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Northwest Herald

Recent news from Northwest Herald


Discarded cigarette causes siding on Woodstock home to catch fire

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 22:49:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – The siding on a Woodstock house caught fire Friday after someone discarded a cigarette into a plastic flower pot, fire officials said.

A neighbor noticed the siding was on fire and called the fire department about 3:10 p.m., Woodstock Fire Capt. Brendan Parker said.

A resident was inside the house, in the 200 block of East Kimball Avenue in Woodstock, at the time and didn't realize the area near the front door was on fire, Parker said.

No one was injured, and the fire was put out within a minute, he said. The fire caused about $3,000 worth of damage.

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Overturned trailer causes traffic backups at Route 31, Rakow Road

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 22:12:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Crystal Lake Police Department is warning motorists of heavy traffic congestion on Route 31 and Rakow Road.

The traffic backup was caused by an overturned trailer, according to a Nixle alert the department sent at 5:04 p.m. Friday.

The southbound lane of Route 31 is reduced to one lane. It was not immediately clear when the lane would reopen.

Check back at for updates.

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US Postal Service unveils Mister Rogers postage stampThe Mister Rogers forever stamp that went on sale on Friday, March 23.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 22:01:00 GMT

PITTSBURGH – It was a beautiful day to honor Mister Rogers with a postage stamp.

The U.S. Postal Service on Friday released a stamp featuring Fred Rogers, the gentle TV host who entertained and educated generations of preschoolers on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

The stamp pictures Rogers in his trademark cardigan along with King Friday, a puppet character from the show’s Neighborhood of Make-Believe sketch.

A dedication ceremony was held at the Pittsburgh studio where Rogers filmed his beloved PBS show, which aired between 1968 and 2001. Rogers died in 2003 at age 74.

Among those attending were Rogers’ widow, Joanne, and David Newell, who played Mr. McFeely, the deliveryman on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Joanne Rogers said that when she first saw the stamp, it was “love at first sight.”

“I thought it was so beautiful. I think it is so festive,” she said.

Postmaster General Megan Brennan said at the unveiling that Mister Rogers “made the ups and downs of life easier to understand for the youngest members of our society.”

“He shaped generations with his kindness and compassion,” she said.

Noting the stamp has the words “Forever USA,” Brennan said “these words of the Postal Service are our way of saying Mr. Rogers represents the best of America and will do so always.”

Paul Siefken, president and CEO of the Fred Rogers Company, said he couldn’t think of “a better tribute to Fred and his legacy.”

He noted that Rogers loved sending letters, especially to young children who wrote to him about his show.

“Fred Rogers left an indelible mark on generations of young audiences through his groundbreaking series, and his timeless wisdom and important messages of inclusion and neighborliness remain just as relevant today as they were 50 years ago,” Siefken said.

The Mister Rogers forever stamp that went on sale on Friday, March 23.

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Prairie Ridge High School teacher pleads not guilty to financial exploitation chargesRick Lima

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 21:20:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A Prairie Ridge High School teacher on Friday pleaded not guilty to stealing more than $50,000 of an elderly woman's money to purchase a home.

Physical education teacher and varsity women's basketball coach, Rick Lima faces felony financial exploitation charges stemming from purchases he's accused of making in July.

Crystal Lake police have said they believe the money was used to purchase a home.

Lima is one of eight teachers whose position with Community High School District 155 will be cut at the end of the academic year. District officials on Tuesday unanimously approved the layoffs.

Employees who are laid off are selected based on statutory guidelines and student choice, depending on the courses they register for, District 155 Superintendent Steve Olson said on Tuesday. The district is down by 140 students for the upcoming school year, Olson said.

Devin Hester, president of the District 155 Education Association, has attributed the cuts to declining enrollment.

Lima will return to court May 4.

Rick Lima

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District 155, Cary-Grove senior reach settlement in free speech suitMegan Jones — Cary-Grove High School senior Matt Ahmann

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 18:55:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A settlement was reached between Community High School District 155 and a Cary-Grove High School student after he was suspended for using a smartphone to take video of Cary's mayor speaking at the school.

District 155 Board members approved the settlement Tuesday after meeting in executive session.

Cary-Grove senior Matthew Ahmann alleges administrators discouraged him from speaking before Cary Mayor Mark Kownick visited one of his classes, and they later suspended him for posting recordings of the mayor’s speech online.

​Board President Adam Guss and Ahmann's attorney Nemura Pencyla said they could not say what was agreed to in the confidential settlement that was filed with the U.S. District Court in Rockford in January.

The District 155 board said in a statement that neither Ahmann nor the board admits any wrongdoing by settling. The board was prepared to aggressively defend the lawsuit, but found settlement to be the most cost-effective, according to the statement.

Ahmann sought more than $50,000 in damages and requested his suspension records be expunged. The lawsuit alleges the conduct of Kownick and Cary-Grove Dean Jim Kelly was a “prior restraint upon” Ahmann’s First Amendment rights.

Ahmann wouldn't comment on the settlement, but previously said on Facebook he plans to donate any financial benefit from the settlement to educational foundations and the Wounded Warrior Project.

The lawsuit stems from a Sept. 26 incident in which Kownick gave a speech about government and politics at the high school.

Before presenting, Kownick approached Kelly about Ahmann’s “prior political activity” and asked that he be restrained from saying or doing anything during the mayor’s speech, the lawsuit stated. Kelly approached Ahmann, pulled him away from others and “forcefully instructed” him not to say or do anything during Kownick’s speech, according to the lawsuit.

Kownick said he never spoke with Kelly about Ahmann, and said he came to the school as part of a question-and-answer session with no speech prepared.

"I would have loved for him to pay consequences for lying in a lawsuit," Kownick said. "People need to be accountable for their actions. He illegally taped me and then put it online. Even as elected official, I have rights in a school because schools have more restrictive rights than anywhere else."

Ahmann is a moderator of an online group that discusses political topics and has criticized Kownick’s politics in the past, according to the lawsuit.

Weeks after the mayor’s visit, Ahmann posted video and audio recordings of Kownick’s speech online. The student’s attorney stated in the lawsuit that because the recordings were of a political figure performing his public duties, Ahmann had the right to post them online.

On Oct. 12, Ahmann was given a one-day in-school suspension for “inappropriate cellphone use in class without permission,” the lawsuit states. Ahmann accused school administrators of not letting him appeal the suspension.

Kownick also said Ahmann took a photo of his family and degraded the image and wrote his family is "the scum of Cary."

"He doesn't even live in Cary [nor] could [he] vote for me," Kownick said. "I'm a public official and people can go after me. I signed up for it, but you can't go after my family."

Megan Jones — Cary-Grove High School senior Matt Ahmann

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Hurricane Harvey's toxic effect deeper than public toldExxon Mobil Corp.'s Olefins Plant appears Tuesday in Baytown, Texas. Two days after Harvey hit, about 457 million gallons of stormwater mixed with untreated wastewater, including oil and grease, surged into an adjacent creek from the Exxon plant.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:52:00 GMT

HOUSTON – More than a half-year after Hurricane Harvey flooded America’s largest corridor of energy and petrochemical plants, records show the storm’s environmental assault was more widespread and severe than authorities publicly acknowledged. Piecing together county, state and federal records, The Associated Press and Houston Chronicle cataloged more than 100 Harvey-related toxic releases – on land, in water and air – in metropolitan Houston, America’s fourth-largest city. Most were never publicized. Only a few were investigated by federal regulators. State officials say they have investigated 89 incidents but have announced no enforcement actions. Some 500 chemical plants, 10 refineries and more than 6,670 miles of intertwined oil, gas and chemical pipelines line the corridor. Nearly half a billion gallons of industrial wastewater mixed with storm water surged out of just one of these chemical plants. The dozens of tons of chemicals unleashed – all self-reported by industry – include such proven carcinogens as benzene and vinyl chloride. Many affected plants are repeat environmental offenders. Soil and water testing for contaminants by state and federal regulators was largely limited to Superfund toxic waste sites. Air sampling was more extensive, including flyovers, but officials released few details and repeatedly assured the public that post-Harvey air pollution posed no health threat. The career civil servant who headed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office during Harvey, Samuel Coleman, now says those general assessments did not reflect local “hotspots” with potential risk to people. The priority in the hurricane’s immediate aftermath was “addressing any environmental harms as quickly as possible, as opposed to making announcements about what the problem was,” Coleman said. In hindsight, he said, it might not have been a bad idea to inform the public about the worst of “dozens of spills.” Local officials say the state and federal government’s response to Harvey has weakened efforts by the city of Houston and surrounding Harris County to build cases against the companies and force them to follow through on cleanups. “The public will probably never know the extent of what happened to the environment after Harvey. But the individual companies of course know,” said Rock Owens, supervising environmental attorney for Harris County, home to 4.7 million residents. Regulators alerted the public to dangers from just two, well-publicized toxic disasters: the Arkema chemical plant northeast of Houston that exploded and burned for days, and a nearby dioxin-laden federal Superfund site whose protective cap was damaged by the raging San Jacinto River. The chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Bryan Shaw, told a January legislative hearing he could not discuss those spills or possible sanctions while an after-action review is pending. The state says it has “a number of open investigations” but would not elaborate. The limited extent of post-Harvey environmental testing by state and federal authorities was “unconscionable,” said environmental sociologist Scott Frickel of Brown University, especially compared to two previous major Gulf Coast hurricanes. After Hurricane Ike hit Texas in 2008, state regulators collected 85 soil samples. More than a dozen violations were identified and cleanups carried out, according to a state review. And after Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters ravaged New Orleans in 2005, the EPA a[...]

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Nigeria says only 1 schoolgirl left in hands of Boko HaramThe girls from the Government Girls Science and Technical College Dapchi who were kidnapped and set free are photographed during a handover to government officials Wednesday in Maiduguri, Nigeria.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:52:00 GMT

LAGOS, Nigeria – Only one Nigerian schoolgirl still is being held by Boko Haram after the extremists released 104 classmates seized in a mass abduction and she “will not be abandoned,” President Muhammadu Buhari said Thursday, with no word on five girls still unaccounted for who are said to be dead and buried. The president’s statement calls Leah Sharibu “the only Dapchi schoolgirl still in captivity” after the extraordinary release of the girls on Wednesday. Freed girls and parents have said Sharibu is Christian and still captive “because they want to convert her to Islam.” Buhari’s statement says “true followers of Islam all over the world respect the injunction that there is no compulsion in religion.” He added that he looked forward to meeting with the girls who were freed. Also Thursday, the father of one of the five schoolgirls still unaccounted for said he has been told his daughter and others are dead and buried. Inuwa Garba told The Associated Press that friends of his daughter who were freed told him the 16-year-old died from injuries in the frightened stampede that occurred during the mass abduction in Dapchi a month ago. “They told me five of the girls died and my daughter, who was among them, was the first to die” the day the girls were seized, Garba said. The survivors told him the bodies were buried in the bush. “I believe what the girls told me because they were all together and saw what happened,” he said. On Wednesday, one 14-year-old released by the fighters told reporters that five girls had died but did not provide details. One of the freed girls, Khadija Grema, has said a Christian classmate remained captive, while those released are Muslim. “We were freed because we are Muslim girls and they didn’t want us to suffer. That is why they released us,” she said. The freed girls were taken to the capital, Abuja, later Wednesday. The Boko Haram extremists brought back the girls they had kidnapped from a boarding school, dropping them off with a warning: “Don’t ever put your daughters in school again.” Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language. The abductions in Dapchi have evoked painful memories of the tragedy in Chibok, where 276 girls were kidnapped from their boarding school. Nearly four years later, about 100 of them have never returned home. Many had been forced to marry their captors and had children fathered by them. The Nigerian government denies that it paid a ransom or made a prisoner swap in exchange for the Dapchi girls’ freedom. Both occurred before the largest release of Chibok schoolgirls last year. The latest mass abduction is thought to have been carried out by a Boko Haram splinter group aligned with the Islamic State group that has criticized the leader of the main Boko Haram organization for targeting civilians and has focused instead on military and Western targets. Nigeria’s government under Buhari has repeatedly claimed victory over Boko Haram in recent months but the extremists continue to carry out deadly suicide bombings in the north, often using young women who have been abducted and indoctrinated. The Dapchi mass abduction has caused a fresh round of outrage, especially about the protection of schools in a region where Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands of people over nearly a decade. The release of the girls came a day after an Amnesty International report accused the Nigerian military [...]

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Parkland, Florida, teens pulling off a worldwide movementCasey Sherman, 17, lead student coordinator for the Parkland march, speaks during a planning meeting with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, parents and volunteers March 14 in a hotel meeting room in Coral Springs, Fla.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:52:00 GMT

PARKLAND, Fla. – They can’t buy a beer or rent a car and most aren’t even old enough to vote, yet the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have spearheaded what could become one of the largest marches in history with nearly 1 million people expected in Washington and more than 800 sister marches from California to Japan. In the wake of a Valentine’s Day shooting that killed 17, the teens have pulled all-nighters, scheduling speakers, petitioning city councils, renting stages and walking march routes with police in a grass-roots movement that has raised more than $4 million. Students will walk down Pennsylvania Avenue during March for Our Lives on Saturday alongside pop stars Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato. They have requested 14 Jumbotrons, 2,000 chairs and 2,000 public restrooms. “People don’t think about all these little things, but they add up,” said Marjory Stoneman Douglas senior Ryan Deitsch, who is 18. Several student organizers have become mainstays on national TV, promoting the marches, and they landed on the cover of Time magazine. In the first two weeks after the shooting, Deitsch worked 22-hour days, often sleeping in his clothes. “I’d basically keep going until I shut down, like I’d just collapse, sometimes I’d be on the floor,” Deitsch said. Seasoned activists have marveled at what the students accomplished so far, including a sweeping gun bill in Florida and school walkouts attended by over a million students last week, according to organizers Women’s March. Oprah Winfrey and George and Amal Clooney have each donated $500,000. The cast of “Modern Family” did a public service announcement, and Broadway stars Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt recorded a song for the march. The Women’s March, Everytown for Gun Safety and the gun violence prevention group founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords provided heavy support for the march, opening the youths up to criticism that they are just pawns of left-wing organizations that have been fighting guns for years. The students said, however, they are calling the shots, and have refused money and turned down support that doesn’t align with their vision. “They like to believe we’re puppets, they like to believe that we’re being controlled by someone else because ... they don’t want to believe that human beings have this power because if they have this power then they might not need a gun,” Deitsch said. In Arizona, more than 20,000 people on social media promised to attend the student-led march, said leader Jordan Harb, a 17-year-old junior at Mountain View High School in Mesa. He coordinated vendors and met with police to talk about barricades and security as they expect counter-protesters to bring assault weapons. They’ve raised about $34,000 through T-Shirt sales and donations. The group Arizonans For Gun Safety is handling the money since the teens are underage. “All of my waking hours are pretty much spent on the march right now,” Harb said. “I’m in class and all I do in class in march stuff. I was in Spanish yesterday depositing $10,000 in our bank account.” Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Casey Sherman spends most of her time in class working on a sister march in Parkland, where they’re expecting more than 20,000 people. She and fellow students successfully petitioned city commissioners to get permits and she’s learned about sponsorships and tax exemptions for charitable groups. “Every day [...]

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Hunt for Austin bomber frustrated police before breakthroughLaw enforcement officers secure a neighborhood Wednesday at Walnut and Second streets in Pflugerville, Texas, where Austin, Texas, bombing suspect Mark Anthony Conditt lived.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:52:00 GMT

AUSTIN, Texas – After the first package exploded on an Austin doorstep, police assured the public that there was no wider threat, no signs of terrorism. The idea of a serial bomber striking random strangers never came up. The March 2 blast killed Anthony Stephan House, a 39-year-old man with a background in finance and an 8-year-old daughter. Investigators didn’t rule out that House may have mishandled homemade explosives. Hours later, in an interrogation room, detectives told one of House’s neighbors their main theory: The deadly package was retaliation, maybe from a drug cartel, for a raid days earlier that seized more than $300,000 and 30 pounds of pot. The cartel just got the address wrong. “They’re saying, ‘Who’s trying to blow you up?’ They’re trying to do the whole thing, ‘Help us help you, because they’re not going to miss again,’ ” said Mark McCrimmon, an Austin attorney who represents the neighbor. It wouldn’t be the last wrong lead in the three-week search that eventually led to Mark Anthony Conditt, an unemployed community college dropout who blew himself up Wednesday as officers closed in on him. The manhunt intensified after more explosions in the weeks after House’s death. By the time the suspect too was dead, his bombs had killed two people, badly wound four others and unnerved the Texas capital. On Thursday, authorities gave no indication they were any closer to understanding why Conditt did it. Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said the bomber left behind a 25-minute cellphone recording that amounted to a confession but revealed no clear motive. It’s one last mystery in a case that police struggled to crack. More than 500 federal agents swarmed Austin in what Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called the nation’s largest bombing manhunt since the 2013 Boston Marathon attacks. The trail to Conditt included many dead ends among more than 500 phoned-in tips. There were theories that didn’t pan out and surveillance cameras that failed to record a glimpse of the suspect. “They got a lot of calls,” McCaul said of investigators, “but not a lot of credible leads.” Early miscalculations stoked frustration in the neighborhoods where the second and third bombings happened March 12. Because police initially believed House’s death was an isolated attack, they did not warn Austin residents about suspicious deliveries before another package killed 17-year-old Draylen Mason and wounded his mother. Mason and House were both black and related to prominent Austin families, which led police to consider whether they were dealing with a hate crime. “They didn’t consider all the alternatives, and it came back to bite us,” said Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP. When the third bomb wounded a 75-year-old Hispanic woman, investigators wondered whether it was actually intended for a neighbor, Erica Mason, who has the same last name as the slain teenager. Erica Mason, who is white, said she told police she had no connection to Draylen Mason’s family. Police now think the shared name was just a coincidence. Even after three bombings, investigators were still unsure whether they were dealing with a single attacker. “We’re not calling it a serial bomber,” Manley told reporters on March 12. A week later, they were. [...]

Media Files:

Behind Facebook's baby step fixes: Defending its ad businessFILE - This Jan. 17, 2017, file photo shows a Facebook logo being displayed in a start-up companies gathering at Paris' Station F, in Paris. Facebook is taking baby steps for now to address the latest privacy scandal after news broke Friday, March 16, 2018, that Cambridge Analytica may have used data improperly obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to sway elections. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:52:00 GMT

NEW YORK – Wondering why Facebook seems to be taking baby steps to address the biggest scandal in its history? Stronger safeguards on user data might damage Facebook's core business of using what it knows about you to sell ads that target your interests. Facebook is proposing only narrow countermeasures that address the specifics of the furor over Cambridge Analytica. That's the data mining firm that worked for Donald Trump's campaign, and now stands accused of lifting data from some 50 million Facebook users for the purpose of influencing voters. Those measures, announced Wednesday by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, mostly involve new limits on what Facebook apps can do with the user data they collect. One such errant app was central to the Cambridge Analytica debacle. But those steps don't get at what many outsiders see as bigger problems at Facebook: its rampant data collection from users, its embrace of political ads that target individuals and small demographic groups with precision, and its apparent inability to end malicious use of its service by governments, shady corporations and criminal elements. "They're being very deft and creating the illusion of trust," said Scott Galloway, a New York University professor of marketing. But by focusing on the mechanics of how apps work on its service, he said, Facebook is failing to take meaningful action to ensure it's not "weaponized" by scammers, manipulators and other nefarious types. Ultimately, Facebook is a data-collection company and without user data, it would wither and die. But how much data it sucks in, and what it does with it, is a question of major public importance – one that touches on the health of democracy itself, privacy advocates say. It's just not a question that Facebook seems to want to address. Facebook made $40 billion in advertising revenue last year, and that's expected to rise 22 percent this year to $49 billion, according to research firm eMarketer. Wall Street analysts who follow Facebook don't seem worried yet, despite the sharp drop in the company's stock this week. That's because analysts don't expect the company to have to change the way it does business. Like its closest rival Google, Facebook offers companies an unparalleled way to target people for advertising, right down to their most granular details. It can, for instance, single out users who live in Kansas and have listed Bernie Sanders and same-sex marriage as their interests – which is exactly what some Russian-linked ads did as part of a propaganda campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Apps – everything from dumb personality quizzes to games (remember "FarmVille?") – have been able to harvest user information since 2007, when Facebook opened its service to outside developers. Facebook has since restricted what types of data apps could access, notably in 2014, but as the Cambridge Analytica debacle shows, loopholes remained. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica outcry, Facebook is once again cracking down – but solely on apps. Its new restrictions limit what data apps can access and will cut them off from your information if you don't use them for three months. Facebook will also conduct its own audits of apps that appear to suck in large quantities of data, although it has said nothing about allowing independent audits, leaving users no alternative but to trust that Facebook itself has their interests at heart. One better solution, said Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center: Make apps alert users whenever d[...]

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Legal shake-up in Trump team may suggest shift in strategyPresident Donald Trump listens Thursday as U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer speaks during an event to announce tariffs and investment restrictions on China in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:51:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s lead lawyer in the special counsel’s Russia investigation resigned Thursday, shaking up the legal team just as Trump intensifies attacks on an inquiry he calls nothing more than a witch hunt. The departure of attorney John Dowd removes the primary negotiator and legal strategist who had been molding Trump’s defense. It also comes only days after the Trump legal team added a new lawyer, former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova, who has accused FBI officials of being involved in a “brazen plot” to exonerate Hillary Clinton in the email investigation and to “frame” Trump for nonexistent crimes. Dowd confirmed his decision in an email to The Associated Press, saying, “I love the President and wish him well.” Dowd said he made the decision voluntarily and he denied reports that his departure had to do with Trump ignoring his legal advice. Dowd said he formally resigned Thursday morning. It already was a delicate time in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Trump’s attorneys, including Dowd, have been negotiating with Mueller over the scope and terms of an interview of the president. Trump has told reporters that he was eager to speak with Mueller, but Dowd has been far more apprehensive, and the lawyers have not publicly committed to making Trump available for questioning. Asked Thursday whether he still wants to speak with Mueller’s team, Trump told reporters, “Yes, I would like to.” Dowd’s exit nearly a year into Mueller’s tenure threatens to undo the cooperation between prosecutors and Trump’s lawyers, and might herald a stark shift in strategy as the investigation reaches closer into the White House and the president’s inner circle. Over the weekend, Dowd issued a statement calling for an end to the investigation. The White House and later Dowd had to clarify the statement, saying the president’s legal team wasn’t calling for Mueller to be fired. But Trump has stepped up his public criticism of Mueller. In a series of tweets since last week, the president has said the investigation never should have started, that it was based on “fraudulent activities,” that it was a “WITCH HUNT” and that it is being led by “13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters.” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this week that the tweets were a reflection of Trump’s frustration with the process of the investigation. She said the White House did not think firing Mueller would be “the most productive step forward.” Speaking on a panel Thursday at the Financial Times “Future of News” event in New York, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said the president has clearly decided to take a more aggressive approach with the special counsel. “I think President Trump is going to war on this,” Bannon said, noting that while in the White House he warned Trump that Dowd and White House lawyer Ty Cobb were being too soft. This is at least the second major reshuffling of Trump’s legal team in the past year. Dowd had taken over the lead lawyer role last summer from New York attorney Marc Kasowitz, who has long been by Trump’s side. Dowd has been working closely with another Trump lawyer, Jay Sekulow, who remains on the team. “John Dowd is a friend and has been a valuable member of our legal team. We will continue our ongoing repre[...]

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McMaster out, Bolton in as Trump's national security adviserFILE - In this March 16, 2018, file photo. National security adviser H.R. McMaster waves as he walks into the West Wing of the White House in Washington. President Donald Trump announced on Twitter on March 22, 2018, that McMaster is being replaced by former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:51:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Charging ahead with the dramatic remaking of his White House, President Donald Trump said Thursday he would replace national security adviser H.R. McMaster with the former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a foreign policy hawk entering a White House facing key decisions on Iran and North Korea. After weeks of speculation about McMaster's future, Trump and the respected three-star general put a positive face on the departure, making no reference to the growing public friction between them. Trump tweeted Thursday that McMaster had done "an outstanding job & will always remain my friend." He said Bolton will take over April 9 as his third national security adviser in just over a year. The national security shakeup comes as the president is increasingly shedding advisers who once eased the Republican establishment's concerns about the foreign policy and political novice in the White House. McMaster is the sixth close adviser or aide to announce a departure in a turbulent six weeks, joining ally Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was unceremoniously fired last week. The White House has said the president is seeking to put new foreign policy leaders in place ahead of not-yet-scheduled meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un. Bolton is likely to add a hard-line influence to those talks, as well as deliberations over whether to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. Bolton called the appointment "an honor" in a late Thursday statement, saying he looks "forward to working with President Trump and his leadership team" to "make our country safer at home and stronger abroad." The White House said Thursday that McMaster's exit had been under discussion for some time and stressed it was not due to any one incident, including this week's stunning leak about Trump's recent phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. McMaster had briefed Trump before the Putin call – and his team drafted all-caps instructions telling Trump not to congratulate the Russian leader on his re-election victory. Trump did it anyway. An internal investigation into the leak is underway, said a White House official who – like others interviewed about the announcement and the White House shakeup – demanded anonymity to discuss internal matters. In a statement released by the White House, McMaster said he would be requesting retirement from the U.S. Army effective this summer, adding that afterward he "will leave public service." McMaster had told confidants he would leave the post if at any point he lost credibility on the international stage, according to three White House officials. The feverish speculation about an impending exit sped up the decision for him to depart, the officials said, in part because McMaster believed foreign partners were beginning to doubt his influence. Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had been pushing Trump to get rid of McMaster and had been escalating their campaign in recent weeks. It had appeared McMaster's departure was imminent last week – but White House officials insisted the speculation was false. "Just spoke to @POTUS and Gen. H.R. McMaster – contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted late last Thursday night. McMaster never developed a personal rapport with Trump, who chafed at his long-winded briefing style, according to a White House official and[...]

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House OKs $1.3 trillion budget bill, but Senate stallsSpeaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks during a news conference about the massive government spending bill moving through Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 22, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:51:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Congress was poised to pass a giant $1.3 trillion spending bill that would end the budget battles for now, but not without risking another shutdown as conservatives objected to big outlays on Democratic priorities at a time when Republicans control the House, Senate and White House. This would be the third federal shutdown this year, an outcome both parties want to avoid. But in crafting a sweeping deal that busts budget caps, they've stirred conservative opposition and set the contours for the next funding fight ahead of the midterm election. The House easily approved the measure Thursday, 256-167, a bipartisan tally that underscored the popularity of the compromise, which funds the government through September. It beefs up military and domestic programs, delivering federal funds to every corner of the country. But action stalled in the Senate, as conservatives ran the clock in protest. They can't stop the bill indefinitely. But without agreement, voting would spill into the weekend, past the midnight Friday deadline to fund the government. "Shame, shame. A pox on both Houses – and parties," tweeted Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who spent the afternoon tweeting details found in the 2,200-page bill that was released the night before. "No one has read it. Congress is broken." The omnibus spending bill was supposed to be an antidote to the stopgap measures Congress has been forced to pass – five in this fiscal year alone – to keep government temporarily running amid partisan fiscal disputes. Leaders delivered on President Donald Trump's top priorities of boosting Pentagon coffers and starting work his promised border wall, while compromising with Democrats on funds for road building, child care development, fighting the opioid crisis and more. But the result has been unimaginable to many Republicans after campaigning on spending restraints and balanced budgets. Along with the recent GOP tax cuts law, the bill that stood a foot tall at some lawmakers' desks ushers in the return of $1 trillion deficits. Trump only reluctantly backed the bill he would have to sign, according to Republican lawmakers and aides, who acknowledged the deal involved necessary trade-offs for the Democratic votes that were needed for passage despite their majority lock on Congress. "Obviously he doesn't like this process – it's dangerous to put it up to the 11th hour like this," said Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who opposes the bill and speaks regularly to Trump. "The president, and our leadership, and the leadership in the House got together and said, Look, we don't like what the Democrats are doing, we got to fund the government." White House legislative director Marc Short framed it as a compromise. "I can't sit here and tell you and your viewers that we love everything in the bill," he said on Fox. "But we think that we got many of our priorities funded." Trying to smooth over differences, Republican leaders focused on military increases that were once core to the party's brand as guardians of national security. "Vote yes for our military. Vote yes for the safety and the security of this country," said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., ahead of voting. But even that remained a hard sell. In all, 90 Republicans, including many from the conservative House Freedom Caucus, voted against the bill. It was a sign of the entrenched GOP divisions that[...]

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner compares Madigan's tactics to 'mafia racket'Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses the crowd on primary election night Tuesday in Chicago.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:48:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday compared the business practices of Illinois’ powerful House speaker with mafia tactics, opening a new attack on his longtime political foe while urging Republican unity following a bruising primary he barely won.

The Republican governor slammed Democrat Michael Madigan during a campaign stop at Ace Sign. Co. in Springfield. He alleged the speaker has used his legislative post to help lower the property tax assessments for clients at his law firm.

“When a politician can raise taxes through the policies that he implements by controlling the General Assembly and ... then he can become a millionaire by having a property-tax appeal law firm on the side where he charges businesses to get their taxes reduced, that is basically in effect a mafia-protection racket,” Rauner said.

Madigan has repeatedly noted that he recuses himself from property-assessment legislation.

“The governor is using the ‘mafia’ language in a desperate attempt to be colorful,” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said. He said the speaker “has stood up to various Rauner ideas that reduce worker income. Madigan does not see hurting middle-class families as the correct route to improving prosperity in Illinois.”

Billionaire investor J.B. Pritzker, who easily won the Democratic nomination for governor, is Madigan’s “money source,” Rauner claimed.

He said Pritzker is part of the “machine” and has long financed campaigns for Madigan and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, now serving a federal prison term for political corruption.

“With no record and no allies, Bruce Rauner is building his general election campaign on lies to distract from the pain he’s caused across this state,” Pritzker spokeswoman Galia Slayen said.

Rauner brushed off questions from reporters about whether he was embarrassed by his slim 19,000-vote victory Tuesday over conservative state Rep. Jeanne Ives in the GOP primary.

The multimillionaire former venture capitalist advances to a November matchup with the billionaire businessman, who won the Democratic nomination far more easily.

“We will continue the work,” Rauner said. “I respect folks who have different points of view on different issues, the issues that divide us. ... What we need to do now is unite on what we agree on.”

Rauner has made little progress on many of his top campaign issues from 2014, including lowering local property taxes, rolling back an increase hike and voter-imposed term limits aimed at ending Madigan’s 35-year run as speaker.

Pritzker said this week he would support a higher rate but then lower it for most by expanding deductions for low- and moderate-income taxpayers. Slayen added that the Democrat has been “outspoken” in support of drawing independent political maps which encourage competition.

But Rauner said Pritzker’s victory would allow gerrymandering of legislative districts with a post-2020 census remap and would ensure “a massive new income tax hike.”

“If that were to happen, turn out the lights,” Rauner said.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses the crowd on primary election night Tuesday in Chicago.

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Former campaign worker suing Illinois Democratic PartyFILE - In this Feb. 13, 2018 file photo, Alaina Hampton, a campaign worker for Illinois Democrats speaks during a news conference, in Chicago. Hampton a former campaign consultant for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is suing his political committee and the state Democratic party, alleging that reporting a top lieutenant for sexual harassment hindered her from advancing in the speaker's organization. Hampton filed the lawsuit Wednesday, March 21, 2018, contending that her effort to stop Madigan aide Kevin Quinn's unwanted advances prevented her from getting further work on Democratic campaigns. (Ashlee Rezin /Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File)

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:48:00 GMT

CHICAGO – A former campaign consultant for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is suing his political committee and the state Democratic Party, alleging that reporting a top lieutenant for sexual harassment hindered her from advancing in the speaker's organization.

Alaina Hampton filed the lawsuit Wednesday against the Democratic Party of Illinois, chaired by Madigan, and his political fund, Friends of Michael J. Madigan, alleging retaliation for "asserting her rights to be free from unlawful harassment and a sexually hostile work environment."

She contends that her effort to stop Kevin Quinn's unwanted advances prevented her from getting further work on Democratic campaigns.

Hampton alleges in the lawsuit that Quinn sent her text messages and called her in pursuit of a romantic and sexual relationship.

"Notwithstanding Ms. Hampton's repeated statements that she wished to maintain a professional relationship, Kevin Quinn refused to take 'no' for an answer," the lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit, Quinn began bombarding Hampton with messages between August 2016 and February 2017.

"Specifically, during this five-month period, Kevin Quinn called Ms. Hampton repeatedly, late at night, and sent her dozens of text messages asking her out, telling her she was 'smoking hot' and urging her to go out with him," the lawsuit says.

Madigan fired Quinn a day before Hampton went public with her allegations in February and hailed her as a "courageous woman."

But Hampton has called the termination a proactive "cover-up" and said no action was taken for nearly a year after she reported Quinn.

"The pleading is being reviewed by counsel," said Madigan spokesman Steve Brown. "However, I can assure you that the Democratic Party of Illinois and the Friends of MJM have not retaliated against Ms. Hampton in any way."

Hampton's lawsuit seeks $350,000, in addition to attorney's fees.

FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2018 file photo, Alaina Hampton, a campaign worker for Illinois Democrats speaks during a news conference, in Chicago. Hampton a former campaign consultant for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is suing his political committee and the state Democratic party, alleging that reporting a top lieutenant for sexual harassment hindered her from advancing in the speaker's organization. Hampton filed the lawsuit Wednesday, March 21, 2018, contending that her effort to stop Madigan aide Kevin Quinn's unwanted advances prevented her from getting further work on Democratic campaigns. (Ashlee Rezin /Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File)

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Lake in the Hills police to host annual Teen Safety Series

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:47:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Lake in the Hills police will be hosting the fourth annual Teen Safety Series in April.

The three-class series will start April 4 and address topics such as alcohol and drug effects, gangs, bullying, dating violence, sexual assault, peer pressure and social media safety, according to a news release from the Lake in the Hills Police Department.

The class is open to 12- to 16-year-olds and can accommodate up to 25 participants.

Classes will be from 6:30 to 9 p.m. April 4, 11 and 18 at the Safety Education Center, 1109 Crystal Lake Road, Lake in the Hills.

Members of the Lake in the Hills Police Department, McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition and other groups will instruct the classes.

Email to reserve a seat, and call 847-658-5676 for information.

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Roadwork to begin on Bay Road bridge in McHenryLocated between Chapel Hill Road and Cuhlman Road, the Bay Road Bridge will be reduced to one lane from April 2 to Oct. 26, according to the McHenry County Division of Transportation.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:47:00 GMT

McHENRY – The Bay Road bridge over the Lily Lake drain will be down to one lane from April to October for a major rehabilitation project.

The bridge is located between Chapel Hill Road and Cuhlman Road, and work will run from April 2 to Oct. 26, according to the McHenry County Division of Transportation.

Temporary signals will be used to control traffic through the construction zone.

The structure will undergo a major rehabilitation that will include the removal and replacement of all deck beams and deck surfaces, as well as structural concrete repairs at abutments, pavement and landscaping.

Here’s a look at the project schedule: 

• Next week: Install construction signage and temporary traffic signals at bridge.

• Early April: First stage of construction begins on north side of bridge; south lane remains open to traffic.

• April: Remove existing pavement and deck surface.

• May: Remove and replace north half of bridge beams.

• June: Place and cure new concrete bridge deck.

• July: Construct curbs for railing and groove deck surface and install bridge deck railing.

• Late July: Begin second stage of construction on south side; switch traffic to north side of bridge.

• August: Remove and replace south half of bridge beams.

• September: Place and cure new concrete bridge deck; construct curbs for railing.

• October: Groove deck, install bridge deck railing, approach pavement, pavement markings and landscaping.

• Late October: Remove signals and roadway signs; reopen bridge to two lanes.

Located between Chapel Hill Road and Cuhlman Road, the Bay Road Bridge will be reduced to one lane from April 2 to Oct. 26, according to the McHenry County Division of Transportation.

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Huntley Chamber of Commerce recognizes former superintendent, local businesses with awardsFormer Huntley School District 158 Superintendent John Burkey was chosen for the Huntley Chamber of Commerce's Community Commitment Award, which is given to someone who exemplifies commitment to improving and making a difference in the community.H.S. Crocker Co. Inc. President and CEO Ron Giordano speaks as he receives the Huntley Chamber of Chamber’s Business Excellence Award for high standards in customer service, process and quality methods, best practices, leadership, brand awareness, engagement and innovation.Morkes Chocolates owner Claudia Kendzior speaks as she receives the Huntley Chamber of Chamber’s Business Excellence Award for high standards in customer service, process and quality methods, best practices, leadership, brand awareness, engagement and innovation.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:47:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – The Huntley Chamber of Commerce has recognized a community leader and several local businesses with awards for community commitment and business excellence.

The leadership and awards contest is held annually. Winners are selected from a group of nominees recommended from the community and Chamber members, according to a news release.

Former Huntley School District 158 Superintendent John Burkey was chosen for the Huntley Community Commitment Award, which is given to someone who exemplifies commitment to improving and making a difference in the community.

“It was clear that Dr. Burkey was more than deserving of this recognition,” Chamber Executive Director Sunday Graham said in a statement. “His leadership in bringing the best individuals together as a team to put Huntley community schools on the national map for academic excellence [and] local partnerships, and inspiring a community to achieve excellence made him the clear choice.”

Burkey resigned from the district in January to begin a position as executive director of the Large Unit District Association. He had been the superintendent since 2006.

H.S. Crocker Co. Inc. and Morkes Chocolates each received the Chamber’s Business Excellence Award. Winners in this category must show high standards in customer service, process and quality methods, best practices, leadership, brand awareness, engagement and innovation.

“We had two businesses in Huntley that exceeded those high marks year after year,” Graham said. “H.S. Crocker Co. Inc. achieved the award for their excellence in manufacturing. Morkes Chocolates achieved the award for excellence as the ‘small little shop on the corner’ that reflected the best of the Huntley small businesses.”

Former Huntley School District 158 Superintendent John Burkey was chosen for the Huntley Chamber of Commerce's Community Commitment Award, which is given to someone who exemplifies commitment to improving and making a difference in the community.H.S. Crocker Co. Inc. President and CEO Ron Giordano speaks as he receives the Huntley Chamber of Chamber’s Business Excellence Award for high standards in customer service, process and quality methods, best practices, leadership, brand awareness, engagement and innovation.Morkes Chocolates owner Claudia Kendzior speaks as she receives the Huntley Chamber of Chamber’s Business Excellence Award for high standards in customer service, process and quality methods, best practices, leadership, brand awareness, engagement and innovation.

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Crystal Lake man charged in connection with crash into McHenry County Sheriff's Office vehicleCrystal Lake police arrest Andrew Zick, 37, of Crystal Lake, after a crash Wednesday at Route 14 and Main Street.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:47:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A man has been charged in connection with leaving the scene of a crash after a McHenry County Sheriff’s Office vehicle was rear-ended Wednesday.

Andrew Zick, 37, of Crystal Lake posted bond and was released after his arrest, Crystal Lake Deputy Police Chief Derek Hyrkas said.

The crash occurred about 6 p.m. Wednesday on Route 14 and Main Street. Zick rear-ended a sheriff’s car and did not stop, police said.

Police later found him and charged him with leaving the scene of a property damage crash and failure to reduce speed to prevent a crash.

Crystal Lake police arrest Andrew Zick, 37, of Crystal Lake, after a crash Wednesday at Route 14 and Main Street.

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Woodstock man facing cocaine charges fled, threw drugs out car window, police sayJeremiah Pedersen, 34, of the 900 block of Clay Street, Woodstock

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:46:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Officials said a Woodstock man who threw bags of cocaine out his car window while fleeing from police later was arrested and found with thousands of dollars in cash and more than 10 ounces of cocaine.

The arrest of 34-year-old Jeremiah Pedersen on Wednesday concluded a six-month drug investigation, according to a news release from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office. Detectives ultimately seized $6,175 in cash and more than 10 ounces of cocaine. The estimated street value of the drugs is $28,400, the release stated.

Pedersen is charged with delivery of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, obstructing justice and fleeing and eluding police.

The charges stem from multiple situations that police witnessed throughout their investigation, according to the release.

Pedersen is accused of blowing through a stop sign and tossing two bags of cocaine out his car window while fleeing from police, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in McHenry County court,

If convicted of the most serious offense, delivery of a controlled substance, Pedersen could be sentenced to between six and 30 years in prison.

Pedersen, of the 900 block of Clay Street, once was among McHenry County’s top 10 most wanted fugitives. He was removed from that list after his arrest in 2012, which resulted in a four-year prison sentence for dealing cocaine.

Pedersen’s criminal history includes a previous eight-year sentence on a drug charge, which he served by attending boot camp. 

He remained at the McHenry County Jail on Thursday evening on a $500,000 bond, meaning he would need to post $50,000 to be released.

His first court appearance is scheduled for Monday.

Jeremiah Pedersen, 34, of the 900 block of Clay Street, Woodstock

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McHenry County clerk certifying voting numbers, waiting on 393 mailed ballotsChief deputy clerk Linda FitzGerald talks with Brian Kline as they receive ballots for tabulation Tuesday night at the McHenry County Administration Building in Woodstock.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:46:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – The race for a District 5 seat on the McHenry County Board was a close one – but it doesn’t look like there will be a recount, county officials said.

By the end of Tuesday’s primary election, the race between incumbent Michael Rein, R-Woodstock, and newcomer Lesli Melendy, R-Huntley, was separated by 11 votes in favor of Rein, according to unofficial results.

With 100 percent of precincts reported, unofficial results showed 1,670 votes for Rein and 1,659 votes for Melendy.

Unless one of the candidates makes an official request, there won’t be a recount, McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan said.

“One of the candidates would have to challenge it,” McClellan said.

“I’m not making any decisions regarding a recount until all the ballots are counted,” Melendy said in an email Thursday.

McClellan said she has not had much rest since Tuesday’s election ended. She now is in the process of certifying official vote totals – and waiting for hundreds of mailed ballots to arrive at the clerk’s office.

There were 393 mailed ballots outstanding as of Thursday, McClellan said.

She said that number of votes likely will have little effect on election results.

District 5 incumbent John Jung Jr., R-Woodstock, sailed to the November election with 1,921 votes. Democrats Frank Wedig and Carlos Acosta will face the Republican winners in November.

Chief deputy clerk Linda FitzGerald talks with Brian Kline as they receive ballots for tabulation Tuesday night at the McHenry County Administration Building in Woodstock.

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Lake in the Hills trustees table unincorporated water main sale for 2nd timeJim Wilson of unincorporated Lake in the Hills voices concerns about the sale of an unincorporated water main to Central States Water Resources during the public comment portion of a meeting Thursday. "If you had made the repairs needed when you bought the system in 1996, these breaks would not be happening," Wilson said.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:46:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Unincorporated Lake in the Hills residents were given 30 more days to complete a hefty homework assignment: research and find a water company that would buy the unincorporated water main system. After hearing several residents speak during a meeting Thursday night, trustees agreed to table the sale of the unincorporated water main system for the second time. Trustees voted, 4-2, with Trustees Suzanne Artinghelli and Bob Huckins voting against tabling the sale. “If you really believe that we are not part of your community and your neighbors, and that we don’t deserve your protection, then you should give us the agency to give us these choices ourselves,” unincorporated resident Rachel Zastrow said. Zastrow and several others asked for more time to research other companies to see whether they can find other bids. Central States Water Resources officials said they are willing to buy the system south of Algonquin and Pyott roads for $1. Public Works Director Dan Kaup said the village already has consulted with Aqua America Illinois, Illinois American Water Co. and Utilities Inc., who all said they are not interested in buying the main. Trustee Stephen Harlfinger encouraged residents to work with their elected officials, such as McHenry County Board members and Algonquin Township trustees, to find a solution. The village bought the system in the 1970s, and the infrastructure is near the end of its useful life. The area accounts for 45 percent of all water main breaks and needs to be replaced, Kaup said. Kaup estimates that water system – as well as fire hydrant – replacements will cost $1.8 million, and the village generates $30,000 a year from the system. Residents have been paying a quarterly $6 water main replacement fee to fix the main since May 2002. Each customer has paid $372 since its inception, and village staff would return 10 years’ worth of the fee to each property owner, costing $20,880, Kaup said. Village President Russ Ruzanski said he is in favor of the sale, and the village never has received enough revenue to be able to replace the system itself. “It would be fundamentally unfair to village residents to foot a seven-digit bill for customers who are not within our municipality,” Ruzanski said. “In fact, the direct cost of water billing to our own residents would increase by 30 percent if we incurred the expense.” It remains unclear whether rates will increase for residents under the new company. Rates are set by the Illinois Commerce Commission, which would look at the cost of operating the system and then set the rates for residents to pay. The system serves 71 unincorporated and four incorporated customers. A meeting with staff presentations took place Monday. Stay-at-home mom Emily Lehan said she fears for how her family will be able to afford water services. “It’s already really tight raising five kids on one salary,” Lehan said. “If our water bill jumps up by hundreds of dollars, which that is how it’s looking to be, I don’t know what we are going to do.” [...]Jim Wilson of unincorporated[...]

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Woodstock woman faces felony cocaine chargesDaisy Cazares, 34, of 900 block of Quill Lane, Woodstock

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:46:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A two-month drug investigation led to the arrest of a Woodstock woman who police said had about 7 ounces of cocaine and more than $14,000 in cash.

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Task Force arrested Daisy Cazares, 34, on Wednesday after seizing the drugs and cash from her home in the 900 block of Quill Lane.

The investigation turned up $14,030 in cash, drug paraphernalia and about 7 ounces of cocaine, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office. The drugs were estimated to have a $19,780 value.

Cazares has been charged with possession of a controlled substance and delivery of a controlled substance, which could land her between six and 30 years in prison if convicted.

Her private attorney, Scott Anderson, would not comment on the case.

Cazares remained at the McHenry County Jail on Thursday evening on a $150,000 bond. She must post $15,000 bail to be released. Cazares is scheduled to appear in court April 19.

Daisy Cazares, 34, of 900 block of Quill Lane, Woodstock

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Crews prep Mercyhealth's Crystal Lake hospital, medical office siteConstruction crews work on the site of the future Mercyhealth hospital Wednesday at the intersection of Three Oaks Road and Route 31 in Crystal Lake.Construction crews work on the site of the future Mercyhealth hospital Wednesday at the intersection of Three Oaks Road and Route 31 in Crystal Lake.Construction crews work on the site of the future Mercyhealth hospital Wednesday at the intersection of Three Oaks Road and Route 31 in Crystal Lake.Construction crews work on the site of the future Mercyhealth hospital Wednesday at the intersection of Three Oaks Road and Route 31 in Crystal Lake.Construction crews work on the site of the future Mercyhealth hospital Wednesday at the intersection of Three Oaks Road and Route 31 in Crystal Lake.Construction crews work on the site of the future Mercyhealth hospital Wednesday at the intersection of Three Oaks Road and Route 31 in Crystal Lake.Construction crews work on the site of the future Mercyhealth hospital Wednesday at the intersection of Three Oaks Road and Route 31 in Crystal Lake.This artistic depiction shows the design concept for the Mercyhealth hospital planned for the intersection of Three Oaks Road and Route 31 in Crystal Lake.This artistic depiction shows the design concept for the Mercyhealth hospital planned for the intersection of Three Oaks Road and Route 31 in Crystal Lake.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 05:45:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – For anyone who has driven on Route 31 near its intersection with Three Oaks Road this week, they might have noticed the fleet of earthmovers rearranging dirt in an empty field southeast of the intersection. The activity marks the start of construction on Mercyhealth’s small hospital and medical offices on the 16-plus-acre site. The final plan for the project, however, has not yet been approved by Crystal Lake officials. Mercyhealth’s team appeared before the Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday and received a positive recommendation for the final planned unit development in advance of an upcoming meeting with the City Council. The 111,346-square-foot proposed hospital would house 11 medical-surgical beds, two intensive care beds, a comprehensive emergency room, two operating rooms, a full-service radiology imaging unit, a laboratory and a pharmacy. The 39,922-square-foot office building, which would be connected to the hospital, would have 42 examination rooms. The plan also includes a helipad at its north end near Holiday Inn, the busy Three Oaks-Route 31 intersection and large, old oak trees. Attorney Tom Zanck spoke on behalf of the owners of the property to the east of the hospital site. “This entire site plan should be flipped so that the emergency [area] is on the south side, away from that busy traffic intersection, and the helipad would be at the south, where, frankly, there are fewer trees to the east,” Zanck said to the planning commission. Zanck said he talked to representatives of Holiday Inn, which also has a helipad on its property. “That’s an alternative, too,” Zanck said. “This petitioner could work with Holiday Inn to update that helipad without the need for installing its own.” Another alternative, Zanck said, would be to build a structure over the retention pond on the south side of the property and have helicopters land there, where they wouldn’t be close to the intersection or oak trees. The commission, however, did not appear to agree with any of the suggestions. Mercyhealth attorney Joe Gottemoller noted that the plan already received preliminary approval, and he said if the development team wants to take up the suggestion, it would have to start over from scratch, not just flip the design. Gottemoller also said the current location proposed for the helipad meets existing requirements to gain proper aviation approvals. Zanck said the property owners are worried about the ability to enhance and enlarge the Route 31 and Three Oaks Road intersection, noting that it would take negotiations between property owners, Crystal Lake, Cary, McHenry County and the Illinois Department of Transportation. The project itself also is not without controversy. Centegra Health System is locked in a lawsuit against the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board and Mercyhealth regarding the hospital plans. Centegra and Advocate Health and Hospital Corp. are seeking to reverse the state board’s approval of the [...]

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Man found not guilty by insanity in 2004 arson death given OK to take planned trips into Elgin community

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 23:27:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A man found not guilty by insanity in the 2004 death of a mental health facility employee will be allowed to participate in a community re-integration program as part of his treatment.

McHenry County Judge James Cowlin ruled Thursday that Lawrence Hucksteadt be permitted to attend scheduled trips into the Elgin community with the supervision of Elgin Mental Health Center therapists and at least one plain-clothes security officer.

The decision didn't sit well with Leslie Blankenship, whose mother, Ellen Polivka, died about six weeks after Hucksteadt is accused of having set her on fire with a match and a can of gasoline.

"He’s still very unstable and he’s getting a free pass," Blankenship said.

The Illinois Department of Human Services has recommended Hucksteadt for the Elgin Mental Health Center’s “community integration” program for the past five years, McHenry County Assistant Public Defender Kim Messer said. The program helps patients slowly become accustomed to life outside the facility, and learn to use public services like the library and bus system.

During a March 8 hearing, Hucksteadt's psychiatrist testified his client has made positive progress with a mental health treatment plan.

Hucksteadt had previously been granted permission to attend the trips, which are scheduled twice a year, only under the supervision of two uniformed officers. Until now therapists had chosen to exclude Hucksteadt from the program, because they believed the presence of uniformed guards would draw too much attention to the group and hinder other patients' ability to truly “reintegrate.”

In July 2004, Hucksteadt entered a Woodstock mental health clinic with a lit cigarette and a can of gasoline. He threw the gasoline on part-time receptionist, 69-year-old Polivka, and set her on fire with a lit match. Polivka died about six weeks later.

Blankenship said she can't begin to think about Hucksteadt's recovery, when her own family has not yet recovered from Polivka's untimely death.

"We’re not rehabilitated. We never will be," Blankenship said Thursday. "We will always be heartbroken. We will always be handicapped by this – always. That will never change."

Blankenship said she'd rather see Hucksteadt behind prison bars, serving time for her mother's death, than be potentially released if he successfully completes treatment.

"If he’s doing so well why can’t he be held accountable for what he did?" she said.

Hucksteadt will be required to take several courses before he is approved to go on a re-integration trip with other patients. The trips typically include eight patients accompanied by three therapists. The group takes public transportation and makes stops at the library and city recreation center, officers previously testified.

Hucksteadt's case will resume for a review of his treatment plan on June 21.

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Thu, 22 Mar 2018 18:19:00 GMT

Pro Football Weekly, the first publication dedicated exclusively to coverage of the National Football League, invites you to pick your roster of the 50 greatest players of the past 50 years. Enter to be eligible for daily, weekly and Grand Prizes including a trip for two to the Big Game in Atlanta next February! Pick your favorite players, and compare and discuss your selections with others. Extra entries will be awarded to those who share the sweepstakes link through Facebook, Twitter and email.

The purpose of the "Team for the Ages" is to allow contestants to select the greatest imaginable roster of 50 players (and one coach) from the period 1967 - 2017 (Modern Era). Nominees on the ballot have been vetted by Pro Football Weekly's panel of experts. To be considered for the ballot, players must have been selected as a PFW All-Pro at least twice during the Modern Era. The number of players allocated per position is designed to roughly resemble a current-day NFL roster.

PFW created the "Team for the Ages" sweepstakes to recognize excellence, encourage debate, and to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Most of all, we hope you have some fun with it!

Enter now!


Also, a special “Team for the Ages” collectors edition will be published later this year. Produced in a hybrid book/magazine format, the publication will be available on newsstands and in bookstores in the fall. You have the opportunity to preorder at a discounted rate by clicking:


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Cynthia Nixon's political debut in New York puts gay rights in spotlightNew York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon speaks during her first campaign stop Tuesday after announcing she would challenge New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination at a church in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 06:04:00 GMT

ALBANY, N.Y. – In her first appearance as a New York gubernatorial candidate, “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon hammered her Democratic opponent Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the crumbling subway, the “cesspool” of corruption in state government and inequality across the state. But she couldn’t escape what she didn’t mention in her speech, her sexual orientation. Nixon, who if she wins would become the state’s first openly gay governor, was asked by reporters about a comment made by former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a gay Cuomo supporter who called Nixon an “unqualified lesbian.” “My being a lesbian or her being a lesbian I think has nothing to do with why we’re running for office,” Nixon told the scrum on her way out of an appearance this week in Brooklyn. “I think it’s time for an outsider,” she said. “I think it is time, not just in New York state but all over this country, to hear from the voices of real people who understand that our government ... is in the clutches of millionaires, billionaires and corporations.” The dustup over Quinn’s remark, for which she later apologized, highlighted what could become a reality of Nixon’s campaign leading to a September primary against the two-term incumbent Cuomo: Whether she likes it or not, Nixon will be forced to confront the issue of her sexuality and stand on gay rights. That’s especially true against a governor who has long gotten strong support in the gay community for his staunch fight for legislation in 2011 that allowed same-sex couples in the state to marry. Just last month, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, endorsed Cuomo for re-election and also honored Nixon with a Visibility Award for using “her talent and public platform to speak out for equality in this country and around the globe.” For now, Nixon’s entry into the race this week hasn’t appeared to shake Cuomo’s support. Most major gay rights advocates and groups, both nationally and in New York, say they are either sticking with Cuomo or staying neutral, noting that LGBT issues are important but not the only factor to consider. “Just because a candidate like Cynthia is LGBT, that doesn’t mean that’s just what she’s running for,” said Sean Meloy, political director for the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that works to get LGBT people elected to government offices but has not yet jumped into this race. “I don’t think people look at LGBT candidates purely as a LGBT candidate.” Nixon underscored that herself this week in her two-minute campaign announcement video on Twitter, mentioning such issues as crumbling infrastructure, income inequality and sagging upstate economies, but not a word about gay rights. By Wednesday, she appeared to embrace the “unqualified lesbian” dig, going on Twitter to announce a campaign event at the Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the gay rights movement. “Calling all qualified and unqualified lesbians and everyone who wants funded schools, [...]

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Tempest over Trump-Putin call turns into uproar over leaksU.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit on July 7 in Hamburg, Germany. The Kremlin said Trump called Putin to congratulate him on re-election, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Trump spoke with Putin on Tuesday.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 06:04:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The tempest over President Donald Trump's congratulatory phone call to Vladimir Putin quickly grew on Wednesday into an uproar over White House leaks, sparking an internal investigation and speculation over who might be the next person Trump forces out of the West Wing. The White House, which has suffered frequent leaks – at times of notable severity – said in a statement it would be a "fireable offense and likely illegal" to leak Trump's briefing papers to the press, after word emerged that the president had been warned in briefing materials not to congratulate the Russian president on his re-election. Trump did so anyway, and on Wednesday he defended the call, saying George W. Bush did not have the "smarts" to work with Putin, and that Barack Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton "didn't have the energy or chemistry" with the Russian leader. Aides had included guidance in Trump's talking points for the call to Putin stating: "DO NOT CONGRATULATE," a senior administration official said Wednesday, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official had not been authorized to discuss internal matters. The document had been accessible only to a select group of staffers, two officials said, and had been drafted by aides to National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. They also said there now is an internal probe of the leak but provided no other details. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations. The White House is not formally acknowledging the veracity of the presidential guidance first reported by The Washington Post. Trump defended his decision to congratulate Putin in his Wednesday tweets, saying Obama did the same in 2012. "Getting along with Russia [and others] is a good thing, not a bad thing," Trump said, adding that Russia can "help solve problems" from North Korea to "the coming Arms Race." The White House statement earlier Wednesday about a possible firing was an unusual threat and an indication of the seriousness with which the administration is treating the latest breach. Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly are both angry over the disclosure, officials said, especially because of the small circle of distribution. Trump has told confidants that be believes the leak was meant to embarrass and undermine him, said White House officials and outside advisers familiar with the president's thinking but not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations. The president has suggested it was done by "the deep state," they said. That's the catchall phrase for career officials and the Washington establishment who, Trump believes, have tried to protect their own grasp on power by sabotaging him. Trump has insisted that maintaining a strong personal relationship with Putin is the United States' best chance of improving ties with Russia and has signaled to allies that he trusts his own instincts in dealing with the Russian president. Other leaks of classified material – including partial transcripts[...]

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Federal Reserve raises key rate, foresees 2 more hikes this yearFederal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies March 1 as he gives the semiannual monetary policy report to the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 06:04:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve is raising its benchmark interest rate to reflect a solid U.S. economy and signaling that it's sticking with a gradual approach to rate hikes for 2018 under its new chairman, Jerome Powell. The Fed said it expects to increase rates twice more this year. At the same time, it increased its estimate for rate hikes in 2019 from two to three, reflecting an expectation of faster growth and lower unemployment. The central bank boosted its key short-term rate Wednesday by a modest quarter-point to a still-low range of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent and said it will keep shrinking its bond portfolio. Both steps show confidence that the economy remains sturdy nearly nine years after the Great Recession ended. The actions mean consumers and businesses will face higher loan rates over time. The Fed's rate hike marks its sixth since it began tightening credit in December 2015. The action was approved, 8-0, avoiding any dissents at the first meeting that Powell has presided over as chairman since succeeding Janet Yellen last month. Some investors had speculated that Powell might move to impose his mark on the central bank by indicating a faster pace of rate hikes for 2018. But the new economic forecast, which includes a median projection for the path of future rate hikes, made no change to the December projection for three hikes this year. If the Fed does stick with its new forecast for three rate increases this year and three in 2019, its key policy rate would stand at 3.4 percent after five years of credit tightening. Wednesday's forecast put the Fed long-term rate – the point at which its policies are neither boosting the economy nor holding it back – at 2.9 percent. Speaking to Congress last month, Powell said his "personal outlook" on the economy had strengthened since December, when the Fed's policymakers collectively forecast three rate hikes for 2018, the same as in 2017. That comment helped send stocks tumbling because it suggested that the Fed might be about to accelerate the gradual pace it had pursued under his predecessor, Janet Yellen. More aggressive rate increases would likely slow the economy and make stocks less appealing. Yet when he testified to Congress again two days later, Powell tempered his view: He stressed that the Fed still thinks it has room to maintain a moderate pace of rate hikes, in part to allow Americans' average wages, which have stagnated for years, to pick up. The impression was that he might not favor raising rates faster than Yellen did after all – at least not yet. A healthy job market and a steady if unspectacular economy have given the Fed the confidence to think the economy can withstand further increases within a still historically low range of borrowing rates. The financial markets have been edgy for weeks, and Powell's back-and-forth comments have been only one factor. A sharp rise in wage growth reported in the government's January jobs report triggered fears that higher labor costs would lead to higher inflation and, ultimately, to higher interest rates. Stocks[...]

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Storm drops record-breaking rain in parts of CaliforniaThis photo from video provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department shows Montecito Creek flowing alongside debris left over from January mudslides in Montecito, Calif., Wednesday, March 21, 2017. A strong Pacific storm dropped heavy rain Wednesday on a swath of coastal California, where thousands of people have been evacuated because of the threat of debris flows and mudslides from wildfire burn areas. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 06:04:00 GMT

LOS ANGELES – A strong Pacific storm dropped record-breaking rain Wednesday on a swath of California evacuated by thousands of people over threats of debris flows and mudslides from wildfire burn areas. The storm came ashore on the central coast and spread south into the Los Angeles region and north through San Francisco Bay, fed by a long plume of subtropical moisture called an atmospheric river. It also moved eastward, bringing the threat of flooding to the San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada, where winter storm warnings for new snow were in effect on the second day of spring. Record rainfall was recorded in five spots including Santa Barbara, Palmdale and Oxnard, where nearly 1.8 inches of rain had fallen by Wednesday evening. That’s compared to the record of 1.3 inches set in 1937. Nearly 5 inches of rain had fallen in northern San Luis Obispo County, while 2.7 inches fell in Santa Clarita, just north of Los Angeles and 2.6 inches was recorded at one spot in Santa Barbara County. Authorities kept a close watch on Santa Barbara County, hoping there would not be a repeat of the massive January debris flows from a burn scar that ravaged the community of Montecito and killed 21 people. “Right now it looks like the storm will enter its most threatening period Thursday morning,” the National Weather Service said, adding there could be a nine-hour period of moderate to heavy rain. Mud and rockslides closed several roads in the region, including Highway 1 at Ragged Point near Big Sur, not far from where the scenic coast route is still blocked by a massive landslide triggered by a storm last year. A large pine tree was felled in Los Angeles, landing across a residential street into a picket fence. No one was hurt. Carolyn Potter, 59, evacuated from her home Tuesday in Casitas Springs in Ventura County, but returned the same day when no rain materialized in her neighborhood. “I thought, ‘This is silly. I’m going to go home and get something done,’ ” she said. Potter evacuated again when she woke up to rain Wednesday morning and plans to sleep in her car in a grocery store parking lot to avoid hotel costs and the bustle of an evacuation shelter. Meanwhile her husband, Alan, is staying home, just as he has the other three times Potter has evacuated because of fires or storms since September. “If something happens maybe I’ll zip on down and dig him out,” Potter said. With the storm expected to last through Thursday, there was concern about the combination of rainfall rates and the long duration, Suzanne Grimmesey said, a spokeswoman for Santa Barbara County. With the grim Montecito experience in recent memory, Santa Barbara County ordered evacuation of areas along its south coast near areas burned by several wildfires dating back to 2016. “We actually do feel good about the evacuation order,” Grimmese[...]

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Lawmakers release huge budget, including big military, domestic boostsSpeaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., meets with reporters after a closed-door Republican strategy session Tuesday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 06:04:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Congressional leaders finalized a sweeping $1.3 trillion budget bill Wednesday that substantially boosts military and domestic spending but leaves behind young immigrant "Dreamers," deprives President Donald Trump some of his border wall money and takes only incremental steps to address gun violence. As negotiators stumbled toward an end-of-the-week deadline to fund the government or face a federal shutdown, House Speaker Paul Ryan dashed to the White House amid concerns Trump's support was wavering. The White House later said the president backed the legislation, even as some conservative Republicans balked at the size of the spending increases and the rush to pass the bill. Talks continued into Wednesday evening before the 2,232-page text was finally released. "No bill of this size is perfect," Ryan said. "But this legislation addresses important priorities and makes us stronger at home and abroad." Leaders still hoped to start voting as soon as Thursday. A stopgap measure may be needed to ensure federal offices aren't hit with a partial shutdown at midnight Friday when funding for the government expires. Negotiators have been working for days – and nights – on details of the bill, which is widely viewed as the last major piece of legislation likely to move through Congress in this election year. Lawmakers in both parties sought to attach their top priorities. Two of the biggest remaining issues had been border wall funds and a legislative response to gun violence after the clamor for action following recent school shootings, including the one in Parkland, Florida. On guns, leaders agreed to tuck in bipartisan provisions to bolster school safety funds and improve compliance with the criminal background check system for firearm purchases. The bill states that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can do research on gun violence, though not advocacy, an idea Democrats pushed. But there was no resolution for Dreamers, the young immigrants who have been living in the United States illegally since childhood, but whose deportation protections are being challenged in court after Trump tried to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Democrats temporarily shut down the government earlier this year as they fought for that protection. But the issue only rose to a discussion item when Trump made a late-hour push for a deal in exchange for $25 billion in border wall funds. Instead, Trump is now poised to win $1.6 billion for barriers along the border, but none of it for the new prototypes he recently visited in California. Less than half the nearly 95 miles of border construction, including levees along the Rio Grande in Texas, would be for new barriers, with the rest for repair of existing segments. In one win for immigrant advocates, negotiators rejected Trump's plans to hire hundreds of new Border Patrol and immigration enforcement agents. "We are d[...]

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McHenry County Sheriff's Office seeking corrections officer

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 05:48:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office is accepting applications to fill a corrections officer position.

Applicants must be at least 21 years old at the time of hire. They must have a high school diploma or GED and be a U.S. citizen or have a permanent resident card, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

No previous experience is required.

Applicants should have a valid driver’s license and firearm owner’s identification card, and they must live in McHenry County or any bordering Illinois counties within a year of being hired.

Residents of Kenosha and Walworth counties in Wisconsin also can apply.

Anyone interested should plan to take a physical agility test June 16 and a written exam June 23.

The position’s starting salary is $52,021 and includes paid holidays, vacation and sick time after a year. The job offers major medical, dental and life insurance benefits.

Applications are available at Required documents must be received by 4:30 p.m. June 8.

Applicants must return the required documents to the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Division at 2200 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock, or email the documents to

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City of Joliet changes its attitude about prison heritageState and Joliet officials tour the Collins Street prison July 13 in Joliet.A metal fence frames the Collins Street prison complex March 28, 2017, in Joliet.A Fourth of July celebration takes place at the old Joliet prison in 1910.A baseball game takes place in the yard of the old Joliet prison in 1930.Prisoners march in lockstep at the old Joliet prison in 1900.Joliet Slammers mascot Jay L. Bird high-fives a group of young fans May 17 at Silver Cross Field before the Slammers' home opener in Joliet.Office John Struna walks between buildings March 28, 2017, at the Collins Street prison complex in Joliet.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 05:48:00 GMT

JOLIET – It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when city leaders considered Joliet’s prison a taboo subject. Today, the old Joliet prison is the talk of the town, with plans to open a haunted house by Halloween, efforts underway to start tours in the summer, and the city hinting at more to come. “That’s a hot piece of property,” Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said of the old prison when delivering his State of the City speech earlier this month. In the 1990s and pre-recession 2000s, Joliet was on the rise, with casino gambling, NASCAR racing and a housing boom that put it on the chart with some of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. However, city officials, Chamber of Commerce leaders and residents wanted to set the tone for the future by downplaying the prison that was viewed throughout the Chicago region and across the country as synonymous with the town. “When I first came to the Chamber, it was like we were absolutely trying to get rid of that image,” said Mary Jaworski, president of the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Now, 25 years later, we have a whole new ballgame going on. It’s very exciting. It’s our heritage.” At the Chamber’s monthly luncheon last week, the presentation was “Never Too Late to Mend: Presentation on the Past, the Current Situation, and the Future Plan of the Old Joliet Prison.” Interest in the presentation is high, Jaworski said. “I think everybody wants to hear what’s going on,” she said. ‘Going to Joliet’ The prison on Collins Street – officially the Joliet Correctional Center – has been closed since 2002. But the prison and its iconic limestone walls have been part of the city since it opened in 1858. Its proximity to the notorious crime world of Chicago and movie references that predate film noir have given Joliet a name recognized across the U.S. and beyond. It might be that some people have grown fonder of the prison as a historical relic than they were when it was a vital part of the city – providing jobs while also bringing in some of the worst criminals in Illinois for what could be a lifetime stay in Joliet. The phrase “going to Joliet” had an ominous tone back in the day. “My grandmother used to tell us when we were kids, ‘If you don’t straighten up, we’re taking you to Joliet,’ ” Bill Waliewski said. Waliewski, who grew up in Clarendon Hills, must have remembered his grandmother’s warnings when he was president of a group that was taking over the professional Joliet baseball franchise in 2010. After a meeting with city officials that finalized the terms of the lease for the Joliet-owned stadium, Waliewski jokingly announced that they already had picked a name – the Joliet Jailbirds. “The reaction was, ‘We’ve kind[...]

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Nationwide rally for school safety, end to gun violence to be held on Woodstock Square

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 05:48:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – As part of the March for Our Lives movement, hundreds of marches are taking place across the nation Saturday, including on the Woodstock Square.

Community members will meet at 1 p.m. at the gazebo, 121 W. Van Buren St., and listen to speakers before marching around the Square, according to a news release.

Saturday’s March is a culmination of a monthlong effort to honor the 17 students and faculty members killed Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The national rally calls on lawmakers to make students’ lives and safety a priority by passing gun safety legislation.

The march was co-organized by Cathy Johnson, District 6 chairwoman of the Democratic Party of McHenry County; Ruth Scifo, District 3 chairwoman of the Democratic Party of McHenry County; and Sue Krause of Action for a Better Tomorrow.

Some McHenry County students joined the movement March 14 when they participated in 17-minute walkouts. Students from Huntley High School, Community High School District 155 and Woodstock School District 200 were among those who gathered outside. Marengo, Dundee-Crown and Jacobs high school students organized demonstrations inside their schools.

“Gun-related deaths are now the third-leading cause of death for American children,” Scifo said in the release. “Our children are dying. They are scared to be in the very places they should feel safe – at school, in their neighborhoods and in their homes. How many kids must die before we take action?”

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The Cottage set to sell food at Three Oaks Recreation AreaErik Bate of Johnsburg competes in a fishing derby in 2015 at Three Oaks Recreation Area in Crystal Lake. This year, The Cottage will begin selling food and drinks at the park, which previously had been served by Culver's.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 05:47:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A new food vendor is taking over at Three Oaks Recreation Area this summer.

The Crystal Lake City Council selected downtown staple The Cottage to sell food and drinks for the next five years from the waterfront vending stands at Three Oaks. The space was operated by Culver’s of Crystal Lake since its inception, but it became available when new ownership chose not to continue service at the recreation area.

The Cottage shared the news on its Facebook page Tuesday night, which garnered more than 600 likes and reactions in less than 24 hours.

With a ranking system that evaluated the applicants based on experience, quality of food, pricing, proposed compensation and efficiency of services, The Cottage was rated first in all but one category. Jersey Mike’s was in second place, followed by La Michoacana, Galloway’s Subs, Breaking Bread and Smoothology.

Duke’s Alehouse, which already operates a food service spot at the adjacent Quarry Cable Park, submitted its interest but withdrew because of a commitment to its other restaurants.

Council members said their votes were not to disparage any one business.

“I love all these places,” council member Haig Haleblian said. “There is no bad choice.”

Council member Brett Hopkins wondered whether the city could choose two of the businesses – one specializing in food and another in ice cream and desserts. Officials said that’s not feasible at this time, however.

The Cottage will pay 8.5 percent of monthly sales to the city as a form of rent in 2018 and 2019, 9 percent between 2020 and 2022, and 9.5 percent if the agreement continues beyond that point.

The Cottage offered more in compensation than the competitors by 0.25 to 0.5 percent, according to city documents, and its total meal price was the lowest at $8.58.

Owners of several of the other businesses who lost out to The Cottage showed up to highlight their experience and offerings before the vote.

Deputy City Manager Eric Helm said customers complained about the wait times with Culver’s operating the vending station. He said he heard customers were waiting up to 30 minutes at times. He noted that several of the applicants proposed ideas to improve speed of service.

Erik Bate of Johnsburg competes in a fishing derby in 2015 at Three Oaks Recreation Area in Crystal Lake. This year, The Cottage will begin selling food and drinks at the park, which previously had been served by Culver's.

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Woodstock School District 200 Board approves sale of administration buildingThe Woodstock School District 200 Board approved a nearly half-million-dollar real estate sales contract Tuesday for its administration building.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 05:47:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – The Woodstock School District 200 Board approved a nearly half-million-dollar real estate sales contract Tuesday for its administration building.

MBI Staffing LLC will buy the property at 227 W. Judd St. for $490,000. The district bought the 6,481-square-foot building for $365,000 in 1988, and it currently is used as office space.

Staff will move from the administration building to empty space at Woodstock North High School during the summer.

About two dozen district employees, including staff in the chief financial officer’s and superintendent’s offices, work out of the Judd Street building. The space at Woodstock North will undergo a $150,000 renovation to accommodate them.

The decision to sell the building was brought on by recommendations from the district’s Facilities Review Committee, which was created to find ways to cut costs and better use vacant space in district buildings. The group also recommended the end of a lease agreement for an annexation building, which the board accomplished in September.

“These were popular choices for the board and the administration because they are economical, common sense moves that we can make without any impact to students’ education,” District 200 Superintendent Mike Moan said.

The administration offices will have a separate entrance and be closed off and secure from the high school’s facilities. The target date to move is July 9.

The Woodstock School District 200 Board approved a nearly half-million-dollar real estate sales contract Tuesday for its administration building.

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McHenry police seek help identifying criminal damage, graffiti suspect

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 05:45:00 GMT

McHENRY – Police are looking for suspects who could be behind a string of criminal damage and graffiti incidents Monday and Tuesday in McHenry.

About 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, the McHenry Police Department posted on its Facebook page that officers are asking for community assistance to identify the offender(s) of a rash of criminal damage reports and several graffiti complaints in the previous 24 hours.

The incidents took place throughout a broad area in McHenry and appear to be random, according to the department.

“The damage consists of broken car windows, obscene language in spray paint and eggs being thrown,” the department’s post said.

Anyone with information about the crimes is asked to contact the Criminal Investigation Division of the McHenry Police Department at 815-363-2599.

Those wishing to pass along anonymous information are encouraged to call the department’s tip line at 815-363-2124.

All calls made to the tip line are anonymous, as caller ID is not used.

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Village of Lakemoor faces red light camera lawsuitLakemoor averages about 50 violation notices at the intersection of Routes 120 and 12 daily, said attorney Michael Roth, who is involved in a recent lawsuit regarding the tickets. The village has collected millions of dollars in red light camera tickets since the cameras were installed in 2012.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 05:44:00 GMT

LAKEMOOR – The village of Lakemoor is facing scrutiny for its red light cameras at Routes 120 and 12.

A group of motorists has filed a federal class action lawsuit against the village that alleges red light tickets aren’t valid because the violation notices don’t reference the ordinance allegedly violated. The suit claims that this doesn’t allow for due process.

“Under their own ordinance they have to specifically state the exact violation, and they don’t do that,” said Mark Roth, an attorney on the case. “The problem with that is you can’t raise a defense. … You have a right to understand the charges brought against you.”

Lakemoor averages about 50 violation notices at that intersection a day, Roth said. The village has collected millions of dollars in red light camera tickets since the cameras were installed in 2012.

The fine typically is $100, but it can go up if the ticket is paid late, Roth said.

“When a government entity is taking your property – in this case, the $100 – there is an obligation to give you some kind of hearing,” he said. “What we are asking for is a refund for everyone who has received and paid that red light notice.”

In 2016, state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, sponsored a bill in the House to ban the cameras in communities that weren’t home rule, which would have included Lakemoor. House Bill 141 died in the House in 2017.

Lakemoor officials were not available for comment Wednesday.

The suit was filed March 13, and the village has two weeks to respond, Roth said.

Drivers who have received a red light notice at the intersection and wish to join the lawsuit can call Roth at the Roth Fioretti LLC offices at 312-922-6262.

Lakemoor averages about 50 violation notices at the intersection of Routes 120 and 12 daily, said attorney Michael Roth, who is involved in a recent lawsuit regarding the tickets. The village has collected millions of dollars in red light camera tickets since the cameras were installed in 2012.

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Carpentersville man sentenced to 2 years in 2015 'drug enterprise' investigationDaniel Martinez, 39, of the 100 block of Sioux Avenue, Carpentersville

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 05:44:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – A Carpentersville man will spend two years in prison for a felony marijuana possession charge dating back to 2015, when police seized about $700,000 in drugs during a months-long investigation.

Daniel Martinez, 39, of the 100 block of Sioux Avenue, pleaded guilty Tuesday to possession of 100 to 500 grams of marijuana. McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather sentenced Martinez to two years in prison, followed by one year of parole.

Martinez was arrested in May 2015 for his alleged connection to a “drug enterprise” that police discovered during an extensive investigation.

He faced additional charges of calculated criminal drug conspiracy, possession of more than 11 pounds of marijuana, manufacturing and delivering cocaine, manufacturing and delivering marijuana and possession of cocaine. Those charges were dropped as a condition of Martinez’s plea deal.

In 2015, authorities seized 295 pounds of marijuana, more than 60 pills of MDMA, more than 500 prescription painkillers and 25 grams of cocaine from two homes and a storage unit in Huntley and Lake in the Hills owned by Rocio and Nicholas Domino.

In January, Prather sentenced Nicholas Domino to 10 years in prison for possession of more than 11 pounds of marijuana. He is believed to have been the head of the operation.

Rocio Domino has pleaded not guilty to the felony drug charges she faces, and she is due in court Thursday morning.

Another man, Cirilo Martinez, also was arrested in connection with the drug bust, and he is serving two years of probation for manufacturing and delivering between 10 and 40 grams of marijuana.

Daniel Martinez remained in custody at the McHenry County Jail on Tuesday. It was not clear where he will serve his prison sentence.

Daniel Martinez, 39, of the 100 block of Sioux Avenue, Carpentersville

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Collar counties carry Jeanne Ives in Republican primary for governorIllinois gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives speaks to the Northwest Herald Editorial Board on Feb. 19. Ives lost her bid for the Republican nomination to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 05:43:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Every collar county but one in Illinois carried gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives in Tuesday’s primary election. In McHenry, Kane, Will and DuPage counties, voters cast their ballots in favor of Ives, who fell short at Lake County polling places in a losing bid to unseat incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. McHenry County Republicans pegged Rauner’s local downfall to his support of nonconservative measures, including legislation he signed allowing state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions. “I think a lot of the Republicans were disappointed in what he’s accomplished or failed to accomplish,” said McHenry County Recorder Joe Tirio, who won the Republican nomination in his bid for the office of McHenry County clerk. Ives tallied 51 percent of votes in McHenry County, collecting 12,979 votes in an election where 21.6 percent of registered voters turned out, according to unofficial results. Neighboring Will County pulled for Ives, giving her 53.1 percent of the votes – or 20,354 cast for her. Lake County was the only collar county that didn’t side with the self-described social conservative who graduated from West Point and served in the U.S. Army from 1987 to 1993. Ives was chosen on 47.9 percent of ballots, or 13,321 votes. On the campaign trail in recent months, Ives said Rauner has abandoned Republican principles on abortion and gender issues, and has shown he is not up to the task of leading Republican opposition to the Democratic Party’s agenda. She pegged Rauner’s greatest offenses as his support for billions in subsidies for power giant Exelon Corp., and the governor’s inability to prevent a third of the Republican Party caucus from voting to permanently raise the state income tax on residents and businesses by more than 30 percent. Ives raised only $4 million – less than any of the other prominent candidates – but has attacked the governor’s conservative credentials in edgy TV ads. One of them, which the chairman of the state Republican Party blasted as a “cowardly attempt to stoke political division,” portrays actors mockingly thanking Rauner for not doing enough to restrict illegal immigration, abortion and transgender bathroom rights. “He didn’t accomplish much in terms of turning around the state, but he did approve the sanctuary state and publicly funded abortion bills,” Tirio said. “Those are pretty typical nonconservative stances on those issues.” McHenry County Republican Chairwoman Sandra Salgado echoed the same sentiment, pointing to the 2016 election, when McHenry County carried Rauner to victory. “Ives is definitely attractive to the s[...]

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Day after firing, Nick Provenzano elected precinct committeeman in Nunda TownshipA day after his firing, Nick Provenzano was elected to another term as a precinct committeeman in Nunda Township.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 05:42:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A day after his firing, Nick Provenzano was elected to another term as a precinct committeeman in Nunda Township. In the uncontested primary race Tuesday, the 56-year-old former McHenry County Board member – who lost his job as an aide to U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren after a police report surfaced describing a sexual encounter Provenzano had with a 17-year-old boy last year – received 100 votes to win a precinct committeeman seat in Nunda Township’s Precinct 17. Multiple attempts to reach Provenzano for comment were unsuccessful. Dustin Smith, the attorney named in a McHenry police report, also could not be reached. Precinct committeemen are characterized in the Republican Party as ambassadors of the GOP – the men and women elected to knock on doors, recruit voters, choose nominees to run for office and push the party’s agenda. Provenzano has served as a precinct committee member in Nunda Township since the 1990s. There are two ways a precinct committeeman can be removed from a post: if they move out of the precinct where they serve or if they resign. Republicans in Nunda Township and McHenry County at large have been reluctant to talk about Provenzano’s ongoing role in the McHenry County GOP. McHenry County Republican Party chairwoman Sandra Salgado declined to comment on Provenzano’s post as precinct committeeman. Nunda Township’s Republican Party vice chairman Mark Daniel and precinct committeeman Mike Lesperance declined to comment. Lesperance said Nunda Township’s GOP is slated to meet soon, and Provenzano could be a topic of discussion. On Oct. 21, a pair of McHenry police officers rolled down a dead-end McHenry street and found an SUV with its headlights turned off, according to a police report. Inside, they found a shirtless man and a 17-year-old boy. The man in the driver’s seat was Provenzano, according to the report. They had met on Grindr, a popular gay dating app, the 17-year-old told police. McHenry police questioned Provenzano about what happened inside the car. He said they were “hanging out,” according to a redacted McHenry police report obtained by the Northwest Herald using the Freedom of Information Act. Provenzano, who earned a reputation as one of the County Board’s most outspoken conservative members, declined to give police a statement, and he has not been charged with a crime. The 17-year-old told police the meeting was “sexual” in nature and consensual, according to the report. The age of consent in Illinois is 17. Hultgren fired Provenzano on Monday. In Aug[...]

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Former Dominick's site in Lake in the Hills sells for $5 millionPaul Barile (left) of real estate agency Transwestern stands with Lake in the Hills economic development coordinator George Hahne and Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Katrina McGuire in the former Dominick’s grocery store Feb. 14.The former Dominick’s in Lake in the Hills was open for a viewing Feb. 14. The property was sold for $5.05 million at an auction that took place Monday through Wednesday.The property sold at an auction this week also includes a nearby shopping center in Lake in the Hills.The former Dominick’s in Lake in the Hills was open for a viewing Feb. 14.The Centre at Lake in the Hills shopping center that includes the former Dominick's store sold Wednesday for $5.05 million. The starting bid was $1.2 million.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 05:41:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Lake in the Hills officials are hopeful that a village eyesore soon will be filled and spur new development at Randall and Algonquin roads. The Centre at Lake in the Hills shopping center that includes the former Dominick’s store sold Wednesday for $5.05 million. The starting bid was $1.2 million. Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Katrina McGuire said the higher price is a good sign for the village’s economy, showing that people want to invest in the community and have faith in it. “It’ll be very nice to have something there and not that eyesore,” McGuire said. “It’s a great location, and a busy corner and a great opportunity for any of those investors.” ​The auction – originally set for last summer – was pushed back twice and was rescheduled for Monday through Wednesday on Ten-X Commercial, an online real estate search and transaction website. Village President Russ Ruzanski said the sale is an opportunity to increase the village’s tax base with new business. The property now is in escrow, according to the Ten-X website, and the auction details will be made public once escrow is closed. Ruzanski said the process will be a quick change of title, and it should be clear within the next few weeks where interest lies from potential businesses. “Whoever is buying this isn’t buying it just to sit on it,” Ruzanski said. “They might have a potential suitor who wants to go in there already, and it would just be a matter of working on the details. The village is going to benefit one way or another.” McGuire said she would like to see a destination concept come to the former Dominick’s site, which could bring different people to the area. A destination place, rather than a grocery store, for example, would help put Lake in the Hills on the map, she said. “We have great shopping centers on Randall Road and great boutique stores opening up, and we could use the traffic – a place where people could hang out and take time during the day to have an experience,” McGuire said. “Shopping is one thing, but they can do that online.” Unfortunately, McGuire said, she still hears of people traveling to the Schaumburg area because it has locations such as Pinstripes, Level 257 and Main Event in Hoffman Estates. About 17 percent of the 99,451-square-foot space is leased, according to Ten-X. Rumors have circled about Aldi’s intent to move into 22,000 square feet of the vacant Dominick’s site. Aldi’s Batavia division Vice President Laura Branneman said that at this time, the store has no updates r[...]

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Off the sideline: U.S. students, women, teachers embrace activismDemonstrators raise their fists in the air during a student-led march against gun violence March 14 at the Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco, one month after the deadly shooting inside a high school in Parkland, Fla.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 03:34:00 GMT

Suddenly, America is on the march. Saturday’s March for Our Lives, planned for Washington and hundreds of other locations, is just the most recent sign that an extraordinary number of Americans are taking to heart the old truism that democracy should not be a spectator sport. In numbers not seen since the tumult of the 1960s and ’70s, multitudes are venturing off the sidelines and into the game in a remarkable surge of political and social activism. Their ranks include high school students angered by gun violence, teachers fed up with low pay and women energized by a range of grievances – notably pervasive sexual harassment and the longtime dominance of men in political power. The array of massive women’s marches in January 2017, primarily a backlash to Donald Trump’s election as president, served as prelude to the #MeToo movement, which caught fire in October. It continues to this day as emboldened women call out men who have sexually mistreated them in workplaces ranging from Hollywood to state legislatures to symphony orchestras. The Feb. 14 massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, reignited the simmering national campaign to curtail gun violence. Tens of thousands of students across the U.S. walked out of their classrooms on March 14 to demand action by politicians, a prelude to this weekend’s March for Our Lives. “I’m scared to attend my own school,” said Scarlett Scott-Buck, one of about 100 high school students from Lake Oswego, Oregon, who traveled to the state capitol for a recent gun-control rally. “I’m here to be an activist for my rights to live, my friends’ rights to live.” As the gun-control campaign was spreading nationally, public school teachers in West Virginia provided a dramatic example of how organized activism can prevail. After a nine-day walkout, they won a 5 percent pay raise even though they lacked collective bargaining rights and had no legal right to strike. Racial tensions also have fueled activism, including the Black Lives Matter campaign protesting the deaths of black men at the hands of police, and the take-a-knee protests by some National Football League players. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, sees a common denominator in the overlapping movements. “People see that when they come together, they have power that they don’t have when they’re alone,” she said. “Trump says ‘I alone can do it.’ But in these movements being created now, there’s a sense that with collective action, you can make possible what would have seemed impossible.” Another common denominator: The use of social media to[...]

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Democrats giddy about odds of retaking Illinois' top jobDemocratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker celebrates winning the Democratic primary Tuesday with lieutenant governor candidate Juliana Stratton in Chicago.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 03:34:00 GMT

CHICAGO – After Illinois’ primary, Democrats are giddy about their chances of reclaiming the governor’s office from a GOP incumbent who barely survived his own nomination fight. Billionaire J.B. Pritzker received almost 575,000 votes on Tuesday, consolidating support from Democratic voters who turned out in midterm numbers not seen in more than a decade to defeat his closest rival by 20 points. Pritzker’s vote total was about 200,000 more than Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner received against a conservative state lawmaker who had huge disadvantages in fundraising and name recognition but still finished within 3 points of him. Pritzker said the results are an indication of how motivated Democrats are across the U.S. since President Donald Trump was elected, and how unhappy people in Illinois are with Rauner’s leadership. “I’ve been involved in politics a long time and I’ve never seen Democrats as enthusiastic as they are right now,” Pritzker said. “I think it means in the fall we stand a real good chance of beating Bruce Rauner.” Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune who already has put about $70 million into his own campaign, launched new campaign ads Wednesday blasting Rauner’s “four years of failure.” He also held an event with Illinois residents who said they’d been hurt by the more than two-year state budget crisis that resulted from disagreements between the first-term governor and Democratic leaders. Rauner, a wealthy former private equity investor, made clear he won’t go down without a fight. He launched his own ads Wednesday, using clips of Pritzker’s primary opponents blasting him as the “poster child for pay-to-play politics” and linking him to unpopular but powerful longtime Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan. “We’re the reformers. We’re for the people of Illinois,” Rauner said during a stop at a suburban Chicago business where he called Pritzker “a corrupt insider who’s a tax dodger” and who “works for the corrupt machine that’s controlled by Madigan.” Rauner, 61, was one of a handful of Republican governors elected to lead Democratic-leaning states as part of a GOP wave four years ago. He won his first political office with promises to “shake up” the state with an anti-union, pro-business agenda including term limits on lawmakers and lower property taxes. He also said he had “no social agenda,” helping him pick up support from independents and even some Democrats who hoped electing a businessman could solve some of Illinois’ deep financial problems. But his efforts to pass a more business-friendly agenda were stymie[...]

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With police near, suspected Austin bomber blows himself upOfficials remove a bombing suspect's car from the scene where he blew himself up as authorities closed in Wednesday in Round Rock, Texas.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 03:34:00 GMT

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas – As a SWAT team closed in, the suspected bomber whose deadly explosives terrorized Austin for three weeks used one of his own devices to blow himself up. But police warned that he could have planted more bombs before his death, and they cautioned the city to stay on guard. Mark Anthony Conditt, an unemployed college dropout who bought bomb-making materials at Home Depot, was tracked down using store surveillance video, cellphone signals and witness accounts of a customer shipping packages in a disguise that included a blond wig and gloves. His motive remained a mystery. Police finally found the 23-year-old early Wednesday at a hotel in a suburb north of Austin known as the scene for filming portions of “Friday Night Lights.” Officers prepared to move in for an arrest. When the suspect’s sport utility vehicle began to drive away, they followed it. Conditt ran into a ditch on the side of the road, and SWAT officers approached, banging on his window. Within seconds, the suspect had detonated a bomb inside his vehicle, blasting the officers backward, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said. One officer then fired his weapon at Conditt, the chief said. The medical examiner has not finalized the cause of death, but the bomb caused “significant” injuries, he said. Police discovered a 25-minute video recording on a cellphone found with Conditt, which Manley said he considers a “confession” to the bombings. It described in great detail the differences among the bombs, he said, but no motive. “It is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his own life,” Manley said of the recording. Law enforcement officials did not say whether Conditt acted alone in the five bombings in the Texas capital and suburban San Antonio that killed two people and badly wounded four others. Fred Milanowski of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said investigators were confident that “the same person built each one of these devices.” Investigators released few details about Conditt, except his age and that he was white. Neighbors said he was home-schooled. He later attended Austin Community College from 2010 to 2012, according to a college spokeswoman, but he did not graduate. In a 2012 online blog that the college spokeswoman said Conditt created as part of a U.S. government class project, he gives his opinion on several issues, often in response to someone else’s commentary. Conditt wrote that gay marriage should be illegal, argued in favor of the death penalty and gave his thoughts on “why we might want to consider” eliminating sex of[...]

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Crisis experts say Facebook has mishandled the data scandalFacebook elections signs stand in the media area Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland, Thursday, before the first Republican presidential debate. Breaking more than four days of silence, CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted mistakes and outlined steps to protect user data in light of a privacy scandal involving a President Donald Trump-connected data-mining firm.

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 03:33:00 GMT

NEW YORK – The crisis-management playbook is pretty simple: Get ahead of the story, update authorities and the public regularly, accept responsibility and take decisive action. Crisis-management experts say that until Wednesday, Facebook was 0 for 4. Facebook’s two top executives, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, went radio silent after news broke last Friday that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica may have used data improperly obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to sway elections, including the 2016 White House race. It was not until five days after the scandal erupted that Zuckerberg spoke up. Meanwhile, some Facebook users have been leaving the social network or mulling the possibility, and Facebook’s stock is down 9 percent since Friday. Facebook’s handling of the growing public-relations crisis is remarkable in that one of the world’s biggest companies seems not to be playing by well-established crisis-management rules. “This will go down as the textbook case study as how not to handle a crisis,” said Scott Galloway, a New York University professor of marketing. “The only thing we know about this and are comfortable predicting is that it’s going to get worse.” In his statement Wednesday – posted, of course, on Facebook – Zuckerberg acknowledged that mistakes were made, outlined changes the company has undertaken and accepted responsibility for the problem. Experts said acknowledging accountability was a positive but the fact that Zuckerberg didn’t outright apologize is a negative. “My biggest skepticism is that we’ve seen this play before,” said Helio Fred Garcia, a professor of crisis management at NYU and Columbia University in New York. “They’re caught coming short of customers’ privacy expectations. They tweak procedures. But they don’t seem to learn from mistakes, don’t really seem to care.” Most Fortune 500 companies adhere to well-established crisis-management rules. When video surfaced of a passenger being dragged from an overbooked United Airlines flight last April, for example, CEO Oscar Munoz at first hedged but then apologized. When Pepsi ran an ad last spring featuring Kendall Jenner that appeared to trivialize the “Black Lives Matter” movement, the company pulled the ad, saying, “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize.” The point is to at least make an effort to seem remorseful to win back public trust, experts said. But despite user outcry on its own Facebook page and a call from Congress for Zuckerberg to testify[...]

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McHenry police: Woman charged after striking passenger with car doorMcHenry police assess the scene of an incident Saturday night in which a driver allegedly got into a fight with her passenger and then struck the passenger with a car door while backing up her vehicle.McHenry police assess the scene of an incident Saturday night in which a driver allegedly got into a fight with her passenger and then struck the passenger with a car door while backing up her vehicle.Kalissa Y. Goodwin, 21, of Wonder Lake

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 23:51:00 GMT

McHENRY – A 21-year-old Wonder Lake woman was charged in connection with an incident where police said she got behind the wheel of a Ford Escape following a physical altercation inside the vehicle then backed up and struck the person with an open door.

McHenry police responded about 10:30 p.m. Saturday to a gas station at the corner of McCullom Lake and Richmond roads after a report of a pedestrian being struck by a car.

"The 20-year-old victim had been driving when they pulled into the gas station parking lot," McHenry Deputy Chief Tom Walsh said in an email. "After the physical altercation, the victim was helped out of the driver’s door by a witness. The arrestee then got into the driver’s seat and backed the vehicle up, striking the victim with the driver’s door."

Police arrested Kalissa Y. Goodwin, 21, of Wonder Lake.

The 20-year-old woman suffered injuries that are not considered life-threatening and was taken by the McHenry Township Fire Protection District to Centegra Hospital – McHenry. She later was flown by the Flight for Life emergency helicopter service to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. The victim has since been treated and released.

Goodwin was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and illegal transportation of open alcohol. She was released Sunday morning from the McHenry County Jail, records show.

Police said the incident still is under investigation, and additional charges might be coming.

McHenry police assess the scene of an incident Saturday night in which a driver allegedly got into a fight with her passenger and then struck the passenger with a car door while backing up her vehicle.McHenry police assess the scene of an incident Saturday night in which a driver allegedly got into a fight with her passenger and then struck the passenger with a car door while backing up her vehicle.Kalissa Y. Goodwin, 21, of Wonder Lake

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Facebook's Zuckerberg admits mistakes, outlines fixesA Facebook employee walks past a sign at Facebook headquarters March 15, 2013, in Menlo Park, Calif. The San Jose Mercury News reports Saturday that building permits compiled by Buildzoom show Facebook plans to erect the 465,000 square-foot (43,200 square-meter) building at its campus in Menlo Park, Calif.

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 20:52:00 GMT

NEW YORK – Breaking more than four days of silence, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted mistakes and outlined steps to protect user data in light of a privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm. Zuckerberg said Wednesday that Facebook has a "responsibility" to protect its users' data and if it fails, "we don't deserve to serve you." Zuckerberg and Facebook's No. 2 executive, Sheryl Sandberg, have been quiet since news broke Friday that Cambridge Analytica may have used data improperly obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to sway elections. Facebook shares have dropped some 8 percent since the revelations were first published, raising questions about whether social media sites are violating users' privacy. Even before the scandal broke, Facebook has already taken the most important steps to prevent a recurrence, Zuckerberg said. For example, in 2014, it reduced access outside apps had to user data. However, some of the measures didn't take effect until a year later, allowing Cambridge to access the data in the intervening months. Zuckerberg acknowledges that there is more to do. In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Zuckerberg said it will ban developers who don't agree to an audit. An app's developer will no longer have access to data from people who haven't used that app in three months. Data will also be generally limited to user names, profile photos and email, unless the developer signs a contract with Facebook and gets user approval. In a separate post, Facebook said it will inform people whose data was misused by apps. And in the future, when it bans an app for misusing people's data, Facebook promises to tell everyone who used it. Facebook first learned of this breach of privacy more than two years ago, but hadn't mentioned it publicly until Friday. The company it is also "building a way" for people to know if their data was accessed by "This Is Your Digital Life," though there is no way to do this at the moment. The app is the psychological profiling quiz that researcher Aleksandr Kogan created and paid about 270,000 people to take part in. Cambridge Analytica later obtained data from the app for about 50 million Facebook users, because it also vacuumed up data on people's friends. Facebook didn't say how it would inform users if their data was compromised. But it could look similar to the page it set up for users to see if they liked or followed accounts set up by the Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency, accused of meddling with the 2016 presiden[...]

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Austin bombing suspect was unemployed college dropoutOfficials work at a blocked off area near where a suspect in a series of bombing attacks in Austin blew himself up as authorities closed in, Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Round Rock, Texas. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 19:29:00 GMT

The man suspected of planting four bombs in the Texas capital this month that killed two people and injured four others was an unemployed college dropout who doesn't appear to have left much of a trail online aside from some 2012 blog posts about gay marriage and other topics. Authorities say Mark Anthony Conditt blew himself up in a motel parking lot overnight as a SWAT team approached his SUV. Police haven't publicly released Conditt's name, but a law enforcement official who had been briefed on the investigation identified Conditt as the suspect on the condition of anonymity because the official hadn't been authorized to discuss the case publicly. Conditt grew up in Pflugerville, a suburb just northeast of Austin where he was still living after moving out of his parents' home. It's not far from the site of the first of the four package bombings — a March 2 explosion that killed a 39-year-old man, Anthony House — though it's unknown if Conditt knew any of the victims and authorities said the motive for the attacks remained unclear. Authorities released few details about the suspect, aside from his age, that he was white and that he was apparently unemployed. But online postings indicate he was home-schooled. He later attended Austin Community College from 2010 to 2012, but he did not graduate, according to a college spokeswoman. He worked for a time at an area manufacturing company and Gov. Greg Abbott told KXAN-TV in Austin that Conditt had no criminal record. Conditt left little discernable trace on social media. Aside from a few photos of him on his family's Facebook pages, he apparently made six entries on a personal blog in 2012 in which he addressed a range of topics. In those posts, a blogger identifying himself as Mark Conditt of Pflugerville wrote that gay marriage should be illegal. He also called for the elimination of sex offender registries and argued in favor of the death penalty. He described his interests as cycling, tennis and listening to music Of gay marriage, Conditt wrote: "Homosexuality is not natural. Just look at the male and female bodies. They are obviously designed to couple." Jeff Reeb, a neighbor of Conditt's parents in Pflugerville for about 17 years, said he watched Conditt grow up and that he always seemed "smart" and "polite." Reeb, 75, said Conditt and his grandson played together into middle school and that Conditt regularly visited his parents, whom Reeb described as good neighbors. Conditt was living with roommates a few miles from his parents' home and was in the process of guttin[...]

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The Weeknd, Bruno Mars to headline Lollapalooza in ChicagoFILE - In this Jan. 28, 2018 file photo Bruno Mars poses with his awards at the 60th annual Grammy Awards in New York. The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Jack White and Arctic Monkeys will headline this year's Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago. Travis Scott, The National, Vampire Weekend and Odesza also were among the headliners announced Wednesday, March 21, on Lollapalooza's website. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP File)

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 17:30:00 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Jack White and Arctic Monkeys will headline this year's Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago.

Travis Scott, The National, Vampire Weekend and Odesza also were among the performers announced Wednesday morning on Lollapalooza's website . More than 180 acts will play on eight stages Aug. 2-5 in Chicago's lakefront Grant Park.

Founder Perry Farrell launched Lollapalooza as a touring festival in 1991. It's been held in Chicago since 2005.

The lineup includes LL Cool J, St. Vincent, Logic, Khalid, Walk the Moon, Dua Lipa and Perry Farrell's Kind Heaven, which will feature guest musicians performing songs from the Jane's Addiction singer's upcoming solo album.

Last year's festival drew 100,000 people a day over four days. Organizers say it had a $245 million local economic impact in 2017.

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2018 file photo Bruno Mars poses with his awards at the 60th annual Grammy Awards in New York. The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Jack White and Arctic Monkeys will headline this year's Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago. Travis Scott, The National, Vampire Weekend and Odesza also were among the headliners announced Wednesday, March 21, on Lollapalooza's website. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP File)

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