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Northwest Herald



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Algonquin, Huntley police warn of recent motor vehicle burglaries, theftsShaw Media file photo

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 07:20:00 GMT

ALGONQUIN – Local police are warning residents about an increase in motor vehicle burglaries and motor vehicle thefts throughout McHenry and Kane counties.

The village of Algonquin and numerous surrounding communities in both counties have experienced an increase in the crimes, police said Thursday in a post on the Algonquin Police Department’s Facebook page.

Huntley police said incidents have occurred in residential areas off Route 47, mostly on the south side of the village, according to a Nixle alert.

The majority of the incidents have occurred late at night or overnight in residential areas, the post stated. Many of the items stolen came from unlocked cars. Residents who reported their cars stolen had left their keys inside the vehicles.

“The Algonquin Police Department would like to remind the members of the community to always lock their vehicles’ doors and to never leave their vehicle’s keys inside of an unattended vehicle,” the post stated.

Police also advised against leaving valuables in vehicles in plain sight.

“We strongly believe that these simple preventative measures will help to deter future incidents,” the post stated.

A juvenile is facing charges for dozens of vehicle burglaries and auto theft after he admitted to 14 vehicle burglaries in Lakemoor and involvement in an auto theft and chase Sept. 12, which ended in a crash at Route 12 and Molidor Road in Volo, police said.

The juvenile also admitted to more than 20 vehicle burglaries and five auto thefts in multiple jurisdictions. Police said the juvenile did not break into any cars, but only opened doors to unlocked vehicles.

Anyone who witnesses suspicious activity is asked to report the activity while it is in progress, and anyone with information about previous incidents should call the Algonquin Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division at 847-658-4531.

Shaw Media file photo


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Gov. Bruce Rauner signs tax credit bill to help property owners affected by July floodingRegina Propst (left) of Cary and her husband, Rob Propst, look at their flooded front yard July 20 at their house on Hickory Nut Grove Road next to the Fox River in Cary. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a tax credit bill Thursday to help those affected by the floodwaters.McHenry County Emergency Management coordinator Dave Christensen, Gov. Bruce Rauner and McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks look at a map of projected flooding July 16. The Fox River reached major flooding stage in McHenry and Algonquin, and Rauner signed a tax credit bill Thursday to help those affected by the floodwaters.

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 07:20:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday signed into law a tax credit worth up to $750 for property owners in 18 Illinois counties where July floods damaged property.

The bill opens a natural disaster credit that eligible property owners can apply to their 2017 Illinois income taxes. Eligible counties include Cook, Lake, Kane, McHenry, Alexander, Clinton, Jackson, Marshall, Union, Woodford, Carroll, Henry, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Rock Island, Stephenson and Whiteside. Rauner declared each of those counties state disaster areas during the summer.

“July’s severe storms pushed rivers and lakes over their banks across a wide swath of Illinois,” Rauner said in a statement. “Many home and business owners are still working to restore their properties after the inundation of water, debris and mud they suffered through, in some cases for weeks. In northeastern Illinois counties, the flooding was unprecedented. This tax credit offers a measure of much-needed relief.”

Initial damage assessments conducted by county officials showed that about 300 homes suffered major damage or were destroyed, and more than 3,000 others were affected by floodwaters.

Qualified properties include a taxpayer’s principle residence or land owned by a small business. For each taxpayer who owns qualified property in a county declared a state disaster area, the allowable income tax credit will be the lesser of $750 or the deduction allowed under the Internal Revenue Code.

The bill requires township assessors to issue eligibility certificates for property owners who request them. Assessors must send all listings of flood-damaged properties to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

Based on damages previously reported to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the tax credit’s fiscal impact on the state is estimated at $4.6 million.

Regina Propst (left) of Cary and her husband, Rob Propst, look at their flooded front yard July 20 at their house on Hickory Nut Grove Road next to the Fox River in Cary. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a tax credit bill Thursday to help those affected by the floodwaters.McHenry County Emergency Management coordinator Dave Christensen, Gov. Bruce Rauner and McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks look at a map of projected flooding July 16. The Fox River reached major flooding stage in McHenry and Algonquin, and Rauner signed a tax credit bill Thursday to help those affected by the floodwaters.


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Community mourns death of longtime Fox Lake trusteeTrustee Greg Murrey, 61, was a lifelong resident of Fox Lake. He died Wednesday. Murrey served the village of Fox Lake as trustee for more than 18 years.

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 07:19:00 GMT

FOX LAKE – Fox Lake Trustee Greg Murrey was remembered Thursday as a lifelong resident of Fox Lake and someone who always gave back to the community.

Murrey, 61, died Wednesday. He served as a village trustee for 18 years, according to a news release from the village.

“I, the Village Board and village staff are saddened by the passing of longtime Trustee Greg Murrey,” Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmit said in the release. “Greg embodied what it truly means to be a public servant, and will be missed by the Fox Lake community.”

Murrey was instrumental to a number of municipal projects, including establishing the Northwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility, the release stated. The facility now provides water treatment services for many communities within Lake County, treating more than 12 million gallons a day.

He also was a member of the Fox Lake Volunteer Fire Department, a head mechanic for the Grant Township Highway Department and a member of the Sons of the American Legion Post 703, according to the release.

The visitation for Murrey will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Hamsher Lakeside Funerals and Cremations, 12 N. Pistakee Lake Road. A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Sunday at the funeral home, followed by burial in Grant Cemetery in Fox Lake.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in Murrey’s name can be made to Little City, 1760 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine, IL 60067; or to Operation North Pole, 50 W. Oakton St., Des Plaines, IL 60018.

Trustee Greg Murrey, 61, was a lifelong resident of Fox Lake. He died Wednesday. Murrey served the village of Fox Lake as trustee for more than 18 years.


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McHenry County Holiday Fest to welcome Santa, elves, one-stop holiday shopping

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 07:19:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The McHenry County Holiday Fest soon will transform D’Andrea Banquets and Conference Center into a winter wonderland.

Set from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at 4419 Route 14 in Crystal Lake, the free event will offer one-stop shopping, crafts, entertainment and more. Attendees are welcome to explore holiday shopping booths stocked with makeup, crafts, clothing and specialty gifts.

Families can visit Santa and his elves from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Children will be able to decorate cookies and write letters to Santa.

Live entertainment will include youth dancers, a magician and music from Potts & Pans.

Each family who attends will receive one free tote bag. For information, visit the Northwest Herald’s Holiday Fest event page.

The Northwest Herald and Centegra Health System are hosting the event.




Gov. Bruce Rauner's task force on opioid epidemic stops in Woodstock to hear from local stakeholdersIn September, Gov. Bruce Rauner launched the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah. The task force’s sixth field hearing was held in Woodstock at the McHenry County Administration Building. Several stakeholders – from health care providers to residential treatment providers, McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski to the McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition, State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally and law enforcement officers – shared their perspectives on the opioid epidemic. Many mentioned that because McHenry County is smaller, they have built a strong network from all stakeholders and share as many resources as they can. "I've loved everything I've heard because McHenry County is doing it right through the Substance Abuse Coalition, and you are looking at this as a problem for everyone in the county, and that's the way you need to – it takes a village," Sanguinetti said.The Substance Abuse Coalition is a group of county leaders who meet in an effort to address substance abuse problems in the county. The task force gained input on how to implement its Illinois Opioid Action Plan, which aims to cut the number of opioid-related deaths by one-third by 2020. Of the 1,946 opioid-related fatalities in 2016 in Illinois, 47 were from McHenry County, Majewski said.The plan focuses on providers using the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program more; reducing the opioid prescriptions through provider education and guidelines; decreasing stigma with more education and programming in communities and schools; and strengthening data collection. Additionally, the plan hopes to increase the number of first responders and community members with access to naloxone, decrease the number of overdose deaths after being released from jail, increase people’s access to care, and increase the capacity of deflection and diversion programs in the state.McHenry County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Muraski said that 10 years ago, opioid or heroin incidents represented from 5 percent to 10 percent of the sheriff's office's caseload, and now, 75 percent of drug cases involve opioids.Chris Reed, a former addict and owner of The Other Side in Crystal Lake, shared his story of how he became addicted to opioids in high school after suffering from an injury playing hockey, eventually buying $10 bags of heroin. Reed said he was not given any information on other options aside from medication. Sanguinetti said that stigma is a large problem, and that heroin addiction can happen to any neighborhood, color or class.Kenneally said one of the biggest problems he sees is the lack of residential beds for in-patient treatment. “If you have Illinicare or no insurance, you are limited to go to five places, but if you have good insurance, you can go to Honolulu and get treatment for as long as you want. That’s a problem,” Kenneally said. He also said that many times legislation is designed by people from Cook County for Cook County – such as the Bail Reform Act, which became law in June – and it is not helping McHenry County. Kenneally said it is allowing people to walk out of jail without first going through programs, such as treatment in jail or drug court.Molly DeGroh, a neonatal intensive care unit nurse for Centegra Health System, said she would recommend that all pregnant mothers are screened for opioids during their prenatal care to ensure that they are getting proper resources and are able to use opioid maintenance treatment. "The first time I took care of a baby with neonatal abstinence syndrome, I was really mad," DeGroh said. "I held the mother to an unrealistic standard. Just like I couldn’t expect a newly diagnosed diabetic to control her blood sugar without education and insulin, I couldn’t expect someone with substance abuse to just stop." DeGroh also stressed the need for more residential facilities to help mothers, such as the Haymarket Center in Chicago, which treats mothers for up to two years. The governor's task force will continue the tour by heading to Peoria later this month.

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:38:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A statewide committee formed to tackle the opioid epidemic came Thursday to McHenry County, which already has seen 58 deaths related to opioids in 2017. In September, Gov. Bruce Rauner launched the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah. The task force’s sixth field hearing was held in Woodstock at the McHenry County Administration Building. Several stakeholders – from health care providers to residential treatment providers, McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski to the McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition, State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally and law enforcement officers – shared their perspectives on the opioid epidemic. Many mentioned that because McHenry County is smaller, they have built a strong network from all stakeholders and share as many resources as they can. "I've loved everything I've heard because McHenry County is doing it right through the Substance Abuse Coalition, and you are looking at this as a problem for everyone in the county, and that's the way you need to – it takes a village," Sanguinetti said.The Substance Abuse Coalition is a group of county leaders who meet in an effort to address substance abuse problems in the county. The task force gained input on how to implement its Illinois Opioid Action Plan, which aims to cut the number of opioid-related deaths by one-third by 2020. Of the 1,946 opioid-related fatalities in 2016 in Illinois, 47 were from McHenry County, Majewski said.The plan focuses on providers using the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program more; reducing the opioid prescriptions through provider education and guidelines; decreasing stigma with more education and programming in communities and schools; and strengthening data collection. Additionally, the plan hopes to increase the number of first responders and community members with access to naloxone, decrease the number of overdose deaths after being released from jail, increase people’s access to care, and increase the capacity of deflection and diversion programs in the state.McHenry County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Muraski said that 10 years ago, opioid or heroin incidents represented from 5 percent to 10 percent of the sheriff's office's caseload, and now, 75 percent of drug cases involve opioids.Chris Reed, a former addict and owner of The Other Side in Crystal Lake, shared his story of how he became addicted to opioids in high school after suffering from an injury playing hockey, eventually buying $10 bags of heroin. Reed said he was not given any information on other options aside from medication. Sanguinetti said that stigma is a large problem, and that heroin addiction can happen to any neighborhood, color or class.Kenneally said one of the biggest problems he sees is the lack of residential beds for in-patient treatment. “If you have Illinicare or no insurance, you are limited to go to five places, but if you have good insurance, you can go to Honolulu and get treatment for as long as you want. That’s a problem,” Kenneally said. He also said that many times legislation is designed by people from Cook County for Cook County – such as the Bail Reform Act, which became law in June – and it is not helping McHenry County. Kenneally said it is allowing people to walk out of jail without first going through programs, such as treatment in jail or drug court.Molly DeGroh, a neonatal intensive care unit nurse for Centegra Health System, said she would recommend that all pregnant mothers are screened for opioids during their prenatal care to ensure that they are getting proper resources and are able to use opioid maintenance treatment. "The first time I took care of a baby with neonatal abstinence syndrome, I was really mad," DeGroh said. "I held the mother to an unrealistic standard. Just like I couldn’t expect a newly diagno[...]


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Spring Grove Fire Protection District to consider functional consolidationFirefighters pour water onto a home at 906 Garfield Road in Harvard. Fire units from Hebron-Alden-Greenwood, Capron, Richmond Township, Linn Township, Boone County, Lakewood, Mareng, Woodstock and Walworth, Fontana and Sharon in Wisconsin assisted. Officials from the Spring Grove, Hebron-Alden-Greenwood, Wonder Lake and Richmond Township departments are considering consolidation and will meet Saturday to discuss the idea.Alec Rusher (from left) of Spring Grove, Morgan Fassnacht of Johnsburg, Mark Hohs of Spring Grove and Jackson Deehr of Johnsburg put on their gear during a fire explorer program March 21 at the Spring Grove fire station. Officials from the Spring Grove, Hebron-Alden-Greenwood, Wonder Lake and Richmond departments are considering consolidation and will meet Saturday to discuss the idea.

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:32:00 GMT

SPRING GROVE – The Spring Grove Fire Protection District Board of Trustees will meet Saturday to discuss a functional consolidation with other fire departments.

The board will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Spring Grove station, 8214 Richardson Road, and potentially will form a committee to research the idea of consolidation. Board members are considering Wonder Lake, Richmond Township and Hebron-Alden-Greenwood fire protection districts as part of the plan, according to the agenda.

The idea still is in its early stages, Spring Grove Fire Chief Rich Tobiasz said.

Tobiasz said the department is trying to address staffing problems as both he and a battalion chief near retirement. Richmond and Wonder Lake fire chiefs also are nearing that point, he said.

“We have part-time employees,” Tobiasz said. “If everyone else has other jobs, it makes it hard to cover for people who are sick or taking vacation time.”

The Spring Grove Fire Protection District is staffed 24/7, typically by five firefighter/emergency service providers – four at the station and one on call. Paid on-call employees are available for large incidents or rotation backfill, according to the district’s website.

The departments already share some services, such as a radio and dispatch system. The functional consolidation could consist of an intergovernmental agreement between the departments that would allow the shared use of equipment, potential shared buys on new gear and the possibility of a single chief to oversee operations, Tobiasz said.

The Hebron-Alden-Greenwood Fire Protection District is made up of 27 paid on-call first responders, which means employees only get paid when they respond to an incident, Chief Thomas Linneman said.

“They respond from their homes,” he said. “Annually, we respond to about 375 calls.”

He said that the idea of working with other departments in the area could increase efficiency. The departments already have a partnership and work together on major events, he said.

“We are looking at some ideas on how to work better together,” Linneman said. “Consolidation is a big word. This is more about how we can work better as multiple departments.”

The Wonder Lake and Richmond Township fire protection districts also staff on-call members. In Wonder Lake, one station is staffed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. After hours, a shift commander and four crew members respond to incidents from home, according to its website.

The Richmond Township district consists of a combination of members who staff the station 24/7 and some who respond from home, according to its website.

Firefighters pour water onto a home at 906 Garfield Road in Harvard. Fire units from Hebron-Alden-Greenwood, Capron, Richmond Township, Linn Township, Boone County, Lakewood, Mareng, Woodstock and Walworth, Fontana and Sharon in Wisconsin assisted. Officials from the Spring Grove, Hebron-Alden-Greenwood, Wonder Lake and Richmond Township departments are considering consolidation and will meet Saturday to discuss the idea.Alec Rusher (from left) of Spring Grove, Morgan Fassnacht of Johnsburg, Mark Hohs of Spring Grove and Jackson Deehr of Johnsburg put on their gear during a fire explorer program March 21 at the Spring Grove fire station. Officials from the Spring Grove, Hebron-Alden-Greenwood, Wonder Lake and Richmond departments are considering consolidation and will meet Saturday to discuss the idea.


Media Files:
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Police uncover threat toward Marlowe Middle School students

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:28:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Someone has made a threat toward the student population at Marlowe Middle School, according to a news release from the Huntley Police Department.

Whoever made the threat made it for Friday, police said.

Huntley School District 158 will increase police presence at all district schools Friday “out of an abundance of caution,” Superintendent John Burkey said Thursday in a message posted on the district’s website.

The threat was revealed through an ongoing investigation by Huntley and Lake in the Hills police related to an incident in which a Lake in the Hills middle school student was on the receiving end of racially motivated threats made on Xbox Live, police said.

Huntley police learned Monday of “disparaging racial and threatening comments that were sent to a juvenile via Xbox Live.”

Xbox Live is an online multiplayer gaming service that allows players to communicate with each other using microphones or messaging.

Huntley police have been working with District 158 and Lake in the Hills police “due to the possible involvement of current or former students within the schools in the area.”

Police began investigating Monday and have since conducted several interviews. They executed a search warrant and still are seeking information, according to the news release.

“At this point in time, there have been multiple interviews conducted with several juveniles and parents. Various items have been seized in conjunction with a second executed search warrant,” Huntley police said in the release. “These items have been helpful in the investigation. The location from which the messages were sent has been tentatively identified, and our investigation has revealed persons of interest ultimately responsible for sending the messages.”

As of Thursday evening, no criminal charges had been filed.

“However, significant progress in regards to this investigation, and the furtherance of an act based on these messages, is being mitigated,” Huntley police said.

The police said limited specifics are being released because it is an ongoing case that involves juveniles.

Police confirmed Wednesday that the alleged victim in the latest case is the same one who was targeted in October, when a Lake in the Hills student was charged with a hate crime and disorderly conduct.

Burkey said in his message that there will be an increase in uniformed officers at Reed Road schools Friday.

“We care deeply about the safety of all our students,” Burkey said. “Many staff members, including me, have our own children attending [D-158] schools, and I feel completely confident sending them to our schools.”

He also included a warning to anyone considering directing a threat at District 158: “Any individual who makes a threat against a school in this district will face the absolute strictest school discipline and criminal consequences allowable by law. The intention of the threat does not matter. We will work with law enforcement to leverage every available tool to find the individual responsible and hold them to account.”


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Keystone pipeline leaks 210K gallons of oil in South DakotaFILE- This Nov. 6, 2015, file photo shows a sign for TransCanada's Keystone pipeline facilities in Hardisty, Alberta, Canada. TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline leaked oil onto agricultural land in northeastern South Dakota, the company and state regulators said Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, but state officials don’t believe the leak polluted any surface water bodies or drinking water systems. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:28:00 GMT

AMHERST, S.D. – TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil onto agricultural land in northeastern South Dakota, the company and state regulators said Thursday, but state officials don’t believe the leak polluted any surface water bodies or drinking water systems. Crews shut down the pipeline Thursday morning and activated emergency response procedures after a drop in pressure was detected resulting from the leak south of a pump station in Marshall County, TransCanada said in a statement. The cause was being investigated. Discovery of the leak comes only days before Nebraska regulators are scheduled to announce their decision Monday whether to approve the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, an expansion that would boost the amount of oil TransCanada is now shipping through the existing line, which is known simply as Keystone. The expansion has faced fierce opposition from environmental groups, American Indian tribes and some landowners. Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist manager at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the state has sent a staff member to the site of the leak in a rural area near the border with North Dakota about 250 miles west of Minneapolis. “Ultimately, the cleanup responsibility lies with TransCanada, and they’ll have to clean it up in compliance with our state regulations,” Walsh said. TransCanada said in its statement that it expected the pipeline to remain shut down as the company responds to the leak. It did not offer a time estimate, and a spokesman didn’t immediately return a telephone message from The Associated Press. The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration didn’t immediately return an email requesting additional information from The AP. Since 2010, companies have reported 17 spills bigger than the leak announced Thursday, topping 210,000 gallons of crude oil or refined petroleum products, according to U.S. Department of Transportation records. The existing Keystone pipeline transports crude from Canada to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma, passing through the eastern Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. It can handle nearly 600,000 barrels daily, or about 23 million gallons. TransCanada said on its website that the company has safely transported more than 1.5 billion barrels of oil, or about 63 billion gallons, through the system since operations began in 2010. President Donald Trump issued a federal permit for the expansion project in March although it had been rejected by the Obama administration. The Keystone XL project would move crude oil from Alberta, Canada, across Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines feeding refineries along the Gulf Coast. Kent Moeckly, a member of conservation and family agriculture group Dakota Rural Action, who opposed the Keystone pipeline, said he drove to land he owns near the site of the spill Thursday. “There’s a heck of a south wind up here today, and man it just stunk of crude oil,” said Moeckly, whose property is crossed by the pipeline. “A mile away, but I’ll tell you it was like it was next door.” A leak and spill in southeastern South Dakota in April 2016 prompted a weeklong shutdown of the pipeline. TransCanada estimated that just under 17,000 gallons (405 barrels) of oil spilled onto private land during that leak. Federal regulators said an “anomaly” on a weld on the pipeline was to blame. No waterways or aquifers were affected. TransCanada said at the time tha[...]


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Lake in the Hills man acquitted of animal abuse charges

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:25:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Family members of 28-year-old Timarion White shed tears in the courtroom Thursday when White was acquitted of animal abuse charges stemming from the Jan. 1, 2016, death of his miniature pinscher, Mia.

The more than three-hour bench trial came to a conclusion about 5 p.m. After a 15-minute deliberation, McHenry County Judge James Cowlin ruled White was not guilty of killing his dog by hitting her over the head with a broom.

White originally was charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals and cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor charge. White was facing a one- to three-year prison sentence if he was convicted of the felony offense.

In fact, White was prepared to serve two years in prison as part of a negotiated plea, until Judge Sharon Prather recused herself from the case in April, White said.

“I felt like nobody wanted to hear my side of the story,” he said after the trial.

White got to tell that story Thursday when he agreed to testify.

About 10 a.m. Jan. 1, 2016, White and his wife, Brianna White, were catching up on housekeeping while their two children slept upstairs, he said. The family lived in a home in the 11600 block of Becky Lee Trace, Huntley, at the time.

One of the family’s dogs, Mia – a “dainty” 5-pound, brown and white miniature pinscher – came downstairs from her crate and into the kitchen, where Timarion White was filling up a mop bucket in the sink.

Timarion White suspected Mia needed to go outside, but the dog wouldn’t go and risk getting snow on her paws.

In an attempt to try to get her out from under the table, where she had taken refuge, Timarion White took a broom and started “shimmying the chairs around to scare her.”

What happened after that is where defense attorney Clay Mitchell’s and McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Victor Escarcida’s arguments varied.

“It is unreasonable to think that the simple act of trying to coax or poke this dog would result in this kind of an injury,” Escarcida said. “He killed this dog.”

While Escarcida said White intentionally struck the dog with the broom, causing her to fly through the air and hit the kitchen table, Mitchell argued that the dog merely dodged White’s attempts of capturing her, and hit her head on the edge of a metal table leg.

But without physical evidence that White intended to hurt the family pet that day, there wasn’t enough to convict him, Cowlin said.

“The idea that the dog flew through the air after being hit on the head doesn’t make much sense to the court,” he said.

White’s wife, grandmother and other family members broke into tears of relief when they heard the verdict.

With twins on the way, the Whites are hoping to move on from the felony charge they said has kept Timarion White out of work for the past two years.

Although he never was convicted, criminal background checks reported White as a “pending felon,” he said.

“I’m feeling really good that I stuck with it,” White said.




Lake in the Hills police arrest 2 Carpentersville residents on cocaine chargesFernando Roman, 26, of the 100 block of Kings Road, CarpentersvilleMonika Ramos, 21, of the 1400 block of Meadowsedge Lane, Carpentersville

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:24:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – A Carpentersville man gave officers another man’s name when he and a woman were arrested last weekend on cocaine charges, police said Wednesday.

Lake in the Hills police arrested Monika Ramos, 21, of the 1400 block of Meadowsedge Lane, Carpentersville, and Fernando Roman, 26, of the 100 block of Kings Road on Sunday.

Roman was booked into the McHenry County Jail that evening under another man’s name. Shortly after, however, the man who Roman was posing as showed up to the jail to clear his name, Lake in the Hills police Sgt. Randy Story said.

Roman and Ramos each are charged with possession of a controlled substance; manufacturing and delivering cocaine; and possession of cocaine.

Officers said they found 26 Xanax pills and 15 to 100 grams of cocaine on each Sunday, court documents show. Police believed they were planning to deliver the drugs, according to court records. The exact amount of cocaine the pair is accused of having was not available.

Roman also is charged with obstructing justice and obstructing identification, court records show.

If convicted of the most serious charge, manufacturing and delivering cocaine, Ramos and Roman each could receive six- to 30-year prison sentences.

Both remained in the McHenry County Jail on Thursday evening. Ramos’ bond is set at $50,000, and Roman’s is at $200,000.

Roman’s next court date is scheduled for Monday. Ramos is due in court Dec. 4.

Fernando Roman, 26, of the 100 block of Kings Road, CarpentersvilleMonika Ramos, 21, of the 1400 block of Meadowsedge Lane, Carpentersville


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Roy Moore targets female accusersFormer Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore waits to speak at a newss conference, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:07:00 GMT

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Ever defiant, Republican Roy Moore’s campaign on Thursday lashed out at the women accusing him of sexual misconduct, declaring “let the battle begin.” Women’s advocates decried the talk as worn intimidation tactics in a desperate attempt to keep his imperiled Senate bid alive.

Moore ignored mounting calls from Washington Republicans concerned that Moore may not only lose a seat they were sure to win but also may do significant damage to the party’s brand among women nationwide as they prepare for a difficult midterm election season. Moore’s team showed no such concerns.

“You ask me if I believe the girls. No, I don’t believe the girls. I believe Judge Moore,” Moore strategist Dean Young said. “Let the battle begin. ... Get ready to fight, Mitch McConnell. We’re going to fight you to the death on this.”

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore waits to speak at a newss conference, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)


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Sen. Franken faces ethics probe after woman says he groped herIn this image provided by the U.S. Army, then-comedian Al Franken and sports commentator Leeann Tweeden perform a comic skit for service members during the USO Sergeant Major of the Army's 2006 Hope and Freedom Tour in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, on Dec. 15, 2006. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., apologized Nov. 16, 2017, after Tweeden accused him of forcibly kissing her during the 2006 USO tour. Colleagues, including fellow Democrats, urged a Senate ethics investigation. Tweeden also accused Franken of posing for a photo with his hands on her breasts as she slept, while both were performing for military personnel two years before the one-time comedian was elected to the Senate

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:06:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Minnesota Sen. Al Franken faces a storm of criticism and a likely ethics investigation after a Los Angeles radio anchor accused him Thursday of forcibly kissing her and groping her during a 2006 USO tour. He is the first member of Congress caught up in the recent wave of allegations of sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior. Franken apologized, but the criticism only grew through the day. Fellow Democrats swiftly condemned his actions, mindful of the current climate as well as the prospect of political blowback. Republicans, still forced to answer for the multiple allegations facing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, joined in pressing for an investigation. Franken said he would welcome it. Leeann Tweeden posted her allegations, including a photo of Franken and her, on the website of KABC, where she works as a news anchor for a morning radio show. The photo shows Franken posing in a joking manner, smiling at the camera with his hands on her chest as she naps wearing a flak vest aboard a military plane. Both had been performing for military personnel in Afghanistan two years before the one-time “Saturday Night Live” comedian was elected to the Senate. Tweeden said Thursday that before an earlier show Franken had persisted in rehearsing a kiss and “aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.” Now, she said, “every time I hear his voice or see his face, I am angry.” She’s angry with herself, too, she said, for not speaking out at the time “but I didn’t want to rock the boat.” Franken, 66, is the latest public figure to be caught in the deluge of revelations of sexual harassment and misconduct that have crushed careers, ruined reputations and prompted criminal investigations in Hollywood, business and beyond. The swift rebukes from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers suggest that momentum from the online #Metoo movement has begun to spur a culture shift on Capitol Hill, where current and former staffers say misogynistic and predatory behavior has long been an open secret. In a statement Thursday, Franken apologized to Tweeden and his constituents while maintaining that he remembered the rehearsal differently. Tweeden said she accepted his apology. “Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive,” Franken wrote. “I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t,” Franken added. “And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.” Of the photo, Franken said: “I look at it now, and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture.” The accusations come just days after the Senate unanimously adopted mandatory sexual harassment training for members and staffs amid a flood of stories about harassment, sexual misconduct and gender hostility from staffers, aides and even female elected officials. On Tuesday, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., testified in the House that two current lawmakers, one Republican and one Democrat, were known to have engaged in sexual harassment. Speier did not name the lawmakers – at the request of the victims, she said, and because of a non-disclosure agreement. Speier has become a voice for sexual harassment awareness after coming forward with her own story of being assaulted by a chief [...]


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15 convictions linked to corrupt Chicago cop thrown outJoshua Tepfer, of the University of Chicago's Exoneration Project talks to reporters Thursday in Chicago, after a judge threw out the convictions of 15 men, some of whom are standing behind him, who say a corrupt Chicago police sergeant manufactured evidence that sent them to prison. Cook County prosecutors made the request Thursday as 10 of the men stood before Judge Leroy Martin Jr. It was the latest chapter in a scandal that resulted in former Sgt. Ronald Watts' 2013 conviction for extorting money from drug dealers.

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:04:00 GMT

CHICAGO – One by one, the men told the same story: A Chicago police officer would demand money from them. And if they didn’t pay, they would find themselves in handcuffs with drugs stuffed in their pockets. A Cook County judge on Thursday threw out the felony drug convictions of 15 black men who all said they were locked up for no other reason except that they refused to pay Ronald Watts. It was the largest mass exoneration in memory in Chicago. And even in a city where it has become almost routine for police misconduct to lead to overturned convictions, the courthouse had never seen anything like the order issued in front of more than a dozen men whose lives were changed forever by the former sergeant. The men described how it was common for blacks in the city’s poorest communities to be shaken down. “Everyone knew if you’re not going to pay Watts, you were going to jail. That’s just the way it was going,” said Leonard Gipson, 36, who had two convictions tossed out. The practice, they recalled, was all the more chilling because the officer was so open about it. “Watts always told me, ‘If you’re not going to pay me, I’m going to get you.’ And every time I ran into him, he put drugs on me,” he said. “I went to prison and did 24 months for Watts, and I came back home and he put another case on me.” He and others said there was nothing anyone could do about it. They watched Watts and his crew continue to extort drug dealers and residents, a practice that lasted for years, despite complaints to the police department and statements made during court hearings. Finally, in 2013, Watts and another officer pleaded guilty to stealing money from an FBI informant, but Watts’ sentence of 22 months was shorter than those being handed out to the men he framed. Thirteen of the 15 men were out of custody before Thursday’s hearing, with the other two still behind bars on unrelated charges. Their sentences ranged from nearly a decade to probation. Some said the only reason they were out of custody is that they agreed to plead guilty in exchange for shorter sentences than the drugs planted on them might have produced. “I had to, I had a baby due,” said 33-year-old Marcus Watts, who pleaded guilty to drug charges in exchange for a six-month sentence and a second set of drug charges in exchange for a seven-month sentence. “The way I looked at it was if they put the cuffs on you, you already lost.” Prosecutors asked the judge to act after the conviction-integrity unit of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office reviewed the cases. “In all good conscience we could not let these convictions stand,” said Mark Rotert, who heads the unit. The office’s agreement to throw out the sentences was part of a larger effort to regain public trust, he said. In the last two years, the city has seen an officer charged in the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Jason Van Dyke is the first Chicago officer in decades to be charged with first-degree murder in an on-duty killing. Just this week, prosecutors announced they would not retry two men who have long maintained their innocence. One man spent 29 years in prison for a double murder he insists he did not commit. The other spent 27 years in prison in another double murder case involving an officer who has had several con[...]


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Gov. Bruce Rauner's task force on opioid epidemic stops in WoodstockSarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti (center) speaks during Gov. Bruce Rauner's Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force meeting Thursday in Woodstock.

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:01:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – A statewide committee formed to tackle the opioid epidemic came Thursday to McHenry County, which already has seen 58 deaths related to opioids in 2017. In September, Gov. Bruce Rauner launched the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah. The task force’s sixth field hearing was held in Woodstock at the McHenry County Administration Building. Several stakeholders – from health care providers to residential treatment providers, McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski to the McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition, State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally and law enforcement officers – shared their perspectives on the opioid epidemic. Many mentioned that because McHenry County is smaller, they have built a strong network from all stakeholders and share as many resources as they can. “I’ve loved everything I’ve heard because McHenry County is doing it right through the Substance Abuse Coalition, and you are looking at this as a problem for everyone in the county, and that’s the way you need to – it takes a village,” Sanguinetti said. The Substance Abuse Coalition is a group of county leaders who meet in an effort to address substance abuse problems in the county. The task force gained input on how to implement its Illinois Opioid Action Plan, which aims to cut the number of opioid-related deaths by one-third by 2020. Of the 1,946 opioid-related fatalities in 2016 in Illinois, 47 were from McHenry County, Majewski said. The plan focuses on providers using the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program more; reducing opioid prescriptions through provider education and guidelines; decreasing stigma with more education and programming in communities and schools; and strengthening data collection. Additionally, the plan hopes to increase the number of first responders and community members with access to naloxone, decrease the number of overdose deaths after being released from jail, increase people’s access to care and increase the capacity of deflection and diversion programs in the state. McHenry County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Muraski said that 10 years ago, opioid or heroin incidents represented from 5 percent to 10 percent of the sheriff’s office’s caseload, and now, 75 percent of drug cases involve opioids. Chris Reed, a former addict and owner of The Other Side in Crystal Lake, shared his story of how he became addicted to opioids in high school after suffering from an injury playing hockey, eventually buying $10 bags of heroin. Reed said he was not given any information on other options aside from medication. Sanguinetti said that stigma is a large problem, and that heroin addiction can happen to any neighborhood, color or class. Kenneally said one of the biggest problems he sees is the lack of residential beds for in-patient treatment. “If you have Illinicare or no insurance, you are limited to go to five places, but if you have good insurance, you can go to Honolulu and get treatment for as long as you want. That’s a problem,” Kenneally said. He also said that many times legislation is designed by people from Cook County for Cook County – such as the Bail Reform Act, which became law in June [...]


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McHenry County charity honors local philanthropistsRuss and Sara Foszcz of Richmond were honored Wednesday as the McHenry County Community Foundation’s 2017 Philanthropists of the Year. They are pictured with Amanda Harmer of Woodstock North High School. As Philanthropists of the Year, they have the opportunity to direct a grant of $1,500 to the organization of their choice. They chose the high school's Miguel Rodriguez Scholarship to be the recipient of the funds.

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 05:47:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – The McHenry County Community Foundation awarded thousands of dollars to county nonprofits and named two residents philanthropists of the year. The McHenry County charity hosted its annual GIVE360 Reception on Wednesday at the Boulder Ridge Country Club in Lake in the Hills, naming Russ and Sara Foszcz Philanthropists of the Year and awarding $19,000 in grants, according to a news release from the foundation. “As we look ahead to the giving season, it’s an appropriate time to express our gratitude to Russ and Sara’s years of service to the county, as well as to the many GIVE360 philanthropists who have confidence that their donations to the McHenry County Community Foundation will support causes that are meaningful to them,” executive director Robin Doeden said in a statement. The Foszczes have spent decades volunteering and pursuing philanthropy in McHenry County. Sara founded Main Stay Therapeutic Farm in 1987 to serve clients with physical, developmental, cognitive or emotional needs through therapeutic horseback riding. Russ has held leadership roles with numerous nonprofit agencies. He also is the founder of MC NPO Technical Support Inc., which provides affordable technology service and consulting to nonprofit agencies. “We are honored and humbled by this award from the McHenry County Community Foundation,” Russ said. The two also give to the Family Health Partnership Clinic, The Land Conservancy of McHenry County, Mental Health Resource League for McHenry County, Food Shed Co-op, Turning Point of McHenry County and countless other organizations. “Volunteering and supporting the people who work on behalf of those in need gives Russ and me great fulfillment and a deeper connection to our county,” Sara said. “While it’s wonderful to receive this recognition, giving back brings us a lot of joy and is something we absolutely love to do.” In addition to announcing philanthropists of the year, the foundation hosted members of the 2017 GIVE360 Circle and announced the eight McHenry County nonprofits to benefit from the yearlong giving campaign. GIVE360 is a unique membership model that directs donors’ gifts evenly into two distinct areas: a giving pool and an endowment, according to the release. It allows emerging philanthropists to have a collective effect on McHenry County. The 2017 GIVE360 giving pool allows for nonprofit grants totaling $19,000 and $18,500 distributed to the GIVE360 Endowment Fund for a total of $37,000 in contributions. In its three years of existence, the GIVE360 Endowment Fund has grown to nearly $60,000. “The GIVE360 campaign is an easy and flexible way for individuals to donate funds and to have a local impact and help fellow county residents in need,” Doeden said. Main Stay Therapeutic Farm, TLS Veterans, CASA of McHenry County, Family Health Partnership Clinic, Crystal Lake Food Pantry, Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, Harvard Rotary Club and The Land Conservancy all received grants. “Many local residents lack the means to make $19,000 in gifts annually, yet through the GIVE360 program, that is exactly what they are doing,” Doeden said. “Together, members of GIVE360 decide which nonprofits will receive grants each year, and collectively, they each sign the checks that are distributed. GIVE360 is a simple solut[...]


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Big House victory for GOP tax plan

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 04:48:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Republicans rammed a $1.5 trillion overhaul of business and personal income taxes through the House on Thursday, edging toward the code’s biggest rewrite in three decades and the first major legislative triumph for President Donald Trump and the GOP after 10 bumpy months of controlling government.

The mostly party-line 227-205 vote masked more ominous problems in the Senate. There, a similar package received a politically awkward verdict from nonpartisan congressional analysts showing it would eventually produce higher taxes for low- and middle-income earners but deep reductions for those better off.

Those projections came a day after Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson became the first GOP senator to state opposition to the measure, saying it didn’t cut levies enough for millions of partnerships and corporations. With at least five other Republican senators yet to declare support, the bill’s fate is far from certain in a chamber the GOP controls by just 52-48.

Even so, Republicans are hoping to send a compromise bill for Trump to sign by Christmas.




California shooting rampage highlights ‘ghost guns’Plywood covers one of the windows Wednesday at the Rancho Tehama Elementary School that was shot out during gunman Kevin Janson Neal's shooting rampage at Rancho Tehama Reserve, Calif., Tuesday. Neal killed five people, including his wife before being shot and killed by Tehama County Sheriff's deputies. Neal is believed to have spent six minutes shooting into the school before driving off to continue his shooting spree. One student was shot but is expected to survive.

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 04:48:00 GMT

LOS ANGELES – The gunman who killed his wife and four others in a rampage in Northern California this week found an easy way around a court order prohibiting him from having guns: He built his own at home. Kevin Neal, 44, was armed with what authorities believe were two high-powered rifles that he made himself when he opened fire Tuesday on homes, cars and an elementary school around his tiny hometown of Rancho Tehama Reserve. A deputy finally shot and killed him. It is the latest case of homemade semi-automatic weapons being used in a crime, and it comes as federal authorities try to draw attention to the dangers posed by these “ghost guns,” which contain no registration numbers that can be used to trace them. In Baltimore, a man used a homemade AR-15-style rifle to shoot at four police officers in July 2016. They returned fire, killing him. It’s legal to build a gun in a home or a workshop, and advances in 3-D printing and milling has made it easier to do that. Kits can be legally bought for $450 to $1,000 from hundreds of websites without the kind of background check required for traditional gun purchases. “The more restrictive the laws become for people to purchase firearms, we’re going to see those criminal elements build their own,” Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said. “That’s what they do.” In Neal’s case, he had been ordered to give up all his guns earlier this year under a restraining order that was issued against him after he was charged with assaulting two women who lived nearby. He signed a document in February saying he surrendered a 9 mm handgun to a gun store, which also attested to that. When Neal was arrested, police seized a Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. While making a ghost gun is legal, selling one is not. Federal officials are sounding the alarm about an increasing black market for homemade military-style semi-automatic rifles and handguns. Mills where guns are built are popping up across the country and especially in California, which has strict gun laws. By 2019, people who own or create homemade firearms in California will have to apply for a serial number from the state and permanently affix it to the weapon. The critical component in building an untraceable gun is what is known as the lower receiver, a part typically made of metal or polymer. An unfinished receiver – sometimes referred to as an “80-percent receiver” – can be legally bought online with no serial numbers or other markings, no license required. Converting the piece of metal into a firearm is relatively simple and takes only a few hours. A drill press or a metal cutting machine known as a Computer Numeric Control is used to create a few holes in the receiver and well out a cavity. The receiver is then combined with a few other parts to create a fully functioning semiautomatic rifle or handgun. Ghost guns are increasingly turning up at crime scenes and being purchased from gang members and other criminals by undercover federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents. It is hard to say how many are circulating on the streets. In many cases, police departments don’t even contact the ATF about the guns because they can’t be traced. Cody Wilson, who runs a website and sells unfinished receivers and a CNC machine specifically marketed for making ghost g[...]


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More than 100 protestors turn out for Roskam appearance at GOP fundraiser in Downers GroveRoskam gave the keynote speech at the Downers Grove Township Republican Organization’s 2017 Ronald Reagan Dinner at Ashyana Banquets, 1620 75th St. Many protesters said they came out to oppose Roskam’s support of a tax plan they describe as regressive and harmful to the middle class. The House of Representatives voted Thursday to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Roskam, who serves as chairman of the Tax Policy Subcommittee on the Ways and Means Committee, has taken a leadership role in crafting the legislation. Tom Shadle of Westmont described the tax plan as “completely unfair for most Americans.” “It benefits millionaires and corporations over us,” he said. Shadle said changes in the nation's political climate motivated him to attend the rally. “I used to never come to these myself, [but] what’s happened over the last year has just been utterly insane," he said.Nancy Holst of Sleepy Hollow was dressed in a Waldo costume as she carried a life-size cutout of Roskam. She said she is opposed to the tax plan as well as Roskam's support of repealing the Affordable Care Act. “For me, specifically, it’s Roskam, because he is our congressman," Holst said. "It started for me with health care because I have [multiple sclerosis]. It’s a pre-existing condition, and that was going to affect me. My mom is in a nursing home, and it was going to affect her. It’s very personal for me. Now it’s the taxes, because I will be unable to deduct my expenses for my MS. My meds are $12,000 a year.” Holst said the protest, combined with campaigns on social media, are making a difference. “This is what’s made a difference," she said. "I think this is a great turnout.”Julie Brethauer of Downers Grove said she never attended protests before Trump was elected, but she felt the need to speak out. “There’s no sign of bringing our nation together,” Brethauer said. “It’s a very dangerous climate. It’s incumbent upon us to raise our voices.” Reid McCollum, a leader of the Coalition for a Better Illinois 6th, said the proposed tax plan was the primary reason for the protest. “There’s not one thing in that bill for the middle class,” said McCollum, who specifically criticized the proposal to eliminate state and local tax deductions.The tax plan also would increase the federal deficit by as much as $1.7 trillion and lead to massive cuts to services and programs such as Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, opponents said. The House passed the measure by a 227-205 vote. Roskam offered a different portrayal of the tax plan. “We’ve got a tax code that’s a disaster,” said Roskam, who added that most Americans want some form of tax relief. He said the current proposal calls for a $5,000 tax break for a family of four with a median income of $130,000. “The more people look at this bill, the better it looks,” he said.

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 03:25:00 GMT

DOWNERS GROVE – Wheaton resident Nancy Schoot held a sign and chanted along with more than 100 others who gathered outside a Downers Grove banquet hall Thursday to protest an appearance by U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton.

 

Roskam gave the keynote speech at the Downers Grove Township Republican Organization’s 2017 Ronald Reagan Dinner at Ashyana Banquets, 1620 75th St. Many protesters said they came out to oppose Roskam’s support of a tax plan they describe as regressive and harmful to the middle class. The House of Representatives voted Thursday to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Roskam, who serves as chairman of the Tax Policy Subcommittee on the Ways and Means Committee, has taken a leadership role in crafting the legislation. Tom Shadle of Westmont described the tax plan as “completely unfair for most Americans.” “It benefits millionaires and corporations over us,” he said. Shadle said changes in the nation's political climate motivated him to attend the rally. “I used to never come to these myself, [but] what’s happened over the last year has just been utterly insane," he said.Nancy Holst of Sleepy Hollow was dressed in a Waldo costume as she carried a life-size cutout of Roskam. She said she is opposed to the tax plan as well as Roskam's support of repealing the Affordable Care Act. “For me, specifically, it’s Roskam, because he is our congressman," Holst said. "It started for me with health care because I have [multiple sclerosis]. It’s a pre-existing condition, and that was going to affect me. My mom is in a nursing home, and it was going to affect her. It’s very personal for me. Now it’s the taxes, because I will be unable to deduct my expenses for my MS. My meds are $12,000 a year.” Holst said the protest, combined with campaigns on social media, are making a difference. “This is what’s made a difference," she said. "I think this is a great turnout.”Julie Brethauer of Downers Grove said she never attended protests before Trump was elected, but she felt the need to speak out. “There’s no sign of bringing our nation together,” Brethauer said. “It’s a very dangerous climate. It’s incumbent upon us to raise our voices.” Reid McCollum, a leader of the Coalition for a Better Illinois 6th, said the proposed tax plan was the primary reason for the protest. “There’s not one thing in that bill for the middle class,” said McCollum, who specifically criticized the proposal to eliminate state and local tax deductions.The tax plan also would increase the federal deficit by as much as $1.7 trillion and lead to massive cuts to services and programs such as Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, opponents said. The House passed the measure by a 227-205 vote. Roskam offered a different portrayal of the tax plan. “We’ve got a tax code that’s a disaster,” said Roskam, who added that most Americans want some form of tax relief. He said the current proposal calls for a $5,000 tax break for a family of four with a median income of $130,000. “The more people look at this bill, the better it looks,” he said.


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Keystone pipeline leaks 210K gallons of oil in South Dakota

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 23:37:00 GMT

AMHERST, S.D. – TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil in northeastern South Dakota, the company and state regulators reported Thursday.

Crews shut down the pipeline Thursday morning and activated emergency response procedures after a drop in pressure was detected resulting from the leak south of a pump station in Marshall County, TransCanada said in a statement. The cause was being investigated.

Officials don't believe the leak affected any surface water bodies or threatened any drinking water systems from the spill onto agricultural land, said Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist manager at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which has dispatched a staff member to the site.

"Ultimately, the cleanup responsibility lies with TransCanada, and they'll have to clean it up in compliance with our state regulations," Walsh said.

The pipeline transports crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma, passing through the eastern Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. It can handle nearly 600,000 barrels, or about 23 million gallons, daily. TransCanada says on its website that the company has safely transported more than 1.5 billion barrels of oil, or about 63 billion gallons, through the system since operations began in 2010.

TransCanada said in its statement that it expected the pipeline to remain shut down as the company responds to the leak. It did not offer a time estimate.

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration didn't immediately return an email requesting additional information from The Associated Press.

A leak and spill in southeastern South Dakota in April 2016 prompted a weeklong shutdown of the pipeline. TransCanada estimated that just under 17,000 gallons of oil spilled onto private land during that leak. Federal regulators said an "anomaly" on a weld on the pipeline was to blame. No waterways or aquifers were affected.

TransCanada said at the time that the leak was the first detected on the pipeline since it began operating, though there had been leaks at pumping stations. One of those leaks happened in southeastern North Dakota in May 2011, when 14,000 gallons spilled after a valve failed at a pumping station near the South Dakota border.

The Keystone Pipeline is part of a 2,687-mile system that also is to include the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which has faced persistent opposition from environmental groups, American Indian tribes and some landowners.

President Donald Trump issued a federal permit for the project in March even though it had been rejected by the Obama administration. The project has received needed approvals in states between Alberta, Canada, and Nebraska. Nebraska regulators plan to announce their decision next week.




Radio anchor alleges Sen. Al Franken forcibly kissed her amid USO tourSen. Al Franken, D-Minn., speaks during the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Oil and gas drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge moved closer Wednesday as a key Senate panel approved a bill to open the remote refuge to energy exploration. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the drilling measure, 13-10. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:45:00 GMT

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota Sen. Al Franken apologized Thursday after a Los Angeles radio anchor accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour and of posing for a photo with his hands on her breasts as she slept.

Leeann Tweeden posted the allegations on the website of KABC, a Los Angeles radio station where she now works as a news anchor for a morning radio show. Tweeden joined the then-comedian on one of several trips to entertain troops in December 2006 when Franken told her he wrote a skit for the pair that included a kiss. And despite her protests, she alleges he insisted they practice the kiss during rehearsal.

"We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth," she wrote.

Tweeden also included a photo of her sleeping on board an aircraft later during the trip, in which Franken is shown reaching out as if to grope her breasts.

Franken said in a statement that Tweeden's account of the skit did not match his memory.

"But I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann," Franken wrote. "As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it."

Speaking on her radio show Thursday morning, Tweeden said she didn't come forward with the allegations sooner because she feared her career, including a stint as a swimsuit model, would lead others to discount her story.

"I felt belittled. I was ashamed. I've had to live with this for 11 years," she said on-air. "Somehow it was going to be my fault. It was not going to be worth the fight."

Franken is a longtime comedian and "Saturday Night Live" writer who won a Minnesota seat in the U.S. Senate after a lengthy recount in 2009.

He drew criticism during his first Senate campaign for joking about rape while discussing a sketch idea during his days on NBC's "Saturday Night Live." Franken said then that he regretted some of the things he had written, and said he respected women "in both my personal and professional life."

Franken becomes the latest figure swept up in sexual harassment allegations that have mushroomed since Hollywood figure Harvey Weinstein was hit with multiple allegations. Concerns about sexual harassment are widespread in Congress, where House Speaker Paul Ryan has ordered mandatory training.

Tweeden said the surge of people coming forward with their own experiences of sexual harassment or assault encouraged her to go public with her account about Franken.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., speaks during the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Oil and gas drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge moved closer Wednesday as a key Senate panel approved a bill to open the remote refuge to energy exploration. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the drilling measure, 13-10. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)


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Corruption probe: Grand jury investigates official misconduct at Algonquin TownshipIn an Oct. 30 court document filed in response to questions from Miller's attorney, Thomas Gooch, Gasser accused the former highway commissioner of giving away government property to political allies, bid rigging, using township credit cards to buy personal items for family members and falsifying government documents. Gasser accused Miller of covering up the delivery of two truckloads of the township's road salt to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. The salt "was an asset to be used by the Road District for use on the Roads of Algonquin Township and not to be given away to private organizations and or people to further Robert Miller's political relations," Gasser wrote. Allegations describe the "purchases of Disneyland tickets for his personal use and Anna May Miller's personal use." Anna May Miller is Bob Miller's wife and worked as his secretary. Gasser accused Bob Miller of carrying out a "scheme and artifice to Rig Bids in connection with a Street Sweeper sold to [the] Algonquin Township road district."Gooch called Gasser's accusations "nonsensical" and chalked all court proceedings as a "political witch hunt." Gooch has asked a McHenry County judge to stop Gasser's attorney, Robert Hanlon, from engaging in discovery to gather evidence to support his client's accusations, according to a Nov. 13 court filing. "I don't believe Andrew Gasser and his attorney have been appointed as inquisitors," Gooch said. "It's not the highway commissioner that can go after [Bob Miller]. It's the state's attorney." In an emergency motion filed Monday, Gooch acknowledged a criminal investigation looking into the Algonquin Township Highway Department during Miller's tenure as commissioner there. "Andrew Gasser, and/or his attorney, Robert Hanlon, have urged the McHenry County State's Attorney to commence a Grand Jury investigation and to indict Robert Miller," Gooch wrote in the motion. "[I] informed Mr. Hanlon that while a criminal investigation is ongoing it is doubtful Mr. Miller will sit for deposition."Gooch referred questions about criminal proceedings to another attorney representing the former highway commissioner: Edward Donahue. Donahue could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Gasser and Hanlon declined to comment on the pending lawsuits or answer questions about the grand jury probe. "Go pound sand," Hanlon said. This summer, McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally sent subpoenas seeking financial records to Gasser, Lukasik and Algonquin Township Supervisor Charles Lutzow, according to multiple sources close to the probe. The subpoenas sought financial statements, receipts and billing documents presented to the highway commissioner during a portion of Bob Miller's tenure inside the road district, according to documents reviewed by the Northwest Herald. Kenneally said he could not comment on pending grand jury proceedings. Illinois State Police investigators were asked to collect the documents from Algonquin Township officials, according to sources close to the probe. In a records room inside Algonquin Township, a Northwest Herald reporter observed several banker boxes filled with financial documents labeled as being for the Illinois State Police. Lutzow and Lukasik declined to comment for this story.The subpoenas came on the heels of Gasser’s June 1 request for an injunction that alleged Lukasik intended to destroy township records. The injunction included receipts Gasser said show Miller used public funds to buy handbags, women's clothing and other personal items. Gasser's injunction names Lukasik, Bob Miller and his wife. Gasser said in court documents that he received an anonymous package at the end of May that included records of numerous purchases between 2012 and 2016 made on highway department credit cards. They allegedly include a Levenger tote bag and women’s clothing from Prada, Land’s End and other vendors, according to court records. At the time of the filing, Miller, who denied Gasser's allegations, said the new highway commissioner had cooked up the whole thing to torpedo his bid to be appointed to fill out the remainder of Gasser’s term on the McHenry County Board. Gasser resigned from his seat on the County Board to focus on being highway commissioner. Gasser and his attorney delivered the package to the offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on May 31, according to an affidavit signed by Gasser. FBI Chicago spokesperson Garrett Croon said, “It is the policy of the FBI not to comment on any investigation we may or may not be conducting until charges have been filed or someone has been arrested.” Illinois State Police referred questions to the FBI's Rockford field office.

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 15:47:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE — A grand jury is investigating allegations of corruption over nearly a decade at the Algonquin Township Road District, according to documents reviewed by the Northwest Herald and confirmed by multiple sources close to the probe. Before longtime highway commissioner Bob Miller lost his seat in an upset during February's election, Miller's family had controlled the department since the 1960s. Miller, who served as highway commissioner for 24 years, has not been charged with a crime. He didn't return multiple phone calls and voice mails this week. The grand jury is looking into allegations of official misconduct, according to a subpoena reviewed by the Northwest Herald. Grand jury proceedings are kept secret, however court filings in a lawsuit between Algonquin Township's recently-elected Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser and Township Clerk Karen Lukasik shed light on some details investigators may be exploring. In an Oct. 30 court document filed in response to questions from Miller's attorney, Thomas Gooch, Gasser accused the former highway commissioner of giving away government property to political allies, bid rigging, using township credit cards to buy personal items for family members and falsifying government documents. Gasser accused Miller of covering up the delivery of two truckloads of the township's road salt to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. The salt "was an asset to be used by the Road District for use on the Roads of Algonquin Township and not to be given away to private organizations and or people to further Robert Miller's political relations," Gasser wrote. Allegations describe the "purchases of Disneyland tickets for his personal use and Anna May Miller's personal use." Anna May Miller is Bob Miller's wife and worked as his secretary. Gasser accused Bob Miller of carrying out a "scheme and artifice to Rig Bids in connection with a Street Sweeper sold to [the] Algonquin Township road district."Gooch called Gasser's accusations "nonsensical" and chalked all court proceedings as a "political witch hunt." Gooch has asked a McHenry County judge to stop Gasser's attorney, Robert Hanlon, from engaging in discovery to gather evidence to support his client's accusations, according to a Nov. 13 court filing. "I don't believe Andrew Gasser and his attorney have been appointed as inquisitors," Gooch said. "It's not the highway commissioner that can go after [Bob Miller]. It's the state's attorney." In an emergency motion filed Monday, Gooch acknowledged a criminal investigation looking into the Algonquin Township Highway Department during Miller's tenure as commissioner there. "Andrew Gasser, and/or his attorney, Robert Hanlon, have urged the McHenry County State's Attorney to commence a Grand Jury investigation and to indict Robert Miller," Gooch wrote in the motion. "[I] informed Mr. Hanlon that while a criminal investigation is ongoing it is doubtful Mr. Miller will sit for deposition."Gooch referred questions about criminal proceedings to another attorney representing the former highway commissioner: Edward Donahue. Donahue could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Gasser and Hanlon declined to comment on the pending lawsuits or answer questions about the grand jury probe. "Go pound sand," Hanlon said. This summer, McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally sent subpoenas seeking financial records to Gasser, Lukasik and Algonquin Township Supervisor Cha[...]


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GOP braces for extended clash in AlabamaAttorney for former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, Phillip L. Jauregui, left, and Moore Campaign Chairman Bill Armistead, right, speak at a news conference, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 15:38:00 GMT

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With President Donald Trump standing on the sidelines, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore and his allies on the ground in Alabama are bracing for an extended conflict — not with Democrats, but with their own party in Washington. The divide between the state and national GOP reached new depths late Wednesday as more allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against Moore, an outspoken Christian conservative. Already, the Republican National Committee, the Senate GOP campaign committee and the party's leading voices in Congress have called on the 70-year-old former judge to quit the race. Ever defiant, Moore offered fighting words in a tweet addressed to the top Senate Republican: "Dear Mitch McConnell, Bring. It. On." Chris Hansen, executive director of the national GOP's Senate campaign committee, fired back, "'Bring It On' is a movie about cheerleaders." At least three new allegations of misconduct were reported on Wednesday, including one by Tina Johnson, who told AL.com that Moore groped her during a 1991 meeting in his law office. Two others told The Washington Post they were young women when Moore courted them as a district attorney in his 30s. Three other women told the newspaper last week that they were teens when Moore tried to initiate romantic relationships. One said she was 14 when Moore touched her over her bra and underwear. "There's a special place in hell for people who prey on children," Ivanka Trump told the AP. "I've yet to see a valid explanation and I have no reason to doubt the victims' accounts." Her father, however, dodged questions about the turmoil in the Alabama Senate race on Wednesday. President Donald Trump, who withstood allegations of sexual assault weeks before his own election, was uncharacteristically silent when faced with questions about the scandal. Washington Republicans had looked to Trump as one of the few remaining hopes for pushing a fellow political rebel from the race. Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway addressed the situation briefly Thursday on "Fox and Friends." ''The president will make a statement when he wants to make a statement," she said. Behind the scenes, aides described Trump as vexed by the Moore issue. Even if he should speak out, he might make an uncomfortable critic: The allegations against the bombastic former judge echo Trump's own political problems when he was accused weeks before the 2016 election of more than a dozen instances of sexual harassment. The Trump aides would not be named discussing the matter because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations. To a great extent, the anti-establishment forces that propelled Trump to the White House are now strongly behind Moore, and Alabama Republican leaders are reluctant to enrage his loyal conservative supporters. The Alabama Republican Party is expected to maintain support for their embattled candidate. The state GOP's 21-member steering committee did not take a final vote after an hours-long meeting to discuss their options on Wednesday, which took place before new allegations of misconduct surfaced, according to three people familiar with the meeting who weren't authorized to speak publi[...]


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Truck driver in Lake in the Hills crash cited for failing to reduce speedAlex Vucha – For Shaw Media An Illinois State Police investigator works the scene after a truck carrying topsoil overturned and closed a portion of Virginia Road at Route 31 Tuesday in Lake in the Hills. The truck driver was sent to an area hospital with injuries that were not considered to be life-threatening, Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District Capt. Bill Pelinski said.

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 14:53:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – The driver of truck carrying topsoil that overturned Tuesday has been cited for failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident, according to authorities.

Lake in the Hills police asked drivers to avoid a portion of Virginia Road at Route 31 in a Nixle alert sent about 10:20 a.m. Tuesday. The alert said to avoid the area for 45 minutes.

Topsoil had spilled out of the truck, which was lying on its side on Virginia Road.

The driver, Jeffrey Almodovar, 53, of Antioch was taken to Centegra Hospital – Huntley with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, said Amanda Schmitt, public information officer for the Lake in the Hills Police Department.

The semitruck was traveling north on Route 31 when Almodovar turned left on Virginia Road and did not reduce the speed necessary to make the turn, causing the semitruck to overturn, Schmitt said.

It took two tow trucks to turn over the truck, and a small bulldozer worked to clean up the soil.

Lake in the Hills police sent a second Nixle alert at 12:30 p.m. that said the road was open for traffic.

Lake in the Hills police and Illinois State Police also responded to the scene.

Alex Vucha – For Shaw Media An Illinois State Police investigator works the scene after a truck carrying topsoil overturned and closed a portion of Virginia Road at Route 31 Tuesday in Lake in the Hills. The truck driver was sent to an area hospital with injuries that were not considered to be life-threatening, Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District Capt. Bill Pelinski said.


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Our view: Harassment, the Legislature, and accountability

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 06:55:00 GMT

The Illinois General Assembly’s scrambling efforts to regain control amid sexual harassment allegations would be laughable if the subject weren’t so serious. The Legislature’s prior unresponsiveness toward ethical complaints is typical of the arrogance of power Illinoisans have come to expect from the Democrats in charge – House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. Twenty-seven ethics complaints were filed against legislators or staffers since the last legislative inspector general, Tom Homer, left at the end of 2014. For nearly three years, those complaints sat idle in the legislative inspector general’s office. Why? Because those in power said they could not agree upon a replacement, and so there was nobody empowered to investigate. What a difference a few weeks can make. After legislative activist Denise Rotheimer, testifying at a hearing, accused state Sen. Ira Silverstein, a Chicago Democrat, of sexual harassment, said she’d filed a complaint with the legislative inspector general’s office in November 2016, and asked why nothing had been done about it, the top dogs in the Legislature decided they couldn’t stall any longer. The Legislative Ethics Commission, meeting in emergency session the first weekend of November, acted with lightning speed to appoint former federal prosecutor Julie Porter as legislative inspector general. And last week, lawmakers OK’d legislation that would empower Porter to act on all 27 ethics complaints that have languished, some since 2015. That permission was needed because the usual window for acting on a complaint is limited to 12 months. Also last week, House and Senate members were hurriedly given sexual harassment awareness training by staff members from the Illinois Department of Human Rights as the final days of the fall veto session wound down. This all began as legislation to specifically prohibit harassment in the Legislature’s ethics code was being considered, in the wake of a storm of sexual harassment complaints in Hollywood and elsewhere. Our concern is that Democratic legislative leaders have a history of giving the appearance of enacting reforms without actually doing anything of substance to advance good government. Now they’ve been unmasked. Now the public will be watching. Now they will be held accountable – we hope. Madigan, Cullerton and their majority Democratic caucuses aren’t accustomed to accountability. Smug and haughty in their majority status, they have scrupulously avoided it. They have spent years building and retaining systems and processes to keep accountability at bay. We note that state Sen. Tim Bivins’ new bill to block legislators from serving on the state Legislative Ethics Commission sounds absolutely necessary. The Legislature has proved it is averse to policing itself. A better way is to bring in disinterested outsiders to do the job. Going forward, a key question is, what will happen to those 27 ethics complaints, particularly Rotheimer’s complaint against S[...]



Trump: China agrees NKorea nuclear weapon freeze not enoughAP photo President Donald Trump looks for bottle water as he pauses while speaking about his trip to Asia in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Wednesday in Washington.

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 06:51:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the U.S. and China agree that North Korea cannot just freeze its nuclear weapons program in exchange for concessions and that it must eliminate its arsenal. Trump was restating a long-standing U.S. position but suggested that China now concurred with Washington that a “freeze-for-freeze” agreement was unacceptable. China and Russia have proposed that as a way to restart long-stalled negotiations that the North could freeze its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for the U.S. and its close ally South Korea stopping regular military drills that Pyongyang considers as preparation for invasion. China has not made a public disavowal of the proposal. China said Wednesday that it would send a high-level special envoy to North Korea amid an extended chill in relations between the neighbors. Trump was speaking a day after he returned from a 12-day trip through Asia that included a state visit to China, where he was hosted by President Xi Jinping. “President Xi recognizes that a nuclear North Korea is a grave threat to China, and we agreed that we would not accept a so-called freeze-for-freeze agreement, like those that have consistently failed in the past,” Trump said. He said that Xi pledged to implement U.N. sanctions that aim to deprive North Korea of revenues for its weapons programs “and to use his great economic influence over the regime to achieve our common goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.” China is North Korea’s traditional ally and accounts for about 90 percent of the isolated nation’s external trade – including virtually all its oil supplies. Speaking at the White House, Trump cast his Asian sojourn as a “tremendous success,” saying the United States was feted by foreign leaders and asserted its strength in the world. “America’s renewed confidence and standing in the world has never been stronger than it is right now,” Trump said, detailing his stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Trump said he had three goals on the trip: to unite the world against North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, to strengthen alliances in the region and to insist on “fair and reciprocal trade.” Trump pledged to work “as fast as possible” to eliminate sizable trade deficits with U.S. trading partners. He said it was “unacceptable” that the U.S. trade deficit with other nations stands at about $800 billion a year and promised to “start whittling that down as fast as possible.” He did not say how he planned to achieve that goal. Earlier, Trump used social media to spar with media coverage of his trip. He tweeted criticism at The New York Times. He said the paper “hates” that he has good relationships with world leaders, and “they should realize that these relationships are a good thing, not a bad thing.” He called the paper “naive [or dumb]” on foreign policy. The president also tweeted Wednesday that he was “forced” to watch CNN during the trip and “again realized how bad, and[...]


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Trump stays firmly out of Alabama-Moore disputeAP photo Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined at rear by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., tells reporters Tuesday that he has spoken to President Donald Trump and other leaders about the Alabama Senate race and the allegations of sexual misconduct against GOP candidate Roy Moore, on Capitol Hill in Washington. McConnell and other Republicans have called for Moore to step aside.

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 06:50:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump kept resolutely quiet and out of the fight Wednesday as national Republicans called ever more intensely for Roy Moore to abandon his Alabama campaign for the U.S. Senate, and party officials debated a list of options that none of them liked. Trump, who withstood allegations of sexual assault weeks before his own election, repeatedly ducked questions about the fate of the GOP candidate ignoring questions as to whether he would join top congressional leaders in urging Moore to step aside. With Moore’s would-be colleagues threatening to expel him should he win and the Republican National Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee pulling their support, Trump was seen as the best hope for pushing a fellow political rebel from the race. Instead, Moore, twice removed from his post as state Supreme Court chief justice, confronted Republicans with two damaging potential election outcomes. A victory would saddle GOP senators with a colleague accused of abusing and harassing teenagers, a troubling liability heading into next year’s congressional elections, while an upset victory by Democrat Doug Jones would slice the already narrow GOP Senate majority to an unwieldy 51-49. The party’s fraught dilemma is complicated further by the anti-establishment forces that propelled Trump to the White House and Moore to the nomination. Alabama Republicans expressed reluctance to block Moore and enrage his legions of loyal conservative supporters. State GOP leaders highlighted state party rules that could allow them to crack down on Alabama officials who support anyone other than Moore, who is facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. The president backed Moore’s unsuccessful rival, Sen. Luther Strange, in the Republican primary. Moore has the backing of Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon. And Bannon’s conservative news site, Breitbart, has led the charge in trying to discredit the allegations against Moore. A person close to Bannon said he still was backing Moore’s candidacy. Behind the scenes, aides described Trump as vexed by the Moore issue. He might make an uncomfortable Moore critic: The allegations against the bombastic former judge echo Trump’s own political concerns, when he was accused weeks before the 2016 election of more than a dozen instances of sexual harassment. National Republicans, including many of the same now abandoning Moore, withdrew their endorsements or halted their efforts on Trump’s behalf at the time. GOP officials cautioned that the actions of Washington Republicans, including the president, were unlikely to affect Moore’s decision-making – and that any moves against him could backfire. One person familiar with the president’s thinking said Trump has been slow to call for Moore to exit the race in part because he risked embarrassment if, as expected, Moore defied him. Officials said the Trump White House signed off on the RNC’s decision to cut ties with Moore. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump had been involved in dealing with the Moore situation “in great detail” during his Asia trip. McConn[...]


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Corruption probe: Grand jury investigates official misconduct in Algonquin TownshipBob Miller, former Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner, has been accused of using public funds by Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser to buy handbags, women's clothing and other personal items. Gasser's injunction names Lukasik, Miller and Miller’s wife, Anna May Miller, who worked as her husband’s secretary.Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser speaks at Wednesday's Algonquin Township meeting Nov. 8.Dan Neumann of Cary protests in front of the Algonquin Road District building Wednesday, June 14, 2017 in Crystal Lake. The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 protested the firing of three members shortly after Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser was sworn in.Andrew Rosencrans (left) and Derick Lee speak during a June monthly Algonquin Township Board meeting in Crystal Lake. Rosencrans and Lee were Both fired shortly after Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser took office.

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 06:48:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A grand jury is investigating allegations of corruption over nearly a decade at the Algonquin Township Road District, according to documents reviewed by the Northwest Herald and confirmed by multiple sources close to the probe. Before longtime Highway Commissioner Bob Miller lost his seat in an upset during February’s election, Miller’s family had controlled the department since the 1960s. Miller, who served in the post for 24 years, has not been charged with a crime. He didn’t return multiple phone calls and voice mails this week. The grand jury is looking into allegations of official misconduct, according to a subpoena reviewed by the Northwest Herald. Grand jury proceedings are kept secret, however court filings in a lawsuit between Algonquin Township’s recently-elected Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser and Township Clerk Karen Lukasik shed light on some details investigators may be exploring. In an Oct. 30 court filing in response to questions from Miller’s attorney Thomas Gooch, Gasser accused the former highway commissioner of giving away government property to political allies, bid rigging, using township credit cards to buy personal items for family members and falsifying government documents. Gasser accused Miller of covering up the delivery of two truckloads of the township’s road salt to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. The salt “was an asset to be used by the Road District for use on the Roads of Algonquin Township and not to be given away to private organizations and or people to further Robert Miller’s political relations,” Gasser wrote. Allegations describe the “purchases of Disneyland tickets for his personal use and Anna May Miller’s personal use.” Anna May Miller is Bob Miller’s wife and worked as his secretary, records show. Gasser accused Bob Miller of carrying out a “scheme and artifice to rig bids in connection with a street sweeper sold to [the] Algonquin Township Road District.” Gooch called Gasser’s accusations “nonsensical” and chalked all court proceedings as a “political witch hunt.” Gooch has asked a McHenry County judge to stop Gasser’s attorney, Robert Hanlon, from engaging in discovery to gather evidence to support his client’s accusations, according to a recent court filing. “I don’t believe Andrew Gasser and his attorney have been appointed as inquisitors,” Gooch said. “It’s not the highway commissioner that can go after [Bob Miller]. It’s the state’s attorney.” In a motion filed Monday, Gooch acknowledged a criminal investigation looking into the Algonquin Township Highway Department during Miller’s tenure as its commissioner. “Andrew Gasser, and/or his attorney, Robert Hanlon, have urged the McHenry County State’s Attorney to commence a grand jury investigation and to indict Robert Miller,” Gooch wrote in the motion. “[I] informed Mr. Hanlon that while a criminal investigation is ongoing it is doubtful Mr. Miller will sit for deposition.” Gooch referred questions about criminal [...]


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Cary officials, developer to talk Maplewood proposal Dec. 5Cary School District 26's vacant Maplewood school property will be discussed again Dec. 5 in a meeting of the Cary Village Board's Committee of the Whole.Developer Patrick Taylor looks over in October some renderings of his proposal for a residential neighborhood at the old Maplewood school property on Krenz Avenue in Cary.

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 06:47:00 GMT

CARY – Village officials and a developer looking to transform the old Maplewood school property have settled on a date for their next meeting.

Developer Patrick Taylor will present his latest proposal Dec. 5 for a residential redevelopment of the vacant Cary School District 26 school site at 422 W. Krenz Ave.

Taylor’s previous presentation in October for more than 300 residential units was too-dense for the Cary Village Board and a packed room of residents in attendance.

In total, Taylor proposed 250 multifamily units and 78 attached single-family units on the 15-acre site, which sits close to downtown Cary and is within walking distance of the Metra train station.

Residents weren’t pleased with Taylor’s desire to put a few four-story apartment buildings next to the railroad, among other things. Homeowners in the single-family housing neighborhood surrounding the school showed heavy opposition to Taylor’s ideas, but Taylor seemed to want to work with them to reach a compromise.

The board told Taylor to come back with a less-dense housing proposal and see how it goes. Taylor has a $2.5 million purchase agreement with the school district for the property, but it’s contingent on the village approving his plan.

The school closed in 2010 as enrollment continued to shrink. The district wants to get the property off its books, and the village wants to turn it into a tax generator.

The next discussion is scheduled for the Dec. 5 Committee of the Whole meeting at Village Hall, 655 Village Hall Drive, Cary. The Committee of the Whole meeting starts immediately after the Village Board meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. 

Cary School District 26's vacant Maplewood school property will be discussed again Dec. 5 in a meeting of the Cary Village Board's Committee of the Whole.Developer Patrick Taylor looks over in October some renderings of his proposal for a residential neighborhood at the old Maplewood school property on Krenz Avenue in Cary.


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Verizon Wireless coming to Route 47 in HuntleyPhoto provided Verizon will build a 2,543-square-foot retail building on a lot of Huntley Crossings, near the corner of Route 47 and Regency Parkway,Verizon will build a 2,543-square-foot retail building on a lot of Huntley Crossings, near the corner of Route 47 and Regency Parkway,

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 06:47:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – A new Verizon Wireless store is coming to Route 47 in Huntley.

Verizon will build a 2,543-square-foot retail building on a lot of Huntley Crossings, near the corner of Route 47 and Regency Parkway, said Charles Nordman, Huntley director of development services.

Conceptual plans for Verizon were reviewed Thursday at Huntley’s Committee of the Whole meeting. Entrances to the building will be on the east side, and all walls will have light fixtures and aluminum canopies over the glass and aluminum storefront windows, according to village documents.

A future Panda Express building will be to the south of the Verizon building. The 2,200-square-foot restaurant and drive-thru will sit two lots north of the proposed O’Reilly Auto Parts site, Nordman said.

The Verizon building plans were forwarded to the Huntley Planning Commission for further review.

A Verizon Authorized Retailer, TCC, is located in Huntley at 12030 Princeton Drive, but the village doesn’t have any existing Verizon retail stores.

Photo provided Verizon will build a 2,543-square-foot retail building on a lot of Huntley Crossings, near the corner of Route 47 and Regency Parkway,Verizon will build a 2,543-square-foot retail building on a lot of Huntley Crossings, near the corner of Route 47 and Regency Parkway,


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Kiwanis Santa run set for Dec. 3Rob Wolf (center) runs down Williams Street on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, as runners head toward the finish line at the annual Kiwanis Santa Run in Crystal Lake. This year's event is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 3.

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 06:47:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Hundreds of runners dressed as Santa will take to the streets of Crystal Lake once again Dec. 3.

The Kiwanis Club of Crystal Lake announced the sixth annual 5K run for local charities will begin at 9 a.m. that day. The starting line and finish line both are at The Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake.

In a fitting twist, snow fell last year as running Santas paced through downtown Crystal Lake. The 2016 race had more than 900 runners/walkers and raised more than $38,000 for local nonprofits.

This year, admission costs $38 a person for the 5K run and $15 a person for the shorter 1-mile run. Those who register for the 5K also can add on a Santa suit or long-sleeve performance shirt for $8.

Local beneficiaries of the run will be Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, Court Appointed Special Advocates of McHenry County, Girls on the Run of Northwest Illinois, Main Stay Therapeutic Farm, Turning Point of McHenry County and Kiwanis Club of Crystal Lake.

Participants can pick up race packets at the Running Depot, 30 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, on the first two days of December. Packet pickup is from 3 to 6 p.m. Dec. 1 and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 2. Runners also can grab packets the morning of the race from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.

Runners also can register online through Nov. 29. For information, visit KiwanisCrystalLake.org.

Rob Wolf (center) runs down Williams Street on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, as runners head toward the finish line at the annual Kiwanis Santa Run in Crystal Lake. This year's event is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 3.


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Police say former Richmond cop crashed into Lake Holiday home while drunkBrian Quilici

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 06:47:00 GMT

LAKE HOLIDAY – No one was injured Sunday when police said a former Richmond police officer crashed into a Lake Holiday home during a night of drinking and driving.

Brian Quilici of Oswego was driving west on East 2750th Road at 10:38 p.m. in Sandwich when the crash occurred, according to a news release from the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office. The 45-year-old made a wide turn at the intersection of Suzy Street and Nova Road, causing him to drive through several yards before crossing back over the road and crashing into a home in the 1400 block of Nova Road, police said.

Quilici was cited for driving in the wrong lane, driving under the influence of alcohol and operating an uninsured vehicle. He was released from the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office with a notice to appear in court on a future date.

Further details about the crash were not available through the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office.

A former Richmond police officer, Quilici hasn’t been in law enforcement since he pleaded guilty in 2010 to assaulting a man outside a Fox Lake bar.

Those charges, which were originally filed in 2005 in McHenry County, stemmed from accusations that Quilici had kicked a handcuffed man in the face. After five years of criminal and civil legal battles, Quilici took a plea deal 2010 and was convicted of attempted official misconduct and attempted assault.

Quilici’s charges had not been filed in the LaSalle County Circuit Clerk’s online court records, and a court date was not available through the LaSalle County Sheriff’s records office.

Brian Quilici


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Dryer fire causes heat, smoke damage to Cary homeFirefighters remove a dryer after a fire in a home at 3209 Crystal Lake Ave. on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 in Cary. Multiple departments were called to assist with tanker operations due to the lack of hydrants in the area.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 19:58:00 GMT

CARY – The second floor of a Cary home sustained heat and smoke damage after a dryer caught fire Wednesday morning.

Cary firefighters responded about 9:54 a.m. Wednesday to the 3200 block of Crystal Lake Avenue in Cary for the report of a structure fire, Cary Fire Capt. Andy Veath said.

A neighbor who was visiting the home heard the smoke detectors go off, smelled smoke and called 911.

“It’s good that people were home, able to hear the smoke detectors, call 911 immediately and get us out there quick," Veath said.

The fire was not visible from the outside of the building, but firefighters were able to quickly extinguish it inside the home.

Veath said the laundry room, hallway and a bedroom on the second floor sustained a fair amount of damage. A damage cost estimate was not yet available Wednesday, and no one was injured in the incident.

Cary fire investigators determined the fire's cause to be accidental.

Firefighters from Nunda, Fox River Grove, Barrington Countryside, Algonquin-Lake in the Hills, Wauconda and Barrington also automatically responded to the fire.

A dryer fire in McHenry that cost homeowners about $4,000 prompted the McHenry Township Fire Protection District to issue some tips to avoid the incidents.

The district reminded 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.

Firefighters remove a dryer after a fire in a home at 3209 Crystal Lake Ave. on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 in Cary. Multiple departments were called to assist with tanker operations due to the lack of hydrants in the area.


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Huntley police investigate racist comments made toward Lake in the Hills middle school studentShaw Media file photo

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 19:20:00 GMT

HUNTLEY – Huntley police are investigating racially motivated threats made via Xbox Live toward the same Lake in the Hills middle school student who was targeted in October. While the victim is the same as in the previous incident, it is not yet clear who the offender is in the second incident, Huntley Police Deputy Chief Mike Klunk said. A former Marlowe Middle School student was charged with a hate crime in connection with the threats made in October, Lake in the Hills Police Deputy Chief Pat Boulden said. Huntley School District 158 officials alerted Huntley police of the new threats immediately, said Dan Armstrong, director of communications and public engagement for the district. On Monday, Huntley police began investigating "disparaging racial and threatening comments that were sent to a juvenile via Xbox Live," according to a news release from the Huntley Police Department. Xbox Live is an online multiplayer gaming service that allows players to communicate with each other using microphones or messaging. Police had conducted several interviews and executed a search warrant in connection with the investigation as of Wednesday morning. The Huntley Police Department is working the investigation in cooperation with the school district and the Lake in the Hills Police Department, because of the possible involvement of current or former students within the schools in the area, according to the release. "The Huntley Police Department takes matters such as this extremely serious and will take appropriate actions to maintain the safety and well-being of our community," the release said. No charges had been filed in the new case as of Wednesday morning. In an alert sent to parents Wednesday afternoon, Marlowe Middle School Principal Henry Soltesz confirmed the investigation was ongoing and said there was no threat to the school as a whole. "The messages were not sent at school, did not use a school device, were isolated to one recipient and did not indicate a threat to the larger school community," Soltesz said. The school district said it has measures in place to address hate, violence and bullying, including a hotline for anonymous reports, a student leadership team and a diversity and inclusion work group. "We thank you for your continued partnership in educating your students about the serious nature of these types of messages, for your vigilance in keeping our school a safe place for students, and for your continued trust in us to care for your students," Soltesz said. McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney John Gibbons also confirmed there was an ongoing investigation into the new case. Marlowe Middle School and other nearby schools were placed on a soft lockdown after the previous threats Oct. 19. “Please continue to be our pa[...]


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'Obamacare' sign-ups 45 percent ahead of last year's paceIn this Oct. 18, 2017 photo, the Healthcare.gov website is seen on a computer screen in Washington. Government data released Wednesday show sign-ups for Affordable Care Act health plans are running more than 45 percent ahead of last year's pace. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 18:43:00 GMT

WASHINGTON – Sign-ups for Affordable Care Act health plans are running more than 45 percent ahead of last year's pace, according to government data released Wednesday.

The numbers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services come as Republican senators are pushing to pay for tax cuts by repealing the "Obamacare" requirement to carry coverage.

The new figures show that nearly 1.5 million consumers picked a plan through Nov. 11, compared to just over 1 million from Nov. 1-12 last year, a period that had included one additional day for consumers to enroll.

The latest data cover 39 states served by the HealthCare.gov website. The overall number of sign-ups is higher because states running their own health insurance markets are not counted in the HealthCare.gov data.

The share of new customers for 2018 coverage stayed at about 23 percent, the report said.

The Obama-era health law offers subsidized private insurance for people who don't get coverage on the job. Sign-ups this year are being closely watched because of efforts by the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress to do away with the law.

At same time, consumers who are eligible for financial assistance are seeing more low-cost plans available. Even though premiums have gone up, that's been offset by increased subsidies.

If Congress repeals the requirement that people buy health insurance, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 13 million more people would be uninsured by 2027.

This year's sign-up season is only half as long as last year's. It ends Dec. 15.

In this Oct. 18, 2017 photo, the Healthcare.gov website is seen on a computer screen in Washington. Government data released Wednesday show sign-ups for Affordable Care Act health plans are running more than 45 percent ahead of last year's pace. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


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Sen. McConnaughay details steps that address complaints against lawmakersIn response to the state lacking an inspector general to respond to ethics complaints, state Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, has supported legislation to address sexual harassment and other complaints. McConnaughay serves on the Legislative Ethics Commission, which appointed an interim inspector general to hear 27 ethics complaints.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 16:29:00 GMT

ST. CHARLES – Reports of sexual harassment have been highlighted in the news lately, and Illinois is also facing the issue, said state Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles. “We have our share of it in state government as well,” McConnaughay said. “I sit on the Illinois Legislative Ethics Commission, and this young lady came forward and testified at [a] hearing on proposed legislation on sexual harassment. She brought forward a complaint last year about the behavior of one of our senators.” Denise Rotheimer, a victims rights activist, testified at a committee hearing that she’d been harassed by state Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, and could not find anyone to take her complaint. McConnaughay said she was stunned, because she’s been on the Ethics Commission for three years, and members have always been told there were no complaints, when – in fact – there were 27 complaints over three years. “The leaders were dragging their feet on getting an inspector general,” McConnaughay said. “The commission had a meeting a week ago and appointed Julie Porter, a former U.S. district attorney, as an interim inspector general. The Legislative Ethics Commission does have the legal right to hire a special inspector general for a special purpose. In this case, it is to look at the 27 allegations.” Porter would have the authority to bring in whomever she needs to help her with the investigations, McConnaughay said. The complaints will remain confidential to protect the privacy of the accused and the accuser – unless there is a charge to be made, McConnaughay said. When the accusations against Silverstein were “played out in the court of public opinion … nobody’s rights were served with that” because no one knows who is right and who is wrong, she said. Not all 27 complaints are necessarily for sexual harassment, McConnaughay said, as some could be about conflicts of interest or illegal activities, or items simply filed with the wrong agency. Illinois lawmakers have passed bills to address sexual harassment and other issues, she said. McConnaughay’s 33rd District website, www.senatormcconnaughay.com, gives particulars of the laws passed: • Senate Bill 402 specifically prohibits sexual harassment of legislators and lobbyists, and requires state agencies and lobbyists to adopt a sexual harassment policy, and requires all state officials, employees and lobbyists to complete in-person sexual harassment training on an annual basis. • House Bill 137 lifts the one-year statute of limitations on the 27 complaints to allow the new interim inspector general to go back and review the complaints. • Senate Resolution 1076 creates the Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention. In [...]


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Wauconda High School student arrested after graphic school shooting rantCarston H. Goodson, 18, of the 300 block of West Main Street, Yates City, faces a felony charge after sending a graphic video to 40 Wauconda High School students threatening a school shooting, according to a news release from the Wauconda Police Department.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 15:41:00 GMT

WAUCONDA – A former Island Lake resident and Wauconda High School student was arrested Tuesday night after he sent a video via Snapchat threatening to carry out a school shooting.

Carston H. Goodson, 18, of the 300 block of West Main Street, Yates City, faces a felony charge after sending a graphic video to 40 Wauconda High School students threatening a school shooting, according to a news release from the Wauconda Police Department.

"He is currently enrolled as a student but has not shown up to classes for three weeks," Wauconda Police Chief David Wermes said. Goodson's family is local.

Goodson recently moved to Yates City, a suburb of Peoria, Wermes said. It's not clear why Goodson moved.

About 1 p.m. Tuesday, students alerted Wauconda High School administrators that the video had been sent.

“I will show you what a school shooter is," Goodson allegedly said in the video, which consists of a continuous, graphic rant sent to students during school hours via Snapchat.

District 118 officials worked with Wauconda police to ensure students' safety and to preserve any evidence, according to the release.

"This partnership prevented major disruption to the school day," the release stated.

Goodson was arrested just after 7 p.m. at his parents' home in the 700 block of Wood Creek Court in Island Lake and charged with disorderly conduct.

If convicted, Goodson faces one to three years in prison.

"District 118 continues to encourage all parents to discuss with their children the importance of appropriately using technology at all times and especially social media," Superintendent Daniel J. Coles said in an alert.

School counselors and administrators will be available to students to provide support or discuss the situation, the alert said.

Carston H. Goodson, 18, of the 300 block of West Main Street, Yates City, faces a felony charge after sending a graphic video to 40 Wauconda High School students threatening a school shooting, according to a news release from the Wauconda Police Department.


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Online Career Coach: Help is Closer Than You Think

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 15:39:44 GMT

Whether you’re just starting your career or reinventing yourself, the job search process can rank right up there with apartment hunting and online dating: sometimes interesting, oftentimes tedious and draining.

Enter Career Coach, a new career-search tool that allows you to complete a personal interest assessment that then links you not only to career options, but educational opportunities, earning potential, job outlook, and recent job postings. Sound too good to be true?

Daniel Ortego didn’t think so. The new Career Services Coordinator at McHenry County College, Ortego launched this initiative in September to offer students, alumni and community residents the best options possible for career success.

“I’ve been in career service for 14 years, and I like this tool, because it uses an assessment and links careers to what McHenry County College has in the way of educational opportunities—either certificate programs or associate degrees,” Ortego said.

The program also links to job postings in geographic areas extending into the greater Chicago area and even into Wisconsin.

Ortego also is rebranding MCC’s internal job posting site, now called Hire a Scot, which lists jobs that employers from the area post on the MCC site. Students, alumni, and community members open an account on the site, and postings include internships, part-time and full-time jobs. “It’s like Career Builder or indeed.com, but it’s regional,” Ortego said. 

Other career services for students and community members include one-on-one appointments with a career coach to cover goals and practice interviews and search strategies, four career development workshops scheduled during the fall semester, and a career fair Nov. 7 with local and regional employers.

“We’re always eager to have companies come on campus for information tables,” Ortego said. “It’s a great opportunity for our students and companies to meet each other. We’re trying to instill in students the value of gaining experience in their career areas through internships, jobs, and apprenticeships. It aligns with what they’re doing here at MCC.”

Visit www.mchenry.edu/careerservices or contact MCC Career Service at careers@mcnenry.edu or call (815) 455-8576.

 


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Tiny houses are trendy – unless they go up next doorAP photo Tyson King stands at the door of his tiny house Thursday, where he has lived for nearly seven weeks, at a homeless encampment in Seattle.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:12:00 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa – As he tows a 96-square-foot house around Des Moines, Joe Stevens is overwhelmed by the intense, sometimes tearful support he receives from churches, schools and service groups for his plan to use the trendy little structures to help homeless people. But when Stevens actually tried to create a village of the homes in Iowa’s largest city, the response was far different. “We got shot down,” said Stevens, who leads a group that proposed erecting 50 tiny homes on a 5-acre industrial site north of downtown Des Moines. “It was a sense of fear, uncertainty and doubt, a kneejerk situation.” Tiny homes have been promoted as the solution to all kinds of housing needs – shelter for the homeless, an affordable option for expensive big cities and simplicity for people who want to declutter their lives. But the same popularity that inspired at least six national TV shows about the homes often fails to translate into acceptance when developers try to build them next door. In at least a dozen cases across the nation, neighbors organized to stop tiny house projects, including in Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; San Jose, California; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Tallahassee, Florida; and Bend, Oregon. Sometimes the efforts moved ahead despite objections, but in many cases, the communities were blocked. The president of the American Tiny House Association said opposition arises even among people who feel an affinity for the homes. “People say, ‘Tiny home are great and cool, and you can put that village anywhere but right across the street from my subdivision,’” said Chris Galusha, who is also a Fort Worth, Texas, area builder. The current interest in small houses follows a steady growth in the median size of homes, from 1,200 square feet in the 1940s to about 1,860 square feet in this decade. As home sizes spiraled up, tiny house pioneers in the 1990s began promoting the austerity and frugality of spaces smaller than most garages. The idea captivated millions of Americans, even those who remain in more spacious accommodations. “It’s an aspirational lifestyle, and it’s fun to watch people try to do something difficult, which is to live contrary to the general trend, which is more space,” said Ben Keys, a real estate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. The opposition is often focused on developments for homeless people, as in Des Moines. But in many cases, it also extends to tiny home communities designed for the open market. That’s what happened in Charlotte, North Carolina, where a developer had hoped to build 56 tiny homes near a neighborhood filled with ranch houses and split-levels. Opponents argued that the tiny homes would clash with existing housing, cause traffic proble[...]


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Tampa police hunt for killer after 4th area slayingAP photo Law enforcement agents investigate a fatal shooting in the Seminole Heights neighborhood Tuesday in Tampa, Fla.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:12:00 GMT

TAMPA, Fla. – Tampa police blockaded a neighborhood and searched with a SWAT team and dogs for a possible serial killer Tuesday after a fourth person was shot dead for no apparent reason. Residents of the Seminole Heights neighborhood reported hearing shots just before 5 a.m. Tuesday. Officers quickly moved in, and found the body of Ronald Felton, 60, who had been walking across the street when a gunman came up behind him and fired, interim Police Chief Brian Dugan said. “Our officers responded within seconds,” Dugan said, noting that enabled officers to quickly set up a perimeter around a roughly square-mile area. SWAT officers assisted by agents from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives could be seen patrolling the streets with rifles as they moved through yards and banged on doors. “I believe that this person lives in this neighborhood,” Dugan added as he spoke with reporters at the scene. “And we need everyone’s cooperation; we need everyone to pay attention to what’s been going on.” Dugan said that until his detectives can determine otherwise, Felton’s shooting will be treated as if it’s related to last month’s 10-day spree where three people were slain. The previous three victims were alone and had gotten off a bus in the neighborhood when they were gunned downed at night. None was robbed. “This has got to stop,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn told a news conference on Tuesday. “We will hunt this person down until we find him.” Cynthia Murray told The Tampa Bay Times that Felton had been living with her near the shooting scene. She said Felton was an unemployed construction worker who volunteered Tuesdays and Fridays at the nearby food bank run by a church, which is close to where he was shot. She said he would go to the church at 2:30 a.m. to help. “He didn’t need to come here every week, but he loved it,” she said about Felton’s volunteer work. She said Felton and his twin brother, Reggie, were well-known in the area. “He was the sweetest person, never any problems,” his cousin, Linda Daniels, told the newspaper. Dugan urged Seminole Heights residents to stay inside and prepare to share with police any potential detail that might be useful as the SWAT team and police dogs cleared properties. Police said the suspect is a thin black man, about 6 feet tall, wearing black clothing and carrying a large handgun. They are asking residents to examine video from any security cameras they have. Seminole Heights is a working-class neighborhood northeast of downtown Tampa that’s slowly becoming gentrified. Run-down homes sit next to renovated, historic bungalows, and trendy restaurants have sprung up near auto body shops. Officers were at every street corner around the perimeter, qu[...]


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Crystal Lake police begin annual Toys for Tots driveLance Cpl. Richard Stanger-Dyer and Sgt. Anthony Bui talk to Russell Vazquez of Crystal Lake about the toy sword he is donating to Toys for Tots in 2016 outside the Toys “R” Us outlet store in Gurnee Mills. Russell was at Gurnee Mills with his parents, Rick and Stephanie, and sister, Alexsa. The Crystal Lake Police Department began its annual toy drive Monday.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:11:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Police started collecting Toys for Tots on Monday.

The Crystal Lake Police Department is a participating agency in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves’ yearly Toys for Tots program, where new toys are given to the less privileged during the holiday season.

“Without the tremendous contributions from our citizens, this program would not be successful,” community relations officer Eddie Pluviose said in a news release. “This year, the police department will be at it again.”

Police will be collecting toys until Dec. 18 for this year’s drive. Anyone who wants to donate toys for kids can go to the Crystal Lake Police Department, 100 W. Woodstock St., Crystal Lake.

Only new and unwrapped toys will be accepted. Those donating can drop the toys in the Toys for Tots box in the department’s lobby, which is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. The lobby is closed on weekends and holidays.

Although Toys for Tots started in 1947 in California and still is a nationwide program, all donations will stay local and benefit children in McHenry County.

“Let’s help make a child’s holiday season a little merrier this year,” Pluviose said in the news release.

The Toys for Tots program has distributed more than 313 million toys to 151 children in 60-plus years of existence.

To learn more, contact Pluviose at 815-356-3731 or epluviose@crystallake.org. For information on the Toys for Tots program, visit www.toysfortots.org.

Lance Cpl. Richard Stanger-Dyer and Sgt. Anthony Bui talk to Russell Vazquez of Crystal Lake about the toy sword he is donating to Toys for Tots in 2016 outside the Toys “R” Us outlet store in Gurnee Mills. Russell was at Gurnee Mills with his parents, Rick and Stephanie, and sister, Alexsa. The Crystal Lake Police Department began its annual toy drive Monday.


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McHenry County flood victims could be eligible for low-interest, long-term loansPiles of sandbags cover La Fox River Drive in Algonquin after flooding in July. Those affected by the floods in McHenry, Lake and Cook counties now are eligible to apply for low-interest, long-term loans.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:11:00 GMT

Flood victims in McHenry, Lake and Cook counties could see some relief with the help of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Tuesday that the SBA approved the state’s request for assistance to help people and businesses in northeast Illinois recover from severe storms and floods that occurred July 11 to 27. 

On Monday, Rauner said the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied the state’s request for help in flood recovery in the same three counties, then said his office was working with the SBA on arranging help.

Those affected by the floods in McHenry, Lake and Cook counties now are eligible to apply for low-interest, long-term loans.

“I appreciate the SBA’s quick consideration of our request for assistance,” Rauner said. “This will help many people and businesses begin the next phase of their recovery from this disaster.” 

Rauner declared a state of emergency in July after extreme flooding of the Fox River. On Aug. 31, the state requested federal assistance, which was denied.

To be eligible for an SBA declaration, at least 25 homes and/or businesses in a county must sustain major, uninsured losses of 40 percent or more.

Information about the disaster loan program and application deadlines is available on the SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster.

Piles of sandbags cover La Fox River Drive in Algonquin after flooding in July. Those affected by the floods in McHenry, Lake and Cook counties now are eligible to apply for low-interest, long-term loans.


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Lake in the Hills reviews proposed balanced budgetLake in the Hills

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:10:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Lake in the Hills trustees discussed a proposed budget for fiscal 2018 Tuesday, which places a focus on capital projects that can no longer be deferred. The 2018 budget was at a deficit of $1 million, but trustees approved two new utility taxes Thursday for gas and electric use that are estimated to bring $1.2 million in additional revenue. Village President Russ Ruzanski said he is relieved the budget is balanced, but Trustee Bob Huckins reminded him that it comes at the price of new taxes. “All that money is going to go forward to capital improvement, so we’ll now have a dedicated revenue source that we didn’t have before,” Ruzanski said. “We’ve been pulling from the general fund, which is probably why we were always behind. Hopefully, we can stretch a string of balanced budgets in the future.” Total revenue for the village is budgeted at $26,245,908, a 1.4 percent decrease from 2017, according to village documents. The village plans to spend $26,377,059 on purchases that include: • $495,000 for multiple park playground replacements, park expansions and resurfacing projects, as well as facility roofing and siding replacements • $200,000 on Village Hall building modifications, such as replacing carpeting, installing an electronic sign and centralizing its customer service operations • $184,000 to replace four Public Works vehicles and a tractor for facility and grounds maintenance and plowing snow • $126,000 to replace four police squad vehicles • $30,000 to buy a Storage Area Network for ongoing essential organizational technology infrastructure upgrades • $1,211,000 for the Industrial Drive water main extension and Randall Road water main relocation projects • $284,500 to eliminate displaced runway thresholds and to replace a vehicle gate for the Lake in the Hills airport • $67,210 to pay principal and interest payments on bonds in the Airport Fund For fiscal 2018, the village plans to have 110 full-time employees, 10 part-time workers and 81 seasonal employees. Four positions were cut in 2017 to reduce expenses, Village Administrator Jennifer Clough said. Employees will receive a 2 percent increase in salary through a cost-of-living adjustment, effective Jan. 1, and a 3 percent merit pool adjustment based on annual performance evaluations in July, Clough said. The 2018 budget allocates funds for economic development studies that would be pursued at the direction of the Village Board. It also makes indirect investments in the appearance and safe[...]Lake in the Hills


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Collinsville teacher views his classroom as sanctuary for kidsDerik Holtmann – Belleville News-Democrat via AP Collinsville High School Latin teacher James Stark speaks to students Oct. 18 in his classroom in Collinsville. Stark views his students' well-being as his top priority. Teaching Latin is somewhere down the list. Stark has been a teacher for three years. At 24 years old, he was named the 2017 Illinois Latin Teacher of the Year by the Illinois Classical Conference. His students say they think of Room 225, the Latin classroom, as a sanctuary.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:09:00 GMT

COLLINSVILLE – James Stark is a teacher whose approach has been shaped by other teachers’ failures. When he was growing up in the Chicago area, Stark said he saw the education system fail some of his friends. They were students who had low grades, were apathetic or frequently got into trouble. “My favorite teachers were connecting with me because I was all like, ‘Oh, yeah. I’m ready to learn,’ but they weren’t connecting with these other students, and it didn’t seem like they cared to even try,” Stark said. “And that upset me.” Now that he’s the teacher in a classroom at Collinsville High School, Stark said his goal is to reach those students who might have been left behind. Sometimes that means talking to them about something other than Latin – the subject he teaches – such as their interests, relationships or problems at home, Stark said. “You can’t learn Latin if you are scared to death about something that might happen after school today or your mind is preoccupied,” Stark said. “Part of my job is to address that before we can even get into Latin mode.” For one student, Stark is the reason he’s back on track to graduate high school. Kenny Denson dropped out of school earlier in the year because his unexcused absences were stacking up. “Nobody else was there for me, and he was there,” Kenny said of his Latin teacher. Stark has phone numbers for students such as Kenny who are in the school’s Latin club. He decided to text him. “I sent him several texts a day for the next few days being like, ‘Hey, I’m not quite sure what’s going on, where you’re at right now, but I would really like it if you came back in and you talked to me about it,’ ” Stark said. He urged Kenny, a senior, to stick it out for a few more months to get his diploma. “And I told him, ‘It might seem like the harder thing to do right now with how many days you’ve missed, but we can sit down with your other teachers. We can figure out what’s going on. We can get a plan, and you’ll be good to go. So don’t worry. Just please come in, and let’s talk about this,’ ” Stark said. Days passed without a response. But then Kenny sent a message agreeing to meet. He was re-enrolled in school by the end of that day. “That was the most important thing I’ve done as a teacher so far,” Stark said. Kenny said he was dealing with some personal problems at the time, but Stark never asked him directly about those problems. His teacher just helped him find support. “I’v[...]


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City of McHenry, county to expand bike path along Bull Valley RoadOfficials want to fill a gap in the regional trail network to allow access to places such as McHenry City Hall, Moraine Hills State Park and Centegra Hospital. The city-maintained path runs along Charles J. Miller Road from Route 31 to River Road, and there is a gap between Prairie Trail and Route 31.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:09:00 GMT

McHENRY – The city of McHenry has approved an intergovernmental agreement to expand its bike and walking path along Bull Valley Road.

Officials want to fill a gap in the regional trail network to allow access to places such as McHenry City Hall, Moraine Hills State Park and Centegra Hospital. The agreement will cost the city about $37,500 for phase 1 design and engineering. McHenry County would pay about $150,000. The McHenry County Board on Tuesday night passed a resolution approving the 2018-’22 transportation program, which includes the Bull Valley Road shared-use path, county documents show.

The city-maintained path runs along Charles J. Miller Road from Route 31 to River Road, and there is a gap between the Prairie Trail and Route 31.

“While the path’s construction along the county highway provides mobility for pedestrians and cyclists, it doesn’t provide a connection to the McHenry County Conservation District Prairie Trail 4,300 feet west of Route 31,” Public Works Director Jon Schmitt said in a note to the McHenry City Council.

The project has been identified as a “high priority” by planning agencies and might be eligible for grant funding, Schmitt said.

Biking advocates said that because there is no connecting path, they have to ride along Bull Valley Road, which can be dangerous.

“Quite frankly, you take your life into your hands,” said Greg Glover, member of the McHenry County Bicycle Advocates. “People go quickly on Bull Valley Road. … This will give people that ability to commute.”

Glover said he gathered about 1,000 signatures on a petition for the project, and interest came from all over McHenry County.

“There is a pretty overwhelming community interest,” he said. “When you have a connection point like that, you have created a trail system, and people look for that when they are looking for somewhere to go.”

Officials want to fill a gap in the regional trail network to allow access to places such as McHenry City Hall, Moraine Hills State Park and Centegra Hospital. The city-maintained path runs along Charles J. Miller Road from Route 31 to River Road, and there is a gap between Prairie Trail and Route 31.


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Prairie Grove seeking applications for trustee opening

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:09:00 GMT

PRAIRIE GROVE – Longtime Village President Stan Duda resigned from his seat as a Prairie Grove trustee.

Duda, who was village president from 2009 to 2017, left office Nov. 1. He did not return a call seeking comment, and Village President Dave Robak did not want to speak for him, but he said in an email that Duda and the village “separated on reasonable terms.”

The village now is seeking applications from residents interested in filling the spot.

In an email to residents, Robak said the village is soliciting resumes to fill a recently vacated trustee position.

The appointed trustee would be serving a two-year term and have to run again in 2019 if he or she wished to keep the seat. Resumes should be submitted to Village Clerk Kim Minor at kminor@prairiegrove.org.

“If you have any questions or want to share interest, you can contact any board member or the village president,” Robak wrote.

Applicants must be Prairie Grove residents for at least one year before the appointment, remain a resident during their term, attend monthly board meetings and special meetings, and fulfill an oath to perform duties as a trustee.

Robak can appoint a nominee, and the Village Board can vote whether to elect that person.

As leader, Robak said his goals are to increase property values and business tax revenue; lower operations costs or mindfully improve services; and keep the tax levy as stable as possible.

“We are leading our town through a quiet time in development, but we are looking to improve operations, updating ordinances and look toward our future,” Robak said.

The village encourages interested applicants to attend the 7:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday at Village Hall, 3125 Barreville Road, Prairie Grove.




Cary man caught with 21 pounds of marijuana gets most serious charge dropped for clean recordMark J. Priester, 39, of the first block of West Franke Avenue, pleaded guilty Thursday to possession of marijuana and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:08:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – Prosecutors said a Cary man’s clean record prompted them to drop a more serious charge if he pleaded guilty to possessing about 21 pounds of marijuana.

Mark J. Priester, 39, of the first block of West Franke Avenue, pleaded guilty Thursday to possession of marijuana and was sentenced to four years in prison.

A more serious charge initially filed against Priester, manufacturing and delivering marijuana, could have landed him six to 30 years in prison, court records show.

The plea negotiation was agreed upon by the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office because Priester had no previous felony convictions, Assistant State’s Attorney John Gibbons said Monday.

“Four years is still a pretty stiff sentence,” Gibbons said.

In addition to his four-year sentence, Priester was ordered to pay the court $2,784.

His attorney, Robert Hockemeyer, was not available to comment Monday.

Police arrested Priester on Nov. 3 and searched his home March 31 in Cary, according to a news release.

At the time, police also accused him of being in possession of a number of firearms despite having his firearm owner’s identification card previously revoked, court records show.

Priester originally was charged with possession of a controlled substance, manufacturing and delivering marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm without a FOID card and possession of ammunition without a FOID card.

Police said Priester had more than 1 ounce of psychedelic mushrooms, less than an ounce of cocaine, more than 21 pounds of marijuana and an assortment of drug paraphernalia in his possession March 31, according to court documents.

As part of a plea negotiation, Priester only pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana, and all other charges against him were dropped.

Priester has an ongoing case in Lake County, where he faces similar charges.

Mark J. Priester, 39, of the first block of West Franke Avenue, pleaded guilty Thursday to possession of marijuana and was sentenced to four years in prison.


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Crystal Lake-based School District 155 Board seeks to lower proposed tax levy increaseCrystal Lake-based School District 155 Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Jeremy Davis speaks Tuesday to the board about its tentative tax levy and debt service abatement options.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:08:00 GMT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Crystal Lake-based School District 155 Board seemed to reach a compromise Tuesday night – one that might lessen a proposed tax levy increase. But just how much of a drop from what was proposed, and tentatively approved, in October is unclear. The new projections will be presented Nov. 21 at the board’s next regular meeting, where a final vote on the levy could take place. Each member of the board was present and participated during a Tuesday night meeting of the Budget, Planning, Finance and Audit Committee.  The discussion was the first public meeting on the topic since Oct. 17, when the board voted, 4-2, in favor of a tentative 2.4 percent tax levy increase over the previous year. The board, however, also asked that District 155 Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Jeremy Davis explore abatement options as a way to minimize the tax levy increase. Before getting into specifics Tuesday, Davis pointed out that District 155 is one of only two districts among McHenry County’s 22 to both reduce its tax extension and tax rate in each of the past two years. Davis’ projection at the October meeting estimated that with the proposed increase, the owner of a $250,000 home would pay about $50 more in property taxes over the previous year. On Tuesday, Davis highlighted a couple abatement scenarios. The first, a $500,000 abatement, would knock off about $16.50 from that $50 increase, while the second, a $1 million abatement, would knock off about $33. Based on comments made by each member Tuesday, it initially appeared that board members intended to vote the same way next week that they did nearly a month ago, with Rosemary Kurtz and board Vice President Jason Blake still the only two against an increase. Kurtz and Blake pushed other board members to wait one more year, especially since the board was reorganized four months ago with three new members. Both looked at the estimated $50 million the district has in cash reserves and said asking for an increased levy with that much cash on hand was too big of a request. Board member Ron Ludwig differed, and said after seeing the district’s $50 million worth of maintenance projects that are needed over the next 10 years, an increase is justified for long-term stability. He said, however, that the board seriously would have to consider spending cuts in the near future, as taxpayers have asked for. But board member Amy Blazier was torn and suggested the board consider abatement. Blake expressed a desire to reach a middle g[...]


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Lake in the Hills crash sends truck driver to hospital, closes Virginia Road at Route 31An overturned truck carrying topsoil closed a portion of Virginia Road at Route 31 on Tuesday in Lake in the Hills.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:08:00 GMT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – An overturned truck carrying topsoil closed a portion of Virginia Road at Route 31 on Tuesday morning in Lake in the Hills.

Lake in the Hills police asked drivers to avoid the area in a Nixle alert sent about 10:20 a.m. Tuesday. The alert said to avoid the area for 45 minutes.

Topsoil had spilled out of the truck, which was lying on its side on Virginia Road.

The driver was sent to an area hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District Capt. Bill Pelinski said.

“It’s good that there’s no car, nothing underneath,” Pelinski said. “[The driver] had himself out when we got here.”

It took two tow trucks to turn over the truck, and a small bulldozer worked to clean up the soil.

Lake in the Hills police sent a second Nixle alert at 12:30 p.m. that said the road was open for traffic.

Lake in the Hills police and Illinois State Police also responded to the scene.

An overturned truck carrying topsoil closed a portion of Virginia Road at Route 31 on Tuesday in Lake in the Hills.


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McHenry County Board approves 11.2 percent cut of property tax levyMcHenry County Board members voted in favor of the budget Tuesday night, as well as a $71.4 million property tax levy that will collect $8 million less next year than the county collected this year.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:07:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Board approved a budget Tuesday night that includes an 11.2 percent reduction in the county’s property tax levy. At a regular meeting Tuesday, all County Board members voted in favor of the budget and a $71.4 million property tax levy that will collect $8 million less next year than the county collected this year. “Every year, this crushing burden forces longtime residents out of their homes,” board Chairman Jack Franks said. “We are addressing the biggest issue facing McHenry County residents. In reducing that levy, we are showing that government is listening to them, and we are proving that government can work in a bipartisan manner to fight for them.” Franks, who took office in December as the first board chairman directly elected by voters, ran on a campaign of cutting the county levy by 10 percent. County government accounts for about 10 percent of residential property tax bills. Cuts came from trimming levies for funds that have robust reserves and ending bond issuances. The county plans to cut $800,000 from the Division of Transportation’s levy, which will have more revenue next year because it has made the final payment on a $50 million road projects bond. The largest cut – $5.03 million – targets the county’s general fund. The abatement includes $882,585 in freed money after the county made the final payment on a capital project that bought a Motorola radio system. The budget cuts $743,653 from the highway fund levy collected by the county, plus an additional $107,507 in matching funds. The budget cuts the mental health fund levy by $500,000. Other proposed levy cuts include $317,478 from the $4 million levy for Social Security and cutting the liability insurance fund levy $999,929, or 80 percent – the fund to cover the county’s liability in lawsuits has a $14 million reserve. The budget cuts the county government’s six-month fund reserve to five months over several years, and will use that $7.2 million to pay for needed building improvements. Those include work on a government parking lot, a courtroom remodel and replacing portable radios for authorities such as the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office. A copy of the proposed budget can be found on the county’s website, www.co.mchenry.il.us. Fiscal 2018 begins Dec. 1. HOW THEY VOTED Yes: Christopher Spoerl, Robert Nowak, Thomas Wilbeck, Joe Gottemoller, Donald Kopsell, Chris Christensen, Kay Rial Bates, Paula Yensen, Michael Skal[...]


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Illinois review board approves Centegra Health System changesH. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com Woodstock resident Paul Lockwood (from left) Mayor Brian Sager listen as Fire/Rescue District Chief Michael Hill reads a statement before the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board members Tuesday, Nov.14 in Bolingbrook. The review board approved the changes involving the Woodstock and Huntley facilities.H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com Centegra Health System Senior Vice President of Strategy and Development Hadley Streng (left) and Centegra Health System general counsel Aaron Shepley appear Tuesday before the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board in Bolingbrook. The review board approved the changes involving Centegra's Woodstoc, McHenry and Huntley facilities.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:07:00 GMT

WOODSTOCK – The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board formally approved Centegra Health System’s plans to suspend certain services at its Woodstock location. The state review board met Tuesday morning to consider the plans, which Centegra announced in June and implemented parts of in August. The plans reduce Woodstock’s formerly comprehensive emergency room to a basic emergency center, which means patients requiring intensive care or an overnight stay must be transferred. The hospital’s behavioral health services will stay, and Centegra also will add physical rehabilitation beds to Woodstock. The plan also includes shuffling services at Centegra Hospital – McHenry and Centegra Hospital – Huntley. Some Woodstock residents and officials opposed the plan, but the board was required to allow the certificates of exemptions – one to discontinue the 60 medical-surgical beds, 12 intensive care spaces and five operating room beds in Woodstock; and the other to discontinue 22 rehabilitation beds in McHenry. Board members also approved changes in services at McHenry and Huntley hospitals, which include adding the intensive care and medical-surgical procedure beds from Woodstock. Board members approved the proposal unanimously. “By statute, this board has no option at this point but to approve the project, since all information needed was provided,” board Chairwoman Kathy Olson said. Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager, Woodstock Fire/Rescue District Chief Michael Hill and Woodstock resident Paul Lockwood spoke about the changes at the public hearing. Sager said he understood the hospital system had to make tough choices, but he hopes the board will allow future service providers into Woodstock when the time arises. “I have utmost respect for the many contributions Centegra has made, not only provisions for health care, but also as corporate citizens,” Sager said. “Centegra has worked with us in making good things happen for our residents and those in the larger region. … I choose to believe they have tried, in light of the given circumstances and current trends, to make the best decisions they could.” Centegra more than doubled its losses at the end of fiscal 2017. The hospital system ended its fiscal year June 30 with $62.3 million in operating losses, according to an unaudited financial statement found on Electronic Municipal Market Access, a municipal security website. The losses are $20 million more than officials p[...]


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