R and M Tree Service and Landscaping R & M Tree Service
Affordable tree service in Mchenry. Lawns & Landscaping too!!

ceramic tile in mchenryCeramic Tile Experts
Excell Floors provides Mchenry with professional ceramic tile installs.

web site design, graphics and email marketing Website Design
Providing Local Biz Owners with an Online Presence & email Marketing!


Mchenry Web DesignWebsite Design in Mchenry

The folks at www.spgraphic.com specialize in website design for small businesses. Use your website to build a customer base and sell your products and/or services. Just about anyone can build a website these days....but is your website producing customers or clients? We know how to integrate your website so it becomes an active functioning asset for your business! Find out how you can turn every visitor to your website into a focused and captive member of your prospects. Call 847-516-9224 today.

Welcome to the "The Best of Mchenry"!

Within the pages of this website you'll find the very best of Mchenry merchants, services and businesses. These businesses and services serve the Mchenry area and areas outside of Mchenry such as Lake and Cook counties.Do you need to find something quick....try our search box

Review of hhgreg
Appliances and Electronics
in Crystal Lake

www.hhgregg.comAs I develop this site my plans are to feature local businesses in Mchenry County and the surrounding areas. Many of these reviews will be based on experiences from myself, my family and my friends until people get interested and then I will be accepted reviews of local businesses by people having an actual business experience with the business in question.

First the purpose is to help the businesses to see what they might be doing right and what they might be doing wrong.

Second, we hope to direct the local citzenry to those businesses that deserve your hard earned money. Let's face it, most of us have been ripped off and it that's happened to you.... feel free to make a comment.

Conversely if your business experience has been a good one, we should know about it and spend our hard earned dollars there to keep the local business....in business!

Back To My "hhgreg" Review

A review of hhgregg is an electronics store in crystal lake, in the old Circuit City Building. Let me share my hhgregg experience with you.

When they first opened I purchased a flip camera. The experience was nice. The salespeople are on comission so I'm sure they look for those clientel that have fat wallets. Next I purchased a video camera, again all was good, salespeople were congenial and helpful, not pushy and they seemed to be proud of the ability to negotiate prices. I kind of liked that. Getting a price that was better than list price or an online price left me satisfied, money is tight for me and it felt like I got a good deal. The salespeople I dealt with seemed honest and gunuinely interensted in helping me.

The pessimist I am though is always thinking that they jack up the list price so they can substantially reduce the cost to give the experience a great deal..... you could only know that if you've done your research which, by the way, is unexcusable these days with so much info available with a simple Google Search.


 Can't Wait....My new TV!

Thanks to Brian and Mike at HHGREGG

My most recent experience was in the last week of October 2012. We (my wife and I) were making a big purchase, TV, stereo, expensive speakers and amp. Along with a dishwasher, an expensive dishwasher. It was a big deal for us and felt we would be the better deal at hhgreg since the salesmen needed to know their stuff if they expected to make a sale and pull in a commission. I started at BestBuy but got put on hold, I wasn't dressed in my dockers....had carpenter jeans and boots on so I probably didn't look like a prospect ready to spend 4 to 6 thousand dollars. I was turned off by the BestBuy people and that usually doesn't happen, I've had better than normal experiences with Best Buy and would go back in a heart beat.

I had some special circumstances I was dealing with, on top of that I did not know squat about flat screen tv's, the new amps, blueray players and smart tv's with head blowing speakers etc. So there was an education process that took place and after I figured out what I wanted there was the normal haggling, you know, the price negotiating. We needed a dishwasher so I picked the best.

Here's want I didn't like about pricing process. As all the items were added together, they automatically added their 5 year warranty to everything except the speakers which cost an extra $618 but not the speakers which I think would be the most important thing to insure. Further more I wasn't told of the itemized insurance cost, the invoice was long, I had a migraine and just wanted to make a purchase and go home.

Ok, I ended up spending around $6,000 and they even sneaked in $80 for delivery. But here's the real kicker. HHGregg only ships 3 items per trip. Each additional item to ship costs you another $80.....what's up with that! I mean, if I buy a whole set up can't everything be delivered at once.....is that too hard to ask? So I had to pay for delivery of 3 items and come back 2 or 3 times to pick up the rest of my items myself. Something wrong with that picture.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I had a killer migraine when I was trying to get this deal put together. There were 2 salesmen, Mike and Brian. Both were salesmen to the core, but both were very helpful in putting everything together and seemed like genuinely good guys, well versed in their product knowledge, so far Brian has really gone out of his way to satisfy my needs in this purchase. I will suggest, pay close attention to the itemized bill to avoid any extra surprises, have them explain each item line by line.

I do have one big complaint.

I picked a superduty top of the line dishwasher and that's what I paid for and that's what was on my invoice. The dishwasher was delivered and I installed it (have installed 100's). It didn't work. The latch was broken and it was late Saturday night. I went online to see if I might have done something wrong. You do know that you need to be a computer programer to run your refrigerator, stove and dishwasher these days...don't you :)

Well while I was looking for my dishwasher model online I noticed that the model I purchased was switched to another cheaper model and that's what was delivered!

I don't understand how they could have gotten switched. I wasn't told they would be switched, the price of the cheaper one is substantial and is not the top of the line.

I'm upset as I write this because it looks as though the switch was intentional and I don't see how it couldn't be intential. So I spent better than 3 hours trying to get the wrong dishwasher to work and it was broke on top of that.....it even had water in it which makes me think it was already used and returned. Now I have to take it out, go and dick around with these guys a hhgregg for an explaination, hopefulll get a new one and install a new one..... if they replace it. And....if they don't replace it, I'll refund the entire order.

There's an old adage, "Treat your customers as you'd like to be treated".

Now, all this could be an honest mistake.

If it is, I will comment here and give hhgregg of Crystal Lake the praise they deserve. However, if I end up getting screwed..... you can bet you'll know about it.

Remember, I bought from these guys because they are local. Let's keep our money local....lets help the local businesses that treat us right. These guys need our help in a tough economical environment and they make our commmunity better.

I have faith that Mike and Brian at HHGreGG will make this right, either way, I'll find out tomorrow.

So stay tuned and see if hhgregg in Crystal Lake is someplace you might want to spend your hard earned dollars!

Changes Coming for
Best of Mchenry
Local Business Portal

Winter of 2012 and 2013 we should see some major changes to this site. Hopefully if you own a business in the Mchenry area you'll want to get listed in this directory. I know it works, the few businesses we have see constant calls, activity and business directly from this site.

We'll be tieing in mobile site services, email marketing along with txt marketing in an effort to get your visitors and customers looking forward to communication from the businesses listed in this directory. So..... keep watching! Fill in the below form so I can keep in touch and let you know how the Mchenry local business portal is coming along.


 As time goes on we will be adding more and more of your favorite merchants to our web pages. The interent is a quickly evolving media for businesses to market their products and services. Special offers can be announced overnight with a simple adjustment to the webpage. If you join some of the lists, you will automatically be sent messages when a merchant has a special offer or sale. Don't worry about getting too much email...it is illegal for anyone to spam and we take all necessary measures to prevent spam emails.  Most Business Directories or Business Portals you see online will simply have a listing of the local business perhaps with an email address and phone number. But not "The Best of Mchenry" business directory will have mutiple listings of each business so that it is easy for the website visitor to find any business. Some businesses might elect to have a one line listing, however, many will be featured on every page through ads and the navigation links.

If you have any questions, comments or would like to see your business represented in "The Best of Mchenry" please contact us! 

Contact Us for More Info At:


Local Mchenry News Stories


Northwest Herald Recent news from Northwest Herald

  • Some wanted Florida suspect committed in 2016
    published on March 19th, 2018 at 05:13 AM
    MIAMI – Officials were so concerned about the mental stability of the student accused of last month's Florida school massacre that they decided he should be forcibly committed. But the recommendation was never acted upon. A commitment under the law would have made it more difficult if not impossible for Nikolas Cruz to obtain a gun legally. Cruz is accused of the shooting rampage that killed 14 students and three school employees at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14. In addition, 17 people were wounded. But more than a year earlier, documents in the criminal case against Nikolas Cruz and obtained by The Associated Press show school officials and a sheriff's deputy recommended in September 2016 that Cruz be involuntarily committed for a mental evaluation. The documents, which are part of Cruz's criminal case in the shooting, show that he had written the word "kill" in a notebook, told a classmate that he wanted to buy a gun and use it, and had cut his arm supposedly in anger because he had broken up with a girlfriend. He also told another student he had drunk gasoline and was throwing up. Calls had even been made to the FBI about the possibility of Cruz using a gun at school. The documents were provided by a psychological assessment service initiated by Cruz's mother called Henderson Behavioral Health. The documents show a high school resource officer who was also a sheriff's deputy and two school counselors recommended in September 2016 that Cruz be committed for mental evaluation under Florida's Baker Act. That law allows for involuntary commitment for mental health examination for at least three days. Such an involuntary commitment would also have been a high obstacle if not a complete barrier to legally obtaining a firearm, such as the AR-15 rifle used in the Stoneman Douglas massacre on Feb. 14, authorities say. There is no evidence Cruz was ever committed. Coincidentally, the school resource officer who recommended that Cruz be "Baker Acted" was Scot Peterson – the same Broward Sheriff's Office deputy who resigned amid accusations he failed to respond to the shooting by staying outside the building where the killings occurred. David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor, said that an involuntary commitment would have been a huge red flag had Cruz attempted to buy a firearm legally. "If he had lied, hopefully the verification of the form would have pulled up the commitment paperwork," Weinstein said. The documents do not say why Cruz was not committed under the Baker Act or whether he may not have qualified for other reasons. The law allows a law enforcement officer such as Peterson to initiate commitment under the Baker Act. An attorney for Peterson did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Sunday. Cruz, 19, is charged in a 34-count indictment with killing 17 people and wounding 17 others in the attack. He faces the death penalty if convicted, but his public defender Melisa McNeill has said he would plead guilty in return for a life prison sentence. In the Henderson Behavioral Health documents, Cruz's mother Lynda is quoted as saying she had fresh concerns about her son's mental state after he punched holes in a wall at their home in Parkland. The clinicians at Henderson came to the home for interviews and said Cruz admitted punching the wall but said he did so because he was upset at a breakup with his girlfriend. Cruz also admitted cutting his arm with a pencil sharpener. After a Sept. 28, 2016 interview, the documents say Cruz "reports that he cut his arms 3-4 weeks ago and states that this is the only time he has ever cut. (Cruz) states that he cut because he was lonely, states that he had broken up with his girlfriend and reports that his grades had fallen. (Cruz) states that he is better now, reports that he is no longer lonely and states that his grades have gone back up." He also told the clinician he owned only a pellet gun and was not capable of doing "serious harm" to anyone. The documents show that Cruz was very much on the radar screen of mental health professionals and the Broward County school system, yet very little appears to have been done other than these evaluations. Other red flags have also surfaced, including calls to the FBI about Cruz's potential to become a school shooter and numerous visits by county law enforcement officials to his home - both before his mother died in November and after, when he lived briefly with a family friend in Palm Beach County. Again, very little was done. It's not clear from the documents who the recommendation was forwarded to or why it was not followed up.
  • A frustrated Trump lashes out at special counsel Mueller
    published on March 19th, 2018 at 05:13 AM
    WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Sunday took out his frustrations over the intensifying Russia investigation by lashing out at special counsel Robert Mueller, signaling a possible shift away from a strategy of cooperating with a probe he believes is biased against him. In a series of weekend tweets naming Mueller for the first time, Trump criticized the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and raised fresh concerns about the objectivity and political leanings of the members of Mueller’s team. Trump also challenged the honesty of Andrew McCabe, the newly fired FBI deputy director, and James Comey, the bureau’s former director whom Trump fired last year over the Russia probe. The president’s aggressive stance followed a call Saturday by his personal lawyer for Rod Rosenstein, whom Trump appointed as deputy attorney general and who now oversees Mueller’s inquiry, to “bring an end” to that investigation. Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, which spent the past year conducting a parallel investigation, recently said they had drafted a report concluding no collusion or coordination between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. Committee Democrats vehemently disagreed. “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!” Trump was referring to a dossier of anti-Trump research funded by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Likely adding to Trump’s growing frustration, The New York Times reported last week that Mueller had subpoenaed the Trump Organization and requested Russia-related documents. Trump had said Mueller would cross a red line with such a step. “Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?” Trump tweeted Sunday. Some of Mueller’s investigators indeed have contributed to Democratic political candidates, but Justice Department policy and federal service law bar discrimination in the hiring of career positions on the basis of political affiliation. Mueller is a Republican. A deeply frustrated Trump has fumed to confidants that the Mueller probe is “going to choke the life out of” his presidency if allowed to continue unabated indefinitely, according to an outside adviser who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations with the president. Trump has long believed that the entrenched bureaucracy, particularly at the Justice Department and FBI, is out to thwart him, and has pointed to McCabe’s wife’s associations with Democrats, including longtime Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe, as an example. He also fumed to one confidant after seeing a promotion for Comey’s forthcoming book, and believes the former FBI director will seek to enrich himself by besmirching Trump’s reputation. Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty,” topped Amazon.com’s best-seller list on Sunday. The president has long been torn over how to approach the Mueller probe. Trump insists that his campaign did not collude with Russia, and his legal team, namely attorney Ty Cobb, has counseled the president to cooperate with Mueller. But some former campaign advisers have urged Trump to be combative, warning him that that the investigation poses an existential threat to his presidency. Trump’s attacks raised new concerns among members of Congress that he could be seeking to orchestrate Mueller’s firing. Republican and Democratic lawmakers warned Trump to not even think about it. “If he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a Trump ally. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., called for the passage of bipartisan bills designed to protect Mueller that have stalled in Congress. “This president is engaged in desperate and reckless conduct to intimidate his law enforcement agencies of this country and to try and stop the special counsel. That is unacceptable in a democracy,” Durbin said. Trump cannot directly fire Mueller, who can only be dismissed for cause. Any dismissal of Mueller would have to be carried out by Rosenstein, who has publicly expressed his support for Mueller. Aides and friends say they understand Trump’s frustration with an investigation that hangs over his presidency. “When he says it’s a political witch hunt, I think he’s right,” said Christopher Ruddy, CEO of the conservative news website Newsmax and a longtime Trump friend. Marc Short, Trump’s congressional liaison, said the president’s frustration is “well-warranted” because “there has been no evidence whatsoever of collusion.” Trump may have felt emboldened after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe on Friday. “A great day for Democracy,” Trump tweeted afterward. Trump asserted without elaboration that McCabe, whose firing he had publicly called for, knew “all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!” The Associated Press later reported that McCabe kept personal memos detailing interactions with Trump that have been provided to Mueller’s office and are similar to notes compiled by Comey. Trump sought to cast doubt on their veracity. “Spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them Fake Memos?” It wouldn’t be unusual for a senior official to make notes soon after meeting with the president. Trump also claimed Comey lied under oath at a Senate hearing by saying he had never been an anonymous source. Comey, who is releasing a book next month, tweeted Saturday after McCabe’s firing: “Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.” The contents of McCabe’s memos are unknown, but they could help substantiate McCabe’s assertion that he was unfairly maligned by a White House he says had declared “war” on the FBI and Mueller’s investigation. Sessions said he dismissed McCabe on the recommendation of FBI disciplinary officials who said McCabe had not been candid with a watchdog office investigation. An upcoming inspector general’s report is expected to conclude that McCabe had authorized the release of information to the media and was not forthcoming with the watchdog office as it examined the bureau’s handling of an investigation into Clinton’s emails. McCabe has vigorously disputed the allegations and said his credibility had been attacked as “part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally” but also the FBI and law enforcement. Also over the weekend, Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, cited the “brilliant and courageous example” by Sessions and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility and said Rosenstein should “bring an end” to the Russia investigation “manufactured” by Comey. In response, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said: “If you have an innocent client, Mr. Dowd, act like it.” Dowd told the AP that he wasn’t calling on Rosenstein to fire the special counsel immediately and hadn’t discussed with him the idea of dismissing Mueller or ending the probe. Dowd also said he was speaking for himself and not the president. Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s actions, including Comey’s ouster, constitute obstruction of justice. ___ Associated Press writers Chad Day and Eric Tucker in Washington and Jonathan Lemire in New York contributed to this report. ___ Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
  • Putin calls U.K. accusations over ex-spy poisoning 'nonsense'
    published on March 19th, 2018 at 05:13 AM
    MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday dismissed British accusations of Russia's involvement in an ex-spy's poisoning as "nonsense," but added that Moscow is ready to cooperate with London in the investigation. In his first comments on the incident, Putin referred to the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter as a "tragedy," but added that if the British claim that they were poisoned by the Soviet-designed nerve agent were true, the victims would have been killed instantly. Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer convicted in his home country of spying for Britain, and his daughter have remained in critical condition following the March 4 poisoning. "It's quite obvious that if it were a military-grade nerve agent, people would have died on the spot," he said. "Russia doesn't have such means. We have destroyed all our chemical weapons under international oversight unlike some of our partners." Putin's comments came a few hours after British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he has evidence that Russia has been stockpiling a nerve agent in violation of international law "very likely for the purposes of assassination." Johnson said the trail of blame for the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury "leads inexorably to the Kremlin." Johnson told reporters that Britain has information that within the last 10 years, "the Russian state has been engaged in investigating the delivery of such agents, Novichok agents ... very likely for the purposes of assassination." He said "they have been producing and stockpiling Novichok, contrary to what they have been saying." Putin dismissed the British accusations, emphasizing that an attack on Skripal would make no sense. "Any reasonable man would understand that it's just sheer nonsense, complete rubbish to think that anyone in Russia could do anything like that in the run-up to the presidential election and the World Cup," he said. "It's simply unthinkable." At the same time, Putin, who won another six-year term in Sunday's election, said that Moscow is open for taking part in the probe together with Britain. "We are ready for cooperation. We said it right away," he said. "We are ready to take part in the investigation, but it's necessary that the other side shows interest in that too. We haven't seen that, but we don't exclude the possibility of joint work." Johnson said he will brief European Union foreign ministers on the case Monday before meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. He also said officials from the Netherlands-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would arrive Monday in Britain to take samples of the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals. Britain says it is Novichok, a class of powerful nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union toward the end of the Cold War. Tests to independently verify the British findings are expected to take at least two weeks, Britain's Foreign Office said. Vladimir Chizhov, Moscow's EU ambassador, said Russia has no chemical weapons stockpiles and wasn't behind the poisoning. "Russia had nothing to do with it," Chizhov told the BBC. Chizhov pointed out that the U.K. chemical weapons research facility, Porton Down, is only eight miles from Salisbury. Asked whether he was saying that Porton Down was responsible, Chizhov replied: "I don't know." The British government dismissed the ambassador's suggestion as "nonsense." Johnson said it was "not the response of a country that really believed itself to be innocent." Britain and Russia have each expelled 23 diplomats, broken off high-level contacts and taken other punitive steps in the escalating tit-for-tat dispute, which clouded the run-up to Sunday's presidential election in Russia. Western powers see the poisoning of the Skripals as the latest sign of increasingly aggressive Russian interference in foreign countries. Johnson said Britain's National Security Council will meet this week to discuss what further measures the country might take. He said these could include "defending ourselves against cyberattack, (and) looking at any economic measures that could be taken against Russians who corruptly obtained their wealth." Opposition lawmakers are calling on the British government to clamp down on the illicitly gained money of wealthy Russians in Britain. Critics say U.K. authorities have been slow to investigate the origins of the wealth invested in London's financial district and property market. The spy dispute has sent U.K.-Russia relations to Cold War-levels of tension. Russia's ambassador in London, Alexander Yakovenko, called for "cooler heads," telling the Mail on Sunday that the dispute is "escalating dangerously and out of proportion."
  • Security of Illinois voter rolls a concern as primaries begin
    published on March 19th, 2018 at 05:13 AM
    SPRINGFIELD – With the Illinois primary just days away, state election officials are beefing up cyber defenses and scanning for possible intrusions into voting systems and voter registration rolls. They have good reason to be on guard: Two years ago, Illinois was the lone state known to have its state election system breached in a hacking effort that ultimately targeted 21 states. Hackers believe to be connected to Russia penetrated the state’s voter rolls, viewing data on some 76,000 Illinois voters, although there is no indication any information was changed. Since then, Illinois election officials have added firewalls, installed software designed to prevent intrusions and shifted staffing to focus on the threats. The state has been receiving regular cyber scans from the federal government to identify potential weak spots and has asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment. That assessment is scheduled but will not happen before Tuesday’s second-in the-nation primary. “It’s not something where you ever feel completely safe,” Matt Dietrich, spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections. “It’s something where you feel like you’re doing your best to protect against what could happen in a cyberattack.” Federal intelligence agencies determined that the attempted hacking of state elections systems in 2016 primarily targeted voter registration systems, not actual voting machines or vote tallying. Gaining access to electronic voter rolls can do as much damage, giving hackers the ability to change names, addresses or polling places. Confusion, long lines and delays in reporting election results would follow, all of which undermines confidence in elections. Cybersecurity experts say it’s crucial for states to shore up vulnerabilities in those systems now, with this year’s midterm elections underway and the 2020 presidential election on the horizon. J. Alex Halderman, director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Computer Security and Society, said many of the same weaknesses present in 2016 remain. “I think it’s only a matter of time before we suffer a devastating attack on our election systems unless our federal and state governments act quickly,” he said. The federal Help America Vote Act, passed two years after the messy presidential recount in Florida, requires states to have a centralized statewide voter registration list, but states vary in how they implement it. Most collect voter data at the state level and then provide it to local election officials, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Illinois and five other states do the opposite, collecting voter registration data at the local level and sending it to the state elections office. A few others have a hybrid system. The chief concern surrounding voter registration systems and the growing use of electronic poll books to check in voters at polling places is how they interact with other internet-connected systems. Electronic poll books allow polling place workers to verify a person’s registration and related information electronically, rather than having to rely on large paper files. A downside is that the e-poll books might use a network to connect to a voter registration system, providing a potential opening for hackers. In other cases, the voter data is transferred from a computer and placed on a device not connected to the internet. That computer is the potential weak link. Security experts said it must be secured and not subject to tampering. Experts with The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School said network-connected election systems are vulnerable to attacks and urged officials to take several steps to shore up security, including making sure the underlying server is not connected to the internet and that all changes are logged. Experts say a key component is that election systems can recover quickly in the event of an attack or even an equipment failure, limiting public disruption. Larry Norden, an expert in elections technology with The Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, said the network connections make voter registration systems more vulnerable to hacking than voting machines, which are not directly connected to the internet. In many states, the department of motor vehicles or some other state agency provides information to the voter registration system as a way to keep the records current. Some states allow voters to register and edit their information on a state website that is connected to the voter database. All of those provide possible access points that can open the door to hackers. “Just understanding where the risks are is critical,” Norden said.
  • Putin overwhelmingly wins another 6 years as Russian leader
    published on March 19th, 2018 at 05:13 AM
    MOSCOW – Vladimir Putin rolled to a crushing re-election victory Sunday for six more years as Russia's president, and he told cheering supporters in a triumphant but brief speech that "we are bound for success." There had been no doubt that Putin would win in his fourth electoral contest; he faced seven minor candidates and his most prominent foe was blocked from the ballot. His only real challenge was to run up the tally so high that he could claim an indisputable mandate. With ballots from 80 percent of Russia's precincts counted by early Monday, Putin had amassed 76 percent of the vote. Observers and individual voters reported widespread violations including ballot-box stuffing and forced voting, but the claims are unlikely to dilute the power of Russia's longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin. As the embodiment of Russia's resurgent power on the world stage, Putin commands immense loyalty among Russians. More than 30,000 crowded into Manezh Square adjacent to the Kremlin in temperatures of minus-10 degrees (15-degrees F) for a victory concert and to await his words. Putin extolled them for their support – "I am a member of your team" – and he promised them that "we are bound for success." Then he left the stage after speaking for less than two minutes, a seemingly perfunctory appearance that encapsulated the election's predictability. Since he took the helm in Russia on New Year's Eve 1999 after Boris Yeltsin's surprise resignation, Putin's electoral power has centered on stability, a quality cherished by Russians after the chaotic breakup of the Soviet Union and the "wild capitalism" of the Yeltsin years. But that stability has been bolstered by a suppression of dissent, the withering of independent media and the top-down control of politics called "managed democracy." There were widespread reports of forced voting Sunday, efforts to make Russia appear to be a robust democracy. Among them were two election observers in Gorny Shchit, a rural district of Yekaterinburg, who told The Associated Press they saw an unusually high influx of people going to the polls between noon and 2 p.m. A doctor at a hospital in the Ural mountains city told the AP that 2 p.m. was the deadline for health officials to report to their superiors that they had voted. "People were coming in all at once, (they) were entering in groups as if a tram has arrived at a stop," said one of the observers, Sergei Krivonogov . The voters were taking pictures of the pocket calendars or leaflets that poll workers distributed, seemingly as proof of voting, he said. Other examples from observers and social media included ballot boxes being stuffed with extra ballots in multiple regions; an election official assaulting an observer; CCTV cameras obscured by flags or nets from watching ballot boxes; discrepancies in ballot numbers; last-minute voter registration changes likely designed to boost turnout; and a huge pro-Putin sign in one polling station. Election officials moved quickly to respond to some of the violations. They suspended the chief of a polling station near Moscow where a ballot-stuffing incident was reported and sealed the ballot box. A man accused of tossing multiple ballots into a box in the far eastern town of Artyom was arrested. Overall national turnout was expected to be a little more than 60 percent, which would be several points below turnout in Putin's electoral wins in 2000, 2004 and 2012. He did not run in 2008 because of term limits, but was appointed prime minister, a role in which he was widely seen as leader. Putin's most vehement foe, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, was barred from running Sunday because he was convicted of fraud in a case widely regarded as politically motivated. Navalny and his supporters had called for an election boycott but the extent of its success could not immediately be gauged. The election came amid escalating tensions with the West, with reports that Moscow was behind the nerve-agent poisoning this month of a former Russian double agent in Britain and that its internet trolls had waged an extensive campaign to undermine the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Britain and Russia last week announced expulsions of diplomats over the spy case and the U.S. issued new sanctions. In his first public comments on the poisoning, Putin on Sunday referred to the allegations against Russia as "nonsense." Moscow has denounced both cases as efforts to interfere in the Russian election. But the disputes likely worked in Putin's favor, reinforcing the official stance that the West is infected with "Russophobia" and determined to undermine both Putin and traditional Russian values. The election took place on the fourth anniversary of the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, one of the most dramatic manifestations of Putin's drive to reassert Russia's power. Crimea and Russia's subsequent support of separatists in eastern Ukraine led to an array of U.S. and European sanctions that, along with falling oil prices, damaged the Russian economy and slashed the ruble's value by half. But Putin's popularity remained strong, apparently buttressed by nationalist pride. In his next six years, Putin is likely to assert Russia's power abroad even more strongly. Just weeks ago, he announced that Russia has developed advanced nuclear weapons capable of evading missile defenses. The Russian military campaign that bolsters the Syrian government is clearly aimed at strengthening Moscow's foothold in the Middle East, and Russia eagerly eyes any reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula as an economic opportunity. At home, Putin must face how to groom a successor or devise a strategy to circumvent term limits, how to diversify an economy still dependent on oil and gas, and how to improve medical care and social services in regions far removed from the cosmopolitan glitter of Moscow. Authorities struggled against voter apathy, putting many of Russia's nearly 111 million voters under intense pressure to cast ballots. Yevgeny, a 43-year-old mechanic voting in central Moscow, said he briefly wondered whether it was worth voting. "But the answer was easy ... if I want to keep working, I vote," he said, speaking on condition that his last name not be used out of fear his employer – the Moscow city government – would find out. First-time voters in Moscow were given free tickets for pop concerts and health authorities were offering free cancer screenings. Voters appeared to be turning in out in larger numbers Sunday than in the last presidential election in 2012, when Putin faced a serious opposition movement and there were instances of multiple voting, ballot stuffing and coercion. Navalny, whose group also monitored the vote, dismissed Putin's challengers on Sunday's ballot as "puppets." He urged a boycott of the vote and vowed to continue defying the Kremlin with street protests. Ukraine, insulted by the decision to hold the election on the anniversary of Crimea's annexation, refused to let ordinary Russians vote. Ukraine security forces blocked the Russian Embassy in Kiev and consulates elsewhere as the government protested the voting in Crimea, whose annexation is still not internationally recognized. Ukrainian leaders are also angry over Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has killed at least 10,000 people since 2014. Polls show that most Russians view the takeover of the Black Sea peninsula as a major achievement despite subsequent Western sanctions. "Who am I voting for? Who else?" said Putin supporter Andrei Borisov, 70, a retired engineer in Moscow. "The others, it's a circus." The Central Election Commission also claimed it had been the target of a hacking attempt from 15 unidentified nations that was deterred by authorities.
  • Woodstock nursing home says employee's firing didn't violate Whistleblower Act
    published on March 19th, 2018 at 05:13 AM
    WOODSTOCK – The attorney for a Woodstock senior living center accused of retaliatory firing of an employee who reported possible abuse has asked a judge to dismiss allegations that the business violated the Illinois Whistleblower Act. Juana Walsh, a former Hearthstone Communities employee, wasn’t protected by the Whistleblower Act because the alleged abuse was never reported to government officials, attorney Katherine Dempster wrote in a Jan. 9 motion to dismiss certain claims within the lawsuit. According to the Illinois Whistleblower Act, an employer cannot retaliate against a worker who “discloses information in a court, an administrative hearing or before a legislative commission or committee, or in any other proceeding” where the employee believes he or she is reporting a violation of state or federal law. “[Walsh] does not allege that she was retaliated against because she disclosed or attempted to disclose public corruption or wrongdoing,” the motion read. “Rather, [Walsh] alleges she was discharged for making an internal report of wrongdoing. Such activity does not constitute ‘disclosure’ under the IWA.” The lawsuit was filed Nov. 30 in McHenry County court – exactly one year after Walsh was fired from her job at Hearthstone Communities, 920 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock. Hearthstone houses more than 200 senior citizens and offers independent and assisted living, memory care and short-term stay rehabilitation services, according to the business’ website. In the suit, Walsh said a male resident disclosed to her that a male nurse had been physically rough with him. Walsh reported the alleged abuse to both her supervisor and the company’s human resources director. Walsh said she prepared a written statement of the man’s complaint and shared it with the resident’s brother upon request days later. Hearthstone facility administrator Joni Fisher and former nursing director Patricia Birks accused Walsh of sharing a resident’s private information, and she was fired on the spot, the lawsuit stated. Walsh has asked for the reinstatement of her job and the full fringe benefits and seniority rights it came with. “She is simply not within the class of employees afforded protection by the IWA,” Dempster wrote in the January court filing. Neither Dempster nor Walsh’s attorney, James Harrison, were available to comment on the other party’s claims. Attorneys are expected to argue their positions in court April 27.
  • About 5,000 early ballots cast in McHenry County primary election
    published on March 19th, 2018 at 05:13 AM
    WOODSTOCK – Less than 5 percent of registered voters already have cast their ballots for Tuesday’s primary election. Early counts showed that of 219,072 registered voters in McHenry County, about 4,998 of them voted early, McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan said Friday evening. Although the county has seen more Republican voters than Democrats so far, more Democrats appear to be turning out for this election than in 2014, McClellan said. The shift is likely because of the increase in Democratic candidates vying for Gov. Bruce Rauner’s seat, McClellan said. “I think that’s due to the fact that you have a very contested race on that side,” she said. Although the 2014 primary gubernatorial candidates were largely Republican, this year’s ballot will feature six Democratic and two Republican candidates. As of Friday evening, an estimated 2,433 Democrats and 2,547 Republicans had cast an early ballot. Early voting opened at the McHenry County Clerk’s Office on Feb. 8 and ended March 2. Local early voting centers will remain open through Monday, although hours vary by town. Voting location addresses, times and sample ballots are posted online.
  • Hebron brush fire spreads to barn, causes about $5,000 in damage
    published on March 19th, 2018 at 05:13 AM
    HEBRON – An out-of-control brush fire set a barn on fire Sunday afternoon, fire officials said.  The Hebron-Alden-Greenwood Fire Protection District responded about 2:15 p.m. to the 10500 block of Seaman Road, north of Hebron, according to a news release from the district.  A wood barn was next to a house in the area, and the district issued a mutual aid box alarm to call in help from surrounding departments because there were no fire hydrants nearby. The fire was under control in about 30 minutes, but fire crews stayed at the scene until about 3:30 p.m. to check for hot spots. No one was injured in the fire, according to the release.  The fire, which was deemed accidental because the homeowner lost control of a prescribed burn, caused about $5,000 in damage to the barn, according to the release. The fire did not damage the home. Several fire departments assisted, including crews from Richmond, Spring Grove, Wonder Lake, Woodstock, Fox Lake and Marengo in Illinois, and Linn Township, Lake Geneva, Randall, Fontana and Bloomfield in Wisconsin, according to the release. Mercyhealth field physician MD-1 and the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office also assisted. 
  • Pedestrian taken to hospital Saturday after being struck by vehicle in McHenry
    published on March 19th, 2018 at 05:13 AM
    McHENRY – First responders flocked to a gas station Saturday night at the corner of McCullom Lake and Richmond roads in McHenry.
  • Living Waters Lutheran Church in Crystal Lake holds annual Easter egg hunt
    published on March 19th, 2018 at 05:13 AM
    Families showed up Sunday to search for more than 4,000 eggs during the annual community Easter Egg Hunt at Living Waters Lutheran Church,1808 Miller Road, Crystal Lake. Children participated in different age groups in search of treats and various prizes donated by the community.

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