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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.


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.

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. 

Environmental Defenders of McHenry County announces the opening of a second re-used book store –  The Green Read – at the heart of our county’s population, Crystal Lake.  The Environmental Defenders are setting up shop at 61 North Williams Street and the plan is to be open to the public in mid-November.

With this development, The Environmental Defenders is returning to its roots of Crystal Lake where its first office and employee set up camp in the 70s.  The Defenders will be in the midst of the busy and historic downtown district with restaurants, brewery, specialty stores, commuter train, bike path, and more.  This will be a special and unique place that welcomes everyone in to peruse a large variety of books and chat about the environment while giving the organization a “presence boost” as it heads into its 50th anniversary in 2020.

This new book store joins the other Environmental Defenders’ locations, including its office and The Green Spot Reused Book Store on the historic Woodstock Square as well as its eight acres of land on Dean Street, also in Woodstock.  The organization is excited about the possibilities of broadening its reach geographically, much as its roaming recycling drives have done, by having a presence in downtown Crystal Lake.  Executive Director, Cynthia Kanner notes ‘We’ll even have a comfy seating area where one can read, relax and even pick up information about The Environmental Defenders and join our organization.”

It is hoped that the Environmental Defenders, founded in 1970 with the mission to preserve and protect the environment in McHenry County, will attract new members through this storefront while broadening the awareness of all that we do that benefits our beautiful county.  “This will be an inviting space for those who care about keeping books out of the waste stream and who enjoy connecting with others who hold the same values of a healthy planet and a good gently used read,” said Lori McConville, President of The Environmental Defenders and owner of Marvin’s Toy Store located across the street from The Green Read.

A bit of a change in the McHenry County Recorders Office when it comes to how much surplus money will be allowed to accumulate.  Right now, there’s $2.5 million ….but under a plan between the chairman of the McHenry County Board and the County Recorder, Jack Franks and Joe Tirio would rather have a shifting of the bulk of the money into the county’s General Fund.  Franks and Tirio agreed to the plan at the start of Tuesday evening’s voting meeting of the McHenry County Board.  Two million dollars will go to the general fund, leaving $500,000 for the Recorder’s Office to handle any automation-related needs.

The Three Oaks Recreation Area in Crystal Lake has received the highest award, the Silver Excellence in Economic Development Award, in the Public-Private Partnership category, by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The award application highlighted the City’s ongoing partnership with the Quarry Cable Park, Dukes on the Water, Alpine Accessories (Standup Paddle boarding), and the Cottage on the Beach (Swim Beach Concessions).
The IEDC is the world’s largest membership organization for economic development professionals. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life in their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that assist growth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, their membership represents the entire range of economic development. The City’s award application highlighted the City’s public-private partnerships at the Three Oaks Recreation Area.
The IEDC was impressed by not only the Crystal Lake vision to create the facility and redevelop a previous rock quarry into a public park, but also by the City’s desire to reach out to private business to improve the park’s public amenities. The 2018 IEDC Board Chairperson, Craig Richard, CEcD, FM, said, “This year the IEDC judges reviewed some extraordinary projects that advanced both communities and businesses. We congratulate all the award winners, and thank everyone who nominated their projects for sharing their success with fellow IEDC members. What we learn from each other helps us to grow and advance as a profession. We look forward to even greater participation from economic developers across the globe in the 2019 awards program.”

The McHenry County Board of Health announces that Melissa Hall Adamson, MPH, will be the new Public Health Administrator for the McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) effective in late November.  Ms. Adamson replaces Michael Hill who left the Health Department in May after serving almost four years.

Adamson is the Director of Community Health Policy and Planning/Assistant Administrator for the Peoria City/County Health Department where she has been building strategic, cross-sector partnerships and collaborations to advance health equity since 2014.  She brings 20 years of managing and evaluating public health operations, programming, and communications to MCDH.

In 1999 Adamson graduated from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta Georgia, where she received a Master’s Degree in Public Health.

MCDH employs approximately 117 people spanning four divisions (Administrative, Veterinary Public Health, Environmental Health and Public Health Nursing).  With locations in Woodstock and Crystal Lake, the Department has an operating budget of roughly $6,350,000.

A roadside marker bearing the name Nicholas Kilpatrick will remind people of the tragedies caused by impaired drivers. Nicholas was 17-years-old and riding a skateboard when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver on September 9, 2014.

Carrie Kilpatrick, Nicholas’s mother, has waited a long time for this memorial marker. “The pain and grief of losing a child will never go away; this marker gives some comfort knowing that Nicholas’ memory will live on and bring awareness to the pain that comes from this senseless crime.”

Roadside DUI Memorial Markers have appeared on state highways since August 2007, when HB 1900 was signed into law, creating the roadside memorial. This law was the result of legislation championed by the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s Tina Ball Memorial DUI Task Force, along with the Legislative Committee of AAIM. The Tina Ball DUI Task Force is a group formed after construction worker Tina Ball was struck and killed in a work zone on Interstate 57 by a drunk driver in September 2003.

For many years, AAIM has been working with local agencies to install signs where a fatality occurred as the result of an impaired driver. Family and friends of crash victims often erect temporary makeshift memorials which are often removed because they can become a distraction to other drivers.

Thanks to the Village of Hampshire and Mike Reid, Village Trustee, this sign will be erected on Wednesday, September 19, 2018, at 4:30 pm. Parking for the memorial will be on State Street right before Allen Road and Veteran’s Park, in Hampshire. AAIM is pleased that the village supported this program and worked hard to make it come to fruition.

This program acknowledges the victims in a dignified manner. The uniform, easily-recognized signs also create awareness of the dangers of alcohol and drug-impaired driving and will help prevent these tragedies.

Cary Senior Living, a new senior community that will create 62 affordable apartments for older households, will provide a necessary boost to affordable housing units for seniors in McHenry County. The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), Housing Opportunity Development Corporation (HODC) and PIRHL Developers joined Mayor Mark Kownick and local officials to formally kick off construction of the three-story building that will create high quality housing options for households 62 and older. With support from Boston Financial Investment Management, Citibank, McHenry County Planning and Development, the McHenry County Housing Authority and other public and private partners, the new independent living community is expected to open in Fall 2019.

“There is a strong demand for senior housing in communities like Cary, and Cary Senior Living will go a long way to meet the growing need facing McHenry County,” IHDA Executive Director Audra Hamernik said. “We’re glad the Village takes this need seriously and are grateful to have had their support as the development team creates new opportunities for Cary residents to age in place where they raised their families.”

Developed by HODC and PIRHL Developers, the apartments are financed largely with bond proceeds and federal tax credits awarded by IHDA that will generate over $12 million in private equity to offset construction costs. The development will bring high quality rental options to an area with a rapidly growing senior population, where demand for senior housing is projected to grow over the next five years.

HODC’s Executive Director, Richard Koenig, credits IHDA for being an integral part of the Cary Senior Living team. “We are grateful to IHDA and McHenry County for providing innovative funding for this development which will allow seniors in the Cary community to remain close to essential services and loved ones. IHDA’s commitment to provide resources for Cary Senior Living created a framework from which our team could assemble the remaining financing needed to move forward with development. We are proud to partner with PIRHL to help make this important housing development become a reality for our low income seniors”

Cary Senior Living will be constructed on a four-acre site at 880 Feinberg Drive. When complete, the building will be designed to comply with Passive House energy efficiency standards and will feature a community room, fitness room, library and game room, laundry facilities and on-site property management. All 62 apartments will be reserved for households earning less than 60 percent of the Area Median Income, or no more than $40,620 for a two-person household in McHenry County.

Leasing will begin Summer 2019.

The McHenry County Emergency Management Agency has released a new “McHenry Aware” mobile app to help McHenry County residents become more aware of potential hazards and provide information on how to prepare through all stages of certain disasters.

The app provides users with weather alerts, updates on road conditions throughout the county, and updates during extreme weather situations. It also includes customizable checklists to help make you and your family disaster ready, and the ability to report personal property damage.
EMA Director David Christensen says, “Residents will now have access to the most up-to-date information in times of crisis. Notifications about evacuations, outages, disaster relief and emergency services will be at their fingertips. Self-reporting of damage assessments is now available for the first time ever.”
While not a substitute for your primary means of emergency notification, the new app will serve to provide McHenry County residents with information about the EMA office and the services they provide, as well as the ability to provide users with emergency notifications to their phones. It also will provide more detailed directions to the disaster resources available to them, and enable users to volunteer to help to assist their communities with the push of a button.
McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks of Marengo says, “As last year’s historic Fox River flooding proved to us, disaster can happen anytime, anywhere. It’s important not only to have advance notice of severe weather and other emergencies, but also to have a disaster plan in place for you and your family. The McHenry Aware app is a powerful tool to ensure that you’re prepared when disaster strikes.”
The app is available for free download on both the Google Play Store and the App Store today. For more information on the app or to download it by scanning a QR code, visit

–  INTREN, one of the nation’s largest certified Women Business Enterprise (WBE) specialty utility contractors,  announces continued growth through its plan to combine with Indiana-based Miller Construction Company, Inc., a third-generation full-service electrical contracting company, and also a leading WBE.  By joining forces, INTREN will broaden its marketplace offerings, including Miller Construction’s deep expertise in transmission.

“With Miller Construction, we have found a culture match and an experienced execution partner, as well as a company that shares our values and our vision of transforming the way business is done,” said INTREN founder and Chairwoman of the Board Loretta Rosenmayer. “Miller Construction is a family-owned business with a long history of exceptional safety and meeting customers’ needs, which makes them a natural fit for the INTREN family.”

Rosenmayer stressed that INTREN’s acquisition furthers her vision of creating a national full-service company. “Our goal is not only to build the best women-owned business and woman-controlled board, but to be the best overall total-solutions provider for our customers. INTREN’s and Miller’s shared values of stewardship, integrity and customer focus will guide us, and firmly support our belief that companies do well in the marketplace by doing good,” Rosenmayer added.

“INTREN is known for anticipating and fulfilling the needs of our customers and we are doing just that by broadening our capabilities through the acquisition of Miller Construction Company,” said Kelly Tomblin, INTREN’s Chief Executive Officer. “By joining forces, we are continuing our evolution to serve customers in every business segment, wherever they need us geographically,” she said.

“This acquisition is in response to requests from our customers and the marketplace. We are expanding our transmission capabilities and expertise, and adding other services such as equipment testing, vegetation management and innovative professional services while providing the same safety, quality, and customer focus. We are now well-positioned to grow further and be even better partners for our customers in the future,” added Tomblin.

Christina Ernst, the CEO of the Miller Construction Company, will join the woman-controlled INTREN Board of Directors, one of the few in America’s utility contractor space.

Miller Construction’s 175 employees will join forces with INTREN’s 1,600-strong team to provide more work to customers through a wider geographic reach. Company President Andy Carmean will continue to oversee Miller activities and will join INTREN as Regional Vice President serving the Indianapolis and St. Louis markets.

“As a family-owned and operated WBE, Miller Construction Company is thrilled to join the INTREN family,” Christina Ernst said. “Not only does INTREN embody the principles and values of Miller Construction Company, but we provide complementary services that will help INTREN achieve continuous growth and become a total utility solutions provider. Together we are well-positioned for industry leadership that will provide creative solutions for our customers.  I look forward to serving on the Board and continuing to help advise the combined companies. ”

INTREN’s acquisition of Miller Construction Company shows the industry that diverse companies can combine to create a different and innovative workplace offering.  INTREN’s latest growth to meet the infrastructure needs of the utility marketplace reflects their 30-year trajectory that was bolstered in 2017, when One Equity Partners became a minority investor, providing significant funding for future growth.


The Board of Directors for The Literacy Connection announces David Zimmerman as its new Executive Director.  Zimmerman replaces Karen Oswald, former Executive Director who resigned this past February.

Zimmerman brings experience in non-profit organizations as well as community business collaboration, board governance and organizational change management to The Literacy Connection.

Zimmerman has served previously as the Employment Opportunities Manager for the Center for Enriched Living and was the Employment Coordinator for New Foundation Center (now Thresholds).  Zimmerman is also a Veteran of the United States Navy.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Affairs (Management) from Indiana University, as well as a Master of Arts in Public Administration (Nonprofit Management) from University of Colorado and a Master of Business Administration (Management) from Roosevelt University.

Zimmerman says, “I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to lead this organization. The mission of The Literacy Connection is such a needed resource in the communities we serve as I have encountered several clients at my previous positions that had severe deficits in basic literacy fundamentals, in addition to other barriers in their own lives.  Reading your schedule at work, filling out job applications, or just being able to write about what you enjoy doing in life; literacy in our communities is so essential towards the inclusion and prosperity for our readers.   Providing opportunities for those who need help is a great passion of mine and having a career that aligns with this is truly a blessing. The Literacy Connection is a public nonprofit organization and I plan on continuing to build new bridges with the communities and reaching out to new learners who may have been hesitant or unaware of our services.”

Board President Jay Robinson stated, “We are confident that David’s experience, knowledge, and integrity are a great match for the work, staff, and friends of The Literacy Connection. Together with the staff and the Board of Directors, we will continue to advance our mission by helping adults in the northwest suburbs reach their literacy goals through one-on-one volunteer tutoring and small group instruction.”

The Literacy Connection serves 16 northwest suburban Chicago communities including Algonquin, Bartlett, Carpentersville, Cary, Elgin, South Elgin, East Dundee, West Dundee, Gilberts, Hanover Park, Hampshire, Hoffman Estates, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Streamwood, and Schaumburg. The agency provides customized one-on-one and small group adult tutoring, citizenship conversation groups, English conversation groups, and family literacy programs.

The Algonquin, Cary, Harvard, Huntley Johnsburg, Lake in the Hills, McHenry, Spring Grove, and Woodstock Police Departments, in collaboration with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office, will institute a new policy whereby a warrant for a blood draw will be obtained for any DUI suspect that refuses breathalyzer testing.

Of the policy, Woodstock Police Chief John Lieb said, “with the overall mission of public safety in mind, it is Woodstock Police Department’s perception that this initiative is certain to deter some who may contemplate driving after consuming too much alcohol or are under the influence of other substances.”

While DUI suspects face severe civil penalties, such as suspension of driving privileges, if they refuse breathalyzer testing, police cannot generally require or physically force a suspect to submit.  As such, many DUI suspects, mostly those who subjectively believe their blood alcohol concentration to be above the legal limit of 0.08 g/dL, often attempt to obstruct a DUI investigation by refusing to submit to breathalyzer testing. This is especially true of repeat DUI offenders.  Refusal is done in an effort to ensure that breathalyzer results cannot be used in a subsequent criminal prosecution.

The new policy will no longer allow DUI suspects to undermine criminal prosecutions in this way.  Rather, should a DUI suspect refuse breathalyzer testing, a warrant will be sought allowing police to draw the suspect’s blood.  Should the warrant be granted, the suspect will be transported to a nearby emergency room where his/her blood will be drawn and tested for blood alcohol concentration.  This policy will ensure that prosecutors are equipped with the strongest possible evidence in court and, thereby, that all DUI offenders are held accountable.

In addition to holding offenders accountable, Cary Police Chief Finlon observed that the initiative “will create strong cases for the prosecution, thereby encouraging a defendant to seek plea negotiations, reducing the need for investigating officers to appear in court, and improving law enforcement patrol staffing.”

The policy will be aided by the electronic warrant system, launched in January of 2017.  The electronic warrant system creates a streamlined process that police can follow to obtain a warrant without ever having to leave the police station.  Specifically, the e-warrant system allows police to create search warrants online, send those warrants for review to a judge electronically, interact with the judge via video-conferencing, and ultimately obtain a warrant through a judge’s electronic signature.

“The days of drunk drivers refusing to blow thinking that they can beat a DUI charge are coming to an end,” said Patrick Kenneally, McHenry County State’s Attorney.  “This new policy means that we’re going to ensure we have all the evidence we need to successfully prosecute drunk drivers every time.”



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.