Sunday, Dec 16, 2018

News aggregator

Female paramedics sue Chicago Fire Department for harassment

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 18:00
CHICAGO – Five female Chicago Fire Department paramedics have filed a federal lawsuit alleging they were sexually harassed by superiors.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court contends there is a "code of silence" in the department that encourages the illegal behavior by failing to "discipline, supervise and control" its officers.

The plaintiffs' attorney, Lynn Palac, says her clients choose to remain anonymous while naming their male harassers in the lawsuit. She says the women have already been put through the wringer and endured a pattern of abuse that has threatened their physical and mental well-being.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction aimed at remedying the hostile work environment.

In response to the lawsuit, Chicago Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey would only say the city "does not tolerate harassment of any kind."

Crash closes Charles Road near Queen Anne Road: McHenry County Sheriff's Office

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 10:39
A vehicle crash closed Charles Road between Queen Anne and Raffle roads Monday afternoon and required a detour of traffic for a couple hours, according to the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office.

Douglas Culley, 28, of McHenry, was westbound on Charles Road when he swerved to the north to avoid a car stopped in the road, according to Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Sandra Rogers.

His semi truck trailer carrying logs overturned and hit a van that was stopped southbound on Queen Anne Road.

Culley suffered minor injuries and was taken to Centegra Hospital-McHenry.

He was issued a citation for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

McHenry Township Trustees question hiring of Nunda Township Highway Commissioner's son

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 10:05
McHenry Township trustees have raised questions about the hiring of a highway department road worker related to Nunda Township Highway Commissioner Mike Lesperance.

“Is Benton Lesperance, is he related to Mike Lesperance, the Nunda Township road Commissioner?” Trustee Bob Anderson asked McHenry Township Highway Commissioner Jim Condon at an April 12 meeting.

“He is his son," Condon said. "Do you have a problem with that?”

Anderson and Trustee Mike Cunningham did have a problem with the hiring. Benton Lesperance is the son of Nunda Township Highway Commissioner Mike Lesperance.

Condon defended the hire. He interviewed a few people for the road crew job, he said, and hired Benton Lesperance because he was the most qualified.

"He’s qualified to do the job." Condon said. "He’s experienced at all things we do, and you have a problem ..."

“How old is he?” Cunningham asked.

“He’s 25 or 26,” Condon said.

“What relative or friend of yours will [Mike Lesperance] be hiring?” Cunningham asked. “That’s how you guys operate.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way," Condon said, "but that’s completely inaccurate.”

A person in the audience spoke up: “How many other applications were filed?”

“You’re out of order, sir,” Supervisor Craig Adams said.

"We interviewed three or four people to fill that spot, and he was the most qualified," Condon told the Northwest Herald. "His family has been building roads for the last 30 years."

Cunningham asked Condon if the job had been posted for the public to see.

“It wasn’t,” Condon said. “People continually turn in their resumes here looking for jobs.”

“So nobody asks, this kid gets hired,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham then berated Condon for his working relationship with former Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Bob Miller.

In October and November 2017, Miller billed the McHenry Township Road District $480 under his company name, AMM Enterprises Inc. He charged the road district $40 an hour for 12 hours of work, according to payroll records.

“Bob Miller has a great deal of experience. He charged us $40 an hour instead of me going and hiring a consultant for over $100 an hour. That seems to make a lot of sense to me to save the taxpayers, our constituents, money," Condon said.

Anderson, Cunningham, Mike Lesperance and Benton Lesperance could not be reached for comment.

Condon summed up the scrutiny of his hire: "They make a big stink about everything because they want to abolish townships, and anything they can do to raise negative feedback about the township, they’re going to do that.”

Fact check: President Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims so far

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 09:49
In the 466 days since he took the oath of office, President Donald Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker's database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.

That's an average of nearly 6.5 claims a day. When we first started this project for the president's first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. Slowly, the average number of claims has been creeping up. Indeed, since we last updated this tally two months ago, the president has averaged about 9 claims a day. Our interactive graphic (, created with the help of Leslie Shapiro and Kaeti Hinck of The Washington Post's graphics department, displays a running list of every false or misleading statement made by Trump. We also cataloged the president's many flip-flops, since those earn Upside-Down Pinocchios if a politician shifts position on an issue without acknowledging that he or she did so. Trump has a proclivity to repeat, over and over, many of his false or misleading statements. We've counted at least 113 claims that the president has repeated at least three times, some with breathtaking frequency. Seventy-two times, the president has falsely claimed he passed the biggest tax cut in history - when in fact it ranks in eighth place. Fifty-three times, the president has made some variation of the claim that the Russia probe is a made-up controversy. (If you include other claims about the Russia probe that are not accurate, the count goes to 90.) Forty-one times, the president has offered a variation of the false claim that Democrats do not really care about the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Trump terminated. Thirty-four times, the president has wrongly asserted that a border wall was needed to stop the flow of drugs across the southern border, even though the Drug Enforcement Administration says a wall would not limit this illegal trade, as much of it travels through legal borders or under tunnels unaffected by any possible physical barrier. Thirteen times in the past five weeks, Trump has claimed his long-promised border wall is already being built, even though Congress denied him the funding and prohibited the use of prototypes he had viewed with great fanfare. Of course, not every day is filled with falsehoods, but the president makes up for his slow days with days that offer an extraordinary number of misleading claims - such as 53 on July 25, 2017, or 49 on Nov. 29, 2017. These are often days when the president has had a series of freewheeling interviews or given a campaign-rally-style speech. For example, only days ago, on April 28, Trump racked up 44 claims, many of which came from the president's 80-minute speech in Michigan. (April 28 is tied in third place with Dec. 8, 2017, for most number of claims in a single day.) In his speech, Trump touched on many of his main themes, such as immigration and jobs, adding in a liberal dose of his favorite false facts. --- Among them: He took credit for 3 million jobs "since the election," even though he did not become president until almost three months later. About 2.5 million jobs have been created since Trump took the oath of office. He cited his "incredible success" in terms of job growth, even though annual job growth under his presidency has been slower than the last five years of Obama's term. He said "wages are going up for the first time in many, many years," even though they have been rising steadily since 2014. He once again cited the unemployment rate - especially for African Americans - even though he repeatedly said during his campaign that the unemployment rate was phony and could not be trusted. He said the border wall was being built even though Congress only provided funds for fencing. He claimed he had attracted 32,000 people at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on the eve of the election when the venue held only 4,200 and local media estimated that perhaps that many were waiting outside, for a total of 8,000. He claimed he had "essentially" gotten rid of Obamacare, when he has not. He also falsely suggested he only failed to pass repeal legislation because of one vote, ignoring the fact that none of the substantive replacement bills got nearly enough votes. Sen. John McCain's vote was against a "skinny" repeal that was only to lead to talks with the House on a common position, with no guarantee of an agreement that would pass both Houses. He falsely claimed that Democrats colluded with the Russians, and the whole probe started with "a document that was paid for by the DNC [Democratic National Committee] and Hillary Clinton." But the DNC was a victim of Russian activities, as its emails were hacked and then released via WikiLeaks. The House Intelligence Committee has confirmed that the FBI's counterintelligence probe began with a tip from the Australian government, which notified U.S. authorities about a drunken conversation between a Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, and an Australian diplomat in May. Papadopoulos claimed the Russians had "political dirt" on Clinton. The information in the dossier funded by Democrats came to the attention of the FBI later. He got simple facts wrong, such as claiming that Henry Ford invented the assembly line (it was Ransom Eli Olds) and that Franklin D. Roosevelt served 16 years (it was 12). He also said the European Union was created "to take advantage of the United States" even though it was created after World War II with the aim of ending bloody conflicts on the continent - and with the active support of the United States. He once again claimed that under the Iran nuclear agreement, the United States gave the country $150 billion. But this was always Iran's money. Iran had billions of dollars in assets that were frozen in foreign banks around the globe because of international sanctions over its nuclear program. The Treasury Department estimated that once Iran fulfilled other obligations, it would have about $55 billion left. The Central Bank of Iran said the number was actually $32 billion. He falsely said that major newspapers and television networks make up nonexistent sources. That is grounds for firing in the news business. Sources can certainly be wrong, but they exist. For the 31st time, he used a made-up number - $7 trillion - for how much the United States supposedly has spent on wars in the Middle East. He falsely claimed that fired deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe "took $700,000 for his wife's campaign." McCabe's wife ran for Virginia Senate, receiving about $700,000 from then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D, and the state Democratic Party. But campaign records show that every cent raised for the campaign was spent. McCabe also did not participate in his wife's campaign. He once again claimed that President Xi Jinping of China instantly agreed to a request from Trump to allow the sale of U.S. beef after years of blocking it. But China had already agreed to such sales under a deal brokered by the Obama administration. He said - for the 29th time - that the U.S. trade deficit with China is $500 billion. But it's really about $300 billion. He also said "we lose about $500 billion" through the trade deficit even though countries do not "lose" money on trade deficits. He claimed "we have done more than anybody in a year" and "I accomplished more than I promised." In reality, at the end of his first year, Trump had signed fewer bills than any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower (though he has since caught up and passed Obama and is tied with George W. Bush). As for promises, our Trump Promise Tracker shows Trump has only kept 23 percent of 60 key promises and broken 27 percent.

Trump: 'Disgraceful' leak of Mueller Russia probe questions

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 09:46
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Tuesday it's "disgraceful" that a list of questions that the special counsel investigating Russian election interference wants to ask him was "leaked" to the news media.

The New York Times late Monday published the nearly four dozen questions given to Trump's attorneys, covering Trump's motivations for firing FBI Director James Comey last May and contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians.

"It is so disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were 'leaked' to the media," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "No questions on Collusion. Oh, I have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!"

In a second tweet, Trump said: "It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened."

But the questions do appear to indicate that Mueller is looking into possible collusion. Some touch on Russian meddling and whether the Trump campaign coordinated in any way with the Kremlin. In one question obtained by the Times, Mueller asks what Trump knew about campaign staff, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, reaching out to Moscow.

Mueller has brought several charges against Manafort, but none are for any crimes related to Russian election interference during the 2016 campaign. And Manafort has denied having anything to do with such an effort.

Trump repeatedly has called the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller a "witch hunt" and insists there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia. Trump has also accused Comey of leaking classified information. Mueller was appointed to oversee the investigation by the deputy attorney general after Trump fired Comey in May 2017.

Although Mueller's team has indicated to Trump's lawyers that he's not considered a target, investigators remain interested in whether the president's actions constitute obstruction of justice and want to interview him about several episodes in office.

Many of the questions obtained by the Times center on the obstruction issue, including his reaction to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal from the Russia investigation, a decision Trump has angrily criticized.

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow declined to comment to The Associated Press on Monday night, as did White House lawyer Ty Cobb.

The queries also touch on Trump's businesses and his discussions with his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, about a possible Moscow real estate deal. Cohen's business dealings are part of a separate FBI investigation.

One question asks what discussions Trump may have had regarding "any meeting with Mr. Putin," referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Another question asks what the president may have known about a possible attempt by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to set up a back channel with Russia before Trump's inauguration.

Additional questions center on Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his discussions on sanctions against Russia with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition. Flynn is now cooperating with Mueller's investigators.

"What did you know about phone calls that Mr. Flynn made with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, in late December 2016?" reads one question. Another asks if there were any efforts to reach out to Flynn "about seeking immunity or possible pardon."

Flynn was fired Feb. 13, 2017, after White House officials said he had misled them about his Russian contacts during the transition period by saying that he had not discussed sanctions.

The following day, according to memos written by Comey, Trump cleared the Oval Office of other officials and encouraged Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn.

Sprint, T-Mobile have to sell need for deal

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:56
NEW YORK – To gain approval for their $26.5 billion merger agreement, T-Mobile and Sprint aim to convince antitrust regulators that there is plenty of competition for wireless service beyond Verizon and AT&T.

The deal announced Sunday would combine the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless companies and bulk them up to a similar size to Verizon and AT&T, the industry giants.

But the companies argued that the combination would allow them to better compete not only with those two rivals, but also with Comcast and others as the wireless, broadband and video industries converge.

“This isn’t a case of going from four to three wireless companies – there are now at least seven or eight big competitors in this converging market,” T-Mobile chief executive John Legere said in a statement. He would be the CEO of the combined company.

T-Mobile and Sprint have been considering a combination for years. But a 2014 attempt fell apart amid resistance from the Obama administration. And in 2017 another potential deal fell through as well.

The combined company, to be called T-Mobile, would have about 127 million customers. Consumers worry a less-crowded telecom field could result in higher prices, while unions are concerned about potential job losses.

In a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure acknowledged that getting regulatory approval is “the elephant in the room.” One of the first things the companies did after sending out the deal’s news release was to call Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

The companies stressed that they plan to have more employees following the combination, particularly in rural areas, than they do as stand-alone companies now.

They also emphasized that the deal would help accelerate their development of faster 5G wireless networks and ensure that the U.S. doesn’t cede leadership on the technology to China.

And they said the combination would allow them to better compete with a growing number of competitors in a changing market.

Verizon and AT&T have been expanding their video-content businesses, while cable companies have been moving into wireless. That allows a single company to combine home and wireless internet and use content to support the communications businesses.

Comcast, the cable giant that finished buying NBCUniversal in 2013, offers customers wireless service by reselling access to Verizon’s network. So does another dominant cable company, Charter.

The all-stock deal values each share of Sprint at slightly more than 0.10 T-Mobile shares. Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile’s parent, would own about 42 percent of the combined company. Japan’s SoftBank, which controls Sprint, would own 27 percent, and the remainder would be held by the public.

The companies said they expect the deal to close by the first half of 2019 and would result in about $6 billion in annual cost savings.

Investors have been anticipating a deal like this for some time. In addition to the thwarted attempt three years ago, the two companies were poised to combine in October, but the deal was called off after what analysts said was a disagreement over control of the combined company.

The deal will have to be reviewed by the Justice Department and the FCC.

National carriers had not been able to get a deal through under President Barack Obama. But the FCC in September deemed the wireless market “competitive” for the first time since 2009, which some analysts say could make it easier to present a deal.

The 5G aspirations are at the heart of the agreement, and the new technology could allow companies to provide faster service to people’s homes.

Drivers facing most expensive driving season in years

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:51
LOS ANGELES – Get ready for a little bit more pain at the pump this summer.

Crude oil prices are at the highest level in more than three years and are expected to keep climbing, pushing up gasoline prices along the way.

The U.S. daily national average for regular gasoline is now $2.81 a gallon. That’s up from about $2.38 a gallon a year ago, according to Oil Price Information Service. And across the U.S., 16 percent of gas stations are charging more than $3 a gallon, according to AAA.

“This will be the most expensive driving season since 2014,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for Oil Price Information Service.

The price of U.S. crude oil has been on a mostly steady incline since last June, last week hitting $68.64, the highest since December 2014. Benchmark U.S. crude closed Monday at $68.57. Oil prices near $70 shouldn’t put the brakes on economic growth, however. While they’re boosting costs for some sectors of the economy, the energy sector and related industries have more money to spend on equipment and workers.

But higher oil prices are certainly an inconvenience for drivers, especially those with lower incomes.

“The good news is, both at the global level and the U.S. level, this is occurring at a time when growth is fairly robust,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Markit. “But consumers as a whole will be hurt, mostly because gasoline prices are going up.”

Kevin Lanke, a motion picture lighting technician in Redondo Beach, California, says he’s now paying about $3.39 a gallon to fill up the 25-gallon tank in his 2000 Land Cruiser SUV. That’s about 20 cents more a gallon than a couple of months ago.

“I would fill up my car and it would be $52 or $53,” said Lanke, 51. “Now it’s in the mid $60s for the same amount of gas.”

Lanke keeps the recent increase in perspective, noting that three years ago he and his fellow Californians were paying over $4 a gallon. But he’s already weighing his options, saying if gas goes to $4 a gallon, he’ll buy a more fuel-efficient car to use as his main ride and drive the Land Cruiser only when he needs it.

Several factors have helped drive oil prices higher. A wave of global economic growth has driven up demand for oil. At the same time, production cutbacks initiated by OPEC last year have helped whittle down oil supplies.

In the U.S., oil supplies were running 1.1 million barrels lower at the start of this summer’s driving season, which runs from April through September, than a year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

That has amplified the typical increase in gas prices seen this time of year. Pump prices normally rise as demand increases from families going on vacation and taking to the highways on road trips. Already, U.S. consumer demand for gasoline hit a record high for the month of April, according to the EIA.

Drivers in Western states such as California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada, as well as Alaska and Hawaii, are paying the most at the pump, according to AAA. The average retail price in those states ranges from $3.19 to $3.61 a gallon.

Average retail gasoline prices are lowest in a swath of states in the South and Southeast, including Louisiana and Alabama. These two states have the cheapest gas in the country at $2.54 and $2.56 a gallon, respectively, according to AAA.

Still, prices remain well off from 2008, when crude oil prices jumped above $130 a barrel and average retail gas prices surged to an all-time high of $4.11 a gallon.

“People forget very, very quickly,” Kloza said, noting that the average U.S. gasoline price remains well below the $3.60 a gallon it was five years ago.

“We’re seeing a higher price environment ... but I don’t think we’re going to look at really apocalyptic numbers,” he said.

The EIA projects that the U.S. retail price for regular gasoline will average $2.74 a gallon this summer, up from an average of $2.41 a gallon a year earlier. Gas prices tend to rise each spring through Memorial Day and slowly decline as the summer goes along.

For all of 2018, the agency expects that the national retail price for all grades of gasoline will average $2.76 a gallon. That would translate into an additional $190 spent on fuel by the average U.S. household this year compared to last, the agency said.

“At the higher income levels, this won’t really have much of an effect,” Behravesh said. “But it’s a bigger deal for lower-income families, because a bigger share of their budgets goes to things like gasoline.”

In broader economic terms, the rise in oil and gasoline prices will help crude producers in states like Texas and North Dakota and will likely boost capital spending industrywide. Spending by oil companies fell sharply as oil plunged below $30 a barrel in 2016, dragging on U.S. economic growth.

Industries that rely heavily on fuel, such as shipping companies, airlines, vehicle fleet operators and other transportation companies, are seeing rising costs, which eventually will be passed on to consumers. Diesel fuel hit its highest national average price in more than three years over the weekend at about $3.06 a gallon. American Airlines said it spent $412 million more on fuel in the recent first quarter than in the year-ago period.

At current levels, U.S. crude oil prices won’t noticeably hamper the economy, Behravesh said.

Asylum seekers stalled at U.S.-Mexico border

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:46
TIJUANA, Mexico – About 200 people in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers waited on the Mexican border with San Diego for a second straight day Monday to turn themselves in to U.S. border inspectors, who said the nation’s busiest crossing facility did not have enough space to accommodate them.

After a monthlong journey across Mexico under the Trump administration’s watchful eye, the asylum seekers faced an unexpected twist Sunday when U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing facility had “reached capacity.” The agency said in a statement Monday that it had no estimate when the location would accept new asylum application cases.

About 50 people, many of them women and children, camped overnight on blankets and backpacks in Tijuana outside the Mexican entrance to the border crossing. The crowd grew Monday, assembled behind metal gates that Mexican authorities erected to avoid impeding the flow of others going to the U.S. for work, school and recreation.

Another 50 asylum seekers were allowed past a gate controlled by Mexican officials Sunday to cross a long bridge but were stopped at the entrance to the U.S. inspection facility at the other end. They waited outside the building, technically on Mexican soil, without word of when U.S. officials would let them try to claim asylum.

Irineo Mujica, a caravan organizer, said asylum seekers who crossed the bridge remained in a waiting area on Mexican soil Monday. He alleged that U.S. authorities were refusing entry in an effort to dissuade people from trying.

“When they say they reached capacity, it’s just nonsense from (U.S. authorities) so they can abandon, not attend to, and evade their responsibilities in asylum cases,” said Mujica, of the advocacy group Pueblos Sin Fronteras.

Customs and Border Protection said Sunday that it will resume asylum processing at the San Diego crossing when it has more space and resources.

The San Ysidro border inspection facility that divides San Diego from Tijuana can hold about 300 people, meaning the bottleneck may be short-lived. The agency processed about 8,000 asylum cases from October through February at the crossing, or about 50 a day.

Thousands of Haitians seeking to turn themselves in at the San Diego crossing overwhelmed U.S. border inspectors at the San Diego crossing in 2016, leading to the creation of a ticketing system for them. At one point, Haitians had to wait in Tijuana for more than five weeks for their turn.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the caravan since it started in Mexico on March 25 near the Guatemala border and headed north to Tijuana.

He tweeted Monday that “the migrant ‘caravan’ that is openly defying our border shows how weak & ineffective U.S. immigration laws are.”

Trump’s broadsides came as his administration vowed to end what officials call “legal loopholes” and “catch-and-release” policies that allow people requesting asylum to be released from custody into the U.S. while their claims make their way through the courts, which can take years.

“Catch and release is ridiculous,” Trump said Monday at a news conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the White House. “If they touch our property, if they touch our country, essentially you catch them and you release them into our country. That’s not acceptable to anybody.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called the caravan “a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system.” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said asylum claims will be resolved “efficiently and expeditiously” and warned that anyone making false claims could be prosecuted and said asylum seekers should seek protection in the first safe country they reach, including Mexico.

Asylum seekers did not appear to be thrown off by the delay.

Elin Orellana, a 23-year-old pregnant woman from El Salvador, said she is fleeing the MS-13 street gang, a favorite target of both Sessions and Trump because of their brutal killings committed in the United States.

She said her older sister had been killed by the gang in El Salvador, so she is attempting to join other family members in the Kansas City area.

“Fighting on is worth it,” she said Sunday as she camped outside the Mexican entry to the border crossing.

Area high school students compete in annual accounting bowl

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:45
Top accounting students from seven area high schools tested their numerical ability and problem-solving skills at McHenry County College’s 16th annual High School Accounting Bowl.A total of 150 students were divided into two levels, Accounting 1, which included first-year accounting students and Accounting 2, for those completing two years of high school accounting. The students took a one-hour long paper and pencil test that included true-false and multiple choice questions that challenged their knowledge of the balance sheet, current assets and liabilities and many other accounting principles. Students also participated in the popular accounting Jeopardy game and a scavenger hunt to find classrooms and student support offices at the college.Crystal Lake South High School captured first place in the Accounting 1 team category, followed by second place finisher Harvard High School and third place finisherWoodstock High School. Alden-Hebron and Woodstock North high schools finished fourth and fifth place, respectively.Harvard High School won first place in the Accounting 2 team category, followed byAlden-Hebron, second place and Marengo, third place. Alden-Hebron won the t-shirt design contest. The back of their maroon shirts pictured a house plant and a price tag with the wording “Look at that plant asset.”Individual winners in Accounting 1 were: Hannah Wilson, Woodstock North, first place; Ryan Osterberg, Crystal Lake South, second place; Reid Stricker, Harvard, third place; Mariano Caballero, Crystal Lake South, fourth place; and Ruby Galarza, Harvard, fifth place.Individual winners in Accounting 2 were: Catherine Austin, Harvard, first place; Cole Miller, Harvard, second place; Cristian Escobar, Harvard, third place; Mason Mindham, Alden-Hebron, fourth place; and Brett Lehman, Harvard, fifth place.“The high school accounting teachers do a great job of preparing all of the test takers,” said Don Curfman, MCC accounting instructor and accounting bowl organizer. “The teachers also provided feedback to make this year’s accounting bowl better with the introduction of an accounting trivia game using the Kahoot! a mobile app.”Curfman noted that 10 percent of area high school accounting students who enroll at MCC after graduation take college level accounting classes. He said MCC accepts a full year of high school accounting classes as credit for MCC’s Basic Accounting (ACC110) and students with two years of high school accounting may get credit for MCC’s Financial Accounting (ACC151).Students listened to 2017 MCC graduate Kamila Czeczot speak about her educational pathway toward accounting. She currently studies accounting at Northern Illinois University and was accepted for a summer internship at a Chicago area tax firm.“There is no limit to what a college degree could get you,” she said, adding accounting graduates could land jobs in a variety of industries, including banking, manufacturing, healthcare, government, educational institutions and non-profit organizations.Crystal Lake South accounting teacher Jim Krol said his students look forward to the Accounting Bowl all year long. “It’s a great event,” he said. “It’s a day to meet students from other schools who take accounting and we all learn a little and have fun. It’s great for students to hear success stories from people who started out a community college.”Harvard senior Catherine Austin won first place two years in a row. She placed first in Accounting 1 last year and is this year’s Accounting 2 champion. She plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater next fall to study agricultural business and accounting.“I thought it was fun,” Austin said. “The test has some challenging questions and some easy questions. I like accounting because it has rules you have to follow.”Accounting 1 first place winner Hannah Wilson agreed. “It think the event is well organized,” she said. “The questions on the test were similar to what we learned in class, so we were pretty well prepared.”

More than $6,000 raised for victims of Crystal Lake fire

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:44
An online fundraiser has raised more than $6,000 in support of a family who lost many of their belongings in a house fire over the weekend.

Crystal Lake Deputy Fire Chief Christopher Olsen said Monday that the fire started in the garage, and the cause is unknown.

As of Monday afternoon, $6,905 had been raised on a GoFundMe page,, made by Kerri Liebmann Tilton. The Northwest Herald could not immediately reach Tilton or the affected family.

Cash donations for the family also are being accepted at Husmann and Indian Prairie elementary schools and Lundahl Middle School, District 47 coordinator of community relations Denise Barr said.

Firefighters responded to the home about 6:49 p.m. Saturday in the 1600 block of Stockton Lane. No one was injured, but the fire caused about $150,000 in damage.

Firefighters extinguished the bulk of the fire from the exterior before entering the home, Olsen said. He said the department will work with insurance investigators to determine the cause.

Vehicle rollover in Woodstock damages power lines

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:43
A vehicle rolled over on Route 120 causing power lines to come down.

The Woodstock Fire Rescue District responded about 2 a.m. Sunday and saw the vehicle on its side upon arrival on Route 120 between Thompson and Charles roads, Woodstock Fire Lt. Mike Brinkman said.

The male driver had removed himself from the vehicle and was sitting on top of his pickup truck, Brinkman said.

“There’s a chance he was already on an energized vehicle. He could have been electrocuted,” Brinkman said, adding live wires were touching the man’s truck and on the road.

Traffic was redirected and roads were blocked near Charles and Greenwood roads. ComEd came out and cut the power, officials said.

The man was assessed and released on the scene, and no one was taken to the hospital.

Brinkman said he was not sure what caused the crash. The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and Woodstock police also responded.

Attempts to reach the sheriff’s office were unsuccessful.

Fox Lake police investigating fatal shooting of 72-year-old man

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:43
Police are investigating a fatal shooting of a 72-year-old Fox Lake man.

Fox Lake police officers arrived at the man’s home about 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the 100 block of Eagle Point Road, according to a news release from the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.

“There’s no belief that there’s any risk to the community,” Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Chris Covelli said. “The investigation is moving forward.”

The man – identified as 72-year-old Raymond F. Bellucci of Fox Lake – was suffering from a gunshot wound and was taken to Centegra Hospital – McHenry. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to the release.

Police requested the task force’s assistance to investigate the shooting, and detectives worked through the night examining the scene and speaking to the individual who called 911, Covelli said.

McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski conducted an autopsy Monday that revealed Bellucci died from a gunshot wound to his head, she said in a news release. The task force in Lake County still is investigating.

“No further information is available at this time,” Majewski said.

Covelli said more details likely will emerge this week.

McHenry man pleads guilty to having supplies to make meth

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:42
A man who police say cooked methamphetamine in his McHenry apartment and burned the leftover waste is scheduled for sentencing in June.

Curtis W. Smith, of the 400 block of North Cresthill Avenue, McHenry, entered a blind plea Thursday to possession of a methamphetamine precursor. The charge accuses Curtis of having ingredients commonly used to make methamphetamine and is punishable by four to 15 years in prison.

Defense attorney Thomas Carroll declined to say why Curtis entered the plea. The attorney said he wouldn’t speak on the case before it’s officially closed.

Officers arrested the 58-year-old Aug. 12, 2016, after police found pseudophedrine, lithium batteries, filters and funnels – materials used to manufacture methamphetamine – in his apartment, according to a criminal complaint filed in McHenry County.

Curtis originally was charged with aggravated methamphetamine manufacturing, possession of methamphetamine manufacturing materials, disposing of methamphetamine manufacturing waste, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The most serious charge originally filed against Curtis carried a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.

Curtis is scheduled for sentencing June 26.

Woman charged with crashing into horse-drawn carriage takes plea deal

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:42
A felony charge against a woman accused of crashing into a horse-drawn carriage – injuring at least two people – was dismissed Monday morning after the driver accepted a plea deal.

Dawn Elliott, 47, of 8900 block of Wildrose Lane, Marengo, pleaded guilty to improper lane use, a petty offense, and was ordered to pay $242 in court costs.

In exchange for her plea, a criminal charge of aggravated reckless driving was dismissed.

On Sept. 4, 2016, Elliott was driving north on Riley Road near Anthony Road in Riley Township.

At the same time, a horse-drawn carriage carrying at least two people was headed south on Riley Road, according to a complaint filed in McHenry County court.

Elliott’s vehicle crossed the center line and struck the carriage, the complaint stated.

Both alleged victims have filed civil cases in McHenry County court seeking $50,000 each from Elliott in relation to the crash.

Reached by phone Monday, attorney Larry Amoni declined to comment on specific details regarding the passengers’ injuries, but said they were “serious.”

The animals are believed to have suffered only minor injuries, Amoni said.

The civil cases will resume May 7 and June 12.

Crystal Lake Mariano's to open Tuesday

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:41
While Mariano’s employees held a private ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday for the new grocery store in Crystal Lake, residents came up to the door and asked if the store was open yet.

People are that eager, said Amanda Puck, director of strategic brand development for Mariano’s, 105 Northwest Highway.

While the store officially opens its doors at 6 a.m. Tuesday, Crystal Lake officials got a sneak-peek Monday.

Mayor Aaron Shepley said the city knew Mariano’s was a top-shelf organization, but the investments made to the city confirmed that.

“This is a wonderful addition to the city, and I can’t begin to tell you how excited we are to welcome Mariano’s,” Shepley said.

The grocer donated 400 bags of food and $2,500 to the Crystal Lake Food Pantry.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for Mariano’s as well, and we are very excited to be able to offer what Mariano’s has to the people that come into our food pantry,” said Bill Eich, president of the pantry. “We are neighbors helping our neighbors, and Mariano’s is already one of our neighbors.”

The Crystal Lake Public Library and Crystal Lake Park District also received $1,500 each to go toward the summer reading program and healthy eating initiatives, respectively.

Chamber member Jean Marie Saidler said Mariano’s caught the culture of Crystal Lake right away: giving back to one another.

“They have already become a part of this community, and I’m in awe,” said John Pletz, a member of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Specialty items made just for the Crystal Lake area include a white chocolate raspberry gelato and a specialty pub burger with bacon, blue cheese and black pepper.

The store features extensive international food aisles and specialty food stations.

Mariano’s focuses on convenience, Puck said.

“If you want to eat now and warm it up and eat later, or make it from scratch, we can take care of it,” said Don Rosanova, president of Mariano’s. “If you are short on time and buy something from our meat department, you can ask for it to be grilled and have a nice beer or wine from our bar while you wait.”

The store employs about 300 people, including employees from Clearbrook, an organization that helps children and adults with developmental disabilities find employment opportunities.

Customers can use ClickList to order groceries online or through an app for pickup or delivery.

The Crystal Lake Police Department will be helping manage traffic on Northwest Highway for the first week. Customers should expect to see special sales and deals throughout the store for the opening week.

The store will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

McHenry City Council approves temporary mining deal with Meyer Material Co.

County - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 00:41
The McHenry City Council on Monday approved a temporary deal with Meyer Material Co. that will allow the mining company to continue extractions through Aug. 6.

The South Elgin-based sand and gravel excavation company has been seeking a permit to extend its operations through 2032, but the proposal has drawn criticism from residents and some members of the City Council.

Top worries have included the effects of dust, noise and pollution on neighboring residences. Some aldermen also have wanted to take a look at tipping fees Meyer pays to the city, an updated reclamation plan for the property and a requirement on more regular dust and noise testing.

Nearby resident Vicki Shepperd, who was chairwoman of the city’s Plan Commission in the 1980s when one of Meyer’s agreements was discussed, said she wanted to see more details hammered out with a future contract.

“I bought a house by the gravel pit. I knew it was there,” she said. “But I want my water protected. I want a current reclamation plan.”

She added that she has experienced effects of living by the pit since she bought her home six months ago.

“If I have to use my backyard, I can’t hear myself talk,” she said. “I have a gray pickup truck I can write my name in. ... It’s covered [in dust].”

Meyer Material owns more than 1,000 acres on the north and south sides of Route 120 east of Wonder Lake Road. The city of McHenry has annexed its properties dating to the 1970s. The company also has locations in Algonquin, Harvard, Marengo and McHenry.

The company has faced scrutiny in the past at a Cary location, as well.

In 2016, Cary officials rejected Meyer’s request for a three-year extension on mining activities at its site near Route 31 after hearing complaints from neighbors. The board allowed the company in 2017 to begin operating a floating dredge with a requirement that action ended by the end of the year and that the company completed restoration six months after.

The Cary deal was at the heart of a sudden threat to shut down the McHenry operation in May. McHenry City Attorney David McArdle said Meyer hadn’t been forthright about conditions it had worked out with the village for the development.

Cary requires what McArdle called “significant” provisions when it comes to things such as reclamation plans and noise monitoring for the gravel pit operator.

The deal approved Monday essentially stops Meyer’s current permits from expiring May 4 until Aug. 6 or until an official extension agreement is complete. Meyer and the city still are in the negotiation process.

The agreement bars either party from taking legal action against the other unless a 45-day notice is given to terminate the contract.

The agreement was approved unanimously. The council members will continue to discuss the issue at future council meetings.

Medical examiner: Woman was shot 3 times by Illinois officer

County - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 23:05
CHICAGO – A medical examiner has determined a woman armed with a knife along a Chicago-area interstate was shot three times by an Elgin police officer.

The Cook County medical examiner's office reports Decynthia Clements was shot twice in the head and once in the chest on March 12. The report said none of the shots were from close range.

The medical examiner also found Clements had cocaine and benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, in her bloodstream.

Police have said the officer fired at the 34-year-old Elgin woman after an hourlong standoff on Interstate 90 during which she set her vehicle on fire. Although officers were prepared with stun guns and rubber bullets, Lt. Christian Jensen fired his gun.

Jensen is on administrative leave as Illinois State Police investigate the shooting.

Police say intoxicated McHenry man crashed bicycle with child on board while chasing woman

County - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 20:06
A man who police say threw bolt cutters at a woman, then crashed his bike with a baby aboard as he tried to chase her down, is due in court Tuesday.

Police on Thursday arrested David W. Virgin, of the 3000 block of Victoria Avenue, McHenry, after they say he assaulted a woman and a police officer.

A criminal complaint filed in McHenry County court Friday stated Virgin, 36, threw a pair of bolt cutters at a woman he knew. He's accused of then placing a 1-year-old child in a carrier on the back of his bicycle and chasing the woman. The bike crashed, and Virgin and the child fell to the ground, the complaint stated.

Police believe Virgin was intoxicated at the time.

Virgin is charged with aggravated battery to a peace officer, domestic battery, resisting a peace officer and child endangerment. The domestic battery charge was enhanced to a felony because Virgin has a prior conviction for a similar offense.

Police were not immediately available to comment on the conditions of those involved.

Cirgin remained at the McHenry County Jail on Monday on $75,000 bond. He must post $7,500 bail to be released.

Aggravated battery to a peace officer carries a penalty of as many as seven years in prison.

He is due back in court Wednesday.

PHOTOS: Mariano's in Crystal Lake to open Tuesday

County - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 13:36
The Crystal Lake Mariano's, located at 105 Route 14, will open to the public at 6 a.m. Tuesday. The 74,800-square-foot store is the first Mariano's in McHenry County.

Crystal Lake fire crews rescue people stuck in mud after dock collapses

County - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 13:05
Residents were stuck in mud after a dock collapsed in Crystal Lake.

The Crystal Lake Fire Department responded to a water rescue about 1:50 p.m. Sunday in the 6100 block of East Hillside Road. After a dock collapsed, people fell into a pond and got stuck in the mud, according to a news release from the department.

All victims were quickly removed from the pond and evaluated by ambulance crews. None of the victims were sent to the hospital, officials said.

- Megan Jones

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