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McHenry Township Fire Protection District offers tips after dryer fire(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:43:00 GMT

McHENRY – The McHenry Township Fire Protection District is reminding residents of how to prevent dryer fires after one recently caused about $4,000 in damage.

The district was dispatched at 2:56 p.m. Oct. 11 to 114 Springbrook Court, McHenry, for a possible structure fire, according to a news release from the district.

Emergency responders found a small fire with clothes in the dryer and quickly extinguished it with a water extinguisher. The fire started in the lint trap of the dryer and was deemed an accident, according to the release.

The home still is habitable, and damages are estimated at $4,000, according to the release.

The district is reminding residents not to use the dryer without a lint filter and to make sure the filter is clean before or after each load of laundry.

Other tips the fire district recommended include:

• Cleaning dryer vents at least once a year and cleaning the area behind and underneath the dryer

• Not overloading the dryer

• Turning the dryer off when no one is home or when residents are sleeping

• Keeping the area around the dryer clear of items that can burn, such as boxes, cleaning supplies or clothing

• Having a qualified professional inspect gas dryers to ensure the gas line and connection are free of leaks

• Using rigid or flexible metal venting material to sustain proper air flow and drying

(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)


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Hate group posters found on NIU campusTimothy Ries

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 06:03:00 GMT

DeKALB – Northern Illinois University student Timothy Ries always knew hate groups existed.

But it wasn’t until this week when it really hit home for Ries, after NIU officials found posters from a white supremacist group posted on NIU’s campus.

“Hate is everywhere, but it’s never been an issue near me,” Ries said. “I have a lot of friends on campus that are African-American and various races. It’s something that really bothered me. It’s upsetting.”

The university’s acting president, Lisa Freeman, said in a statement posted Tuesday evening on Facebook that the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the group as a hate group.

“This has understandably caused concerns among our students, faculty and staff, as hatred is not something that aligns with the principles of NIU,” Freeman said. “I encourage us all, especially in times like now, to embrace civil and respectful discourse and continue to embrace and create opportunities that foster diversity, equality and inclusion.”

Posters have been found inside two NIU buildings – Barsema Hall and Swen Parson Hall – and are being removed by NIU police as they’re found, according to Freeman’s statement.

Ries, a marketing major, said all his classes are inside Barsema Hall, and he thinks the university was slow to respond to the issue, as he said posters were up inside Barsema late last week.

University spokeswoman Lisa Miner said no one has been caught putting up the posters, and NIU police administration Cmdr. Donald J. Rodman said in an email that the act of putting them up is not considered a criminal act.

In her post, Freeman urged students to report incidents of bias to the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Room 211, Altgeld Hall, by calling 815-753-8399 or by filing a bias incident report online.

Threats or acts of violence should be reported to NIU police at 395 Wirtz Drive or 815-753-1212, or by calling 911 in case of an emergency.

“This is extremely concerning,” Ries said. “Maybe not exactly with our safety, but the fact this is happening in the year 2017. There’s no place for hate.”

Timothy Ries


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Corporations to keep tax break lost by millions of AmericansPresident Donald Trump sitting next to Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., (center) and White House chief economic director Gary Cohn (left) speaks Wednesday during a meeting with members of the Senate Finance Committee and members of the President's economic team in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington.

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 06:03:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Millions of Americans would lose a prized tax break under President Donald Trump’s sweeping revamp of the tax code, but corporations would get to keep it. The Republican proposal would eliminate the federal deduction for state and local taxes, a widely popular break used by some 44 million Americans, especially in high-tax, Democratic-leaning states such as New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois. But corporations, which pay billions in local property levies and state income taxes, wouldn’t be affected. Republicans are determined to overhaul the nation’s tax system by year’s end, offering a plan that lowers the corporate tax rate from 36 percent to 20 percent and reduces the number of tax brackets. Trump and the GOP cast the plan as a boon to the middle class. Meeting at the White House on Wednesday with members of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, Trump said, “this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, in my opinion.” Democratic members of the committee remained united in opposition to the current plan, said Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat. He said their message to the president was: “You fix [the tax system] with real tax relief that helps the middle class. You don’t give tax cuts to people like [Trump].” Toward the end of the meeting, Trump issued a thinly veiled threat to Democratic senators, according to Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. Most of the Democratic members of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee who were invited are up for re-election next year in states Trump won in 2016. Brown is among them. Brown said that Trump told them, “I couldn’t imagine being a Democrat and running in 2018 having voted against” the GOP tax legislation. The plan still is evolving with lawmakers filling in the blanks, but the proposed repeal of the state and local deduction has divided Republicans. Ending the deduction would affect individuals and companies unevenly. If Amazon, now being frantically courted by dozens of cities, decided to locate its new second headquarters in Westchester County north of New York City, an affluent suburban area in one of the highest-tax states, the tech commerce behemoth still would be able to claim state and local taxes as a regular business expense, on par with items such as buying machine parts. But the company’s employees living in the area wouldn’t be so lucky: They’d take a financial hit from losing the ability to deduct their state and local taxes from their federal income calculations. Trump and his Republican partners in the nearly $6 trillion tax overhaul plan push back against the idea that it would benefit mainly wealthy people and corporations. And they said the rest of the country shouldn’t have to subsidize wealthier states such as California and New York, whose residents use the state and local tax deduction in large numbers. Defenders of the state-local deduction, including several GOP House members, said repealing it would hurt low- to mid-income taxpayers, subject them to being taxed twice and enable a federal revenue grab on the backs of homeowners who pay property taxes. The bare-bones tax framework leaves a pack of details to be determined by Congress. Yet the blueprint as written indicates that the deduction of expenses deemed an “ordinary and necessary” cost of doing business would mostly remain and would continue to include state and local tax payments. The only business deduction specifically set for elimination is one that allows U.S. manufacturers to deduct costs related to production such as building plants. Several experts confirmed that reading of the tax framework, inclu[...]


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DCFS director talks reforms, remaining challenges at community forumBeverly Walker, director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, fields questions from community leaders and the public Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Joliet, Ill.

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 06:03:00 GMT

JOLIET – The director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Beverly “BJ” Walker, was in Joliet on Tuesday to talk to community members about reforms implemented in the months after Sema’j Crosby’s death. The forum was at St. John Missionary Baptist Church and organized by the members of SAFE (Safety Alliance for Families Everywhere). Walker answered questions from various community members for two hours. They touched on reforms already taking place within DCFS, as well as remaining challenges. “I’m impressed,” said Loretta Westbrooks, a member of SAFE. “I really think she’s going to make changes, but I’m going to be there to watch to make sure that the changes are being made.” Staffing and workload One of the main issues Walker addressed was the need for more caseworkers, specifically at the DCFS office in Joliet, as well as reforming hiring practices. Walker said eight newly hired investigators started work Monday. Four more caseworkers will be starting within the next 30 days. DCFS is trying to not just keep up with the rate of turnover of caseworkers, but to better anticipate vacancies and replace them quickly by hiring more than they might need at one time. Walker described the process as hiring with a “pipeline mentality.” While Walker could not say how many caseworkers currently were in the Joliet office, there still are three vacancies to be filled, as well as two vacancies for bilingual caseworkers. “That, for me, would fill the Joliet office with 100 percent staffing,” Walker said about filling those remaining vacancies. In the meantime, DCFS is sending about nine workers from other regions to work in Joliet while new staff members are being hired and trained. They also are bringing on retired caseworkers for up to 75 days in a year to pick up the slack of about 12 to 15 cases a worker. There also are challenges for DCFS’ contractor agencies, such as Intact Family Services, which performs short-term in-home intervention programs for families who have come to the attention of DCFS. The type of workers these agencies hire are typically younger, less experienced recent college graduates. They also have a very high turnover rate because of low pay and workers applying to better paid jobs within DCFS after they acquire the minimum two years of experience. Communication and data Walker also highlighted changes and difficulties with communication and sharing of data between DCFS, its contractor agencies and other relevant partners, such as police departments. “It has amazed me,” Walker said. “We do not have a central, coordinated point of data management. We are not managed by our data. We fly blind.” DCFS formed a group to accumulate all the data it collects to help its investigators on the front end. DCFS also has sought technical support on how to better measure or even determine what to measure to help caseworkers, although Walker admits these changes will take time to implement. Investigators also will be going out on high-risk cases with the contracted agencies such as Intact Family Services. Walker pointed out this issue was at the heart of Sema’j’s case because, according to the DCFS report released in May, since 2015, there were 11 reports filed related to that household. The report stated it was not clear that all pertinent information regarding Sema’j and her siblings’ mother and caregivers in the house was clarified and processed between DCFS investigators and the Intact caseworker. [...]


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McHenry church to offer free Thanksgiving, Christmas meals as part of monthly community lunchThis Oct. 14, 2016, photo shows some of the food from a Thanksgiving dinner from Martha & Marley Spoon in New York. For $120, or $180 which would include an 11-15 pound free-range turkey, Martha & Marley Spoon will ship just about everything you need to cook a decadent Thanksgiving dinner for eight to 10 people. (AP Photo/Bree Fowler)

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:34:00 GMT

McHENRY – A McHenry church will offer free holiday meals this season as part of its monthly lunch program.

Maranatha Assembly of God, 2505 N. Ringwood Road, McHenry, provides warm meals to the public the third Sunday of every month, Maranatha office manager Victoria Beaman said in an email. This is the church’s fifth year providing Promise of Hope Community Lunches, and it will be including two holiday meals as well.

Lunches are at 1:30 p.m. and the doors open at 1 p.m. They also include raffle items, music and take-home items for those in need.

“Bring your family, friends or neighbors and enjoy a wonderful time together,” Beaman said in the email.

The Thanksgiving meal will be Nov. 19 and the Christmas meal will be Dec. 17. For information, call 815-344-0557.

This Oct. 14, 2016, photo shows some of the food from a Thanksgiving dinner from Martha & Marley Spoon in New York. For $120, or $180 which would include an 11-15 pound free-range turkey, Martha & Marley Spoon will ship just about everything you need to cook a decadent Thanksgiving dinner for eight to 10 people. (AP Photo/Bree Fowler)


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Huntley police department to host 2nd annual 5K to benefit Special Olympics Illinois

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:34:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – The Huntley Police Department is hosting its second annual Trick or Treat Trot to benefit Special Olympics Illinois.

The 5K run, trot or stroll will be at 11 a.m. Sunday at Huntley Town Square, on Coral Street between Church and Woodstock streets. Registration begins at 9 a.m., and a torch lighting ceremony will be held at 10:50 a.m, according to a news release from the police department.

The trot is part of a Law Enforcement Torch Run – the single largest year-round fundraising event benefiting Special Olympics, according to Huntley’s website.

The event aims to raise money and gain awareness for Special Olympics athletes. Athletes will award runners at the finish line with a chocolate medal.

Registration costs $25 or $30 on the day of the run. Interested participants can register online at www.huntley.il.us/departments/police.


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Lakemoor police to crack down on drunk driving this HalloweenSarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com The Algonquin home of Patrick Colcernian is elaborately decorated Halloween on Wednesday, October 31, 2012,

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:20:00 GMT

LAKEMOOR – The Lakemoor Police Department wants residents to “keep the party off the road” this Halloween as part of its anti-drunken driving effort.

Lakemoor police are planning to crack down on impaired drivers with a Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement effort the night of Oct. 31, according to a news release from the department.

“On Halloween, we urge you to beware of impaired driving,” Police Chief David Godlewski said in a statement. “Driving impaired by alcohol or drugs is deadly, it is illegal, and it will get you pulled over and arrested this Halloween.”

More than 300 people were killed in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes in each of the past three years in the state, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In 2014, 302 people lost their lives in crashes involving at least one driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher.

That number rose slightly to 315 in 2015 and remained the same in 2016. One DUI arrest could cost an estimated $18,000 or more and result in revoked driving privileges for up to a year, according to the release.

Police advise that residents plan a ride home before enjoying Halloween festivities, designate a sober friend with whom to walk home, contact police if an impaired driver is spotted on the road and take friends’ keys if they do not appear safe to drive.

Funds from the Illinois Department of Transportation make the enforcement possible, according to the release.

Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com The Algonquin home of Patrick Colcernian is elaborately decorated Halloween on Wednesday, October 31, 2012,


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Algonquin trustees approve marketing consultant to help bring in businessesMegan Jones - mjones@shawmedia.com Algonquin trustees discussed hiring a marketing consultant at a Committee of the Whole meeting Oct. 10.

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:20:00 GMT

ALGONQUIN – Algonquin trustees unanimously approved hiring a marketing consultant for $58,000 to help the village promote its corporate campus and retail corridors.

Village President John Schmitt said the village needs to populate the corporate campus and its downtown area, which the village recently has funneled money into to develop.

Algonquin spent more than $200,000 to install fiber optic infrastructure on the corporate campus, and several ongoing transportation projects, including Longmeadow Parkway construction, are underway.

“The days of retail begging to come into your community are no longer here,” Schmitt said. “So, we’re looking to build our retail establishments for the benefit of our residents. They will create documents and tools we can use to market our amenities.”

​The marketing firm, a5 branding and digital, has a history of spreading messages in McHenry County. The firm created the “Real Woodstock” marketing campaign that marketed the city through traditional, digital and social media.

The corporate campus is a 1,000-acre business park on Corporate Parkway off Randall Road, and has more than 20 businesses and room for more, said Russ Farnum, director of community development.

Algonquin officials charged the firm with designing a campaign with consistent messaging and graphics, running ad campaigns and creating a community profile. A website with information, maps, timelines, opportunities and contact information, along with news releases and digital newsletters, also will help spread the message.

The firm also will help to market key vacancies along Randall and East Algonquin roads, Farnum said.

Farnum said the firm already has begun making phone calls to brokers, and it will take a six-month process to prepare the marketing materials.

Megan Jones - mjones@shawmedia.com Algonquin trustees discussed hiring a marketing consultant at a Committee of the Whole meeting Oct. 10.


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Harry Potter exhibit to mark 20th anniversary of first bookA member of British Library staff poses Wednesday for a picture pointing at the Philosopher's Stone on the 16th-century Ripley Scroll, which describes how to make a Philosopher's Stone, at the "Harry Potter - A History of Magic" exhibition at the British Library, in London. The exhibition running from Oct. 20, marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, showing items from the British Library's collection, and items from author J.K Rowling and the book publisher's collection.

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:19:00 GMT

LONDON – Harry Potter fans owe a debt of gratitude to Alice Newton. Alice was 8 years old when her father, a Bloomsbury Publishing executive, brought home a new manuscript for her to read. “The excitement in this book made me feel warm inside,” she scrawled in a note to her dad. “I think it is probably one of the best books an 8/9 year old could read.” Based on this glowing review, Bloomsbury published “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” launching a literary juggernaut that brought magic to a generation of children. Alice’s penciled note is part of the British Library’s new exhibition, “Harry Potter: A History of Magic.” The show, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the publication of J.K. Rowling’s first book, is an unabashed celebration of the stories and their antecedents. “There are some rich historical traditions behind the magic in the Harry Potter stories, which J.K. Rowling was aware of,” said Alexander Lock, one of the exhibit curators, who added that he was impressed with Rowling’s ability to layer information and offer depth. “They go into the stories and make them so rich.” The exhibit, which opens Friday, includes Rowling’s outline for the book, her personal drawings of characters and a map of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It also looks at magic and the nature of belief, revealing that many of the things Harry Potter fans thought were imaginary actually were based in fact – or folklore. It includes rare books and manuscripts from around the world, together with cauldrons, broomsticks, crystal balls and potion manuals that offer insight into Rowling’s inspiration and how the books came to be. “I’ve taken liberties with folklore,” Rowling says in a video that opens the show. The show is divided into rooms based on the subjects studied at Hogwarts, the setting for Rowling’s novels following the adventures of Harry, the orphan who learns at age 11 that he is a wizard. Sections include Potions, Herbology, Divination, Care of Magical Creatures and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Each section touches on the legends and beliefs that Rowling wove into her stories, with historical objects illustrating the scholarship behind the narrative. The potions section, for example, features a Bronze Age/Iron Age Battersea Cauldron on loan from the British Museum. It sits beneath cauldron light fixtures that flicker in the subdued light and offer the viewer a chance to get into the Halloween-like aura of it all. There also is a discussion of alchemy, the medieval forerunner of chemistry, and features the Ripley Scroll, a six-meter long manuscript from the 1500s that describes how to make a Philosopher’s Stone. Nearby is the tombstone of Nicolas Flamel, a real alchemist who features as a character in Rowling’s first book, and various witch accoutrements. The exhibition runs from Friday to Feb. 28, 2018, and already has sold some 30,000 tickets – the highest amount of advance tickets ever sold for a British Library exhibition. It then will travel to New York to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the book’s title in the U.S. A member of British Library staff poses Wednesday for a picture pointing at the Philosopher's Stone on the 16th-century Ripley Scroll, which describes how to make a Philosopher's Stone, at the "Harry Potter - A History of Magic" exhibition at the British Library, in London. The exhibition running from Oct.[...]


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McHenry County's 'Best Under 40' honored for successes at young ageGuests and honorees attend the Northwest Herald's Best Under 40 award program on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017 at the Boulder Ridge Golf Club in Lake in the Hills.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Shaw Media's group marketing and events director Meredith Schaefer greets guests at the Northwest Herald's Best Under 40 award program on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017 at the Boulder Ridge Golf Club in Lake in the Hills.

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:15:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – When Arturo Flores moved to the U.S. at age 15, he couldn’t speak English. On Wednesday night, he spoke – in English – of success, struggle and resiliency. Now 33, Flores is one of the 12 people honored at the 13th annual McHenry County’s Best Under 40 dinner, hosted by the Northwest Herald at Boulder Ridge Country Club in Lake in the Hills. An independent real estate broker for most of his career, Flores isn’t used to getting recognition, even though he now owns three businesses. But Wednesday, he was praised, and wasted no time in crediting his family – particularly his mother and his wife – for much of the success. His mother was effectively a single mother, he said, because his father moved to the U.S. long before the rest of the family. Flores’ wife, Teresa Flores, nominated him for the award. “She has been with me since Day 1, supporting me with all my crazy ideas – one of them was marrying me,” Flores said of Teresa. The Flores family, like many others, encountered some tough times during the housing market crash. So Teresa went to work full time. “We were not making ends meet, so she went out there and got a full-time job to support our family, our kids, to pay the bills, to support me in continuing my real estate career,” Flores, of Woodstock, said. “Thanks to that, and many other things that she did, that’s the reason I’m standing here today.” Leslie Blake, 29, was tied for the distinction of youngest honoree Wednesday night. The executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County said her youngest sister saw her in the newspaper and wanted to know what she could do to become part of a “best under 10” list. “This got me thinking about those around me who I consider to be the best,” Blake said. “A common element emerged in each and every person. It’s all about the power of one. Each person has the greatest power – the power of the individual. An individual armed with the spirit of independence can prove that the power of one positive action, one voice, one hope, can prevail.” Blake reflected on how that is carried out each day at Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, where “bigs” help “littles” learn how to overcome adversity and uplift them. “The reality is that every child is one caring adult away from being a success story,” Blake said. There were 10 others honored. • Wayne Jett, 34, McHenry – mayor of McHenry, owner of Jett’s Heating & Air, Sideline Sports Marketing and McHenry Downtown Indoor Theater • Adam Wallen, 33, Crystal Lake – architect, McHenry County building official • Shaun Tessmer, 35, Crystal Lake – manager of adviser services at Exemplar Financial Network in Crystal Lake • Matt Potts, 30, Crystal Lake – musician, business owner, president of Culture, Arts and Music and Potts and Pans • Deidre Martinez, 38, Crystal Lake – membership development manager for the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce • Paul Letizia, 38, McHenry – owner of Financial Dynamics Inc. in McHenry • Bonnie Ungaro, 35, Crystal Lake – human resources recruiter with Centegra Health System • Stephen Taylor, 33, Crystal Lake – technology consultant and CEO at LeadingIT in C[...]


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County deputies nab fugitive, alleged sexual abuser of child family memberPhoto provided Robert J. Gould, a top 10 most wanted fugitive in McHenry County, was arrested Wednesday.

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:14:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Police apprehended a man Wednesday who allegedly sexually abused and assaulted a child in his family.

McHenry County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Robert J. Gould, 51 – one of the county’s 10 most wanted fugitives – on an array of charges that allege he sexually assaulted a family member younger than 18 and sexually abused and assaulted a victim younger than 13.

It is unclear on the county jail log whether there are multiple victims or whether all the charges involve one victim.

Gould was charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and predatory criminal sexual assault of a victim younger than 13. He also was charged with criminal sexual abuse of a family member younger than 18 and criminal sexual assault with force.

Gould’s last known address was in Wheeling. His bond was set at $500,000, and he is due in court again Thursday morning.

A request for more information from the sheriff’s office Wednesday afternoon was not returned.

Photo provided Robert J. Gould, a top 10 most wanted fugitive in McHenry County, was arrested Wednesday.


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IMRF director chalks up McHenry County pension plan to 'political bickering'State Rep. Jack Franks (left) and Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund Executive Director Louis Kosiba question the legality of cutting pensions for elected county officials.H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@nwherald.com Louis Kosiba Executive Director of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:13:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A plan to save McHenry County taxpayers about $110,000 a year has drawn scrutiny from the leader of the state’s second largest public pension system. Louis Kosiba, executive director of the $35.6 billion Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, this week warned the McHenry County Board that a resolution to kill pension eligibility for all elected county officials is illegal – and could cost taxpayers a lot of money in the courts. “Ultimately,” Kosiba said, “the taxpayers will pay for this folly.”  Franks said he expected some criticism, especially from those who feel threatened by the changes he’s proposing. McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks’ resolution seeks to remove IMRF eligibility for the offices of County Board chairman, state’s attorney, county clerk, circuit clerk, treasurer, auditor, recorder, coroner and sheriff – a change that would not affect the positions until the end of their terms. But if that resolution passes, and the county does not make the proper pension deductions from the salaries of elected officials, the IMRF could charge the county with interest for money the IMRF had to put forward to cover benefits – a matter that likely would end up in court, Kosiba said. Kosiba showed up to a McHenry County Board meeting Tuesday to tell the public and board members that such a move would violate the Illinois Constitution and Pension Code. He highlighted Article 13, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution, which states membership in any pension or retirement system of the state, local government or school district is an “enforceable contractual relationship” and the benefits of those pension systems cannot be diminished or impaired. Kosiba has long touted the benefits of IMRF and previously called pension reform efforts a “pipe dream.” Franks does not give Kosiba’s opinion much weight.  “As IMRF director, it’s not his role to dictate public policy to public officials. That’s our job,” Franks said, adding that Kosiba has vested interest in McHenry County pensions. “He’s worried that once we’re successful it’s going to spread and his organization will lose money. They make money by keeping people enrolled.” The pension chief’s position is more about making sure elected officials get the benefits they are promised under law, Kosiba said. “We’re here to make sure the pension code is properly enforced,” Kosiba said. “I don’t care if I get another dime from McHenry County.” In McHenry County, the coroner, recorder and sheriff already have opted out of receiving pensions. Cutting pensions for newly elected officials in those positions would save the county $110,000 a year based on current officeholder’s salaries, Franks said.   The pension debate has been a hot- button topic at recent meetings, where some County Board members worried that cutting the pensions of elected officials would be a problem in the courts. Franks has said he’s confident the pension matter would never make it to a court. It would be a matter of first impression, he said, because such a case has never before entered a courtroom. “Somebody would have to challenge it,” Franks said. “It could be that IMRF could challenge it.” From Kosiba’s view, there are three ways eliminating pension eligibility for elected county officials could r[...]


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McHenry mayor, business owners to talk downtown parkingMcHenry Mayor Wayne Jett will meet with business owners to discuss parking in the city. Some owners cite a lack of parking as affecting their businesses.A parking sign directs drivers to a McHenry public parking lotNorthwest Herald FIle Photo Alderman Andrew Glab walks across Green Street from a municipal lot in McHenry

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:13:00 GMT

McHENRY – McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett will meet with downtown business owners to address what some call a parking problem in the area. The City Council recently hosted a discussion on parking in McHenry’s downtown area, and several business owners have said a lack of parking has led to a downturn in business. City officials said the problem might lie more in inconvenience and a lack of awareness of existing city lots. Mike Dumelle, who operates Buddyz, a pizzeria on Green Street, said the problem has gotten so bad he is considering relocating. He said dining revenues are flat, while delivery service is thriving. “Parking is one of our top complaints,” he said. “When it is bad outside, we are basically dead. … It’s a primary business decision on whether I stay or go.” The city of McHenry has a total of 639 public parking spots scattered throughout its downtown areas – 250 spots in public parking lots and 389 street parking spots – according to city documents. Council members had a similar discussion on the matter in April after approving plans for the new theater and D.C. Cobbs restaurant on Green Street. Many are concerned the attraction will draw more people to the downtown and create more parking problems. The downtown theater is set to open in November, and a second D.C. Cobbs location will follow. Future developments also might cramp parking. Second Ward Alderman Andrew Glab said he wanted to be better prepared for the future and create a long-term plan for the downtown. “We need to come up with a vision before we discuss parking as a whole,” he said. “If you take a look at those city parking lots, it’s a tough settle because they are kind of hidden in the back. Maybe we need to look at designing it better. … Make it a more comfortable atmosphere.” The city’s public works department has made an effort since that discussion to better mark city lots so people know they won’t get ticketed, said Doug Martin, director of economic development. “I think there is more we can do,” he said. “I think the safety issue is a factor for some people. Parking on Riverside Drive – there are 28 spots, but not a lot of lighting.” Perception about safety might be compounded with patrons’ lack of willingness to walk several blocks to their location, 3rd Ward Alderman Jeffrey Schaefer said. Schaefer said that he had done a lot of “personal investigation” on the matter of parking, and went downtown recently on a weekend night to see the problem in action. “The whole area was very busy. It was excellent, actually,” he said. “And there was plenty of parking available. It didn’t seem like any establishments had people who couldn’t find parking, because you couldn’t find a table.” A valet or shuttle service, paid for by downtown businesses as a collective, might alleviate the problem. It’s an option the mayor wants to explore. He said he wanted to meet with business owners before any decisions were made or studies were started. “I would like to see that before we send staff in circles when we already know where the issues lie,” he said. The City Council likely will revisit the topic at its 7 p.m. Nov. 6 meeting, after discussions with business owners take place over the next two weeks. McHenry City Council meets at the city municipal center, 333 S. Green St.[...]


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McHenry County's 'Best Under 40' honored for success, giving backNow 33, Flores is one of the 12 people honored at the 13th Annual McHenry County’s Best Under 40 dinner, hosted by the Northwest Herald at Boulder Ridge Country Club in Lake in the Hills. An independent real estate broker for most of his career, Flores isn’t used to getting recognition, even though he now owns three businesses. But on Wednesday, he was praised, and wasted no time in crediting his family – particularly his mother and his wife – for much of the success. His mother was effectively a single mother, he said, because his father moved to the States long before the rest of the family.Flores’ wife, Teresa Flores, nominated him for the award. “She has been with me since day one, supporting me with all my crazy ideas – one of them was marrying me,” Fores said of Teresa. The Flores family, like many others, encountered some tough times during the housing market crash. So Teresa went to work full-time. “We were not making ends meet, so she went out there and got a full-time job to support our family, our kids, to pay the bills, to support me in continuing my real estate career,” Flores, of Woodstock, said. “Thanks to that, and many other things that she did, that’s the reason I’m standing here today.”Leslie Blake, 29, was tied for the distinction of youngest honoree Wednesday night. The executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County said her youngest sister saw her in the newspaper and wanted to know what she could do to become part of a “best under 10” list. “This got me thinking about those around me who I consider to be the best,” Blake said. “A common element emerged in each and every person. It’s all about the power of one. Each person has the greatest power – the power of the individual. An individual armed with the spirit of independence can prove that the power of one positive action, one voice, one hope, can prevail.”Blake reflected on how that is carried out each day at Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, where “bigs” help “littles” learn how to overcome adversity and uplift them. “The reality is that every child is one caring adult away from being a success story,” Blake said.There were 10 others honored. • Wayne Jett, 34, McHenry – mayor of McHenry, owner of Jett’s Heating & Air, Sideline Sports Marketing and McHenry Downtown Indoor Theater • Adam Wallen, 33, Crystal Lake – architect, McHenry County building official • Shaun Tessmer, 35, Crystal Lake – manager of adviser services at Exemplar Financial Network in Crystal Lake • Matt Potts, 30, Crystal Lake – musician, business owner, president of Culture, Arts and Music and Potts and Pans • Deidre Martinez, 38, Crystal Lake – membership development manager for the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce• Paul Letizia, 38, McHenry – owner of Financial Dynamics Inc. in McHenry • Bonnie Ungaro, 35, Crystal Lake – human resources recruiter with Centegra Health System • Stephen Taylor, 33, Crystal Lake – technology consultant and CEO at LeadingIT in Crystal Lake • Patricia Miller, 35, Crystal Lake – owner/CEO of Matrix 4 in Woodstock • David Lammers, 29, Palatine – financial adviser at Edward Jones in McHenry

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:12:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – When Arturo Flores moved to the U.S. at age 15, he couldn’t speak English.

On Wednesday night he spoke – in English – of success, struggle and resiliency.

Now 33, Flores is one of the 12 people honored at the 13th Annual McHenry County’s Best Under 40 dinner, hosted by the Northwest Herald at Boulder Ridge Country Club in Lake in the Hills. An independent real estate broker for most of his career, Flores isn’t used to getting recognition, even though he now owns three businesses. But on Wednesday, he was praised, and wasted no time in crediting his family – particularly his mother and his wife – for much of the success. His mother was effectively a single mother, he said, because his father moved to the States long before the rest of the family.Flores’ wife, Teresa Flores, nominated him for the award. “She has been with me since day one, supporting me with all my crazy ideas – one of them was marrying me,” Fores said of Teresa. The Flores family, like many others, encountered some tough times during the housing market crash. So Teresa went to work full-time. “We were not making ends meet, so she went out there and got a full-time job to support our family, our kids, to pay the bills, to support me in continuing my real estate career,” Flores, of Woodstock, said. “Thanks to that, and many other things that she did, that’s the reason I’m standing here today.”Leslie Blake, 29, was tied for the distinction of youngest honoree Wednesday night. The executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County said her youngest sister saw her in the newspaper and wanted to know what she could do to become part of a “best under 10” list. “This got me thinking about those around me who I consider to be the best,” Blake said. “A common element emerged in each and every person. It’s all about the power of one. Each person has the greatest power – the power of the individual. An individual armed with the spirit of independence can prove that the power of one positive action, one voice, one hope, can prevail.”Blake reflected on how that is carried out each day at Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, where “bigs” help “littles” learn how to overcome adversity and uplift them. “The reality is that every child is one caring adult away from being a success story,” Blake said.There were 10 others honored. • Wayne Jett, 34, McHenry – mayor of McHenry, owner of Jett’s Heating & Air, Sideline Sports Marketing and McHenry Downtown Indoor Theater • Adam Wallen, 33, Crystal Lake – architect, McHenry County building official • Shaun Tessmer, 35, Crystal Lake – manager of adviser services at Exemplar Financial Network in Crystal Lake • Matt Potts, 30, Crystal Lake – musician, business owner, president of Culture, Arts and Music and Potts and Pans • Deidre Martinez, 38, Crystal Lake – membership development manager for the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce• Paul Letizia, 38, McHenry – owner of Financial Dynamics Inc. in McHenry • Bonnie Ungaro, 35, Crystal Lake – human resources recruiter with Centegra Health System • Stephen Taylor, 33, Crystal Lake – technology consultant and CEO at LeadingIT in Crystal Lake • Patricia Miller, 35, Crystal Lake – owner/CEO of Matrix 4 in Woodstock • David Lammers, 29, Palatine – financial adviser at Edward Jones in McHenry


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Thousands march over 'Somalia's 9/11;' attack details emergeAP photo Afrah Ibrahim (center) searches through the clothes of the dead lying in a hole to try to find the clothes last worn by his missing sister, without success, outside a hospital Tuesday in Mogadishu, Somalia. Anguished families gathered across Somalia's capital on Tuesday as funerals continued for the more than 300 people killed in one of the world's deadliest attacks in years, while others waited anxiously for any word of the scores of people still said to be missing.

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:06:00 GMT

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somali intelligence officials shared a detailed account of the country’s deadliest attack, while thousands marched Wednesday in Mogadishu in a show of defiance against the extremist group blamed for Saturday’s truck bombing that left more than 300 dead. Two people have been arrested in the attack that was meant to target Mogadishu’s heavily fortified international airport, where several countries have their embassies, the officials said. Somalia’s president urged the long-fractured Horn of Africa nation to unite, and Mayor Thabit Abdi said the city was “awash in graves.” Some desperate relatives still dug through the rubble with their bare hands in search of scores said to be missing. Wearing red headbands, a crowd of mostly young men and women gathered at a Mogadishu stadium and shouted slogans against al-Shabab, which has long targeted the seaside city but has not commented on the attack. Some in Somalia have called the bombing their “9/11,” asking why one of the world’s deadliest attacks in years hasn’t drawn more global attention. Nearly 400 others were wounded. “You can kill us, but not our spirit and desire for peace,” said high school teacher Zainab Muse. “May Allah punish those who massacred our people,” said university student Mohamed Salad. It was not all peaceful. At least three people, including a pregnant woman, were injured after security forces opened fire while trying to disperse protesters marching toward the attack site, said police Capt. Mohammed Hussein. Analysts have suggested that al-Shabab, an al-Qaida ally, may have avoided taking responsibility because it did not want to be blamed for the deaths of so many civilians. A detailed description of the attack emerged. According to a Somali intelligence official investigating the blast, an overloaded truck covered with a tarpaulin approached a security checkpoint early Saturday outside Mogadishu. The truck, covered in dust, aroused the suspicions of soldiers who ordered the driver to park and get out. The driver, a man who soldiers said behaved in a friendly manner, made a phone call to someone in the capital. The driver passed the phone to the soldiers to speak to a well-known man who vouched for the truck and persuaded soldiers to allow it into the city, the Somali intelligence official told The Associated Press. Once through the checkpoint, the truck began to speed along the sandy, potholed road and raced through another checkpoint where soldiers opened fire and flattened one of its tires. The driver continued before stopping on a busy street and detonating. The blast leveled nearly all nearby buildings in one of Mogadishu’s most crowded areas. The man who vouched for the truck has been arrested and is being held in jail, the Somali intelligence official said. The massive bomb, weighing between 600 kilograms and 800 kilograms (1,300 pounds and 1,700 pounds), was meant for Mogadishu’s heavily fortified international airport, according to security officials. Several countries’ embassies are located there. The driver probably decided to detonate on the street instead because several checkpoints still lay ahead, the Somali intelligence official said. “Another reason that he would not proceed furth[...]


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Uncertainty reigns ahead of new health care sign-up periodAP photo Gail Orcutt counts her medication at the kitchen table in her home Tuesday in Pleasant Hill, Iowa. President Donald Trump's recent announcement that he's ending health subsidies for moderate-income Americans injected further uncertainty into the future of the law championed by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:06:00 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa – Jason Sanford has heard so many rumors about the changing health care landscape that every few weeks he dials a local information desk, seeking just a rough estimate of what his diabetes medication will soon cost him.

The answer is the same every time: It’s too early to say, even with the next open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act beginning in two weeks.

“It’s just hearsay,” said the 55-year-old sales representative from Davenport. “There’s no channel for information that I’m getting anywhere.”

After several failed attempts in Congress to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, Americans across the country are grappling with unanswered questions about how “Obamacare” will function during the six-week sign-up period beginning Nov. 1.

The confusion is especially pronounced in Iowa, which is seeking last-minute federal approval to revamp its individual insurance market.

Uncertainty has mounted in recent days amid a push by President Donald Trump to allow the purchase of skimpier insurance plans than the ACA requires and a move by the president to cut off federal payments that help keep consumer costs down. Then on Tuesday, some senators announced a tentative agreement to continue those payments.

What it all means for Iowa isn’t clear. Its proposal, known as the stopgap measure, would be unlike any other state’s health insurance market. It would replace the variety of plans from which people can choose with just one plan for everyone, and the cost would be based not just on income, but on age.

Critics have said it could prove more expensive for individuals with high-cost medical needs. State officials argue that the higher out-of-pocket expenses would be offset by lower monthly premiums.

Gail Orcutt, of the Des Moines suburb of Pleasant Hill, receives costly chemotherapy for lung cancer. She attended some meetings over the summer on the stopgap measure, though she said she left confused.

Because she doesn’t know what her costs will be next year, she is considering putting off some periodic scans that help detect if her disease is spreading.

“I just might need to skip those until I’m on Medicare,” said the 64-year-old retired elementary school teacher, who will be eligible in May for the national health program for older Americans.

Meanwhile, Sanford is waiting. He said he pays about $350 a month for insurance under the ACA and has seen unverified estimates his bill could soon double.

“My health is the most personal thing in my life, and with the help of the ACA, I was able to manage it,” he said. “Now I have a big question mark.”

AP photo Gail Orcutt counts her medication at the kitchen table in her home Tuesday in Pleasant Hill, Iowa. President Donald Trump's recent announcement that he's ending health subsidies for moderate-income Americans injected further uncertainty into the future of the law championed by his predecessor, Barack Obama.


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Chicago's Amazon bid focuses on workforce and transportationIn this Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, photo, Migdawlaw Yisrael, a staffer at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Hill Student Center, pushes a large Amazon Dash button, in Birmingham, Ala. The large Dash buttons are part of the city's campaign to lure Amazon's second headquarters to Birmingham. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:05:00 GMT

CHICAGO – Chicago officially has thrown its hat in the ring with a bid for Amazon’s massive second headquarters, adding to the growing competition from cities bragging about their talent pool, quality of life and cultural amenities to lure the tech giant and its promise of jobs. Although some cities have creatively played up their hipness or gently ribbed Seattle with pitches of year-round sunny weather, Chicago has played it straight. There have been some mentions of top restaurants, lakefront living and Chicago’s position as a transportation hub, but the main focus has been the region’s qualified workforce. To shape the bid Chicago submitted this week, officials convened a committee with some 600 members, including big corporate names such as United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz and former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. Others include restaurateurs, neighborhood groups and religious leaders. “Really, there are only a few cities that could match the scale they (Amazon) need and attract additional, appropriate employees to the city,” said Chicago Deputy Mayor Robert Rivkin, who’s overseeing the city’s bid. Committee members are eager to rattle off statistics involving the dense concentration of engineering programs. That includes how the University of Illinois awarded more engineering undergraduate degrees in 2016 than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and the California Institute of Technology combined, according to the American Society for Engineering Education. Because of the competition, details of Chicago’s bid are being closely guarded, including talk of incentives. But officials admit several locations in downtown, city neighborhoods and its suburbs are possibilities for what’s been dubbed HQ2. One location getting buzz is a 1930s-era post office straddling a major expressway that Mayor Rahm Emanuel toured with fanfare last month. The building – billed as the world’s largest post office – is undergoing a $600 million renovation and is close to transportation networks, including city trains that can get to O’Hare International Airport in under an hour. In submitting Monday’s proposal, Emanuel said Chicago has “unparalleled potential.” In turn, city officials project Amazon could bring an estimated $71 billion in salaries and wages over a 17-year period, according to the nonprofit development group World Chicago Business. Still, there are hurdles for attracting businesses to Illinois, which recently ended a historic state budget impasse and has major financial problems, including the lowest credit rating of any state nationwide. “That is the challenge here: The fact that we have budgets that continue to be unbalanced, that we have so far been not very good at addressing those issues,” said Deputy Gov. Leslie Munger, who is also a point person on the city’s bid. She’s separately helping state officials boost a pitch for St. Louis, which could benefit economically depressed areas downstate. Meanwhile, others are trying to play up Chicago’s intangible qualities, including residents’ grit. “The Valley is the Valley and New York has done a good job and is the media hub, so it’s easier to brag about,” said Chicago committee member Howard Tullman, the CEO of 1871, a [...]


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Wildfires worsen housing crunch in famously costly Bay AreaA Pacific Gas & Electric worker replaces power poles destroyed by wildfires on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, in Glen Ellen, Calif. California fire officials have reported significant progress on containing wildfires that have ravaged parts of Northern California. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:05:00 GMT

SANTA ROSA, Calif. – Even before fire wiped out the home she rented for 17 years, Suzanne Finzell had thought about leaving this city on the edge of the San Francisco Bay Area because of rising prices. A spike in housing and other living costs had driven her friends to Nevada and Oregon. Now, Finzell wonders if that will be her fate, too, as the wildfires that charred California wine country send thousands of people who lost their homes scrambling for new places to live in one of the nation’s tightest and most expensive housing markets. Before the fires, the rental vacancy rate was a mere 1 percent in Santa Rosa and 3 percent in surrounding Sonoma County. Then the city lost an estimated 5 percent of its housing stock to the flames. “We had a housing crisis before the fires,” Mayor Chris Coursey said Wednesday. “It’s magnitudes worse now.” Meanwhile, authorities reported more progress against the flames. The deputy chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said crews had stopped the movement of all fires. Firefighters were helped by cooler weather and the lack of wind. Forecasters expect a tenth of an inch of rain in the affected areas Thursday – not enough to quench any fires outright but still welcome. The fires that swept through parts of seven counties were the deadliest and most destructive series of blazes in California history. At least 42 people died and 6,000 homes were lost. The flames were especially devastating in Sonoma and Napa counties on the northern edge of the Bay Area – a region that has seen housing prices skyrocket in recent years amid a technology industry boom. In San Francisco, an average one-bedroom apartment rents for more than $3,000 a month, and the median home price is about $1.5 million. Cities such as Santa Rosa, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, have offered more affordable housing for people willing to endure a longer commute. But that may not be the case anymore. The 62-year-old Finzell, who has lived in Santa Rosa since she was 3, said the housing situation means her generation “heads into retirement with no chance of living in the places we grew up.” Housing for displaced families is “going to be a really big challenge,” said Ana Lugo, president of the North Bay Organizing Project, an organization that advocates for affordable housing in Sonoma County. Lugo said government officials are still focused on putting out the fires and “repopulating” evacuated neighborhoods. But she said the affordable housing issue will need to be addressed, including preventing price gouging. Elsewhere in the aftermath, a spokesman for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said he did not expect the county’s death toll to go much higher. It stood at 23 on Wednesday. “The number of dead people we’re finding has really slowed down,” Sgt. Spencer Crum said, and many people listed as missing have been found safe. About half of the 50 missing person reports are for homeless people. Crum does not believe they perished in fires because they did not live in the hardest-hit areas. An estimated 100,000 people were evacuated at the height of the fires, and about 22,000 remain under evacuation. [...]


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Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehendedUnidentified bystanders embrace as police and Emergency Medical Services respond to a shooting at a business park in the Edgewood area of Harford County, Md., Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2017. (Matt Button/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:05:00 GMT

EDGEWOOD, Md. – A man with a lengthy criminal past who showed up for work at a countertop company Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded. Less than two hours later, Radee Labeeb Prince drove to a used car lot about 55 miles away in Wilmington, Delaware, and opened fire on a man with whom he had “beefs” in the past, wounding him, police said. The shooting rampage set off a manhunt along the Interstate 95 Northeast corridor. Police cruisers were stationed in medians, and overhead highway signs displayed a description of Prince’s sport utility vehicle and its Delaware license plate. The FBI assisted state and local authorities in the manhunt. Prince was “apprehended a short time ago in Delaware by ATF and allied law enforcement agencies,” the Harford County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland tweeted Wednesday night. Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy said Prince was arrested in Glasgow, 20 miles southwest of Wilmington, after a tip led authorities to his vehicle. Prince was spotted nearby and discarded a handgun when he saw police had recognized him. He ran about 75 feet before being captured. No one was hurt in the apprehension. Authorities said it wasn’t clear why Prince opened fire with a handgun on his colleagues. The sheriff’s office said Wednesday night on its Facebook page that the people who died were Bayarsaikhan Tudev, 53, of Virginia; Jose Hidalgo Romero, 34, of Aberdeen, Maryland, and Enis Mrvoljak, 48, of Dundalk, Maryland. Prince is a felon with 42 arrests in Delaware. Court records showed he had been fired from a Maryland job earlier this year after allegedly punching a co-worker and threatening other employees. He also faced charges of being a felon in possession of a gun, was habitually late paying his rent, was repeatedly cited for traffic violations and was ordered to undergo drug and alcohol counseling in recent years. The rampage began Wednesday about 9 a.m. at the Emmorton Business Park in Edgewood, Harford County, Maryland, Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said. Deputies arrived in four minutes but Prince had already fled. Kevin Doyle of Thornhill Properties said he was getting tools from his truck when he heard screaming and saw three men running from the office park. The men told him someone was shooting and he asked if they had called 911. They said no, even though, Doyle said, they had phones in their hands. “I think they were just so scared, they didn’t (call 911). They had a look of terror,” he said. The victims and the suspect worked for Advanced Granite Solutions, which designs and installs countertops, the company owner told The Associated Press. Prince has been an employee for four months, working as a machine operator, owner Barak Caba told AP in a brief telephone interview. Caba was shaken and would not provide additional details. The second shooting took place at the 28th Street Auto Sales and Service shop in Wilmington, Delaware. The police chief wouldn’t elaborate the history the victim and Prince had, other than to say: “This individual knew the people he wanted to shoot.” The victim was shot in the vicinity of his head and once in the body but was exp[...]


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Under fire, Trump defends call to soldier's grieving familyAP photo Myeshia Johnson cries over the casket of her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in an ambush in Niger, upon his body's arrival Tuesday in Miami. President Donald Trump told the widow that her husband "knew what he signed up for," according to Rep. Frederica Wilson, who said she heard part of the conversation on speakerphone. In a Wednesday morning tweet, Trump said Wilson's description of the call was "fabricated."

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:05:00 GMT

MIAMI – President Donald Trump emphatically rejected claims Wednesday that he was disrespectful to the grieving family of a slain soldier, as the firestorm he ignited over his assertions of empathy for American service members spread into a third contentious day. “I have proof,” he said. The controversy over how Trump has conducted one of the most sacred of presidential tasks generated new turmoil in the White House. After one slain soldier’s father accused the president of going back on a promise to send a check for $25,000, the White House said the money had been sent. Chief of staff John Kelly, a retired Marine general whose son was killed in Afghanistan, was left angry and frustrated at the way the matter has become politicized. The dispute was fresh evidence of Trump’s willingness to attack any critic and do battle over the most sensitive of matters – and critics’ readiness to find fault with his words. The aunt of an Army sergeant killed in Niger, who raised the soldier as her son, said Wednesday that Trump had shown “disrespect” to the soldier’s loved ones as he telephoned them to extend condolences as they drove to the Miami airport to receive his body. Sgt. La David Johnson was one of four American soldiers killed nearly two weeks ago; Trump called the families Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Florida Democrat who was in the car with Johnson’s family, said in an interview that Trump had told the widow that “you know that this could happen when you signed up for it ... but it still hurts.” He also referred to Johnson as “your guy,” Wilson said, which the congresswoman found insensitive. Cowanda Jones-Johnson, who raised the soldier from age 5 after his mother died, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the Democratic congresswoman’s account was correct. “Yes the statement is true,” she said. “I was in the car and I heard the full conversation. At the airport, widow Myeshia Johnson leaned in grief across the flag-draped coffin after a military guard received it. “She was crying for the whole time,” Wilson said. “And the worst part of it: When he hung up you know what she turned to me and said? She said he didn’t even remember his name.” Trump started the storm this week when he claimed that he alone of U.S. presidents had called the families of all slain soldiers. AP found relatives of four soldiers who died overseas during Trump’s presidency who said they never received calls from him. Relatives of three also said they did not get letters. Obama and George W. Bush – saddled with far more combat casualties than the roughly two dozen so far under Trump – did not call all those soldiers’ families, either, but both did take steps to write, call or meet bereaved military families. Chris Baldridge, the father of Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge who was killed in June in Afghanistan, told The Washington Post that when Trump called him, he offered him $25,000 and said he would direct his staff to establish an online fundraiser for the family. But Baldridge said it didn’t happen. The White House said Wednesday that a check has been sent. And Trump spokeswoman Lindsay Walters sai[...]


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Republican says he'll push health deal, Trump keeps distanceSen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the ranking member, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, meet before the start of a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, the morning after they reached a deal to resume federal payments to health insurers that President Donald Trump had halted. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 20:48:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – The authors of a bipartisan plan to calm health insurance markets said Wednesday they'll push the proposal forward, even as President Donald Trump's stance ricocheted from supportive to disdainful to arm's-length and the plan's fate teetered. "If something can happen, that's fine," Trump told reporters at the White House. "But I won't do anything to enrich the insurance companies because right now the insurance companies are being enriched. They've been enriched by Obamacare like nothing anybody has ever seen before." The agreement by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., on a two-year extension of the federal subsidies to insurers that Trump has blocked gained an important new foe on Wednesday. The anti-abortion National Right to Life said it opposed the measure because it lacked language barring people from using their federally subsidized coverage to buy policies covering abortion, said Jennifer Popik, the group's top lobbyist. In another blow, Doug Andres, spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Ryan "does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare." With hard-right conservatives wielding considerable influence among House Republicans, it was unclear if Ryan would be willing to even bring the measure to his chamber's floor. Alexander and Murray shook hands on their agreement this week after months of intermittent talks. Failure to restore the federal payments to insurers could result in higher premiums for millions buying their own individual policies and drive carriers from unprofitable markets. Many in Congress would love to avoid blame for two such tumultuous events. The compromise has won warm endorsements from Democrats and some Republicans. It includes steps won by Republicans to make it easier for insurers to avoid some coverage requirements under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. But Trump has lambasted the subsidies as insurance company bailouts. Other GOP lawmakers are loathe to prop up Obama's statute, a law they've long vowed to repeal. "I think right now it's stalled out," No. 3 Senate GOP leader John Thune of South Dakota told reporters. The money reimburses carriers for lowering co-payments and deductibles for about 6 million lower-income customers, which the companies must do under Obama's statute. Without those funds, insurers would likely boost premiums by an average 20 percent, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has projected. This would especially hit many buying their own health insurance who earn too much to qualify for tax credits that help lower earners reduce their premiums. Confusingly, Trump praised the bipartisan agreement early Tuesday as a "very good solution," only to berate it in an evening speech. Some said his objections Wednesday to enriching insurers could be addressed by strengthening language in the compromise to ensure the money directly benefits customers, not companies. "We will keep working on it," said Alexander. He said he and Murray would formally unveil the bill on the Senate floor Thursday and predicted that "some form of the proposal" would become law by year's end. "The president[...]


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The Best Under 40 in McHenry County for 2017Here is this year's Best Under 40.Name: Wayne Jett Age: 34 Occupations: Owner of Jett’s Heating & Air, Sideline Sports Marketing, McHenry Downtown Indoor Theater, and Mayor of McHenry Town: McHenry Family: Wife Amber Jett; children Caleb, 10; Landon, 9; Alexa, 5; and Greyson, 11 months Favorite McHenry County restaurant: Kyoto Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar in Crystal Lake First job: Mid-American Heating & Cooling One word that describes you: Honest 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? As Mayor of McHenry it is my responsibility for representing not only the people who elected me, but all citizens of McHenry. To act as Chief Executive Officer and leader of our community. As Mayor, I have the resources to work with the City Council to continue to find better ways to provide quality services, recreation destinations and quality infrastructure for our citizens. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? Engaging many investors and businesses to get involved in opening the McHenry Downtown Indoor Theater. Within a few days I was able to raise nearly $550,000 to get this Theater to be community owned. 3. How do you give back to the community, and what drives your service? I have always done a lot for McHenry and surrounding communities. I have been a large supporter of many organizations in the community and continue to do so on a daily basis. I have recently supplied the McHenry Police Department with 44 Ballistic helmets and also raised $8,000 for a local family that lost their loved one in a fight against cancer. I am driven by the opportunities that has come my way over the last 15 years. I am blessed to be where I am and I feel it is my duties to pass that on. 4. What is something you have never done but want to do someday? I have never traveled to Paris. I would love to do that with my wife and kids. 5. What is the best career advice you have ever received? I was told if I want something, I need to work for it. 6. Nominator's comment: "He cares so much about this town. He's helping to bring new business and revitalize the downtown area of McHenry," nominator Kim Loewe said. "He's stepped away from his own company to do so. He has a lovely wife, Amber, and four beautiful children."Name: Adam Wallen Age: 33 Occupation: Architect, building official Town: Crystal Lake Family: Wife, Ashley; children Colette, 5; Everett, 2; Scarlett, 2 Favorite McHenry County restaurant: The Tracks in Cary First job: Referee One word that describes you: Compassionate. 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? I am the building enforcement officer for McHenry County Department of Planning and Development. I oversee the building permits. In doing so, I am responsible for the application and initial interpretations of the building codes as adopted by McHenry County. I believe what makes me good at my job is the ability to listen and interpret a customer's project goals and provide reference-based guidelines to achieve those goals in a compliant manner. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? Over the past two years, the department has successfully reduced permit review timeframes by more than 50 percent. A contributing factor in that reduction was the implementation of applicant checklists outlining the submittal, compliance review and inspection guidelines for each permit type required in unincorporated McHenry County. The project remains ongoing as innovations and modifications to the checklists and procedures are continually being tested and implemented to achieve the goal of a 10-day initial review period for the department. I have worked on many projects. While simple in nature, I am particularly proud to have been on the leading edge of this one because of its impact. With each stride toward a successful completion, the number of people positively impacted is twofold. Better dialogue is created with customers, staff capable of accomplishing more in less time, and the workplace culture is very positive. 3. How do you give back to the community, and what drives your service? Construction projects, be it a deck or a completely new structure, can be an overwhelming and intimidating experience for anyone. As an architect, I have worked in nearly every facet of construction: designer, construction management, even a laborer. I try to provide resources and insight for people taking on their own project. The result drives me. Not only the finished product but the pride someone carries when they accomplish something they never thought they could. That pride and excitement extends beyond the footprint of the physical structure. It pours into other aspects of their life and has a positive impact on the people they are around. To be a part of it, in any capacity, is very rewarding. 4. What is something you have never done but want to do someday? Someday my wife, Ashley, and I want to get in an RV and travel throughout the United States. We want to see every state, meet people, see the monuments, the architecture, everything we can. Notably, on that bucket list is a visit to every NFL stadium along the way. 5. What is the best career advice you have ever received? The best career advice is from my parents, Tom and Karen, but they rarely said it. Rather they lived it and through example instilled in our family: Never Complain. Nothing is perfect and rarely do things go exactly as you planned, especially in construction. Therefore, be prepared to adjust and use the resources you have to make the best possible decisions. 6. Nominator's comment: "Adam strives to provide customers, his clients, and his students with fair, professional and quality services. Construction projects can be hectic, confusing, and intimidating. Adam takes great pride in providing people in our community with a comprehensive understanding of a situation and putting them in the best position for success," nominator and wife Ashley Wallen wrote. "Prior to his professional career Adam was involved with Habitat for Humanity with St. Thomas Church working in Detroit on a residential rehabilitation project and received the Eagle of the Cross award from the Rockford Diocese for his volunteer efforts. He enjoys helping others achieve something they never thought they could, something that will help provide a higher quality of life, or something they can be proud of."Name: Arturo Flores Age: 33 Occupation: Real estate broker, entrepreneur, owner of Success Realty Partners in Woodstock Town: Woodstock Family: Wife, Teresa; children Giovanni, 7; Giselle, 6 Favorite McHenry County restaurant: 3 Brothers in Woodstock First job: Burger King. I moved from Mexico to the United States when I was 15 years old. I had a friend that worked there and he helped me start this job a couple years after moving here. One word that describes you: Inspiring 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? I'm a real estate broker and owner of Success Realty Partners in Woodstock. I believe that I am good at what I do because I am dedicated and honest. I always put my clients' needs first. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? Being one of the top real estate agents in the area, selling over 100 homes a year. And through this process helping many families achieve the dream of home ownership. I am a real estate investor, proud of acquiring investment properties to provide housing for the community. Another accomplishment is having one of the most sought-after banquet halls in the Woodstock/McHenry County area, providing flexibility and affordability for customers to have their special event at my banquet facility. The banquet hall is what was home to the VFW for over 70 years. 3. How do you give back to the community, and what drives your service? The success that I have achieved is thanks to the community that has supported me with my business ventures, therefore I am extremely thankful and that is why I always try to give back as much as I can. Giving my time to different organizations and groups as well as donating money to different people, groups and organizations. The community knows that they can count always on me. 4. What is something you have never done but want to do someday? Travel the world. 5. What is the best career advice you have ever received? Never give up. 6. Nominator's comment: "Arturo moved to the United States at age 15, with no English, he went to Woodstock High School and after graduating he went to McHenry County College. He is an entrepreneur at heart. He has been a Realtor for 11 years, owns his own brokerage, Success Realty Partners, where he has succeeded immensely," nominator and wife Teresa Flores wrote. "He has 5 other agents who work for his brokerage. For two solid years he has been selling over 110 properties a year. He also owns the former VFW building, Flores Banquets, and has turned that into a successful banquet business. As if that was not enough, he owns 22 units of rental real estate. At his age, that is something to truly admire."Name: Leslie Blake Age: 29 Occupation: Executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County Town: Crystal Lake Family: Husband, Paul Blake; parents Patrick and Susan Coen; grandmother, Joan Kulovsek Favorite McHenry County restaurant: 1776 in Crystal Lake First job: I started my own pet care business taking care of farm animals and pets when I was 10 years old. My mother still has the original business plan done in crayon. Looking back I had quite the client list including horses, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and even a few iguanas. One word that describes you: Determined 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? As the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sister of McHenry County, my job is to ensure the health of our youth mentoring programs serving McHenry County. It is easy to be "all in" when you truly believe in the mission and the power of influencing a child's future for the better. I know firsthand what a mentor can do for a person and because of that I will never lose sight of our "why." I am also not afraid to engage or involve people for the betterment of our community. Advocating for those who need it, through a genuine interest in people, is what I love to do. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? I am most proud of the relationships that I have been blessed enough to be part of. It is an honor to be part of such an amazing family of staff, volunteers and donors who are so passionate about the future of our children and in turn our community. The accomplishments of our matches are the real reward. I also am proud to be a Big Sister myself. My Little means more to me than she will ever know. Innovation never comes from a stagnant situation, so by developing relationships between mentors and children innovation is inevitable in its many forms. 3. How do you give back to the community, and what drives your service? I give back to the community by volunteering, participating in various nonprofit committees and serving on various nonprofit boards including the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. I am driven by a genuine passion for the missions I support. I usually look to see if I can make a ripple change, meaning if I get involved can I make a worthwhile contribution that will engage others to help beyond what I could do by myself to bring more value. 4. What is something you have never done but want to do someday? I would love to visit all of the big 20 waterfalls in the world. I have seen six so far, so there is a lot more traveling ahead. 5. What is the best career advice you have ever received? "You can get more done empowering others than working alone, but others will not follow if you don't bust your butt and show them you have grit. People may hear words but they follow actions." – Grandpa 6. Nominator's comment: "Leslie goes above and beyond not because she has to because it's in her DNA," nominator and fellow Best Under 40 winner Bonnie Ungaro wrote. "Settling for 'alright' isn't an option. She sets large, but realistic, goals that help organizations move to the higher level of performance they deserve to be at. Her commitment to this community is unlike most you meet. She puts 200 percent into anything she gets involved in this community."Name: Shaun Tessmer Age: 35 Occupation: Manager of adviser services at Exemplar Financial Network in Crystal Lake Town: Crystal Lake Family: Wife, Devon Tessmer; daughter, Cecelia, 2 Favorite McHenry County restaurant: Georgio's Chicago Pizzeria & Pub in Crystal Lake First job: Pizza Stop in Cary One word that describes you: Driven 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? I love my job because everyday I get to make a difference in the lives of others. I am the manager of adviser services at Exemplar Financial Network in Crystal Lake. I have the privilege of working with about 110 independent financial advisers whose offices are located throughout the Midwest. As the manager of the adviser services department, I manage a team of individuals whose jobs are to work directly with these financial advisers to help them stay compliant and process their paperwork as efficiently as possible. We also have to keep up with the rules and regulations of the ever changing financial service industry while maintaining a positive and compassionate attitude. I take great pride in my work, because of my team there are thousands of people being helped to achieve their financial goals. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? I was just honored to be nominated and voted in by my peers to be the vice chairman of the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County. I won the Presidential Award of Excellence in appreciation of my commitment and dedication to the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. I was on the executive committee of the Crystal Lake Young Professionals for 2 years. During that time, we restructured the bylaws and created a three-pillared foundation that focuses on making connections, personal and professional growth and philanthropy in our community. 3. How do you give back to the community, and what drives your service? I think my biggest give back to the community is through Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County. I just finished my first term on the board of directors and I look forward to sitting for another. I have been a "Big" in the organization for six years now with my same "Little" and I have enjoyed every minute we have spent together. What this organization is doing for the children of this community is truly special and necessary. My hat goes off to all the volunteers, staff, donors and board members who keep this great organization thriving. I think my driving factor to give is the people I am surrounded by; especially my wife, family, friends and other community members who are really trying to make a difference in the lives of others. Things will not just change in our county on their own, we "the people" need to continue to roll up our sleeves and be the difference. I think it is best said in a quote by my dear friend and mentor Mary Margaret Maule's father "Show up, suit up and pick up the rope. The load's lighter when everyone pulls their weight." 4. What is something you have never done but want to do someday? At some point in my life I would like to do a year-long trip around the world with my family to learn about other cultures, people's beliefs and what makes them get up and go every morning. I think this would really give us a better perspective and the ability to make a global difference. 5. What is the best career advice you have ever received? A quote that has always resonated with me is from Henry Ford: "Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right. Believe that you can succeed, and you'll find ways through different obstacles. If you don't, you'll just find excuses." 6. Nominator's comment: "Shaun is special because he gives his everything to those who he cares about," nominator Leslie Coen wrote. "You can see this with his commitment to his little brother, his love for his family and his love for his community. Shaun is always the first to be willing to step up and do what needs to be done."Name: Matt Potts Age: 30 Occupation: Musician, business owner, president of Culture, Arts and Music and Potts and Pans Town: Crystal Lake Family: Parents Jim and Kathy Potts Favorite McHenry County restaurant: Joe's Place in Marengo First job: Soccer referee One word that describes you: Eccentric 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? I have many jobs and it's difficult for me to answer that, but I am good at what I do because of a strong desire to bring something unique to McHenry County. In addition to being a performing musician, educator and music store owner, I am one of the only steelpan builder/tuners in the Midwest and an ambassador for cultural understanding. Brazilian author Paulo Coelho said it best with "Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbor is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions." I use my passion for music to share various cultures to young and old in hopes of making meaningful connections between people. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? I organized and managed a sold-out Woodstock Opera House performance with Trinidad steel band. 3. How do you give back to the community, and what drives your service? I work with multiple schools, for free or nearly free, providing various music services. 4. What is something you have never done but want to do someday? Bring my students to Trinidad. 5. What is the best career advice you have ever received? Don't let others tell you what you can't do. 6. Nominator's comment: "I think it is long overdue for Matt to receive recognition for all his hard work, dedication and commitment to his causes," nominator Judith Elgas wrote. "Matt is like the 'Energizer Bunny' extending himself not only to his businesses, but to so many volunteer organizations with his endless inner commitment of sharing his love of music and the steel pan to all. He is especially enthusiastic abut educating children and opening up a new venue of music with 'hands on' environment."Name: Deidre Martinez Age: 38 Occupation: Membership development manager for the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Town: Crystal Lake Family: Sons Issac, 21; Cameron, 17; and Christian, 13 Favorite McHenry County restaurant: Las Cazuelitas First job: Selling subscriptions door to door for the local newspaper One word that describes you: Resourceful 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? My job is to advocate for business and I am able to do that through listening to understand the needs of business owners and leaders and helping to bridge the gap. Building relationships, sharing best practices and connecting people have proved very beneficial in my role at the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. I genuinely enjoy learning about people, their businesses and what drives them. Really, my job is to socialize, and I love it. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? Following God and raising my sons are by far my greatest accomplishments. Beyond that are the relationship's that have developed through service to God, service to my family and service to our community because working together is what will change tomorrow. My blessing has been how closely interwoven these things are for me. Serving on the board for the Crystal Lake Food Pantry allows me to broaden my children's view of community and responsibility. I can work my faith and I take great joy in knowing I'm a part of something so meaningful to so many. It is truly a gift to me. 3. How do you give back to the community, and what drives your service? For the past couple of years I have served on the Board of Directors for Girls on the Run Northwest Illinois and have also coached a team at Coventry Elementary School. For the first time last year I was a "big sister" for Big Brothers Big Sisters, which was a wonderful opportunity to connect with a young lady weekly for lunch. I am currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Crystal Lake Food Pantry and my family and team serve clients the second Saturday of each month – if you're ever available to help out, please join us. Recently I have provided some marketing assistance to TLS Veterans for some of the organization's fundraising events. And I'm active in my church, Vineyard Christian Crystal Lake, through helping with our Kingdom Kids classrooms or being on the welcoming committee and sometimes I even do some social media work. I love helping people, but I really enjoy working with kids and building them up. 4. What is something you have never done but want to do someday? I've always wanted to learn how to fly fish. So, if anyone is interested in a fly fishing expedition, let me know. 5. What is the best career advice you have ever received? Money isn't everything; sometimes it's just better to not focus on the financial aspect and enjoy going to work every day. Trust that God will provide, and give yourself a break. If you're miserable at work, you'll be miserable at home and not serve to your fullest potential in life. Love what you do. 6. Nominator's comment: "I have met many people, but nobody is as selfless a human being as Deidre," nominator Rik Fregia, a previous Best Under 40 winner and vice president of Courtesy Buick GMC in Crystal Lake, wrote. "Besides working her normal hours and overtime at the Chamber, she can be found being a football mom for the Crystal Lake Raiders, serving on the boards of Girls on the Run and the Crystal Lake Food Pantry. She does all of this while raising three growing young men as a single mom."Name: Paul Letizia Age: 38 Occupation: Owner of Financial Dynamics Inc. in McHenry Town: McHenry Family: Wife, Shannon J. Letizia; daughter Teagan J. Letizia, 10 Favorite McHenry County restaurant: Cucina Rosa in McHenry First job: IHOP in McHenry One word that describes you: Courageous 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? Investment and insurance planning. Every financial adviser has a different bedside manner, I take a positive approach and often take the role of a counselor. Financial and risk management is about much more than just money – it's about seeing people's dreams come true. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? Graduating with the Leadership Greater McHenry County Class of 2012, being a Kiwanis Club of McHenry member for eight years, and with the Million Dollar Round Table for 14 years. The Million Dollar Round Table a global financial professionals association of more than 43,000 life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 500 companies in 67 countries. Membership in the association is widely recognized as the standard of excellence in the life insurance and financial services business. 3. How do you give back to the community, and what drives your service? Organizing the Green Street Cruise Night and Back to Family Outdoor Movie Night. I believe in community spirit. Helping people and giving back. 4. What is something you have never done but want to do someday? Go on a white water rafting trip in the Grand Canyon. 5. What is the best career advice you have ever received? Always do what you say you’re going to do – and always follow through on your promises. 6. Nominator's comment: "My primary reason for this nomination is that Paul always goes above and beyond when it comes to his profession and his community involvement. He's always looking for the next great thing to do for his community as well," nominator Karen Funari wrote. "Paul's professional passion is 100 percent to help people to secure their futures, eliminate financial stresses and protect what they value most in their lives."Name: Bonnie Ungaro Age: 35 Occupation: Human resources recruiter with Centegra Health System Town: Crystal Lake Family: Husband, Corey; children, River, 4, and Layla, 5 Favorite McHenry County restaurant: Benedict's La Strata in Crystal Lake First job: Book wrapper at the Algonquin Area Public Library One word that describes you: Passionate 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? As a recruiter for Centegra Health System, I actively seek candidates who align with our organization's values. It's one thing to find a candidate with excellent skills and talents – it's another to find a person who understands our vision, and I take that to heart. When I talk to a candidate who really loves our community, it's exciting to introduce them to Centegra. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? I was part of a team that led the staffing process for Centegra Hospital – Huntley. It was the largest volume of recruiting our team has achieved, and we were committed to finding people who align with our values. It was an incredibly challenging time, and it also was the most satisfying and rewarding project of my career. My other greatest accomplishment is my family, and seeing glimpses of thoughtfulness my kids show each other. We're like any family – not everything is perfect at every moment – but already they understand that we want to give back to our community and that kindness counts. 3. How do you give back to the community, and what drives your service? Doing good feels good. Around 2011, I became involved with the Crystal Lake Chamber Young Professionals group. Since that time I’ve been exposed to a vast number of volunteer opportunities. The dedication from this group to serve our community is inspiring. It is because of my involvement with the Crystal Lake Young Professionals that I’ve been able to touch so many organizations in such a short time – I’ve gotten my family and friends involved, too. A lot of my work is through the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce and through Centegra Health System. We raise food for Community Harvest and serve on Thanksgiving Day. We ring bells with the Salvation Army and have painted bells in the past. We've helped raised money at Lakeside Festival, and my friends and family did a Habitat for Humanity Build Day for my birthday. My husband and I have even made a date night out of volunteering for CASA, and we take our kids to Community Cleanup Day. 4. What is something you have never done but want to do someday? I'd love to travel. With young kids, I feel like I'm only going to see the Wisconsin Dells for the next 15 years. 5. What is the best career advice you have ever received? Do what you love. 6. Nominator's comment: "Bonnie is passionate about giving back to the community, not just with her time, but with a positive attitude, compassion and a fun spirit," nominator and husband Corey Ungaro said.Name: Stephen Taylor Age: 33 Occupation: Technology Consultant and CEO at LeadingIT in Crystal Lake Town: Crystal Lake Favorite McHenry County restaurants: 1776, Mixteca, Quarry First job: When I was 16, I would ride my bike down to Crystal Lake Country Club to caddy on weekends. One word that describes you: "Shifted." My life motto to never settle, to do more, to be better, and to give back. 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? Our company provides truly all-inclusive technology support to Chicago area nonprofits, municipalities and businesses. I have always been a self-taught techie and now I focus on sharing our story and leading our awesome, hard working team. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? I quit a well-paying job in 2010 at 25 years old to start LeadingIT. I knew we could do tech better. That alone is one of my favorite accomplishments and now seeing how far we've come. We listened to our clients and we deliver the fastest and friendliest support. It's that simple. Early on we were recognized in our industry earning a 16th spot on the MSPMentor Top 100 for our growth and capability. Our IT owners accountability group in Nashville earned "Accountability Group of the Year in 2016." We were nominated for the Chicagoland Tyree Award Finalist in 2017. And we are just getting started. 3. How do you give back to the community, and what drives your service? I serve on the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Finance Committee, chair the Young Professionals group, captain our Nashville group, and I serve on the board for Big Brothers Big Sisters McHenry County. At LeadingIT, we support organizations like BBBSMC, Extra Life, Leadership Greater McHenry County, District 155 INCubator and all of our great local nonprofit clients. 4. What is something you have never done but want to do someday? To travel everywhere, to see everything. Ask me about my last trip, Cuba. 5. What is the best career advice you have ever received? "You're gonna die." Kidding, but something along the lines of "you've got to start." We all have opportunity, you have an idea, go start and just hustle until you are successful. I call it "jumping in the pool with all your clothes on." Let's talk about starting your idea. 6. Nominator's comment: "Stephen is the great story of someone who decided to change their life," said nominator and former Best Under 40 winner David Albanese. "He was selling insurance for a while and not really liking it. He had dabbled in the IT field on and off when he was in college, but never made it a career until deciding to take a step of faith – really, just hard work, 80-hour weeks, phone call after phone call – to build an IT support business from scratch. Stephen has built a work environment that employees love and he is constantly getting them involved in fun activities and in serving the community."Name: Patricia Miller Age: 35 Occupation: Owner/CEO of Matrix 4 in Woodstock Town: Crystal Lake Favorite McHenry County restaurants: 1776, Public House, Shakou, Montarra Grill, Duke's Alehouse & Kitchen, Farmhouse on North First job: Labour Party Headquarters, London, England One word that describes you: Bohemian 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? CEO and visionary of Matrix 4, a design and manufacturing house. I'm a creative and strategic thinker with a background in marketing, commercializing and launching brands now launching a brand in manufacturing. Also, my ability to simplify the complex, love people and build relationships and teams. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? Having a meeting with President of the United States at the White House to discuss manufacturing in March and making the Inc. 5000 List of Fastest Growing Private companies. 3. How do you give back to the community, and what drives your service? I give back through time, talent or treasures where I can. I'm give my time to being a board member of Centegra Health System and Prairie Ridge High School Incubator program. I give back by using my talent to donate 3D printing and engineering services and engaging in entrepreneurial/STEM/marketing initiatives. I give back with treasure by sponsoring the Keep Woodstock Beautiful initiative yearly. My service is driven by interest, capabilities and strategic fit with business and culture. 4. What is something you have never done but want to do someday? Go on Safari. 5. What is the best career advice you have ever received? Be you. Own your personal brand. Relationships are everything. And, not all career paths are linear, follow what excites you, that you are passionate about, and be open to the opportunities and experiences. But do something, and have it make sense. 6. Nominator's comment: "Patricia moved to McHenry County to stop Matrix 4 from closing. She has a vested interest in the community and manufacturing recognizing its important contribution as an economic driver. She started with 6 employees in business at end of its life mid 2014 and transitioned it to a start up in its third year with double-digit growth, currently employing about 50 McHenry County residents. She is on the board of Centegra Health Systems and Prairie Ridge High School Incubator. Matrix 4 received the Business of the Year award from McHenry County Economic Development Corp. in 2015," the Matrix 4 team wrote. "She launched the Keep Woodstock Beautiful Initiative with Laura [Witlox Middaugh] and has hosted it each year. She has received local and national press for Matrix 4 and what it is doing in the community and business shining a spotlight on McHenry County. Her team donates engineering hours, business insight and mentors several start ups in the area, as well as 3D printing when needed. Currently she is launching an ecosystem to support an entrepreneurial community driving revenue and growth to the area. And hosts Entrepreneurial "Therapy" Dinners with other entrepreneurs to create a support system for each other."Name: David Lammers Age: 29 Occupation: Financial adviser at Edward Jones in McHenry Town: Palatine Family: Parents Dan and Julie Lammers; brothers Jared and Andrew Lammers Favorite McHenry County restaurant: BBQ King Smokehouse in Woodstock First job: I started delivering papers for the local newspaper around the age of 14 One word that describes you: Active 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? As a financial adviser with Edward Jones, I help folks manage their finances through the most meaningful moments in their life, whether that's starting their first career, putting their children through college, or when they are ready to leave the working world and retire to do the things that bring them the most joy. Helping people to develop a plan so that they can achieve those goals in confidence is what I enjoy most about my work. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? Building a successful financial planning practice here in McHenry, as well as recently accepting a position on the Leadership Team serving Edward Jones advisers in the area. 3. How do you give back to the community, and what drives your service? I am fortunate to sit on the executive board for the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce. We all have received help and guidance along the way as we've built our careers, and the chamber provides an excellent opportunity to support the growth and development of business owners in the McHenry area. One of the programs I'm most proud to be associated with is the "Shop with a Cop" program raising funds for area children in need. 4. What is something you have never done but want to do someday? See the Pyramids of Egypt. 5. What is the best career advice you have ever received? Work hard, always do your best for your clients, and the rest will take care of itself. 6. Nominator's comment: "David is the epitome of what we want in McHenry County to lead us in our future. He deserves this honor," said nominator Kay Rial Bates, president of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce. "I feel passionate about David's future success and am blessed to have him utilize his strong leadership skills with McHenry Area Chamber. This young man exemplifies all the skills to get ahead. David is a relationship builder. He is a leader by example with a gentle persuading touch when he is opposed. David does what he says he will do with great follow-through. Did I say he is exceptionally bright? He is brighter than most and must know it yet, David is totally without arrogance."

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 19:06:00 GMT

The Northwest Herald honored the Best Under 40 in McHenry County for 2017. Here is this year's Best Under 40.Name: Wayne Jett Age: 34 Occupations: Owner of Jett’s Heating & Air, Sideline Sports Marketing, McHenry Downtown Indoor Theater, and Mayor of McHenry Town: McHenry Family: Wife Amber Jett; children Caleb, 10; Landon, 9; Alexa, 5; and Greyson, 11 months Favorite McHenry County restaurant: Kyoto Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar in Crystal Lake First job: Mid-American Heating & Cooling One word that describes you: Honest 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? As Mayor of McHenry it is my responsibility for representing not only the people who elected me, but all citizens of McHenry. To act as Chief Executive Officer and leader of our community. As Mayor, I have the resources to work with the City Council to continue to find better ways to provide quality services, recreation destinations and quality infrastructure for our citizens. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? Engaging many investors and businesses to get involved in opening the McHenry Downtown Indoor Theater. Within a few days I was able to raise nearly $550,000 to get this Theater to be community owned. 3. How do you give back to the community, and what drives your service? I have always done a lot for McHenry and surrounding communities. I have been a large supporter of many organizations in the community and continue to do so on a daily basis. I have recently supplied the McHenry Police Department with 44 Ballistic helmets and also raised $8,000 for a local family that lost their loved one in a fight against cancer. I am driven by the opportunities that has come my way over the last 15 years. I am blessed to be where I am and I feel it is my duties to pass that on. 4. What is something you have never done but want to do someday? I have never traveled to Paris. I would love to do that with my wife and kids. 5. What is the best career advice you have ever received? I was told if I want something, I need to work for it. 6. Nominator's comment: "He cares so much about this town. He's helping to bring new business and revitalize the downtown area of McHenry," nominator Kim Loewe said. "He's stepped away from his own company to do so. He has a lovely wife, Amber, and four beautiful children."Name: Adam Wallen Age: 33 Occupation: Architect, building official Town: Crystal Lake Family: Wife, Ashley; children Colette, 5; Everett, 2; Scarlett, 2 Favorite McHenry County restaurant: The Tracks in Cary First job: Referee One word that describes you: Compassionate. 1. What is your job and what makes you good at it? I am the building enforcement officer for McHenry County Department of Planning and Development. I oversee the building permits. In doing so, I am responsible for the application and initial interpretations of the building codes as adopted by McHenry County. I believe what makes me good at my job is the ability to listen and interpret a customer's project goals and provide reference-based guidelines to achieve those goals in a compliant manner. 2. What recent accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of? Over the past two years, the department has successfully reduced permit review timeframes by more than 50 percent. A contributing factor in that reduction was the implementation of applicant checklists outlining the submittal, compliance review and inspection guidelines for [...]


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17 acres along the Fox River: What $1.49 million can get you in Crystal LakeCrystal Lake home listed for sale on Zillow: 1318 Behan Road. 3 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 5,800 square feet. This Crystal Lake estate includes almost 17 acres along the Fox River and has abundant privacy next to a large forest preserve. The home has an open concept floor plan with a cathedral ceiling the great room and 10-foot ceilings throughout the home. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, and there is a wrap-around indoor/outdoor porch. The second floor has 3,400 square feet. There also is a four-car attached heated garage and a separate pole barn. Listing agent: Colleen Berg: 708-406-9637Backyard viewEstate backs up to the Fox RiverGreat room with fireplaceKitchenKitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliancesOne of three bedroomsWrap-around porchWrap-around porchCrystal Lake home listed for sale on Zillow: 1318 Behan Road. 3 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 5,800 square feet. This Crystal Lake estate includes almost 17 acres along the Fox River and has abundant privacy next to a large forest preserve. The home has an open concept floor plan with a cathedral ceiling the great room and 10-foot ceilings throughout the home. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, and there is a wrap-around indoor/outdoor porch. The second floor has 3,400 square feet. There also is a four-car attached heated garage and a separate pole barn. Listing agent: Colleen Berg: 708-406-9637Fox River views with dockAttached heated garage

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 18:49:00 GMT

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

Crystal Lake home listed for sale on Zillow: 1318 Behan Road. 3 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 5,800 square feet. This Crystal Lake estate includes almost 17 acres along the Fox River and has abundant privacy next to a large forest preserve. The home has an open concept floor plan with a cathedral ceiling the great room and 10-foot ceilings throughout the home. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, and there is a wrap-around indoor/outdoor porch. The second floor has 3,400 square feet. There also is a four-car attached heated garage and a separate pole barn. Listing agent: Colleen Berg: 708-406-9637Backyard viewEstate backs up to the Fox RiverGreat room with fireplaceKitchenKitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliancesOne of three bedroomsWrap-around porchWrap-around porchCrystal Lake home listed for sale on Zillow: 1318 Behan Road. 3 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 5,800 square feet. This Crystal Lake estate includes almost 17 acres along the Fox River and has abundant privacy next to a large forest preserve. The home has an open concept floor plan with a cathedral ceiling the great room and 10-foot ceilings throughout the home. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, and there is a wrap-around indoor/outdoor porch. The second floor has 3,400 square feet. There also is a four-car attached heated garage and a separate pole barn. Listing agent: Colleen Berg: 708-406-9637Fox River views with dockAttached heated garage


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District 155 Board approves tentative property tax levy increaseCrystal Lake High School District 155 met Tuesday to discuss a tax levy increase that would boost revenue

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 15:56:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Residents, real estate agents and a state representative crowded the Crystal Lake School District 155 boardroom to voice concerns over the proposed increase of the tax levy, which board members tentatively approved Tuesday. The board met to consider its annual levy, which this year includes a requested 4.45 percent increase over the previous year. The $3.2 million hike could mean taxpayers will see a higher property tax bill. Although the district is asking for a $75.8 million levy, it expects to receive a $74.3 million extension, which is about a 2.4 percent increase, according to district documents. The board approved the tentative levy including its increase and likely will make a final vote in November. Board members Adam Guss, Amy Blazier, Ron Ludwig, Nicole Pavoris, and Dave Secrest voted yes on the item, while Jason Blake and Rosemary Kurtz voted no. Residents said they wouldn’t be able to stay in the county much longer because of tax costs. “I am now retired and on a fixed income,” resident Jim Young said. “Property taxes are onerous on me. … If there is a raise, I think what you are asking me to do is move.” A district resident with a $250,000 home would pay about $50 more toward the district’s portion of a property tax bill. The increased cash flow primarily would go toward the education fund and the operations and maintenance fund, according to district documents. Resident Anna Wagner voiced the same concern as Young. Wagner’s husband is retired, and they moved to the area to be closer to their family. Wagner had planned to retire as well and said raised taxes will make that impossible. “Please think about the elderly people who are trying to retire and stay in the state,” she said. The district relies on taxpayer funding as its largest source of revenue, with 74 percent of its total revenue coming from the tax levy. State aid provides the district with between 10 percent and 12 percent of its revenue. A resident who owns a $250,000 house in 2016 paid about $2,357 to the district in taxes, according to the district. District 155 held its levy flat in 2015 rather than taking advantage of its allowable 0.8 percent tax increase, which would have resulted in $789,411 in funding. The district is tax-capped, which means officials are limited in how much they can increase annually. Property tax extensions are limited to 5 percent or the consumer price index, whichever is less. This year, the CPI – which is a measure of inflation – will increase 2.1 percent, according to district documents. ”Significant” levels of deferred maintenance to the tune of $50 million worth in work is one of the main reasons for the hike, according to district documents. The work is needed over the next 10 years. Officials also are concerned about financial sustainability if the district doesn’t take advantage of an allowed increase. “Holding the tax levy flat further limits all future potential tax extensions,” Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Jeremy Davis wrote in the tax levy presentation. “District 155 already has reduced its tax ext[...]


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Huntley oncology nurse remembered as loving caregiverHer family, including her husband, Joe, and her three children, Ayden, 15 who is nonverbal and autistic, Andrew, 11, and Emma, 10, are left without Tiffanie, who cared not only for them but for several cancer patients throughout the suburbs, her family said. Neighbors created an online fundraiser at www.youcaring.com/joerodriguez-975817 that had raised $35,000 as of Tuesday night. The family lived in Huntley for 13 years. “My neighbor Randy Hart [whose family started the fundraiser] came running over and said, ‘Oh my god, have you looked at the page?’ and I broke down in tears,” Joe said. “I couldn’t believe the amount of love and support we’ve received. Everyone just adored her and she was truly a one-of-a-kind person, and I’m not just saying that because I loved her with all my heart.” Tiffanie worked at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and received her master’s degree in 2016 from Benedictine University. “She didn’t go to a patient’s room just to change an IV and get out as fast as she could, but she’d speak with these patients and cry with them and every day she’d come home with genuine stories,” Joe said. Working in Park Ridge was a long drive, Joe said, traveling 40 miles each way, but she did not want leave her co-workers and patients. But she saw an ad for a new job at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin and was inspired to apply, Joe said. She quickly rewrote her resume, flew past a phone interview and headed out for the interview at 9:30 a.m. “She was so happy that morning,” Joe said. “She was a little nervous, but I texted her and said she’s going to do great. I had to take a photo of her in her suit because she looked so beautiful. I had no idea it would be the last time I would see her.”Later, Joe saw that it was about noon and he wondered why his wife hadn’t called. He was making lunch for his children when he got a phone call from the hospital’s emergency room. He said he thought maybe she had a nervous breakdown or tripped and fell. “Never in a million years, though, did I think it would be worse than that,” Joe said. “I’ve worked in hospitals for a long time, and I know when you walk into the emergency room and there is a chaplain waiting for you and they try to escort you into a private room, nothing good is coming. I just kept saying, ‘no, no, no, no.’” It was then he found out that after the interview she was escorted to the exit, walked about 20 to 30 feet away and collapsed into a bush from a brain aneurysm. Even after her death, she still managed to save people, Joe said. Tiffanie was an organ donor and helped 16 people. Joe met Tiffanie at Lutheran General Hospital when he worked there as a security guard. They were both called to a room because one of her patients was trying to escape. “As I walked into that room, I saw her and she instantly caught my attention,” Joe said. “I never believed in love at first sight until I saw her, and I looked at my partner and we gave each other the guy nod.”At the end of their first date, they sat in the parking lot of the hospital until 5:30 a.m. talking for hours. Joe went to drop her off at her car when he realized his car battery died while they were listening to music. He had to sheepishly call friends working in security and get a jump-start, he said. “I went home and went to bed and I called my mom later the next day and told her, ‘Mom, I’m going to marry this girl.’ I just knew it,” Joe said. “We spent 15 wonderful years together, had three beautiful babies, and I feel so lost without her.” Joe has been a stay-at-home father for the past seven years in order to take care of the children after he was unable to get routine hours as a security guard. He said Ayden requires routine, and it was more affordable for him to take care of the kids than to hire day care. Tiffanie’s mother, Beverly Collins of Elgin, said every parents knows their child is wonderful, but she didn’t realize how many people Tiffanie had helped until she saw an outpouring at her wake, with people from doctors to housekeeping in attendance. Collins said she also is thankful for the fundraiser created and wants to keep all the comments said online about Tiffanie so her children can read it when they are older. “Emma was concerned if they’d be able to stay in their house, but everyone’s help has just been great,” Collins said. “She was a great mom and would do everything and anything for those kids. Even when she had to work a 12-hour shift, was taking classes for her master’s degree and driving [80 miles] a day to work, 'no' wasn’t in her vocabulary for those kids.” [Photos provided]

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 15:47:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – Tiffanie Rodriguez lived and breathed hospitals. It was there that she met her husband, where she worked as an oncology nurse for 22 years and where she died at age 45 from a sudden brain aneurysm while leaving a job interview Oct. 6. Her family, including her husband, Joe, and her three children, Ayden, 15 who is nonverbal and autistic, Andrew, 11, and Emma, 10, are left without Tiffanie, who cared not only for them but for several cancer patients throughout the suburbs, her family said. Neighbors created an online fundraiser at www.youcaring.com/joerodriguez-975817 that had raised $35,000 as of Tuesday night. The family lived in Huntley for 13 years. “My neighbor Randy Hart [whose family started the fundraiser] came running over and said, ‘Oh my god, have you looked at the page?’ and I broke down in tears,” Joe said. “I couldn’t believe the amount of love and support we’ve received. Everyone just adored her and she was truly a one-of-a-kind person, and I’m not just saying that because I loved her with all my heart.” Tiffanie worked at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and received her master’s degree in 2016 from Benedictine University. “She didn’t go to a patient’s room just to change an IV and get out as fast as she could, but she’d speak with these patients and cry with them and every day she’d come home with genuine stories,” Joe said. Working in Park Ridge was a long drive, Joe said, traveling 40 miles each way, but she did not want leave her co-workers and patients. But she saw an ad for a new job at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin and was inspired to apply, Joe said. She quickly rewrote her resume, flew past a phone interview and headed out for the interview at 9:30 a.m. “She was so happy that morning,” Joe said. “She was a little nervous, but I texted her and said she’s going to do great. I had to take a photo of her in her suit because she looked so beautiful. I had no idea it would be the last time I would see her.”Later, Joe saw that it was about noon and he wondered why his wife hadn’t called. He was making lunch for his children when he got a phone call from the hospital’s emergency room. He said he thought maybe she had a nervous breakdown or tripped and fell. “Never in a million years, though, did I think it would be worse than that,” Joe said. “I’ve worked in hospitals for a long time, and I know when you walk into the emergency room and there is a chaplain waiting for you and they try to escort you into a private room, nothing good is coming. I just kept saying, ‘no, no, no, no.’” It was then he found out that after the interview she was escorted to the exit, walked about 20 to 30 feet away and collapsed into a bush from a brain aneurysm. Even after her death, she still managed to save people, Joe said. Tiffanie was an organ donor and helped 16 people. Joe met Tiffanie at Lutheran General Hospital when he worked there as a security guard. They were both called to a room because one of her patients was trying to escape. “As I walked into that room, I saw her and she instantly caught my attention,” Joe said. “I never believed in love at first sight until I saw her, and I looked at my partner and we gave each other the guy nod.”At the end of their first date, they sat in the parking lot of the hospital until 5[...]


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Crystal Lake High School District 155 approve tentative tax levy increaseThe school board met to consider its annual levy, which this year includes a requested 4.45 percent increase over the previous year. The $3.2 million hike could mean tax payers will see a higher property tax bill. Although the district is asking for a $75.8 million levy, it expects to receive a $74.3 million extension, which is about a 2.4 percent increase, according to district documents. The board approved the tentative levy including its increase and likely will make a final vote in November. Board members Adam Guss, Amy Blazier, Ron Ludwig, Nicole Pavoris, and Dave Secret voted yes on the item, while Jason Blake and Rosemary Kurtz dissented.Residents said they wouldn't be able to stay in the county much longer because of tax costs. “I am now retired and on a fixed income,” resident Jim Young said. “Property taxes are onerous on me. … If there is a raise, I think what you are asking me to do is move.” A district resident with a $250,000 home would pay about $50 more toward the district’s portion of a property tax bill. The increased cash flow would be funneled toward the education fund and the operations and maintenance fund, primarily, according to district documents. Resident Anna Wagner voiced the same concern as Young. Wagner’s husband is retired, and they moved to the area to be closer to their family. Wagner had planned to retire as well and said raised taxes will make that impossible. “Please think about the elderly people who are trying to retire and stay in the state,” she said.The district relies on taxpayer funding as its largest source of revenue, with 74 percent of its total revenue coming from the tax levy. State aid provides the district with between 10 percent and 12 percent of its revenue. A resident who owns a $250,000 house in 2016 paid about $2,357 to the district in taxes, according to the district. District 155 held its levy flat in 2015 rather than taking advantage of its allowable 0.8 percent tax increase, which would have resulted in $789,411 in funding. The district is tax-capped, which mean officials are limited in how much they can increase annually. Property tax extensions are limited to 5 percent or the consumer price index, whichever is less. This year, the CPI — which is a measure of inflation — will increase 2.1 percent, according to district documents. ”Significant” levels of deferred maintenance to the tune of $50 million worth in work is one of the main reasons for the hike, according to district documents. The work is needed over the next 10 years. Officials also are concerned about financial sustainability if the district doesn’t take advantage of an allowed increase.“Holding the tax levy flat further limits all future potential tax extensions,” Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Jeremy Davis wrote in the tax levy presentation. “District 155 already has reduced its tax extensions and tax rates each of the prior two fiscal years.” State Rep. Allen Skillicorn addressed the board Tuesday as well and urged the board to reduce its levy, rather than consider an increase. But some board members said they wanted to think in the long term when it comes to fiscal stability. “I am torn on this one because I am thinking of the future,” board member Ron Ludwig said. “I understand we are all worried [about taxes] but we are also thinking big picture. We are thinking future. We want to get those roofs fixed while it’s sunny, not while it’s raining.” Board president Adam Guss said he supported the increase. “The reason I am is because … we are working actively on cost saving measures in the district,” Guss said. ‘We are talking about consolidation. … We are looking at these things.” Property taxes were a hot topic during the spring elections, where nine candidates competed for four spots on the board. Many board members who won seats said at the time of the election that they are not necessarily in favor of tax increases but also needed to balance educational needs. “It is time that we give back to our taxpayers by being fiscally responsible with our true district needs,” Ludwig said during the campaign. “As student numbers go down, so should the need for staffing and services. We should not have to ask for any more taxpayer dollars in this scenario." Board Vice President Jason Blake had similar sentiments in the spring. “We need to use some common sense regarding this issue,” he said. “At this point, I do not advocate increasing property taxes. I believe cutting them will drastically decrease the quality of education, which, in the long run, will lead to lower property values. “

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 15:47:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Residents, real estate agents and a state representative crowded the Crystal Lake School District 155 boardroom to voice concerns over the proposed increase on the tax levy, which board members tentatively approved Tuesday. The school board met to consider its annual levy, which this year includes a requested 4.45 percent increase over the previous year. The $3.2 million hike could mean tax payers will see a higher property tax bill. Although the district is asking for a $75.8 million levy, it expects to receive a $74.3 million extension, which is about a 2.4 percent increase, according to district documents. The board approved the tentative levy including its increase and likely will make a final vote in November. Board members Adam Guss, Amy Blazier, Ron Ludwig, Nicole Pavoris, and Dave Secret voted yes on the item, while Jason Blake and Rosemary Kurtz dissented.Residents said they wouldn't be able to stay in the county much longer because of tax costs. “I am now retired and on a fixed income,” resident Jim Young said. “Property taxes are onerous on me. … If there is a raise, I think what you are asking me to do is move.” A district resident with a $250,000 home would pay about $50 more toward the district’s portion of a property tax bill. The increased cash flow would be funneled toward the education fund and the operations and maintenance fund, primarily, according to district documents. Resident Anna Wagner voiced the same concern as Young. Wagner’s husband is retired, and they moved to the area to be closer to their family. Wagner had planned to retire as well and said raised taxes will make that impossible. “Please think about the elderly people who are trying to retire and stay in the state,” she said.The district relies on taxpayer funding as its largest source of revenue, with 74 percent of its total revenue coming from the tax levy. State aid provides the district with between 10 percent and 12 percent of its revenue. A resident who owns a $250,000 house in 2016 paid about $2,357 to the district in taxes, according to the district. District 155 held its levy flat in 2015 rather than taking advantage of its allowable 0.8 percent tax increase, which would have resulted in $789,411 in funding. The district is tax-capped, which mean officials are limited in how much they can increase annually. Property tax extensions are limited to 5 percent or the consumer price index, whichever is less. This year, the CPI — which is a measure of inflation — will increase 2.1 percent, according to district documents. ”Significant” levels of deferred maintenance to the tune of $50 million worth in work is one of the main reasons for the hike, according to district documents. The work is needed over the next 10 years. Officials also are concerned about financial sustainability if the district doesn’t take advantage of an allowed increase.“Holding the tax levy flat further limits all future potential tax extensions,” Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Jeremy Davis wrote in the tax levy presentation. “District 155 already has reduced its tax extensions and tax rates each of the prior two fiscal years.” State Rep. Allen Skillicorn addressed the board Tuesday as well and urged the board to reduce its levy, rather than consider an increase. But some board members[...]


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Harvard man charged with DUI after hit-and-runGuadencio E. Herrera, 33, of the 800 block of West Metzen Street in Harvard (left) and Mario Casas, 29, of the 600 block of Church Street in Harvard were arrested over the weekend in Harvard.

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 15:25:00 GMT

HARVARD – A Harvard man was charged with driving under the influence Saturday after he struck a parked car and left the scene, police said. His passenger, who police said had a small amount of cocaine in his pocket, also was charged in the incident.

Harvard police responded just after 11 a.m. Saturday to the 100 block of Garfield Street in Harvard for a report of a hit-and-run crash in the area, according to a news release from the Harvard Police Department. An unknown vehicle had struck a parked car and left the scene but still was nearby, according to the release.

When police arrived, they spoke with witnesses who identified the car Guadencio E. Herrera, 33, of the 800 block of West Metzen Street in Harvard, was driving as the one that had struck the other, scraping the driver’s side of the vehicle, Harvard Deputy Police Chief Tyson Bauman said.

Police pulled over Herrera’s car and he “did not want to cooperate,” Bauman said.

“[He] ended up pulling away from the officers,” Bauman said.

Herrera eventually was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, failing to report a crash and resisting police. He posted $100 bail and was released. Herrera is next due in court Nov. 1.

Mario Casas, 29, of the 600 block of Church Street in Harvard, was a passenger in Herrera’s vehicle and began walking away when police arrived.

Casas also struggled with officers before being arrested. Police found a small amount of cocaine in his pocket, Bauman said.

Casas was charged with possessing a controlled substance, transporting alcohol and resisting police. He was confined for several days in McHenry County Jail before posting bail Monday afternoon.

Guadencio E. Herrera, 33, of the 800 block of West Metzen Street in Harvard (left) and Mario Casas, 29, of the 600 block of Church Street in Harvard were arrested over the weekend in Harvard.


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US Rep: Trump tells widow of fallen soldier that he knew what he signed up forPresident Donald Trump speaks during anews conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. Trump on Tuesday will call the families of four soldiers killed this month in Niger, the White House says, as Trump again casts doubt on whether his predecessor appropriately consoled the families of military personnel who died in war. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 13:09:00 GMT

MIAMI – President Donald Trump told the widow of a soldier killed in an ambush in Niger that her husband "knew what he signed up for," according to a Florida congresswoman who says she heard part of the conversation on speakerphone.

Rep. Frederica Wilson said she was in the car with Myeshia Johnson on Tuesday on the way to Miami International Airport to meet the body of Johnson's husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, when Trump called.

When asked by Miami station WPLG if she indeed heard Trump say that she answered: "Yeah, he said that. To me, that is something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn't say that to a grieving widow." She added: "That's so insensitive."

But in a Wednesday morning tweet, Trump said Wilson's description of the call was "fabricated."

"Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!" Trump wrote without specifying what proof he had.

Wilson shot back on CNN that "the president evidently is lying, because what I said is true." Wilson said she and others in the car with Johnson heard Trump.

Sgt. Johnson was among four servicemen killed in the African nation of Niger earlier this month. They died when militants thought to be affiliated with the Islamic State group ambushed them while they were patrolling in unarmored trucks with Nigerien troops.

Wilson, a Democrat, said she did not hear the entire conversation and Myeshia Johnson told her she couldn't remember everything that was said when asked it about it later.

"When she hung up the phone she looked at me and said, 'He didn't even know his name.' Now that's the worst part," Wilson told CNN.

Trump has been criticized for not reaching out right away to relatives of the four killed in Niger. On Monday, Trump said he'd written letters that had not yet been mailed. His aides said they had been awaiting information before proceeding.

President Donald Trump speaks during anews conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. Trump on Tuesday will call the families of four soldiers killed this month in Niger, the White House says, as Trump again casts doubt on whether his predecessor appropriately consoled the families of military personnel who died in war. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


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Huntley oncology nurse remembered as loving caregiverPhoto provided Tiffanie Rodriguez (left), Ayden, 15, husband Joe Rodgiuez, Emma (bottom left), 10, and Andrew (bottom right)Photo provided Tiffanie Rodriguez dressed for a job interview the morning of Oct. 6. Her husband Joe Rodriguez took this photo of her because he thought she looked beautiful. She kissed her family members goodbye and went off for an interview. Joe received a call two hours later, notifying him that Tiffanie died unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm while leaving the interview in the parking lot. Members of the Huntley community began a fundraiser for the family, which has raised $35,000 as of Oct. 17.Photo provided Tiffanie Rodriguez (left) and Joe Rodriguez (right) during her graduation ceremony from Benedictine University for a master's degree. Tiffanie died unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm on Oct. 6. Members of the Huntley community began a fundraiser for the family, which has raised $35,000 as of Oct. 17.

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:08:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – Tiffanie Rodriguez lived and breathed hospitals. It was there that she met her husband, where she worked as an oncology nurse for 22 years and where she died at age 45 from a sudden brain aneurysm while leaving a job interview Oct. 6. Her family, including her husband, Joe, and her three children, Ayden, 15 who is nonverbal and autistic, Andrew, 11, and Emma, 10, are left without Tiffanie, who cared not only for them, but also for several cancer patients throughout the suburbs, her family said. Neighbors created an online fundraiser at www.youcaring.com/joerodriguez-975817 that had raised $35,000 as of Tuesday night. The family lived in Huntley for 13 years. “My neighbor Randy Hart [whose family started the fundraiser] came running over and said, ‘Oh my God, have you looked at the page?’ and I broke down in tears,” Joe said. “I couldn’t believe the amount of love and support we’ve received. Everyone just adored her and she was truly a one-of-a-kind person, and I’m not just saying that because I loved her with all my heart.” Tiffanie worked at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and received her master’s degree in 2016 from Benedictine University. “She didn’t go to a patient’s room just to change an IV and get out as fast as she could, but she’d speak with these patients and cry with them and every day she’d come home with genuine stories,” Joe said. Working in Park Ridge was a long drive, Joe said, traveling 40 miles each way, but she did not want leave her co-workers and patients. But she saw an ad for a new job at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin and was inspired to apply, Joe said. She quickly rewrote her résumé, flew past a phone interview and headed out for the interview at 9:30 a.m. “She was so happy that morning,” Joe said. “She was a little nervous, but I texted her and said she’s going to do great. I had to take a photo of her in her suit because she looked so beautiful. I had no idea it would be the last time I would see her.” Later, Joe saw that it was about noon and he wondered why his wife hadn’t called. He was making lunch for his children when he got a phone call from the hospital’s emergency room. He said he thought maybe she had a nervous breakdown or tripped and fell. “Never in a million years, though, did I think it would be worse than that,” Joe said. “I’ve worked in hospitals for a long time, and I know when you walk into the emergency room and there is a chaplain waiting for you and they try to escort you into a private room, nothing good is coming. I just kept saying, ‘no, no, no, no.’” It was then he found out that after the interview she was escorted to the exit, walked about 20 to 30 feet away and collapsed into a bush from a brain aneurysm. Even after her death, she still managed to save people, Joe said. Tiffanie was an organ donor and helped 16 people. Joe met Tiffanie at Lutheran General Hosp[...]


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U.S.-backed forces celebrate fall of IS 'capital' of RaqqaThis frame grab from video released Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017 and provided by Hawar News Agency, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows fighters from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) celebrating their victory in Raqqa, Syria. U.S.-backed Syrian forces liberated the city of Raqqa from Islamic State militants on Tuesday, a senior commander for the force said, adding that clearing operations were underway to remove land mines left behind and search for the extremist group's sleeper cells. (Hawar News Agency via AP)

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:07:00 GMT

BEIRUT – U.S.-backed Syrian forces celebrated in the devastated streets of Raqqa on Tuesday after gaining control of the northern city that once was the heart of the Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate, dealing a major defeat to the extremist group that has seen its territory shrink ever smaller since summer. Militants took over the vibrant metropolis on the Euphrates River in 2014, transforming it into the epicenter of their brutal rule, where opponents were beheaded and terror plots hatched. It took thousands of bombs dropped by the U.S.-led coalition and more than four months of grueling house-to-house battles for the Syrian Democratic Forces to recapture Raqqa, marking a new chapter in the fight against the group whose once vast territory has been reduced to a handful of towns in Syria and Iraq. “Liberating Raqqa is a triumph for humanity, especially women,” who suffered the most under IS, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior member of the SDF political wing. “It is a salvation for the will to live an honorable life. It is a defeat to the forces of darkness,” said Ahmed, speaking to The Associated Press from Ein Issa, just north of Raqqa. Fighters from the SDF celebrated by chanting and honking their horns as they spun doughnuts with their Humvees and armored personnel carriers, and hoisting yellow SDF flags around Naim, or Paradise Square. The infamous square was the site of public beheadings and other killings by the militants. Bodies and severed heads would be displayed there for days, mounted on posts and labeled with their alleged crimes, according to residents who later dubbed it “Hell Square.” Crumbled and flattened buildings stood behind the fighters as they drove around the square, a sign of the massive destruction the city has suffered since the militants took over. It was in Naim Square that the extremists paraded tanks and military hardware in 2014 in a chilling show of force that was a sign of things to come. SDF commanders later visited Raqqa’s sports stadium, which IS had turned into a notorious prison. Dozens of militants who refused to surrender made their last stand earlier Tuesday holed up inside. “Immortal martyrs!” chanted the men and women in SDF uniforms, saluting their comrades who died battling for the city. According to the coalition, about 1,100 SDF forces have been killed fighting IS in Raqqa and Deir el-Zour. “Military operations in Raqqa have ceased and we are now combing the city for sleeper cells and cleaning it from land mines,” Brig. Gen. Talal Sillo told the AP earlier in the day. A formal declaration that Raqqa has fallen would be made soon, once troops finish their clearing operations, Sillo said. Col. Ryan Dillon, the Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, was more cautious, saying only that “more than 90 percent” of Raqqa had been cleared. He estimated about 100 IS militants were still in the city and said he expects the SDF to encounter “pockets o[...]


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Politics and the fallen: Trump hasn't called all familiesFILE - In this Aug. 21, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks at Fort Myer in Arlington Va., about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Trump on Oct. 17 will call the families of four soldiers killed this month in Niger, the White House says, as Trump again casts doubt on whether his predecessor appropriately consoled the families of military personnel who died in war. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:07:00 GMT

WASHINGTON –President Donald Trump has pulled bereaved military families into a painful political fight of his own making, going so far Tuesday as to cite the death of his chief of staff’s son in Afghanistan to question whether Barack Obama and other presidents did enough to honor the military dead. He’s boasted that “I think I’ve called every family of someone who’s died,” although The Associated Press found relatives of two soldiers who died overseas during Trump’s presidency who said they never received a call or a letter from him, as well as relatives of a third who did not get a call from him. The White House said Trump did telephone on Tuesday the families of four soldiers who were killed in Niger nearly two weeks ago, the issue that had spawned the controversy this week. “He offered condolences on behalf of a grateful nation and assured them their family’s extraordinary sacrifice to the country will never be forgotten,” a White House statement said. Contending that Trump’s propensity for a political fight has drifted into “sacred” territory, Democrats and some former government officials have expressed anger at his comments that he, almost alone among presidents, called the families of military members killed in war. They accused him of “inane cruelty” and a “sick game.” For their part, Gold Star families, which have lost members in wartime, told the AP of acts of intimate kindness from two presidents – Obama and George W. Bush – when those commanders in chief consoled them. Trump’s posture has been defensive in recent days after he was criticized for not reaching out right away to relatives of the soldiers killed in Niger. On Monday, Trump said he’d written letters that hadn’t yet been mailed; his aides they had been awaiting information on the soldiers before proceeding. Then Trump stirred things further Tuesday on Fox News radio, saying, “You could ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?” John Kelly, a Marine general under Obama, is Trump’s chief of staff. His son, Marine 2nd Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. John Kelly was not seen at Trump’s public events Tuesday. A White House official said Obama did not call Kelly after his son’s death but did not say whether the former president reached out in some other fashion. White House visitor records show Kelly attended a breakfast Obama hosted for Gold Star families six months after his son died. A person familiar with the breakfast – speaking on the condition of anonymity because the event was private – said the Kelly family sat at Michelle Obama’s table. Obama aides said it was difficult this many years later to determine whether he also had called Kelly, or when. Former Obama spokesman Ned Price tweeted: “Kelly, a man of honor & decency, should stop this inane cruelty. He saw up-close just how – & how much – Obama cared for the fallen’s families.” [...]


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NTSB: Balloon crash pilot was as impaired as a drunken driverFILE - In this Aug. 1, 2016, file photo, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Robert Sumwalt speaks during a news conference at the scene of the worst hot air balloon crash in U.S. history that killed 16 people in July 2016 near Lockhart, Texas. The crash could result in federal investigators to call for hot air balloon pilots to obtain medical certificates. (Deborah Cannon/Austin American-Statesman via AP File)

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:07:00 GMT

AUSTIN, Texas – The pilot in the deadliest hot-air balloon crash in U.S. history was likely impaired by opioids and sedatives when he ignored weather warnings and flew the ride into a power line, investigators said Tuesday. Besides Valium and oxycodone, there was a high enough dosage of the over-the-counter antihistamine Benadryl in Alfred “Skip” Nichols’ system to mimic “the impairing effect of a blood-alcohol level” of a drunken driver, said Dr. Nicholas Webster, a National Transportation Safety Board medical officer. During a meeting in Washington, NTSB revealed its findings about the July 2016 crash near Austin that killed 16 people. Investigators scolded the Federal Aviation Administration for lax enforcement of the ballooning industry and recommended that balloon pilots submit to the same medical checks as airplane pilots. Nichols, 49, had at least four prior convictions for drunken driving, although no alcohol was found in his system after the crash. Investigators said Nichols was told during a weather briefing before the flight that clouds may be a problem. He brushed off the warning. “We just fly in between them,” Nichols allegedly answered back, according to NTSB investigators. “We find a hole and we go.” Visibility was 10 miles about two hours before the balloon took off from a Walmart parking lot near the rural town of Lockhart but had diminished to just 2 miles before the ride began. Investigators said Nichols told his psychiatrist three months before the crash that he was not using his antidepressant medication and that his psychiatrist documented his mood as “not good.” Nichols was prescribed 13 medications and was also being treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, which investigators say also was a contributing factor. The final public hearing by the NTSB into the crash wasn’t the first time the federal government’s crash-site investigators have urged the FAA to more closely regulate the balloon industry. NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt ripped the FAA and questioned why the agency was endorsing voluntary pilot requirements written by the Balloon Federation of America instead of tightening regulations. “Why is the FAA promoting it? It is not an FAA program,” Sumwalt said. “The FAA is treating this as the be-all, end-all. They are abdicating their responsibility to provide oversight. They are saying, ‘The BFA will take care of this so we do not have to do anything.’ That is what is sad.” The FAA said in a statement that it will carefully consider the NTSB recommendations but did not address Sumwalt’s criticism. Before the Texas crash, Nichols’ balloon-ride companies in Missouri and Illinois were the targets of various customer complaints dating back to 1997. Customers reported to the Better Business Bureau that their rides would get canceled at the last minute and their fees never refunded. Aviation experts say the F[...]


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A short-term health deal by senators – with Trump's blessingSen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., left, arrives with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., second from right, and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., right, to speak to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, after Murray and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., say they have the "basic outlines" of a bipartisan deal to resume payments to health insurers that President Donald Trump has blocked. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:07:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Republican and Democratic senators joined in announcing a plan Tuesday aimed at stabilizing America's health insurance markets in the wake of President Donald Trump's order to terminate "Obamacare" subsidies. Trump himself spoke approvingly of the deal, but some conservatives denounced it as an insurance company bailout, making its future uncertain. The agreement followed weeks of negotiations between Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington that sought to address health insurance markets that have been in limbo following GOP failures to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The talks took on added urgency when Trump announced last week that he would end monthly "cost sharing reduction" payments the government makes to help insurance companies reduce costs for lower-income people. Without that money, premiums for some people buying individual health plans would spike, and some insurers would flee the markets, industry officials warn. The Alexander-Murray deal would continue the insurer payments for two years, while establishing new flexibility for states under former President Barack Obama's law. "This would allow the Senate to continue its debate about the long term of health care, but over the next two years I think Americans won't have to worry about the possibility of being able to buy insurance in counties where they live," Alexander said in announcing the deal after a closed-door lunch where he presented it to GOP senators. "This agreement avoids chaos. I don't know a Republican or Democrat who benefits from chaos," he said. Alexander said the president had encouraged his efforts in phone calls over the past two weeks. And at the White House, Trump responded positively, expressing optimism that Republicans would ultimately succeed in repealing Obamacare, but until then, "For one year, two years, we're going to have a very good solution." Trump's position may seem contradictory in that he himself ordered an end to the payments, calling them a bailout, but is now encouraging legislation to reinstitute them. Indeed White House officials had said they would want more in exchange than the additional state flexibility offered in the Alexander-Murray agreement. Just minutes before Alexander announced the deal, White House legislative director Marc Short emerged from the Senate GOP lunch saying that "a starting point" in exchange for restoring the cost-sharing payments "is eliminating the individual mandate and employer mandate" – the central pillars of Obamacare. That suggested some disagreement within the administration on the issue. If so, it does not bode well for ultimate passage of Alexander-Murray, since the president's full support will be crucial in persuading Republicans to get on board. Initially as president, Trump continued making the payments though resisting, but he declared last week he would pull the plug. The p[...]


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Taliban launch wave of attacks in Afghanistan, kill 74Afghan National Amy commandos open fire during a military exercise in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:07:00 GMT

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban unleashed a wave of attacks across Afghanistan on Tuesday, targeting police compounds and government facilities with suicide bombers in the country’s south, east and west, and killing at least 74 people, officials said. Among those killed in one of the attacks was a provincial police chief. Scores were also wounded, both police officers and civilians. Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister, Murad Ali Murad, called the onslaught the “biggest terrorist attack this year.” Murad told a news conference in Kabul that attacks in Ghazni and Paktia provinces killed 71 people. In southern Paktia province, 41 people – 21 police officers and 20 civilians – were killed when the Taliban targeted a police compound in the provincial capital of Gardez with two suicide car bombs. Among the wounded were 48 police officers and 110 civilians. The provincial police chief, Toryalai Abdyani, was killed in the Paktia attack, Murad said. The Interior Ministry said in a statement earlier Tuesday that after the two cars blew up in Gardez, five attackers with suicide belts tried to storm the compound but were killed by Afghan security forces. Health Ministry spokesman Waheed Majroo said the Gardez city hospital reported receiving at least 130 wounded in the attack. Hamza Aqmhal, a student at the Paktia University, told The Associated Press that he heard a very powerful blast that shattered glass and broke all the windows at the building he was in. The university is about 1.25 miles from the training academy, said Aqmhal, who was slightly injured by the glass. A lawmaker from Paktia, Mujeeb Rahman Chamkani, said that along with the provincial police chief, several of his staff were killed. Most of the casualties were civilians who had come to the center, which also serves a government passport department, Chamkani said. In southern Ghazni province, the insurgents stormed a security compound in Andar district, using a suicide car bomb and killing 25 police and five civilians, Murad said. At least 15 people were wounded, including 10 police officers, he added. Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor in Ghazni, said the Taliban attack there lasted nine hours. By the time the attackers were repelled, there were 13 bodies of Taliban fighters on the ground, Noori added. And in western Farah province, police chief Abdul Maruf Fulad said the Taliban attacked a government compound in Shibkho district, killing three police officers. The Taliban claimed responsibility for all three attacks. Despite the staggering numbers, Murad said Afghan forces are confident in their “readiness to fight terrorists and eliminate them from Afghanistan.” He said the Taliban have suffered heavy defeats over the past six months at the hands of Afghan forces and were[...]


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McHenry County Sheriff's Office investigating Pistakee Highlands car burglaries

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:02:00 GMT

PISTAKEE HIGHLANDS – The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office is investigating several overnight car burglaries.

Several unlocked vehicles were broken into in the Pistakee Highlands area of McHenry County, north of Johnsburg, according to a Nixle alert sent Tuesday by the sheriff’s office.

Anyone with information can call 815-338-2144 and can remain anony-mous.

The sheriff’s office encourages people to lock their cars, take valuables out of vehicles and report any suspicious activity.


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Police find missing 84-year-old McHenry man safeAn 84-year-old McHenry man who police reported missing Monday night was found safe later the same night.

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:00:00 GMT

McHENRY – An 84-year-old McHenry man who police reported missing Monday night was found safe later the same night.

Pablo Lopez left his home Monday morning and had not been heard from or seen as of 5:30 p.m. Monday, according to a post on the McHenry Police Department’s Facebook page. Police asked for the public’s assistance in finding the man. Lopez left his residence on foot, according to a comment from police on the post.

Police said in a Nixle alert sent about 11:15 p.m. Monday the man was safely located.

“Missing subject out of McHenry located and is OK,” the alert stated.

An 84-year-old McHenry man who police reported missing Monday night was found safe later the same night.


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McHenry firefighters respond to boarded-up home for third timeFirefighters responded several times in the last week to fires at a home in the 6700 block of Waterford Drive in McHenry. Though little damage can be seen from in front of the home, it was ruled inhabitable.

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:00:00 GMT

McHENRY – McHenry firefighters received a call Monday night that has become more common in the past few days – a possible fire at 6709 Waterford Drive in McHenry.

The home was deemed uninhabitable after an overnight fire Oct. 11, which resulted in $50,000 in damage, according to a news release from the McHenry Township Fire Protection District. The fire also rekindled once, McHenry Fire Battalion Chief Mike Majercik said.

McHenry firefighters responded about 6:55 p.m. Monday to the home after a neighbor reported smoke coming from the chimney. After last week’s fire, the house was boarded up, Majercik said. Crews forcibly entered the home and found a fire burning in the fireplace, but did not see anyone in the home, Majercik said.

“We notified a company to resecure the house,” Majercik said.

McHenry police also responded to the scene Monday night.

“It does appear that someone made entry when they shouldn’t have because the city said it wasn’t safe,” McHenry Deputy Police Chief John Birk said.

Birk said at this time it is unknown who was in the home, but nothing inside appeared to be disturbed or damaged. A McHenry police detective is working with the fire protection district to determine the original fire’s cause and whether it was suspicious, Birk said.

Firefighters responded several times in the last week to fires at a home in the 6700 block of Waterford Drive in McHenry. Though little damage can be seen from in front of the home, it was ruled inhabitable.


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Crystal Lake-area man gets stolen antique cement pig backPhoto provided Someone returned a stolen antique cement pig to a Crystal Lake-area couple after public outreach led to it being found about 4 miles away. The pig was dumped in the couple's ditch.

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:00:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A family is rejoicing after being reunited with its antique cement pig.

Nancy Bartholomew said public outreach led to the finding of a pink cement pig that she and her husband, Gary Bartholomew, display in the woods by their Crystal Lake-area home.

After an Oct. 5 article in the Northwest Herald about the decorative pig – which was stolen and recovered once before a year or two ago – the Bartholomews received several calls from people in a neighborhood north of Route 176 who said they saw the pig sitting out by the street on garbage day.

They jumped in the car and headed that way from their home on Carrie Court, but by the time they arrived, the garbage was picked up and the pig was nowhere in sight.

They tracked down a garbage truck driver, who told them he didn’t pick up the pig and it could only be collected with a special pickup because it’s more than 100 pounds.

Gary Bartholomew, a collector of pig-related items of all kinds, knocked on the door of the home that supposedly had the pig out for the garbage. A teenager answered and said his brother might know where the pig was.

Gary left his phone number.

“In the middle of the night, Friday the 13th, we heard a knock on the door and saw the pig lying in the ditch in front of our house,” Nancy said. “We couldn’t believe it.”

The pig’s left ear was broken off, but they’re just glad to have him back.

A neighbor escorted the pig back to its usual spot in the woods with his golf cart. They chained the pig to a pine tree for safe keeping.

“Gary has named the pig ‘Vincent Ham Gogh’ in light of his missing ear,” Nancy said.

The pig might be 40 to 50 years old and was given to Gary by a good friend.

The Bartholomews already have Halloween decorations up around the pig, and were decorating the woods a couple of weeks ago when they discovered the pig was gone. Their grandkids like to play around the pig.

Photo provided Someone returned a stolen antique cement pig to a Crystal Lake-area couple after public outreach led to it being found about 4 miles away. The pig was dumped in the couple's ditch.


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Woodstock man charged with arson after setting parents' home on fireCarl K. Rice

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 05:58:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Police charged a Woodstock man with arson in connection with a fire that caused $200,000 worth of damage to his parents’ home.

McHenry County sheriff’s deputies arrested Carl K. Rice, 28, on Friday after an investigation uncovered information that tied him to starting a house fire Sept. 22 in the 2900 block of Raycraft Road, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

Police charged Rice with residential arson for the fire. His bond was set at $150,000.

Rice is prohibited from communicating with his parents and can’t go to their home as a condition of his bond, according to court documents.

Rice wrote on an affidavit that he lived with his parents and was dependent on them for support. He wrote that he receives about $819 a month in Social Security payments and is unemployed.

The Woodstock Fire/Rescue District was called about 7 p.m. Sept. 22 to the residence, in an area without fire hydrants, and saw that flames engulfed half of the first floor of the home.

Firefighters from Algonquin – Lake in the Hills, Cary, Crystal Lake, Harvard, Hebron – Alden– Greenwood, Huntley, McHenry, Marengo, Richmond, Spring Grove and Wonder Lake assisted Woodstock because of the lack of hydrants. Some units brought large tanks carrying about 3,000 gallons of water.

McHenry County Sheriff’s Office arson investigators began an investigation, which led to the charge.

Rice’s next court date is Oct. 31. He could face up to 15 years in prison, if convicted.

McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Rogers said Tuesday that no one was injured in the fire, according to a call log.

However, Rogers said, Harvard first responders took someone to the Woodstock emergency department by ambulance for a mental evaluation, possibly because of anxiety related to the fire.

Carl K. Rice


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Illinois' pension chief: Taking pensions away from elected county officials is illegalEd Komenda – ekomenda@shawmedia.com McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks speaks at a meeting Tuesday. Louis Kosiba, executive director of the $35.8 billion Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, spoke at the meeting, telling board members and the public that Franks' resolution to cut pensions for elected county officials is illegal.

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 05:56:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Louis Kosiba, executive director of the $35.8 billion Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, showed up to the McHenry County Board meeting Tuesday night to let board members and the public know Chairman Jack Franks’ resolution to kill pensions for all elected county officials is illegal. “The rule of law does not mean that laws [that] are inconvenient or inconsistent with one’s point of view can be ignored or overwritten by a form of government,” Kosiba said. “In this case, state law cannot be changed by the action of county or city government.” Kosiba highlighted Article 13, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution, which states membership in any pension or retirement system of the state, local government or school district is an “enforceable contractual relationship” and the benefits of those pension systems cannot be diminished or impaired. “I’ve taken the position that to remove elected county officials from IMRF participation is inconsistent with the law,” Kosiba said. Kosiba shared his opinion during public comment at Tuesday’s meeting, where Franks and board members tabled discussion of the pension resolution to give board members time to draft alternative measures to discuss and develop at a later meeting. “We need to get this right,” Franks said before the County Board tabled the resolution. “In working together, I am confident that we will pass an existing resolution or craft another viable one to address the unsustainable pension obligations that overburden our taxpayers.” Franks’ resolution would remove IMRF eligibility for the offices of County Board chairman, state’s attorney, county clerk, circuit clerk, treasurer, auditor, recorder, coroner and sheriff. The move would not affect the positions until the end of their terms. The county’s coroner, recorder and sheriff already have opted out of receiving pensions. Franks said that the resolution is nothing against any elected official in particular; it’s about saving money. Cutting pensions for newly elected officials in those positions would save the county $110,000 a year based on current officeholder’s salaries, Franks said. The pension debate has been a hot button topic at recent meetings, where some County Board members worried that cutting the pensions of elected officials would be a problem in the courts. Stripping pensions from elected county officials requires action by the Illinois General Assembly, Kosiba said. On Oct. 2, Kosiba wrote Franks a letter saying the cancellation of pensions “will not help achieve the good government you seek.” “Disqualifying these positions from IMRF can be detrimental to good government,” Kosiba wrote. “If you believe these [...]


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Judge in Hawaii blocks latest version of Trump's travel banThis Dec. 2015 file photo shows U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu. Watson on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, blocked the Trump administration from enforcing its latest travel ban, just hours before it was set to take effect.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 21:24:00 GMT

HONOLULU – A federal judge in Hawaii blocked the Trump administration Tuesday from enforcing its latest travel ban just hours before it was set to take effect, saying the president's revised order "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor." It was the third set of travel restrictions issued by President Donald Trump to be thwarted in some way by the courts. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued the ruling after the ban was challenged by the state of Hawaii, which warned that the restrictions would separate families and undermine the recruiting of diverse college students. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the ruling "dangerously flawed" and said it "undercuts the president's efforts to keep the American people safe." The Justice Department said it will quickly appeal. At issue was a ban, announced in September and set to go into effect early Wednesday, on travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, along with some Venezuelan government officials and their families. The Trump administration said the ban was based on an assessment of each country's security situation and willingness to share information with the U.S. Watson, appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama, said the new restrictions ignore a federal appeals court ruling that found Trump's previous ban exceeded the scope of his authority. The latest version "plainly discriminates based on nationality in the manner that the 9th Circuit has found antithetical to ... the founding principles of this nation," Watson wrote. The judge's ruling does not affect the restrictions against North Korea or Venezuela, because the state of Hawaii did not ask for that. "This is the third time Hawaii has gone to court to stop President Trump from issuing a travel ban that discriminates against people based on their nation of origin or religion," Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said in a statement. "Today is another victory for the rule of law." Hawaii argued the updated ban was a continuation of Trump's campaign call for a ban on Muslims, despite the addition to the list of two countries without a Muslim majority. In his ruling, the judge said the new ban, like its predecessor, fails to show that nationality alone makes a person a greater security risk to the U.S. "The categorical restrictions on entire populations of men, women and children, based upon nationality, are a poor fit for the issues regarding the sharing of 'public-safety and terrorism-related information' that the president identifies," Watson said. He also said the ban in inconsistent in the way some countries are includ[...]


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Trump warns 'I fight back' after McCain hits foreign policyPresident Donald Trump sits for a radio interview in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., receives the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. The honor is given annually to an individual who displays courage and conviction while striving to secure liberty for people worldwide. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 21:12:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned Sen. John McCain that "I fight back" after McCain questioned "half-baked, spurious nationalism" in America's foreign policy. McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent 5½ years in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp and is battling brain cancer, offered a simple response to Trump: "I have faced tougher adversaries." Trump said in a radio interview with WMAL in Washington, "I'm being very, very nice but at some point I fight back and it won't be pretty." He bemoaned McCain's decisive vote this past summer in opposition to a GOP bill to dismantle Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, a move that caused the failure of GOP efforts to repeal and replace "Obamacare." In Philadelphia on Monday night, the six-term Republican senator from Arizona received an award for a lifetime of service and sacrifice to the country. In addition to recalling his more than two decades of military service and his imprisonment during the war, McCain took a moment to go a step further than the night's other speakers, who lamented what many described as a fractured political climate. "To abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems," he said, "is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history." He continued: "We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil." Former Vice President Joe Biden presented McCain with the Liberty Medal. Though members of opposing parties, the two men worked together during their time in the Senate. Former President Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in his bid for the presidency in 2008, congratulated the senator on the award in a tweet Monday night. "I'm grateful to @SenJohnMcCain for his lifetime of service to our country. Congratulations, John, on receiving this year's Liberty Medal," Obama wrote. Another political foe, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said on Twitter: "Ran against him, sometimes disagree, but proud to be a friend of @SenJohnMcCain: hero, champion of character and last night, Lincolnesque." The back-and-forth between the president and McCain represented the latest skirmish between the two Republican party heavyweights and another example of Trump tangling with GOP senators who could undermine his agenda in Congress. Trump in recent weeks has feuded with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, although the president joined with the Kentucky senator at the White House to publicly declare they wer[...]


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Sign up for the McHenry County Board newsletter

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:26:23 GMT

The decisions of the McHenry County Board affect all county residents, and the Northwest Herald now has a newsletter to keep you up to date on what the county board is up to, how it affects you, and what's coming next.

We'll provide you with exclusive content, whether it's analysis from our reporters on the beat, a Q and A with a county board member, or what's coming up and why it's important. You won't find this content anywhere else except our newsletter. Get it here.


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Local organizations to co-host 'Equal Means Equal' documentary showings at McHenry County CollegeMatthew Apgar - mapgar@shawmedia.com McHenry County Board Member Carolyn Schofield meets with members of the League of Women Voters to discuss the consolidation of township government inside the community room at Home State Bank on Saturday, July 11, 2015 in Crystal Lake.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:09:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Three local organizations are coming together Wednesday afternoon and Thursday night to host viewings of the documentary “Equal Means Equal” at McHenry County College.

The League of Women Voters of McHenry County, the Student Peace Action Network at MCC and the MCC chapter of the American Association of University Women will co-sponsor the showings of the documentary, according to a news release from the league.

The film focuses on how woman are treated in the U.S. today, and it urges ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, which states the rights guaranteed to American citizens apply equally, regardless of sex.

The free event will take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday at MCC in the Scot Room (B178) and at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Room B166-167.

For information, visit www.mchenrycounty.il.lwvnet.org or contact the MCC Student Life Office at 815-455-8550.

Matthew Apgar - mapgar@shawmedia.com McHenry County Board Member Carolyn Schofield meets with members of the League of Women Voters to discuss the consolidation of township government inside the community room at Home State Bank on Saturday, July 11, 2015 in Crystal Lake.


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Thinking About College? Head to MCC Night!

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 14:48:03 GMT

Whether you’re considering your college options or restarting a degree that got sidetracked, save the date for McHenry County College’s annual open house on November 15.

Scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30p.m., MCC Night is free and will feature faculty from every department conducting demonstrations and sharing information about the myriad of degrees and certificates available.

“It’s all about MCC,” said Kellie Carper, manager of New Student Transitions, Recruitment and Admissions.

“We’ve had it every year since 2005,” Carper said. “Our primary target area is high school seniors and returning adult students, to get them interested in becoming students at MCC.”

Even if you’re already in the workforce and looking to upgrade your skills or to advance in your position, MCC Night can give you all the information you need to get started.

As an added bonus for attending, the $15 application fee is waived that night for those attending.

Academic advisors will also be on hand, plus there are many workshops to learn about financial aid, scholarships, college classes for high school students (dual credit), how to transfer college credits to a four-year college, and services for students with disabilities.

The event draws nearly 1,200 people, Carper said.

“It’s an opportunity for folks to get information and all their questions answered about the programs we offer and different department services,” she said.

The night also features demonstrations by various MCC departments, including art students doing pottery throwing, and culinary and baking and pastry students, who will be offering free samples of their handiwork.

For more information on MCC Night, visit www.mchenry.edu/mccnight.

MCC Night will be located in Buildings A and B, the gymnasium, and the cafeteria/commons area from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

McHenry County College

8900 US-14

Crystal Lake, IL 60012

815.455.3700

http://www.mchenry.edu/


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Huntley contractor pleads guilty to fraud, failing to pay taxesShaw Media file photo

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 14:40:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – A Huntley concrete contractor pleaded guilty to defrauding labor union benefit plans and failing to pay more than $600,000 in taxes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. In March 2015, a 27-count federal indictment claimed that Thomas Manning, 60, president of T. Manning Concrete Inc., underpaid required monthly contributions for the company’s labor union employees and falsified the number of hours the employees worked. Manning was unavailable for comment Monday. Phone numbers listed for his company have been disconnected. The company’s website is no longer active. The state of Illinois dissolved T. Manning Concrete Inc. as a business in 2012, according to online records. The indictment alleged that Manning failed to collect and pay nearly $600,680 in taxes for the employees’ share of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. Manning pleaded guilty to the charges in a written plea agreement filed this week, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Hiring cement masons and workers from labor unions in northern Illinois, Manning was required by collective bargaining agreements to report monthly to benefit plans the number of hours each union employee worked and disclose the company’s contributions to the plans. Beginning in 2006, Manning started to defraud the benefit plans, underreporting the number of hours employees worked in the monthly reports and underpaying the required monthly contributions for the company’s covered employees, according to the U.S. State’s Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. In an effort to conceal the understatements, Manning paid the covered employees for additional hours “under the table,” using checks drawn from nonpayroll accounts controlled by Manning. Manning sent the reports and contribution checks to the benefit plans via U.S. mail. Because of the falsified reports, Manning caused the benefit plans to make false statements in annual reports required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the federal indictment alleges. Because he paid covered employees under the table, Manning also failed to collect, account and pay $600,680 in federal taxes for the employees’ share of FICA between 2007 and 2010, the indictment said. Manning also submitted falsified forms to the Internal Revenue Service because of the underreported wages and withheld taxes, the indictment said. Under the 27-count indictment, Manning was charged with five counts of mail fraud, five counts of causing false statements to be made on forms required by ERISA, 16 counts of failing to coll[...]


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Trump: Drug czar nominee pulls his name from considerationFILE - In this Sept. 23, 2011 file photo, Rep. Thomas Marino, R-Pa., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is demanding that the White House withdraw the nomination of Marino to be the nation's drug czar. Manchin says Marino played a key role in passing a bill weakening the Drug Enforcement Administration's authority to stop companies from distributing opioids. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 14:32:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Rep. Tom Marino, President Donald Trump's nominee to be the nation's drug czar, is withdrawing from consideration following reports that he played a key role in weakening the federal government's authority to stop companies from distributing opioids. Marino "has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!" Trump's announcement comes a day after the president raised the possibility of nixing the nomination following reports by The Washington Post and CBS News. The reports detailed the Pennsylvania lawmaker's involvement in crafting a 2016 law, signed by President Barack Obama, that weakened the Drug Enforcement Administration's authority to curb opioid distribution. Trump told reporters during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden on Monday that he will look "very closely" at the news reports. He added: "If I think it's 1 percent negative to doing what we want to do, I will make a change," he said. Democrats had called on Trump to withdraw the nomination. Marino could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, whose home state of West Virginia has been among the hardest-hit by the opioid epidemic, said he was horrified at the accounts of the 2016 law and Marino's role in it. Manchin scolded the Obama administration for failing to "sound the alarm on how harmful that bill would be for our efforts to effectively fight the opioid epidemic," which kills an estimated 142 people a day nationwide. In a letter to Trump, Manchin called the opioid crisis "the biggest public health crisis since HIV/AIDS," and said, "we need someone leading the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy who believes we must protect our people, not the pharmaceutical industry." The Post reported Sunday that the drug industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, including Marino, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns. The major drug distributors prevailed upon the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Justice Department to agree to the industry-friendly law, which undermined efforts to restrict the flow of pain pills that have led to tens of thousands of deaths. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the bill's lead Senate sponsor, defended the measure Monday, calling allegations that he or Marino "conspired" with drug companies "utterly ridiculous." Hatch, a 40-year veteran of the Senate, said he was "no patsy" of the drug industry. The lan[...]


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Video: Turning broken skateboards into artMatthew Apgar – mapgar@shawmedia.com Jacobs High School junior Chloe Frank, 16, uses clear nail polish to coat a ring she created out of a broken skateboard Thursday at Fargo Skateboarding in DeKalb.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 14:03:00 GMT

Students from Algonquin-based School District 300, including Hampshire, Jacobs and Dundee-Crown high schools, took a trip to Fargo Skateboarding in DeKalb on Thursday to learn how to make jewelry out of broken skateboards from shop owner Ariel Ries.

Matthew Apgar – mapgar@shawmedia.com Jacobs High School junior Chloe Frank, 16, uses clear nail polish to coat a ring she created out of a broken skateboard Thursday at Fargo Skateboarding in DeKalb.


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Ophelia batters UK after pummeling Ireland, leaves 3 deadA woman stands as waves crash against the sea wall at Penzanze, Cornwall southwestern England, as the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia begins to hit parts of Britain and Ireland. Ireland's meteorological service is predicting wind gusts of 120 kph to 150 kph (75 mph to 93 mph), sparking fears of travel chaos. Some flights have been cancelled, and aviation officials are warning travelers to check the latest information before going to the airport Monday. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)Waves break around the church in the harbour at Porthleven, Cornwall southwestern England, as the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia begins to hit parts of Britain and Ireland. Ireland's meteorological service is predicting wind gusts of 120 kph to 150 kph (75 mph to 93 mph), sparking fears of travel chaos. Some flights have been cancelled, and aviation officials are warning travelers to check the latest information before going to the airport Monday. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)A family walks along a seawall during storm Ophelia on East Pier in Howth, Dublin, Ireland, as the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia batter Ireland and the United Kingdom with gusts of up to 80mph (129kph), Monday Oct. 16, 2017. Three people have been confirmed dead in Ireland in incidents related to Storm Ophelia. (Caroline Quinn/PA via AP)

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 12:15:00 GMT

LONDON — Storm Ophelia is battering Scotland and northern England after leaving three people dead and hundreds of thousands without power in Ireland. The former Atlantic hurricane downed trees and power lines, sent waves surging over coastal defenses and disrupted transport again Tuesday, a day after making landfall on Ireland's south coast with gusts of almost 100 miles an hour (160 kilometers an hour). Britain's Met Office weather service said Scotland could see heavy rain and gusts of up to 70 mph (113 kph), with winds gradually diminishing through Tuesday. Schools in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were closed for a second day as authorities assessed the damage from the worst storm to hit Ireland in decades. Irish authorities said it could take several days to restore power to 330,000 homes. Commuters faced delays and downed trees blocked rail lines. Train services between the Scottish cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and from London to Aberdeen, Dundee and Perth were slowed down by trees that were blown onto the tracks. In Dumfries and Galloway in western Scotland, a scout hall roof was blown off amid winds of up of up to 77 mph (124 kph). In Cumbria in northwest England, part of a soccer club's stand was ripped off by the wind. Some areas hit by the storm were affected by water shortages. By Tuesday, the UK Met Office reduced the area covered by a yellow weather warning, though it said windy weather is still likely. Parts of southern Norway reported a smoky smell on Tuesday morning, which the local meteorological institute said it was likely carried there by Ophelia from the wave of forest fires in Portugal and Spain that killed at least 41 people over the weekend. In Sweden, people in the capital of Stockholm and elsewhere launched a flurry of calls to authorities, saying the skies were much darker than usual Tuesday morning. That was also probably due to Ophelia's strong winds, which carried a mix of red sand from the Sahara and tiny particles from the Iberian forest fires across western Europe. A woman stands as waves crash against the sea wall at Penzanze, Cornwall southwestern England, as the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia begins to hit parts of Britain and Ireland. Ireland's meteorological service is predicting wind gusts of 120 kph to 150 kph (75 mph to 93 mph), sparking fears of travel chaos. Some flights have been cancelled, and aviation officials are warning travelers to check the latest[...]


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In Weinstein's wake, is Hollywood truly capable of change?FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2017, file photo, SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris speaks at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles. Carteris says people are finally saying "No more" about covering up sexual harassment, and that may lead to some meaningful change to a culture in Hollywood that has preyed on young women for decades. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:25:00 GMT

LOS ANGELES – “That’s how it works,” actress and director Sarah Polley recalls Harvey Weinstein saying to her years ago in his office. If she agreed to a “very close relationship” with him she could go on to be a star and win awards, he said. He told her that a famous actress had once sat in her seat and that her success was because of their “close relationship,” she wrote in an essay for The New York Times on Saturday. Polley was 19 at the time and wasn’t particularly interested in being a star or continuing to act. “I was purely lucky that I didn’t care,” she wrote. “That’s how it works” has been Hollywood’s dirty little open secret for its entire history, where men in power have been able to prey on the dreams of stardom of many young women. The quid pro quo sexual harassment even got a cutesy name: The casting couch. And yet Weinstein’s downfall after a surge of accusations of sexual harassment and assault from women over the past three decades, suddenly calls for “change” are a common refrain from the industry’s most well-known names. But is meaningful change even possible in a business that relishes in its own mythology of ambition, ego, art and money that has allowed and enabled systematic sexual harassment for so long? Weinstein was a man whose aggression and anger was turned into legend, whose bullying was canonized, whose devil-may-care attitude attracted the edgiest directors and whose companies put out cinematic classics that big studios wouldn’t dare touch. Outside of public accusations, does the power structure in Hollywood even want to disrupt the way things work? “Leadership has to come from the top in stopping harassment,” said Chai Feldblum, the commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Sexual harassment is a widespread issue across the country and in many industries, but the entertainment sector presents a uniquely difficult environment for reporting instances when those who work there are essentially independent contractors and freelancers. Oftentimes the harassment is coming from the top – a director, a producer, a CEO who is often considered more worthwhile to protect than the accuser. And even when accusations reach the level of a lawsuit, they have a tendency to disappear under settlements and nondisclosure agreements. Condemnation for Weinstein’s alleged conduct has been nearly universal and the fallout dramatic – he was fired from his company, stripped of his Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Scienc[...]


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