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Carpentersville's Bradie Tennell tries to keep things normal as she prepares for OlympicsSarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com Figure skater Bradie Tennell, 19, practices Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2018 at Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion in Buffalo Grove. The Carpentersville native won the U.S. Figure Skating Championship Jan. 5 and is one of three American women who will compete for the individual title next month at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com Skater Bradie Tennell, 19, practices Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2018 at Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion in Buffalo Grove. The Carpentersville native won the U.S. Figure Skating Championship Jan. 5 and is one of three American women who will compete for the individual title next month at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 22:55:00 GMT

BUFFALO GROVE — A couple U.S. Figure Skating officials dropped by Bradie Tennell’s practice a few days ago at Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion in Buffalo Grove and afterward they had someone on the phone who wished to speak with Tennell. On the other end of the line was Peggy Fleming, 1968 Olympic gold medalist and three-time world champion figure skater. “She just wanted to wish me good luck and tell me that she likes my skating and to enjoy the experience,” Tennell said. “I thought that was very cool.” It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks for the 19-year-old from Carpentersville. After winning the U.S. Figure Skating Championship women’s title on Jan. 5 in San Jose, California, Tennell earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team as one of three female skaters competing individually. She leaves for Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Feb. 5 and plans to partake in the Winter Olympics opening ceremony Feb. 9. Tennell, who takes classes at McHenry County College, was home-schooled by her mother, Jean Tennell, a nurse. Bradie first started skating at age 2, and once she started, she never wanted to stop. “My mom says that she came home from work one day and I asked her to take me skating, and then I kept asking and asking,” Bradie Tennell said. ‘Always been driven’ The admittedly shy skater will turn 20 later this month and is still adjusting to all the attention her spot on the Olympic team has garnered. A self-described “homebody” who enjoys reading and family movie nights, Tennell and her coach at Twin Rinks, Denise Myers, have tried to stick to the status quo. “We’re trying to keep things as normal as possible and take it one day at a time, one session,” Myers said. “We have our daily plan for each day and we’re trying to stick with it.” Myers has coached figure skating for 36 years. In all those years, Tennell is her first Olympian. Tennell started seeing Myers 10 years ago. “She’s always been very driven,” Myers said. “She’s loved to skate, you could see that from an early age.” Tennell won a U.S. junior women’s championship in 2015. Then she went through two difficult years when she dealt with stress fractures in her back. She spent back-to-back summers wearing a back brace and didn’t perform as well as she hoped. She finished sixth at the 2016 U.S. Championships and ninth in 2017. “I really just hung on to the fact that I knew it wasn’t a career-ending injury and people have come back from far worse,” Tennell said. “I’m not one to shy away from a challenge.” The past year she has remained healthy and it has made a difference. “The turning point for (Tennell) was probably at the beginning of this season,” Myers said. “She was healthy. She was able to train.” Tennell skates her short program to music from South Korean composer Lee Dong-Jun, which a friend recommended. Her free skate is to music from the 2015 movie “Cinderella.” Tennell, who won the U.S. Championship skating in an ice-blue dress, has always loved Cinderella. The music suited her and Myers said her program is “spot on.” At this point, weeks away from the Olympics, Tennell is focused on fine-tuning things. “We’ve done a lot of visualization,” Myers said. “Imagining the sounds of cameras and the noise and the lights, the atmosphere. I really do think she’s ready.” ‘It takes a village’ In the hallway at Twin Rinks hang two posters that say “Congratulations Bradie”[...]


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Students evacuate Lake in the Hills elementary school after 'small electrical fire'Shaw Media file photo

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 20:12:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS — Students at a Lake in the Hills elementary school were eventually able to return to classes Thursday after administrators spotted a small electrical fire in the school's kitchen area.

School District 300 Spokesperson Anthony McGinn worked to calm anxious parents' fears on Facebook Thursday morning after students at Lincoln Prairie Elementary, 500 Harvest Gate, were evacuated because of a reported fire.

"Earlier this morning, administration contacted the fire department after observing smoke near the kitchen area at Lincoln Prairie Elementary," McGinn said in a post just before 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

Firefighters located a small electrical fire in the kitchen and were able to extinguish it.

Students were temporarily relocated to the Lake in the Hills Village Hall "to err on the side of caution," McGinn said. This also allowed firefighters to better access the building and assess the incident. An air quality test confirmed it was safe for students to later return.

No one was injured in the incident, and students were able to eat lunch and finish classes in the building.

Additional staff was on-site to assist if needed, according to the post. McGinn asked parents to have patience when calling the school because it was receiving a high volume of calls.

Anyone with concerns can also contact the District 300 office at 847-551-8300.

Shaw Media file photo


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Rockford woman dies, Marengo man in critical condition following Union crashShaw Media file photo

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 19:47:00 GMT

UNION – A 27-year-old Rockford woman died and a 24-year-old Marengo man is in the hospital following a Wednesday night crash in unincorporated Union, police said.

There were two fatal crashes in McHenry County overnight Wednesday, McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Sandra Rogers said. The other killed a 44-year-old Woodstock woman in unincorporated Hebron.

Union firefighters responded about 9:45 p.m. Wednesday to the 17000 block of Route 176, roughly one-half mile east of North Union Road in unincorporated Union, for a reported crash after Marengo firefighters had spotted it while responding to another call, Union Assistant Fire Chief Tim Camp said.

A 27-year-old Rockford woman driving a 2005 Honda Civic was westbound on Route 176 and veered into the oncoming lane of traffic for unknown reasons, according to a news release from the McHenry County Sheriff's Office. The Honda collided with a 2007 Jeep Cherokee driven by a 24-year-old Marengo man, police said.

The Rockford woman was pronounced dead at the scene. The Marengo man was transported by Marengo Rescue to Centegra Hospital – Huntley with a leg injury and later transported to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge where he remains stable but in critical condition, police said.

Cell phone use is suspected as a contributing factor in the crash, according to the release. The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office Major Crash Investigation Unit and the McHenry County Coroner’s Office continue to investigate the crash.

Both drivers were the sole occupants of their vehicles and both were wearing seatbelts.

The crash closed the road for several hours overnight.

Shaw Media file photo


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44-year-old Woodstock woman killed in 2nd fatal crash in McHenry County within 3-hour periodShaw Media file photo

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 19:41:00 GMT

HEBRON — A 44-year-old Woodstock woman died following a head-on crash early Thursday in unincorporated Hebron.

Police and fire officials responded just before 12:20 a.m. Thursday to the 9800 block of Route 173 for the second fatal crash in the county in a three-hour period, according to a news release from the McHenry County Sheriff's Office.

A 20-year-old Woodstock woman had been driving a 2004 Mazda Tribute east on Route 173 when, for unknown reasons, the vehicle traveled into the westbound lane, police said. The 44-year-old Woodstock woman was riding in her passenger seat.

A 56-year-old Twin Lakes woman was driving a 2010 Dodge Journey west and collided with the Mazda when it drifted into her lane, police said.

The 44-year-old was transported to Mercyhealth Hospital and Medical Center – Harvard, where she later died. Both drivers were transported to Centegra hospitals and sustained non-life threatening injuries.

Airbags deployed in both vehicles, and drugs and alcohol are not believed to be a factor in the crash, police said.

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Major Crash Investigation Unit and the McHenry County Coroner’s Office continue to investigate the incident.

Hebron-Alden-Greenwood Fire Protection District, Wonder Lake Fire Protection District, Richmond Township Fire Protection District, Spring Grove Fire Protection District, Mercy MD-1 and Flight for Life.

Shaw Media file photo


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Even without El Nino last year, Earth keeps on warmingFILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017 file photo, a man walks his dog across the snow-covered beach while a cargo ship sits in the steaming fog of Lake Ontario in Toronto. According to a report released on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, U.S. and British scientists calculate that 2017 wasn’t the hottest year on record, but close and unusually warm for no El Nino cooking the books. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:03:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Earth last year wasn't quite as hot as 2016's record-shattering mark, but it ranked second or third, depending on who was counting. Either way, scientists say it showed a clear signal of man-made global warming because it was the hottest year they've seen without an El Nino boosting temperatures naturally. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United Kingdom's meteorological office on Thursday announced that 2017 was the third hottest year on record. At the same time, NASA and researchers from a nonprofit in Berkeley, California, called it the second. The agencies slightly differ because of how much they count an overheating Arctic, where there are gaps in the data. The global average temperature in 2017 was 58.51 degrees (14.7 degrees Celsius), which is 1.51 degrees (0.84 Celsius) above the 20th century average and just behind 2016 and 2015, NOAA said. Other agencies' figures were close but not quite the same. Earlier, European forecasters called 2017 the second hottest year, while the Japanese Meteorological Agency called it the third hottest. Two other scientific groups that use satellite, not ground, measurements split on 2017 being second or third hottest. With four teams calling it the second hottest year and four teams calling it third, the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization termed 2017 a tie for second with 2015. "This is human-caused climate change in action," said Nobel Prize winning chemist Mario Molina of the University of California San Diego, who wasn't part of any of the measuring teams. "Climate is not weather, (which) can go up and down from year to year. What counts is the longer-term change, which is clearly upwards." Which year is first, second or third doesn't really matter much, said Princeton University climate scientist Gabriel Vecchi. What really matters is the clear warming trend, he said. NOAA's five hottest years have been from 2010 on. During an El Nino year — when a warming of the central Pacific changes weather worldwide — the globe's annual temperature can spike, naturally, by a tenth or two of a degree, scientists said. There was a strong El Nino during 2015 and 2016. But 2017 finished with a La Nina, the cousin of El Nino that lowers temperatures. Had there been no man-made warming, 2017 would have been average or slightly cooler than normal, said National Center for Atmospheric Research climate scientist Ben Sanderson. On the other hand, NASA calculated if the temperature contributions of El Nino and El Nina were removed from the global data through the years, 2017 would go down as the hottest year on record, NASA chief climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said. Carbon pollution is like putting the Earth on an escalator of rising temperatures, with natural variation such as El Nino or the cooling effect of volcanoes like hopping up or down a step or two on that escalator, scientists said. Not every year will be warmer than the last because of natural variations, but the trend over years will be rising temperatures, they said. The observed warming has been predicted within a few tenths of a degree in computer simulations going back to the 1970s and 1980s, several scientists said. It has been 33 years since the last month that the globe was cooler than normal, according to NOAA. Northern Illinois University climate scientist Victor Gensini has never lived through a month or year that wasn't hotter than normal. "I look at pictures of the great winters of the late '70s from my parents and wonder if I'll ever [...]


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Amazon narrows list to 20 for its second headquarters, Chicago includedFILE - This Sept. 6, 2012, file photo shows the Amazon logo in Santa Monica, Calif. Amazon announced Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, that it has narrowed down its potential site for a second headquarters in North America to 20 metropolitan areas, mainly on the East Coast. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 15:37:00 GMT

NEW YORK – Amazon, which is on the hunt for a second home, said Thursday that it narrowed its choices to 20 locations from the 238 proposals it received.

The online retailer kicked off its hunt for a place to build a second headquarters in September, sparking a fierce competition among cities across North America looking to lure Amazon and its promise of 50,000 new jobs and construction spending of more than $5 billion. The company plans to remain in its sprawling Seattle headquarters and the second home base will be "a full equal" to it, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had said.

The finalists are concentrated along the East Coast and in the Midwest. The potential locations include Boston, Chicago, New York and Columbus, Ohio. Los Angeles was the only West Coast city on the list. Both Texas and Pennsylvania had two cities that made the cut: Austin, Dallas, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the South, Miami and Atlanta are being considered. And Toronto was the only city outside the U.S.

Amazon had stipulated in September that it was seeking to be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people; be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and be able to expand that headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade. But Amazon also made clear in that it wanted tax breaks, grants and any other incentives.

The extra space will help the rapidly-growing company, which It had nearly 542,000 employees at the end of September, a 77 percent jump from the year before. Some of that growth came from Amazon's nearly $14 billion acquisition last year of natural foods grocer Whole Foods and its 89,000 employees.

Amazon.com Inc. said it will make a final selection sometime this year.

FILE - This Sept. 6, 2012, file photo shows the Amazon logo in Santa Monica, Calif. Amazon announced Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, that it has narrowed down its potential site for a second headquarters in North America to 20 metropolitan areas, mainly on the East Coast. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)


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13 siblings held captive likely were coerced to remain quietAP photo Riverside County Sheriff's Capt. Greg Fellows speaks with reporters Tuesday during a news conference in Perris, Calif. A 17-year-old girl called police after escaping from her family's home where she and her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions, some so malnourished officers at first believed all were children even though seven are adults.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:50:00 GMT

LOS ANGELES – When a 17-year-old girl jumped out a window from the house where her parents allegedly starved and tortured their 13 children, she broke a silence that likely had lasted for years. It’s not clear why the teenager waited so long to act, but psychiatrists said such behavior is not uncommon even in cases of extreme deprivation. Most people would recognize milder forms of the same inaction that is a coping mechanism, whether it’s failing to speak out against off-color jokes, enduring sexual harassment or staying in an awful marriage, said Dr. Bruce Perry. “This happens all the time. The number of individuals who would immediately respond to an opportunity where they could get away is very small compared to the number of people who would have that paralysis and insecurity and confusion about what to do,” said Perry, a psychiatrist who is a senior fellow at the Child Trauma Academy in Houston. Only after many missed opportunities did the teen probably work up the courage to act, Perry said. “It’s pretty remarkable that she’d do that,” he said. “The power that must have been exerted to keep an entire family like that for so long must have been pretty sophisticated.” David Allen Turpin and his wife, Louise Anna Turpin, were arrested Sunday after authorities found the malnourished children in their home in suburban Perris, 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles. They were jailed on $9 million bail each and are expected to appear Thursday in Riverside County Superior Court on charges that could include torture and child endangerment, authorities said. Some siblings were shackled to furniture in the foul-smelling four-bedroom home that looked perfectly normal from the outside. The couples’ children – ages 2 to 29 – were so emaciated the older ones still looked like children. Authorities thought the 17-year-old daughter who called 911 was only 10 when they found her. Until the girl fled with photographic evidence, it appears no one, neither neighbors nor public officials, knew anything about what was happening inside. The Turpins have lived in two Riverside County communities since moving to California in 2011, and police said they were never called to either home, nor were any reports fielded by child protective services. In Hill County, Texas, where they previously lived, the sheriff’s office reported receiving a call from a neighbor complaining a pig that belonged to the Turpins escaped from a pen and ate 55 pounds of his dog food. In another complaint, David Turpin reported that the family’s dog had bitten their 4-year-old daughter on the face. He told police that he took the girl to a hospital for stitches and the dog to a veterinarian to be put down, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. It’s not clear what motivated the Turpins to live a secluded life with their large brood or what went on in the house, but parents convicted in similar cases exerted control over their children through a mix of psychological and physical coercion and frequently possessed their own belief system. “They develop a kind of cultish doomsday type of religion where the father becomes this mythical leader and the mother and children’s duty is to serve the father,” attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez said. Rodriguez was a longtime Riverside County prosecutor who sent Jessica Banks, a pastor and mother, to prison for life for beating, starving and drugging her five adopted daughters, who were kept locked in her garage. The Turpin children appeared to be cut off from the outside world, despit[...]


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Liberals press Dems to act on immigration, shutdown or noAP photo Sen. Robert Menedez, D-N.J., speaks with reporters after attending a Congressional Hispanic Caucus meeting with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly Wednesday on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:50:00 GMT

NEW YORK – Shrugging off the prospect of a government shutdown, liberal activists are demanding that Democrats protect thousands of young immigrants from deportation, no matter what. The conflict comes to a head this week as the Republicans who control Congress scramble to get enough votes – including some from Senate Democrats – to avoid the partial shutdown. On Capitol Hill, Democrats are being urged to let the shutdown happen unless Republicans and President Donald Trump agree to restore a program that protects from deportation some 700,000 people who were brought to the U.S. as children and now are here illegally. There are protesters at the offices of Senate Democrats, threats of primary foes for those who don’t push hard enough for an immigration deal and efforts to brand those deemed to have fallen short “the deportation caucus.” Indeed, immigration is becoming a political litmus test for Democrats, supplanting health care as a defining issue of Trump’s second year as president. “It needs to be very clear for vulnerable Republicans as well as for Democrats who do not act this week that there will be political consequences,” said Cristina Jimenez of the immigrant activist group United We Dream. “The progressive movement who are going to be the boots on the ground for the Democrats to regain power” in November’s midterm elections, she added, “are going to hold them accountable if they don’t come through.” Clashes over health care and taxes dominated Trump’s initial year in office, even as his administration cracked down on illegal immigration. The administration has given agents leeway to detain and try to deport a wide range of people in the country illegally, from criminals to otherwise law-abiding residents with jobs and U.S.-citizen children. Although immigrant rights groups and some liberals protested, those actions did not require congressional approval, and there was limited pressure activists could bring compared to the battle that helped stall repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care law. That changed in September when Trump announced he’d end, effective March 5, Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which let hundreds of thousands avoid deportation and legally work. Trump tossed the issue to Congress to act before then. That also turned the spotlight on those who have benefited from DACA, men and women who were raised in the U.S. and are the most sympathetic face of the immigrant rights movement. The Trump administration was “out in front, advancing their agenda and they were basically getting away with it,” said Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, an immigrant rights group. “Then they picked a fight with well-organized, American kids. They picked the wrong fight and it’s brought attention to all their immigration agenda.” It was during Oval Office negotiations over a potential DACA replacement last week that, in the course of dismissing one deal negotiated by Senate Democrats and Republicans, Trump used a vulgar word to describe African countries and wondered why the U.S. doesn’t get more immigrants from places such as Norway. That stiffened the resolve of liberal groups to push for a DACA deal this week, at the moment they feel Democrats have maximum leverage. “Everything we’ve seen from this administration has been this effort to remove people of color and streamline the process for white people,” said Angel Padilla of the anti-Trump group Indivisible. “This week is an opportunity for Congress to reject that racism.” Still, on Wednesday Republican supporters of a DACA agreemen[...]


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Heed old shelter signs? If nuke is coming, maybe notAP photo A flashlight illuminates the main command center of a Cold War era Civil Defense bunker Sept. 26 in New Orleans. The fallout shelters, marked with metal signs featuring the symbol for radiation - three joined triangles inside a circle - were set up in tens of thousands of buildings nationwide in the early 1960s amid the nuclear arms race.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:50:00 GMT

NEW YORK – A generation of Americans knew just what to do in the event of a nuclear attack – or during a major false alarm, like the one over the weekend in Hawaii. Take cover in a building bearing a yellow fallout shelter symbol. But these days, that might not be the best option, or even an option at all. Relics from the Cold War, the aging shelters that once numbered in the thousands in schools, courthouses and churches haven't been maintained. And conventional wisdom has changed about whether such a shelter system is necessary in an age when an attack is more likely to come from a weak rogue state or terrorist group rather than a superpower. "We're not in a Cold War scenario. We are in 2018," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, head of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Earth Institute. "We're not facing what we were facing 50 years ago, when the Soviet Union and the U.S. had nuclear warheads pointed at each other that would devastate the world. There's a threat, but it's a different type of threat today." People weren't sure what to do Saturday when Hawaii mistakenly sent a cellphone alert warning of an incoming ballistic missile and didn't retract it for 38 minutes. The state had set up the missile warning infrastructure after North Korea demonstrated its missiles had the range to reach the islands. Drivers abandoned cars on a highway and took shelter in a tunnel. Parents huddled in bathtubs with their children. Students bolted across the University of Hawaii campus to take cover in buildings. The false alarm is the perfect time to talk about what to do in such an emergency, Redlener said, because most of the time people don't want to talk about it. At all. "But it's a real possibility," he said. "City officials should be talking about what their citizens should do if an attack happened. And it's a necessity for individuals and families to talk about and develop their own plan of what they would do." New Yorkers who were asked this week about where they would seek shelter during a missile attack said they had no idea. "The only thing I can think is, I would run," said Sabrina Shephard, 45, of Manhattan. "Where we would run, I don't know, because I don't know if New York has any bomb shelters or anything." The fallout shelters, marked with metal signs featuring the symbol for radiation — three joined triangles inside a circle — were set up in tens of thousands of buildings nationwide in the early 1960s amid the nuclear arms race. In New York City alone there were believed to be about 18,000. The locations were chosen because they could best block radioactive material. Anything could be a shelter as long as it was built with concrete, cinder blocks or brick, had no windows, and could be retrofitted quickly with supplies, an air filtration system and potable water. But the idea was controversial from the start, especially since one of the scenarios at the time, a full-scale nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, would have left few survivors. By the 1970s, the concept was abandoned. A FEMA spokeswoman said the agency doesn't even have current information on where the shelters are located. New York City education officials announced last month they are taking down the fallout shelter signs at schools. In Minot, North Dakota, just a few miles from the base where dozens of U.S. missiles are at the ready, a few fallout shelter signs remain, but their status as viable refuges isn't known. So what should you do if there i[...]


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Crystal Lake parks offer ice skating, sledding activities throughout winterDuring a day off from school for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Hunter Mosolino glances over his shoulder while tubing down a hill at Veteran Acres Park in Crystal Lake.Andy Faruzel of St. Charles teaches his son, Allan, 5, how to skate on the ice rink at Lincoln Park in St. Charles.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:42:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – From ice skating to sledding, city parks are offering a variety of winter activities.

The Crystal Lake Park District monitors winter activity areas daily to check that it’s safe for residents, according to a news release from the district.

Ice thickness at the city’s two ice rinks – one at Main Beach, 300 Lake Shore Drive, and the other at West Beach, 2330 Lake Ave. – is estimated with measurements taken from six locations.

Ice must be at least 5 inches thick to allow public skating, according to the district.

Information on park closings can be found at rainoutline.com/search/dnis/8154104475.

Residents also can sled at Veteran Acres Park near Route 176 and Walkup Avenue.

Main Beach and West Beach are open from 9 a.m. to dusk, and both have lighted skating areas from 4 to 9 p.m. Restrooms only are available at Main Beach.

Sledding is permitted from dawn to dusk, and lighted sledding areas are available from 4 to 9 p.m.

Restrooms and shelters are available at Veteran Acres Park.

During a day off from school for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Hunter Mosolino glances over his shoulder while tubing down a hill at Veteran Acres Park in Crystal Lake.Andy Faruzel of St. Charles teaches his son, Allan, 5, how to skate on the ice rink at Lincoln Park in St. Charles.


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Man with Crystal Lake ties hired as Genoa interim city administratorBill GanekAdministrative consultant Joseph Misurelli speaks during a State of the City address Nov. 21, 2013, in Genoa. Misurelli died Dec. 25.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:42:00 GMT

GENOA – Genoa Mayor Mark Vicary called it either divine intervention or Joe intervention.

After the city’s administrator, Joseph “Joe” Misurelli, died Dec. 25, the City Council on Tuesday approved the hiring of Bill Ganek as interim city administrator, a man Misurelli mentored in McHenry County, Vicary said.

“We’d like to call him the successor,” Vicary said Wednesday evening. “No one will ever replace Joe.”

Ganek retired from his post as Algonquin village manager in 2013 after serving in that role for 21 years, but he and Misurelli, a former Crystal Lake city administrator, collaborated on many projects.

“I think between them, they developed Randall Road,” Vicary said.

Ganek also was director of planning for Crystal Lake for nine years after he spent five years with the McHenry County Planning Department. Ganek interviewed for the position last week, and his contract is for six months, during which the search for a permanent replacement will continue. Ganek will work 20 hours for two days a week.

Vicary said Rivers Mexican Cantina opened in the former home of Rosati’s Pizza in the Ridge Point Shopping Center the week Misurelli died, and the plan for Dunkin’ Donuts to move into a two-unit commercial building at Prairie Street and Route 72 is on track.

Ganek immediately has taken the reins on the developing projects, but he also has provided an emotional salve, Vicary said.

“It’s comforting hearing Joe stories,” he said.

Bill GanekAdministrative consultant Joseph Misurelli speaks during a State of the City address Nov. 21, 2013, in Genoa. Misurelli died Dec. 25.


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McHenry County Conservation District to host 2018 Conservation Congress

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:41:00 GMT

The McHenry County Conservation District is preparing for its second Conservation Congress event.

The district announced that the “2018 McHenry County Conservation Congress – Sustaining the Dream – Stewarding the Places We Love” is set from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 10 at McHenry County College, 8900 Route 14, Crystal Lake.

More than 125 delegates representing recreation, historical preservation, agriculture, business, service clubs, transportation, education, conservation, health and wellness and other disciplines will attend.

Conservation Congress will provide the community a formal process to advocate for actions MCCD can take to protect and conserve natural resources and provide compatible education and recreational opportunities on public lands in the county, MCCD board President Steve Barrett said.

“We are looking ahead to shape McHenry County’s future as it relates to conservation by engaging the community in developing a shared vision for valuing our economy, protecting our groundwater and cultivating an active and healthy community,” Barrett said in a statement.

Presentations about geotourism, the value of nature and keeping water on land rather than your basement will be focal points of the day.

The presentations – which will be given by representatives from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the National Recreation and Park Association, the Illinois State Geological Survey and the American Sportfishing Association – will be followed by roundtable discussions.

MCCD Executive Director Elizabeth Kessler said in a statement that “by enjoying and stewarding the wide-open spaces and places we love, we invest in our own well-being and that of a healthy community and economy.”

“It is important that we do everything in our capabilities to not only protect these treasured landscapes, but provide opportunities for the public to gain an understanding and appreciation for how intertwined our lives are with the natural community,” Kessler said. “Actions taken today will have far-reaching effects on what McHenry County will look like in the future.”

Space for the 2018 Conservation Congress is limited and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Register online at MCCDistrict.org.




Rep. Steve Reick to hold public office hours at Woodstock Public LibraryState Rep. Steve Reick, R-Woodstock, will hold public office hours from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at 414 W. Judd St.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:41:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – State Rep. Steve Reick, R-Woodstock, will hold mobile office hours next week at the Woodstock Public Library. Reick will be available to talk with residents of the 63rd District from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at 414 W. Judd St.

“I enjoy these outreach events because they provide me with an excellent opportunity to connect with the people I represent in Springfield,” Reick said in a statement. “I look forward to talking one-on-one with constituents so I can learn about the issues that are important to them. I can also help constituents with issues they may be having with state agencies.”

No appointment is needed, and the event is open to all residents who live in the 63rd District.

State Rep. Steve Reick, R-Woodstock, will hold public office hours from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at 414 W. Judd St.


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Johnsburg officials protest water rate increaseJohnsburg Village President Edwin Hettermann

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:40:00 GMT

JOHNSBURG – Johnsburg officials are protesting a water rate increase proposed by Utility Services of Illinois Inc.

Village President Edwin Hettermann has requested a public hearing on the change through the Illinois Commerce Commission after Utilities Inc. recently announced a plan to raise its prices for water. The proposal would leave residents paying $35.03 a month at a flat rate, with consumption rates of $11.08 per 1,000 gallons, according to information from the city of Johnsburg.

Whispering Hills Water System, which is owned and operated by Utilities Inc. – the parent company of Utility Services of Illinois Inc. – serves northern Johnsburg. This would be the third time the company has increased its rates, Hettermann said.

“Many of these residents are on fixed incomes, already struggling with the constant increases they experience from taxes, utilities and other sources,” Hettermann said. “Furthermore, each time Utilities Inc. pursues an increase, they represent that the increase is necessary to cover the cost of needed capital improvements and repairs, yet we have not seen any marked improvement in the water system.”

Utilities Inc. began serving the community in 2009 at a monthly rate of $5.14 and consumption rates of $3.14 per 1,000 gallons, Hettermann said. If the new rates go into effect, residents will see a 682 percent increase from 2009 monthly rates and a 353 percent increase from 2009 consumption rates.

“I respectfully ask that you consider the village’s input regarding the proposed increase and, more importantly, consider the potential impact it will have on our residents – many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet,” Hettermann wrote in a Jan. 11 letter to the commission. “We would be happy to help coordinate an adequate meeting location if you desire.”

Steven Lubertozzi, president of Utility Services of Illinois Inc., said that since the last rate increase, about $2 million in capital improvements have been made or planned in the Whispering Hills Water System.

“We understand that no one likes rate increases, but capital improvements made to improve service to our customers is driving our request to increase customers’ rates,” Lubertozzi said in an email.

Projects include multiple water main replacements, putting in a new well, reconditioning the water tank and more, Lubertozzi said. Ultimately, the Illinois Commerce Commission approves or disapproves all capital improvements and rate increases, he said.

Johnsburg Village President Edwin Hettermann


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Auction for former Dominick's site in Lake in the Hills set for FebruaryAn auction for a Lake in the Hills shopping center that includes the former Dominick’s store is set from Feb. 26 to 28.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:40:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – An auction for a Lake in the Hills shopping center that includes the former Dominick’s store has been set for late February – and the village’s economic development director said it’s not official that Aldi will be moving into the site. The auction will be from Feb. 26 to 28 on Ten-X Commercial, an online real estate search and transaction website. The starting bid begins at $1.2 million, and a $10,000 participation deposit is required. About 17 percent of the 99,451-square-foot space is leased, according to Ten-X, with four total buildings. The auction, originally planned for last summer, was postponed for the strip center at Randall and Algonquin roads. Economic development coordinator George Hahne said the holiday season pushed back the auction because Transwestern, the real estate firm for the property, said it needed more time to do its due diligence – to create reports on the building quality, conduct road studies and more. Hahne said he was unsure of Aldi’s intent to move into 22,000 square feet of the vacant Dominick’s site – he thinks Aldi wants to see who the owner of the store will be before committing to a lease. Hahne said in June that Aldi signed a letter of intent to occupy the space, but on Wednesday, Hahne said he found out later that Aldi did not sign. “My understanding is they want to deal with the new owners of the shopping center, but that’s only speculation,” Village President Russ Ruzanski said. Trustee David McPhee said there has been vague talk of Aldi bringing in a new prototype store. “But with another facility down the street [on Randall Road], they were combating themselves and questioning if that was the appropriate location,” McPhee said. The main building contains a 72,385-square-foot building that formerly was leased to Dominick’s, as well as 10,346 square feet of small shopping stores attached, including GNC, H&R Block, Miracle Ear and four vacant suites. Another building north on Randall Road contains 16,720 square feet of space. Its tenants include Einstein Bros. Bagels, Yumz Gourmet Frozen Yogurt, Jersey Mike’s Subs and two vacant suites. “With the right owner and right tenants over there, we could bring in a lot of sales tax and do very good things for the village itself, like being able to continue and maintain not increasing property taxes,” McPhee said. Farm, ranch and home retail chain Big R had planned to move into the Dominick’s space but backed out in August 2016. Dominick’s closed in December 2013, and the grocer continued paying rent until its lease expired in May 2017. Interested buyers will be able to tour the site from noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 7 and 14. “When we cross that bridge and get a tenant or a sale, we hope it’ll turn into a great piece of parcel,” McPhee said. “Until then, I’m trying not to get our hopes up because we don’t want to be disappointed.” A representative from Transwestern could not be reached for information Wednesday. Attempts to reach Aldi also were unsuccessful. An auction for a Lake in the Hills shopping center that includes the former Dominick’s store is set from Feb. 26 to 28.[...]


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McHenry County Magazine looking for Women of Distinction nominationsMcHenry County Magazine's Women of Distinction award identifies women who have made a difference in McHenry County and who are representative role models and leaders in their fields and communities.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:40:00 GMT

McHenry County Magazine’s Women of Distinction award identifies women who have made a difference in McHenry County and who are representative role models and leaders in their fields and communities.

This is a chance to recognize those women who put the community, co-workers, friends and/or family before themselves.

Honorees will be profiled in McHenry County Magazine’s May issue and recognized at an awards luncheon.

To nominate someone, visit the online submission form at shawnews.secondstreetapp.com/MCWOD2018.

For information, contact Meredith Schaefer at 815-526-4534 or mschaefer@shawmedia.com.

McHenry County Magazine's Women of Distinction award identifies women who have made a difference in McHenry County and who are representative role models and leaders in their fields and communities.


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Jury trial underway for Hanover Park man charged in Woodstock armed robberyBrian Odell, of the 4700 block of Zeppelin Drive, Hanover Park

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:40:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Attorneys finished selecting jurors Wednesday for the trial of a Hanover Park man accused of participating in an armed robbery at a Woodstock home.

Brian Odell was charged in June with armed robbery, unlawful restraint and mob action in connection with the robbery, which ended in a high-speed chase.

During a fight at a home in the 200 block of Throop Street, a handgun was displayed and two men inside the residence were battered, police said. The offenders took “personal property” from the home and fled the area before police arrived, police said.

Brian Odell, of the 4700 block of Zeppelin Drive, Hanover Park


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Pipe bursts in home of Bull Valley couple charged with drug traffickingA judge granted attorneys with the Medford Real Estate Fund an emergency motion to inspect David A. Soskin's Bull Valley property after a pipe burst during the recent cold snap causing about $100,000 in damages. Soskin remains in McHenry County jail on drug trafficking charges.Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com A judge granted attorneys with the Medford Real Estate Fund an emergency motion to inspect David A. Soskin's Bull Valley property after a pipe burst during the recent cold snap causing about $100,000 in damages. Soskin remains in McHenry County jail on drug trafficking charges.David A. SoskinJamie M. LeeH. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com Surrounded by containers of cannabis, McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Hoven removes ammunition from a .50-caliber machine gun seized from a home in Bull Valley.A 17,000-square-foot Bull Valley mansion where police found 350 pounds of marijuana in May is going to pot, lawyers fighting for control of the property said.The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office seized property at 1001 and 1005 N. Cherry Valley Road, Bull Valley, in connection with a months-long investigation involving the Drug Enforcement Administration, the McHenry County Narcotics Task Force, the Rockford Police Department and other law enforcement agencies. The property recently suffered damage from a burst pipe.McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Hoven holds a pouch containing cannabis seized in a drug operation.The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office seized property at 1001 and 1005 N. Cherry Valley Road, Bull Valley, in connection with a months-long investigation involving the Drug Enforcement Administration, the McHenry County Narcotics Task Force, the Rockford Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office seized property at 1001 and 1005 N. Cherry Valley Road Bull Valley in connection with a months-long investigation involving the Drug Enforcement Administration, the McHenry County Narcotics Task Force, the Rockford Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office seized property at 1001 and 1005 N. Cherry Valley Road, Bull Valley, in connection with a months-long investigation involving the Drug Enforcement Administration, the McHenry County Narcotics Task Force, the Rockford Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office seized property at 1001 and 1005 N. Cherry Valley Road Bull Valley in connection with a months-long investigation involving the Drug Enforcement Administration, the McHenry County Narcotics Task Force, the Rockford Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office seized property at 1001 and 1005 N. Cherry Valley Road, Bull Valley, in connection with a months-long investigation involving the Drug Enforcement Administration, the McHenry County Narcotics Task Force, the Rockford Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office seized property at 1001 and 1005 N. Cherry Valley Road, Bull Valley, in connection with a months-long investigation involving the Drug Enforcement Administration, the McHenry County Narcotics Task Force, the Rockford Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office seized property at 1001 and 1005 N. Cherry Valley Road, Bull Valley, in connection with a months-long investigation involving the Drug Enforcement Administration, the McHenry County Narcotics Task Force, the Rockford Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com McHenry County Sheriff's Sgt. Robb Tadekman (left) and Deputy Ryan Hoven sort through some of the estimated 350 pounds of marijuana seized in recent operations. Police also found a .50-caliber machine gun, a Cobray M11 and ammunition at a Bull Valley home.H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com Ammunition and a .50-caliber machine gun were seized by McHenry County Sheriff's deputies from a Bull Valley home.H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com McHenry County Sheriff's Sgt. Robb Tadekman breaks down a Cobray M11 seized from a home in Bull Valley.H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com McHenry County Sheriff's Sgt. Robb Tadekman returns a Cobray M11 to a case. The gun and about 350 pounds of marijuana were seized from a Bull Valley home.H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Hoven holds a pouch containing cannabis seized in recent operations.H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com Ammunition was seized by McHenry County Sheriff's deputies and the Drug Enforcement Administration.H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com Containers hold some of the 350 pounds of cannabis and a shotgun seized from a Bull Valley home by McHenry County Sheriff's deputies.H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com Cash-counting machines were seized by McHenry County Sheriff's deputies and the Drug Enforcement Administration in recent operations.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:39:00 GMT

BULL VALLEY – A 17,000-square-foot mansion where police found 350 pounds of marijuana in May is going to pot, lawyers fighting for control of the property said. Attorneys for the lending company fear that the value of the Bull Valley home at the center of a large-scale drug investigation could take a hit from a burst pipe and subsequent water damage. The damage came after the lender repeatedly had asked local judges for permission to winterize the home to protect it. Medford Real Estate Fund I, which loaned money to the trust that bought the property, filed an emergency motion Friday seeking control of the property at 1001 N. Cherry Valley Road. Lawyers said the pipe burst during the recent cold snap, causing about $100,000 in damages, according to the motion. McHenry County Judge Michael Chmiel granted that motion Tuesday, and he appointed Newpoint Advisors Corp. to look after the property in the meantime, said Todd Rowden, an attorney representing Medford. “All of this was preventable, had the state’s attorney cooperated in a request that benefited everybody,” Rowden said Wednesday. David A. Soskin, 43, bought the home and 35-acre property for $800,000 in December 2016 through a trust after receiving a $450,000 mortgage from Medford. Lawyers for the financing company claim that Soskin and his fiancée, 26-year-old Jamie M. Lee, were living in the home instead of fixing it up to flip it. Soskin and Lee both face charges of marijuana trafficking, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of marijuana. Lee, who is out on bond while her case is pending, discovered the water leak when she went to the home, possibly to pick up mail, Rowden said. Lee had been going to the house two to three times a week to get personal items, but she was not living there, Soskin’s attorney, Nicholas Giordano, said at a Jan. 5 court hearing. “The heat is on, the electricity is on, so the house is secured up,” Giordano said. “[Lee] is not living there, but the house is in a secure mode as we stand here today.” Rowden, however, told McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt that insurance at the property had been canceled, and Medford needed access for an inspection to get replacement insurance coverage. Giordano and McHenry County prosecutors objected to Rowden’s plan at the Jan. 5 hearing. Rowden also told the judge that access to the home was needed to make sure it was properly maintained and prepared for the stretch of below-freezing, single-digit temperatures. At the time, Wilbrandt refused to rule on any aspect of the case until McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather, who has presided over the case, returned from being out sick, or until he could better familiarize himself with the facts. “I have not read any of the documentation. I have not yet read any of the briefs. I think it would be a disservice to everyone if I ruled on this case without reading things,” Wilbrandt said. “I don’t like to rule on anything without reading it, OK?” He set the next court date for Jan. 26. Rowden challenged the judge’s decision, arguing that the house was at risk of being damaged until it was winterized. “We’ve got 5-degree-be[...]


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Science panel backs lower drunken driving thresholdA car approaches a sobriety checkpoint Dec. 29, 2011, set up along a busy street in Albuquerque, N.M. A prestigious scientific panel is recommending that states significantly lower their drunken driving thresholds as part of a blueprint to eliminate the "entirely preventable" 10,000 alcohol-impaired driving deaths in the U.S. each year.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:39:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Most women would need to draw the line at two drinks, and men at two or three, if states follow a blueprint by a prestigious scientific panel for eliminating the “entirely preventable” 10,000 alcohol-impaired driving deaths in the U.S. each year. The U.S. government-commissioned report by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine made multiple recommendations, including significantly lowering drunken driving thresholds. It calls for lowering the blood-alcohol concentration threshold from 0.08 to 0.05. All states have 0.08 thresholds. A Utah law passed last year that lowers the state’s threshold to 0.05 doesn’t go into effect until Dec. 30. The amount of alcohol required to reach 0.05 would depend on several factors, including the person’s size and whether the person recently has eaten. The report cites studies indicating that most women more than 120 pounds would reach 0.05 after two drinks. Men weighing up to about 160 pounds likely would reach the lower threshold at two, and those more than 180 pounds at three. In its 489-page report, the panel also recommended that states significantly increase alcohol taxes and make alcohol less conveniently available, including reducing the hours and days alcohol is sold in stores, bars and restaurants. Research suggests a doubling of alcohol taxes could lead to an 11 percent reduction in traffic crash deaths, the report said. It also calls for cracking down on sales to people younger than 21 or who already are intoxicated to discourage binge drinking, and putting limits on alcohol marketing while funding anti-alcohol campaigns similar to those against smoking. All the proposals are likely to draw fierce opposition from the alcohol and restaurant industries. The American Beverage Institute took out full-page newspaper ads opposing Utah’s new law that featured a fake mugshot under a large headline reading, “Utah: Come for vacation, leave on probation.” The recommendation in the academies’ report for lowering the blood-alcohol threshold would “do nothing to deter” repeat offenders and drivers with high blood-alcohol levels, who represent the “vast majority” of alcohol-impaired driving deaths, the Distilled Spirits Council said in a statement. The council said it also doesn’t support the report’s recommendations for “tax increases and advertising bans, which will have little or no impact on traffic safety.” The report points out that “alcohol-impaired driving remains the deadliest and costliest danger on U.S. roads,” accounting for 28 percent of traffic deaths. Each day, 29 people in the U.S. die in alcohol-related crashes, and many more are injured. Forty percent of those killed are people other than the drunken driver. Rural areas are disproportionately affected. In 2015, 48 percent of drunken driving fatalities occurred in rural areas. The report said that many strategies have been effective to prevent drunken driving, but “a coordinated multilevel approach across multiple sectors will be required to accelerate change.” “The problem isn’t intractable,” the report said. From the early 1980s to the early 2000s, there was significant progress as the result of an increase in the drinking age to 21, decreases in the blood-[...]


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Algonquin Township officials to hold special meetingAlgonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser speaks at a meeting Nov. 8. Township officials will hold a special meeting Friday to pay contract workers who Gasser failed to pay before the township's last meeting.Algonquin Township Trustee David Chapman talks during a meeting Dec. 13.Algonquin Township Trustee Melissa Victor speaks during a meeting Dec. 13.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:39:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Algonquin Township will hold a special meeting Friday to pay contract workers who Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser failed to pay before the township’s last meeting, and to allow trustees to discuss the recent firing of the supervisor’s former chief of staff, Ryan Provenzano, officials said.

Gasser failed to submit payment for contract workers who plowed snow before the township’s Jan. 10 meeting, officials said.

Gasser could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Township trustees are expected to review those bills.

Although Provenzano’s firing is not mentioned on the meeting agenda, trustees expect to discuss his termination during a closed executive session, Trustee Rachael Lawrence said.

Provenzano, a political insider who earned more than $33 an hour in two Algonquin Township offices, was fired Tuesday.

Township Supervisor Charles Lutzow terminated the 23-year-old chief of staff Tuesday and banned him from the premises.

Lutzow would not comment on why he fired Provenzano, whose roles in two offices raised questions among township officials and road district employees who contend that his hiring was the product of patronage and cronyism.

The Republican had agreements in place to earn $32 an hour and $63,000 a year working full time as the chief of staff in Lutzow’s office, and another deal working part time as deputy highway commissioner at the Algonquin Township Highway Department, where he made $33 an hour.

It is unclear whether Provenzano will continue working for the road district.

Despite several phone calls to his cellphone, Provenzano could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday at the township hall, 3702 Route 14, Crystal Lake.

The public will be allowed to address township officials for up to three minutes.

Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser speaks at a meeting Nov. 8. Township officials will hold a special meeting Friday to pay contract workers who Gasser failed to pay before the township's last meeting.Algonquin Township Trustee David Chapman talks during a meeting Dec. 13.Algonquin Township Trustee Melissa Victor speaks during a meeting Dec. 13.


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2 gov. candidates spend $26M in 3 monthsAP photo Democratic gubernatorial candidates Robert Marshall (from left), Bob Daiber, J.B. Pritzker, Daniel Biss, Chris Kennedy and Tio Hardiman participate in a forum with the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board on Wednesday in Chicago.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 04:52:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – The race for Illinois governor cost more than $28 million just in the last three months of 2017 for the November 2018 election. Campaign finance disclosures filed this week show $9 of every $10 was spent by just two candidates – Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the leading Democratic challenger, Chicago businessman J.B. Pritzker. That’s nearly as much as the $30 million spent in the first nine months of 2017 in a race that easily could surpass the $112 million spent in the Prairie State four years ago and could approach the national record. Rauner, whose first term has been marked by a record-long budget stalemate with the Democratic-controlled Legislature that ended last summer, drew right-wing ire last fall when he signed a law providing state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions. Rauner reported raising $2.9 million in the last quarter of 2017. His campaign spent $12.8 million and had a whopping $55.6 million in the bank. Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt hotel franchise and among the world’s wealthiest people, reported raising $21 million and spending $13.3 million, with nearly $8 million on hand. The 2014 race in which Rauner beat incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn cost $112 million. The national record was set in the 2010 California contest, in which the price tag for ex-Gov. Jerry Brown to reclaim the post over businesswoman Meg Whitman was $280 million. Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Wheaton Republican who didn’t join the gubernatorial race until Nov. 15, reported raising $434,000, spending $39,000 and with cash to start, had $662,000 in the bank. Sen. Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat whose campaign has decried big-money self-funders such as Pritzker, raised $1.1 million and ended 2017 with $3.1 million. Another wealthy businessman, Chris Kennedy, raised $1 million and had $737,000 on hand. Educator Bob Daiber of Marine, anti-violence activist Tio Hardiman of Calumet City, and physician Robert Marshall of Burr Ridge also are seeking the Democratic nomination. On a smaller scale, the race for attorney general to fill the seat being vacated by Democrat Lisa Madigan is heating up. Eight candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general, including former Gov. Quinn, and they’re putting up money to get it. Each of the Democrats, individually, has more on hand than the combined total for the GOP candidates, Erika Harold and Gary Grasso. Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago leads the pack, raising $782,000, spending $109,000 and finishing the quarter with just less than $1.1 million. Highwood Democratic Rep. Scott Drury collected $506,000 and finished with $732,000. Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering drew $631,000 and had $574,000 on hand; assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Fairley took in $495,000 and had $388,000 in the bank, and lawyer and educational administrator Jesse Ruiz raised $549,000 and closed the period with $355,000. Quinn started the period with $232,000, but raised only $79,000 in the past three months, leaving $279,000 on hand. Lawyers Aaron Goldstein and Renato Mariotti also are running. On the GOP side, Harold, a lawyer and former [...]


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2nd case of measles confirmed in person at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 04:52:00 GMT

SPRINGFIELD – Public health officials are reporting a second case of measles in a person who was at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, the nation’s third-largest airport by passenger volume.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said Wednesday that the case is unrelated to one reported last week. The department said there’s no measles outbreak at O’Hare, which served 78 million passengers in 2016.

Officials said the individual with the second confirmed case was at the airport Jan. 9. Authorities said local health departments are contacting people believed to be most at risk, including passengers on the inbound flight to Chicago. The individual also was at locations in suburban Chicago.

Measles is easily spread through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. Experts said people who think they may have been exposed should contact their health care provider.




Snow, ice and record cold grip the South; at least 10 deadAP photo A man walks through steam venting from a building in the cold weather Wednesday in Atlanta. The South awoke on Wednesday to a two-part Arctic mess. First came a thin blanket of snow and ice, and then came the below-zero wind chills and record-breaking low temperatures in New Orleans and other cities.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 04:51:00 GMT

ATLANTA – Snow, ice and a record-breaking blast of cold closed runways, highways, schools and government offices across the South and sent cars sliding off roads Wednesday in a corner of the country ill-equipped to deal with wintry weather. At least 10 people died, including a baby in a car that plunged off a slippery overpass into a Louisiana canal. Icicles hung from a statue of jazz musicians in normally balmy New Orleans, and drivers unaccustomed to ice spun their wheels across Atlanta, which was brought to a near-standstill by little more than an inch of snow. The beach in Biloxi, Mississippi, got a light coating. And the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill canceled classes as the storm unloaded at least 8 inches of snow in Durham and Greensboro. The storm turned the morning rush hour treacherous, though many people heeded warnings to stay off the roads. Even the best drivers had trouble: Retired NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted that he had just used his winch to help pull a car out of a ditch when he drove off the road and into a tree in North Carolina. "NC stay off the roads today/tonight. 5 minutes after helping these folks I center punched a pine tree," he reported. A spokesman said Earnhardt was not hurt and his pickup had only minor damage. By midday, skies were bright and sunny in many places, but temperatures were expected to remain below freezing throughout the day in much of the region, and roads are likely to remain icy into Thursday. "People keep asking when we will get the all-clear," said Georgia Transportation Department spokeswoman Natalie Dale. "It will not happen today." Thousands of schoolchildren and teachers got the day off. Many cities canceled meetings and court proceedings, and some businesses closed. Slippery runways and the need to de-ice planes forced cancellations and delays in New Orleans; Memphis, Tennessee; and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Electricity usage surged to record highs as people struggled to keep warm. In Alabama, where some places got at least 3 inches of snow, dairy farmer Will Gilmer bundled up for the drive to his milking barn before daybreak in rural Lamar County, the thermometer reading 7 degrees (minus 14 Celsius). "I probably had four layers on and then insulated coveralls and a heavy coat on over that. I made it OK except for my toes," he said. The mercury dropped to record lows overnight in several places in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. It was 21 degrees before dawn in New Orleans, breaking the city's record of 23, set on the same date in 1977. At least four people died in Louisiana, including a man who was knocked off an elevated portion of Interstate 10 in New Orleans when a pickup spun out of control on ice, and an 8-month-old baby who was in a car that slid into a canal in suburban New Orleans. The baby's mother was reported in critical condition. Two others died along an icy stretch of I-75 southeast of Atlanta when a driver lost control and hit them, one of them inside a stopped car and the other standing beside it, authorities said. One person died in a weather-related traffic accident i[...]


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White House officials claim sweeping 'executive privilege' in Russia probesAP photo Former White House strategist Steve Bannon (left) leaves a House Intelligence Committee meeting where he was interviewed behind closed doors Tuesday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 04:51:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s White House is relying on a sweeping interpretation of executive privilege that is rankling members of Congress on both sides of the aisle as current and former advisers parade to Capitol Hill for questioning about possible connections with Russia. The White House’s contention: Pretty much everything is off limits until the president says it’s not. The argument was laid bare this week during former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s interview with the House Intelligence Committee. As lawmakers in the closed-door session probed Bannon’s time working for Trump, his attorney got on the phone with the White House counsel’s office, relaying questions and asking what Bannon could tell Congress, according to a White House official and a second person familiar with the interview. The answer was a broad one. Bannon couldn’t discuss anything to do with his work on the presidential transition or later in the White House itself. The development brought to the forefront questions about White House efforts to control what current and former aides may or may not tell Congress about their time in Trump’s inner circle, and whether Republicans who hold majorities on Capitol Hill will force the issue. It also was the broadest example yet of the White House using executive privilege to limit a witness’ testimony without making a formal invocation of that presidential power. On Wednesday, White House officials said that the phone calls with the counsel’s office were standard procedure followed by past administrations in dealings with Congress. They argued that Bannon, like every current and former member of the administration, starts under the assumption that he is covered by executive privilege and only can answer certain questions unless Trump explicitly says otherwise. But members of Congress, including Republicans, criticized the move. The House panel’s top Democrat called it effectively a “gag order.” The committee’s Republican chairman, Devin Nunes of California, served a subpoena on Bannon in an attempt to compel him to answer. Lawmakers will be closely watching another interview later this week to see how the White House responds. Trump’s longtime spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, is to appear Friday for a closed-door interview with committee, a person familiar with the panel’s work said. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter. The criticisms echoed those from last summer when Attorney General Jeff Sessions baffled some lawmakers by refusing to answer questions about his conversations with the president, while also maintaining that he was not citing executive privilege. After Sessions’ testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said, “As someone who served in the Justice Department, I would love to know what he is talking about.” Michael Dorf, a constitutional law professor at Cornell University, said that although Congress traditionally has required a formal assertion of executive privilege in order for a witness to refuse to answer a question, more recently “we’ve seen peo[...]


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Golf course views and a theater: What $1.34 million can get you in Lake in the HillsLake in the Hills home, listed for sale on Zillow: 400 Boulder Drive. 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 11,312 square feet. Listed price: $1,349,900. Estimated mortgage: $5,248 per month. This Lake in the Hills home was originally the Boulder Ridge Country Club clubhouse. Inside, the master suite includes a fireplace and large sitting area, with a balcony overlooking the golf course. The kitchen has cherry cabinets and corian countertops, while the walk-out lower level has a rec area, den, full kitchen, theater and large bedroom. There are two garages that can hold seven cars. Listing agent: Lucid Realty Team: 877-214-4030Foyer with grand staircaseLiving room with fireplaceOfficeDining roomKitchenMaster bedroom with fireplaceMaster bathroomLake in the Hills home, listed for sale on Zillow: 400 Boulder Drive. 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 11,312 square feet. Listed price: $1,349,900. Estimated mortgage: $5,248 per month. This Lake in the Hills home was originally the Boulder Ridge Country Club clubhouse. Inside, the master suite includes a fireplace and large sitting area, with a balcony overlooking the golf course. The kitchen has cherry cabinets and corian countertops, while the walk-out lower level has a rec area, den, full kitchen, theater and large bedroom. There are two garages that can hold seven cars. Listing agent: Lucid Realty Team: 877-214-4030Laundry roomWalk-out lower levelRec room in the lower levelTheaterOverhead view

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 21:22:00 GMT

Ever drive by a house and wonder what it looks like inside? Or how much does it cost? Check out this Lake In The Hills home, listed for sale on Zillow.

Lake in the Hills home, listed for sale on Zillow: 400 Boulder Drive. 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 11,312 square feet. Listed price: $1,349,900. Estimated mortgage: $5,248 per month. This Lake in the Hills home was originally the Boulder Ridge Country Club clubhouse. Inside, the master suite includes a fireplace and large sitting area, with a balcony overlooking the golf course. The kitchen has cherry cabinets and corian countertops, while the walk-out lower level has a rec area, den, full kitchen, theater and large bedroom. There are two garages that can hold seven cars. Listing agent: Lucid Realty Team: 877-214-4030Foyer with grand staircaseLiving room with fireplaceOfficeDining roomKitchenMaster bedroom with fireplaceMaster bathroomLake in the Hills home, listed for sale on Zillow: 400 Boulder Drive. 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 11,312 square feet. Listed price: $1,349,900. Estimated mortgage: $5,248 per month. This Lake in the Hills home was originally the Boulder Ridge Country Club clubhouse. Inside, the master suite includes a fireplace and large sitting area, with a balcony overlooking the golf course. The kitchen has cherry cabinets and corian countertops, while the walk-out lower level has a rec area, den, full kitchen, theater and large bedroom. There are two garages that can hold seven cars. Listing agent: Lucid Realty Team: 877-214-4030Laundry roomWalk-out lower levelRec room in the lower levelTheaterOverhead view


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AP Sources: White House directed Steve Bannon silence in House interviewFormer White House strategist Steve Bannon leaves a House Intelligence Committee meeting where he was interviewed behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 20:18:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Steve Bannon's attorney relayed questions, in real time, to the White House during a House Intelligence Committee interview of the former Trump chief strategist, people familiar with the closed-door session told The Associated Press. As lawmakers probed Bannon's time working for President Donald Trump, Bannon's attorney Bill Burck was asking the White House counsel's office by phone during the Tuesday session whether his client could answer the questions. He was told by that office not to discuss his work on the transition or in the White House. It's unclear who Burck was communicating with in the White House. He is also representing top White House lawyer Don McGahn in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. Tuesday's conversations were confirmed by a White House official and a second person familiar with Bannon's interview. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. At the White House, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the questions were relayed over the phone and said it was a typical process. "Sometimes they actually have a White House attorney present in the room," she said. "This time it was something that was relayed via phone and again was following standard procedure for an instance like this and something that will likely happen again on any other number of occasions, not just within this administration but future administrations." On Wednesday, the AP also confirmed that Bannon will meet with Mueller's investigators for an interview instead of appearing before a grand jury. A person familiar with that issue confirmed the interview and said Bannon is expected to cooperate with Mueller. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations. It's unclear when the interview might occur. Burck didn't respond to numerous phone messages left Tuesday and Wednesday. A spokeswoman for Bannon did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel's office, declined comment. Bannon refused to answer a broad array of queries from the House Intelligence Committee about his time working for Trump, leading the Republican committee chairman to authorize a subpoena. Lawmakers were expecting a similar fight Wednesday with Trump's White House as another senior aide, Rick Dearborn, was to appear for a private interview with the committee. The developments brought to the forefront questions about White House efforts to control what current and former aides tell Congress about their time in Trump's inner circle, and whether Republicans on Capitol Hill would force the issue. Michael Dorf, a constitutional law professor at Cornell University, said that while traditionally Congress has required a formal assertion of executive privilege in order for a witness to refuse to answer a question, more recently "we've seen people just not answer questions without asserting privilege." "It's kind of a game of separation-of-power[...]


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Meteor credited for bright light, noise rattling Michigan, IllinoisIn this late Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, image made from dashcam video, a brightly lit object falls from the sky above a highway in the southern Michigan skyline. (Zack Lawler/WWMT via AP)

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 14:38:00 GMT

DETROIT — Experts say a bright light and what sounded like thunder in the sky above Michigan was a meteor.

The American Meteor Society says it received hundreds of reports of a fireball Tuesday night over the state, including many in the Detroit area. Reports also came in from several other states and Ontario, Canada.

Some Michigan residents reported their homes shaking.

The society says the reports suggest a space rock penetrated deep into the Earth's atmosphere before it broke apart. The U.S. Geological Service says it registered as a 2.0 magnitude earthquake in Michigan.

Bill Cooke with NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office tells The Detroit News it was "definitely a meteoroid" and a rare sight for Michigan.

Other states where people reported seeing a fireball included Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.

In this late Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, image made from dashcam video, a brightly lit object falls from the sky above a highway in the southern Michigan skyline. (Zack Lawler/WWMT via AP)


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Rauner spokesman: 'Governor believes David Duke is a racist'Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses the media, public and elected officials from Will County during a news conference July 11 announcing the construction of a bridge connecting Houbolt Road and CenterPoint in Joliet.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:39:00 GMT

CHICAGO – After fumbling the answer to a question about whether a former Ku Klux Klan leader is a racist, the campaign of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday clarified the governor’s opinion of David Duke.

During a radio interview on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Rauner was asked whether President Donald Trump was racist after reports that he used vulgar language to refer to African nations. Trump allegedly also questioned why America would want to accept more immigrants from Haiti. Rauner repeatedly declined to directly answer, saying “that language has no place in our political conversation.”

On Monday, when WVON-AM host Charles Thomas asked if Duke is a racist, Rauner would only respond “we have racism in our society.”

“We have got to come together to change our system,” Rauner said.

On Tuesday, Rauner campaign spokesman Justin Giorgio sought to clarify those comments. In a statement, he said Rauner “believes that David Duke is a racist.”

Democrats were quick to seize on what they characterized as Rauner’s attempt to “mince words.”

“Instead of having a spine and standing up for what’s right, Rauner dodges even the most basic of questions to avoid giving Illinoisans the answers they deserve,” said Jordan Abudayyeh, spokeswoman for Democratic gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker.

Also on Tuesday, Duke spoke about Rauner’s initial failure to call him a racist.

“Probably at some point, he’s heard about David Duke, and deep down in his soul, something’s happened inside of him and he knows that I am not really a racist in the sense that I want to oppress and oppose other people,” Duke told the Chicago Tribune.

Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat running for attorney general, cited King when he noted Rauner’s failure to call Duke a racist.

“Martin Luther King Jr. taught us that our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter, and Bruce Rauner’s inability to clearly state that David Duke is a racist is pretty damning,” said Raoul, the son of Haitian immigrants.

Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses the media, public and elected officials from Will County during a news conference July 11 announcing the construction of a bridge connecting Houbolt Road and CenterPoint in Joliet.


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Rebel ex-police officer among dead in Venezuela shootoutAP file photo Oscar Perez speaks to the press July 13 at a night vigil to honor the more than 90 people killed during three months of anti-government protests, in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuelan officials said Monday that they have exchanged fire during an attempt to capture the fugitive police officer who led a high-profile attack in Caracas last year from a stolen helicopter.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:38:00 GMT

CARACAS, Venezuela – Officials in Venezuela confirmed Tuesday that a rebellious police officer who led a brazen helicopter attack in Caracas last year was among those killed in a violent shootout with security forces. Oscar Perez was among the seven who died fighting against police and soldiers Monday in a small mountain community outside of Caracas, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said. Two police officers were killed and eight others gravely injured, he said. “The terrorist acts committed by this terrorist cell showed the destabilizing objectives that they were pursuing,” Reverol said. Opposition lawmakers and human rights groups called for a transparent investigation into the deaths after video images showed Perez shouting over gunfire that they wished to surrender. “We’re going to turn ourselves in!” Perez said in the video. A former police officer, action-movie star and pilot, Perez leaped into the spotlight in June, when he stole a helicopter and used it to lob grenades and fire at two government buildings in Caracas. Nobody was killed in the attack. Perez, 36, had been one of Venezuela’s most wanted fugitives ever since, periodically posting videos on Instagram calling upon Venezuelans to take to the streets against what he called President Nicolas Maduro’s tyrannical government. Perez claimed that he was fighting for Venezuela’s freedom from a government that is starving its people. He garnered tens of thousands of followers online and has piqued the curiosity of Venezuelans who either hail him as hero, condemn him as a criminal or question whether he might be a ruse to support Maduro’s assertion that the nation is under attack by opposition conspirators. In December, Perez posted videos showing him and a small armed band taking over a military outpost and smashing a portrait of Maduro with his foot. Perez and the assailants berated several detained guardsmen for doing nothing to help their fellow citizens. Perez surfaced online again early Monday in videos – blood dripping across his face – and holed up in a mountainside house. Perez shouted over a spray of gunfire that the group wished to surrender, but that the police outside were set on killing them. “I want to ask Venezuela not to lose heart – fight, take to the streets,” he said. “It is time for us to be free, and only you have the power now.” Reverol said that an intense search finally led security forces to the house. Perez’s group opened fire first, requiring a response from authorities, he said. Troops arrested six more people identified as members, collaborators and financiers of the group. They also confiscated rifles, smoke grenades, military uniforms, ammunition, and a pickup, officials said. Mystery surrounded Perez’s fate for nearly 24 hours as officials remained silent until the announcement on state television that he was among the dead. The Venezuelan Program of Education and Action on Human Rights has called for the government to provide[...]


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California mom of malnourished children was 'perplexed' by police visitAP photo Louise Anna Turpin (left) and David Allen Turpin are shown in photos provided by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department on Sunday.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:38:00 GMT

PERRIS – The mother of 13 malnourished children and young adults who were held in filthy conditions, some chained to furniture, was “perplexed” when deputies arrived at the family’s Southern California home, a sheriff’s official said Tuesday.

The deputies had been summoned by a 17-year-old daughter who jumped out a window and called 911. Riverside County sheriff’s Capt. Greg Fellows described the reaction of the mother, Louise Anna Turpin, 49, without elaborating. He said he did not know how the father, 57-year-old David Allen Turpin, reacted.

The situation at the home in Perris, about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles, was discovered when the daughter escaped early Sunday, Fellows said.

U.S. withholds $65M from Palestinian aid programs

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration on Tuesday cut tens of millions of dollars in money for Palestinian refugees, demanding that the U.N. agency responsible for the programs undertake a “fundamental re-examination,” the State Department said.

In a letter, the State Department notified the U.N. Relief and Works Agency that the U.S. is withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment. The letter also makes clear that additional U.S. donations will be contingent on major changes by UNRWA, which has been heavily criticized by Israel.

“We would like to see some reforms be made,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, adding that changes are needed to the way the agency operates and is funded. “This is not aimed at punishing anyone.”

The State Department said it was releasing the rest of the installment – $60 million – to prevent the agency from running out of cash by the end of the month and closing down.

AP photo Louise Anna Turpin (left) and David Allen Turpin are shown in photos provided by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department on Sunday.


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Pope acknowledges pain of abuse among victims Рand priests in Catholic churchPope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass at O'Higgins Park in Santiago, Chile, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. Francis begged for forgiveness Tuesday for the “irreparable damage” done to children who were raped and molested by priests, opening his visit to Chile by diving head-first into a scandal that has greatly hurt the Catholic Church’s credibility here and cast a cloud over his visit. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)AP photo Demonstrators protest against the Catholic church and the visit of Pope Francis Monday as Pope Francis drives by, in Santiago, Chile. Francis' visit to Chile is expected to be fraught with a high level of opposition. Firebombings of Catholic churches in recent days have added to the tensions, as have planned protests of sex abuse and cover-ups.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:38:00 GMT

SANTIAGO, Chile – Pope Francis dove head first into the sex abuse scandal that has devastated the Catholic Church’s credibility in Chile, apologizing Tuesday for the “irreparable damage” to victims, but also acknowledging the “pain” of priests who have been held collectively responsible for the crimes of a few. Francis’ words were delivered amid unprecedented opposition to his visit: Three more churches were torched overnight, including one burned to the ground in the southern Araucania region where Francis celebrates Mass on Wednesday. Police used tear gas and water cannons to break up an anti-pope protest outside Francis’ big open-air Mass in the capital, Santiago. Despite the incidents, huge numbers of Chileans turned out to see the pope on his first full day in Chile, including an estimated 400,000 for his Mass, and he brought some inmates to tears with an emotional visit to a women’s prison. But his comments in his first speech of the day were what many Chileans were waiting to hear: Speaking from the presidential La Moneda palace, Francis told Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, lawmakers, judges and other authorities that he felt “bound to express my pain and shame” that some of Chile’s clergy had sexually abused children in their care. “I am one with my brother bishops, for it is right to ask forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensuring that such things do not happen again,” the pope said. Francis did not refer by name to Chile’s most notorious pedophile priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who in 2011 was barred from all pastoral duties and sanctioned by the Vatican to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for sexually molesting minors. Nor did he refer to the fact that the emeritus archbishop of Santiago, a top papal adviser, has acknowledged he knew of complaints against Karadima but didn’t remove him from ministry. Karadima had been a politically connected, charismatic and powerful priest who ministered to a wealthy Santiago community and produced dozens of priestly vocations and five bishops. Victims went public with their accusations in 2010 after complaining for years to church authorities that Karadima had kissed and fondled them when they were teenagers. While the cover-up continued to roil the church, many Chileans are still furious over Francis’ subsequent decision in 2015 to appoint a Karadima protege as bishop of the southern city of Osorno. Bishop Juan Barros has denied knowing about Karadima’s abuse but many Chileans don’t believe him, and his appointment has badly split the diocese. Francis referred again to the scandal later in the day, but this time his words were directed at the hundreds of priests gathered in Santiago’s cathedral who have seen their influence and moral authority plummet as a result of the Karadima case and cover-up. Francis told them that the scandal had not only caused pain in the victims, but in the broader church community and among anyone[...]


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Big decisions about immigration await CongressAP file photo The Capitol is seen Jan. 3 in Washington. The government is financed through Friday, Jan. 19, and another temporary spending bill is needed to prevent a partial government shutdown after that.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:38:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Before a potential government shutdown at midnight Friday night, a host of leftover Washington business is bottled up in Congress, waiting on a deal to prevent the deportation of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children and an agreement on other immigration-related issues, including President Donald Trump’s long-sought U.S.-Mexico border wall. Lawmakers in both major parties are confronted with a consequential week that includes shutdown brinksmanship linked to politically freighted negotiations over immigration. House Republican leaders scheduled a Tuesday evening meeting to discuss options with the GOP rank and file to avert a shutdown at midnight Friday. Meanwhile, there are increasingly urgent deadlines for disaster aid and renewal of the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program. A governmentwide spending deal, billions of dollars in help for hurricane-slammed Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and health care financing for 9 million children from low-income families have been on hold for weeks, caught first in a crossfire over taxes and now held up in a standoff on immigration. Lawmakers are angry that their pet priorities are stuck and are getting fed up. That rank-and-file anger has GOP leaders in a bind as they work to deliver a stopgap spending bill to stave off a shutdown. They are privately worried that if there’s no breakthrough on immigration, they could blunder their way into a shutdown that all say they want to avoid. Here are the moving parts in Capitol Hill’s high-wire week: Immigration Trump has dismissed a bipartisan deal by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., that would pair protections for the young immigrants with border security money and other measures. Instead, Republicans are invested in a rival bipartisan group led by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. Four issues are the focus of the talks: protection for the young immigrants, limits on family migration for their parents, border security, and elimination of a diversity visa lottery system. But there are huge obstacles to a deal, considering intense political pressure from both the right and the left, Trump’s erratic and impulsive behavior, months of hard feelings, and suspicion of bad faith harbored on both sides. On the other hand, pressure is intense for an agreement because, without one, much of the rest of Washington’s agenda is on hold. Stopgap spending The government is financed through Friday, and another temporary spending bill is needed to prevent a partial government shutdown after that. In a shutdown, vital government services like law enforcement and air traffic control would continue, as would benefit programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But national parks would close, and many federal bureaucrats would be sent home. No one says they want a government sh[...]


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Dems accuse GOP official of 'amnesia' on President Donald Trump's vulgarityAP photo Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is sworn in Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:38:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Republicans struggled to get their stories straight Tuesday as President Donald Trump’s Homeland Security secretary became the latest GOP official to offer an inconclusive version of a meeting in which Trump is said to have used vulgar remarks that have been criticized as racist. Democrats accused Republicans of selective amnesia, as Kirstjen Nielsen testified under oath that she “did not hear” Trump use a certain vulgarity to describe African countries. “It was a meeting of 12 people. There was cross-talk,” she explained at a congressional hearing, but she didn’t “dispute the president was using tough language.” Under persistent questioning, Nielsen said she didn’t recall the specific language used by Trump. “What I was struck with frankly, as I’m sure you were as well, was just the general profanity used in the room by almost everyone.” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, angrily criticized Nielsen’s comments, telling her during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, “Your silence and your amnesia is complicity.” Nielsen’s comments came five days after the president ignited what GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham termed an “s-storm” with his Oval Office remarks. The White House has not substantively disputed accounts of the episode, in which Trump is said to have used the term “s---hole” to describe African countries of origin for potential immigrants to the U.S. The revelations, semi-denials and continuing comments have cast a pall over the White House’s legislative agenda, brought the country closer to the brink of a government shutdown and sparked international outrage. And with the midterm elections approaching, there are fresh fears among Republicans who were already anxious over the political climate going into November – and over Trump’s unpredictable actions. Administration officials and lawmakers spent the holiday weekend debating the precise presidential vulgarity used, and moved to cast last Thursday’s White House meeting as a salty affair, with expletives flying in all directions. The White House said Trump had no intention of apologizing. “The president hasn’t said he didn’t use strong language, and this is an important issue,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “He’s passionate about it, he’s not going to apologize for trying to fix our immigration system.” There is internal debate in the West Wing over whether Trump said “s---hole” or “s---house.” One person who attended the meeting told aides they heard the latter expletive, while others recalled the president saying the more widely reported “s---hole,” according to a person briefed on the meeting but not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations. Trump has not clarified to aides what he said, but told reporters Sunday night in Florida that comments attributed to him “weren’t made.” [...]


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U.S. withholds $65 million from Palestinian aid programsPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council, a top decision-making body, at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed,l)

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:37:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration on Tuesday cut tens of millions of dollars in money for Palestinian refugees, demanding that the U.N. agency responsible for the programs undertake a "fundamental re-examination," the State Department said. In a letter, the State Department notified the U.N. Relief and Works Agency that the U.S. is withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment. The letter also makes clear that additional U.S. donations will be contingent on major changes by UNRWA, which has been heavily criticized by Israel. "We would like to see some reforms be made," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, adding that changes are needed to the way the agency operates and is funded. "This is not aimed at punishing anyone." The State Department said it was releasing the rest of the installment – $60 million – to prevent the agency from running out of cash by the end of the month and closing down. The U.S. is UNWRA's largest donor, supplying nearly 30 percent of its budget. The agency focuses on providing health care, education and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians either fled or were forced from their homes during the war that led to Israel's establishment in 1948. Today, there are an estimated 5 million refugees and their descendants, mostly scattered across the region. The Palestinian Liberation Organization reacted angrily to the move, saying it is targeting "the most vulnerable segment of the Palestinian people and depriving the refugees of the right to education, health, shelter and a dignified life." "It is also creating conditions that will generate further instability throughout the region and will demonstrate that it has no compunction in targeting the innocent," the PLO leadership said in a statement. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was not aware of the decision but warned that UNRWA provides "vital services." "I am very concerned and I strongly hope that in the end it will be possible for the United States to maintain the funding of UNRWA in which the U.S. has a very important share," he told reporters at the U.N. Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Danny Danon, praised the move, arguing that UNRWA misuses humanitarian aid to support propaganda against the Jewish state and perpetuate the Palestinians' plight. "It is time for this absurdity to end and for humanitarian funds to be directed towards their intended purpose: the welfare of refugees," Danon said in a statement. The U.S. donated $355 million to UNWRA in 2016 and was set to make a similar contribution in this year; the first installment was to have been sent this month. But after a highly critical Jan. 2 tweet from Trump on aid to the Palestinians, the State Department opted to wait for a formal policy [...]


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House panel wants Steve Bannon to explain ex-FBI Director James Comey's firingAP file photo Former White House strategist Steve Bannon speaks during a Senate hopeful Roy Moore campaign rally Dec. 5 in Fairhope Ala. The House Intelligence Committee is poised to question Bannon, the onetime confidant to President Donald Trump, following his spectacular fall from power after accusing the president's son and others of "treasonous" behavior for taking a meeting with Russians during the 2016 campaign. Bannon is scheduled to testify before the panel on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the committee's plans.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:37:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – A House panel questioned Steve Bannon on Tuesday, aiming to find out President Donald Trump’s thinking when he fired FBI Director James Comey, according to a person familiar with what the panel was planning to ask the former White House chief strategist. The committee also planned to press Bannon on other “executive actions” taken by Trump that have drawn interest from congressional investigators prying into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record about the closed-door session and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. Those key elements bear directly on the criminal investigation now underway by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is charged with determining if collusion existed between the Trump campaign and Russia and whether the president obstructed justice by firing Comey or by taking other actions to thwart investigators. As of early Tuesday afternoon, it appeared possible that Bannon could be interviewed all day by the House Intelligence panel – on par with other top-tier witnesses who have been called before congressional investigators for marathon sessions. Bannon started with the committee at 8 a.m., but questioning did not start until later in the morning. His interview follows his spectacular fall from power after being quoted in a book that he sees the president’s son and others as engaging in “treasonous” behavior for taking a meeting with the Russians during the 2016 campaign. In Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury,” Bannon accuses Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of essentially betraying the nation by meeting with a group of Russian lawyers and lobbyists who they believed were ready to offer “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. More recently, Bannon has said he was not referring to Trump Jr. but rather to Manafort. Wolff stands by his account. After the book’s release, Trump quickly disavowed “Sloppy Steve Bannon” and argued extensively there was no evidence of collusion between his presidential campaign and operatives tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bannon apologized a few days later but was stripped of his job leading the pro-Trump news site Breitbart News. Bannon last year had largely avoided the scrutiny of congressional investigators, who instead focused much of their energy on trying to secure interviews with top witnesses like Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. But Bannon played a critical role in the campaign, the presidential transition and the White House – all during times now under scrutiny from congressional investigators looking for possible evidence of a connection between Trump’s operations and Russia. Bannon recently retained the same lawyer being u[...]


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Filing: Suspected kidnapper's girlfriend fainted helping FBIAP file photo This photo provided by the Macon County Sheriff's Office in Decatur, Ill., shows Brendt Christensen. Attorneys for Christensen, accused of kidnapping resulting in the death of University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang from China, are asking a federal judge to dismiss the main charge against him and change the venue of his upcoming trial. Christensen's attorney filed 12 pretrial motions Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, including six to suppress or exclude evidence they say was illegally or improperly obtained.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:37:00 GMT

CHICAGO – The girlfriend of a 28-year-old man charged in the kidnapping and killing of a University of Illinois scholar from China was so nervous as she secretly recorded him for the FBI before his arrest last year that she fainted at least once in front of him, according to court filings. The revelation came in a flurry of pretrial motions filed Monday by Brendt Christensen’s lawyers in central Illinois, where the university is located and where 26-year-old Yingying Zhang was last seen getting into Christensen’s black Saturn Astra on June 9 last year. One motion asks U.S. District Judge Colin Bruce in Urbana to dismiss the headline charge – kidnapping resulting in death. It argues there’s no evidence that Christensen forced or tricked Zhang into the car. Authorities say Zhang is dead, though her body has never been found. His attorneys also asked to change the trial’s location to western Illinois or Chicago, citing what their motions describe as a “tsunami” of “inflammatory and inherently prejudicial” media reports that render a fair hearing in the region impossible. Investigators first questioned Christensen three days after Zhang disappeared, then on June 16 enlisted the girlfriend’s help. Agents want people wearing wires to stay calm so suspects aren’t tipped off they’re being recorded, which can put people recording in danger. But in texts to agents supervising her, the girlfriend – referred to only by the initials T.E.B. – describes being overwhelmed, her “heart ... pounding” as she recorded Christensen. She says she “went into shock and passed out while talking to” Christensen, the filings say. One place where she recorded Christensen was at a June 29 vigil for Zhang amid the search for her. He was arrested the next day. Among the other revelations in the filings was that another female student reported earlier the day Zhang disappeared that a man wearing sunglasses pulled up to her in a car, flashed a badge and claimed to be an undercover officer. He asked her to get in; she refused and walked away. The woman later indicated the man looked similar to Christensen. The defense wants any testimony on that incident barred. In addition to having a girlfriend, Christensen was also married at the time. Another of the new defense motions argues some statements he made to his spouse in private – including about “disturbing dreams” he’d been having – were protected by marital privilege. His lawyers also contend agents misused a warrant allowing them to search Christensen’s car to enter his apartment on June 14, waking him and his wife around midnight. They say his wife consented to a search of the home under duress. Christensen’s trial is slated to begin Feb. 27. He has pleaded not guilty. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in central Illinois declined comment Tuesday. Prosecutors h[...]


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Will County Historical Museum discovers flowers from Abraham Lincoln's funeralThe Will County Historical Museum and Research Center announced the recent discovery of a small box of flowers from the 1865 funeral of President Abraham Lincoln.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:37:00 GMT

LOCKPORT – The Will County Historical Museum and Research Center recently announced the discovery of a collection of flowers that were lain on the funeral bier of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 in Washington, D.C.

Historical museum President Sandy Vasko was the one who found the box of flowers as she and some volunteers were going through some of their many items at the museum in December.

Volunteer Al Smuskiewicz said that the box must have been lying around for about 50 years. He said it used to be at the Joliet Public Library and then somehow ended up at the museum, which has received thousands of donated historical items from all over the county throughout the years.

“It’s fascinating how it’s been lying around for all these years and it’s never really been discovered by anybody at the historical society,” Smuskiewicz said.

Smuskiewicz said the flowers were clipped off by a general related to the president’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and then changed hands multiple times before eventually finding their way into the possession of the wife of former Joliet Mayor James Elwood.

A note by the box gives a short description of its history: “Among the James G. Elwood collection, this small box was found to contain a dried flower, and a note on the back is written: ‘Flowers from the bier of President Lincoln, while the remains were lying in state at the capital in Washington, D.C. April 20, 1865. Presented by General J.S. Todd to General I.M. Haynie, and by him presented of Mrs. Jas. G. Elwood (nee Pearce).’

“Dr. James Cornelius, Lincoln curator at the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield, has determined they are genuine.”

To celebrate the discovery, the center will hold an unveiling at 4 p.m. Feb. 17, with a limited number of tickets going for $50 a person. After the presentation, participants will be treated to a buffet dinner, silent auction and a speaker from an expert on Lincoln.

The Will County Historical Museum and Research Center is at 803 S. State St. in Lockport.

The Will County Historical Museum and Research Center announced the recent discovery of a small box of flowers from the 1865 funeral of President Abraham Lincoln.


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Police: Crystal Lake man found with more than 17 ounces of marijuana, marijuana plantsDavid P. Ready, 53, of the zero to 100 block of East Crystal Lake Avenue, Crystal Lake, has been charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a hypodermic syringe and production of marijuana sativa plants.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:35:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A Crystal Lake man has been arrested on numerous felony drug charges after an unrelated incident that brought police to his apartment.

David P. Ready, 53, of the zero to 100 block of East Crystal Lake Avenue, has been charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a hypodermic syringe and production of marijuana sativa plants, according to a news release from Crystal Lake police.

Police responded at 8:40 p.m. Monday to a call to Ready’s apartment when someone at the home reported a man trying to force his way inside. A 52-year-old woman who lived at the apartment and her 34-year-old friend were unharmed during the incident, which police said is being investigated as a domestic violence case. The suspect fled before police arrived, Crystal Lake police said.

While officers investigated the domestic violence incident, they discovered evidence of narcotics at the home. Police obtained a search warrant, and during a search, they found Ready hiding in a locked bedroom.

Police arrested Ready after they found more than 17 ounces of marijuana and several marijuana plants in Ready’s bedroom, according to the release. He also had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear for driving offenses out of Kane County, police said.

Ready was booked into the McHenry County Jail and is awaiting a bond hearing. The investigation is ongoing, and additional charges and arrests are pending, police said.

If convicted of the most serious charge, Ready could face from three to seven years in prison.

Ready was found guilty in 2015 for producing less than five marijuana plants, according to McHenry County court records.

David P. Ready, 53, of the zero to 100 block of East Crystal Lake Avenue, Crystal Lake, has been charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a hypodermic syringe and production of marijuana sativa plants.


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Crews replace utility pole damaged in Crystal Lake crash, close part of Route 31

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:31:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Part of Route 31 was reduced to one lane Tuesday morning in Crystal Lake while utility crews worked to replace a pole damaged in a crash.

About 7 a.m. Tuesday, a teenager driving north on Route 31 lost control of a vehicle and slid because of icy road conditions, Crystal Lake Patrol Cmdr. Scott Miller said.

The vehicle left the roadway, traveled down an embankment and struck the utility pole. Miller said he believed the pole cracked, but its wires remained intact.

No power outages appeared on ComEd’s outage map.

The car’s air bags deployed, and the teenager was not injured. Miller said the individual was cited for driving too fast for conditions.

The Crystal Lake Police Department sent an alert at 8:46 a.m. Tuesday to warn motorists that northbound traffic on Route 31 north of Three Oaks Road was reduced to one lane so ComEd crews could replace a pole.

Repairs were expected to be finished Tuesday afternoon, according to the alert.

Between Sunday and Monday, McHenry County received between 4 and 6 inches of snow. The precipitation combined with below freezing temperatures made for slick roads Tuesday morning.


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Metra fares to increase Feb. 1 to close $45 million funding gapMetra employees board an inbound train to Chicago at the Cary station Jan. 7, 2014. The fare increase that Metra officials voted on in November will go into effect Feb. 1.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:30:00 GMT

The fare increase that Metra officials voted on in November will go into effect Feb. 1. As part of the commuter rail system’s $797.2 million operating budget for 2018, several fare increases are about to take effect, according to a news release from Metra. Those increases include: • The price of one-way tickets increasing by 25 cents in all zones (a 2.3 percent to 6.7 percent increase, depending on the zone). • The price of 10-ride tickets increasing from $4.25 to $7.75 (8 percent to 12.6 percent), depending on the zone. • The price of monthly passes increasing from $9 to $12.50 (4.1 percent to 8.4 percent), depending on the zone. Monthly tickets are available to buy in advance, with sales beginning on the 20th of each month. • The price of a weekend pass, which allows unlimited rides throughout the Metra system on both Saturday and Sunday, increasing to $10 from $8. • The price of some reduced-fare tickets and passes increasing. Additionally, a number of weekday trains will be curtailed or eliminated on the North Central Service, SouthWest Service and Rock Island Line – and weekend trains will be cut on the Milwaukee District North Line – starting Feb. 5. This has resulted in some train runs being eliminated, some train departure times being changed, some trains being renumbered and others having to change or add station stops. “Customers are advised to check the new schedules to understand how their commute may be affected,” the release stated. New schedules are available online at metrarail.com, and paper copies will be available at Metra’s downtown stations next week. Metra officials agreed on the changes in November in an effort to close a $45 million funding gap. The company’s new budget included about $17 million in fare increases, about $3 million in service cuts and a variety of other changes. The board also approved a 2018 capital budget totaling $196.8 million – only one-sixth of Metra’s estimated annual need for the maintenance and renewal of its capital assets, according to the release. “We are raising fares because everything we did last year will cost more to do this year,” Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said. “And we are raising fares because the public subsidies that would normally help us cover those rising costs have been cut. We are simply using these funds to cover the increased costs of operating the railroad.” While voting to approve the 2018 budget, board members said the shortfalls in funding for both operating and capital needs point to a growing problem with local, state and federal subsidies for public transportation. [...]


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Woodstock discusses liquor licenses for Your Sister's Tomato restaurant, The Double Yolk Cafe

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:30:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – The owners of Your Sister’s Tomato food truck plan to open a restaurant in Woodstock.

Tammy Hinchee and Lisa Foss have requested a liquor license for the new restaurant, 110 Irving Ave. in Woodstock. City Council members met Tuesday to consider the request, which would allow the business to sell liquor for on-premise consumption as well as permit packaged wine and beer sales.

Your Sister’s Tomato has been operating as a mobile, wood-fired pizza truck that caters corporate events, weddings, parties and festivals.

Council members also debated waiving the city’s moratorium on liquor licenses so another Woodstock business can apply. The Double Yolk Cafe, at 117 E. Van Buren St. on the Square, has requested a license to sell alcohol at the restaurant. A bar would not be permitted under the requested Class D license, according to city documents.

Thomas Teresi of Huntley took over the restaurant formerly known as Papa G’s last year.

Council members imposed a moratorium on the acceptance of liquor license applications in April 2015 to better allow the city to monitor the presence of businesses that sell alcohol.

At the meeting, two residents protested the city’s perceived relaxed attitude toward granting liquor licenses and voiced concerns about liquor licenses acting as a gateway to video gaming terminals.

“If you are going to have a moratorium, really have a moratorium,” resident Lisa Hanson said. “I think [the] City Council needs to come up with a better solution. ... I feel like we are at a point where we need to look at the entire liquor licensing process and restructure.”


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New Directions Addiction Recovery Services to host 1st fundraiser dinner

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:29:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The New Directions Addiction Recovery Services organization will host its first fundraising dinner to benefit a third sober living home bought in December.

The fundraiser, starting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at Pinstripes, 100 W. Higgins Road, South Barrington, will be a chance for people to look back and celebrate on what the organization has done in the past six years since opening in 2011, President Chris Reed said.

“We’ve had so much support from the community, so we wanted to take an opportunity to share everything we’ve been able to do as a result of the support,” Reed said. “It’s certainly a fundraiser, but also a chance to get everyone together in one room and look back.”

Money raised during the event will go toward the $20,000 needed in renovations to the third house bought by New Directions, 4612 Tile Line Road, in unincorporated Crystal Lake, and scholarship programming, Reed said.

The purchase of the third house closed Dec. 28, and Reed hopes to have it up and running within the next two months. Reed said the zoning code allows for group homes in the area.

Residents attending a Nunda Township meeting Thursday night spoke out against the group home.

The house previously was foreclosed on and needs new plumbing and a remodeled kitchen, Reed said.

It has not yet been decided whether the house will be for women or men, and Reed said he is waiting to see how the women’s waiting list looks after the opening of the second house.

The event will feature bowling and bocci, live music by Althea Grace, a live auction, silent auction and 50/50 raffle.

Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup winner Brent Sopel will host the event, and Brandon Novak, author of “Dreamseller” and an actor on the MTV show “Jackass,” will give a speech.

“We’ve known Brandon for a while just through crossing paths in the recovery community, and he was willing to come out and tell his story,” Reed said. “Brent is able to share his experience with drug abuse and addiction in the NHL, and his girlfriend’s younger brother passed away from a drug overdose, so he’s personally drawn to the cause.”

Tickets cost $95 a person and can be bought online at www.ndars.org/tickets.




Join eagle search activities Saturday along Fox River, Geneva Lake

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:29:00 GMT

RICHMOND – Celebrate the return of eagles to the Fox River Valley on Saturday.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, McHenry County Audubon Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Friends of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge will be present from 8 to 10 a.m. at numerous locations along the Fox River and Geneva Lake to help participants search for eagles Saturday.

Volunteers and wildlife staff will have spotting scopes and binoculars, and they can help identify birds seen in the areas near the McHenry, Algonquin and Carpentersville dams and at Fontana Beach on Geneva Lake in Wisconsin.

A complete map is posted at tinyurl.com/InSearchofEagles.

For information, call Cindy Skrukrud of Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge at 312-251-1680, ext. 1015.




Judge won't reduce bond for man charged with DUI in fatal McHenry crashEduardo Figueroa-Martinez, of the 4400 block of West Ramble Road, McHenry, faces charges of aggravated driving under the influence after the car he was driving Dec. 26 struck a pole and his passenger, 22-year-old Jose Luis Ortiz Reyes of Wonder Lake, was ejected and killed.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:29:00 GMT

McHENRY – A judge said she won’t reduce bond Tuesday for a man charged with aggravated driving under the influence in a crash that killed a 22-year-old Wonder Lake man in December.

Defense attorney Dan Hofmann asked the judge to reduce 20-year-old Eduardo Figueroa-Martinez’s bail from $50,000 to $10,000.

Figueroa-Martinez’s relatives said they could pull together $10,000 to have him released, but prosecutors said reducing his bond would “diminish the gravity of the offense.”

Figueroa-Martinez, of the 4400 block of West Ramble Road, McHenry, faces charges for aggravated driving under the influence after the car he was driving Dec. 26 struck a pole.

A passenger in the car, 22-year-old Jose Luis Ortiz Reyes of Wonder Lake, was ejected and killed, according to a news release at the time.

Prosecutors also argued that Figueroa-Martinez would be a flight risk, noting that he’s not a U.S. citizen and has family outside the state and country.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have a hold on Figueroa-Martinez, meaning he could be taken into federal custody and required to post additional bail to be released.

He is due in court Jan. 26.

Eduardo Figueroa-Martinez, of the 4400 block of West Ramble Road, McHenry, faces charges of aggravated driving under the influence after the car he was driving Dec. 26 struck a pole and his passenger, 22-year-old Jose Luis Ortiz Reyes of Wonder Lake, was ejected and killed.


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Crystal Lake City Council OKs preliminary plan for Mercyhealth facilityMercyhealth plans to build a small hospital in Crystal Lake at the corner of Three Oaks Road and Route 31. Mercyhealth officials received preliminary approval Tuesday from the Crystal Lake City Council.Mercyhealth Vice President of Government Relations Jennifer Hall and attorney Joe Gottemoller present design proposals for Mercyhealth's proposed facility to the Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission on Jan. 3. Mercyhealth received preliminary approval for the plan Tuesday from the City Council.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:28:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Crystal Lake City Council approved a preliminary plan Tuesday night for Mercyhealth’s proposed small hospital and medical office facility on Route 31. The 111,346-square-foot hospital at the southeast corner of the Route 31-Three Oaks Road intersection would house 11 medical-surgical beds, two intensive care beds, a comprehensive emergency room, two operating rooms, full-service radiology imaging, a laboratory and a pharmacy. A 39,922-square-foot office building connected to the hospital would have 42 examination rooms. The site also would feature a helipad that could be used to transport trauma victims to larger, better-equipped facilities. The City Council had no problem with the design of the facility itself, but there was a brief discussion regarding the helipad and how to best address traffic concerns in the surrounding area. Mercyhealth officials believe that the helipad, located on the northeastern section of the site, would not be used often. Although it does not meet the minimum 1,000-foot distance from the nearest residence, the effect of the helicopter will be less than that of a full-service hospital, according to city documents. The small hospital is not a Level I trauma center, so no patients would be flown to it. Council member Haig Haleblian was concerned about prevailing winds from the west having an effect on the proposed north-south flight plan. “Most runways in the area are east-west runways,” Haleblian said. Ultimate approval of the helipad and its corresponding flight plan will not be up to the city, however, and the proposal could be tweaked. Inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration will visit the site to determine whether Mercyhealth’s proposal makes sense. Regarding traffic implications, Public Works Director Michael Magnuson pointed the City Council’s attention to the city’s long-held desire to align Raymond Drive and Tek Drive and push the Illinois Department of Transportation for a traffic signal where the roads would intersect with Route 31. Mercyhealth is against this proposal because Raymond Drive would have to be realigned and cut through the southern end of the 18-acre site. Council members, like most of the Planning and Zoning Commission earlier this month, were not in favor of that idea. Some council members suggested a right in, right out policy for Raymond Drive, as the prospect of a left turn onto Route 31 from there during rush hour already is dangerous. “Only an idiot is making a left hand turn off of Tek Drive or[...]


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Illinois judge orders intractable pain onto marijuana treatment list

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:28:00 GMT

CHICAGO – A judge has ordered the state of Illinois to expand the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use to include intractable pain.

The order issued Tuesday by Cook County Circuit Judge Raymond Mitchell seeks to overturn a decision by the Illinois Department of Public Health rejecting pain that’s resistant to treatment as a qualifier for medical marijuana use. Last year, Director Dr. Nirav Shah cited a “lack of high-quality data” as a reason for denying a recommendation by the now-defunct Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board for the decision.

A health department spokeswoman said Mitchell’s ruling will be appealed.

The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed by Ann Mednick of Rolling Meadows. She contended that she has taken opioid pills to cope with extreme pain caused by osteoarthritis but wants a treatment with fewer side effects.




Algonquin Township fires Ryan Provenzano as chief of staffTownship Supervisor Charles Lutzow's 23-year-old chief of staff Ryan Provenzano is seen Tuesday in the parking lot of the township office at 3702 Route 14 in Crystal Lake. Lutzow fired Provenzano on Tuesday. Provenzano, a political insider, was making more than $33 an hour in two Algonquin Township offices.Algonquin Township Supervisor Charles Lutzow's 23-year-old chief of staff, Ryan Provenzano, walks in the parking lot of the township office, 3702 Route 14, in Crystal Lake on Tuesday. Lutzow fired Provenzano, a political insider who made more than $33 an hour in two township offices.Algonquin Township Supervisor Charles Lutzow's 23-year-old chief of staff, Ryan Provenzano, walks in the parking lot of the township office, 3702 Route 14, in Crystal Lake on Tuesday. Lutzow fired Provenzano, a political insider who made more than $33 an hour in two township offices.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:27:00 GMT

ALGONQUIN – Ryan Provenzano, a political insider who earned more than $33 an hour in two Algonquin Township offices, has been fired. Township Supervisor Charles Lutzow terminated his 23-year-old chief of staff Tuesday morning and banned him from the premises. Lutzow would not comment on why he fired Provenzano, whose roles in two offices have raised questions among township officials and road district employees who contend that his hiring was the product of patronage and cronyism. Despite several phone calls to his cellphone, Provenzano could not be reached for comment Tuesday.  The Republican had agreements in place to earn $32 an hour and $63,000 a year working full time as the chief of staff in Lutzow’s office, and another deal working part time as deputy highway commissioner at the Algonquin Township Highway Department, where he made $33 an hour. That’s about $4 more an hour than the road district’s highest-paid employee, Randy Voss, who has worked for the highway department for 44 years and earns $29.14 an hour. It is unclear whether Provenzano will continue working for the road district. Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser could not be reached for comment. Algonquin Township trustees commended Lutzow’s firing of Provenzano. “Although there is much more work to be done to repair Algonquin Township, I believe Supervisor Lutzow made the right decision in this instance,” Trustee Rachael Lawrence said. “It was the only thing that could be done,” Trustee Dan Shea said. “Working for the two departments was ill-advised.” Provenzano picking up hours across the hall in the road district did not sit well with township officials, Trustee Dave Chapman said. “Chuck [Lutzow] felt that action brought disrepute upon Algonquin Township,” Chapman said. “It was untenable to have him working there, and every one of us had a bad taste in our mouth.” Provenzano is the son of former McHenry County Board member Nick Provenzano, who now works for U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, and the nephew of former Maine Township Highway Commissioner Robert Provenzano.  He is a graduate of Marian Central Catholic High School and former employee of McHenry Harley-Davidson. Ryan Provenzano spent 10 months as a front house manager at Plum Garden Restaurant – a popular Chinese eatery in McHenry owned by former McHenry County Board member Perry Moy, who donated $550 to Nick Provenzano’s political efforts in 2004, according to campaign finance records. [...]


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Families, friends mourn Hebron woman, Marengo man killed in weekend crashPersonnel from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office block traffic after a crash Sunday near the intersection of O’Brien Road and Route 47.Falynn Hironimus, 29, of Hebron was pronounced dead at the scene of a car collision about 4:20 p.m. Sunday in the 7400 block of Route 47 in Hebron, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Rogers said.Personnel from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office block traffic after a crash Sunday near the intersection of O’Brien Road and Route 47.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:27:00 GMT

HEBRON – For Juan Castillo, the few days after a fatal crash in Hebron have given him little time to grieve as he takes care of two daughters who lost their mother. “I have to stay strong for them, so our day is rolling like any other day,” Castillo said. “They cry out for their mom, but they don’t understand.” Falynn Hironimus, 29, of Hebron and Jose Rodriguez, 42, of Marengo were pronounced dead at the scene of a car collision about 4:20 p.m. Sunday in the 7400 block of Route 47 in Hebron, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Rogers said. Autopsies completed Tuesday showed that Rodriguez died from blunt force trauma to the chest and Hironimus died from blunt force trauma to the head, neck, chest and abdomen, McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski said. For the Rodriguez family, the past two days have been busy filled with trying to make funeral arrangements while still in the hospital, friend Antonio Ramirez said. Rodriguez’s wife and his two children, ages 9 and 12, were passengers in a vehicle that was struck Sunday. The wife and one child were taken to Centegra Hospital – McHenry in critical condition and later sent to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. The other child was taken to Centegra Hospital – Huntley in stable condition, police said. All three were in stable condition Tuesday, Rogers said. Officials would not say what caused the crash. Hironimus was driving north in a 2009 Kia Rio, and for unknown reasons, she crossed into the southbound lane and crashed into a 2005 Chevy Impala driven by Rodriguez, Rogers said. The Northwest Herald submitted a Freedom of Information Act request Tuesday seeking police reports from the incident. Hironimus was someone who always went out of her way to help others, Castillo said. She was on her way home from cleaning her disabled father’s home at the time of the crash. Hironimus’ two daughters – Madison, 3, and Katelynn, 1 – were the center of her world, said Castillo, her fiance, who she’d been with for five years. Castillo said she cared for the children while he was at work. “She was a strong people person,” he said. “Hebron is a small town, but everyone around here loved her.” Hironimus used to work at the Dollar General in Hebron, where she met the whole town, Castillo said. “I’ve been hearing from people all over, and I knew she had a connection with people, but it was stronger than I could ever imagine,” Cas[...]


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Will County Historical Museum discovered flowers from Lincoln’s funeralThe Will County Historical Museum and Research Center announced the recent discovery of a small box of flowers from the 1865 funeral of President Abraham Lincoln.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 04:43:00 GMT

LOCKPORT – The Will County Historical Museum and Research Center recently announced the discovery of a collection of flowers that were lain on the funeral bier of President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C., in 1865.

Will County Historical Museum and Research Center President Sandy Vasko was the one who found the box of flowers as she and some volunteers were going through some of their many items at the museum in December.

Volunteer Al Smuskiewicz said that the box must have been lying around for about 50 years. He said it used to be at the Joliet Public Library and then somehow ended up at the museum, which has received thousands of donated historical items from all over the county throughout the years.

“It’s fascinating how it’s been lying around for all these years and it’s never really been discovered by anybody at the historical society,” Smuskiewicz said.

Smuskiewicz said the flowers were clipped off by a general related to the president’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and then changed hands multiple times before eventually finding its way into the possession of the wife of former Joliet Mayor James Elwood.

A note by the box gives a short description of its history:

“Among the James G. Elwood collection this small box was found to contain a dried flower and a note on the back is written:

‘Flowers from the bier of President Lincoln, while the remains were lying in state at the capital in Washington, D.C. April 20, 1865. Presented by General J.S. Todd to General I.M. Haynie, and by him presented of Mrs. Jas. G. Elwood (nee Pearce).’

Dr. James Cornelius, Lincoln curator at the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield, has determined they are genuine.”

To celebrate the discovery, the center will hold an unveiling on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 4 p.m. with limited tickets going for $50 a person. After the presentation, participants will be treated to a buffet dinner, silent auction and a speaker from an expert on Lincoln.

The Will County Historical Museum and Research Center is located at 803 S. State St. in Lockport.

The Will County Historical Museum and Research Center announced the recent discovery of a small box of flowers from the 1865 funeral of President Abraham Lincoln.


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Doc: Trump healthy, did 'exceedingly well' on cognitive testWhite House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson speaks to reporters during the daily press briefing in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 22:26:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's overall health "is excellent" and he did "exceedingly well" on cognitive screening, the Navy doctor who performed Trump's first medical checkup said Tuesday. Ronny Jackson had issued a blanket declaration that Trump was in "excellent health" after last Friday's exam, and promised to provide a fuller readout on Tuesday. He reported that the 6-foot-3 president weighed in at 239 pounds — three pounds heavier than he was in September 2016, the last time Trump revealed his weight to the public. Trump's blood pressure was 122 over 74, and his total cholesterol was 223, which is higher than recommended. Trump was 70 when he took office on Jan. 20, 2017, making him the oldest person ever elected to the presidency. Trump's heart exam was normal, with regular rhythm and no abnormal sounds, which Jackson said led him to conclude with confidence that Trump "has a very strong and a very probable possibility of making it completely through his presidency with no medical issues." Trump has no heart disease and no family history of it. The 71-year-old president performed "exceedingly well" on cognitive screening, which is not standard but was requested by Trump. The doctor said he had "absolutely no concerns" about Trump's cognitive abilities. He speculated that Trump requested the exam in an attempt to beat back the narrative of the past few weeks that he is mentally unfit for office. "He's very sharp. He's very articulate when he speaks to me," Jackson said. "I've never known him to repeat himself when he's around me. I found no reason whatsoever to think the president has any issues whatsoever with his thought process." Trump last revealed details about his health two months before the November 2016 election. Trump's cholesterol reading from Friday's exam was borderline high even though he takes a low dose of the statin drug Crestor. Jackson said he would increase that dose in an effort to get Trump's so-called "bad" cholesterol, or LDL level, below 120; it currently is 143. Trump's body mass index, or BMI, of 29.9 puts him in the category of being overweight for his height. A BMI of 30 and over is considered obese. Jackson said he prescribed a diet lower in fat and carbohydrates, and exercise. He'd like the president to lose 10 to 15 pounds over the next year. Despite the diet and cholesterol concerns, Jackson stressed that Trump's "cardiac health is excellent.[...]


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