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Jail to job: New York City to give jobs to released inmatesAP photo Neftali Thomas Diaz (right) tries on donated work clothes Thursday with the help of his case manager, David Rodriguez, at The Fortune Society in New York. At the Fortune Society, one of the social service nonprofits expected to partner with the city on the plan and a sponsor of Diaz, the mission is proving the critics wrong by training former state prison and jail inmates on how to land and keep jobs.

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:35:00 GMT

NEW YORK – Neftali Thomas Diaz swears he’s done with Rikers Island. After being locked up twice at the notorious New York City jail for stealing a credit card and violating parole, Diaz entered a private jobs program. Once he’s back on his feet with a paycheck, Diaz said, “I know I’m not ever going back there – ever.” New York City is betting that Diaz and other low-level offenders like him are right about the salvation in second-chance employment. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will spend $10 million a year on a “jails to jobs” initiative that will guarantee all Rikers inmates serving sentences of a year or less a chance at short-term employment once they do their time. The jobs will last up to eight weeks, with hourly wages covered by taxpayer money rather than coming out of the pocket of the employers. The program, expected to be in place by the end of the year, is part of a broader effort to drive down the city’s inmate population to the point where the city could build new, smaller jails to replace Rikers. The shutdown of one of the nation’s largest jails could take years, so the mayor is pitching shorter-term remedies to ease the chronic violence and corruption at the sprawling facility. Supporters have said transitional jobs – kitchen, construction and other mostly menial work paying minimum wage – are a good investment because research shows that inmates who get them would be less likely to break the law again and go back to Rikers, where the costs of housing each prisoner can top $200,000 a year. The economics make it “in everyone’s interest to do this because otherwise they pay in the end,” said supporter Martin Horn, a Department of Correction commissioner under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But the plan has come under fire by critics that include another former city jails boss, Bernard Kerik, who served his own prison term for tax fraud and lying to the White House during his vetting process for Homeland Security secretary. He said any new spending on rehabilitation should go to existing behind-bars programs offering high school educations and vocational training. The jobs plan is “like giving money away” and “a feel-good approach that does nothing to fix the problem,” Kerik said. Another vocal opponent, former police detective and mayoral candidate Bo Dietl, puts it even more bluntly: “Why should we be rewarding people who commit crimes? I don’t get that.” At the Fortune Society – one of the social service nonprofits expected to partner with the city on the plan and a sponsor of Diaz – the mission is proving the critics wrong by training former state prison and jail inmates on how to land and keep jobs. Part of the focus is on winning the trust of employers who risk hiring criminals trying to go straight, said Stanley Richards, an ex-convict who serves as the organization’s executive vice president. “It can be a tough sell,” Richards said. “We’re dealing with stereotypes of the formerly incarcerated. So what we’re saying to employers is, ‘We’re concerned about your business, because we’re helping to build new lives.’ ” Though the Fortune Society sees some clients drop out and drift away, many manage to break out the cycle of recidivism. Some have held down steady employment at a large commercial kitchen in Queens shared by caterers and bakers. “In the food industry, they want to know if you can cut 50 potatoes in five minutes, not whether you served time,” said Seth Bornstein, who runs the facility as part of the Queens Economic Development Corporation. “A few of them are less reliable than others, but no more than the general population.” The 28-year-o[...]


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American Airlines tries to learn from United's mistakes in incidentFILE - In this Friday, June 3, 2016 file photo, an American Airlines passenger jet takes off from Miami International Airport in Miami. The company said it grounded a flight attendant who got into a verbal confrontation with a passenger after taking a baby stroller away from another passenger on a Friday, April 21, 2017 flight from San Francisco to Dallas-Fort Worth. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:35:00 GMT

NEW YORK – Another day, another cellphone video of a conflict on an airplane. American Airlines said it grounded a flight attendant who got into a verbal confrontation with a passenger on a Friday flight from San Francisco to Dallas-Fort Worth. Spokeswoman Leslie Scott says the airline is looking into whether the male flight attendant violently took away a stroller from the female passenger just before she boarded a Friday flight from San Francisco to Dallas. He has been removed from duty in the meantime. In an age of cellphone videos and social media, airlines are learning the hard way that it is essential to de-escalate tense situations that occur during air travel, even as there are more passengers, less room and fewer flight attendants than ever before. The incident comes less than two weeks after video of a man being violently dragged off a United Express flight sparked widespread outrage. United initially blamed its passenger, Dr. David Dao, before finally apologizing days after the incident, fanning the public’s fury. American, by contrast, seems to have learned from United’s mistakes: it immediately said it was sorry, that it had grounded the flight attendant while it investigates the incident, and that it had upgraded the passenger involved and her family to first class. “American doesn’t want to become the next United, but then, United didn’t want to become the next United,” said Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group. “No airline wants to be seen as being anti-consumer or anti-passenger.” Smartphone cameras and social media are shifting power to consumers who can share customer relations gaffes with the world. They’re increasingly making confrontations with customer-facing staff headline news, making it harder for companies to sweep complaints under the rug. The faster companies own up to mistakes, the quicker they can start to do damage control. American’s fast reaction to the incident could be helpful, said brand consultant Allen Adamson, CEO of BrandSimple. “The quick reaction will prevent it from escalating further, but it won’t mitigate the perception among flyers that flying is becoming a less enjoyable experience every day,” he said. Overall, airlines must start to put more of an emphasis on customer service, he said. “It’s another example of airlines struggling to treat their passengers with the traditional ‘customer is always right’ attitude,” he said. “Good customer service is finding a way to de-escalate a situation and he (the flight attendant) was throwing gasoline on it.” Days after Dao was dragged off the United Express flight from Chicago to Kentucky to make room for airline crew, his lawyer spent a good part of a news conference railing against what he said was the industrywide shabby treatment of airline passengers. Dao lost teeth, suffered a broken nose and suffered a concussion in the incident, which also was captured on video. In the case of the American flight on Friday, a video that passenger Surain Adyanthaya posted on Facebook shows the sobbing woman holding a small child and saying, “You can’t use violence with baby.” Later, an unidentified male passenger confronts the flight attendant, telling him, “You do that to me and I’ll knock you flat.” The flight attendant responds with, “Hit me. Bring it on.” Another passenger on the flight, Olivia Morgan, told the New York Times that the flight attendant nearly hit the baby with the stroller when he jerked it away from the woman. Morgan, an executive with an education-related nonprofit, said when she complained about the woman[...]


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Illinois receives $16M to fight opioid addiction crisis

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:34:00 GMT

CHICAGO – Illinois is receiving more than $16 million in federal money to help fight a prescription drug addiction crisis.

Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grants. The money will go toward prevention, treatment and recovery services.

Duckworth said the money "will go a long way toward ending the opioid epidemic." Durbin said it's a crisis that affects every community in Illinois, from urban to suburban and rural.

Nationwide, more than 33,000 deaths from opioid-related overdoses were reported in 2015. In Illinois more than 1,835 died in 2015. That's a 16 percent increase over 2013.

A U.S. surgeon general's report found only one in 10 people with a substance use disorder receives the care they need.




Health care quagmire awaiting Congress as possible shutdown loomsIn this photo taken Feb. 28, 2017, a flag flies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Lawmakers return to Washington this week to a familiar quagmire on health care legislation and a budget deadline dramatized by the prospect of a protracted battle between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over his border wall. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:34:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers returning to Washington this coming week will find a familiar quagmire on health care legislation and a budget deadline dramatized by the prospect of a protracted battle between President Donald Trump and Democrats over his border wall. Trump’s GOP allies control Congress, but they’ve been unable to send him a single major bill as his presidency faces the symbolic 100-day mark April 29 – the very day when the government, in a worst-case scenario, could shut down. Feeling pressure to deliver results, Trump wants to revive a troubled health care measure from House Republicans to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Trump also hopes to use a $1 trillion catchall spending bill to salvage victories on his promised U.S.-Mexico border wall, a multibillion-dollar down payment on a Pentagon buildup, and perhaps a crackdown on cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration enforcement by federal authorities. Congress faces a midnight Friday deadline to avert a government shutdown. But negotiations on the spending measure, a huge pile of leftover business from last year that includes the budgets of almost every federal agency, have hit a rough patch. Rank-and-file Republicans received few answers on a Saturday conference call by top House GOP leaders, who offered little detail and said deals remained elusive on both health care and the catchall spending measure, with no votes scheduled yet. It’s looking like a one- or two-week temporary measure will be needed to prevent a shutdown and buy time for more talks. Negotiations have faltered because of disputes over the border wall and health law subsidies to help low-income people afford health insurance. Trump’s Capitol Hill allies had been tempering expectations that the president will win much in the budget talks. Democratic support will be needed to pass the spending measure, and Republicans fear taking the blame if the government shuts down on their watch. “We have the leverage and they have the exposure,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California told fellow Democrats on a conference call Thursday, according to a senior Democratic aide. Pelosi wants the spending bill to give the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico help with its Medicaid obligations, and Democrats are pressing for money for overseas famine relief, treatment for opioid abuse, and the extension of health benefits for 22,000 retired Appalachian coal miners and their families. An additional Democratic demand is for cost-sharing payments to insurance companies that help low-income people afford health policies under Obama’s health law. The payments are a critical subsidy and the subject of a lawsuit by House Republicans. Trump has threatened to withhold the money to force Democrats to negotiate on health legislation. Trump’s presidential victory makes it “completely reasonable to ask and to insist that some of his priorities are funded,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said in an interview. “We are more than happy to talk to the Democrats about some of their priorities but we encourage them to recognize that they are a minority party.” Both the White House and Democrats have adopted hard-line positions on Trump’s $1 billion request for a down payment on construction of the border wall, a central plank of last year’s campaign. Talk of forcing Mexico to pay for it has largely been abandoned. But in an interview Friday, Trump stopped short of demanding that money for the project be included in the must-pass spending bill. Health care is on a separate track and facing trouble, too. The White House is pressing House R[...]


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Trump awards Purple Heart at Walter Reed military hospitalPresident Donald Trump, left, awards a Purple Heart to U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Alvaro Barrientos, with his wife Tammy Barrientos, right, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)President Donald Trump prepares to award a Purple Heart to U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Alvaro Barrientos, with first lady Melania Trump, right, and Tammy Barrientos, second from right, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:34:00 GMT

BETHESDA, Md. – President Donald Trump on Saturday awarded a Purple Heart to an Army sergeant recently wounded in Afghanistan, the first of many Trump likely will award during his service as commander in chief of the U.S. military.

"When I heard about this ... I wanted to do it myself," Trump said during a brief ceremony at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington. The medal went to Sgt. 1st Class Alvaro Barrientos, who was wounded in action March 17 in Afghanistan during what is now America's longest war. The White House did not release Barrientos' hometown.

"Congratulations, on behalf of Melania and myself and the entire nation. Tremendous," said Trump, mentioning his wife.

It was Trump's first visit as president to the military hospital.

Barrientos, whose right leg below the knee had been amputated, was brought into a hospital atrium in a wheelchair, accompanied by his wife, Tammy.

Trump kissed Barrientos' wife before pinning the medal on the sergeant's left shirt collar, grasping Barrientos by the shoulders and then shaking his hand. The Purple Heart is awarded to service members who are wounded or killed in action.

Besides Barrientos, Trump met privately with about a dozen service members who are receiving care at the medical center.

Before leaving the White House, the president tweeted that he looked forward to "seeing our bravest and greatest Americans."

Trump's decision to allow news media coverage of the medal ceremony was in sharp contrast to former President Barack Obama, who awarded Purple Heart medals during his own regular visits to Walter Reed but always did so behind closed doors.

Trump was driven to Maryland instead of flying in the Marine One helicopter, the way presidents typically travel to Walter Reed, due to annual public tours of the White House south grounds and gardens that were taking place Saturday.

As the motorcade exited the complex, nearby sidewalks were lined with people who had come to Washington on Saturday, which is also Earth Day, to promote science and defend it from attack, including Trump's proposed budget cuts. Some held signs that said "Support Science" and "Science Saves Lives."

President Donald Trump, left, awards a Purple Heart to U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Alvaro Barrientos, with his wife Tammy Barrientos, right, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)President Donald Trump prepares to award a Purple Heart to U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Alvaro Barrientos, with first lady Melania Trump, right, and Tammy Barrientos, second from right, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


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Afghan officials: 100 casualties in Afghanistan attackAfghan soldiers stand guard at the gate of a military compound after an attack by gunmen in Mazar-e- Sharif province north of kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, April 21, 2017. Gunmen wearing army uniforms stormed a military compound in the Balkh province, killing at least eight soldiers and wounding 11 others, an Afghan government official said Friday. (AP Photo/Mirwais Najand)

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:34:00 GMT

KABUL, Afghanistan – Authorities on Saturday raised the casualty toll to 100 in an attack on a military compound in northern Afghanistan a day earlier by gunmen and suicide bombers wearing army uniforms. Gen. Daulat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense, said the attack Friday on a compound of the 209th Corps of the Afghan National Army left dozens of soldiers and other personnel dead or wounded. Reports conflicted on the death toll, but at least two sources within the army corps and a provincial security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak with the media, confirmed that more than 130 people were killed and at least 80 others were wounded. The defense ministry had said Friday night that eight soldiers were killed and 11 others were wounded in its initial reports. Gen. Mohammad Radmanish, deputy spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said the militants entered the base in Balkh province using two military vehicles and attacked army personnel inside the compound's mosque. "Two suicide bombers detonated their vests full of explosive inside the mosque of the army corps while everyone was busy with Friday prayers," he said. Waziri said there were 10 attackers, including the two who carried out the suicide attacks. Eight others were killed in a gun battle with soldiers. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the assault in an email sent to media. President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday traveled to the base and strongly condemned the attack, according to a tweet from the official Twitter account of the presidential palace. "The attackers are infidels," Ghani was quoted as saying in the tweet. Ghani announced that Sunday would be a day of national mourning, with memorial services across the country's mosques and the Afghan flag flying at half-mast, in a statement issued by the Presidential Palace. Afzel Hadid, head of provincial council in Balkh told The Associated Press that more than 100 people, both army personnel and others present at the time inside the army crops, were killed in the attack. "The exact number is still not verified, but for sure we know more than 100 were killed in the attack," said Hadid. One of the attack survivors, an Afghan army soldier, Mohammad Hussain who was wounded and transported to a hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif said "Three people in an Afghan National Army vehicle started shooting at us when we finished Friday prayers, they are the enemies of the country." "I don't know maybe they had someone inside to help them to bring the vehicle inside. There are seven to eight checkpoints from the main gate and without inside help this vehicle cannot enter the compound and get to the mosque." In the Taliban's detailed statement on the attack posted on its official website, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that four of the 10 attackers were disguised as soldiers at the time of the attack. The Taliban statement said the attack was retaliation for the killing of the Taliban governor of Kunduz province, Mullah Abdul Salam Akhund, and threatened more violence against the army and police, saying "this year's operations will be painful." Local TV footage showed hundreds of people gathered outside the army crops waiting to find out if their relatives had been killed or wounded. In March, an attack on a military hospital in the capital Kabul killed 50 people. Responsibility for that attack was claimed by the Islamic S[...]


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Science advocates across U.S. fan out in global show of supportAP photo People hold signs of pioneering women in science Saturday in front the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the March for Science in Washington, D.C. Students and research advocates rallied from the Brandenburg Gate to the Washington Monument on Earth Day, conveying a global message of scientific freedom without political interference and spending necessary to make future breakthroughs possible.Thousands of demonstrators Saturday attend the March for Science in Berlin. Thousands of people are expected to attend March for Science events around the world to promote the understanding of science and defend it from various attacks, including U.S. government budget cuts. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:34:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The world saw brain power take a different form Saturday. From the Washington Monument to Germany’s Brandenburg Gate and even to Greenland, scientists, students and research advocates rallied on an often soggy Earth Day, conveying a global message about scientific freedom without political interference, the need for adequate spending for future breakthroughs and just the general value of scientific pursuits. They came in numbers that were mammoth if not quite astronomical. “We didn’t choose to be in this battle, but it has come to the point where we have to fight because the stakes are too great,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who regularly clashes with politicians. President Donald Trump, in an Earth Day statement hours after the marches kicked off, said that “rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.” Denis Hayes, who co-organized the first Earth Day 47 years ago, said the crowd he saw from the speaker’s platform down the street from the White House was energized and “magical” in a rare way, similar to what he saw in the first Earth Day. “For this kind of weather, this is an amazing crowd. You’re not out there today unless you really care. This is not a walk in the park event,” Hayes said of the event in the park. Mann said that like other scientists, he would rather be in his lab, the field or teaching students. But driving his advocacy are officials who deny his research that shows rising global temperatures. When he went on stage, he got the biggest applause for his simple opening: “I am a climate scientist.” In Los Angeles, Danny Leserman, the 26-year-old director of digital media for the county’s Democratic Party, said: “We used to look up to intelligence and aspire to learn more and do more with that intellectual curiosity. And we’ve gone from there to a society where ... our officials and representatives belittle science and they belittle intelligence. And we really need a culture change.” The rallies in more than 600 cities put scientists, who generally shy away from advocacy and whose work depends on objective experimentation, into a more public position. Scientists said they were anxious about political and public rejection of established science, such as climate change and the safety of vaccine immunizations. “Scientists find it appalling that evidence has been crowded out by ideological assertions,” said Rush Holt, a former physicist and Democratic congressman who runs the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “It is not just about Donald Trump, but there is also no question that marchers are saying, ‘When the shoe fits.’ ” Despite saying the march was not partisan, Holt acknowledged it was only dreamed up at the Women’s March on Washington, a day after Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration. But the rallies were also about what science does for the world. “Most people don’t know how much funding for the sciences supports them in their lives every day. Every medical breakthrough, their food, clothing, our cellphones, our computers, all that is science-based,” said Pati Vitt, a plant scientist at the Chicago Botanic Garden. “So if we stop funding scientific discoveries now, in 10 years, whatever we might have had won’t be; we just won’t have it.” In Washington, the sign that 9-year-old Sam Klimas of Parkersburg, West Virginia, held was red, handmade and personal: “Science sav[...]


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Chicago law firms cultivate new cannabis-specific practices

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:34:00 GMT

CHICAGO – Law firms throughout Chicago, from national firms to solo operations, are carving out cannabis practices as marijuana use gains acceptance.

Firms are increasingly offering to help companies navigate the highly regulated world of medical marijuana in Illinois and elsewhere, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The stigma surrounding the federally illegal drug has barred some firms from advertising their cannabis practices.

Dina Rollman and Bryna Dahlin formed a firm in January 2016 to focus on the cannabis industry. The firm counsels companies that grow and sell marijuana as well as businesses that intersect with the industry, from vaporizer manufacturers to advertising agencies.

Rollman said they've seen their workload consistently expand over the first year.

"Every area of law you can think of, when it intersects with cannabis, it gets complicated," Rollman said.

William Bogot, a partner at Philadelphia-based Fox Rothschild who heads the firm's marijuana practice from its Chicago office, came to cannabis law through gambling. He worked for the gambling industry as a regulatory attorney.

"The gambling space is a very highly regulated world," Bogot said. "When the new medical cannabis law came to Illinois, it wasn't all so different. ... It was kind of like a natural fit for us."

Bob Morgan, president of the Illinois Cannabis Bar Association and head of the cannabis practice at Chicago-based Much Shelist, said firms are carving out whole practices because cannabis law covers a lot of legal disciplines.

"A cannabis business needs not just a cannabis-focused lawyer but also one that really understands litigation and corporate law and intellectual property law and all these different types of practices," said Morgan, who was the first coordinator of Illinois' medical marijuana pilot program. "A single attorney would not normally have that kind of competency."




Venezuelans march in memory of those killed in antigovernment unrestPeople raise their arms during a silent march to the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference in homage to the at least 20 people killed in unrest generated after the nation's Supreme Court stripped congress of its last powers, a decision it later reversed, in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, April 22, 2017. Saturday's protest is the latest mass gathering in a wave of tumult that has rocked the nation over the last three weeks as demonstrators continue to press for new elections. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:34:00 GMT

CARACAS, Venezuela – Thousands of Venezuelans dressed in white marched in the capital Saturday to pay homage to the at least 20 people killed in antigovernment unrest in recent weeks.

Protests have been roiling Venezuela on an almost daily basis since the pro-government Supreme Court stripped congress of its last powers three weeks ago, a decision later reversed amid a storm of international rebuke.

But for the first since the protests began, demonstrators managed to cross from the wealthier eastern side of Caracas to the traditionally pro-government west without encountering resistance from state security.

Opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara, relishing the feat, likened the protesters' arrival in the city's more humble neighborhoods as "crossing the Berlin wall."

Once assembled outside the headquarters of the Roman Catholic bishops' confederation, religious leaders led the crowd in a moment of silence and asked God for strength. Then a string of political leaders passed around a megaphone and from the back of a pick-up truck repeated their demand of recent days for immediate elections and freedom for dozens of jailed government opponents they consider political prisoners.

"Let it be heard: The dictatorship is in its final days," said Maria Corina Machado, who was stripped of her seat in congress in 2014. The crowd responded with shouts of "Freedom! Freedom!"

Many Venezuelans blame the socialist policies of President Nicolas Maduro's administration for triple-digit inflation and widespread shortages of food and medical supplies.

Among the demonstrators gathered in Caracas was Andres Ramirez, a 34-year-old agricultural engineer who marched with a giant cross draped in the Venezuelan flag.

"I am here carrying this cross for the peace of all Venezuelans," he said beneath a punishing sun. "We ask God to protect us in these moments of crisis and suffering."

Elsewhere in the city, smaller pockets of violent protesters, some of them with their faces covered and throwing rocks, clashed with riot police, who responded with tear gas.

The opposition contends rogue armed pro-government groups have been fomenting the violence that has swirled around protests. Government leaders claim the violence is generated by right-wing opposition forces working with criminal gangs in an attempt to remove them from power.

"These are terrorist groups on a mission to sow hate and death," Diosdado Cabello, leader of the ruling socialist party, told supporters this week.

People raise their arms during a silent march to the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference in homage to the at least 20 people killed in unrest generated after the nation's Supreme Court stripped congress of its last powers, a decision it later reversed, in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, April 22, 2017. Saturday's protest is the latest mass gathering in a wave of tumult that has rocked the nation over the last three weeks as demonstrators continue to press for new elections. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)


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Woman who embezzled from Chicago Field Museum gets prison

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:34:00 GMT

CHICAGO – An ex-employee of Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History who authorities said stole nearly $1 million from the institution has been sentenced to three years in federal prison.

The Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times reported that Caryn Benson was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang. He says the theft was a serious offense and abuse of the public trust.

Benson declined Chang's offer to make a statement.

Chang ordered Benson to reimburse the $906,000 authorities said she took over a six-year period. Benson pleaded guilty last year to embezzlement, but her lawyer said Benson stole less than half that amount.

Prosecutors said she used the money to buy expensive clothing, watches, handbags and luxury cars.

Benson worked at the museum from 2003 to 2014, when the thefts were discovered.




U.S. sanctuary cities threatened with loss of federal grant moneyAP photo Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks as Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly listens after the pair toured the ports of entry and met Thursday with Department of Justice and DHS personnel in El Paso, Texas.

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:33:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration intensified its threats to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities, warning nine jurisdictions Friday that they may lose coveted law enforcement grant money unless they document cooperation. It sent letters to officials in California and major cities including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans, all places the Justice Department’s inspector general has identified as limiting the information local law enforcement can provide to federal immigration authorities about those in their custody. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has warned that the administration will punish communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally. But some of the localities remained defiant, despite risking the loss of funds that police agencies use to pay for everything from body cameras to bulletproof vests. “We’re not going to cave to these threats,” Milwaukee County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic said, promising a legal fight if the money is pulled. Playing off Sessions’ recent comments that sanctuary cities undermine the fight against gangs, the Justice Department said the communities under financial threat are “crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime.” After a raid led to the arrests of 11 MS-13 gang members in California’s Bay Area “city officials seemed more concerned with reassuring illegal immigrants that the raid was unrelated to immigration than with warning other MS-13 members that they were next,” the department said in a statement. The federal law in question says state and local governments may not prohibit police or sheriffs from sharing information about a person’s immigration status with federal authorities. The money could be withheld in the future, or terminated, if local officials fail to prove they are following the law, wrote Alan R. Hanson, acting head of the Office of Justice Programs. The grant program is the leading source of federal justice funding to states and local communities. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly threatened additional consequences for local police that don’t deliver people in custody, saying the alternative is immigration agents searching neighborhoods. “Ideally the best place for us to pick up these illegal criminals is in jails and prisons,” Kelly said at a news conference with Sessions in San Diego, next to a border fence topped with razor wire. “If they don’t do that, then we have to go into neighborhoods. We have to go into courthouses. We have to go wherever we can find them and apprehend them.” Kevin de Leon, leader of California’s state Senate, rejected the administration’s demand, saying its policies are based on “principles of white supremacy” and not American values. “Their constant and systematic targeting of diverse cities and states goes beyond constitutional norms and will be challenged at every level,” he said. Leaders in Chicago and Cook County, which shared a grant of more than $2.3 million in 2016, dismissed the threat. So did the mayor’s office in New York City, which received $4.3 million. The Justice Department singled out Chicago’s rise in homicides and said New York’s gang killings were the “predictable consequence of the city’s soft-on-crime stance.” New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the “soft [...]


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Cumpata: McHenry County could be attractive destination for Millennials

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:18:00 GMT

We hear a lot about Millennials these days and for good reason.   According to a recent report released from the Pew Research Foundation, Millennials (age 18-34) surpassed Baby Boomers (age 51-69) in 2016 as the largest living generation in the United States with a total population of 75.4 million people.   You may have heard that the Millennial generation was flocking to the cities wanting the convenience of city living. But the pendulum is now beginning to swing back to the suburbs. It seems that as they get married and start “settling down,” Millennials want to trade the urban lifestyle they once so readily embraced for a more balanced quality of life in the suburbs. Most adults of this generation have fond memories of family life in smaller towns and cities and want their own children to have that same experience. They also want to keep the conveniences they have come to enjoy living in urban areas. In short, Millennials are looking for the best of both worlds. So what does this mean for McHenry County? It means opportunity. McHenry County can take advantage of the desire of Millennials to live in Chicago-style “neighborhoods” by boasting about Woodstock, Crystal Lake, McHenry, Algonquin – any of our 30 unique municipalities. Each of these “neighborhoods” have the coffee shops, restaurants, community activities desired by Millennials as they create their family and find their work life balance.  Back in 2014, Forbes identified Chicago as the fourth best city for Millennials. At that time, it estimated 14 percent of Chicago’s population was age 25 to 34. This means the potential to attract a new generation of families to our area is huge. This generation is all about quality of life. They want good schools for their children, safe neighborhoods and good jobs. Many in this generation want a work-from-home option as they struggle to maintain work-life balance or a community workplace and meeting space for small businesses, entrepreneurs, virtual employees and corporate teams. They are looking for solid technology infrastructure and good public transportation and will happily trade a commute in the car for a commute by train or bicycle. McHenry County is fortunate to have solid Metra service and governments who have worked to improve bike access. Locally owned businesses can expect a great deal of support from this generation and should work on attracting talent in this age bracket. Restaurants, farmer’s markets, bars, local artists and coffee shops in our muni’s also will benefit as Millennials seek out unique and fun places to unwind after a long week. One area this group struggles with, however, is home ownership. They look at owning their own home as the ultimate symbol of “The American Dream.” With housing inventory in short supply in our county, and interest rates still low, those who can buy are helping to reinvigorate a rebounding housing market which is good news for our local real estate marketing. However, many Millennials have been dealing with huge amounts of student loan debt which has prevented them from being able to save money to any great degree. While this is certain to improve over time as they advance in their careers, for now, these families need single-family home rental options or multi-family housing in greater numbers than we have seen in the past. To keep the convenience of urban life, housing that is located near our downtown areas where they can easily access local businesses and trains is desired.   Just like the Baby Boomers before them, Millennials are going to change the landsca[...]



Marengo to swear in new mayor Monday

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:14:00 GMT

MARENGO – Village officials will swear in the new mayor Monday.

The Marengo City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at Marengo City Hall, 132 E. Prairie St., where John Koziol will be sworn in as mayor.

Koziol defeated incumbent Don Lockhart in the April 4 election, coming in with 480 votes to Lockhart’s 391. Challenger John Arient trailed with 231 votes.

Aldermen Dennis Hammortree, Matt Keenum, Mike Miller, Steve Mortensen and Nicole DeBoer will also be sworn in Monday. All are incumbents.

DeBoer won with a lead of two votes. Challenger Raymond Knake said he plans to seek a recount.




Rotary Club of McHenry seeks sponsors for Blues, Brews & BBQ’s

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:13:00 GMT

McHENRY – Rotary Club of McHenry members are looking for sponsors for this summer’s Blues, Brews & BBQ’s event. 

A number of ways to help exist, with everything from $100 Friends of Rotary sponsorships to an overall event naming-rights investment of $5,000, according to a news release.

“This is the club’s only major fundraising activity of the year,” said Donna Schaefer, who co-chairs the event with Don Tonyan. “Sponsors help defray the cost of running it, including paying the performers, paying the tent providers and other costs. That way, more of the money made at the gate makes its way back into the community.”

Blues, Brews & BBQ’s is scheduled Aug. 18 to 20 this year, so it will not compete with the McHenry County Fair – an aspect that is expected to enhance turnout beyond the 6,500 already routinely attending annually. The fest takes place at Petersen Park, and the cost for tickets will be $10 at the gate, with discounted tickets available for those buying in advance.

The Rotary spends funds raised during Blues, Brews & BBQ’s on a number of causes, including everything from scholarships to area food and diaper bank support, global disaster relief efforts and direct grants to local agencies such as TLS Veterans and Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS).

“Sponsoring Blues, Brews & BBQ’s is a great way to show you’re invested in your community, and to associate your business name with a fest that more and more people are really excited about attending,” Tonyan said. 

Detailed sponsorship information is available at mrbbb.com. Those interested also are welcome to email Cynthia Wolf at cynthia@wolfwordsmithing.com or call her at 815-388-5793.




Tickets available for National Alliance on Mental Illness McHenry County's 'Friend-Raiser'

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:13:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – National Alliance on Mental Illness McHenry County still is looking to sell tickets to its inaugural “Friend-Raiser” in early May.

The event will take place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. May 6 at Lakeside Arts Park, 401 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake.

The fundraiser will feature music, food, a silent auction and Erasing the Distance, a nonprofit arts organization based in Chicago that helps shed light on mental health issues through theater.

“NAMI McHenry County is celebrating 30 years of providing free mental health services to McHenry County residents,” said Kathy Ross, executive director at NAMI McHenry County. “Last year, over 1,300 individuals and their families received support, education and advocacy services. Please purchase your tickets today and come celebrate with us.”

Tickets are $65 before May 6 and $75 at the door.

Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.com/e/nami-mchenry-countys-1st-annual-friend-raiser-tickets-31973398295#tickets.




Addison's Steakhouse to open Tuesday in McHenrySarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Jon and Breanna Descher make up a table Thursday with their children, Sloan, 2, and Addison, 5, at their restaurant in McHenry. The restaurant plans to open Tuesday and will feature steaks, chops, seafood and more at affordable prices.Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Breanna Descher (left) and her husband, Jon Descher, owners of Addison's Steakhouse in McHenry, pose for a picture Thursday in their McHenry restaurant. The restaurant plans to open Tuesday and will feature steaks, chops, seafood and more at affordable prices.Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Addison's Steakhouse is seen Thursday in McHenry. The restaurant plans to open Tuesday and will feature steaks, chops, seafood and more at affordable prices.

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:09:00 GMT

McHENRY – A steakhouse offering a full menu of chops and steaks will open Tuesday in McHenry.

First-time restaurateurs Jon and Breanna Descher of McHenry will operate Addison’s Steakhouse, 335 N. Front St., McHenry. The restaurant was named after their oldest daughter, Addison.

“It’s just me and my husband – we’re just a family-owned business,” Breanna Descher said. “This is our first venture starting out.”

“But even though we haven’t owned a restaurant before, we both have experience in the restaurant and bar industry,” Jon Descher said.

Addison’s menu items include burgers, salads, a 12-ounce New York strip steak, a 24-ounce porterhouse, salmon, lobster tails and other meals and sides. It also offers a selection of craft beers and wines.

“Everything will be fresh; nothing is coming in frozen,” Jon Descher said. “And our beef and pork will be locally sourced.”

The dining area will seat about 75 people, and the restaurant should seat about 100 people including the bar area, Jon Descher said. During the warmer months, the restaurant will have outdoor seating by the fountain, which will allow for an additional 30 seats.

The restaurant also will have five video gambling machines and a sports bar for entertainment.

“We’re offering customers good food at affordable prices, and our customer service will be outstanding,” Breanna Descher said.

“When you walk in here, you’ll notice the attention to detail we put into everything,” Jon Descher said. “Since we are small and family-owned, we want our customers to feel like they’re a part of the family, as well.”

The steakhouse is expected to have about 20 employees.

Addison’s hours will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant will be closed Mondays.

Breanna Descher said they are in the process of building a website for the steakhouse. In the meantime, the menu is on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Addison’s Steakhouse will take reservations and walk-ins when it opens Tuesday.

The restaurant’s number is 815-322-2546.

Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Jon and Breanna Descher make up a table Thursday with their children, Sloan, 2, and Addison, 5, at their restaurant in McHenry. The restaurant plans to open Tuesday and will feature steaks, chops, seafood and more at affordable prices.Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Breanna Descher (left) and her husband, Jon Descher, owners of Addison's Steakhouse in McHenry, pose for a picture Thursday in their McHenry restaurant. The restaurant plans to open Tuesday and will feature steaks, chops, seafood and more at affordable prices.Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Addison's Steakhouse is seen Thursday in McHenry. The restaurant plans to open Tuesday and will feature steaks, chops, seafood and more at affordable prices.


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Trustees approve preliminary concept for senior apartments on Wentworth Drive in AlgonquinImage provided This rendering shows a proposed three-story building with 60 senior apartments on Wentworth Drive south of Algonquin Road in Algonquin. Algonquin trustees approved the preliminary plans on Tuesday.

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:08:00 GMT

ALGONQUIN – A developer is looking to build a three-story building with 60 senior apartments on Wentworth Drive south of West Algonquin Road in Algonquin. 

Trustees approved the preliminary concept that DKI Incorporated brought before the board for review, Algonquin Community Development Director Russ Farnum said.

“The big question was changing from business zoning to multifamily residential,” Farnum said. “So that clears the way for them to move forward with executing a land contact and going through the planning and zoning process.”

The development would be expected to have about 70 residents, with an age restriction of 55 and older, according to preliminary plans. The apartments only would be only for independent living, documents show.

DKI also has worked on senior apartments near Village Hall in Lake in the Hills, documents show.

According to a memo from Farnum, the location is good for the project because it would not work well for retail use because of its shallow depth and distance from Algonquin Road.

Construction of apartments would provide infrastructure necessary to develop retail outlets to the north, the memo said.

Nearby homes are separated from the property by tall berms and landscaping, and the site is close to convenient services and is in a walkable location, according to a memo.

Trustees reviewed the concept at Tuesday’s Village Board meeting. The proposal eventually will come back before the Village Board after the developer makes a petition for zoning approval and goes through the zoning and planned unit development approval process, Farnum said. 

Image provided This rendering shows a proposed three-story building with 60 senior apartments on Wentworth Drive south of Algonquin Road in Algonquin. Algonquin trustees approved the preliminary plans on Tuesday.


Media Files:
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Crystal Lake approves smaller, balanced budget for 2018

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:08:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – With little comment from city officials and none from the public, the City Council approved a balanced, and smaller, 2018 budget.

Council members voted, 5-0, to approve a budget that spends just less than $89.4 million, or a 7 percent decrease from this year’s budget expenses of $95.5 million. The new fiscal year for the city begins May 1.

Mayor Aaron Shepley commended city officials after closing a public hearing on the budget.

“City staff worked very diligently to present us with a balanced budget that is one of the better budgets I think we’ve had in recent years,” Shepley said Tuesday.

The decrease in expenses comes several months after the City Council approved a levy that is expected to drop the city’s property tax rate by at least 5.2 percent by keeping the levy flat and capturing the city’s increasing assessed value.

Much of the $6.8 million decrease in spending in the 2018 budget comes from a decrease in capital spending because of completed projects, and a decrease in revenue sharing expenditures after several sales tax sharing agreements have come to an end.

The largest source of income for the city – 58 percent in next year’s budget – comes from sales and use taxes. The budget also anticipates small or modest growth in revenue from use tax, video gambling licenses and receipts from Three Oaks Recreation Area.

Unlike most other local municipalities, Crystal Lake city government does not levy a property tax to finance its general fund, which pays for city administration, police protection, public works and several other expenses. However, the city does levy property taxes to pay for the fire department, public library, and pensions for police officers, firefighters and rank-and-file city workers in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

The next budget eliminates another one and a half positions, bringing to almost 24 the number of full-time positions eliminated through attrition since the Great Recession hit a decade ago. None of the eliminated positions were sworn police officers or firefighters. More than 70 percent of general fund expenditures go to personnel services.

About 10 percent of a city homeowner’s property tax bill goes to fund city government. The majority by far – more than 60 percent – goes to Crystal Lake School Districts 47 and 155.




McHenry County residents celebrate Earth Day at Prairieview Education Center in Crystal LakeKayla Wolf for Shaw Media Hazel Greenlee tosses a ring around a reused plastic bottle in a game about bird conservation Saturday at an Earth Day celebration at Prairieview Education Center in Crystal Lake. The McHenry County Conservation District and Environmental Defenders of McHenry County co-hosted the event.Kayla Wolf for Shaw Media In an activity to promote education on honeybees, Gabriela Mileto (left) and Rocco Mileto place paper honeybees with sticky legs on piles of glitter, which represent pollen, Saturday April 22, 2017, at Prairieview Education Center. The honeybee activity was sponsored by the McHenry County Schools Environmental Education Program, a group that works with 53 schools in McHenry County to increase environmental education for students in pre-kindergarten through high school.Kayla Wolf for Shaw Media Marvin's Toy Store owner Lori McConville (right) helps Ainhoa Benito get a kite into the air during an Earth Day celebration Saturday at Prairieview Education Center in Crystal Lake. Marvin's Toy Store in Crystal Lake researches the environmental, social and shipping practices that toy producers use in order to ensure customers can feel good about the toys they buy.Kayla Wolf for Shaw Media Will Calhoun runs around grassy paths Saturday at Prairieview Education Center during an Earth Day celebration. The event offered live musical performances, guided nature hikes, puppet shows, environmental exhibits, food vendors and other games and crafts.

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:08:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Mindy Greenlee walked around Prairieview Education Center on Saturday with the goal of having her 3-year-old daughter learn about protecting the environment at an early age. “When I was younger, I was in this program called natural science that was all about Earth Day,” Greenlee said. “We’d do volunteering, raised funds for it and protected our natural wildlife. So now I brought my daughter to learn about Earth Day and the environment, and she’s loving it.” The Prairie Grove resident was just one of hundreds who visited the Crystal Lake center Saturday to celebrate Earth Day. The event was co-sponsored by the McHenry County Conservation District and the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County. Several informational booths were set up throughout the day to educate people on topics such as wildlife, plants, recycling, solar energy, climate change and clean water. “There’s such great organizations here, including the Land Conservancy of McHenry County and McHenry County Schools Environmental Education Program, to name a few, who are so dedicated to protecting the environment and getting others involved,” EDMC president Nancy Schietzelt said. Cindy Skrukrud, chairwoman of the EDMC Water and Natural Resources Protection Committee, was at the celebration to talk about the committee’s main initiatives, including trying to pass a bill that would ban coal tar sealants in Illinois. “These are sealants that are very high in a group of compounds that are known carcinogens and are toxic to aquatic life,” Skrukrud said. “When the sealant washes off into our lakes, creeks and rivers, it’s toxic to aquatic life. So I’m out here asking people to call their state representatives today to co-sponsor the bill (House Bill 2958).” Another unique booth set up during the event was from the McHenry County Bicycle Advocates, which aims to improve nonmotorized transportation and recreation in the county. “One of the things we are promoting is a petition for people to show their support when transportation plans are created, such as new roadways, to make sure they include bike paths or other appropriate infrastructure when the planning is done,” member Greg Glover said. Aside from the educational booths, the event was not short on entertainment. The celebration featured food, music, guided nature hikes and a puppet show and other activities for children. A recycling drive also was set up, where visitors could drop off unwanted items such as electronics, fluorescent tubes, VHS tapes, CDs, cassettes and household batteries. “This is such a great family-friendly event where we want to show people how to have a greener lifestyle and have a good time. We hope each year to get more people involved, and this year’s turnout seems great so far,” said Deb Chapman, MCCD education services manager. Kayla Wolf for Shaw Media Hazel Greenlee tosses a ring around a reused plastic bottle in a game about bird conservation Saturday at an Earth Day celebration at Prairieview Education Center in Crystal Lake. The McHenry County Conservation District and Environmental Defenders of McHenry County co-hosted the event.Kayla Wolf for Shaw Media In an activity to promote education on honeybees, Gabriela Mileto (lef[...]


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McHenry County municipalities work to fill vacant spaces to increase tax base, provide for residentsH. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com Berkshire Hathaway real estate agent Jack Minero visits the former Pauly Toyota site on Route 14 in Crystal Lake.H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com Premier Commercial Realty senior broker Bruce Kaplan walks through a vacant industrial building Wednesday in Crystal Lake before showing the building to a client.H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com Premier Commercial Realty senior broker Bruce Kaplan waits for a client Wednesday before showing a vacant industrial building in Crystal Lake.Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com The Gander Mountain at 1400 S. Randall Road in Algonquin is set to be closing soon.Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com This photo shows the Family Christian store at 2216 S. Randall Road in Algonquin, which will be closing soon.Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com This photo shows a vacant building that used to house Dominick's at 101 S. Randall Road in Lake in the Hills.H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com This photo shows the former Brunswick Zone in Algonquin, 2075 E. Algonquin Road.

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:07:00 GMT

For more than a decade, the former Pauly Toyota building has sat vacant at 5501 Route 14 in Crystal Lake.   Next to it sits the former LeWalt Glass Co. building, which also has been vacant for about a decade, said Jack Minero, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway. The entire 3.2-acre site is on the market for about $2.8 million, he said. Throughout the years, the property along Crystal Lake’s most important commercial corridor has been the temporary home to the McHenry County Republican Central Committee and an auto body shop that rents out space behind the former Pauly Toyota showroom on a monthly basis, according to Minero and the Northwest Herald archives. Although businesses – such as a mattress store, pet hotel and gas station – have shown interest in the lot, the city ideally would have a high-end retailer fill the space, Minero and Crystal Lake economic development manager Heather Maieritsch said.  Throughout McHenry County, long-vacant buildings – including the Dominick’s in Lake in the Hills, Dania Furniture Co. building in Algonquin and Pauly Toyota site in Crystal Lake – remain challenging to fill. Local governments and brokers employ a variety of tactics to help market those spaces with varying degrees of success. In Crystal Lake, Maieritsch said the city will create a vision plan for sites that have been on the market for a long time. This could mean suggesting potential uses of the property to developers, such as in the case of the Pauly Toyota and LeWalt Glass properties, or by hiring a consultant to develop a potential plan for the space, such as the city is doing in the Crystal Point Mall Shopping Center, which used to be home to Wal-Mart and Cub Foods.   “We’re trying to help create some interest in the property and helping coming up with some additional ideas that are outside the box that you might normally think of,” Maieritsch said.  For example, with the Pauly Toyota and LeWalt Glass sites, the city has suggested putting a restaurant there because the property overlooks Three Oaks Recreation Area, Maieritsch said.  “We’re open to a wide variety of uses, but we’re looking for quality businesses to add to the community,” Maieritsch said. “Preferably, [one] that would add to our tax base.”  In addition to sending out information on Crystal Lake’s open properties, the city also has a searchable database of properties at crystallakeretail.com/cocl/index.php, Maieritsch said.  In Lake in the Hills, one of the village’s main priorities is filling the former Dominick’s building at Randall and Algonquin roads, economic development coordinator George Hahne said.  The estimated 70,000-square-foot building has been vacant since 2014. Farm, ranch and home retail chain Big R had planned to move in but backed out in August. “It is absolutely front-of-mind to do anything that we can to get that Dominick’s store leased,” Hahne said.  Hahne said that there are challenges with the property that are making it hard to find a tenant, but he works to reach out to as many potential tenants as possible to fill the space.  Although the Dominick’s sits empty in the village, other spots[...]


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

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:07:00 GMT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Media Files:
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McHenry County grand jury indictments

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 22:45:00 GMT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Social media time out as French election reaches final stage

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 21:02:00 GMT

PARIS – The final hours of many electoral campaigns are frantic affairs, dominated by last-minute pitches, late-breaking polls and massive social media campaigns aimed at drumming up turnout. Not so in France. Rules dating back more than half a century impose a 44-hour time out ahead of the polls' closure Sunday, meaning that politicians, journalists – and even ordinary citizens – are supposed to refrain from broadcasting any form of "electoral propaganda." The Twitter feeds of France's 11 presidential candidates went quiet after midnight Friday. French television coverage was subdued. And if you're a journalist who has just received a newsworthy tip about one candidate or the other, you're just too late. "The press can't publish such a story," said Pascal Jan, a professor of constitutional law at Sciences Po Bordeaux. "If there were a scandal, it should have been exposed Friday." The national time out lasts from midnight Friday to 8 p.m. on Sunday in France and is intended to give voters time to reflect on their choice free from the distraction of surveys, radio commentary, and televised rallies. The rules apply online as well, meaning that candidates and their campaigns can't do so much as post updates to Facebook or Instagram. The rules even apply to French voters – meaning that someone posting a pro-Socialist or pro-Republican message online could fall afoul of the law, at least in theory. "It applies to all of us. It's totally forbidden," said Jan, although he acknowledged that, in practice, a single person posting wouldn't be sanctioned for expressing themselves online. "But if it became massive ... it would unbalance the contest and thus might influence the votes of those who were exposed to social media." Amid chatter about foreign propaganda and so-called "fake news" possibly affecting the vote, French authorities seem to be keeping a close eye on potential violations of the law. Journalists have been sent repeated instructions about what is and isn't allowed in the last few days. The various candidates' Twitter feeds, meanwhile, are frozen in time. "Sunday, let's vote Francois Fillon!" says the last tweet from the right-wing candidate's campaign. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen's last tweet rebroadcasted a message by her niece, National Front lawmaker Marion Marechal-Le Pen, who said, "This Sunday, the only real question that matters: Who will have the courage to protect France and the French?" Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon retweeted a message from Paris' mayor, Anne Hidalgo, "Sunday, I'm voting Benoit Hamon. Come vote, participate!" she said. "That's the power of being a citizen." Left-wing firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon simply urged French citizens to "choose." Centrist Emmanuel Macron, one of the top contenders, signed off late Friday with a picture of a handwritten note saying, "Now, everything is in your hands." The top two vote-getters on Sunday move into a presidential runoff on May 7 – which comes with yet another 44-hour timeout. ___ Online: [...]



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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:15:00 GMT

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


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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:15:00 GMT

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

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

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

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


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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:14:00 GMT

CHICAGO – An appeals court in Chicago took just three days to reject a request from imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich for another sentencing hearing, agreeing his 14-year prison term for corruption was a stiff punishment but was well within the sentencing judge’s discretion. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ unanimous Friday ruling also dismissed arguments that Judge James Zagel should have shortened the prison term in August because of Blagojevich’s good behavior mentoring fellow inmates and even putting together a band, The Jailhouse Rockers. The defeat dashes one of the 60-year-old’s last hopes of winning his freedom anytime soon. It’s rare for rulings to be posted so quickly – an indication the judges considered this an easy decision. The Supreme Court in 2016 refused to take up a broader Blagojevich appeal and is unlikely to agree to hear one focused on sentencing. “We’re incredibly disappointed and sad,” Blagojevich attorney Leonard Goodman said Friday. He said he’ll have to talk to Blagojevich before deciding any next steps. One option would be to lobby President Donald Trump for clemency. Blagojevich was on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” TV show in 2010 as he awaited trial. While Trump eventually “fired” Blagojevich as a contestant, he praised Blagojevich for how he fought his criminal case, telling him, “You have a hell of a lot of guts.” At Blagojevich’s initial 2011 sentencing, Zagel berated the former Democratic governor, saying he had “disfigured” Illinois, including by trying to trade an appointment to former President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat for campaign cash. He then imposed the longest sentence for public corruption in Illinois history – 14 years. The three-judge panel’s written opinion concedes a different trial judge could have calculated sentencing guidelines differently and settled on a lesser punishment. But, the six-page ruling adds, “the fact that a judge could have ruled otherwise does not imply that [Judge Zagel] was compelled to rule otherwise.” The 7th Circuit in 2015 tossed five of 18 convictions and ordered Zagel to resentence Blagojevich. But in August, Zagel imposed the same 14-year term. That led to the current appeal, about which oral arguments were heard Tuesday. The panel rejected arguments that Zagel should have placed greater weight on 100 letters from fellow inmates who described how Blagojevich taught history and served as a life coach to prisoners. More relevant to a sentence, panelists said, was what the two-term governor did before his 2008 arrest. “Blagojevich’s treatment of fellow inmates may show that outside of office he is an admirable person, but the court was entitled to impose punishment that reflects how Blagojevich behaved when he had a different menu of opportunities and to deter those who hold office today,” the ruling says. Federal inmates must serve at least 85 percent of their sentences, making Blagojevich’s estimated released date May 2024. By then, he will have served about 12 years and will be 67 years old. [...]For[...]


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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:11:00 GMT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Canterbury Elementary holding ‘Comcast Cares Day’ event Saturday

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:11:00 GMT

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

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

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

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

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




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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:10:00 GMT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:10:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Prosecutors will go ahead with a case against a former Crystal Lake Central choir director accused of inappropriately touching former students and giving them alcohol despite a ruling Friday that barred the use at trial of statements made during a school district investigation. Justin Hubly, 35, was arrested Nov. 30, more than a month after allegations surfaced that he had former students at his house on several occasions, gave them alcohol when they were under 21 and had inappropriate contact with two of them. He faces charges of battery and unlawful delivery of alcohol to a minor, Class A misdemeanors. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail. Hubly’s attorney Hank Sugden filed a motion to suppress any evidence gathered during an interview on Oct. 19 between Hubly and Randy Davis, assistant superintendent of human resources for Community High School District 155, because Hubly signed a document that gave him immunity from criminal prosecution. Sugden said Hubly provided information that helped police investigate the case and later charge his client. Sugden said police wouldn’t have had it without the interview with District 155 officials. Sugden also said his client provided Davis the names of several students who were at his house at some point. Davis said he could not recall whether that was true when he took the stand Friday. Assistant State’s Attorney Taylor Nesbit agreed that the statements Hubly made to Davis would be inadmissible, but said investigators had other evidence from a former student who reported the incidents and other students who were later interviewed by the district and Crystal Lake police. On Oct. 15, a former student told a teacher about allegations of inappropriate behavior between Hubly and former students. Eleven days later, District 155 officials reported the matter to Crystal Lake police, according to court records. Prosecutors claim that between June 1 and July 31, Hubly inappropriately touched a former student and gave her alcohol when she was underage. Police also said on that Oct. 7, he inappropriately touched another former student and gave that student alcohol. Prosecutors also have charged Hubly with giving alcohol to three other former students on Dec. 30, 2015. The students were younger than 21 at the time, according to court records. Hubly was interviewed by Davis on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20. He confirmed he had had former students at his home, they had consumed alcohol and he had kissed a former student, Davis said. Davis said he provided Hubly with the at-will notice that gave him immunity and then asked him whether he had students over on Oct. 7 and if there was kissing and inappropriate touching at that time. Notes were taken during the two-day interview by Davis and Crystal Lake Central High School Principal Steve Olson. Davis said Hubly’s union representative stopped the meeting and rescheduled for the next day so they could speak further with officials on what he would and would no[...]


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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:10:00 GMT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lorin Volberding


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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:10:00 GMT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robin L. Perry


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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:09:00 GMT

FOX RIVER GROVE – The Fox River Grove Village Board is giving developer Grove Residences LLC another chance to reboot a $250 million project to develop the village’s downtown.  The developer asked the village for more time to secure funding to start phase one of the four-phase project less than a month after the village approved the redevelopment agreement for the project.   While the Village Board granted the extension at its meeting Thursday, trustees also have asked the village president and staff to look into backup options. “We’re just doing essentially preliminary research to gain other interests in case, for whatever reason, this developer cannot make the phase one deal happen,” Village Administrator Derek Soderholm said. Grove Residences will now have until Aug. 31 to close on the majority of the properties necessary for the first phase – a three-month extension from the deadline in the original redevelopment agreement the Village Board approved on March 16. Three apartment buildings with up to 300 units would be built in the space, according to the redevelopment agreement. Jordan Glazov, a partner with Northbrook-based Realtelligence LLC, which owns Grove Residences LLC, has previously said phase one is estimated to cost between $61 million and $71 million. Trustees Thomas Anderson, Steve Knar, Andrew Migdal and Patrick Wall voted in favor of the amendment to the redevelopment agreement. Jennifer Curtiss opposed. Trustee Suzanne Blohm was absent. “It’s just been a constant struggle,” Curtiss said. “One day you think the project’s going to happen, the next day you find out it’s not going to happen.” For the past few years the development has been on and off, and Curtiss said it ultimately hurts the property owners who live in the phase one area who don’t know if and when they’ll be moving.  Phase one includes several lots southwest of Route 14, on both sides of Algonquin Road, according to village documents. The space includes three commercial buildings and four apartment buildings.  If plans go through, phase three will include no more than 200 apartments along Route 14 and phase four will be developed with retail uses and/or a hotel and marina on Route 14 at the river, according to the agreement.  “I’m not confident that the developer is going to be able to get his financing in 90 days, so for me, maybe this is a sign that we should be running,” Curtiss said, adding she would like to see another developer improve the downtown.  Wall said he voted in favor of the amendment only because village staff was starting to look at other options.  “The downtown needs to be redeveloped, and we need to bring a new infusion of people into the community,” Wall said. He said he was “optimistic but not confident” that Grove Residences would meet i[...]



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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 05:04:00 GMT

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


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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 01:08:00 GMT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Florida state senator who used a racial slur and vulgar language in a conversation with two African-American colleagues resigned Friday, saying the incident is causing a distraction to the legislative process. Republican Sen. Frank Artiles submitted a resignation letter to Republican Senate President Joe Negron and issued a separate statement. "I clearly made comments that were hurtful, unacceptable and inappropriate. The American people and Floridians want their leaders to be accountable and responsible, and by resigning my elected office I believe I am demonstrating those qualities they desire and deserve," Artiles said in the statement released by a publicist. Negron said the resignation was the right thing to do, and he dropped an investigation into the incident. "All of us are accountable for our actions and our comments, so I think it's an appropriate resignation," Negron said. The Florida Legislative Black Caucus filed a complaint about the incident on Wednesday and asked that Artiles be removed from office. The matter began Monday night during a private conversation with Sens. Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston at the Governors Club, a members-only establishment near the Capitol. Artiles used vulgarities in talking with Gibson, including one particularly offensive to women. Sen. Perry Thurston intervened and Artiles, a Cuban-American from the Miami area, used a variation of the "n-word" and used a vulgarity to describe Negron, according to the complaint filed Wednesday by Thurston. Artiles, a Cuban-American from the Miami area, apologized for the comments on the Senate floor on Wednesday, but Democrats said that wasn't enough. Democratic Senate Leader Oscar Braynon, who is African-American, issued a statement saying Artiles did the right thing by resigning. "I take no pleasure in these unfortunate events. But I urge that we learn from them," Braynon said. "In our communities, our state, and our country, there should be a message of hope, of tolerance, of unity. We cannot afford the high cost words of divisiveness and cruelty leave in their wake." Artiles won his seat in November in a district that's politically competitive. He previously served in the state House from 2010 to 2016. His resignation now gives Democrats a chance to gain a seat in the chamber, though Republicans still have a 24-15 majority even with his resignation. "While I take full responsibility for using language that was vulgar and inappropriate, my family has fallen victim to a political process that can distort the truth for the sole purpose of political gain," Artiles said. Gov. Rick Scott will have to set a date for a special election to replace him. [...]Republican state senator Frank Artiles, R-Miami, asks a questions about a pip insurance bill during a March 9,[...]


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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 01:01:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Money for the wall President Donald Trump wants to build along the U.S. border with Mexico must be part of the massive spending bill Congress is preparing, the White House budget director says. Additional funding also must be included to hire more immigration agents, Mick Mulvaney told The Associated Press in an interview in which he laid out the top priorities of the president. Lawmakers hope to unveil the catchall spending bill next week. Democratic negotiators are likely to resist providing the down payment that Mulvaney says Trump wants for construction of the wall, but the former GOP congressman from South Carolina adds that "elections have consequences." Mulvaney also said the administration is open, though undecided, about a key Democratic demand that the measure pay for cost-sharing payments to insurance companies that help low-income people afford health policies under the Affordable Care Act. The $1 trillion-plus legislation is leftover business from last year's election-season gridlock and would cover the operating budgets of every Cabinet department except for Veterans Affairs. Talks on the measure have hit a rough patch as a deadline to avert a government shutdown looms late next week. Trump's presidency is approaching the symbolic 100-day mark, but his GOP allies in Congress have been tempering expectations that the president would emerge as a big winner. Democratic votes are likely to be needed to pass whatever bill emerges from the talks, and Senate Democrats could bottle it up entirely if they object to provisions that they deem to be "poison pills" – such as the money for the wall. Trump campaigned for president on the promise of building the wall and sticking Mexico with the tab. GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are eager to avert a shutdown, and the slow pace may make it necessary to enact another temporary spending bill to avert a shutdown next weekend. Mulvaney's hard line could foreshadow a protracted impasse and increases the chances of a government shutdown. "A shutdown is never a desired end and neither is it a strategy," Mulvaney said. Democrats are confident that Republicans, controlling both House and Senate, would bear the blame for any shutdown, even as Democrats wield power in the talks. "We have the leverage and they have the exposure," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told fellow Democrats on a Thursday conference call, according to a senior Democratic aide. Mulvaney said the White House delivered an offer to negotiators Wednesday night, with funding for the border wall a top demand. Other items on the White House priority list, Mulvaney said, are a $30 billion request for a cash infusion for the military and a controversial provision to give the administration greater latitude to deny certain federal grants to "sanctuary cities" that[...]


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Hearing probes Illinois auditor general Mautino's campaign spending

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:33:00 GMT

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

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

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

The federal government also has begun an investigation.

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

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

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

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

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




Illinois' unemployment rate drops to 4.9 percent in March

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:33:00 GMT

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

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

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

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

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




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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:33:00 GMT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Illinois Gov. Rauner: Expanding abortion coverage too controversial

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:33:00 GMT

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

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

But Rauner now opposes legislation Democrats are pushing.

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

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

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




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

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:21:00 GMT

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



McHenry County Board approves bid for roundabout north of Woodstock

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 19:42:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Board gave the official go-ahead to replace the two-way stop at Charles and Raffel roads with a roundabout, starting a project that spent a year in legislative limbo. Board members voted, 20-4, to accept the $2.18 million bid from Landmark Contractors Inc., of Huntley, to replace the two-way stop just north of Woodstock. Construction is expected to start soon and wrap up later this year. Improving the intersection has been on the county’s five-year highway improvement plan since 2009. It is in the top 5 percent of all county intersections under local control when it comes to the severity of accidents, according to county records. More than 60 percent of the accidents at the intersection just north of Woodstock North High School result in injuries, three-fourths of them requiring trips to the hospital. The intersection gets about 16,000 vehicles a day, according to traffic counts made in 2012, when the project started being prioritized. McHenry County Division of Transportation Director Joe Korpalski said that drivers who take either road know that the intersection needs to be improved. Both Greenwood Township and the City of Woodstock have spoken in favor of the project. “The high speed at which cars approach, coupled with the amount of turning vehicles, makes this an ideal spot for a roundabout, which have been shown repeatedly to be safer than traditional four-way intersections and significantly less costly to maintain than those with traffic signals,” Korpalski said in a statement. A roundabout, a common sight on roads in Europe, is a circular intersection that supporters say is a safer alternative to intersections. Because there is only one-way movement throughout the roundabout – cars travel counterclockwise until they find their turn – they all but eliminate the possibility of head-on and right-angle collisions. The County Board in April 2016 was poised to approve a $2.6 million bid for a roundabout, but at the last minute sent it back to the Transportation Committee, which had struggled with whether to build a roundabout or stick with a traditional, but more expensive, signal intersection. County Board Chairman Jack Franks, D-Marengo, called the vote a “two-fold win” in that a dangerous intersection will be made safer at a cost about $50,000 less than last year’s bid. The only opposing board member who spoke prior to Tuesday’s vote was Craig Wilcox, R-McHenry, who said that he would like in future debates over construction projects to have more of a discussion when multiple design options are in play. Board members John Hammerand, R-Wonder Lake, Tom Wilbeck, R-Barrington Hills, and Andrew Gasser, R-Fo[...]



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

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 18:33:00 GMT

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

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


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

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 17:26:00 GMT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 17:22:00 GMT

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


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

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 17:14:00 GMT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 14:15:00 GMT

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


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

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:20:00 GMT

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


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

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:19:00 GMT

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


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

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:19:00 GMT

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


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