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Salvation Army raises more than $131K during Colonial Cafe Match Day in McHenry, Kane countiesThe Salvation Army, serving the Fox Valley in Kane, Kendall and McHenry counties, raised more than $131,000 Saturday as part of its seventh annual Colonial Cafe Match Day.The Salvation Army, serving the Fox Valley in Kane, Kendall and McHenry counties, raised more than $131,000 Saturday as part of its seventh annual Colonial Cafe Match Day.

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:05:00 GMT

The Salvation Army, which serves the Fox Valley in Kane, Kendall and McHenry counties, raised more than $131,000 Saturday as part of its seventh annual Colonial Cafe Match Day.

The restaurant matched donations up to $30,000, according to a news release from The Salvation Army.

Donations came in the form of change, cash and a tradition – silver and gold coins.

One gold coin was dropped into a red kettle at Jewel-Osco in Cary, another was left at Joseph's Marketplace in Crystal Lake, and a silver coin was dropped in at the McHenry Ace Hardware. The three are worth about $1,500 total. A gold coin, worth $1,250, also was left in the kettle outside the Starbucks in downtown Geneva.

McHenry County residents proudly claim to be the first to have started the gold coin tradition, said Capt. Carol Lewis of The Salvation Army McHenry County Corps.

"They say it happened for the first time in Crystal Lake about 30 years ago," Lewis said.

The first coin was a South African Krugerrand, and some of the valuable currency still pops up every year.

"We have these mystery Christmas angels, and every year these coins appear," said Lt. Betsy Clark of The Salvation Army Tri-City Corps. "We're just so grateful for these people who, in a fun kind of magical way, help support what we're doing."

Clark said in a statement that the Match Day's success was thanks to its generous donors and hardworking volunteers.

"We are greatly appreciative of all who participated," Clark said.

The $30,000 match donation from Colonial Cafe will be divided among the four units, according to the pro-rated funds raised.

Donations still are needed through Dec. 23 to reach the red kettle campaign goals in each community, the release said. This year, local units face a shortfall because of a shorter bell-ringing season and not being able to ring on Dec. 24 because it is a Sunday.

The Fox Valley Corps has yet to raise more than an average of 50 percent of these goals:

$200,000 – Tri-City Corps

$200,000 – Elgin Corps

$200,000 – Crystal Lake/McHenry County Corps

$250,000 – Aurora Corps

Visit www.registertoring.com or call a local corps to become a volunteer.

St. Charles (serving St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, Campton Hills and Wayne) — 630-377-2769

Elgin (serving northern Kane County) — 847-741-2304

Aurora (serving southern Kane and Kendall counties) — 630-897-7265

Crystal Lake (serving McHenry County) — 815-455-2769

The Salvation Army, serving the Fox Valley in Kane, Kendall and McHenry counties, raised more than $131,000 Saturday as part of its seventh annual Colonial Cafe Match Day.The Salvation Army, serving the Fox Valley in Kane, Kendall and McHenry counties, raised more than $131,000 Saturday as part of its seventh annual Colonial Cafe Match Day.


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76-year-old Union woman seriously injured after car hits ice, slides into utility poleA 76-year-old Union woman was seriously injured after the car in which she was a passenger crashed into a utility pole Wednesday morning in Union.

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 02:51:00 GMT

UNION – A 76-year-old Union woman was seriously injured after the car in which she was a passenger crashed into a utility pole Wednesday morning in Union.

A 20-year-old Marengo woman was driving her 2010 Ford SUV about 9:30 a.m. south on Leech Road in Union when she stopped to turn east into a driveway, McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Sandra Rogers said.

An 81-year-old Union man was driving a 2003 Honda north on Leech Road and swerved to avoid the Ford turning in front of him. The Honda hit ice and drove into a ditch on the west side of the road. The Honda's passenger side struck a utility pole and seriously injured the man's passenger, the Union woman.

The Honda's passenger side door needed to be cut open to extricate the woman, Union Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Tim Camp said.

She was taken in serious condition to Centegra Hospital – Huntley. The man suffered minor injuries but was not taken to the hospital.

The Marengo woman was cited for failing to yield while turning left.

The Marengo Rescue Squad also assisted at the scene.

A 76-year-old Union woman was seriously injured after the car in which she was a passenger crashed into a utility pole Wednesday morning in Union.


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Snow to pepper McHenry County through Thursday: National Weather Service

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 01:31:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for McHenry County, warning of an elevated risk of snow.

The snow falling Wednesday in McHenry County is because of a clipper system tracking through northeastern Illinois. The largest accumulation of snow is likely to fall at the Wisconsin border, according to the service.

McHenry County can expect less than an inch of snow on the ground and cold, blustery wind that will blow through the area Wednesday evening.

Gusty, northerly winds up to 35 mph may turn northeast for a time, which likely will produce some lake effect snow showers across far northeast Illinois Wednesday night. That system will move east into Indiana overnight.

An elevated risk of snow will stretch into Thursday and drop off by Friday, according to the service.

Temperatures Wednesday night are expected to be in the teens, and highs will be in the upper 20s Thursday during the day, according to the service.


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Crowd gathers to deflect anti-gay activists at Geneva churchSupporters of the First Congregational Church of Geneva, which is welcoming to the LGBT community, stand outside Sunday to protect parishioners from anti-gay activists.The First Congregational Church of Geneva has been targeted by anti-gay activists for its welcoming stance toward the LGBT community. Supporters came out Sunday to form a barrier between the activists and parishioners.Supporters of the First Congregational Church of Geneva, which is welcoming to the LGBT community, talk to anti-gay activists who approached the church Sunday.

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 01:29:00 GMT

GENEVA – When anti-gay activists approached members of a Geneva church that is welcoming to the gay community, organizers of a rapid response email and text message blast brought out a crowd that intervened. Geneva resident Colin Campbell said he went to the First Congregational Church of Geneva, 321 Hamilton St., Geneva, about 9:30 a.m. Sunday and saw seven men standing on the sidewalk. “I was hopeful this group wouldn’t show up again,” Campbell said. “I walked over to see who they were, and they were asking me if I was a follower of Jesus Christ and gave me a flyer that said, 'Love kills pride.' I said, 'Thank you very much' and walked away and called my wife.” Campbell said he and a church member had set up emails to go to a list of people who said they wanted to be notified if the church needed help. The call to his wife was to put the rapid response team into action. “Within about five minutes, people started showing up," Campbell said. "Within about 30 minutes, there were probably 50 people there.” Campbell said people who responded were not only from Geneva, Batavia and St. Charles, but also from Elgin, Aurora, Fox Lake, McHenry, Sycamore and DeKalb. The anti-gay group targeted the church last month, approaching its parishioners and telling them the church’s welcoming status to the LGBT community is against what the Bible teaches. On Nov. 26, about 300 people stood in front of the First Congregational Church of Geneva to provide support if the anti-gay group were to return. The anti-gay group did not approach parishioners that Sunday or on Dec. 3. Church member Carolyn Fabian said she was at another church for a concert that morning when she got a text. “I never anticipated this level of support,” Fabian said. “[The anti-gay activists] were right at the first step, and I was trying to figure out how to push them back, and these guys just made a wall and were chanting ‘Love wins,’ and they backed off all the way to the grass, and we were able to get people into the church OK. It was fantastic.” Fabian created the "Got love?" rainbow signs that apparently made the church a target for anti-gay activists. Aaron Viland, 19, of St. Charles said he created the "Love kills pride" posters that he put up on city utility poles in response to the "Got Love?" signs. Viland said he and others went to the church to hand out literature. “Most of them were not really open to having conversations,” Viland said of people they tried to talk to. “A couple were at least open-minded, and we had a few good discussions with people. … Then they would start chanting, ‘Love wins.’ ” Viland said his group does not have a name or belong to a particular church. “We are just Christians who are friends with each other and have similar views on things, and we just kind of work together,” Viland said. “We were trying to share the gospel with them, that Jesus died so sinners can be forgiven of their sins.” Supporters of the First Congregational Church of Geneva, which is welcoming to the LGBT community, stand outside Sunday to protect parishioners from anti-gay activists.The First Congregational Church of Geneva has been targeted by anti-gay activists for its welcoming stance toward the LGBT community. Supporters came out Sunday to form a barrier between the activists and parishioners.Supporters of the First Congregational Church of Geneva, which is welcoming to the LGBT community, talk to anti-gay activists who approached the church Sunday.[...]


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Woodstock teen cited after drowsy driving crash, police say

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 01:23:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A Woodstock teen has been cited for his involvement in a three-car crash after he fell asleep at the wheel Tuesday, police said.

McHenry County Sheriff’s deputies and the Woodstock Fire Protection District responded to the crash at 2:54 p.m. Tuesday in the 2000 block of Greenwood Road near Woodstock, Deputy Sandra Rogers said.

A 59-year-old Woodstock man was driving north in a 1999 Chrysler Sebring and turned left into a driveway when a 19-year-old Woodstock man fell asleep at the wheel of a 2004 Dodge Neon and rear-ended the Sebring, Rogers said.

This caused a chain reaction of events, and the Sebring hit a 2011 Ford Fusion, which a 54-year-old Huntley man was driving south on Greenwood Road, Rogers said.

The Neon’s engine compartment then caught fire. The driver was able to escape, police said.

Woodstock fire officials took the Huntley man and the Woodstock teen to the hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening, Rogers said.

The teen was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, Rogers said.


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AP sources: House, Senate leaders reach deal on tax packageFILE - This Sept. 27, 2017 file photo shows Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., center, joining Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other GOP lawmakers to talk about the Republicans' proposed rewrite of the tax code for individuals and corporations, at the Capitol in Washington. The Republican tax plan will deliver a swift adrenaline shot to the economy that will send hundreds of billions pouring into federal tax coffers, the Trump administration asserts in a new analysis. House and Senate negotiators are rushing to finalize the tax legislation and deliver the promised measure to President Donald Trump before Christmas. Trump will try on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 to sell the American people on an unpopular GOP tax overhaul. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 17:34:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – House and Senate GOP leaders forged an agreement Wednesday on a sweeping overhaul of the nation's tax laws, paving the way for final votes next week to slash taxes for businesses and give many Americans modest tax cuts starting next year. Top GOP aides said lawmakers had reached an agreement in principle on the final package. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about private negotiations. Details still need to be drafted and assessed by congressional scorekeepers, but the final House-Senate compromise is on track to be unveiled this week, the aides said. Asked if there is a deal in principle on the tax cuts, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said, "It's more than that. I think we've got a pretty good deal." The measure would give President Donald Trump his first major victory in Congress. It fulfills a longstanding goal by top Republicans such as Speaker Paul Ryan to rewrite the loophole-cluttered tax code. The measure has come under assault by Democrats who say it is unfairly tilted in favor of business and the wealthy. Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said Wednesday GOP leaders should pump the brakes on taxes and delay a final vote until Sen.-elect Doug Jones, D-Ala., is sworn in. "It would be wrong for Senate Republicans to jam through this tax bill without giving the newly elected senator from Alabama the opportunity to cast his vote," Schumer told reporters. "That's exactly what Republicans argued when (former Massachusetts GOP Sen.) Scott Brown was elected in 2010." Back then, the issue was a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system that Democrats muscled through Congress in March 2010. Trump was making a pitch Wednesday for the tax plan, which is unpopular with many. He will offer what aides called a "closing argument to the American people." Trump planned to deliver the speech from the Grand Foyer, the entrance of the White House mansion, laying out how the tax changes would specifically benefit the middle-class families in attendance from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa and Washington state. The speech comes as the White House has sought to push back against polling suggesting the public views the plan as heavily tilted toward corporations and wealthy Americans. Trump has asserted that the plan will lower tax rates for individuals and spur job growth, helping American families. The total amount of tax breaks in the legislation cannot exceed $1.5 trillion over the next decade, under budget rules adopted by the House and Senate. The legislation would add billions to the $20 trillion deficit. Once the plan is signed into law, workers could start seeing changes in the amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks early next year, lawmakers said — though taxpayers won't file their 2018 returns until the following year. In a flurry of last-minute changes that could profoundly affect the finances of millions of Americans, House and Senate negotiators agreed to expand a deduction for state and local taxes to allow individuals to deduct income taxes as well as property taxes. The deduction is valuable to residents in high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and California. Negotiators also agreed to set the corporate income tax rate at 21 percent, said two congressional aides who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations. Both the House bill and the Senate bill would have lowered the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Business and conservat[...]


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Analysis: Trump bets on Roy Moore and suffers stinging defeatU.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at the end of an election-night watch party at the RSA activity center, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala. Moore didn't concede the election to Democrat Doug Jones. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 16:38:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Rarely has a sitting president rallied behind such a scandal-plagued candidate the way Donald Trump did with Alabama's Roy Moore. And rarely has that bet failed so spectacularly. Moore's defeat Tuesday in Alabama — as stalwart a Republican state as they come — left Trump unapologetic and his political allies shell-shocked. Trump had dug in on his support for Moore despite allegations the former judge engaged in sexual misconduct with teenagers when he was in his 30s, becoming one of the candidate's most ardent national supporters in the race's closing days. Now, out of the wreckage of Moore's defeat to Democrat Doug Jones, Trump faces mounting questions about the limits of his own political capital. He'll head into his second year in office with one less Republican senator, narrowing a margin already so slim that it has so far left him unable to push major legislation through Congress. Democrats, who started the year as a deeply wounded minority party, press toward the midterm elections with a burst of momentum from the most unlikely of states. To be sure, the Alabama race was highly unusual, and as with all special elections, there's no guarantee it will prove to be a barometer for contests a year from now. A perfect storm of controversies helped Jones overcome Alabama's strong Republican bent, most notably the sexual misconduct allegations that surfaced against Moore. The matter left the Republican Party deeply divided over whether holding a Senate seat was worth the potential long-term risks of supporting Moore. Some Republicans did pull their support from Moore after the allegations surfaced, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Many more GOP officials in Washington privately preferred the prospect of a Moore defeat over having to deal with daily questions about his actions and the possible cloud of a Senate ethics investigation hanging over the party. But Trump is the Republican Party leader, and he jumped in with both feet. In a moment of national reckoning over sexual misconduct, where hardly a day passes without a prominent man being ousted from a powerful position, the president made it impossible for the GOP to disassociate itself from Moore and the accusations swirling around him. Trump's immediate response to Jones' victory was a tweet congratulating him Tuesday night, surprisingly magnanimous for a president who lashes out at the smallest perceived slight and often seems to prioritize winning above all else. But by Wednesday, Trump was on the defensive, reminding his followers that he had originally endorsed Moore's Republican primary opponent, Sen. Luther Strange. "I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right!" Trump wrote in a pre-dawn tweet. "Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!" The president offered no immediate insight into whether he viewed the results as a referendum on himself, personally or politically. But there's no doubt that Trump's track record of late has indeed been worrisome for Republicans weighing how closely to align themselves with the president in the midterms, where control of Congress will be at stake. Last month, the Trump-backed Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia lost in a race that wasn't close. The president now has the dubious distinction of picking wrong twice in Alabama, a state he won by 28 points just over a year ago. His first blemish came during the state's Senate primary, when he backed Strange, a decision he openly questioned while on stage at a rally for the incumbent days before the vote. [...]


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Megyn Kelly finds audience by delving into sexual misconductFILE - In this Sept. 21, 2017 file photo, Megyn Kelly poses on the set of her new show, "Megyn Kelly Today" at NBC Studios in New York. Kelly's show has a more substantive edge than when it started in September. Viewers have responded _ making Monday's show featuring women who accused Trump of inappropriate behavior one of her highest-rated ever despite being pre-empted for news coverage in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 16:37:00 GMT

NEW YORK – Three months ago the idea that Megyn Kelly would make news this week about President Donald Trump seemed unthinkable, but it illustrates her journey in establishing her NBC show as a destination for a national discussion about sexual misconduct. Kelly interviewed four women who accused Trump of inappropriate behavior. In recent weeks, she's spoken with accusers of Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, Bill O'Reilly, Roy Moore and Mark Halperin, as well as women who allege they were harassed on Capitol Hill. "Megyn Kelly Today" now has a more substantive edge and viewers have responded. Time magazine, which honored "The Silence Breakers" as its Person of the Year, cited Kelly as its leader in the entertainment field. "I feel like I'm in a good place right now and so is the show," she said. "It's starting to gel." Introduced with fanfare in September, the show initially seemed lost. Exhausted by her battles with Trump while at Fox News Channel, Kelly sought freedom from political topics and NBC wanted to establish her with lighter fare. Interviews with Hollywood figures Jane Fonda and Debra Messing, who either resisted Kelly's questioning or resisted her, backfired with bad publicity. Then, on Friday night of Columbus Day weekend, Kelly read a Huffington Post account of television reporter Lauren Sivan's disturbing encounter with Weinstein. Sivan was an acquaintance, so Kelly called and suggested an interview. Sivan accepted. "It was powerful," Kelly said. "It was compelling, and we had such good feedback on it. It felt right to me and we were sort of dogged about staying on it." With the #metoo movement exploding, she found an issue that resonated. "It was synergistic," she said. "It was working for the women. It was working for me. It was working for the show." "Megyn Kelly Today" isn't yet a home run, trailing in its time slot to "Live with Kelly and Ryan." Yet its direction is positive: the show averaged 2.29 million viewers in October and 2.67 million in December so far, the Nielsen company said. Monday's show with Trump accusers had more than 2.9 million viewers, one of her biggest audiences despite not being carried in New York because of news coverage of the subway bomb attack. And it was interesting that when veteran "Live with Kelly and Ryan" producer Michael Gelman talked to The New York Times about his show's lighter fare, he mentioned "counterprogramming the more depressing parts of life" elsewhere. Fox News' Laura Ingraham snarkily remarked Tuesday that Kelly's interviews with accusers of powerful Republican men seemed like a daily feature. They are signs she's getting noticed. Kelly, who has written about being propositioned by the late Fox News chief Roger Ailes, brings an understanding to the topic she feels viewers and interview subjects relate to. This guides her in conversation. She makes it a point to ask women how they felt in the moment of their incidents. She avoids the questions that she felt were offensive about Ailes when she went on a book tour. For many women, workplace assaults happen when they are expecting something completely different. "There's this notion that you've been lured into an office or a restaurant with the expectation of something good happening in your career, something you've earned, and there's this moment when a switch flips and you realize, 'oh my God, this is about getting in my pants,'" she said. "This isn't about being recognized for my hard work. This is a come-on or, in refer[...]


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Protect HVAC from weather’s impact

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:17:00 GMT

Thunderstorms, blizzards, and other types of severe weather can hurt your heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system (HVAC).  To prevent costly damage, experts recommend safety precautions to minimize problems. 

To prevent damage to your system from electrical surges during storms and transient events, which occur when power that’s been out comes back on, install a dedicated surge protector.  Whole house surge protectors are also available.  They’re typically wired to the electric service box, and aim to protect all the appliances and electrical systems in a home.  

Surge protectors only allow in the electricity your home needs, and not unexpected over-voltages, electrical experts say.  Today’s homes are equipped with more electronics, such as LED lighting, and intricate control panels for appliances and other technological advancements that may need protection.      

When severe weather is forecast, make sure any unsecured objects in your yard are put away.  Strong winds can hurl lawn furniture, children’s toys, or stray tree branches into the outdoor HVAC unit.           

Some homeowners purchase home back-up generators to maintain heating and cooling comfort during electrical power outages. Tom Eppers, co-owner, Dowe & Wagner, a full-service heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning company based in Richmond, says, “Generators are valuable for people living in rural areas, where their power supply may not be as reliable as city dwellers.  Since these people may sometimes wait days for service, a generator may make sense.”

Eppers adds that a well-maintained HVAC system is more resistant to weather changes and damage.  He recommends professional preventive maintenance.  At an annual inspection, the heating expert will examine and clean the furnace, checking for carbon monoxide leaks and making sure all parts are operating correctly.     

For more information, contact Dowe & Wagner, a full-service heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning company based in Richmond at (815) 678-3000, or visit www.doweandwagner.com.


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Matching Resources with Needs: 17th-Annual People in Need Conference

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 12:53:00 GMT

What started 17 years ago as a small group of local nonprofits meeting at McHenry County College to share resources has blossomed into the annual People in Need Conference, an event of 85+ exhibitors, dozens of presentations and educational sessions, and an audience of hundreds.

This year’s People in Need Conference, which is free and open to the public, will be Saturday, January 27 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Luecht Conference Center at MCC, 8900 US Highway 14, Crystal Lake, IL.

According to Bev Thomas, coordinator of events and outreach for the Friends of MCC Foundation, which coordinates the conference, that first People in Need Conference, attended by about 25 people, grew out of requests local nonprofits were getting for different types of assistance.

“When people would come to a food pantry or come to a church ministry office they would ask how to get help with their electric or heating bill or where to get a coat for a child or where to get help when they were down on their luck,” she said

Thomas said the conference benefits those looking for services, agencies that provide services, and representatives of the education system. Exhibitor booths include agencies like Pioneer Center, Aurora University, the RTA and Pace, Prairie State legal services, Family Alliance, child advocacy centers, and other nonprofits in McHenry country or that do work in the county, such as the Evanston Veterans Center.

“Many people come with a purpose,” said Thomas. “They are a vet or a parent of a child struggling with addiction or special needs looking for programs and services.”

Needs addressed include homelessness, suicide prevention, nontraditional education and vocational training, Latino needs, incarceration, opioid addiction, SHIP and Medicare, student loans, veterans issues, LGBTQ issues, human trafficking, early intervention services and child care, and more.

Attendees will also receive an electronic Resource Directory – a jump drive containing more than 120 pages of agencies and resources and the only one of its kind in Northern Illinois.

For more information, visit www.mchenry.edu/PIN.


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Judge bars ex-Speaker Dennis Hastert from being alone with minorsFILE - This undated file photo provided by the Lake County Sheriff's Department shows ex-U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert. A judge has ordered Hastert not to have contact with anyone under 18, unless another adult is present who is aware of revelations that the former House speaker abused high school students decades ago. (Lake County Sheriff Department via AP, File)

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:52:00 GMT

CHICAGO – A federal judge in Chicago on Tuesday ordered that Dennis Hastert never be left alone with anyone under 18 unless another adult is present who is aware of the former U.S. House speaker’s conviction in a hush-money case that revealed he had sexually abused several high school students.

U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin didn’t explain in his brief order why that and other new restrictions on the 75-year-old were called for now, three months into his two-year period of supervised release from prison.

Others included barring Hastert from possessing pornography and using “any sex-related telephone numbers.” He also must allow – and pay for – the installation of software that records all his computer activity, from browser history to email correspondence and internet chats. In handing the Illinois Republican a 15-month prison term in April of last year, Judge Durkin branded Hastert “a serial child molester,” citing at least four students abused by him when he coached at Yorkville High School in suburban Chicago from 1965 to 1981.

Hastert, the nation’s longest-serving GOP House speaker from 1999 to 2007, pleaded guilty in 2015 to violating banking rules as he sought to pay $3.5 million to a victim referred to only as Individual A to keep him quiet about the sex abuse. Hastert couldn’t be charged with sexual abuse because statutes of limitation had long since expired.

Among the conditions Durkin set during sentencing in 2016 was that Hastert undergo intensive sex-offender treatment, which is designed to gauge the risk molesters still pose to children. One common treatment for sex-offenders involves a penile plethysmograph, which gauges a known molester’s physical reaction to specific images. The requests to tighten the restrictions came in a report filed under seal by a probation officer Monday in Chicago federal court. The filing likely provided other details, including why officials believed they were necessary.

Any adult who Hastert might ask to be present when minors are around must first be approved by a probation officer and the person providing treatment to Hastert, the judge’s order says.

Messages seeking comment from Hastert’s Washington, D.C., attorney, Thomas Green, were not returned.

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Lake County Sheriff's Department shows ex-U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert. A judge has ordered Hastert not to have contact with anyone under 18, unless another adult is present who is aware of revelations that the former House speaker abused high school students decades ago. (Lake County Sheriff Department via AP, File)


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Crews struggle to keep flames from California neighborhoodsAP photo Cal-Fire firefighters keep watch on a wildfire blaze burning the mountainside Sunday near the Cate School campus in Carpinteria, Calif.

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:51:00 GMT

LOS ANGELES – The fifth largest wildfire in California history expanded, ripping through dry brush atop a coastal ridge while crews struggled to keep flames from roaring down into neighborhoods amid fears of renewed winds. Firefighters protected foothill homes northwest of Los Angeles, making progress in residential areas while much of the fire’s growth occurred to the north in unoccupied forest land, Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said Tuesday. “There were a couple of flare-ups in the hills that put on a light show last night, but they were expected. For now the teams are fighting the fire on their own terms,” he said, adding that shifting winds are always a danger. Red Flag warnings for fire danger due to Santa Ana winds and a critical lack of moisture were extended into the week, with a possible increase in gusts Thursday into Friday. Tens of thousands of people remain evacuated, including many from the seaside enclaves of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria and the inland agricultural town of Fillmore. Still among evacuees due to smoke Tuesday were Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Eric Burdon and his wife, Marianna, of Ojai. Last week, Burdon wrote on Facebook about having to flee and returning temporarily to find their home still standing with ashes all around. “A week like this gives you the perspective that life is what truly matters,” he wrote. A photo accompanying the post showed his handprint and signature written in ashes. Residents near a Carpinteria avocado orchard said the trees could end up saving their homes. “You have a thick layer of leaves underneath the bottom and they are watered regularly, so it’s like a sponge,” Jeff Dreyer, who lives nearby, told KEYT-TV. “So the fire gets to the sponge full of water and it slows it down. It takes a long time for it to burn.” Poor air quality kept dozens of schools closed. As ash rained down and smoke blew through streets, regulators urged people to remain inside if possible and avoid strenuous activity. Officials handed out masks to those who stayed behind in Montecito, an exclusive community about 75 miles from Los Angeles that’s home to stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Drew Barrymore. Actor Rob Lowe was among residents who evacuated over the weekend. The blaze – known as the Thomas Fire – has destroyed more than 680 homes, officials said. It was just partially contained after burning more than 360 square miles of dry brush and timber. The fire has been burning for more than a week. The fire is in an area of California that has remained in at least moderate drought even after last winter’s powerful rains and heavy mountain snowfall eliminated drought symptoms in much of the rest of the state. To the north, San Francisco Bay Area firefighters quickly contained blazes Tuesday that destroyed at least two homes in hills east of Oakland — the site of a 1991 firestorm that killed 25 people. Santa Ana winds have long contributed to some of the region’s most disastrous wildfires. They blow from the inland toward the Pacific Ocean, speeding up as they squeeze through mountain passes and canyons. The weather service said that if the long-term forecast holds, there will have been 13 consecutive days of dry offshore flow before it ends Friday afternoon. There have only been 17 [...]


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Democrat Doug Jones wins stunning red-state Alabama Senate upsetDemocratic candidate for U.S. Senate Doug Jones and his wife Louise wave to supporters before speaking during an election-night watch party Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. In a stunning victory aided by scandal, Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama's special Senate election on Tuesday, beating back history, an embattled Republican opponent and President Donald Trump, who urgently endorsed GOP rebel Roy Moore despite a litany of sexual misconduct allegations. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:51:00 GMT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – In a stunning victory aided by scandal, Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s special Senate election Tuesday, beating back history, an embattled Republican opponent and President Donald Trump, who urgently endorsed GOP rebel Roy Moore despite a litany of sexual misconduct allegations. It was the first Democratic Senate victory in a quarter-century in Alabama, one of the reddest of red states, and proved anew that party loyalty is anything but sure in the age of Trump. The Republican loss was a major embarrassment for the president and a fresh wound for the nation’s already divided GOP. “We have shown not just around the state of Alabama, but we have shown the country the way – that we can be unified,” Jones declared as supporters in a Birmingham ballroom cheered, danced and cried tears of joy. Still in shock, the Democrat struggled for words: “I think that I have been waiting all my life, and now I just don’t know what the hell to say.” Moore, meanwhile, refused to concede and raised the possibility of a recount during a brief appearance at a somber campaign party in Montgomery. “It’s not over,” Moore said. He added, “We know that God is still in control.” From the White House, Trump tweeted his congratulations to Jones “on a hard-fought victory” – but added pointedly that “the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!” Jones takes over the seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The term expires in January 2021. The victory by Jones, a former U.S. attorney best known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen responsible for Birmingham’s infamous 1963 church bombing, narrows the GOP advantage in the U.S. Senate to 51-49. That imperils already-uncertain Republican tax, budget and health proposals and injects tremendous energy into the Democratic Party’s early push to reclaim House and Senate majorities in 2018. Still, many Washington Republicans viewed the defeat of Moore as perhaps the best outcome for the party nationally despite the short-term sting. The fiery Christian conservative’s positions have alienated women, racial minorities, gays and Muslims – in addition to the multiple allegations that he was guilty of sexual misconduct with teens, one only 14, when he was in his 30s. “Short-term pain, long-term gain,” former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, tweeted. “Roy Moore and Steve Bannon losing tonight is big win for the GOP. ... Moore would have buried GOP in 2018.” A number of Republicans declined to support Moore, including Alabama’s long-serving Sen. Richard Shelby. But Trump lent his name and the national GOP’s resources to Moore’s campaign in recent days. Had Moore won, the GOP would have been saddled with a colleague accused of sordid conduct as Republicans nationwide struggle with Trump’s historically low popularity. Senate leaders had promised that Moore would have faced an immediate ethics investigation. Republicans on Capitol Hill have expressed hopes of scheduling a vote on their tax legislation before Jones is sworn in, but lawmakers are still struggling to devise a compromise bill to bridge the divide between the House and Senate legislation that can win majority support in both chambers. The Republican loss also gives Democrats a clearer path to a Senate majority in 2018 – albeit a nar[...]


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Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy AmericansAP file photo Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other GOP lawmakers, talks about the Republicans' proposed rewrite of the tax code for individuals and corporations Sept. 27 at the Capitol in Washington.

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:50:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Congressional Republicans on Tuesday rushed toward a deal on a massive tax package that would reduce the top tax rate for wealthy Americans to 37 percent and slash the corporate rate to a level slightly higher than what businesses and conservatives wanted. In a flurry of last-minute changes that could profoundly affect the pocketbooks of millions of Americans, House and Senate negotiators agreed to expand a deduction for state and local taxes to allow individuals to deduct income taxes as well as property taxes. The deduction is valuable to residents in high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey and California. Negotiators also agreed to set the corporate income tax rate at 21 percent, said two congressional aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations. Both the House bill and the Senate bill would have lowered the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Business and conservative groups lobbied hard for the 20 percent corporate rate. Negotiators agreed to bump it up to 21 percent to help offset revenue losses from other tax breaks, the aides said. As the final parameters of the bill took shape, negotiators agreed to cut the top tax rate for individuals from 39.6 percent to 37 percent in a windfall for the richest Americans. The reduction is certain to provide ammunition for Democrats who complain that the tax package is a massive giveaway to corporations and the rich. Under current law, the top tax rate applies to income above $470,000 for married couples, though lawmakers are completely reworking the tax brackets. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who has previously expressed opposition to reducing the rate for the wealthiest earners, acknowledged Tuesday that the negotiators appear to have agreed on the move. “I don’t think lowering the top rate is a good idea,” Collins said. She didn’t threaten to vote against the final bill, however, if it included a lower rate, saying “I’m going to wait and look at the entire conference report and see what all the provisions are.” Among the other tax breaks, negotiators agreed to eliminate the alternative minimum tax for corporations, a big sticking point for the business community, the aides said. They also agreed to let homeowners deduct interest on the first $750,000 of a new mortgage, down from the current limit of $1 million. The GOP goal is to deliver to President Donald Trump the first major rewrite of the U.S. tax system in more than 30 years, pushing into every corner of the American economy and society. Lawmakers hope to finalize a bill no later than Friday, vote next week and deliver the package of steep tax cuts for corporations and more modest cuts for families to the president’s desk before Christmas. Republican lawmakers were optimistic Tuesday that a deal was imminent. The total amount of tax breaks cannot exceed $1.5 trillion over the next decade, under budget rules adopted by both the House and Senate. Lawmakers and aides were working to blend separate tax bills that were passed by the House and Senate. The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said an agreement in principle on a final package could come as soon as Tuesday. “I think it could and I hope it is,” he said. Lawmakers said workers could start seeing changes in the amount of taxes wit[...]


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Woodstock's Rendezvous Bistro set to close Dec. 23Rendezvous Bistro, 2400 Lake Shore Drive, in Woodstock has announced that its last day of service will be Dec. 23, according to its website and Facebook page.

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:45:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Rendezvous Bistro is set to close less than a year after it changed hands.

The last day of service at the Woodstock restaurant, 2400 Lake Shore Drive, will be Dec. 23, according to its website and Facebook page.

Rendezvous Bistro is a full-service bar and small-plate restaurant that hosted frequent events such as “paint and sip” nights and live music.

The 4,550-square-foot restaurant formerly operated as a coffee house, restaurant and bar. Woodstock caterers Megan and T.J. Liebetrau reopened the space in February and now have decided to close.

“After much deliberation, we have decided that our last day of service will be Saturday, December 23rd,” the restaurant’s Facebook announcement said. “Thank you to our loyal customers & employees. It has been an exciting ride & we are grateful to all that helped along the way. We hope to see you before we go.”

The property, located off Route 14 near Centegra Hospital – Woodstock, is for sale.

It is marketed as a turnkey restaurant, according to its Berkshire Hathaway listing. The asking price is $65,000.

Rendezvous Bistro, 2400 Lake Shore Drive, in Woodstock has announced that its last day of service will be Dec. 23, according to its website and Facebook page.


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Lake in the Hills officials defend $11K in expenses for Chicago conferenceVillage President Russ Ruzanski listens to Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, while he speaks Tuesday about the $11,071.50 bill Lake in the Hills officials racked up during a three-day Illinois Municipal League retreat and annual banquet.Lake in the Hills Trustee Stephen Harlfinger speaks to Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, during a meeting Tuesday about the $11,071.50 bill Lake in the Hills officials racked up during a three-day Illinois Municipal League retreat and annual banquet.Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, speaks Tuesday about the $11,071.50 bill Lake in the Hills officials racked up during a three-day Illinois Municipal League retreat and annual banquet.Lake in the Hills Trustee Bob Huckins speaks to Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, during a meeting Tuesday about the $11,071.50 bill Lake in the Hills officials racked up during a three-day Illinois Municipal League retreat and annual banquet.Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, speaks Tuesday about the $11,071.50 bill Lake in the Hills officials racked up during a three-day Illinois Municipal League retreat and annual banquet.

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:45:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – A village administrator attending a municipal conference is not out of the ordinary, but spending more than $11,000 to send nine people is excessive, one state official said. Lake in the Hills officials racked up a $11,071.50 bill during the three-day Illinois Municipal League retreat and annual banquet from Sept. 21 to 23. Bills ranged from registration, food, transportation and hotel room costs for two employees and seven elected officials, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, is asking officials to reimburse the village for hotel expenses at the Hilton Chicago Hotel. Skillicorn spoke out during the village’s Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday. “For a conference and a banquet so close to home, the idea of staying in a luxury hotel versus taking the train doesn’t seem appropriate to me,” Skillicorn said. Village President Russ Ruzanski, Village Clerk Crystal Ulen, Finance Director Shane Johnson, ​Village Administrator Jen Clough and Trustees Stephen Harlfinger, Ray Bogdanowski, Bob Huckins, David McPhee and Suzanne Artinghelli attended the conference. Registration fees to attend the conference were $2,790. Clough said a larger number of people attended this year because four elected officials were new, and Ruzanski is the newly appointed president. “They are responsible for making important decisions and setting our policies and budget, and they need expertise and education to do so,” Clough said. The conference takes place annually and is meant to give municipal staff training on topics such as budgeting, zoning codes, economic development and risk management. The largest expenses for the conference were hotel rooms for $7,156.80 and parking for $1,101.30, according to documents. Four people spent $577.50 on hotel valet parking. Clough said that by the time many arrived on Thursday of the conference, the self-park area of the hotel was full, and they were told valet parking was all that was left. The drive from Lake in the Hills Village Hall is an hour and 10 minutes, and a Metra train service is offered in Crystal Lake. Skillicorn said he’d recommend taking the train, which costs $8 each way. Skillicorn said that when he was a trustee for East Dundee for five years and attended the conference once, he had to handle transportation and hotel costs himself. Huckins said the conference is included in the village’s budget each year. “This is a conference this board attends for its training and education. We don’t go there to waste the taxpayers’ money, we go there to learn how to be a better trustee and a better steward for this village,” Huckins said. “I have no problem paying back $1,000, but the benefit that I gain from that is more than $1,000 that was spent by this village.” Ruzanski and McPhee each were charged $1,052.10 for a three-night stay and valet parking, according to documents. “Sending nine officials to downtown Chicago – the epicenter of corruption, waste, fraud and abuse – to hear from Springfield lobbyists is not appropriate,” Skillicorn said. “They should be listening to their local constituents.” In compari[...]


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Police: Harvard man charged in connection with stolen gun, ammunition found in carJuan M. Alonzo, of the 700 block of North Lincoln Street, Harvard, is charged with possession of a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm without a valid firearm owner's identification card, according to a complaint filed in McHenry County court.

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:45:00 GMT

HARVARD – A 23-year-old Harvard man remained in jail Tuesday on gun charges after police said they found a stolen revolver and ammunition in his car.

Juan M. Alonzo, of the 700 block of North Lincoln Street, is charged with possession of a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm without a valid firearm owner’s identification card, according to a complaint filed in McHenry County Circuit Court.

Representatives from the Harvard Police Department were not available Tuesday to comment on the charges.

In the complaint, police said that they found a stolen .22-caliber revolver and nine .22-caliber rounds of ammunition in Alonzo’s car Sunday.

If Alonzo is convicted of possession of a stolen firearm, he could be sentenced to three to seven years in prison.

His bond is set at $50,000, meaning he must post $5,000 bail to be released.

Alonzo was appointed a public defender at his court appearance Monday.

He is due in court Wednesday for a bond hearing.

Juan M. Alonzo, of the 700 block of North Lincoln Street, Harvard, is charged with possession of a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm without a valid firearm owner's identification card, according to a complaint filed in McHenry County court.


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Metra, Marines to host Toys for Tots drive at Chicago Metra stationsMatt Marten (left) of Cary and David Badillo of Chicago wait for the inbound Metra train Jan. 7, 2014, at the Cary station. Metra is pairing with the U.S. Marine Corps to host a toy drive Thursday at all of the commuter rail line's Chicago stations.

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:45:00 GMT

CHICAGO – Metra is pairing with the U.S. Marine Corps to host a toy drive Thursday at all of the commuter rail line’s Chicago stations.

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation and Metra are asking commuters to bring new, unwrapped toys on their commutes Thursday, according to a news release from Metra.

For the sixth consecutive year, Marines and Metra employees will collect toys from 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday.

Collection locations include Millennium Station at Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street; Van Buren Street Station at Michigan Avenue and Van Buren Street; Chicago Union Station at Canal Street and Jackson Boulevard; Ogilvie Transportation Center at Madison Street and Canal Street; and LaSalle Street Station, 414 S. LaSalle St.

Matt Marten (left) of Cary and David Badillo of Chicago wait for the inbound Metra train Jan. 7, 2014, at the Cary station. Metra is pairing with the U.S. Marine Corps to host a toy drive Thursday at all of the commuter rail line's Chicago stations.


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Gliniewicz's widow again seeks late officer's pension paymentsMelodie Gliniewicz arrives May 11 surrounded by her legal team at the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan.

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:45:00 GMT

WAUKEGAN – Attorneys for the wife of a former Fox Lake police lieutenant who killed himself and made it look like he was gunned down in the line of duty is seeking of a reversal of a pension board decision.

The Fox Lake police pension board blocked Melodie Gliniewicz from collecting payments for her deceased husband, Joseph Gliniewicz, until the criminal case against her is complete.

The Daily Herald reported Tuesday that her attorneys filed a formal request to reverse the 2016 ruling, and they expect the board to hear the new request Dec. 21.

Gliniewicz could receive about $70,000 a year.

She was indicted after her husband committed suicide in 2015. She has pleaded not guilty to charges that include siphoning money from a youth policing program. No trial date has been set.

Melodie Gliniewicz arrives May 11 surrounded by her legal team at the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan.


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Steinhafels furniture superstore to open in 2018 in Crystal LakeFurniture superstore Steinhafels soon will build its 18th store at 5846 Route 14 in Crystal Lake.

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:44:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Wisconsin’s largest furniture seller is setting up shop in Crystal Lake, thanks in part to a sales tax incentive deal worth up to $600,000 over the next decade.

Steinhafels will open its 18th store in the former Kmart space, 5846 Route 14. Kmart closed in late 2014.

It took three years, but the city found a suitor for the nearly 100,000-square-foot space at a time when retailers looking for such a large building are rare, officials said. Steinhafels’ average store size is 80,000 square feet.

The store is in the Crystal Point Shopping Center between Best Buy and Ross Dress for Less.

Steinhafels Director of Stores Fred Schweinert said the process of locating in Crystal Lake has been “seamless.” Jobs at the store will be “above average” for the retail sector, he said.

“We’re extremely excited,” Schweinert said Monday at the City Council meeting. “It’s been a process that we’ve all kind of been looking for. That building is going to be a gem for us.”

The company expects a fall 2018 opening with 50 new jobs. The fourth-generation, family-owned business has stores throughout Wisconsin and northern Illinois. This will be its second store in Illinois. The other is in Vernon Hills.

Steinhafels and the shopping center owner, Inland Retail Corp., will make extensive improvements to the store, including removing asbestos tiles from the entire floor; replacing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system; demolishing the mezzanine area; rebuilding the rear loading dock; and remodeling the entire exterior of the store with a new facade, more windows, awnings and lighting.

“[Steinhafels] is a top-shelf organization, all the way, and we’re absolutely thrilled to welcome them to Crystal Lake,” Mayor Aaron Shepley said, adding that the company has worked quickly to get started on the Route 14 location. “I think the people of Crystal Lake are going to greatly embrace the new amenities that they will make available for us.”

Shepley noted that it’s not often that empty, former big-box retail stores are filled by one business.

For example, the old Dominick’s in Crystal Lake was broken down into pieces for different organizations to occupy, Shepley said.

“Steinhafels is taking the building and they’re going to completely retool it and refurbish it, and put it back to wonderful conditions,” he said.

To help lure Steinhafels to the location, the City Council approved a sales tax incentive agreement with the company Monday night.

The city will send back to Steinhafels up to $600,000 in sales taxes generated by the store during the life of the 10-year deal.

It is estimated that the store could have $15 million in annual sales revenue, of which the city would share 40 percent of the 1 percent state sales taxes from the property with Steinhafels. The city potentially could get about $2 million in sales tax from the store over 10 years.

Furniture superstore Steinhafels soon will build its 18th store at 5846 Route 14 in Crystal Lake.


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McHenry County Board OKs advisory referendum encouraging school property tax levies cutsThe McHenry County Board voted Tuesday night to approve an advisory referendum to ask voters in the March 20 primary election whether they would like to see school districts cut their property tax levies by 10 percent by 2020.

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:44:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Board voted Tuesday night to approve an advisory referendum encouraging school districts to cut their property tax levies by 10 percent. The 21-2 vote came on the heels of the board’s approval of a fiscal 2018 budget that includes an 11.2 percent reduction of the property tax levy. Drafted by board members Michele Aavang, John Jung and Christopher Spoerl, the March 20 primary election ballot will ask voters whether they would like to see school districts do the same by 2020. A small group of board members took issue with the referendum. District 5 representative Michael Skala chalked up the referendum to a self-serving political statement. “This is a boastful resolution that plays well for sound bites for politicians out campaigning,” Skala said. “Talk about egos getting in the way of public dialogue.” At a regular meeting in November, all board members voted in favor of the budget and a $71.4 million property tax levy that will collect $8 million less next year than the county collected this year. McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks said the board would use the 11.2 percent cut to the county’s property tax levy as a bully pulpit to urge other governing bodies to cut their own levies. Advisory referendums allow residents to weigh in on issues, but they are not legally binding – the County Board has no statutory power to dictate budget policy for school districts. District 3 representative Michael Walkup said school districts should not be “bludgeoned” and bullied to cut their property tax levies. “One size does not fit all,” Walkup said. “This is what happens when you put politics ahead of government.” The referendum is nothing more than a tactic for County Board politicians to advance their own self interests, Walkup said. “It’s a publicity stunt,” he said. Spoerl, the representative for District 1, defended the referendum. He said it’s a way to help other governing bodies focus on lightening a property tax burden that has pushed McHenry County residents to move elsewhere. “If we don’t back this up, what statement has that made?” Spoerl said. “There are some very well-run districts out there. I think we all want to have very fine schools. ... On the other hand, we have to make sure the cost benefit is there.” Franks said there’s nothing wrong with using the board’s recent vote to cut the county’s property tax levy by 11.2 percent as a tool to push others to make similar cuts in a fight against crushing property taxes. “Let’s send a shot across the bow,” Franks said. HOW THEY VOTED Yes: Christopher Spoerl, Robert Nowak, Thomas Wilbeck, Joe Gottemoller, Donald Kopsell, Chris Christensen, Kay Rial Bates, Paula Yensen, John Jung Jr., Michele Aavang, Jim Kearns, Larry Smith, Yvonne Barnes, Donna Kurtz, Jeffrey Thorsen, John Reinert, John Hammerand, Craig Wilcox, Chuck Wheeler, Michael Rein and James Heisler. No: Michael Skala and Michael Walkup. Absent: Mary McCann.[...]


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Lakewood trustees vote to censure President Paul SerwatkaLakewood Trustee Richard Ritchie (center) reads a statement Tuesday about the reasoning behind the board's vote to censure Lakewood President Paul Serwatka.

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:43:00 GMT

LAKEWOOD – Trustees voted Tuesday night to censure Lakewood President Paul Serwatka. The board voted, 5-1, in favor of censuring Serwatka, who is only in his seventh month as village president and has come under fire in recent weeks. Trustee Richard Ritchie alleged that, among other things, Serwatka left the board out of the decision-making process on several occasions. Two particular instances where most of the board felt left out were the July appointment of a village administrator, as well as her replacement a few months later in November. In both situations, the board voted to approve Serwatka’s picks. But with tensions mounting of late, it culminated in the Tuesday vote, when all but one trustee echoed Ritchie’s allegations that Serwatka was leaving them out of the loop to varying degrees. Several trustees said they agree with many of Serwatka’s ideas to improve Lakewood, but have problems with his approach. “Most of the board does not disagree with many of the thoughts that are brought by the current president,” Ritchie read from a prepared statement at a special meeting of the Village Board. “However, we [the board] do agree that the power that the president has attempted to provide himself with in these efforts – trying to bypass five of six board members – is not acceptable by this board and should not be acceptable by any resident.” They decided to censure him. A censure is a formal expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism that in government is adopted by a majority vote as a means of publicly reprimanding a person for offenses and correcting future conduct. “While I respectfully understand that some trustees are in disagreement with some of my actions and the means by which I have conducted certain village business, I also respectfully maintain, with vigor, that all of my actions have been entirely in pursuit of exactly what I pledged to residents that I would pursue once elected,” Serwatka said. Ritchie, who was a member of Serwatka’s Lakewood Tax-Fighter slate that took over the board majority in April, was joined by Trustees Amy Fues Odom, Patrick Rexroat, Jason McMahon and Carl Davis in voting to censure Serwatka. Odom also was a member of the Tax-Fighter slate, as was Trustee Phil Stephan, who backed Serwatka and voted against censure. Rexroat was appointed by Serwatka in June to fill a vacancy, while McMahon and Davis were trustees – along with Serwatka – before Serwatka won the president spot in April. Ritchie detailed what he and other trustees feel were Serwatka’s efforts to stifle the board and control decision making by only communicating with certain board members on certain matters. Ritchie, Davis and McMahon criticized Serwatka for using media outlets and his personal email newsletter to complain about board members not supporting his initiatives, in particular one aimed at addressing poor meeting attendance that was panned by every trustee except Stephan. “In no instance have I, in any way, broken any rule, violated any code, committed any impropriety, or followed any uncustomary procedures in any of my actions or in [...]


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Early-morning fire near Marengo destroys barn, kills 'a lot' of chickensOn Tuesday morning, with the Standishes' Marengo barn ablaze and the nearby sky glowing red, the dog woke the Marengo couple at 5:30 a.m. to a demolished barn. "She’s a good dog – she only barks when she has to," Susan Standish said. "I woke up and looked out the bedroom window, and I thought, 'I’m dreaming.' " Someone was pounding on the door. A passer-by had called 911.Marengo firefighters responded about 5:45 a.m. to the Standishes' farm on Dunham Road and Route 176 in Seneca Township for a reported structure fire, Marengo Fire Chief Robert Bradbury said. George tried to open one of the barn doors to let some of the animals escape. "Some did get out," Susan Standish said. It took firefighters about 90 minutes to get the fire under control, Bradbury said, and the large barn was destroyed. The barn had housed chickens and equipment, and the damage likely cost close to $125,000, officials said. "[George] said there were a lot [of chickens] in there," Bradbury said.The two farm grain for a living, and Susan Standish said her husband enjoys keeping chickens as well as ducks. They had a barn fire about five years ago, but not on the scale of Tuesday's. "After we lost them years ago, we got even more and built a bigger barn," Susan Standish said. There were no injuries aside from the ducks and chickens. The cause was undetermined Tuesday, Bradbury said. "It’s pretty devastating,” Susan Standish said. “We’re both in our 70s. I don’t think we’re going to try this again.” She said the couple enjoyed staying active into their 70s because they did not want to "stop," despite their children telling them otherwise. McHenry County Sheriff's deputies were at the scene investigating Tuesday. Firefighters likely would need to return to extinguish the hay, which continued to smolder, Bradbury said. Firefighters from Woodstock, Capron, Union and Harvard units assisted Marengo at the scene.

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:43:00 GMT

MARENGO – George and Susan Standish's dog doesn't bark unless it's necessary.

On Tuesday morning, with the Standishes' Marengo barn ablaze and the nearby sky glowing red, the dog woke the Marengo couple at 5:30 a.m. to a demolished barn. "She’s a good dog – she only barks when she has to," Susan Standish said. "I woke up and looked out the bedroom window, and I thought, 'I’m dreaming.' " Someone was pounding on the door. A passer-by had called 911.Marengo firefighters responded about 5:45 a.m. to the Standishes' farm on Dunham Road and Route 176 in Seneca Township for a reported structure fire, Marengo Fire Chief Robert Bradbury said. George tried to open one of the barn doors to let some of the animals escape. "Some did get out," Susan Standish said. It took firefighters about 90 minutes to get the fire under control, Bradbury said, and the large barn was destroyed. The barn had housed chickens and equipment, and the damage likely cost close to $125,000, officials said. "[George] said there were a lot [of chickens] in there," Bradbury said.The two farm grain for a living, and Susan Standish said her husband enjoys keeping chickens as well as ducks. They had a barn fire about five years ago, but not on the scale of Tuesday's. "After we lost them years ago, we got even more and built a bigger barn," Susan Standish said. There were no injuries aside from the ducks and chickens. The cause was undetermined Tuesday, Bradbury said. "It’s pretty devastating,” Susan Standish said. “We’re both in our 70s. I don’t think we’re going to try this again.” She said the couple enjoyed staying active into their 70s because they did not want to "stop," despite their children telling them otherwise. McHenry County Sheriff's deputies were at the scene investigating Tuesday. Firefighters likely would need to return to extinguish the hay, which continued to smolder, Bradbury said. Firefighters from Woodstock, Capron, Union and Harvard units assisted Marengo at the scene.


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Lake in the Hills officials defend $11K in expenses for Chicago conferenceRep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, is asking officials to reimburse the village for hotel expenses at the Hilton Chicago Hotel. Skillicorn spoke out during the village's Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday. "For a conference and a banquet so close to home, the idea of staying in a luxury hotel versus taking the train doesn't seem appropriate to me," Skillicorn said. Village President Russ Ruzanski, Village Clerk Crystal Ulen, Finance Director Shane Johnson, ​Village Administrator Jen Clough and Trustees Stephen Harlfinger, Ray Bogdanowski, Bob Huckins, David McPhee and Suzanne Artinghelli attended the conference. Registration fees to attend the conference were $2,790. Clough said a larger number of people attended this year because four elected officials were new, and Ruzanski is the newly appointed president. "They are responsible for making important decisions and setting our policies and budget, and they need expertise and education to do so," Clough said.The conference takes place annually and is meant to give municipal staff training on topics such as budgeting, zoning codes, economic development and risk management. The largest expenses for the conference were hotel rooms for $7,156.80 and parking for $1,101.30, according to documents. Four people spent $577.50 on hotel valet parking. Clough said that by the time many arrived on Thursday of the conference, the self-park area of the hotel was full, and they were told valet parking was all that was left. The drive from Lake in the Hills Village Hall is an hour and 10 minutes, and a Metra train service is offered in Crystal Lake. Skillicorn said he'd recommend taking the train, which costs $8 each way. Skillicorn said that when he was a trustee for East Dundee for five years and attended the conference once, he had to handle transportation and hotel costs himself.Huckins said the conference is included in the village's budget each year. "This is a conference this board attends for its training and education. We don't go there to waste the taxpayers' money, we go there to learn how to be a better trustee and a better steward for this village," Huckins said. "I have no problem paying back $1,000, but the benefit that I gain from that is more than $1,000 that was spent by this village." Ruzanski and McPhee each were charged $1,052.10 for a three-night stay and valet parking, according to documents. "Sending nine officials to downtown Chicago – the epicenter of corruption, waste, fraud and abuse – to hear from Springfield lobbyists is not appropriate," Skillicorn said. "They should be listening to their local constituents." In comparison, Cary spent $925.25 and sent three people, Village Administrator Jake Rife said. Algonquin spent $330 and sent one person, Assistant Village Manager Mike Kumbera said.Harlfinger said the Illinois Municipal League has been in existence since 1913, and most municipalities are part of it. He said that IML sends information of what the state is doing in regard to governing, dollars spent and information it would like representatives to share, but it never gets updates. "For you to be a trustee at one point, and now state representative, and you've probably never set foot in Lake in the Hills – and now you try to criticize what we do with a very unique budget," Harlfinger said. "Why don't you try to concentrate on trying to help this village? What have you ever done for the village of Lake in the Hills besides go on a witch hunt for their board members?" Harlfinger also brought up the point that Skillicorn receives a $111 budget a day when he is in Springfield. Skillicorn said he shares rooms with other legislators in order to save money.Liz Wakeman, a Lake in the Hills resident and former trustee, thanked the trustees for taking the time to go. She said that when she attended the conference, she went for the full time and paid for her own hotel room because she did not have time to travel back and forth and do business. "A lot of the networking that goes on is after hours, and it is beneficial and crucial to get information from other government officials, so I'd like to thank you for doing that, and I hope the practice of participating continues in the future." Ruzanski said that looking ahead, he does not expect the same number of attendees next year, but he feels the training provided is very important. Other costs included food reimbursement, such as Clough's $8 Starbucks breakfast, and Johnson expensed $1.80 in Illinois Tollway I-PASS fees. To end Tuesday's meeting, trustees discussed sending representatives to a conference for the Parks and Recreation Department in Crystal Lake. McPhee laughed, "So they won't need any hotel accommodations?"

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:43:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – A village administrator attending a municipal conference is not out of the ordinary, but spending more than $11,000 to send nine people is excessive, one state official said. Lake in the Hills officials racked up a $11,071.50 bill during the three-day Illinois Municipal League retreat and annual banquet from Sept. 21 to 23. Bills ranged from registration, food, transportation and hotel room costs for two employees and seven elected officials, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, is asking officials to reimburse the village for hotel expenses at the Hilton Chicago Hotel. Skillicorn spoke out during the village's Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday. "For a conference and a banquet so close to home, the idea of staying in a luxury hotel versus taking the train doesn't seem appropriate to me," Skillicorn said. Village President Russ Ruzanski, Village Clerk Crystal Ulen, Finance Director Shane Johnson, ​Village Administrator Jen Clough and Trustees Stephen Harlfinger, Ray Bogdanowski, Bob Huckins, David McPhee and Suzanne Artinghelli attended the conference. Registration fees to attend the conference were $2,790. Clough said a larger number of people attended this year because four elected officials were new, and Ruzanski is the newly appointed president. "They are responsible for making important decisions and setting our policies and budget, and they need expertise and education to do so," Clough said.The conference takes place annually and is meant to give municipal staff training on topics such as budgeting, zoning codes, economic development and risk management. The largest expenses for the conference were hotel rooms for $7,156.80 and parking for $1,101.30, according to documents. Four people spent $577.50 on hotel valet parking. Clough said that by the time many arrived on Thursday of the conference, the self-park area of the hotel was full, and they were told valet parking was all that was left. The drive from Lake in the Hills Village Hall is an hour and 10 minutes, and a Metra train service is offered in Crystal Lake. Skillicorn said he'd recommend taking the train, which costs $8 each way. Skillicorn said that when he was a trustee for East Dundee for five years and attended the conference once, he had to handle transportation and hotel costs himself.Huckins said the conference is included in the village's budget each year. "This is a conference this board attends for its training and education. We don't go there to waste the taxpayers' money, we go there to learn how to be a better trustee and a better steward for this village," Huckins said. "I have no problem paying back $1,000, but the benefit that I gain from that is more than $1,000 that was spent by this village." Ruzanski and McPhee each were charged $1,052.10 for a three-night stay and valet parking, according to documents. "Sending nine officials to downtown Chicago – the epicenter of corruption, waste, fraud and abuse – to hear from Springfield lobbyists is not appropriate," Skillicorn said. "They should be listening to their local constituents." In comparison, Cary spent $925.25 and sent three people, Village Administrator Jake Rife said. Algonquin spent $330 and sent one person, Assistant Village Manager Mike Kumbera said.Harlfinger said the Illinois Municipal L[...]


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Early-morning fire near Marengo destroys barn, kills chickensAn early-morning fire Tuesday destroyed a barn and its contents at the Standish family farm near Marengo. The barn had housed chickens and equipment, and the damage is estimated at $125,000.A chicken roams the Standish family farmyard after a barn fire Tuesday morning on Route 176 near Marengo. The barn had chickens and equipment, and officials said the damage likely cost close to $125,000.Icicles hang from a charred piece of lumber after an early-morning fire Tuesday destroyed a barn on the Standish family farm near Marengo. The barn had housed chickens and equipment, and the damage is estimated at $125,000.

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 03:38:00 GMT

MARENGO – George and Susan Standish's dog doesn't bark unless it's necessary.

On Tuesday morning, with the Standishes' Marengo barn ablaze and the nearby sky glowing red, the dog woke the Marengo couple at 5:30 a.m. to a demolished barn.

"She’s a good dog – she only barks when she has to," Susan said. "I woke up and looked out the bedroom window, and I thought, 'I’m dreaming.' "

Someone was pounding on the door. A passerby had called 911.

Marengo firefighters responded about 5:45 a.m. to the Standishes' farm on Dunham Road and Route 176 in Seneca Township for a reported structure fire, Marengo Fire Chief Robert Bradbury said.

George tried to open one of the barn doors to let some of the animals escape.

"Some did get out," Susan said.

It took firefighters about 90 minutes to get the fire under control, Bradbury said, and the large barn was destroyed. The barn had housed chickens and equipment, and the damage likely cost close to $125,000, officials said.

"[George] said there were a lot [of chickens] in there," Bradbury said.

The two farm grain for a living, and Susan said her husband enjoys keeping chickens as well as ducks. They had a barn fire about five years ago, but not on the scale of Tuesday's.

"After we lost them years ago, we got even more and built a bigger barn," Susan said.

There were no injuries aside from the ducks and chickens. The cause was undetermined Tuesday, Bradbury said.

"It’s pretty devastating,” Susan said. “We’re both in our 70s. I don’t think we’re going to try this again.”

She said the couple enjoyed staying active into their 70s because they did not want to "stop," despite their children telling them otherwise.

McHenry County Sheriff's deputies were at the scene investigating Tuesday.

Firefighters likely would need to return to extinguish the hay, which continued to smolder, Bradbury said.

Firefighters from Woodstock, Capron, Union and Harvard units assisted Marengo at the scene.

An early-morning fire Tuesday destroyed a barn and its contents at the Standish family farm near Marengo. The barn had housed chickens and equipment, and the damage is estimated at $125,000.A chicken roams the Standish family farmyard after a barn fire Tuesday morning on Route 176 near Marengo. The barn had chickens and equipment, and officials said the damage likely cost close to $125,000.Icicles hang from a charred piece of lumber after an early-morning fire Tuesday destroyed a barn on the Standish family farm near Marengo. The barn had housed chickens and equipment, and the damage is estimated at $125,000.


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Runner helps save Homewood mayor who fell into frozen lakeRich Hofeld

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 23:04:00 GMT

CHICAGO – A good Samaritan helped save an 80-year-old Illinois mayor after he fell through thin ice trying to save his dog from a lake.

Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld said he was walking his dogs with his wife on Sunday at Izaak Walton Preserve in the southern suburb of Chicago when their dog fell into a frozen lake. He had left his cellphone in his vehicle and couldn't call for help.

"There had been a shelf of ice from the shore about 30 feet out, and beyond that was open water and she had gone across that shelf of ice and was in the water," Hofeld said.

Hofeld also fell into the lake. He was able to lift his 100-pound dog out of the water, but couldn't save himself. He said a man jogging called 911, then created a makeshift rope using his shirt and the couple's jackets.

"Every time I tried to get up onto the ice, the ice broke and I went under," he said. "I was just treading water."

The man was trying to pull Hofeld out of the water when emergency responders arrived. Divers rescued Hofeld. Officials said he had been in the freezing water for 20 minutes.

Hofeld was taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated for hypothermia and minor scrapes and bruises. He was held overnight for observation.

Hofeld said the jogger left the scene before anyone could get his name.

"He really saved my life. I don't know what we would have done had he not shown up," he said.

Rich Hofeld


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Democrats say President Trump's tweets about Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand sexist, crudeSen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., attends a news conference, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Gillibrand says President Donald Trump’s latest tweet about her was a “sexist smear” aimed at silencing her voice. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 20:32:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Plowing into the sexual harassment debate in a big way, President Donald Trump laced into Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday, tweeting that the New York Democrat would come to his office "begging" for campaign contributions and "do anything" to get them. Democrats accused the president of making crude insinuations. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who had called for Trump's resignation a day earlier because of allegations of sexual misconduct, called Trump's attack a "sexist smear attempting to silence my voice." "I will not be silenced on this issue," Gillibrand insisted. "Neither will the women who stood up to the president yesterday," referring to women who have accused the president of sexual misconduct. Standing up for Gillibrand, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., tweeted to the president: "Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame @SenGillibrand? Do you know who you're picking a fight with? Good luck with that, @realDonaldTrump. Nevertheless, #shepersisted." The phrase "she persisted" went viral earlier this year after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell silenced Warren as she tried to read a letter from Coretta Scott King about then-attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions. Trump's tweet Tuesday did not directly address sexual harassment, but said of Gillibrand: "Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office "begging" for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!" A day earlier, Gillibrand said Trump should resign because there were credible accusations against him. And barring that, she said, "Congress should investigate the multiple sexual harassment and assault allegations against him." Trump's tweet Tuesday morning inflamed Democrats who said the president was again debasing a woman. Trump had not responded to earlier resignation calls from three male senators, Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democrats Cory Booker of New Jersey and Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Hours later, Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono also called for the president to step down, declaring that Trump's "tweet against Kirsten was just another example of his misogyny." "He is a liar. He is an admitted sexual predator and the only thing that will stop him is his resignation," Hirono said. "He not only owes Kirsten an apology, he owes an apology to our entire country, particularly the women in this country." Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., called it "an ugly and suggestive tweet, and we all know what he was trying to say there, and it is beneath the office of the presidency." Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said Trump had "proven to be a poison for the presidency, a cancer on the country, and a truly disgraceful human being." Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island declared that Trump was "rather incontinent when it comes to tweets." And the Democratic Women's Working Group held a news conference to demand that the House Ov[...]


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Prosecutors: New York City subway bomber posted 'Trump you failed to protect your nation' on social mediaA police officer stands in the passageway connecting New York City's Port Authority bus terminal and the Times Square subway station Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, near the site of Monday's explosion. Commuters returning to New York City's subway system on Tuesday were met with heightened security a day after a would-be suicide bomber's rush-hour blast failed to cause the bloodshed he intended. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:45:00 GMT

NEW YORK – A Bangladeshi immigrant arrested in a New York subway bombing blamed President Donald Trump for the botched suicide mission that he said he carried out for the Islamic State group, authorities said as they brought federal charges against him Tuesday. Akayed Ullah posted a statement on his Facebook account on his way to the Monday morning attack stating: "Trump you failed to protect your nation," the criminal complaint said. He also told law enforcement officers at the hospital where he was taken with burn injuries to the body and hands: "I did it for the Islamic State," according to the complaint. His rush-hour attack fizzled in a long walkway used by commuters moving between trains in the city's busiest subway station at Times Square. Three pedestrians complained of harmed hearing and headaches after the bomb went off. Ullah, 27, was expected to appear before a magistrate judge, though it was not immediately clear if he was well enough to go to court. During a search of his Brooklyn apartment, investigators recovered a passport with the words "O America, die in rage" scrawled in it, the complaint says. He hoped to "terrorize as many people as possible" with a bomb filled with metal screws that he believed would cause maximum damage, the complaint said. The complaint charged Ullah with providing material support to a terrorist group, use of a weapon of mass destruction and three bomb-related counts. It was not immediately clear who would represent Ullah in court. A news conference was planned for later Tuesday. According to the complaint, Ullah began researching how to build bomb after he had "viewed pro-ISIS materials online, including a video instructing, in substance, that if supporters of ISIS were unable to travel overseas to join ISIS, they should carry out attacks in their homelands." Overseas, Bangladesh counterterrorism officers were questioning Ullah's wife and other relatives, officials there said Tuesday. Relatives and police said Ullah last visited Bangladesh in September to see his wife and newborn son before leaving them behind to return the United States. Hours after Monday's explosion, Trump cited the background of the bomber in renewing his call for closer scrutiny of foreigners who come to the country and less immigration based on family ties. Ullah — who told investigators he wanted to retaliate for American action against Islamic State extremists — came to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 2011 on a visa available to certain relatives of U.S. citizens. "Today's terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security," Trump said in a statement that called for various changes to the immigration system. Earlier, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump's proposed policies "could have prevented this." On his last visit to Bangladesh, the suspect mostly remained inside a small apartment in Dhaka's Hazribagh area, said [...]


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Trump says accusations of sexual misconduct 'fabricated'Rachel Crooks, left, Jessica Leeds, center, and Samantha Holvey attend a news conference, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in New York to discuss their accusations of sexual misconduct against Donald Trump. The women, who first shared their stories before the November 2016 election, called for a congressional investigation into Trump's alleged behavior. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:05:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump, pushing back against women accusing him of sexual misconduct, insisted Tuesday he's the target of "false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don't know and/or have never met."

Trump lashed out on Twitter a day after three women who previously accused him of sexual harassment shared their stories on NBC's "Megyn Kelly Today."

Trump says Democrats "have been unable to show any collusion with Russia" and now are "moving on" to these allegations. He adds: "FAKE NEWS!"

He also attacked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who on Monday said Trump should resign over the allegations.

Trump said Gillibrand is a "total flunky for Chuck Schumer," the Senate Democratic leader. He said Gillibrand, "who would come to my office 'begging' for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump."

Messages seeking comment were left with Gillibrand's office.

On Monday, the women — Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks — urged Congress to investigate Trump's behavior.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders pledged to provide a list of eyewitnesses whose accounts exonerated the president. She did not provide the list by late Monday.

The allegations surfaced during last year's presidential campaign, but the women raised the issue anew on the Kelly show Monday and at a news conference.

"It was heartbreaking last year," Holvey said. "We're private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there to try and show America who this man is and how he views women, and for them to say, 'Eh, we don't care,' it hurt."

The former beauty queen claimed that Trump ogled her and other Miss USA pageant contestants in their dressing room in 2006. Crooks is a former receptionist at Trump Tower and Leeds says she met Trump on a flight.

Sixteen women have come forward with a range of accusations against Trump, many after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape last October in which Trump was caught on an open microphone bragging about groping women. One woman, Summer Zevos, a contestant on Trump's reality show, "The Apprentice," sued, contending that Trump's denials of her accusations amount to false and defamatory statements.

Rachel Crooks, left, Jessica Leeds, center, and Samantha Holvey attend a news conference, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in New York to discuss their accusations of sexual misconduct against Donald Trump. The women, who first shared their stories before the November 2016 election, called for a congressional investigation into Trump's alleged behavior. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)


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Police warn of icy conditions throughout greater McHenry County Tuesday morningShaw Media file photo

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 11:59:00 GMT

The McHenry County Sheriff's Office warned residents early Tuesday morning of the icy conditions throughout the County and advised them to allow for extra travel time.

Blowing and drifting snow overnight created icy conditions throughout greater McHenry County for Tuesday's morning commute, the Sheriff's Office said in a Nixle alert sent just before 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Officials advised residents to also use extra caution around plows, as they were working to keep the roadways clear.

Monday’s icy weather affected the commute across northern Illinois, where visibility dropped to as low as one quarter of a mile at times, according to the National Weather Service.

The surprise snowfall made for a busy night of traffic-related calls to police, according to local authorities.

“The snow comes with slick roads, and there were a lot of people spinning out,” Marengo Fire Protection District Captain Mark Pankow said Monday night.

Crystal Lake police offered some tips for motorists thinking about driving in snowy weather.

“Use common sense,” Crystal Lake police Sgt. Lucas Behning said. “Slow down and make sure there’s enough distance between yourself and the person driving in front of you.”

Shaw Media file photo


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3 Trump accusers speak out, call for congressional probeAP photo Rachel Crooks (left), Jessica Leeds (center) and Samantha Holvey attend a news conference, Monday, in New York to discuss their accusations of sexual misconduct against Donald Trump.

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:37:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Three women who have previously accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment shared their stories on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today.”

Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks on Monday told of alleged harassment by Trump spanning decades.

The White House called the claims false and “totally disputed in most cases.” It said “the timing and absurdity of these false claims speak volumes.”

One of the accusers, Rachel Crooks, called the White House statement “laughable.”

Crooks said of sexual misconduct: “I think politicians seem to be immune to this.”

Holvey described the pain the women felt after Trump’s victory. “We are private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there, to try to show America who this man is, and especially how he views women, for them to say, ‘Meh, we don’t care,’ it hurt.”

The women, who first shared their stories before the November 2016 election, were holding a news conference later Monday to call for a congressional investigation into Trump’s alleged behavior. They cited the recent revelations of sexual misconduct by prominent men in business, media and politics, for their decision to speak out publicly against Trump once again.

“The environment’s different,” Holvey said. “Let’s try again.”

AP photo Rachel Crooks (left), Jessica Leeds (center) and Samantha Holvey attend a news conference, Monday, in New York to discuss their accusations of sexual misconduct against Donald Trump.


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Bitcoin futures soar amid frenzy over virtual currencyTraders work in a trading pit at the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Chicago, as they trade futures and options unrelated to bitcoin. Trading in bitcoin futures began Sunday on the CBOE. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:36:00 GMT

NEW YORK – Wall Street got its first taste of bitcoin Monday, with the price of the first-ever futures contract for the digital currency jumping 20 percent. It’s a step forward for the bitcoin, which has soared this year despite concerns that the surge of investor interest has transformed it from a new-age currency into just the latest speculative bubble. One prominent securities regulator warned that people were now taking out second mortgages on their homes to buy bitcoin. The January contract for bitcoin futures closed at $18,545 on the CBOE Futures Exchange. Trading began Sunday and the price rose as high as $18,850, according to data from the CBOE. The bitcoin futures first day of trading was not entirely smooth. The CBOE’s website crashed several times or slowed down, because of a surge of interest. The exchange halted trading twice on the first day to stem volatility. The exchange operator has rules in place to stop trading after price swings of 10 percent. The CBOE said at least 20 trading firms “actively participated” in the first day of trading, without giving specifics. Volume of the bitcoin futures was relatively low, trading less than 4,000 contracts compared with the tens of thousands that typically trade for more popular commodities such as oil, gold or wheat, or the hundreds of thousands of contracts for popular stock-based futures such as the S&P 500. The CBOE futures don’t involve actual bitcoin. They allow investors to make bets on the future direction of bitcoin. Monday’s futures price indicates investors expect bitcoin to keep rising in the coming weeks, although at a slower pace than seen recently. The futures price was about 8 percent higher than the price of $17,100 quoted for bitcoin on the large private exchange CoinBase late Monday afternoon. But with the surge of interest has come concerns about the bitcoin market being in a bubble. In an interview on business network CNBC, North American Securities Administrators Association President Joseph Borg said he observed some people taking out mortgages on their house to buy bitcoin. While bitcoin has a vocal group of true believers, it also attracts its fair share of detractors. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has called bitcoin “a fraud.” Thomas Peterffy, chairman of the broker-dealer Interactive Brokers Group, expressed deep concerns about the trading of bitcoin futures last month, saying “there is no fundamental basis for valuation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and they may assume any price from one day to the next.” But there is some hopes that bringing bitcoin to a public exchange like the CBOE or the Chicago Mercantile Exchange will bring some regulation or legitimacy to the world of cryptocurrencies. “The next immediate things we will see with the futures is more predictable price movement and less volatility,” said Emin Gun Sirer, a professor at Cornell University who studies digital currencies such as bitcoin. [...]


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Pentagon to allow transgender people to enlist in militaryFILE - In this March 27, 2008 file photo, the Pentagon is seen in this aerial view in Washington. A Pentagon official tells The Associated Press that transgender people can enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1, despite President Donald Trump's opposition. The new policy reflects growing legal pressure on the issue. Potential transgender recruits will have to overcome a lengthy and strict set of physical, medical and mental conditions that make it possible, although difficult, for them to join the armed services. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:36:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Transgender recruits will be allowed to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1, the Pentagon said Monday, as President Donald Trump’s ordered ban suffered another legal setback.

The new policy reflects the difficult hurdles the federal government would have to cross to enforce Trump’s demand earlier this year to bar transgender individuals from the military.

Two federal courts already have ruled against the ban and on Monday a federal court judge denied a government request to set aside the January start date for enlistment.

In October, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly barred the Trump administration from proceeding with its plan to exclude transgender people from military service. Part of the effect of the ruling was that the military would be required to allow transgender people to enlist beginning Jan. 1.

FILE - In this March 27, 2008 file photo, the Pentagon is seen in this aerial view in Washington. A Pentagon official tells The Associated Press that transgender people can enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1, despite President Donald Trump's opposition. The new policy reflects growing legal pressure on the issue. Potential transgender recruits will have to overcome a lengthy and strict set of physical, medical and mental conditions that make it possible, although difficult, for them to join the armed services. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)


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'One of my nightmares': Pipe bomb attack hits in NYC subwayAP file photo Law enforcement officials work following an explosion Monday near New York's Times Square. Police said a man with a pipe bomb strapped to his body set off the crude device in a passageway under 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:36:00 GMT

NEW YORK – A man inspired by Islamic State extremists strapped on a crude pipe bomb, slipped unnoticed into the nation’s busiest subway system and set the device off at rush hour Monday in a scenario that New York has dreaded for years, authorities said. In the end, the only serious wounds were to the suspect himself, Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old Bangladeshi immigrant and former cab driver, authorities said. But the attack sent terrified commuters fleeing through a smoky passageway, and three people suffered headaches and ringing ears from the first bomb blast in the subway in more than two decades. “This was an attempted terrorist attack,” Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters. “Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals.” The attack near Times Square came less than two months after eight people died near the World Trade Center in a truck attack authorities said was also inspired by the Islamic State group. Law enforcement officials said Ullah was inspired by IS but apparently did not have any direct contact with the group and probably acted alone. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there was no evidence, so far, of other bombs or a larger plot. He said officials were exploring whether Ullah had been on authorities’ radar, but there was no indication yet that he was. Investigators described the bomb as a low-tech explosive device attached to Ullah with Velcro and plastic ties. They were looking into how it was made. Cuomo said there was reason to believe the attacker looked at bomb-making instructions online. Authorities were searching Ullah’s Brooklyn home and a rented space in a building nearby, interviewing witnesses and relatives, reviewing his subway fare card and looking for surveillance footage that might show his movements in the moments before the 7:20 a.m. attack. Security cameras did capture the attacker walking casually through a crowded passageway under 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues when the bomb went off amid a plume of white smoke, which cleared to show the man sprawled on the ground and commuters scattering. “All we could hear was the chaos,” said Elrana Peralta, a Greyhound customer-service worker who was working at the Port Authority bus terminal near the blast, though she did not hear it. Instead, she heard people yelling, “Get out! Get out! Get out!” Port Authority police said officers found the man injured on the ground, with wires protruding from his jacket to his pants and the device strapped to his torso under his coat. They said he was reaching for a cellphone and they grabbed his hands. A photo published by the New York Post showed a bearded man crumpled on the ground with his shirt apparently blown off and black soot covering his bare midriff. Investigators said it was not clear if he set the bomb off intentionally or prematurely. Law en[...]


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Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County looking for families in need of new home in 2018Members of the McHenry Police Department work with Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County at one of its build sites this summer as they volunteer their time to put a new roof on a home.

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:35:00 GMT

McHENRY – When Habitat for Humanity gives a family keys to a new house, Kathy Haupt loves watching children’s faces. “These are kids that had to move every year, change schools constantly, didn’t make friends because they were moving, or were in and out of shelters, and when you bring them to their new home, it’s pure joy,” said Haupt, the nonprofit’s service coordinator. Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County is looking for deserving families for 2018 home builds and repairs, Haupt said. The organization has built 46 homes since 1995 and is hosting its 46th dedication ceremony Saturday in Woodstock. Seven homes were completed in 2017 in McHenry, Lakemoor, Harvard and Woodstock. “It’s a big deal because when I first came here in 2010, we were doing two houses with no repairs, and now we are doing more homes and repairs and helping many more people within our county,” Haupt said. Repairs can include anything from yard cleanup to major electrical repairs. So far for 2018, the McHenry organization has plans to build in Wonder Lake and Harvard. Haupt said it is trying to build a pool of families so that once property is purchased, the organization can fit families into houses. “Our mission is to spread the word, because nobody wants to say, ‘We are living in a shelter’ or ‘We lost our home and are living at our grandmother’s house,’ ” Haupt said. “Adults in the workplace don’t want to admit they are struggling.” To be eligible for a home, a person must be at least 18 years old; a U.S. citizen or legal resident; willing to live anywhere in McHenry County; able to save for a cash down payment of $1,000 and pay back a low-interest mortgage; not be able to qualify for a conventional mortgage; be steadily employed or have a reliable income; and be willing to help build the home. The requirement to live in McHenry County was changed for 2018 after the organization was building more than other affiliates, Haupt said, allowing them to reach out further. For example, Lake County’s program does not offer repairs, so if the property is close to McHenry County’s boundaries, Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County will work on the project. Mortgages are no more than 30 percent of the family’s income, Haupt said. There also are income requirements depending on family size, which can be found at www.habitatmchenry.org/becoming-a-habitat-homeowner. Interested families can call Habitat for Humanity at 815-759-9002. “We watch our families grow, and if it wasn’t for a little helping hand, they’d stay in poverty,” Haupt said. “With that little bit of help, these kids are making the honor roll and planning for college – dreams they never thought could come true.” Members of the McHenry Police Department work with Habitat for Humani[...]


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District 300 board to vote on property tax levy increaseSarah Nader file photo — snader@shawmedia.com Students walk down the hallway at Dundee Highlands Elementary School in West Dundee. Algonquin-based Community Unit School District 300 has been patching tiles at Dundee Highlands Elementary School on an as-needed basis since a $35 million capital development grant from the state never materialized.Sarah Nader file photo — snader@shawmedia.com A view of replaced floor tile is seen in a first grade class room at Dundee Highlands Elementary School in West Dundee. Algonquin-based Community Unit School District 300 has been patching tiles at Dundee Highlands Elementary School on an as-needed basis since a $35 million capital development grant from the state never materialized.

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:34:00 GMT

ALGONQUIN – Community Unit School District 300 is requesting a 26 percent increase from 2016 to 2017 in its property tax levy, Chief Financial Officer Susan Harkin said. A typical homeowner with a $200,000 home will likely see an increase in next year’s property tax bills. If an average homeowner’s equalized assessed value is the same as last year, the homeowner would see a decrease of $378, and if the EAV increases because of overall market conditions, the homeowner will see an increase of $66, Harkin said. The District 300 board will hold a hearing and vote on the projected property tax levy at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Central Office, 2550 Harnish Drive, Algonquin. ​The Algonquin-based district has requested $237,593,688, but anticipates it will receive $193,518,881 once the tax cap is applied to the district levy, Harkin said. The request is a 26 percent increase over 2016, but once the tax cap is applied, it will be closer to a 3.1 percent increase. New funds will be used for costs associated with increased student enrollment and facility maintenance and improvement projects, Harkin said. The district began a master facility plan last spring and has 21,068 total students enrolled. Over the past several years, 100 additional students a year have been added to the district, Harkin said. Additionally, because of a lack of funding from the state for a Capital Development Board Grant, the district is still waiting for funding to complete projects that were identified in a 2004 referendum, Harkin said. For example, there are numerous District 300 schools that need asbestos tile abatement and replacement, Harkin said. At the board’s Jan. 23 meeting, members will review a formal master facility plan that will identify projects that need to be completed over the next five years to ensure the district’s facilities are properly maintained. The comprehensive list has $35 million worth of projects needed, ranging from security improvements to general roofing. “We want to make sure we are investing and maintaining our largest asset,” Harkin said. “Eight to nine schools have projects that were supposed to take place, but never have. We’ve tried to do this with existing dollars, but it’s getting to the point where we’re here in 2017 and it can’t wait any longer.” Financial concerns for the district includes the property tax freeze, sustainability of state funding for education, the state pension obligation, future growth and capital project needs and improving educational opportunities for students, according to district documents. The district is still waiting for the final state revenue figures with the new state school funding formula. Until the information is finalized, Harkin said she is unsure of the formula’s effect on the district’s state funding. [...]


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FBI searching for Huntley bank robberPhoto provided The FBI is searching for this man who robbed a TCF Bank inside a Jewel-Osco at 13200 Village Green Drive in Huntley on Sunday, FBI Special Agent Garrett Croon said.

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:33:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – The FBI is searching for an unknown man who robbed a TCF Bank inside a Huntley grocery store Sunday.

The robbery occurred at 3:45 p.m. at a TCF Bank branch inside a Jewel-Osco grocery store, 13200 Village Green Drive, Huntley, FBI Special Agent Garrett Croon said.

The man escaped with an undisclosed amount of money and is believed to be a serial bank robber.

The robber is described as 5-foot-4, and was wearing a wig and sunglasses, Croon said.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to his arrest. Anyone with information can call the FBI at 312-421-6700.

Huntley police said in a message on the department’s Facebook page that anyone with information can call the Huntley police at 847-515-5333 or by texting TIP HUNTLEY followed by the message to 8887777.

Photo provided The FBI is searching for this man who robbed a TCF Bank inside a Jewel-Osco at 13200 Village Green Drive in Huntley on Sunday, FBI Special Agent Garrett Croon said.


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Police: Fox River Grove man charged with hate crime after throwing beer at man

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:33:00 GMT

FOX RIVER GROVE – A 26-year-old Fox River Grove man was charged with a hate crime after throwing a beer at a gas station clerk and telling him to leave the country, police said.

Jason P. Bachler, of the 100 block of Beachway Drive, was arrested Oct. 30 after throwing a beer can at the clerk’s chest after the employee asked him to pay for the drink, Fox River Grove Police Chief Eric Waitrovich said Monday.

According to a complaint filed in McHenry County court, Bachler asked the man, “Are you an American or something?”

When the clerk replied “no,” Bachler threw the can and told the employee to “get out of my [omitted] country,” the complaint states.

Bachler is charged with battery and committing a hate crime. If Bachler is convicted of committing a hate crime, he could receive a one- to three-year prison sentence, charging documents show.

Bachler posted $1,000 bond Nov. 1 and was released from the McHenry County Jail.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 5.


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Appellate judge denies convicted Woodstock sex offender's request for lighter sentence

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:32:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A former Woodstock man convicted of sexually assaulting women in what one victim called a sex dungeon will remain in prison serving a 36-year sentence, according to a recent appellate court ruling. Attorneys representing 49-year-old Charles Oliver previously had filed a motion to reconsider Oliver’s 2014 sentence, which they argued was “excessive,” according to the motion. Second District Appellate Judge Robert McLaren denied the motion Dec. 4. Oliver was found guilty of criminal sexual assault and unlawful restraint in what was expected to be the first of eight trials. One month later, he pleaded guilty to two additional sex crimes, and the remaining charges were dropped. McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather subsequently sentenced him to 36 years in prison. His attempt to appeal the conviction in 2016 was denied. Oliver’s former defense attorney, Mark Facchini, has since been appointed a McHenry County associate judge. Representatives from Facchini’s previous firm, Donahue and Walsh, could not be reached for comment. In a Jan. 12, 2016, motion filed in McHenry County court, Facchini argued Oliver had led a “law-abiding life” before the charges were brought forward and that the “character and attitude of [Oliver] indicate he is unlikely to commit another crime.”  McLaren, however, disagreed and said the evidence presented during trial suggested Oliver’s behavior was part of a pattern. “…The evidence proved that the crimes of which defendant was convicted were not isolated incidents but part of a pattern of contacting women online to arrange in sexual acts for money and then engaging in the assault, abuse and humiliation of these women,” McLaren wrote in his Dec. 4 order. The judge also noted that Oliver’s sentences on charges typically punishable between six to 30 years in prison were below the midpoint sentencing range. Prosecutors at the time said Oliver responded to women’s ads online and would agree to meet them for sex in exchange for money. Oliver would then force the women into a room in his basement, which one victim described as a “sex dungeon,” according to a motion filed by prosecutors in November 2013. In the motion, Oliver was accused of recording many of the assaults, calling women his “property” and telling them “no one would hear [them] scream.” On Jan. 28, 2013, multiple videos of unidentified women were recovered from his house.  In the videos, he is physically rough with the women and threatens them, according to statements made by the state’s attorney’s office in 2013 court filings. During a police interview, Oliver admitted to picking up prostitutes a[...]



Crystal Lake City Council impressed with Woodlore Estates planRichard Olson, of Gary R. Weber Associates, speaks Monday to Crystal Lake City Council about CalAtlantic Homes' proposal for 489 new homes in the city.

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:32:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The City Council is on board with the second proposal in the past two months that could bring hundreds of new homes to the city. CalAtlantic Homes built on the favorable feedback it received Wednesday from the Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission with a strong initial review by City Council on Monday night. There were no formal votes, as it was just an introduction to the project, but council members showed extensive enthusiasm. CalAtlantic’s plan is for 489 new houses on 310 acres located northeast of the commercial properties near the intersection of Routes 176 and 31. About half of the neighborhood, named Woodlore Estates, would be open space – including woods, wetlands and parks. The council also was pleased with the architectural touches of the homes presented. “In terms of the quality of the product you presented, there are only a few places in Crystal Lake where we have housing units of this particular character,” Mayor Aaron Shepley said. Ryland Homes, which merged with Standard Pacific to become CalAtlantic, earned approvals in 2006 from the city for a land plan with 30 fewer homes than this latest proposal. The old plan, Preston Pines, would have had 33 percent open space. The new plan has 50 percent open space. Additionally, the old plan called for lots as large as 20,000 square feet, while Woodlore Estates lots would be capped at 12,000 square feet. Several council members, in hindsight, were briefly critical of the Preston Pines plan while saying Woodlore Estates is a vast improvement. The housing market collapsed in the years after Preston Pines was approved. Since then, the demands of homebuyers have evolved and CalAtlantic went back to the drawing board to try to meet them. Of Woodlore Estates’ 489 residences, 104 would be designed for active people 55 years old and older. Council members spoke glowingly about the plan, which would be the first of its kind in Crystal Lake. Both the development team and the council cited market trends that show baby boomers are looking to downsize to two-bedroom homes. The council did express concerns, however, about access to Woodlore. CalAtlantic may have two entrances off Route 31, but will need to figure out a safe way for future residents to go southbound on Route 31. It was noted the company sold a piece of land on the southern end of the site for commercial development. With the sale, an agreement was reached that may allow CalAtlantic to build a road through that parcel for access to Route 176. CalAtlantic will now get to work on the finer details of their neighborhood design in preparation for a formal application with the city. [...]Richard Olson, of Gary R. Weber Associates, speaks Monday to C[...]


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Snow snarls Monday evening commute in McHenry County

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:31:00 GMT

McHENRY – McHenry police activated an emergency snow plan Monday evening as a sprawling storm system slickened the area with slush and turned portions of Route 31 into a parking lot. The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook late Monday afternoon in McHenry County because of a high risk of snow and wind. Although meteorologists expected snow to fall at rates of an inch an hour, the storm system fizzled by 7 p.m. – but not before stalling traffic and causing minor crashes on icy roads. “The snow is done,” National Weather Service meteorologist Gino Izzi said about 7 p.m. Monday. “At this point, it’s going to be windy and quite cold.” Less than two weeks from the first day of winter, McHenry County residents are now in store for the coldest temperatures yet. Temperatures will fall into the teens Tuesday morning and struggle to reach the 20s in the afternoon, Izzi said. Northwest winds of 30 mph will make the day feel much colder than it is, holding wind chills in the single digits all day. The National Weather Service is tracking another storm that could bring a quick shot of snow Wednesday. “We’ll be watching that,” Izzi said. Monday’s icy weather affected the commute across northern Illinois, where visibility dropped to as low as one quarter of a mile at times, according to the National Weather Service. “The combination of a quick snow accumulation on some roads and low visibility will result in hazardous travel conditions,” the National Weather Service said in a statement. “Leave extra time to reach your destination and use caution driving. Slow down on snow-covered roads and in low visibility.” The surprise snowfall made for a busy night of traffic-related calls to police, according to local authorities. “We’ve been getting a lot of traffic calls that appear to be directly related to the weather,” Crystal Lake police Sgt. Lucas Behning said. One incident happened about 5 p.m. at the intersection of Routes 14 and 176, where a car slid on a slick patch of road into the back of a school bus. No one was injured in the crash and no children were on the bus. Behning did not know which school district the bus belonged to. Marengo Fire Protection District Captain Mark Pankow said a lot drivers had trouble managing the slippery roads. “The snow comes with slick roads, and there were a lot of people spinning out,” Pankow said. “We don’t get called out for those.”  About 3:30 p.m., on a stretch of Route 12 west of Spring Grove Road, a semitrailer slid through the snow, jackknifed and crashed i[...]


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Mario Batali steps down after sexual misconduct allegationsFILE - In this Wednesday, April 20, 2016, file photo, Mario Batali attends an awards dinner in New York. Batali is stepping down from daily operations at his restaurant empire following reports of sexual misconduct by the celebrity chef over a period of at least 20 years. In a prepared statement sent to The Associated Press, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, Batali said the complaints match up with his past behavior. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:21:00 GMT

NEWARK, N.J. – Mario Batali has surrendered oversight of daily operations at his restaurant empire following reports of sexual misconduct by the celebrity chef over a period of at least 20 years. The online site Eater New York, part of Vox Media, reported Monday that the incidents involve at least four women, three of whom worked for Batali. One of women, none was named in the story, said that Batali groping her chest after wine had spilled on her shirt. Another said he grabbed her from behind and holding her tightly against his body. In a prepared statement sent to The Associated Press, Batali said that the complaints "match up" with his past behavior. "I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family," Batali said. A spokesperson for Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group says an employee reported inappropriate behavior by Batali in October. The company told Eater it was the first formal complaint against Batali and that he was reprimanded and required to attend training. Batali will also take leave from his ABC cooking show, "The Chew." "We have asked Mario Batali to step away from The Chew while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention," the network said Monday. "ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment. While we are unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with the show, we will swiftly address any alleged violations of our standards of conduct." A wave of sexual misconduct allegations have upended the political scene and embroiled Hollywood, gaining momentum after shocking allegations of abuse and assault by Harvey Weinstein. The #metoo movement has brought down Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Matt Lauer, and led to resignations in the U.S. House and Senate. There are new calls for President Donald Trump to address sexual misconduct allegations that he's faced. Last week Time magazine named the "silence breakers," those that have shared their stories about sexual assault and harassment, as Person of the Year. The 57-year-old Batali was well known in culinary circles, taking jobs early in his career as a sous chef at the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara and San Francisco. His career took off after opening Po in New York City in the early 1990s, and he skyrocketed to fame with the airing of "Molto Mario," a show that ran on the Food Network for eight years, until 2004. It was there that his signature look, a fleece vest, shorts, and orange Crocs, became instantly recognizable to most people. The Food Network, whi[...]


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Downtown McHenry theater progresses; seating arrivesTheater investor Rick Merkel of McHenry helps unload the new theater chairs Friday at McHenry's remodeled theater.McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett (left) and Aaron Dullum of McHenry help unload the new theater chairs Friday at the city's remodeled theater.Volunteers and theater investors help unload new theater chairs Friday at the remodeled facility.

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 06:22:00 GMT

McHENRY – McHenry is one step closer to the opening of its indoor movie theater after volunteers moved a truckload of seating into the three-screen space. The theater has been in the works since February after McHenry City Council members approved plans for its development. The theater has been closed since 2014 and has undergone a massive transformation since construction began. Remodeling of the building has included roof replacement, interior wall and floor work and facade improvements. The project’s cost is estimated at about $1.5 million – about $1.2 million for the building, and another few hundred thousand in build-out and equipment. The theater will operate under a community-owned model, with community members and business owners investing in the redevelopment, including McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett. Woodstock-based D.C. Cobbs will complement the theater. The restaurant plans to open a location next to the theater in February. The burgers and brews-style pub will offer a menu in McHenry similar to its Woodstock location, including 24 beers on draft, owner Dan Hart said. The restaurant also will feature outdoor dining on a patio and roof. The space almost entirely has been built from reclaimed resources, aside from things that must be bought news, such as kitchen equipment, tables and chairs. “Less than 10 percent of our construction materials are from new things,” Hart said. “We have also designed a louvered roof that will open and close, and we have gas fire pits to let people [sit] out longer.” The theater will hire between 16 and 18 employees, and manager Scott Dehn – who also runs McHenry’s outdoor, drive-in theater – said he wants to offer a fun, unique experience for moviegoers. “I want a fun, clean, family-friendly experience,” Dehn said. “And I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve that I know other theaters don’t offer. Every time they come there, they will remember something special about it.” The indoor theater has been something residents have wanted for a while, and its presence should complement the outdoor theater space, which only is open seasonally, Dehn said. “Customers always say they wish there were an indoor theater so they can see movies the other half of the year,” he said. “The outdoor theater is really a different kind of experience. I’d not think one is going to impact the other because they are so different. … If anything, they will complement each other and help each other out by being neighbors.” Construction is ongoing, and the theater is expected to open in January, he said. [...]


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Cary advances to next stage with Metra station improvement projectThis rendering shows what the Cary Metra station could look like after a planned improvement project. The Village Board approved a contract Tuesday with Muller and Muller Ltd. of Chicago for $151,438

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 06:18:00 GMT

CARY – The village of Cary is moving forward with the next phase of its Metra station improvement project.

The Cary Village Board approved a contract Tuesday with Muller and Muller Ltd. of Chicago for $151,438. The village previously contracted with Muller and Muller in January for up to $312,000 in design services.

Now that the design of the improved station is near completion, the village reached a deal with the same firm for procurement and construction services.

The contract has a 10 percent contingency for unforeseen changes in scope that could bring the maximum money spent on the phase up to $166,582.

Metra will step in to lead the procurement and construction phases. The village led the design phase.

Metra and the firm will handle the bid process, site observations, technical inquiries from potential bidders and overall management of the project.

A request for bids is anticipated to be issued by Metra this winter for a summer construction start, according to Metra’s latest estimates.

Substantial completion is expected in summer 2019, according to village documents. The multiyear schedule requires the expenses to be budgeted over two fiscal years.

The Cary Metra station improvement plan first was announced in November 2014. The station, which is more than 50 years old, will cost from $2.5 million to $3 million.

About $2 million will be covered by a federal grant that Metra obtained and announced in 2014 as part of its capital improvement plans.

The village is planning to build a fully enclosed building and ticket agency facility on the inbound side of the track, as well as to demolish the existing building on the outbound side of the tracks.

An added warming shelter will replace the current “windbreaks,” Metra has said.

The existing Cary station is unique in that it is on the outbound side of the tracks. Stations usually are on the inbound side. This project will relocate the station to the west side, or inbound side, of the railroad.

This rendering shows what the Cary Metra station could look like after a planned improvement project. The Village Board approved a contract Tuesday with Muller and Muller Ltd. of Chicago for $151,438


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Price increases pushing U.S. health insurance shoppers into hard choicesIn this Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, photo, Stephanie and Lance Schmidt pose for a photo with their children, from left, Stella, Solomon and Theo, at their home in Oklahoma City. The Schmidt's have opted for a cost-sharing ministry this year after they realized their monthly insurance bill would have more than doubled to over $1,200 and stuck them with an $8,000 deductible for their family of five. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 06:16:00 GMT

Margaret Leatherwood has eight choices for health insurance next year but no good options. The cheapest individual coverage available in her market would eat up nearly a quarter of the income her husband brings home from the oilfields. The Bryson, Texas, couple makes too much to qualify for Affordable Care Act tax credits that help people buy coverage. But they don’t make enough to comfortably afford insurance on their own, although Paul Leatherwood works seven days a week. Margaret Leatherwood, stays at home and takes care of her grandchildren. This largely middle-class crowd of shoppers is struggling to stay insured. They’ve weathered years of price hikes and shrinking insurance choices with no help. Faced with more price increases for next year, they’re mulling options outside insurance or skipping coverage entirely – a decision that could lead to a fine for remaining uninsured and huge bills if an emergency hits. The sign-up period for 2018 coverage closes on Friday in most states, meaning shoppers have only a few more days to find something that squeezes into their budgets. “I kind of cringe when I am meeting with those clients because I don’t have a solution for them,” said Kelly Rector, a Missouri-based insurance agent. The ACA helped chop the U.S. uninsured population 41 percent to 28.8 million people earlier this year from 48.6 million in 2010, when it became law, according to the latest government figures. The law expanded Medicaid coverage for the poor and created health insurance marketplaces where people can use income-based tax credits to buy a single or family individual insurance plan if they don’t get coverage through work. Those subsidies cover part or all of the bill, capping insurance costs at a percentage of income for those who are eligible. That shields recipients from price hikes of 20 percent or more that have hit many markets. But that help stops abruptly for people making four times the federal poverty level or more – around $48,000 for an individual and more than $98,000 for a family of four. Of the roughly 15 million people who bought ACA-compliant individual insurance for this year, nearly 7 million had no tax credit help, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Meanwhile, the uninsured rate among adults who make too much to qualify for help buying coverage jumped to 5 percent this year from 2 percent in 2016, according to The Commonwealth Fund. Brokers and health care researchers expect that to climb again, especially for people with income levels close to the cutoff for federal help. “It’s not g[...]


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U.S. Nobel laureate worries politics could undermine scienceMichael Rosbash, laureate in Medicine 2017 delivers a speech, during the Nobel banquet in the City Hall, in Stockholm, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. (Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency via AP)

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 06:16:00 GMT

STOCKHOLM – An American researcher who shared this year’s Nobel Prize for medicine bluntly criticized political developments at home in his address at the awards’ gala banquet Sunday night. Michael Rosbash, who was honored for his work on circadian rhythms – commonly called the body clock – expressed concern that U.S. government support such as that received by him and colleagues Jeffrey Hall and Michael Young is endangered. “We benefited from an enlightened period in the postwar United States. Our National Institutes of Health have enthusiastically and generously supported basic research ... [but] the current climate in the U.S. is a warning that continued support cannot be taken for granted,” he said in a short speech at the ornate city hall in Stockholm. The 2018 federal budget proposed by President Donald Trump calls for cutting science funding by billions of dollars. “Also in danger is the pluralistic America into which all three of us of born were born and raised after World War II,” Rosbash said. “Immigrants and foreigners have always been an indispensable part of our country, including its great record in scientific research.” Literature laureate Kazuo Ishiguro of Britain expressed concern about increasing tensions between social factions. “We live today in a time of growing tribal enmities of communities fracturing into bitterly opposed groups,” said Ishiguro, who was born in Japan. He said Nobel prizes can counterbalance such animosity. “The pride we feel when someone from our nation wins a Nobel prize is different from the one we feel witnessing one of our athletes winning an Olympic medal. We don’t feel the pride of our tribe demonstrating superiority over other tribes. Rather it’s the pride that from knowing that one of us has made a significant contribution to our common human endeavor,” he said. In the Norwegian capital of Oslo, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima compared her struggle to survive in 1945 to the objectives of the group awarded this year’s Nobel’s Peace Prize. Setsuko Thurlow, who was 13 when the U.S. bomb devastated her Japanese city during the final weeks of World War II, spoke as a leading activist with the Nobel-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Thurlow said the Hiroshima blast left her buried under the rubble, but she was able to see light and crawl to safety. In the same way, the campaign to which she belongs is a driving force behind an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons, she said after ICAN received the Nob[...]


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Firm convictions, uneasiness at churches before Alabama Senate voteFILE - In this Dec. 5, 2017 photo, former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at a campaign rally, in Fairhope Ala. Alabama voters pick between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)FILE- In this June 21, 2016 file photo, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., listens at a U.S. monetary policy meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington. Most statewide Republican officeholders in Alabama say they're voting for Roy Moore for U.S. Senate. But the state's senior U.S. senator, Shelby, didn't vote for Moore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)Jeremiah Chapman prays during a 16th Street Baptist church service on Sunday in Birmingham, Ala. At the church pastor Arthur Price told the mostly black congregation that Alabama's U.S. Senate election is too important to skip. "There's too much at stake for us to stay home," Price said of Tuesday's election.

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 06:15:00 GMT

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama’s race for U.S. Senate settled into church for worship on Sunday, with the minister at a historic black congregation calling the race a life-or-death matter for equal rights, conservatives standing by Republican Roy Moore and others feeling unsettled in the middle. Speaking at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, where four black girls died in a Ku Klux Klan bombing in 1963, the Rev. Arthur Price evoked the civil rights era between hymns. Democratic nominee Doug Jones prosecuted the last two Klansmen convicted in the attack and has attended events at the church, a downtown landmark with twin domed towers. “There’s too much at stake for us to stay home,” Price said of Tuesday’s election. He didn’t endorse Jones from the pulpit but in a later interview called the candidate “a hero” to the congregation and Birmingham. Despite allegations of sexual misconduct involving teen girls decades ago, Moore isn’t being abandoned by worshippers at Montgomery’s Perry Hill Road Baptist Church, where Moore spoke at a “God and Country” rally in September before the accusations arose. Leaving the red-brick building after a service that ended with a hymn and an altar call, Kevin Mims said he didn’t believe the claims against Moore. But even if true, he said, they occurred long ago, and Moore is a conservative who stands “on the word of God.” “Everyone has to vote their convictions,” said Mims, holding a Bible. “My conviction is he’s the right man for the job.” Lines aren’t so clearly defined elsewhere. Interviews with a dozen parishioners at Mobile’s Ashland Place United Methodist Church, the home church of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, turned up neither any Moore defenders nor confirmed votes for Jones. The prevailing mood seemed to be one of frustration over having to choose between a Republican with Moore’s baggage and any Democrat. “I will vote for Judge Moore,” said Bill Prine, of Mobile. “I’m not a fan of his, but I’ll have to stick with the Republicans.” The candidates also spent time in church. Accompanied by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), and others, Jones tweeted a photo from More Than Conquerors Faith Church, a large black congregation in Birmingham. Aides to Moore, who has been almost invisible on the campaign trail during the closing days of the race, didn’t disclose his whereabouts Sunday. After church, Jones told supporters in a cramped campaign office that the results of Tuesday’s vote would send a mes[...]


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Israeli, French leaders tangle over U.S. Jerusalem decisionProtesters try to enter the U.S. embassy as they are sprayed by riot police using water cannons during a demonstration in Aukar, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. A few hundred demonstrators, including Palestinians, pelted security outside the embassy with stones and burned an effigy of U.S. President Donald Trump in a protest to reject Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 06:14:00 GMT

JERUSALEM – The French and Israeli leaders sparred verbally Sunday over the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while new violence rippled across the region after the move by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The move upended decades of U.S. policy, and a longstanding international consensus, that the fate of Jerusalem be decided in negotiations. Israeli and Palestinian claims to the city’s eastern sector form the emotional core of their conflict, and Trump’s announcement was seen as siding with the Israelis and has drawn wide international criticism.

At a meeting in Paris with Israel’s visiting prime minister, French President Emmanuel Macron condemned recent violence against Israelis. But he also expressed “disapproval” of Trump’s decision, calling it “dangerous for peace.”

“It doesn’t seem to serve, in the short term, the cause of Israel’s security and the Israelis themselves,” Macron said.

Protesters try to enter the U.S. embassy as they are sprayed by riot police using water cannons during a demonstration in Aukar, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. A few hundred demonstrators, including Palestinians, pelted security outside the embassy with stones and burned an effigy of U.S. President Donald Trump in a protest to reject Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)


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Southern California fire flares up, leading to new evacuationsFirefighter Joe Santos of Nevada works to contain the Thomas fire burning through Los Padres National Forest near Ojai, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 06:14:00 GMT

LOS ANGELES – A powerful flare-up on the western edge of Southern California’s largest and most destructive wildfire sent residents fleeing Sunday, as wind-fanned flames churned through old-growth brush in canyons and along hillsides toward coastal towns.

Crews with help from a fleet of water-dropping planes and helicopters saved homes as unpredictable gusts sent the blaze deeper into residential foothill areas northwest of Los Angeles that haven’t burned in decades. New evacuations were ordered as the fire sent up an enormous plume near Montecito and Carpinteria, seaside areas in Santa Barbara County that had been under fire threat for days and now were choked with smoke.

“The winds are kind of squirrely right now,” county fire spokesman Mike Eliason said. “Some places the smoke is going straight up in the air, and others it’s blowing sideways. Depends on what canyon we’re in.”

Firefighter Joe Santos of Nevada works to contain the Thomas fire burning through Los Padres National Forest near Ojai, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)


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Deadline nears for loan applications to help McHenry County homeowners repair after Fox River flood damageDeadlines are approaching for homeowners and businesses affected by July flooding to apply for the Small Business Administration’s loan program to help pay for damage.

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 06:12:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Deadlines are approaching for homeowners and businesses affected by July flooding to apply for the Small Business Administration’s loan program to help pay for damage.

Homeowners and businesses can apply for loans to repair damage caused by flooding, and businesses can apply for loans to offset economic damage, according to a news release from the McHenry County Planning and Development Department. 

The deadline to apply for physical damage loans is Jan. 12, and the deadline for businesses to apply for economic damage loans is Aug. 13. 

Applicants must have an acceptable credit history, prove the ability to repay the loans and provide collateral for loans more than $25,000. Although the SBA will not decline a loan for lack of collateral, the administration will require applicants to pledge what is available. 

Residents can apply for loans online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela, by calling 800-659-2955 (or 800-877-8339 for the deaf and hearing-impaired) or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Deadlines are approaching for homeowners and businesses affected by July flooding to apply for the Small Business Administration’s loan program to help pay for damage.


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