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Stew Cohen

  • Sunday 6:00am-6:15am

News of the Northwest Suburbs is my focus on Joe and Tina’s Show in the morning on STAR 105.5 FM. I’ll give you a comprehensive look at McHenry County news, Chicagoland’s top stories, Illinois news, top national stories,  and sports.  I’ll assist Tina in providing traffic in the northwest suburbs.   All of this information in a couple of minutes each hour.  Just as Joe and Tina keep you entertained with great music and their funny banter, I’ll keep you in touch with what’s going on.  Stew’s News on STAR 105.5 Monday through Friday from 6am to 8am. We’ll give you ten traffic reports throughout the morning.

I’ve been finding important issues and events to expand our focus from the shorter newscast length to the longer form public affairs show.  The program is called Northwest Spectrum, airing every Sunday 6am for 15-minutes.  Northwest Spectrum allows for more time to open up an issue and examine it thoroughly.

I’m in my fifth decade of providing news in the morning, public affairs and public service.  Thank you for listening to me.


On March 24th, 2019, at approximately 6:47 p.m., Crystal Lake Police were dispatched to the Open Pantry Market Gas Station, located at 4811 Northwest Highway, for a reported Armed Robbery that had just occurred.Upon arrival, Officers learned two suspects entered the store. One of the suspects displayed a handgun and demanded United States Currency from the cashier. Both suspects then left the store with both United States Currency and merchandise. The suspects were last seen running southbound from the scene on Manor Road. No injuries were reported. At approximately 7:40 p.m., the same two suspects entered the Circle K Gas Station, located at 280 N. Route 31. In this incident both suspects displayed handguns while demanding United States Currency from the clerks. The suspects fled the scene on foot with United States Currency. The suspects were last seen running northbound on Route 31 from the scene. No injuries were reported.

Witnesses described the suspects as:

Offender #1 is a black male, approximately 6’0″ tall with a heavier build wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, dark pants and black athletic shoes.

Offender #2 is a black or possibly Hispanic male, approximately 5’10″ with a medium build wearing a blue colored hooded jacket with white stripes down each arm, ripped blue jeans, a ball cap and dark shoes.

This case remains an active investigation. Crystal Lake Police are requesting that anyone who may have information regarding this case to contact the Crystal Lake Police Department. There are several methods to do so.

By phone at (815) 356-3620 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 762-STOP (7867) for those who wish to remain anonymous. Crime Stoppers does pay cash rewards for information leading to the arrest of any individual.

In addition, anyone with a cell phone can send an anonymous tip to the Crystal Lake Police Department by texting the word CLPDTIP along with the tip information to 847411 (tip411). Normal text messaging rates do apply.

Anonymous web tips can also be submitted at:

https://www.citizenobserver.com/agencies/crystal-lake-police-department/groups/282


McHenry County ranks as the 5th overall healthiest county in Illinois. According to the national annual County Health Rankings released on March 19th, McHenry County continues to have some of the healthiest residents in Illinois. The County Health Rankings—a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—provide a snapshot of how health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play. Health factors, including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, unemployment, access to healthy foods, the quality of air and water, income inequality, and teen births are measured yearly for nearly every county in America.

In the past five years, McHenry County has climbed from a ranking of fourteen to five out of 102 counties in Illinois. According to Melissa Adamson, Public Health Administrator for McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH), “The County Health Rankings are a good indicator of our well-being as a community, serving as a barometer to help us understand what’s working well and where we may need to put additional resources.”  Adamson added, “We work regularly with our partners to determine ways in which we can positively impact residents’ health.”

The County Health Rankings model uses over 30 measures grouped by Health Outcomes (length of life and quality of life) and Health Factors (health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment) to determine a county’s rank. A third component of the model, Policies and Programs, offers communities a way to select evidenced-based strategies (i.e., policies, programs, systems & environmental changes) for the specific health challenges they face. More information about County Health Rankings can be found at www.healthrankings.org. To learn more about McHenry County Healthy Community Study and priorities visit the Administration section of www.mcdh.info.


 

Caden Alexander, an eighth grader from Hannah Beardsley Middle School, will be competing in the 2019 Illinois National Geographic State Geography Bee Competition.

After winning his class and school geography bees, Alexander submitted a qualifying test to the National Geographic Society. He was among the top 100 highest-scoring students in Illinois, qualifying him to advance to the state competition.

As a sixth grader, Alexander won his class geography bee and took second place in the school competition. Last year he won his class spelling bee, but didn’t make it to the school geography bee. This year, as an 8th grader, he said he was out to win but didn’t think he’d make it to state. He claims he doesn’t intentionally study geography but reads a lot and watches YouTube videos that inadvertently teach him about it.

I’m good at retaining information once I’ve learned it,” he said. “If you don’t stress about it, you’re calmer and able to think better. It works for me!”

Alexander participates in Scholastic Bowl, band and Science Olympiad. While he enjoys geography, he says that science and engineering are his real passion. He will be a freshman at Crystal Lake Central High School next year and hopes to pursue classes in engineering.

The state geography bee will take place March 29 at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois. State champions will receive a medal, $1,000, and a trip to the national championship May 19–22, 2019 in Washington, D.C.


Melissa Mayber of Wonder Lake was a fighter… courageous, brave….She was loving, funny, giving, inspiring.

Melissa spent about one third of her life in a hospital, as she had a list of illnesses that made doctors shake their heads and marvel at her faith and love and her solid will to go on and try to help others. I was among those fortunate to have spent time with her at her home in Wonder Lake where her mother, Kathleen was taking such good care of her…and our station, STAR 105.5 helped the Mayber family in fundraising because the medical expenses were astronomical…and she needed a special van to transport her to hospitals in Chicago…a van provided free by ATEC.

A couple of days ago…..Melissa passed away….but for those who knew her….those who had contact with her…..Melissa Mayber is one of those people that is unforgettable…She leaves behind her mother, father-Ken, a sister-Rebecca and a brother-Adam. Melissa was only 25-years-old, but in her years, she showed many people that even with what appears to be very sad and heartbreaking…one can find humor if they look. You only had to look to Melissa. She was HUMOR ..but her makeup was also COURAGE and PASSION.

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Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital, Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Woodstock Hospital will put into effect influenza visitor restrictions Wednesday, March 13 to protect patients, visitors, staff and physicians from influenza. Hospital visiting hours will continue to be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
“Over the last two weeks we have seen a sharp rise in the number of hospitalized patients who have influenza,” said Dr. Irfan Hafiz, chief medical officer for Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital. “While it seems late in the flu season, we still encourage people to get vaccinated. By getting vaccinated, you protect yourself and reduce the spread of influenza in the community.”
Effective Wednesday:
  • Visitors who feel sick or have a runny nose, sore throat or fever should refrain from visiting a hospitalized patient or from accompanying a patient to a clinic visit
  • Visitors younger than 18 years old will not be permitted to visit patients in the hospital. The exception is parents younger than 18 who have children in the hospital.
  • Only two visitors per patient will be allowed at one time.
As always, visitors are encouraged to:
  • Cover their noses and mouths when they cough or sneeze
  • Use a mask if the patient they are visiting has a respiratory illness
  • Wash their hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers before and after a visit
Flu symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. People who are at the highest risk include:
  • Pregnant women
  • Young children
  • Those with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease
  • People who are already under a doctor’s care for serious illness
  • Adults 65 and older
Northwestern Medicine encourages anyone six months and older to get an influenza vaccination.
“The important thing to remember is that the vaccine prevents the spread of flu and it also lessens its symptoms if you get the virus,” Hafiz said. “People who are vaccinated are more likely to recover quickly and less likely to die from other illnesses that can happen as a result of the flu.”
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The Illinois Tollway is scheduled to begin work on the $33.4 million Illinois Route 23 Interchange Project on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) in Marengo this week. The project will create a new, full-access interchange with local road improvements, including construction of roundabouts.
The Illinois Route 23 Interchange will be the first interstate connection in McHenry County. The Tollway is building four ramps as part of a partial cloverleaf interchange on the east side of Illinois Route 23 that will provide full access between Illinois Route 23 and I-90. The interchange is scheduled to be complete this fall.
Weather permitting, beginning overnight on Friday, March 15, traffic on I-90 in both directions is scheduled to shift to the inside lanes to provide a workzone for ramp pavement construction. Eastbound lanes are scheduled to shift first, followed by westbound lanes. Traffic is scheduled to remain in this configuration for two months.
Electronic message signs and construction signage will be put in place in advance to alert drivers. The new traffic pattern and ramp closures are necessary to provide a work zone and safely accommodate traffic during bridge reconstruction.
Once work on I-90 is done, traffic on Illinois Route 23 is scheduled to be reduced and shifted. At times during the project, traffic on Illinois Route 23 may be reduced to one lane during off-peak hours for construction. At those times, traffic will be maintained in both directions with flaggers. In addition, on Harmony Road, a closure and detour between Illinois Route 23 and Maple Street will also be needed to complete work on the project.
The Illinois Route 23 Interchange is being designed with roundabouts or traffic circles to provide efficient and safe traffic flow for the new interchange ramp connections with Illinois Route 23. With roundabouts, traffic is permitted to flow in only one direction around a central island, and priority is given to traffic already traveling in the circle. Traffic projections estimate the new interchange will serve a total of about 4,800 vehicles daily.
As part of the project, a portion of Illinois Route 23 will be widened and reconstructed between Coon Creek Road and Harmony Road. The Illinois Route 23 Bridge carrying traffic over I-90 was rebuilt in 2017 in anticipation of the new interchange.
In addition, the project will also provide for local road improvements including improving a portion of Harmony Road and rebuilding the intersection of Illinois Route 23 and Harmony Road to include a roundabout with a pedestrian crossing with 10-foot wide sidewalks to ensure safe pedestrian crossings.
The Illinois Route 23 Interchange Project will create opportunity for continued economic development along Illinois Route 23 and will open up access between the Tollway and the northwest suburbs. This will be the first direct interstate connection to I-90 constructed in McHenry County.
The Illinois Route 23 Interchange Project is funded in part by Illinois Tollway’s 15-year, $14 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future. Consistent with the Tollway’s Interchange and Roadway Cost-Sharing Policy requiring local communities to cover the remaining cost of interchange improvements, the local share will be split: IDOT will contribute approximately 25 percent and the remainder will be funded by Marengo and McHenry County.
Maps, construction and detour information about the Illinois Route 23 Interchange Project is available on the Tollway’s website at illinoistollway.com via the Interactive Tollway Map and under “Projects Overview” in the Explore Projects section.


The Hooved Animal Humane Society (HAHS) assisted local animal control departments on several impounds, rescuing a total of 11 freezing animals during the polar vortex. At the coldest hours of the deep freeze, HAHS received several calls to assist with the investigation of complaints of hooved animal neglect. Local temperatures had reached a low of -25 degrees, with windchills reaching an unbelievable -52 degrees and animal control officials needed assistance investigating the condition of the animals to determine if emergency impoundment and care were needed. HAHS sent its Animal Care Assistants and licensed Approved Humane/Equine Investigators to the scenes of alleged neglect. It was then determined, with animal control, that the animals should be impounded, and the owners should receive citations for violations of the Humane Care for Animals Act, 510 ILCS 70/1, et seq, for failure to provide proper food, water, shelter and humane treatment. A total of 11 horses and 1 pig were rescued from various locations. Several animals required immediate veterinary attention for exposure and were placed on an intense refeeding program for emaciation and malnutrition. HAHS is currently providing temporary feed, housing, and care for the animals during their rehabilitation, while their owners’ cases are decided by the proper administrative and judicial authorities.


A proposal to rebate $15 million of Valley Hi Nursing Home’s fund reserve will make most McHenry County homeowners eligible to recoup just under 30 percent of county government’s share of their 2018 property tax bill.

The $15 million rebate, almost double the $8.8 million first proposed by County Board Chairman Jack Franks, will still leave the county-run nursing home west of Woodstock with more than two years of reserve funding. Franks, D-Marengo, said the $40 million Valley Hi reserve – which is about $6 million more than the entire municipal budget for the City of Woodstock – is the result of years of overtaxation.

“The McHenry County Board and I have proven our commitment to tax relief by reducing the county tax levy by $18 million since I took office. However, we can’t truly say we’re fighting for the taxpayers while Valley Hi is sitting on a reserve big enough to cover more than three years of expenses. Rebating a healthy portion of that to homeowners while still leaving Valley Hi a responsible fiscal cushion is the right thing to do,” Franks said.

To be eligible, homeowners had to have taken the homestead exemption during the 2017 tax year for bills payable in 2018, and had to have paid their taxes on time. Homeowners who are exempt from paying any property taxes under the disabled veterans’ homestead exemption do not qualify.

If approved by the County Board, homeowners will fill out a form with the Treasurer’s Office to verify eligibility. The amount of the rebate will be calculated by a formula based on the amount the homeowner paid in taxes to county government in 2018. About 88,000 properties in McHenry County could potentially qualify. A homeowner who last year paid $500 in property taxes to county government would get just under $150 back under the proposal.

“McHenry County’s homeowners pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, which is one of the main reasons why people are fleeing Illinois for tax-friendlier states. We owe it to taxpayers to do whatever we can to help, and righting this wrong without hurting Valley Hi’s mission to care for our indigent seniors is an important step,” Franks said.

The resolution will go before the Finance and Audit Committee on Thursday for discussion, and could go before the full County Board for a vote in March. Valley Hi’s revenue comes from Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, the property tax levy, and from some private-pay customers.

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More patients will have access to the highest level of nursing care when an expanded intensive care unit opens at Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital. Nine new, private ICU rooms will open, expanding the unit to a total of 27 beds. This will help physicians and nurses meet the needs of patients who need highly specialized inpatient care.

To create the new ICU, nine cardiac telemetry beds – which require an intermediate level of nursing care – were converted to critical care beds. Nurses and physicians requested the change to expand the hospital’s ability to care for sicker patients.

The needs of our patients are changing, and community members want to receive the highest level of care close to home,” said Dr. Irfan Hafiz, chief medical officer at Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital. “An expanded ICU will help us provide more patients the close monitoring they need so they can recover and their families will have peace of mind.”

Depending on the level of care patients require, physicians and nurses also may choose to use the new department as a progressive care unit. Progressive care is appropriate for patients who do not need the highest level of care, although they also need more monitoring than is provided on the cardiac telemetry or medical-surgical unit.

Patients in the intensive care unit receive nursing care at a one-to-one or one-to-two ratio,” said Catie Schmit, chief nursing executive at Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital. “There are other patients who need close monitoring after cardiac procedures, surgeries and for specialized respiratory care. The new unit will help us group patients in a way that is most appropriate for their level of care and then staff those beds accordingly.”

The availability of additional ICU beds should also reduce wait times in the hospital’s emergency department. This is because patients who need a critical care inpatient bed must sometimes wait for one to open before they can be admitted.

Every day we flex to the needs of our patients,” Schmit said. “The expanded ICU will make it easier to ensure patients receive the right level of care from nurses who have the training and experience to address their unique needs.”

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State Reprepresentative. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) has introduced legislation to provide Illinois residents with property tax relief. McSweeney says, We have to do more than just stop property taxes from increasing– we must find ways to lower the property tax burden in Illinois. To that end, I have filed a measure to reduce all property tax levies by 10 percent.”

House Bill 320 reduces property tax levies by 10% total (5% each year for two years) for all local governments, even home rule units of government. The net effect of the measure will be a permanent 10% reduction in property taxes in Illinois in the next two years. Property taxes would be permanently frozen after the 10% reduction and could only be raised if local voters approve an increase by referendum.

According to the most recent data available, Illinois has the second highest property tax rates in the country.

McSweeney says, “We know property taxes in Illinois are too high. We know that people are leaving Illinois in droves in large part because the taxes are too high. Illinois lost nearly 45,000 people net last year alone. The longer we delay action on solving the property tax issue in Illinois, the more people are going to leave. We need to reverse this out-migration. It is time to lower property taxes permanently in Illinois.”

House Bill 320 has been introduced and awaits assignment to a House Committee.


Lake County Rising 2019 will be held on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at the Round Lake Beach Civic Center, 2007 North Civic Center Way in Round Lake Beach. The doors open at 6:30 for a resource fair. The program begins at 7 p.m.

Lake County Rising is an awareness event, a public demand to end violence against and oppression of women. It is Lake County’s version of One Billion Rising, a global movement to end rape and sexual violence against women. Recognizing that it takes everyone to make societal changes, the 2019 Lake County Rising committee strongly urges men and youth to lend their support by attending this event. “I can’t underscore the importance of these community awareness events,” stated Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim. “Crimes of violence often leave victims feeling alone and isolated. Public demonstrations such as Lake County Rising can let victims know that they are not alone, and can be an important step towards empowerment and healing,” Nerheim said.  

Students from Round Lake High School’s Ghostlight Readers Theatre will perform vignettes from Seven, depicting various forms of oppression experienced by women. The winner of Lake County Rising’s essay contest will be announced and he or she will share the winning essay.

The event is free and open to the public. It is hosted by Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim in partnership with Nicasa Behavioral Health Services and support from Z Center, A Safe Place, and YWCA Lake County.  Round Lake Beach community activist Judy Armstrong brought the Rising events to Lake County in 2012 and has had an integral role since its inception.

For more information, please contact Sandra Bankston at [email protected]. Nonprofit organizations serving women and children who are interested in having a resource table may contact Debi Leer at [email protected]

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 McHenry Police Chief John Birk has announced the arrest of an adult male in connection with a criminal investigation involving a sex crime.

Forty-eight-year-old Matt Fralick of Lake-in-the-Hills was arrested at the McHenry Police Department on February 1st, 2019 without incident.

The arrest was the result of an investigation into an allegation that on or about April 15th, 2018, Fralick used an online service to attempt to have a juvenile under the age of 17 perform a sexual act.

Throughout the course of the investigation, Detectives interviewed the victim, corroborating witnesses and collected evidence. On February 1st, 2019, after a review of all evidence and statements collected thus far, a felony charge for Grooming was approved by the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office and a Warrant of Arrest was issued.

Fralick turned himself in at the McHenry Police Department, was processed through the booking procedure, posted the required bond and released pending his court appearance date of February 15th, 2019 at 9:00AM.

 Fralick is charged with 1 Count of GROOMING (Class 4 Felony).

Because the incident was reported as having occurred within the city of McHenry, this investigation was conducted by the McHenry Police Department. The investigation is ongoing, therefore the police department cannot release any additional information at this time.

Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to contact the Criminal Investigation Division of the McHenry Police Department at 815-363-2599. Those wishing to pass along anonymous information are encouraged to call the McHenry Police Tip Line at 815-363-2124. All calls made to the tip line are anonymous as Caller ID is not used.

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The McHenry County Board has approved a balanced 2019 budget that keeps just under $10 million in taxpayers’ pockets.
The levy abates $7.53 million in property taxes back to the taxpayers, and includes a permanent tax cut of $2.3 million. This is the second consecutive year that the County Board has voted to abate a portion of its levy.  McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks of Marengo says, “In 2018, we voted to give back $8 million back to the taxpayers, and next year, we’re giving back almost $10 million. Every local government in Illinois needs to be following our example.”   Franks  also said, “We promised the voters of McHenry County, who shoulder one of the heaviest property-tax burdens in the nation, that we would do whatever we could to lighten their load, and for the second straight year, we’ve delivered.”
County Board members approved a $217 million budget for 2019 that does not eliminate any programs or services, and funds the completion of necessary capital projects, such as new police and emergency radios, reconfiguring the Administration Building and Annex A to maximize efficiency, and rebuilding the courthouse parking lot.
Franks said, “I’ll say it again – the McHenry County Board is leading the way in reform and doing the people’s will. For two years now, we’ve brought meaningful tax relief to our constituents. In the past several months, we voted to reduce the size of the County Board by 25 percent with the next U.S. Census, and we put binding referendums on the November ballot to impose term limits on me and the County Board, both of which passed by nine-to-one margins. If every government in Illinois followed our example, the Land of Lincoln would be in much better shape.”
Franks also thanked the hard work of county staff and the County Board Finance and Audit Committee for the levy reduction and the leaner, balanced budget.
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The McHenry County College Board of Trustees has unanimously approved a flat tax levy for the sixth year in a row, saving taxpayers more than $20 per homeowner over six years, while offering a massive economic impact to the college district. Chief Financial Officer Bob Tenuta said,  “Since 2013, MCC has resolutely controlled College spending while still offering tremendous economic value to the college district. One significant way this was done was through keeping the levy flat for the sixth year in a row.”

While the College is allowed, by law to collect revenue tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), MCC board members agreed to not collect CPI revenue from taxpayers for the sixth year in a row, resulting in a flat tax levy. By holding the levy flat again this year, the college district’s taxpayers will have saved approximately $22.20 per parcel over the past six years, Tenuta said. Based on the overall average cost per parcel of $186.04, based on 2017 McHenry County data, this 22.20 savings per parcel represents a cut in taxes of about 11.9 percent, he added.

The following financial statistics are examples of how MCC has saved community taxpayers money:

·         By not capturing new property growth since 2013, a cumulative savings per parcel has saved taxpayers a cumulative estimate of $6.19.

·         When factoring in the new property growth savings the total actual average savings jumps to $28.39 or a 15.3 percent tax savings.

·         By not levying according to the CPI-U annually since 2013, a cumulative savings per parcel has saved taxpayers a cumulative estimate of $63.31.

            “We are very proud of the fact that we have controlled spending repeatedly, with the end goal to return value to the community without compromising exceptional quality,” MCC President Clint Gabbard, Ph.D. said. 


 

Podcasts

News of the Northwest Suburbs is my focus on Joe and Tina’s Show in the morning on STAR 105.5 FM. I’ll give you a comprehensive look at McHenry County news, Chicagoland’s top stories, Illinois news, top national stories, and sports. I’ll assist Tina in providing traffic in the northwest suburbs. All of this information in a couple of minutes each hour. Just as Joe and Tina keep you entertained with great music and their funny banter, I’ll keep you in touch with what’s going on. Stew’s News on STAR 105.5 Monday through Friday from 6am to 8am. We’ll give you ten traffic reports throughout the morning. I’ve been finding important issues and events to expand our focus from the shorter newscast length to the longer form public affairs show. The program is called Northwest Spectrum, airing every Sunday 6am for 15-minutes. Northwest Spectrum allows for more time to open up an issue and examine it thoroughly. I’m in my fifth decade of providing news in the morning, public affairs and public service. Thank you for listening to me.
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