requested by former state representative, and now McHenry County Board chairman, Jack Franks, D-Marengo. In 2016, he turned his focus on Algonquin Township, specifically Miller, whose family had held the highway commissioner post for half a century. He was elected president of the township GOP and subsequently spearheaded the party adopting a position against nepotism. Miller had[...]


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With spring comes tornado season in McHenry CountyH. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com McHenry County Emergency Management Agency Chief Deputy Bob Ellsworth (left) and Director David Christensen prepare to inspect the mobile command trailer stored near emergency generators in Woodstock.Shaw Media file photo A house is left uninhabitable two days after a tornado tore its path through Fairdale on April 11, 2015.Shaw Media file photo A path of destruction from a wedge tornado left a path of wreckage April 10, 2015, through Fairdale in DeKalb County. Seventeen houses were leveled off the foundations, 11 people were taken to the hospital, and two women were confirmed dead after the tornado hit Fairdale about 7:15 p.m.Shaw Media file photo Police talk to a resident in Fairdale two days after a tornado tore its path through the town on April 11, 2015.

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 05:43:00 GMT

A picture that McHenry County Emergency Management Agency Director David Christensen snapped five years ago of a tornado-damaged downstate home speaks for itself about why people should heed severe weather watches and warnings. A bare blue room exposed to the outside after a powerful EF4 tornado ripped through the small town of Harrisburg had been occupied by a toddler. The toddler’s parents were alerted of the incoming tornado shortly before 5 a.m. by their all-hazards weather radio, and the family made it to the safety of an interior stairwell before the twister hit the house. The only casualty from the toddler’s room was the furniture. Others in town weren’t so lucky – the 2012 storm, part of a two-day tornado outbreak at the end of February, killed eight people in the small town. “[The picture] to me says everything as to why we should follow alerts and have a communications plan,” Christensen said. More than half a century has passed since a tornado took a life in McHenry County, when the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado cut a swath from Crystal Lake to Island Lake, killing six. Newspaper stories since have an abundance of instances in which the county lucked out, most recently with the extremely destructive tornado that smashed unincorporated Fairdale two years ago – it was headed for Marengo, but petered out when it reached the county’s border. Such a disaster may happen again in McHenry County, and with the return of warm weather, experts are making their annual warnings for families to be ready. And even though McHenry County has gone a half century without a deadly tornado, thunderstorms, damaging winds, flooding and other hazards are commonplace. Although tornado season in northeastern Illinois typically runs from mid-March to June, tornadoes can strike any time of year. A freak tornado in January 2008 injured five in Boone and McHenry counties and derailed a train carrying a toxic chemical, forcing the evacuation of more than 100 homes near Harvard. A tornado touched down Feb. 28 in Naplate and Ottawa in LaSalle County, killing two. Fortunately, being aware of severe weather hazards is easier and more convenient than ever. Smartphone owners have a wide variety of ways to get weather alerts either based on where they live or based on their particular GPS location. Christensen and other experts also urge every home to have a weather radio that sounds an alarm when the National Weather Service issues a watch or warning for the area. Also, people should check the weather at least once a day in case forecasters warn that severe weather could be a problem later in the day. [...]


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Cary postpones decision on liquor, video gaming licenses for Bella's Bistro MarketImage provided This rendering shows an example layout of what Bella's Bistro Market in Cary could look like. At Tuesday's Village Board meeting, trustees decided to postpone voting on the proposal.

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 22:55:00 GMT

CARY – The Cary Village Board decided to postpone voting on whether to approve a liquor license and video gaming license for Bella’s Bistro Market.

RSB Wine Bar Inc., represented by Robert Friedman, is proposing to bring its wine bistro concept to the former Sports Clips space, 632 Route 14, according to village documents. 

At a Village Board meeting Tuesday, Friedman compared the concept to a Cooper’s Hawk or Eataly; however, some trustees are opposed to the business because they said it relies too heavily on video gaming.

“The look of this is going to be just sensational,” Friedman said. “… We’re bringing something else to the market that's not here.”

Owners intend to sell small plate menu items paired with Italian wines and provide off-premises sales of food and wine through the market portion of the store, documents show. Fresh cuts meats, cheeses, olives and olive oils would be among the items offered, Friedman said. 

About half of its sales are expected to come from the market, while half would come from food and beverages consumed on-site, according to the business plan. Friedman said the plans are contingent on receiving a gaming license.

Preliminary plans for the store’s layout include tables and chairs, a deli counter and bar area, a space with shelves for the market and a separate area for video gaming. 

“To me, this is nothing that I think belongs in the shopping center, nothing that belongs in the village of Cary," Trustee Rick Dudek said.

Cary’s policy previously has been to support video gaming as an accessory to a restaurant, and licenses granted have been consistent with that policy, according to village documents. 

Trustee Ellen McAlpine said she was concerned that Bella’s Bistro Market primarily would be a video gaming venue.

“It’s really the opposite,” Friedman said.

Trustee Kim Covelli said she didn’t mind the concept and would like to hear more from the business owners. Mayor Mark Kownick also suggested that he and trustees visit the owners' other location in Summit.

Trustees ultimately decided to review the concept at a future board meeting. 

Image provided This rendering shows an example layout of what Bella's Bistro Market in Cary could look like. At Tuesday's Village Board meeting, trustees decided to postpone voting on the proposal.


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Demolition of old Sears building begins to make way for Mariano's in Crystal LakeH. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com A crew from Albrecht Enterprises begins demolition of the former Sears store at 105 Route 14 in Crystal Lake. The new multimillion-dollar Mariano’s grocery store – slated to open early next year – could reinvigorate the area, generate between $35 million and $40 million in sales annually and bring hundreds of jobs to Crystal Lake, officials said.

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 22:52:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Workers on Thursday began tearing down the Sears store on Route 14 to make room for a Mariano's grocery store.

City leaders announced in January that the Chicago-based specialty grocery store would be opening a 74,800-square-foot facility at the Sears location at 105 Route 14. Mariano's and the city had been in talks for about two years.

Mariano's expects to open early next year, and city staff estimate the store could create hundreds of jobs and bring in between $35 million and $40 million in annual sales.

The Sears store officially closed last month.

H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com A crew from Albrecht Enterprises begins demolition of the former Sears store at 105 Route 14 in Crystal Lake. The new multimillion-dollar Mariano’s grocery store – slated to open early next year – could reinvigorate the area, generate between $35 million and $40 million in sales annually and bring hundreds of jobs to Crystal Lake, officials said.


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Woodstock City Council approves 2017-18 budget, 3 percent water rate hikeWoodstock resident Jenn Feeley, who lives on the Square, said at a City Council meeting Tuesday that she thinks improvements to the Old Courthouse are important because the space adds value to the community.

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 16:40:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Residents can expect to see a rise in water and sewer rates beginning May 1 after Woodstock City Council members adopted a 2017-18 budget that includes a 3 percent increase.

Council members Tuesday voted to adopt the budget, with outgoing member R.B. Thompson the only member opposing the item. The revenue from the water and sewer increase will go toward the Water and Sewer Utility fund, which is needed to pay for capital projects to maintain water services, according to city documents.

The average Woodstock resident will see his or her bill go up from about $123 to $127, officials said.

Overall, the city’s budget is balanced with projected revenues of $32.6 million, an increase of 1 percent compared with last year.

Expenditures are projected to come in at $32 million, a decrease of 1.2 percent from last year, according to city documents.

The amount of money to be spent on the Old Courthouse was a heated topic of conversation among council and community members Tuesday. Thompson said he wanted to see more of a focus on developing the Square and spend less on fixing the courthouse.

“We should be, as a council, focusing on making our downtown even more attractive for potential businesses and for people,” he said. “Every year we put it off and put it off, but we continue to put a lot of money into an area that’s not increasing tax value.”

Woodstock resident Jenn Feeley, who lives on the Square, said that she thinks improvements to the Old Courthouse are important because the space adds value to the community – and would add even more value once recommendations from the Artspace study are underway.

“We can’t just have industry,” she said. “In order for people to move here, we have to have things for them to do and places for them to go, and the courthouse provides a perfect opportunity. I support the money for the [tax increment district] going toward that.”

Woodstock resident Jenn Feeley, who lives on the Square, said at a City Council meeting Tuesday that she thinks improvements to the Old Courthouse are important because the space adds value to the community.


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Police reports shed light on Lake in the Hills murder-suicidePhoto provided Framed photographs of Ariana and Ezequiel Garcia are displayed in their Lake in the Hills home on the January day they were found strangled in an apparent murder-suicide.Carla M. Lopez-Mejia, 27 of Lake in the Hills was identified by the McHenry County Coroner as one of three people found dead in a Lake in the Hills home Tuesday afternoon.

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 16:16:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Although Lake in the Hills police said they will not speculate on any motive for why Carla M. Lopez-Mejia strangled her two children and hanged herself, police reports shed more light on the murder-suicide. “The ultimate issue here is it’s just a tragedy for all those involved, family and community alike,” Lake in the Hills police officer Amanda Schmitt said Wednesday.  On Jan. 10, Lake in the Hills police and Huntley Fire Protection District personnel were called to a home in the 2300 block of Daybreak Drive. Lopez-Mejia, 27, was found hanged on the first floor, and her two children – 11-year-old Ezequiel Garcia and 8-year-old Ariana Garcia – were found upstairs, strangled, according to reports from police and the McHenry County Coroner’s Office.  “I can’t stop the pain. I can’t leave my kids behind to suffer,” read a letter that police said Lopez-Mejia left in a spiral notebook on a kitchen table at the crime scene.  Police reports, which were received by the Northwest Herald through a Freedom of Information Act request with some information redacted, show that the days leading up to the murder-suicide were mixed with normalcy and signs that revealed Lopez-Mejia had contemplated suicide.  The day before Ezequiel and Ariana died, Lopez-Mejia took them to Kids First Pediatric Dentistry in Elgin, according to police reports. The dentist told police the kids “seemed happy” and Lopez-Mejia “seemed fine.” That same day, Lopez-Mejia went to the home of a man she had met on a dating website and begged him for his gun, according to police reports. The man told police that Lopez-Mejia had tried to manipulate him to feel sympathy or empathy with suggestions that she was pregnant. The man told police this could have been prevented, and he should have been more sensitive.  “There is no information to suggest [Lopez-Mejia] was pregnant at the time of the murder-suicide, and there is no information to suggest there was any recent pregnancy,” Schmitt said to the Northwest Herald on Wednesday.  A search of Lopez-Mejia’s web browsers revealed that at the start of January, she had visited websites including Match.com and Militarycupid.com, searched for information on how to get a free credit score, and searched for photos of ultrasounds, abortion pills and clonazepam liquid. She also had viewed an article called “7 Easiest Painless Ways of Killing Yourselves Quickest,” with “hanging” listed as the second option.   More than one person told police in interviews conducted the day of and in the days a[...]


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Major changes coming to how your credit score is calculatedAP file photo Four major credit cards advertise Jan. 18, 2011, at a restaurant in Millbrae, Calif. The math behind your credit score is getting an overhaul, with changes that may alter the behavior of both cautious spenders and riskier borrowers.

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 05:45:00 GMT

NEW YORK – The math behind your credit score is getting an overhaul, with changes big enough that they might alter the behavior of both cautious spenders as well as riskier borrowers. Most notably for those with high scores: Abiding by the golden rule of “don’t close your credit card accounts” may now hurt your standing. On the other side, those with low scores may benefit from the removal of civil judgments, medical debts and tax liens as factors. Beyond determining whether someone gets approved for a credit card, a credit score can affect what interest rate and what spending limit are offered. The new method is being implemented later this year by Vantage Score, a company created by the credit bureaus Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. It’s not as well-known as Fair Isaac Corp., whose FICO score is used for the vast majority of mortgages. But VantageScore handled 8 billion account applications last year, so if you applied for a credit card, that score was likely used to approve or deny you. Using what’s known as trended data is the biggest change. The phrase means credit scores will take into account the trajectory of a borrower’s debts on a month-to-month basis. So a person who is paying down debt now is likely to be scored better than a person who is making minimum monthly payments but has been slowly accumulating credit card debt. “This is a really big deal,” said John Ulzheimer, an expert in credit reports and credit scoring. Ulzheimer said taking trended data into account has long been considered by the credit score industry but hasn’t been implemented on a meaningful scale. He expects more lenders to adopt it. People with high credit scores may be affected the most, since the goal of trended data is to see warning signs long before a borrower actually gets into serious trouble. “When it comes to prime borrowers, you may not have bad behavior on your credit file, but a trajectory provides very powerful information,” said Sarah Davies, senior vice president for research, analytics and product development at VantageScore. The change also shakes up the maxim that had people keeping open accounts they’d opened long ago. An important metric in calculating credit scores has been the portion of their available credit people actually are using. A person with $5,000 in credit card debt with a $50,000 limit across several cards could score better than someone with $2,000 in debt on a $10,000 limit because of that ratio. But VantageScore will now mark a borrower negatively for having excessively large credit card limits, on the t[...]


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Utah Rep. Chaffetz says he won't run for re-electionFILE - In this Sept. 13, 2016, file photo, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Chaffetz says he won’t for re-election or any other office in 2018 (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 05:45:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican who doggedly investigated Hillary Clinton before the 2016 presidential election but declined to investigate President Donald Trump, abruptly announced Wednesday that he won't run for re-election. Chaffetz, who has been rumored as a possible candidate for Senate or governor, said that after consulting with his family and "prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018." The 50-year-old Chaffetz had strolled to four easy re-elections in his Republican-friendly congressional district. But he was facing a surprising challenge from a Democratic newcomer who raised more than a half-million dollars by tapping into anger over Chaffetz's recent comment suggesting people should spend their money on health insurance instead of iPhones. Political unknown Dr. Kathryn Allen has been transformed into a liberal hero for calling out Chaffetz on Twitter, gaining an early boost in name recognition. Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also drew fire from Democrats after saying he would not investigate Trump's business empire, given that he had promised before the presidential election that he would investigate Clinton "for years" if she was elected. "It's a tough decision. I love serving in Congress, but I love my family more," Chaffetz said in an interview Wednesday with KSL Newsradio in Salt Lake City. "I really meant it when I said I was going to get in, serve and get out." Running for Utah governor in 2020 is a possibility, Chaffetz said, but he's not willing to commit one way or another. "I'm trying to leave the door open for possibilities down the road," he said. Chaffetz led a nearly two-year investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, continuing the inquiry even after the 2016 election. And he and other Republicans asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Clinton lied to Congress during her 2015 testimony to House Benghazi panel. In a statement on Facebook, Chaffetz noted that he has long advocated that public service should be for a limited time. He said that after more than 1,500 nights away from home, "it is time" to step aside. Chaffetz said he has "no ulterior motives" and is healthy and confident he would be re-elected. House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted that Chaffetz is "a great defender of liberty and limited government" and wished him the best. Still, Cha[...]


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McDonald's order trips up Facebook slaying suspectMaj. William Teper Jr., of the Pennsylvania State Police, speaks during a news conference Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at Troop E headquarters in Erie, Pa. Steve Stephens, the man who randomly gunned down a Cleveland retiree and posted video of the crime on Facebook killed himself Tuesday during a police chase in Pennsylvania. Behind Teper Jr. are Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri, left, and Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Wayne Kline, right. (Jack Hanrahan/Erie Times-News via AP)

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 05:45:00 GMT

Facebook slaying suspect Steve Stephens was undone by a 20-piece Chicken McNuggets and an order of fries. The man who police said shot a Cleveland retiree at random and posted video of the killing on Facebook pulled up to the drive-thru window of a McDonald's restaurant outside Erie, Pennsylvania, and waited for his order. It was late Tuesday morning, almost lunchtime, and authorities were in the third day of an intensive manhunt for Stephens. Now, more than 100 miles from the shooting, his time on the run was nearly up. The attendant who took his money recognized the suspect and dialed 911. Stephens pulled up to the next window, where restaurant owner Thomas DuCharme Jr. and a supervisor tried stalling him by telling him his fries were delayed. Stephens didn't want to wait. He took his McNuggets and whipped out of the parking lot, nearly hitting Gail Wheeler, 54, a retail operations manager from Erie who was on her way home from the grocery store. "Two seconds later, I hear these sirens, and they come whipping past me," she told The Associated Press. Wheeler followed behind for a couple miles. She said the chase slowed suddenly from 50 mph to about 20 mph when the road narrowed from four lanes to two. One of the pursuing troopers picked his spot – in front of an abandoned school – and hit Stephens' bumper to get him to stop. The Ford Fusion did a half-turn and came to rest at the curb. Police were starting to get out of their cruisers when "I heard a shot. It was loud and distinctive," Wheeler said. "The next thing I know, they're approaching the car. The one officer just shook his head. He was closest to the car. ... They had their guns out but when he shook his head, they lowered their guns." Stephens killed himself, authorities said. State police Major William Teper Jr. said the trooper who bumped Stephens' car "saw him pull the gun out and shoot himself." Maj. William Teper Jr., of the Pennsylvania State Police, speaks during a news conference Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at Troop E headquarters in Erie, Pa. Steve Stephens, the man who randomly gunned down a Cleveland retiree and posted video of the crime on Facebook killed himself Tuesday during a police chase in Pennsylvania. Behind Teper Jr. are Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri, left, and Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Wayne Kline, right. (Jack Hanrahan/Erie Times-News via AP)[...]


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Grand jury won't indict South Carolina police officer who shot at car

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 05:45:00 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A grand jury has refused to bring an attempted murder charge against a South Carolina police officer who stepped in front of a car driven by a teen, and then fired seven shots at the vehicle as it drove away. Prosecutors sought the indictment against Forest Acres police officer Robert Cooper last week. The decision by a grand jury to refuse to sign an indictment is rare in South Carolina. One defense attorney estimates it happens in less than 1 percent of cases. The one-page document filed by April 12 by Solicitor Dan Johnson gives no reason why authorities thought Cooper should be charged in the May 19 shooting. Cooper was checking on a loud noise complaint in the suburb about 5 miles east of downtown Columbia when 17-year-old Antwon Gallmon jumped from the passenger seat of a car into the driver's seat and began to drive off. A video from Cooper's dashboard camera showed him chasing the car on foot, then standing in front of it as Gallmon tried to turn around. "Stop! Do not make me shoot you!" Cooper yells. Gallmon drives forward, steering away from the officer, and Cooper steps to his right and fires seven shots, the first after the front bumper passed him. Cooper is white and Gallmon is black. Johnson did not return a phone call or email asking why he sought the indictment. Cooper still works for Forest Acres police and is a 7-year veteran of the force, according to records from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy obtained by The Associated Press. In the months after the shooting, records show Cooper took nine training classes – including one just two days after the shooting. One of the classes was titled "De-Escalation: Surviving Verbal Conflict." Cooper has been on administrative leave since the shooting and not on patrol, Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy said Wednesday. Sealy is waiting for the full investigation file from state police before deciding If Cooper faces any internal discipline or can go back out on the streets. "That's a path we will go down shortly. We were waiting to see what the solicitor was going to do," Sealy said. Cooper's lawyer didn't return a phone call Wednesday. State police training tells officers never to stand in front of a vehicle or fire after it has moved past. It only authorizes deadly force when an officer or others face imminent danger. [...]