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!


seasoned firewood delivered to mchenry, wonderlake, lakemore, wauconda, island lake and surrounding areasMchenry Firewood Delivered and Stacked

Are you looking for hardwood firewood for your fireplace or wood stove? Do you know that wood has to be "seasoned" up to 2 years before you should burn it in your fireplace or wood stove?

Tom's Mchenry Firewood Delivery service will delilver good seasoned firewood. We have mixed hardwoods or all oak packages. We overdeliver to keep our customers happy.

Call Tom at 815-236-3620 and try out our well seasoned firewood. Mention this ad for a special extra gift with your first delivery!

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

  • Police: Avoid area of Ackman, Golf Course roads due to fire
    published on April 20th, 2018 at 12:56 PM
    Police are warning drivers to avoid the intersection of Ackman Road and Golf Course Road due to a transformer fire. The Crystal Lake Fire Department has requested temporary closure of the area of Ackman Road from Westport Ridge to Golf Course Road due to the fire, the Crystal Lake Police Department said in a Nixle alert sent about 12:10 p.m. Friday. ComEd is working on resolving the issue.
  • Comey memos offer new details on his interactions with Trump as probe intensified
    published on April 20th, 2018 at 12:56 PM
    WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump expressed concerns about the judgment of his national security adviser Michael Flynn weeks before forcing him to resign, according to memos kept by former FBI director James Comey that recount in detail efforts by Trump to influence the bureau's expanding investigation of Russia. The memos also reveal the extent of Trump's preoccupation with unproven allegations that he had consorted with prostitutes while in Moscow in 2013. Trump, according to the memos, repeatedly denied the allegations and prodded Comey to help disprove them, while also recalling being told by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia has the most beautiful prostitutes. The details were disclosed Thursday as the Justice Department released redacted versions of memos - some of which contained previously classified material - that Comey composed in the immediate aftermath of his interactions with Trump, a step he says he took because he was troubled by their conversations and worried that the president might one day lie about them. The documents, first published by the Associated Press, provide a significantly more detailed account of those conversations than has previously been revealed through Comey's contemporaneous records and are largely consistent with his statements before Congress and in his newly published memoir. In a Jan. 28, 2017, memo, Comey said Trump blamed Flynn for botching the scheduling of a phone call with British Prime Minister Theresa May. "In telling the story, the President pointed his fingers at his head and said, 'the guy has serious judgment issues,' " Comey wrote. Comey said he did not comment at the time. Trump has disputed Comey's accounts of their conversations. On Thursday night, Trump tweeted: "James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classified information. WOW! Will the Witch Hunt continue?" Flynn, who was forced out in the early days of the administration, has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller III's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In early February, Comey met with then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who asked the FBI director "if this was a 'private conversation.' I replied that it was," Comey recounted in one memo. Priebus then asked if the bureau was wiretapping Flynn, according to the memo. "I paused for a few seconds and then said that I would answer here, but that this illustrated the kind of question that had to be asked and answered through established channels," Comey recounted. "I explained that it was important that communication about any particular case go through that channel to protect us and to protect the (White House) from any accusations of improper influence. He said he understood." After that discussion, Priebus brought Comey to speak with the president, where Trump raised the issue of Comey's deputy, Andrew McCabe, who had been criticized by Trump during the campaign because McCabe's wife had previously run as a Democrat for a seat in the Virginia state legislature; she had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from then-Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of Hillary Clinton's. Comey told the president that if McCabe "had it to do over again, I'm sure he would urge his wife not to run, but that the guy put everything aside and did his job well," according to the memo. ​ Comey's memo of his Feb. 14, 2017, discussion with Trump also includes a previously unknown exchange about trying to prevent leaks. At the time, the president was upset that transcripts of his phone conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia had appeared in The Washington Post. Comey said he told the president, "I was eager to find leakers and would like to nail one to the door as a message. I said something about it being difficult and he replied that we need to go after the reporters, and referred to the fact that 10 or 15 years ago we put them in jail to find out what they know, and it worked." Comey said he replied: "I was a fan of pursuing leaks aggressively but that going after reporters was tricky, for legal reasons and because (the Justice Department) tends to approach it conservatively. He replied by telling me to talk to (Attorney General Jeff) Sessions and see what we can do about being more aggressive."​ "I said something about the value of putting a head on a pike as a message," Comey said. "He replied by saying it may involve putting reporters in jail. 'They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, they are ready to talk.' I laughed as I walked to the door Reince Priebus had opened." In a February 8, 2017, memo, Comey recounted how the president denied an allegation raised in a dossier written by a former British spy that he consorted with prostitutes in Moscow, but he also claimed that Putin had told him "we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.''​ The Justice Department sent redacted copies of the memos to Congress on Thursday, and unredacted versions will be made available for members of three House committees to review on Friday in a secure facility on Capitol Hill. The delivery of the memos was in response to an April 13 request by the GOP chairmen of the House Judiciary, Intelligence, and Oversight and Government Reform committees for access to them. The department had earlier allowed certain members to review, but not retain, the memos as long as they agreed not to disclose their contents. "In light of the unusual events occurring since the previous limited disclosure, the department has consulted the relevant parties and concluded that the release of the memoranda to Congress at this time would not adversely impact any ongoing investigation or other confidentiality interests of the executive branch," Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a letter Thursday evening to the three chairmen. The three Republicans - House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes, R-Calif., - issued a joint statement saying the memos reveal Comey as a petty person with a grudge against Trump. The memos "lay bare the notion that former Director Comey is not motivated by animus," the lawmakers said. "He was willing to work for someone he deemed morally unsuited for office, capable of lying, requiring of personal loyalty, worthy of impeachment, and sharing the traits of a mob boss. Former Director Comey was willing to overlook all of the aforementioned characteristics in order to keep his job. In his eyes, the real crime was his own firing." ​ Last week, the three had pressed for access to the memos as part of their inquiry into the FBI's handling of an investigation into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. On Wednesday, Goodlatte served notice of his intent to subpoena the memos. Comey headed the investigation begun in July 2016 into whether there was any coordination between Trump associates and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election. Shortly after Trump's inauguration, Trump sought a promise of loyalty from Comey during a private dinner, according to Comey, who memorialized that in a memo. In February 2017, Comey said, Trump asked him in an Oval Office meeting if he "can see your way clear" to dropping the investigation into Flynn, who had been forced to resign as national security adviser after it became public that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The two men had discussed during the transition the possibility of lifting Obama administration sanctions imposed on Russia. In May 2017, Trump fired Comey. Soon after, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was appointed to take over the Russia probe. Comey wrote some of the memos as unclassified documents. Several others he wrote contained classified information and were kept in a secure facility. After he left office, he shared some of the unclassified memos with a friend, parts of which were then shared with a reporter for the New York Times. All of his memos were subsequently provided to Mueller.
  • Giuliani to join Trump legal team in Russia probe
    published on April 20th, 2018 at 12:56 PM
    WASHINGTON – Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump since the early days of his campaign, is joining the team of lawyers representing the president in the special counsel’s Russia investigation. With the addition of Giuliani, Trump gains a former U.S. attorney, a past presidential candidate and a TV-savvy defender at a time when the White House is looking for ways to bring the president’s involvement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to a close. The president has been weighing whether to sit for questioning by Mueller’s team, and his legal team repeatedly has met with investigators to define the scope of the questions he would face. Giuliani will enter those negotiations, filling the void left by attorney John Dowd, who resigned last month. It’s a precarious time for Trump. His legal team has been told by Mueller that the president is not a target of the investigation, suggesting he’s not in imminent criminal jeopardy. But he currently is a subject of the probe – a designation that could change at any time. Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow told The Associated Press that Giuliani will be focusing on the Mueller investigation – not the legal matters raised by the ongoing investigation into Trump attorney Michael Cohen. That probe is being led by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, an office that Giuliani headed in the mid- to late 1980s. Cohen’s office, home and hotel room were raided last week by the FBI, who are investigating the lawyer’s business dealings, including suspected bank fraud. They also sought records related to payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who both claim to have had sexual encounters with Trump several years ago. The White House has denied the claims. The raids enraged Trump, prompting him to publicly weigh whether to fire Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He also intensified his public attacks on the Mueller investigation, calling it “an attack on our country.” In a statement announcing Giuliani’s hire, Trump expressed his wish that the investigation wrap up soon and praised Giuliani, a fellow New Yorker, confidant and Mar-a-Lago regular. “Rudy is great,” Trump said. “He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country.” Giuliani will be joining Sekulow on Trump’s personal legal team but will be working closely with White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who has also been handling the administration’s cooperation with the Mueller investigation. “It is an honor to be a part of such an important legal team, and I look forward to not only working with the President but with Jay, Ty and their colleagues,” Giuliani said in a statement. In addition to Giuliani, two other former federal prosecutors – Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin – will be joining Trump’s legal team. The two, who are married and run a law firm together, are based in Florida but handle cases across the U.S.. Both have extensive experience prosecuting organized crime and representing defendants in complex white-collar and fraud investigations. Giuliani, who was New York mayor during the Sept. 11 attacks, has known Trump for decades and his aggressive, hard-charging rhetorical style can at times mirror that of the president. He had widely been expected to join Trump’s administration. But Giuliani rejected the idea of becoming attorney general, lobbying Trump to name him secretary of state. Trump picked Rex Tillerson and Giuliani was left without a Cabinet post. The two men share similar policy ideals, publicly supporting law enforcement in ways that have alienated minorities, and taking bullish stances on immigration enforcement. In 2016, for instance, Giuliani fiercely criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, saying it encouraged violence against police. More recently, he has said he was consulted by Trump on how to implement the travel ban put in place last year against Muslim-majority nations. Giuliani has been working at the influential law firm Greenberg Traurig, where he has been a senior adviser and head of the firm’s cybersecurity, privacy and crisis management practice. On Thursday, the firm’s executive chairman Richard A. Rosenbaum released a statement saying Giuliani would be taking a leave of absence “for an unspecified period of time to handle matters unrelated to the law firm or its clients.” Giuliani’s addition to the Trump legal team puts a renewed spotlight on his past legal and consulting work. His flirtation with becoming Trump’s secretary of state was thwarted, in part, because of growing concerns about his overseas business ties. After leaving office as mayor, Giuliani advised foreign political figures and worked for lobbying and security firms whose clients have had complicated relationships with the U.S. government. While not personally involved in lobbying, Giuliani spent years at firms that represented foreign governments and multinational companies, some of which had interests that diverged from those of the United States. That included a trip Giuliani took to Belgrade to meet with leaders of a Serbian political party once allied with Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic. His consulting firm also did work in the Persian Gulf monarchy of Qatar and received money for supporting the Mujahedin-e Khalq, the Iranian dissident group, even as it was a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. More recently, Giuliani’s work for Greenberg Traurig, who is a registered foreign agent for the government of Turkey, has drawn attention for his involvement in a high-profile case with foreign policy implications for the U.S-Turkey relationship. Last year, Giuliani joined former Bush administration attorney general Michael Mukasey in working to resolve the case of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian businessman who was accused of participating in a scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions. The case also focused on allegations of corruption against Turkish officials, including Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan’s government had pressured the U.S. government to drop the case, and in early 2017, Giuliani met with Erdogan to discuss whether the case could be resolved outside of court. Despite Giuliani’s intervention, Zarrab later pleaded guilty and testified for U.S. prosecutors against a former Turkish bank official who was himself later convicted. Zarrab later said the failure of Giuliani’s effort led him to cooperate with prosecutors.
  • Protests erupt in Sweden over Nobel scandal
    published on April 20th, 2018 at 12:56 PM
    STOCKHOLM – Thousands of protesters called Thursday for the resignation of the secretive board that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature after a sex-abuse scandal linked to the prestigious Swedish academy forced the ouster of its first woman head and tarnished the reputation of the coveted prize. The ugly internal feud already has reached the top levels of public life in the Scandinavian nation known for its promotion of gender equality, with the prime minister, the king and the Nobel board weighing in. On Thursday evening, thousands of protesters gathered on Stockholm’s picturesque Stortorget Square outside the headquarters of the Swedish Academy, which has awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901, to demand all of its remaining members resign. Parallel demonstrations were planned in Goteborg, Helsingborg, Eskilstuna, Vasteras, and Borgholm. The national protests have grown out of what began as Sweden’s own #MeToo moment in November when the country saw thousands of sexual misconduct allegations surfacing from all walks of life. It hit the academy when 18 women came forward with accusations against Jean-Claude Arnault, a major cultural figure in Sweden who is married to Katarina Frostenson, a poet who is a member of the academy. Police are investigating the allegations, which Arnault denies, but the case has exposed bitter divisions within the academy, whose members are appointed for life, and given rise to accusations of patriarchal leanings among some members. The turmoil began when some of the committee’s 18 members pushed for the removal of Frostenson after the allegations were levied against her husband, who runs a cultural club that has received money from the academy. In addition to sexual misconduct, Arnault also is accused of leaking Nobel winners’ names for years. After a closed-door vote failed to oust her, three male members behind the push – Klas Ostergren, Kjell Espmark and Peter Englund – themselves resigned. That prompted Horace Engdahl, a committee member who has supported Arnault, to label them a “clique of sore losers” and criticize the three for airing their case in public. He also lashed out at Sara Danius, the first woman to lead the Swedish Academy, who was forced out last week amid criticism from male members of her handling of the scandal. Danius, a Swedish literature historian at Stockholm University, had cut the academy’s ties with Arnault and hired investigators to examine its relationship to the club he ran with Frostenson. Their report is expected soon. Supporters of Danius have described her as progressive leader who pushed reforms that riled the old guard. At Thursday’s protests, many participants wore pussy-bow blouses such as the ones worn by Danius. The high-necked blouses with a loosely tied bow at the neck have become a rallying symbol for those critical of the Swedish Academy’s handling of the case. Birgitta Hojlund, 70, who traveled several hours to attend the protest, said despite Sweden’s progressive image, women still face inequality. “There are still differences, in wages and in honors and in professions,” she said, calling for the Swedish academy to be “recreated from the bottom, and balance male and female.” “They’re pushing women away, saying that sexism is OK, in this academy,” agreed Torun Carrfors, a 31-year-old nurse. “They should leave, and we need to have new ones.” Last week, Frostenson announced she too was leaving the academy. On Thursday, a sixth member, writer Lotta Lotass, said she, was also planning to step down, citing backlash from tradition-minded male members of the board who questioned her credentials, the Dagens Nyheter newspaper reported. The departures of the highly respected women have given rise to a flurry of protests on social media. “Feminist battles happen every day,” wrote Swedish Culture Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke, who posted a picture of herself last week wearing a white pussy-bow blouse like those worn by Danius. Other Swedish women also posted pictures of themselves in the blouses as anger grew over Danius’ departure, including Social Affairs Minister Annika Strandhall, actress Helena Bergstrom and fashion designer Camilla Thulin. The public controversy has also given rise to concerns about the Swedish Academy losing its credibility and tarnishing the reputation of the Nobel Prize. “The Swedish Academy is an internationally acclaimed organization and it should stand for all the right values and at the present moment I don’t think they do,” said Carsten Greiff, a 32-year-old business developer, attending Thursday’s protest. “It’s dragging the international view of the Nobel Prize in the dirt.” King Carl XVI Gustaf said the resignations “risked seriously damaging” the academy, while Prime Minister Stefan Lofven emphasized the academy’s importance to Sweden and urged its members to “restore faith and respect.” “Trust in the Swedish Academy has been seriously damaged,” the Nobel Foundation said of the situation, while demanding the group take action to restore that trust. Despite the resignations the academy, founded by King Gustav III in 1786, does not currently have a mechanism for its lifetime-appointed board members to step down. The king — the academy’s patron, who must approve its secret votes— said Wednesday in the wake of the recent events he wants to change rules to allow resignations. “The number of members who do not actively participate in the academy’s work is now so large that it is seriously risking the academy’s ability to fulfill its important tasks,” he said. _____ Olsen reported from Copenhagen, Denmark. Associated Press writer David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report.
  • 2 black men arrested at Starbucks get an apology from police
    published on April 20th, 2018 at 12:56 PM
    PHILADELPHIA – Rashon Nelson initially brushed it off when the Starbucks manager told him he couldn’t use the restroom because he wasn’t a paying customer. He thought nothing of it when he and his childhood friend and business partner, Donte Robinson, were approached at their table and were asked if they needed help. The 23-year-old entrepreneurs declined, explaining they were just waiting for a business meeting. A few minutes later, they hardly noticed when the police came into the coffee shop – until officers started walking in their direction. “That’s when we knew she called the police on us,” Nelson told The Associated Press in the first interview by the two black men since video of their April 12 trespassing arrests touched off a furor around the U.S. over racial profiling or what has been dubbed “retail racism” or “shopping while black.” Nelson and Robinson were led away in handcuffs from the shop in the city’s well-to-do Rittenhouse Square neighborhood in an incident recorded on a white customer’s cellphone. In the week since, the men have met with Starbucks’ apologetic CEO and have started pushing for lasting change at the coffee shop chain, including new policies on discrimination and ejecting customers. “We do want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anybody again,” Robinson said. “What if it wasn’t us sitting there? What if it was the kid that didn’t know somebody that knew somebody? Do they make it to jail? Do they die? What happens?” On Thursday, they also got an apology from Philadelphia police Commissioner Richard Ross, a black man who at first staunchly defended his officers’ handling of the encounter. “I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law, and not that they didn’t do anything wrong,” Ross said. “Words are very important.” At a news conference, a somber Ross said he “failed miserably” in addressing the arrests. He said that the issue of race is not lost on him and that he shouldn’t be the person making things worse. “Shame on me if, in any way, I’ve done that,” he said. He also said the police department did not have a policy for dealing for such situations but does now and it will be released soon. Nelson and Robinson said they went to the Starbucks to meet Andrew Yaffe, a white local businessman, over a potential real estate opportunity. Three officers showed up not long after. Nelson said they weren’t questioned but were told to leave immediately. Yaffe showed up as the men were being handcuffed and could be seen in the video demanding an explanation for the officers’ actions. Nelson and Robinson did not resist arrest. “When you know that you did nothing wrong, how do you really react to it?” Nelson said. “You can either be ignorant or you can show some type of sophistication and act like you have class. That was the choice we had.” It was not their first encounter with police. But neither had been arrested before, setting them apart from many of those they grew up with in their gritty southwest Philadelphia neighborhood. Nelson and Robinson spent hours in a jail cell and were released after midnight, when the district attorney declined to prosecute them. Nelson said he wondered if he’d make it home alive. “Any time I’m encountered by cops, I can honestly say it’s a thought that runs through my mind,” Nelson said. “You never know what’s going to happen.” Starbucks has said the coffee shop where the arrests occurred has a policy that restrooms are for paying customers only, but the company has no overall policy. The men’s attorney, Stewart Cohen, said they were illegally profiled. The arrests prompted protests at the Starbucks and a national boycott. Kevin Johnson, CEO of the Seattle-based company, came to Philadelphia to meet with the men, called the arrests “reprehensible” and ordered more than 8,000 Starbucks stores closed on the afternoon of May 29 so that nearly 175,000 employees can receive training on unconscious bias. Starbucks has not identified the employee who called police. Robinson said that he appreciates the public support but that anger and boycotting Starbucks are not the solution. The men said they are looking for more lasting results and are in mediation with Starbucks to make changes, including the posting in stores of a customer bill of rights; the adoption of new policies on customer ejections and racial discrimination; and independent investigations of complaints. “You go from being someone who’s just trying to be an entrepreneur, having your own dreams and aspirations, and then this happens,” Nelson said. “How do you handle it? Do you stand up? Do you fight? Do you sit down and just watch everyone else fight for you? Do you let it slide, like we let everything else slide with injustice?”
  • Illinois plan: Replace armed school officers with therapists
    published on April 20th, 2018 at 12:56 PM
    SPRINGFIELD – Some Illinois lawmakers want to give extra money to schools that replace armed security officers with unarmed social workers and behavior therapists, an approach to safety that’s far different than a national push to add police or arm teachers after a mass shooting at a Florida high school. Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a Hillside Democrat, said he proposed the plan after hearing from advocates who argue that investing in mental health resources is the best way of treating the epidemic of violence. His plan, which is backed by 16 other Democrats in the House, would allow schools to apply to an optional grant if they promise to reallocate funding for school-based law enforcement to mental health services, including social workers or other practices “designed to promote school safety and healthy environments.” But the measure could be a tough sell, especially amid a widespread effort to employ more of what’s known as school resource officers – fully armed law enforcement officers often paid for by schools. As of early April, 200 bills or resolutions have been introduced in 39 states regarding school safety, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than half of these measures were introduced after the events in Parkland, Florida. Thirty-four bills in 19 states address regulations and training for school resource officers. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions proposed a school safety plan in March that included a measure prioritizing grants to states that agree to use the money to put more law enforcement in schools. Michelle Mbekani-Wiley, from the Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law, said this approach is wrongheaded and that police are unequipped to recognize or respond to mental health problems. She said that many minority students within the Chicago Public School system are arrested by school resource officers for nonserious offenses, which could jeopardize their chances of applying for jobs and to colleges in the future. “This increased presence of law enforcement in schools does not necessarily enhance school safety,” Mbekani-Wiley said. “Instead, it dramatically increases the likelihood that students will be unnecessarily swept into the criminal justice system often for mere adolescent or disruptive behavior.” However, advocates for school resource officers argue their role is essential to keep students safe, especially in the event of a school shooting. After Parkland, Deputy Kip Heinle, former president of the Illinois School Resource Officers Association, said he was “fielding two to three phone calls a day” from school districts asking how they can add more patrolling officers. While there’s no official count on how many school resource officers are employed in Illinois, he puts the estimate at about 500. Heinle, who works as a school resource officer in an Illinois suburb of St. Louis, said he believes that the officers are “the best line of defense to keep students safe in school.” He added that, beyond preserving law and order in schools, many officers also act like a mentor and an informal counselor to many of their students, with the goal of “shaping them to be successful adults someday.” School resource officers are not required to be trained in Illinois, but they can pay to take part in an optional annual training session each summer in Bloomington. About 85 to 100 officers from around the state typically attend, said Heinle. No Chicago Public School officers have ever attended, he added.
  • Woodstock School District 200 uses Google Expeditions to create virtual reality experience
    published on April 20th, 2018 at 12:56 PM
    Woodstock School District 200 elementary students recently had a chance to create their own virtual reality experience of the Square and their school through Google Expeditions. Katie Jacobson, who teaches fourth- and fifth-grade dual language students at Dean Street Elementary School, introduced the worldwide project through a Google pilot program that allows students to showcase the world around them. Google Expeditions allows users to immerse themselves in different virtual reality spaces using a 360-degree camera and the Google app. Many educators use the program to let students take virtual field trips around the world. Through the pilot program, participants have a chance to create their own tours. Dean Street Elementary fourth- and fifth-graders created a tour of the Woodstock Square, and the experience now is published through the Google Expeditions app. “We worked really hard on it, and I am sure everyone here is really proud of what we did,” fifth-grader Lauren Ribbe said. “My favorite place was probably the mural.” Classmate Lilyana Espina, 11, said she enjoyed the field trip to the Square and learned new things about her town. “I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about Woodstock,” she said. “Like it used to be called Centerville.” In addition to taking pictures of about seven different locations, the students had to research and write about the featured places. “We talked about ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘Dick Tracy,’ ” Jacobson said. “We talked about the history of the Square, like the fire and the Opera House. We also took pictures of the front and back of the school and talked about the history of Dean Street Elementary. The research and collaboration was very extensive.”
  • Diane Evertsen elected McHenry County Republican Party chairwoman
    published on April 20th, 2018 at 12:56 PM
    The McHenry County Republican Party has a new leader. Her name is Diane Evertsen, a 73-year-old Harvard grandmother and political insider with a long resume – a history that includes a stint as president of Minutemen Midwest, an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center designated a “nativist extremist” group. Evertsen won election as the GOP’s chairwoman Wednesday night at the party’s annual convention, beating out Old Guard representative Mark Daniel. Precinct committeemen from across the county descended on McHenry VFW Post 4600 to cast a weighted vote and cement the GOP’s leadership for the next two years. With votes counted, Evertsen ran away with the win, collecting 8,668 votes to Daniel’s 6,678. Evertsen – a retired real estate agent who served on the Harvard School District 50 Board for 11 years, the McHenry County Board and currently serves as a McHenry County College trustee – was president of the Minutemen Midwest, which the SPLC named several times on its annual list of nativist extremist groups between 2007 and 2010. The Alabama-based civil rights nonprofit defines nativist extremist groups as organizations that go beyond mere advocacy to personally confront suspected undocumented immigrants or those who hire or help them. In its Spring 2007 issue of Intelligence Report, the SPLC quoted this statement from the Harvard-based Minutemen Midwest: “There is a conspiracy afoot to merge the U.S. and Mexico. This heinous ongoing treason has been engineered by an entrenched cabal of legislators, courts, military brass and government employees embedded at all levels of the executive branch, constituting a ‘Shadow Government,’ who are working to dismantle this country in plain sight.” Evertsen – who had six children with her husband, Evert, and enjoys cooking, gardening and reading books by thriller writer Brad Thor – could not be reached for comment. Her opponent, Daniel, is a precinct committeeman in Nunda Township and once served as the vice chairman of the McHenry County Republican Party under Mike Tryon. To Daniel, Evertsen’s election, coupled with her ties to the Minutemen group, does not bode well for the McHenry County GOP. “I think the Democrats are going to win some races,” Daniel said. “I’m not sure the party is going to move forward because of this.” Chuck Wheeler, a District 4 McHenry County Board member, won election as the party’s vice chairman, collecting 8,787 votes to McHenry County Board District 6 representative Jim Kearns’ 5,975. To Wheeler, the GOP’s new leadership represents a catalyst for change in a place where many Republicans describe the party as fragmented. “Last night was a step in the right direction,” said Wheeler, the first black man elected to the McHenry County Board. “The Republican Party is going to come together.” Karen Tirio, a McHenry County College trustee, defeated former Richmond Township Supervisor Tamara Valentine-Garza, 9,703 to 5,423. Tirio was not available for comment. Rachael Lawrence – an Algonquin Township trustee – won election as treasurer. She ran unopposed. “It was a very big win for a group that’s going to breathe new life into the Republican Party,” Lawrence said.
  • Huntley School District 158 chooses new high school principal
    published on April 20th, 2018 at 12:56 PM
    Marcus Belin will serve as the new principal of Huntley High School starting in the fall. The Huntley School District 158 Board approved Belin’s hire at its meeting Thursday, according to a news release. Belin will begin the position July 1 and take over for Scott Rowe, who recently was promoted to associate superintendent for District 158. Belin serves as the assistant principal of Dunlap High School, which is north of Peoria. During his time there, Belin has managed a broad portfolio of administrative duties and driven initiatives that have helped the school maintain its place among the top schools in the state, the release said. He is from the South Side of Chicago and attended Bradley University in Peoria, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. He is pursuing a doctorate in education at National Louis University. Belin previously served as a teacher, dean of students and assistant principal at Quest Charter Academy, a public charter middle school and high school in Peoria. “Those of us who were part of the interview process with Marcus were immediately struck by his passion for the transformative power of education, his vision for driving meaningful change, and his infectiously positive attitude,” interim District 158 Superintendent Brad Hawk said. Belin and his wife, Monique, have three children. Rowe has served as principal for the past five years, and he previously was principal at Marlowe Middle School in Lake in the Hills.
  • Harvard man had about 19 ounces of marijuana, $11,000 in cash, police say
    published on April 20th, 2018 at 12:56 PM
    A 20-year-old Harvard man faces drug charges after the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office discovered he posted photos of narcotics and weapons on social media. Jack D. Hoschouer caught the sheriff’s office’s attention after someone tipped police off to “racially derogatory” comments posted on social media, according to a sheriff’s office news release. Deputies soon learned there was an active warrant out for Hoschouer’s arrest tied to an unrelated case. On Wednesday, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Police Narcotics Task Force and the U.S. Marshal’s Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Hoschouer on the warrant at his home in the 400 block of Cobblestone Road. During Hoschouer’s arrest, officers observed numerous items related to narcotics sales and use in plain view, and a search warrant was granted to enter the residence, police said. Detectives seized $10,974 in cash, about 19 ounces of marijuana, 11 grams of marijuana wax, digital scales, packaging materials and drug paraphernalia.  The estimated street value of the seized drugs is about $10,800, police said. Hoschouer faces charges of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is set to appear in court at 9 a.m. Monday. A judge set his bond at $25,000.

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