Daily Archive : Wednesday December 11, 2013


    The Batavia captains hoist the championship trophy following their Class 6A championship game in DeKalb.

    A look at the Fox Valley’s biggest news stories in 2013
    The year 2013 saw at least a half dozen court cases across the Fox Valley came to an end, turnover in key political positions, progress on several construction projects and important property acquisitions. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair also made a trip across the pond to speak to a select group at Judson University and Batavia rejoiced when after more than 100 years its football team...

    Patricia Wasmond, pictured with her husband Bob

    Reflecting on those who died in Fox Valley in 2013
    Several notable Fox Valley residents died in 2013, and they left a legacy of impressive accomplishments and years of service in their memory. The list includes public servants, a pair of aldermen, a former chief judge, and the founder of a home for severely disabled children and adults.

    Mary Martinez of Elgin checks out holiday decorations while sipping cider at a previous Ancient Cultural Traditions and the Solstice program at the Elgin Public Museum. This year’s program will be held Saturday, Dec. 21.

    Shining some light on the winter solstice

    The winter solstice is traditionally known as a dark time, but for the past six years the Elgin Public Museum has been able to turn it onto a bright time. The sixth annual Ancient Cultural Traditions and the Solstice program will take place on from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at the museum, 225 Grand Blvd., Elgin.

    Schaumburg High School Choir Director Tim McGlynn in his office.

    McGlynn to direct his final concert at Schaumburg High School

    The Schaumburg High School 2013 Holiday Choral Concert 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19, in Weimer Auditorium will be choir director Tim McGlynn’s last after a dozen years in the position.

    Vernon Hills High School senior Kristina Kliver wraps a shoe box filled with supplies for the COVE Care Package Program on Wednesday. Nearly 350 boxes were collected for students at the Cove Alliance school in Kapeeka, Uganda.

    Vernon Hills High collects gifts for Ugandan children

    Vernon Hills High School students stacked wrapped shoe boxes filled with gifts for children in Uganda in the school foyer Wednesday. More than 350 boxes were collected as part of the COVE Care Package Program that will help students at the COVE Alliance school, Saint Jerome, in Kapeeka, Uganda.

    Stephen Bona

    Man accused of threatening Wheaton state rep wants charges dropped

    A man charged with threatening a state representative from Wheaton for her radio show comments disparaging gay marriage is attempting to have the charges dismissed, claiming his perceived threats are constitutionally protected free speech. Stephen Bona, 50, of Chicago was charged March 22, hours after Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives reported getting a threatening voice mail at her district...

    Fox River Grove Western Metra train station, located on the Union Pacific Northwest Line, opened Wednesday.

    Fox River Grove's second Metra station opens

    Fox River Grove commuters inaugurated a new Metra station that opened at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday near Northwest Highway and Lincoln Avenue. It's the second of two Union Pacific Northwest Line stations built to serve the village. The eastern station, off Northwest Highway near Algonquin Road, was completed and occupied earlier this summer,

    Edgar Pena of Palatine carries a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe after visiting the at the Shrine at Maryville in Des Plaines.

    Thousands in Des Plaines to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe

    Thousands of worshippers were expected to descend upon the Maryville campus overnight to celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A 12-foot tall replica statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe sits in the shrine, which is the only place in the world outside of the Basilica in Mexico City where people can satisfy their mandas, according to the church.

    Traffic is backed up on I90 eastbound around Bartlett Road from sloppy driving conditions Wednesday morning.

    Bitter cold grips area; take precautions, experts say

    After a dusting of snow coated the Chicago suburbs Wednesday morning the cold snap moved in with temperatures and windchills dropping dangerously below zero overnight.---- The National Weather Service issued a Wind Chill Advisory until 5 a.m. Thursday that predicted wind chills between 10 and 20 degrees below zero.

    FILE - In this frame grab from video provided by NASA, two Russian flight engineers perform maintenance on the International Space Station, Monday, June 24, 2013. NASA said Wednesday it is looking into a problem with a malfunctioning cooling pump on the International Space Station, but there is no immediate danger to the six crewmen on board.

    NASA: Cooling pump on space station shuts down

    WASHINGTON — NASA said Wednesday it was looking into a problem with a malfunctioning cooling pump on the International Space Station, but there was no immediate danger to the six crewmen on board.

    House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray announced a tentative agreement between Republican and Democratic negotiators on a government spending plan Tuesday evening.

    Key support for budget deal; deficits would rise

    A newly minted budget deal to avert future government shutdowns gained important ground Wednesday among House Republicans who are more accustomed to brinkmanship than compromise, even though it would nudge federal deficits higher three years in a row.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is asking the department’s inspector general to investigate the contracting process, management, performance and payment issues that may have contributed to the flawed launch of HealthCare.gov.

    Feds: More than 7,000 Illinoisans select health plans

    More than 7,000 Illinois residents signed up for private insurance coverage in the first two months of the troubled HealthCare.gov website, less than 30 percent of the federal government’s projection for the state’s enrollment at this point of the rollout.


    Antioch superintendent to resign in June

    Antioch Elementary School District 34 Superintendent Gregory Buchanan will resign effective June 30, 2014, district officials said in a news release on Wednesday night.


    Kane forest preserve district finalizes Pingree land deal

    Kane County Forest Preserve District officials finalized the purchase of more than 40 acres in Pingree Grove this week. Despite the perception that the land is unbuildable wetland, district officials said that could be fixed.

    President Barack Obama, seen at the Nelson Mandela memorial ceremony Tuesday in South Africa, is seeing his popularity numbers fall — and not necessarily for politcally related issues.

    Poll: Public admiration of Obama drops

    Americans’ perceptions of President Barack Obama are falling not only on his handling of the economy and other big issues, but also on more personal qualities such as honesty, a poll finds. A clear majority of adults, 56 percent, say “honest” does not describe Obama well, according to The Associated Press-GfK poll.


    District 204 projecting 1.7 percent property tax boost

    Homeowners in Indian Prairie Unit District 204 likely will pay more in property taxes next year as the district looks to offset the cost of additional mandates and shortfalls in state funding.

    While 86 percent of Americans now wear seat belts, an upcoming study that will be published by California’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training estimates that roughly half of law enforcement officers don’t wear them.

    Police buckling down on officers not buckling up

    If you’ve ever been pulled over by a police officer for not wearing a seat belt, there’s a decent chance the officer also wasn’t buckled up either. While 86 percent of Americans now wear seat belts, an upcoming study that will be published by California’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training estimates that roughly half of law enforcement officers don’t wear them.

    Passengers from Asiana Airlines flight 214, many with their luggage, are seen on the tarmac just moments after the plane crashed at the San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco on July 6, 2013.

    Pilot who crashed at SFO worried about landing

    The pilot of the jet that crash-landed at San Francisco’s airport last summer worried privately before takeoff about handling the Boeing 777, especially because runway construction meant he would have to land without any help from a common type of guidance system.


    Ill. lags in spending on smoking prevention

    Illinois is spending only about 7 percent of what federal officials say it should on smoking-prevention programs 15 years after a landmark settlement with tobacco companies over health risks, according to a study.


    Salvation Army gets more gold coins

    More gold coins have been discovered in Salvation Army kettles in Lake County, the charitable group announced Wednesday.

    Harrison Odjegba Okene looks in awe as a rescue diver surfaces into the air pocket which has kept Okene alive for nearly three days, recorded by the diver’s video headcam.

    Nigerian survivor almost missed rescue diver

    He had survived three days in an upside down tugboat at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and then he saw lights in the water. Air bubbles rose around the cook as he squatted in an air pocket. A diver was coming. Rescue seemed imminent for Harrison Odjegba Okene. But then the lights disappeared. Now Okene tells the story in his own words of how he survived.

    President Barack Obama stands next to the sign language interpreter after making his speech at the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela on Tuesday. South Africa’s deaf federation said Wednesday the interpreter on stage for Mandela memorial was a “fake.”

    Interpreter for deaf at Mandela event called fake

    The sign-language interpreter on stage at Nelson Mandela’s globally broadcast memorial service was a faker who was just waving his arms around meaninglessly, advocates for the deaf said Wednesday.

    Stanley Wrice, left, convicted of rape and sentenced to 100 years in prison in 1982 gives a thumbs-up sign as he and his attorney Jennifer Bonjean, leave Pontiac Correctional Center Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 in Pontiac, Ill. Wrice was released after serving more than 30 years in prison when a Cook County Judge overturned his conviction the day before and granted him a new trial. Wrice has claimed for decades he was beaten and coerced into confessing to the rape by Chicago police Area 2 detectives working for disgraced former Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge. Burge himself, is now in federal prison after being convicted of perjury related to torture allegations.†Judge Richard Walsh's ruling comes after the officers working for Lt. Burge who Wrice says beat him, invoked their right not to testify. (AP Photos/M. Spencer Green)

    Another man freed in Chicago police torture saga

    During his more than 30 years behind bars, Stanley Wrice insisted he was innocent, that Chicago police had beat him until he confessed to a rape he didn’t commit. On Wednesday, he walked out of an Illinois prison a free man, thanks to a judge’s order that served as a reminder that one of the darkest chapters in the city’s history is far from over.

    The Alma Mater statue on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana is one of the school’s most famous landmarks. It has been off its pedastal since August 2012. How it should look when it returns is an ongoing debate.

    Film has clues about U of I sculpture’s real color

    An 8-mm color film shot in the 1940s is offering some clues about the original color of a bronze statue that is a beloved landmark at the University of Illinois. The 84-year-old Alma Mater statue of a robed woman flanked by figures celebrating “Learning” and “Labor” was removed for cleaning and restoration in August 2012. A heavy buildup of blue-green patina has disguised its original color for...

    It may be a bit chilly, but Friday will be the peak night to observe the annual Geminids meteor shower, the most intense of the year.

    Geminid meteor shower ramps up Friday night
    The annual Geminids (JEM’-i-nids) meteor shower — the most intense of the year — will peak Friday night. But the best viewing may be early Saturday, once the moon sets.


    Woodland jazz band to perform

    Woodland Middle School Jazz Band members will travel to Vernon Hills for a special performance at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 16, in the Carson’s court of Westfield Hawthorn mall at routes 60 and 21.


    Libertyville puts moratorium on marijuana dispensaries

    Libertyville has imposed a moratorium on marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries in advance of a state pilot program effective Jan. 1.


    New Schaumburg police contract includes random drug testing

    Schaumburg village trustees Tuesday unanimously approved a new three-year contract with its rank-and-file police officers, granting them 2-percent annual raises while allowing the village to randomly test some for drug use. Under the dea the village may seek random drug tests up to four times a year for officers who engage in enforcement of narcotics laws. The testing requirement, which will...


    Police: Health issue caused fatal Elgin crash

    A medical issue caused a 79-year-old Elgin man to swerve off the road and hit another car Tuesday, officials said. Donald L. Dabbert, of the 2200 block of Country Knoll Lane, was pronounced dead Tuesday at Presence St. Joseph Hospital following a crash at the intersection of Airlite Street and Country Knoll Lane, police said in a news release.


    Tri-Cities police reports
    Michael Noble, 45, of Aurora, was charged with retail theft at 3:17 p.m. Monday, according to a police report. He is accused of stealing a camera from Kohl’s, 251 N. Randall Road, Batavia.

    Developers behind the proposed Catherine Alice Gardens apartments, a 33-unit building for people with disabilities, are asking a court to review their request for a zoning change that would allow the project to move forward. The Palatine village council rejected the request in August.

    Supportive housing developers sue Palatine

    Developers behind the proposed Catherine Alice Gardens apartments, a 33-unit building for people with disabilities, are asking a court to review their request for a zoning change that would allow the project to move forward. The Palatine village council rejected the request in August. “This is a right that every zoning petitioner in the state of Illinois has, to have a new review of the facts of...

    A Wednesday afternoon crash on Kreutzer Road in Huntley sent two people to the hospital after their vehicle went into a creek.

    Car lands in creek after Huntley crash

    A vehicle with two occupants ended upside down in a creek after a crash at Kreutzer Road and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in Huntley Wednesday afternoon, police said.


    Three in custody following Radio Shack heist, chase

    Three men were in custody Wednesday following an armed robbery and chase that began in Downers Grove and ended in Warrenville.

    Ken Wick

    Fishing rules on the agenda again in Island Lake

    A controversial overhaul of Island Lake’s fishing regulations will be up for yet another public discussion Thursday night.

    Warren Township High School seniors Alex Landry, left, Anna Baio, Connor Tangney and Christine Rajan sort wrapped Christmas presents into bags for their Letters for Santa Program. The presents will be delivered to the Reilly School in Chicago.

    Warren provides gifts for needy Chicago children

    Thanks to Warren Township High School students, staff and members of the community, more than 1,300 needy children from Reilly School in Chicago will receive a special gift this holiday season.


    Former Mt. Prospect mayor Farley leads 2014 Shining Star contingent

    Mount Prospect has announced the winners of the 2014 Shining Star awards, and one of them is longtime mayor Gerald "Skip" Farley, who will be honored in the Living Legend category. The awards will be handed out at the Celestial Celebration banquet in February.

    Enrique Ruiz

    Sheriff’s office says man might have fled the country

    A Kane County jury Wednesday convicted an Aurora man - who went missing two weeks before his trial - of sexually assaulting a girl from June 2004 through November 2010. Enrique Ruiz, 85, faces up to 67 years in prison for predatory criminal sexual assault of a girl younger than 13. Authorities believe he may have fled to Mexico City where he owns land.

    Rolling Meadows officials took a pass this week on deciding the long-term fate of the city’s former public works building on Central Road. The building is in need of major repairs as bricks are falling out of the side facade and its roof is at or beyond its useful life, according to an architectural report.

    Rolling Meadows’ old public works building in limbo

    Like many suburbs established in the postwar boom, Rolling Meadows faces deteriorating public buildings. But while the city council has committed to deciding in April the fate of its downtown fire station, the old public works building at 3200 Central Road will continue to languish. The council Tuesday did not agree to set a deadline for a long-term decision on the building, despite a recent...


    District 207 abates nearly $1.5 million

    Maine Township High School District 207 is abating $1,478,562 to taxpayers from tax proceeds collected in 2013. “We believe our financial management and cost-containment efforts have put us in a position that we can make this tax abatement without compromising the quality of our education,” Superintendent Ken Wallace said.


    Glen Ellyn District 41 seeks property tax boost

    Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 officials are seeking a 4.57 percent, or close to $2 million, property tax levy increase, but expect the actual increase to be closer to the consumer price index of 1.7 percent.


    Northwest suburban police blotter

    A motorist in a 2005 Chrysler Pacifica left the Citgo gas station, 1199 S. Wolf Road, in Prospect Heights around 5:35 p.m. Dec. 2 without paying for gas valued at $55.

    Three suburban gas station owners were among four men charged with tax fraud after authorities say they underreported gas sales and defrauded the state of more than $1 million in sales taxes.

    Suburban gas station owners charged with tax fraud

    Three suburban gas station owners were among four men charged with tax fraud after authorities say they underreported gas sales and defrauded the state of more than $1 million in sales taxes.

    Lake County jail inmates will receive medical services from a new company starting in 2014. Here, Lake County sheriff Mark Curran talks to the media during his self-imposed 2008 stay in the jail.

    New medical company to treat Lake County inmates

    A Pennsylvania company has been hired to provide medical services at the Lake County jail starting in February 2014.

    City employee Jeffrey Lewis uses a snow thrower to clear the last of the overnight snow Wednesday morning from the City Skate rink in downtown Elgin.

    Workers, weather have Elgin’s City Skate prepared

    Frigid temperatures may not please everyone, but if you enjoy ice skating at City Skate in downtown Elgin, conditions are perfect. City employees were clearing the overnight snow from the rink Wednesday morning, and plan to add more water to the rink as well to build up the existing ice.


    Aurora cops hope new app improves outreach efforts

    Aurora police hope a new app, My PD, will make it easier for residents to communicate with the department and even provide crime-related tips. The free app is available for both iPhone and Android devices, officials said Wednesday, and allows users to communicate with police administrators, ask questions, obtain sex offender information and more.

    Desahaude L. Jones

    Cops: Third suspect nabbed in beating of man lured to watch Bears game

    A suspect on the run for more than a month was taken into custody in Mississippi on Wednesday for what authorities say was his role in the beating and robbery of a man who was invited to watch a Bears game on television in Round Lake Park last month. Police Chief George Filenko said he was informed the U.S. Marshals Service in Gulfport, MS, seized Desahaude L. Jones, 35, of the 300 block of...


    Mount Prospect mulls giving ‘vicious’ dogs a 2nd chance

    Mount Prospect dogs characterized as “vicious” could get a second chance at redemption, if the village board agrees to a code change proposed this week. The change would allow the chief of police to clear dogs declared vicious after an 18-month waiting period, and if the neighbors sign off.

    Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican

    Pope Francis is Time’s Person of the Year

    Time magazine selected Pope Francis as its Person of the Year on Wednesday, saying the Catholic Church’s new leader has changed the perception of the 2,000-year-old institution in an extraordinary way in a short time.


    Buffalo Grove appoints new deputy director of public works

    Buffalo Grove officials announced Wednesday that veteran village employee Michael K. Skibbe has been named as the new deputy director of public works. He replaces Rick Kuhl, who retires on Dec. 20, 2013 after 38 years of service to the village.

    Five-year-old Xander Rambo shows Naperville police officer Eric Muska a toy as he takes part in the annual Cops With Kids event at the Super Target in Naperville.

    Naperville cops take kids in need on shopping spree

    Naperville’s Cops with Kids program is designed to put smiles on the faces of youngsters in need by allowing them to pick out toys, clothes and other presents courtesy of the Naperville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 42. But you didn’t have to look very closely Tuesday to see the cops grinning, too, as they felt a gentle little tug on their heartstrings.

    Naperville’s Steve Hlavac is combining his passion for fitness and training to launch his career and help others.

    Naperville businessman: ‘Helping people is my goal’

    Naperville resident Steve Hlavac is combining his passion for fitness and training to help others and launch his career. “Helping people is my goal,” says Hlavac, founder and owner of Beyond Measure Training in Naperville. His business was founded on that principle and his life reflects it.

    Here's a bright idea: Enter your holiday lights display in the Daily Herald's contest. You can upload a photo at www.dailyherald.com/contests/holidaylights.

    Last day to enter holiday lights contest

    Today's the last day to enter our annual holiday lights contest. The top prize is a snowblower valued at more than $800.

    Charles Kelley, left, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum accept the group of the year award.

    Luke Bryan, FGL clean up at American Country Awards

    The fans of country music love Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line and they proved it again Tuesday during the American Country Awards. Bryan was named artist of the year and Florida Georgia Line was the top winner, with six trophies, including new artist and single of the year for the “Cruise” remix with Nelly. “It's been the most amazing year of my life,” Bryan said.


    Dawn Patrol: Snow causing accidents; Lake Villa standoff ends safely

    Lake Villa armed standoff ends peacefully, man in custody; Hoffman Estates Pop Warner team advances to national title game; Pedestrian survives Metra accident; Dist. 207 planning $6 million of improvements at schools

    Discussions and studies continue on whether to widened the tree-lined stretch of Meacham Road in Rolling Meadows and Schaumburg to three lanes.

    Meacham Road construction vote could come in January

    While Rolling Meadows Mayor Tom Rooney insists a majority of the city council supports expanding a rural-flavored stretch of Meacham Road to three lanes, an official vote on the plan will wait until at least January. IDOT has offered to pay about $2.6 million of the $7 million project, and a federal grant would cover $4.7 million. Rolling Meadows and Schaumburg would pay the rest and be...

    Naperville Mayor George Pradel says figure skating champion Evan Lysacek’s decision not to compete in the 2014 Olympics is sad for many who support the skater in his hometown. Naperville celebrated Lysacek’s 2010 gold medal with a day in his honor.

    Naperville saddened by Lysacek’s sidelining injury

    As news of figure skater Evan Lysacek’s hip injury and decision to sit out the Sochi Olympics in February reached his hometown of Naperville, sadness spread. “We are saddened because we just love the guy and he’s made a name for Naperville,” mayor George Pradel said. “He’s an icon here. He’s part of the Naperville family.”

    Meghan Hope Pacyna weighed a mere 15 ounces and measured only 8 inches long when she was born 17 weeks premature on July 9. The baby girl was able to go home with her parents Tuesday after a five-month stay at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.

    ‘Miracle baby’ heads home to Schaumburg

    Just hours before she was released from Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Meghan Hope Pacyna's parents, doctors and nurses reflected on how she is a miracle in so many ways. “We didn’t know whether or not we’d have her home before Christmas, so to have her home a couple weeks before is amazing,” said Meghan’s father, Mark Pacyna.


    Elgin High graduates Melissa Parker, front, and Leslie Schock celebrate the Maroons’ state semifinal win over Morris at the 1996 Class AA state tournament at Redbird Arena.

    Former Elgin greats Parker, Schock headed to IBCA Hall of Fame

    It became such a routine, it almost feels like it was yesterday. Actually, it was the winter season of 1995-96, my first year with the Daily Herald. Having already covered high school sports in the Fox Valley for 20 years, I was well aware of who Melissa Parker and Leslie Schock were. Timing was my good fortune because my first year of covering high school sports for the Daily Herald was their senior year at Elgin High School, and what a year it was.


    Wednesday’s wrestling scoreboard
    Here are the varsity boys wrestling results from Wednesday as reported to the Daily Herald.


    Wednesday’s girls gymnastics scoreboard
    Here are the varsity girls gymnastics results from Wednesday's events, as reported to the Daily Herald.


    Wednesday’s girls bowling scoreboard
    Here are the varsity girls bowling results from Wednesday's events, as reported to the Daily Herald.


    Wednesday’s girls basketball scoreboard
    Here are the results from Wednesday's varsity girls basketball results as reported to the Daily Herald.


    Wednesday’s boys swimming scoreboard
    Here are varsity boys swimming results from Wednesday's meets, as reported to the Daily Herald.


    Wednesday’s boys basketball scoreboard
    Here are the results from Wednesday's varsity boys basketball results as reported to the Daily Herald.


    Dunning, Grant sink Round Lake

    Grant’s boys basketball team hadn’t played a game in December until Wednesday night. The 10-day layoff didn’t affect Steve Dunning, apparently. The senior forward scored a career-high 29 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, leading Grant to a 64-60 win over host Round Lake, which received 28 points from Karnell Wright.

    Libertyville’s Bryan Scanlan, top, and Stevenson’s Jalen Brunson battle for a loose ball Wednesday night in Libertyville.

    Score another ‘W’ for unbeaten Stevenson

    Jalen Brunson’s 29 points (four 3-pointers) led all scorers, as Stevenson blew out Libertyville 77-48 in a North Suburban Lake Division showdown between undefeated teams Wednesday night.

    A win over the Knicks was there for the taking, but Taj Gibson and the Bulls couldn’t close the deal despite rallying from 23 points down at Madison Square Garden in New York.

    Discouraging stat: Bulls 2-8 since D-Rose got hurt

    The Bulls erased a 23-point third quarter deficit, but couldn't score down the stretch and lost 83-78 to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Joakim Noah returned after missing the previous game with a knee bruise, while Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler remained out.

    John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.com Marmion Academy's Jordan Glasgow steals the ball from Geneva's Chris Parrilli Monday in the Wildcat Turkey Classic in West Chicago.

    Team play key for St. Charles North

    It’s the simplest of notions, but it’s got St. Charles North to a 5-2 start, 2-0 in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division.

    The Hawks’ Michal Handzus (26) celebrates his goal with teammate Marcus Kruger as Flyers goalie Ray Emery kneels in front of the net during the second period Wednesday at the United Center.

    Raanta: It’s easy to be a goalie on this team

    Antti Raanta played for some pretty good teams in Finland, winning a championship last season with Assat Pori. But none of them compare to the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. Playing behind an offense that can explode at any time, Raanta was the beneficiary of a 5-goal second period Wednesday as the Hawks crushed the Philadelphia Flyers 7-2 at the United Center. It was the third win in a row for the Hawks and Raanta — who is 5-0-1 for the season.


    Shaw’s screens spice up Blackhawks’ power play

    Andrew Shaw makes a big difference on the power play with his presence in front of the net. Shaw is a key reason why the Blackhawks went into Wednesday’s action against Philadelphia with power-play goals in six straight games.


    Aurora Christian downs Chicago Christian

    Aurora Christian handed Chicago Christian a 45-33 loss on Wednesday behind solid play from Alyssa Andersen (18 points, 6 rebounds), Natasha Brown (10 points, 18 rebounds, 4 steals) and Melissa Moser (8 points).


    VanderBrug shoots Timothy Christian past Aurora Christian

    Aurora Christian coach Pat McNamara warned his team about Connor VanderBrug, then the Timothy Christian big man went out and showed the Eagles just why their coach was so concerned. VanderBrug matched his career high with 29 points to go with 13 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in the Trojans’ 72-67 victory Wednesday night in Aurora.

    Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer (5) tugs at the jersey of New York Knicks forward Kenyon Martin in the first half of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.

    Bulls can’t complete comeback in New York

    NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony had 30 points and 10 rebounds, and the New York Knicks pulled out an 83-78 victory over the Bulls on Wednesday night after blowing a 23-point lead.Amare Stoudemire made the tiebreaking jumper with 2:35 left and finished with 14 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who ended a two-game losing streak but made it harder on themselves than necessary with some sloppy second-half offense.Mike Dunleavy Jr. scored 20 points for the Bulls, who have lost three straight and five of six. They are having a dreadful time scoring, topping out at 75 points in their previous two games and barely surpassing that in this one.Joakim Noah had 12 points and 11 rebounds in his return after missing a game with a bruised right thigh, but Luol Deng missed his third straight game with a sore left Achilles.Already without Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, the Bulls gave up a 19-0 run in the second quarter in handing the Knicks a lead that was too big to overcome. The Knicks were without Raymond Felton, who was resting a sore left hamstring that has bothered him repeatedly this season and could be out now for what coach Mike Woodson said would “probably be a little while.” Fellow starting guard Iman Shumpert joined him among the injured in the third quarter after bruising his left knee during a collision.The Knicks led by 12 points at halftime and were cruising with a lead of as much as 23 in the third quarter before handing the Bulls a chance to come back by committing five turnovers in less than 2 minutes late in the period. That allowed Chicago to pull within 68-54 heading to the fourth.The Bulls then held the Knicks to three field goals in the first 9-plus minutes of the fourth quarter, outscoring them 20-6 to tie it at 74 on Noah’s follow shot with 3:39 remaining. Stoudemire broke the tie with his jumper, and Anthony made it 78-74 with two free throws with 1:29 to go before Chicago turned it over to end the comeback hopes.Chicago led 17-15 after one quarter, then needed more than half the second to make its first basket. The Knicks scored the first 19 points while the Bulls were missing their first 11 shots, taking a 34-17 lead before Dunleavy ended the drought with a 3-pointer with 5:43 remaining.Stoudemire was a catalyst in the spurt while playing on both nights of back-to-back games for the first time this season. He was playing restricted minutes and was forced to sit out some games earlier this season following summer knee surgery, but has progressed past that and was on the court for 29 minutes.Both teams reached the second round of last season’s playoffs but have been wrecked early this season by injuries, with the Bulls losing Rose again and the Knicks going most of the season without Tyson Chandler. The Knicks have been far worse than expected, creating a strange situation before this game where both coaches were asked about the Knicks coaching job. There’s frequent speculation that Woodson’s job is in jeopardy, and he acknowledged that the Knicks aren’t playing as well as last season, though added he thinks they can once they get healthy.Meanwhile, an ESPN.com story suggested that the Knicks would try to get Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who was an assistant here under Jeff Van Gundy.“I don’t pay any attention to any of that stuff,” Thibodeau said. “To me, the only thing I have to do is concentrate on our team, our next opponent, our improvement, and never get away from that. You know, there’s a lot of stuff that gets thrown out there ... so if you pay any attention, it does no good.” Thibodeau went on to say how much he liked his team, and the Bulls gave him plenty to like with a gritty second-half comeback attempt that just fell short. Carlos Boozer finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

    Che Woodson,left, and Trevor Cook of Glenbard East in the 160 pound match during the Glenbard East at Naperville North wrestling Wednesday.

    Glenbard East catches Naperville North

    The DuPage Valley Conference contest had more of a look of a basketball game than a wrestling dual meet. Glenbard East spotted host Naperville North a 19-point lead, but the Rams had yet to trot out any of their six returning Class 3A state qualifiers. The Glenbard East sextet all posted decisive wins as the last of them to wrestle — senior 145-pounder Josh Martin — beat the first-period buzzer by 16 seconds to complete a 34-6 run. The Huskies’ Stevie Schmult had a pin in the final match to shrink the Rams’ 34-31 victory Wednesday night in Naperville.


    Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake South post wins

    Junior Katie Barker scored 34 points on 143 of 23 shooting (5 of 9 from 3-point range) as the Cary-Grove girls basketball team snapped a two-game losing streak with a 64-44 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division win over McHenry Wednesday night.


    Hersey prevails; Maine West’s Connor sets team record

    Hersey won Tuesday’s boys swimming dual meet at Maine West, but there was plenty for both teams to be happy about as the Warriors had their first meet of the season. Maine West senior Michael Connor beat his own team record in the 200-yard freestyle, winning that race in 1:46.95 — a little less than two seconds away from the state-qualifying time standard


    Big night for Barrington, Hasanov against Conant

    Barrington had a slight edge over Conant in a meeting of girls gymnastics heavyweights on Wednesday, but not by much. Sophomore all-arounder Abby Hasanov made the difference in favor of the Fillies, who scored 143.85. Conant finished at 142.75. Hasanov had the top all-around score, 39.0, after winning each event. She scored 9.9 on two events, vault and floor exercise. She won balance beam and uneven bars with 9.6’s.


    Wolves rally to snap Griffins’ streak

    The Chicago Wolves rallied for the second straight game, this time defeating division-leading Grand Rapids Griffins 4-2 at Van Andel Arena.

    Blackhawks center Michal Handzus (26) celebrates his goal with teammate Marcus Kruger (16) as Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ray Emery kneels in front of the net during the second period of an NHL hockey game onWednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, in Chicago.

    Blackhawks beat Flyers 7-2

    Duncan Keith and Andrew Shaw scored in a 39-second span at the start of Chicago’s five-goal second period Wednesday night, sparking the Blackhawks to a 7-2 victory over Ray Emery and the Philadelphia Flyers.Patrick Sharp had a goal and two assists for Chicago, which has won three in a row after a three-game losing streak. Michal Handzus scored a short-handed goal in the second and Marian Hossa had three assists, helping rookie goaltender Antti Raanta win his second consecutive start in place of injured Corey Crawford.The seven goals set a season high for the Blackhawks (23-6-5), who have scored 19 times during their winning streak and lead the NHL with 129 goals. Shaw’s nifty wraparound at 1:22 of the second made it six players with at least 10 goals for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who are once again on top of the league standings with 51 points.Emery was pulled in the third period of his first start in Chicago since he teamed with Crawford to give the Blackhawks one of the best goaltending tandems in the league last season. Emery went 17-1 with a sparkling 1.94 goals-against average during his second year with Chicago and then signed a free-agent deal with Philadelphia in July.He received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd when he was recognized on the overhead scoreboard during the first period. But his ninth start of the season took a turn for the worse when Chicago turned up the pressure in the second.Jakub Voracek and Steve Downie scored power-play goals for the Flyers, who have lost three in a row and went 2-3-1 on a six-game road trip.Voracek’s wrister at 12:31 helped Philadelphia to a 1-0 lead after one period. The Blackhawks were coming off a 6-2 victory at Dallas on Tuesday night and looked a bit listless at the start of their first game against the Flyers since Jan. 5, 2012.That all changed in the second.Keith got it started with a big drive past Emery just 43 seconds into the period. Then came Shaw’s goal, and Handzus made it 3-1 when he scored his third on a 2-on-1 break with Marcus Kruger.Downie’s third goal momentarily slowed the Blackhawks’ run. Kris Versteeg beat Emery off a nifty pass from Brandon Saad, and Sharp’s slap shot went off Jonathan Toews and in to make it 5-2 at 14:15.Emery departed after Brent Seabrook scored on a slap shot 65 seconds into the third. Emery finished with 12 saves.Raanta made 28 stops to improve to 5-0-1. He drew a large ovation from the crowd when he stopped the Flyers on a pair of breakaways in rapid succession in the third.

    Enza Ranallo

    St. Edward’s Ranallo sisters thriving at Benedictine

    St. Edward graduate Enza Ranallo is hitting her collegiate stride. Ranallo, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, is leading the Benedictine University women’s basketball team in both scoring and rebounding through the first 7 games of the 2013-2014 season. Through Wednesday, Ranallo was averaging a team-best 12.1 points to go with a team-high 6.3 rebounds per game. She’s shooting .411 from the field and .833 from the free-throw line. Ranallo is averaging 28.1 minutes per game.

    Carl Prose

    Streamwood’s Prose takes his place in IBCA Hall

    If there’s one thing Carl Prose is very clear about, it’s how he feels about basketball. “It’s the game I love,” he says. “Basketball has been very good to me.” And for the past 32 years, Prose has shared his love of the game with the Streamwood girls basketball program as an assistant coach, scorekeeper, stats man, webmaster and about anything else Sabres’ head coach George Rosner has asked him to do.

    Lake Zurich senior football player Eric Gruninger gets his hair cut Tuesday by Magda Szewczyk, owner of Studio M in Lake Zurich.

    Selflessly, Lake Zurich's Gruninger makes the toughest cut

    Lake Zurich defensive lineman Eric Gruninger was no match Tuesday for salon owner Magda Szewczyk, who was armed with scissors, a comb and a sweet smile that no opposing offensive lineman Eric faced could match.

    St. Viator’s Brandon Schuyta, top, wrestles Ridgewood’s Kevin Moore in the 145-pound match of Wednesday’s meet.

    Positive vibe grows at St. Viator

    After some lean seasons of wrestling at St. Viator, things may be looking brighter for the Lions and new coach Jason Churak. St. Viator unleashed a frenzy of falls to break open a close dual with visiting Ridgewood and outlast the Rebels 38-33 in a thrilling nonconference contest inside Cahill Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.


    Pincenti, Conant thrive on collective effort

    Ashley Pincenti of Conant says that the key to the Cougars’ girls bowling success this season is teamwork. “We all get along so well,” said the junior, “and we have great team chemistry. It doesn’t matter what grade you’re in — on this team, we’re all family and we bowled our butts off tonight.” Pincenti fired two games over 200 (214, 201), and classmate Jordyn Wagner pitched in with a 201 as Conant defeated previously unbeaten Hersey on Wednesday night at Arlington Lanes.


    In defense of the mighty bluegill

    Not many anglers will travel in pursuit of jumbo bluegills, even those big ones reaching more than 10 inches in length. That's their mistake, as the great state fish of Illinois is worthy of the attention.

    Dan Sanko, the head coach of the Lisle varsity football team, runs a drill during practice Wednesday.

    Sanko decides it’s time for change

    There were times at Benedictine University and before that at Wilde Field, when Lisle football coach Dan Sanko stood incredulous and speechless. Other times he exploded in red-faced, blurting frustration. Disconsolate when the mistake was his, he claimed it humble and honest. He gave credit where credit was due. With a sly grin or hearty laugh he’d sling an arm around your shoulders as if for a noogie or a playful takedown — which as an assistant wrestling coach and a stocky, motorcycle-loving man’s man, he could easily do. His unifying trait over 17 seasons as Lisle’s football coach is he cared.

    After 16 season and 9 teams, Jerry Hairston Jr., a Naperville North grad, is retiring from baseball. He played the last two season with the Dodgers.

    Naperville’s Hairston retires from baseball

    Jerry Hairston Jr. is retiring after spending the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, his ninth professional baseball team. The 37-year-old utilityman is the grandson of former major leaguer Sam Hairston and the son of former White Sox manager Jerry Hairston. His younger brother Scott also is a major league player.

    Bears coach Marc Trestman says he’s “optimistic” starting quarterback Jay Cutler will be back Sunday against the Cleveland Browns after missing the previous four games with a high ankle sprain.

    Trestman optimistic Cutler will start Sunday

    Bears coach Marc Trestman said he was "optimistic" that injured starter Jay Cutler would be back in the starting lineup Sunday after the quarterback missed the previous four games with a high ankle sprain. Trestman said the decision to replace backup QB Josh McCown would not be more difficult because of McCown's recent success.

    Former Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder Adam Eaton hopes to earn the leadoff spot with his new team, the White Sox. Eaton considers himself a scrappy player with a little finesse at the plate.

    Scrappy Eaton shocked but excited to join Sox

    Describing himself as a hopeful mix between Lenny Dykstra and Kenny Lofton, new White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton said he's looking forward to filling the leadoff spot next season and getting on base "at all costs." Squeezing every ounce of talent out of his 5-foot-8, 185-pound frame, Eaton led all 2012 full-season minor leaguers with a .375 batting average, 47 doubles and 130 runs scored.


    Police: Slain player targeted because of clothes

    YPSILANTI, Mich. — Police say an Eastern Michigan University football player killed during a possible robbery may have been targeted because he had on expensive-looking clothing.The Ann Arbor News reports the detail is in transcripts from a hearing in the case that it reviewed.Preliminary examinations for 20-year-old Ed J. Thomas and 19-year-old Kristopher K. Pratt are scheduled for Jan. 17. They face murder charges in the fatal shooting of Demarius Reed.The wide receiver’s roommate discovered his body at the bottom of a stairwell at an off-campus apartment complex on Oct. 18. Police say Reed’s wallet and cellphone were taken.Reed was a 20-year-old communications major from Chicago.The school announced plans Tuesday to hire a total of 10 new full-time police officers by September 2014 to boost off-campus patrols.


    Mike North Video: No magic in this years bowl game match ups
    New Years Day used to feature engaging match ups in college football. Mike North wants teams playing that will really draw the crowds like the 11 million viewers who watched last weeks Ohio State/ Michigan State game.


    Wheeling rolls at Fenton

    For the first time all season, Wheeling’s boys basketball team placed three players in double figures. It added up to a 70-40 win over Fenton on Tuesday night in Bensenville as the Wildcats raised their record to 5-2. Senior Jeremy Stephani enjoyed his second-best scoring output of the season with a game-high 30 points while Chris Pierro added 13 and Jake Jordan 11. It was Jordan’s first time in double figures.

    Stevenson’s Chloe Ekenberg, middle, drives through Warren’s Keely Knobbe, left, and Kylie Nedelka during their game Tuesday night in Gurnee.

    Images: Warren vs. Stevenson girls basketball
    The Warren Blue Devils hosted the Stevenson Patriots for girls basketball action on Tuesday, Dec. 10 in Gurnee.


    Customers wait their turn at the TCF Bank inside a Jewel-Osco in Arlington Heights.

    TCF Bank to close 37 branches in Jewel-Oscos

    TCF Bank will l close 37 branch banks located inside Jewel-Osco stores. including 19 in the suburbs. TCF will still operate 118 branches within Jewel-Oscos, as well as expand its ATM network by adding 52 machines at Chicago CTA L train stations. The affected branches will close by March.

    Zebra Technologies Corp. is a large producer of bar code labeling machines. This is the plant in Vernon Hills.

    Zebra plans to move to larger HQ in Lincolnshire

    Zebra Technologies is expected to move to a larger headquarters in Lincolnshire, possibly in 2017, combining operations from Lincolnshire and Vernon Hills.

    Batavia aldermen are considering two proposals to sell the Thomle Building at 2 E. Wilson St. One is for a martini lounge and business incubator, the other for a restaurant with apartments above.

    Firm wants Batavia to help fund restaurant, apartments plan

    The real estate firm behind some of the First Street development in St. Charles is interested in taking the Thomle Building off of Batavia's hands, combining it with a building next door, and putting in a restaurant and loft-style apartments. It is one of two proposals for the space at 2 E. Wilson St., the other being a martini lounge.

    U.S. stocks fell a second day Wednesday, giving the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index its biggest back-to-back drop in two months, as a congressional budget accord fueled speculation the Federal Reserve could trim stimulus next week.

    U.S. stocks slump following disappointing earnings

    Disappointing earnings from a handful of U.S. companies pushed the stock market to its biggest loss in five weeks. Health care stocks had some of the biggest declines. Laboratory Corporation of America slumped after cutting its full-year earnings forecast. Quest Diagnostics, a major competitor, also dropped Wednesday.

    A traveler on Delta Airlines waits for her flight in Detroit. As federal regulators consider removing a decades-old prohibition on making phone calls on planes, a majority of air travelers oppose such a change, a new Associated Press poll reported Wednesday.

    Poll shows strong opposition to in-flight calls

    As federal regulators consider removing a decades-old prohibition on making phone calls on planes, a majority of Americans who fly oppose such a change, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds.

    Sprout Pharmaceuticals said Wednesday it has reached an impasse with the Food and Drug Administration over its drug, flibanserin. The daily pill is designed to increase libido in women by acting on brain chemicals linked to mood and appetite.

    Female libido drug remains in limbo

    The multi-decade search for a pill that boosts sexual desire in women has hit another roadblock, raising questions about the future of efforts to develop a female equivalent to Viagra. Sprout Pharmaceuticals said Wednesday it has reached an impasse with the Food and Drug Administration over its drug, flibanserin. The daily pill is designed to increase libido in women by acting on brain chemicals linked to mood and appetite.


    NW Ind. county council opposes Illiana Expressway

    A northwestern Indiana county council has passed a resolution opposing the proposed 47-mile tollway linking Interstate 65 with I-55 south of Chicago. The Lake County Council voted Tuesday against the proposed Illiana Expressway even though it has no say in the matter.

    The Chicago Department of Aviation announced Tuesday that the airport yoga room is open on the mezzanine level of the Terminal 3 rotunda at O'Hare. The department also plans to open a yoga room at the city's Midway International Airport in the near future.

    Yoga room opens at Chicago's O'Hare airport

    Find your zen air travelers: Chicago's O'Hare International Airport now has a yoga room. The Chicago Department of Aviation announced Tuesday that the airport yoga room is open on the mezzanine level of the Terminal 3 rotunda at O'Hare.

    Fully assembled and ready to use bikes sit at the Divvy roll-out facility in Chicago.

    Chicago asks where bike-sharing stations should be

    Chicago's new bicycle-sharing program is asking city residents where the next 175 sidewalk docking stations should be located. The Divvy program with its bright blue bikes currently has 300 stations across Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday that a new website is collecting feedback on where the next stations should be installed in 2014.

    About 75 percent of young women believe the U.S. needs to do more to bring about equality in the workplace, a new study finds, despite a narrowing pay gap and steady employment gains for women at higher levels of business and government.

    Pay gains for young women; inequality still seen

    About 75 percent of young women believe the U.S. needs to do more to bring about equality in the workplace, a new study finds, despite a narrowing pay gap and steady employment gains for women at higher levels of business and government. Those women remain as pessimistic as their mothers and grandmothers regarding gender equality in the workplace, according to the report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

    Joelene Chinn, owner of Socks-That-Rock, works on a sock monkey inside her studio in Rockford

    Rockford business builds from socks up

    Joelene Chinn didn't go into business to build an empire. Chinn started Socks-That-Rock nearly six years ago with the simple goal of building it to the point where she no longer has to work for anyone else. “Every year sales seem to grow 15 to 20 percent mostly be word of mouth and social media,” said Chinn, who makes and sells online custom-designed sock monkey dolls that sell from $45 to $200 on the site, socks-that-rock.com.

    Illinois is among the states trying to land Boeing's new aircraft manufacturing plant.

    Illinois trying to land new Boeing facility

    Illinois is among the states trying to land Boeing's new aircraft manufacturing plant.The Chicago-based company is choosing a location to build its new 400-seat 777X jetliner. Boeing is looking at a $7 billion to $10 billion plant that would start with 3,250 workers in 2018 and grow to 8,500 by 2024.


    Boeing official talks with Wash. machinists

    The chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes met Tuesday with union leaders of the machinists who last month rejected the company’s offer of a contract that would have employed Washington state workers to build the company’s new 777X jet, a newspaper reported.

    State Sen. Tom Cullerton

    Office Depot move raises tax-break issue again

    Illinois will lose 1,600 jobs after Office Depot said Tuesday that it will keep its headquarters in Florida after its merger with Naperville-based OfficeMax. The move comes just a week after the state Legislature declined to give the company millions in tax breaks. The state senator who sponsored the bill that would have given Office Depot a tax package worth $53 million regretted that lawmakers didn’t agree to the deal.


    Illinois names scientists to new state positions

    Seven scientists have been appointed to state-scientist positions at the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois. A news release form the institute says Executive Director William W. Shilts announced the appointments on Tuesday. Four of the positions are new and created by a new state law.

    George Arsoniadis, a local restaurateur, is in talks to buy and turn the former Pour House and the former Puzzle Dust Cafe into a sit-down restaurant and bar called Bootleggers Speakeasy on River Road in downtown East Dundee. He is seeking financial assistance from the village for the purchase and renovation of both properties.

    Restaurateur seeks TIF assistance from E. Dundee

    An experienced restaurateur is looking to plant his flag in East Dundee by opening a combination speak-easy and eatery in the downtown. And he's hoping East Dundee steps in financially to help make it happen. “I’ve always been interested in the Fox Valley area, and this is an opportunity that presented itself ... like someone making me an offer I can’t refuse,” George Arsoniadis said,

Life & Entertainment

    Zinfandel “Mountain Selection,” Scott Harvey Wines, Amador County, Calif., 2010

    Good wine: How to shop where you shop for wine

    With the holidays upon us, Good Wine columnist Mary Ross offers tips for navigating wine stores. Whether you're looking for a bottle for your boss, or a selection for a holiday party, Mary tells you where to go and how to approach a wine retailer.

    Courtesy of Ripple Public Relations Get an up-close view of reindeer at the Winter Wonderland event in downtown Highland Park.

    Weekend picks: Get a little Christmas at Highland Park Winter Wonderland

    Get a dose of the holidays at the Highland Park Winter Wonderland festival. Country star Wynonna Judd visiting the Arcada Theatre with her band Big Noise, and she's bringing Christmas with her. And probably some of her own big hits. And the X-Treme Fighting Organization brings mixed martial arts bouts to the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates.

    The Hopvine Burger and house salad is a winning combination.

    Aurora's Hopvine gets craft beers, pub grub just right

    Hopevine Brewing Co. took over a shuttered billards hall in Aurora and has turned the space into a comfortable spot where lovers of craft beer and good 'ol American pub food can make their bellies happy. Restaurant critic Martin Cusack gives us a taste.

    Clark Gregg and SAG Awards Social Media Ambassador Sasha Alexander announce the nominees for the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

    ‘12 Years a Slave,’ ‘Osage County’ top SAG noms

    Steve McQueen’s historic saga “12 Years a Slave,” Jon Wells’ dysfunctional family adaptation “August: Osage County,” Jean-Marc Vallee’s AIDS drama “Dallas Buyers Club” and the sweeping White House servant tale “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” topped the list of outstanding performances for the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

    “The Music of Nashville, Season 2, Volume 1” includes songs from leads Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton.

    ‘Nashville’ soundtrack slick and solid

    Some must surely claim to watch “Nashville” solely for the music. That’s no crime — those who aren’t much for sudsy nighttime soaps would do well to check out the ABC show’s songs on “The Music of Nashville: Original Soundtrack Season 2, Volume 1.” While the storylines strain credulity, these sonic underpinnings hold the show together — as should be the case with a series set and filmed in Music City.

    Looking for a gift for a cook on your list? “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marcella Hazan, who passed away earlier this year, is a perfect fit.

    Lean and lovin’ it: Sizing up gifts for the cooks on your list

    Chef knives, good balsamic vinegar and a Marcells Hazan cookbook are on Don Mauer's list of gifts to give to food-loving folks on your list.

    In “The Art of French Pastry,” Jacquy Pfeiffer shares a lifetime of baking experience.

    Pastry book makes one sweet gift

    Food Editor Deborah Pankey chimes in on a must-have book for bakers, tells you where you can meet Jacquy Pfeiffer, French Pastry School founder, and try his macarons, and shares a recipe for pomegranate salsa.

    A spokeswoman for Kate Winslet says the actress has given birth to a son and is “doing great.”

    Kate Winslet gives birth to a son, her 3rd child

    A spokeswoman for Kate Winslet says the actress has given birth to a son and is “doing great.” Publicist Laura Symons says Winslet had a boy, her third child, on Saturday at a hospital in southern England. She says mother and baby are both doing well.

    “Louder,” the debut solo album from Lea Michele, will be released on March 4.

    Lea Michele announces debut album release date

    Thanks to her role on Fox’s “Glee,” Lea Michele is no stranger to recording music. Now she’s ready to launch her solo music career. The 27-year-old will release her debut album, “Louder,” on March 4.

    Wynonna Judd will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.

    Music notes: Wynonna Judd making a suburban stop

    Wynonna Judd will add her distinctive country-music touch to Christmas music during a show Friday at the Arcada in St. Charles, and alt-rock favorites the Breeders celebrate their classic "Last Splash" album with a show at Chicago's Metro.

    Steve and Sue Killoran and their two children brought their own skis to Alta, Utah, but found that the gear they use near their home in Vermont wasn’t well-suited to the Utah slopes’ powder. They ended up renting wider, high-performance skis for their son, as some skiers routinely do now, even when they own their own skis. Renting on-site means you get the latest gear for local conditions.

    Renting skis not necessarily a sign of a novice

    Just like skiing in jeans or falling while waiting in the lift line, renting gear for a visit to the slopes used to be a sure sign of a novice skier. Not anymore. Increasingly, experienced skiers see renting as an opportunity to use the latest skis — chosen for that day’s snow conditions — all while avoiding airline baggage fees.

    Applesauce subs in for some of the butter in leaner version of pumpkin corn muffins.

    Leaner Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins
    Lean Pumpkin Corn Muffins

    “Smoke & Pickles” by Edward Lee

    Great books about food to savor and gift

    The truth is, even those of us who work with cookbooks, write about cookbooks, collect cookbooks — heck, even write cookbooks ourselves — don’t actually cook from cookbooks. It is with that mindset that Associated Press Food Editor J.M. Hirsch made his picks for the best food books of 2013, the ones he hopes to get or gift this holiday season.

    “The Gods of Guilt” is Michael Connelly’s latest book starring lawyer Mickey Haller.

    Mickey Haller returns in ‘The Gods of Guilt’

    Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer, returns to tackle his most personal case in “The Gods of Guilt.” 2011’s “The Lincoln Lawyer” movie plays a minor role in Michael Connelly’s new novel. Because of the popularity of the film, there are now tons of lawyers running around in cars, to the point where Haller sometimes gets into the wrong vehicle when he’s not paying attention. This adds a humorous dimension to an otherwise dark tale.

    Fewer than 15,000 bottles of Sam Adams Utopias were brewed this year.

    How to brew up holiday cheer with craft beer

    Today, craft beers have the respect they deserve, opening up tons of fresh ways to share the cheer this season. But there is a drawback, too. The number of producers and styles available even in small shops — never mind larger grocers and specialty stores — has proliferated almost ridiculously. Here are some suggestions for the beer geeks on your list.

    This past summer, photos of British food writer, journalist and broadcaster Nigella Lawson and her husband surfaced in which her husband appeared to be choking her. Then two former employees accused of using the couple’s credit cards for more than $1 million in fraudulent charges claimed she had sanctioned their spending to hush them up about her heavy drug use.

    Nigella Lawson: A brand blemished but unbowed

    When celebrity chefs cut themselves, how much they bleed is a matter of brand. Case in point: this year’s messy public eruptions around two of the food world’s most powerful women, Paula Deen and Nigella Lawson. Both had two big things to lose — fortunes and reputations.

    A snowy owl sits on the chimney of a home in Eggertsville, N.Y.

    Unusual number of Arctic snowy owls seen in U.S.

    Snow-white owls with luminous yellow eyes are thrilling bird-watchers as the magnificent birds set up winter residence at airports, fields and beaches far south of their normal Arctic range. Snowy owls, familiar to children as Harry Potter’s pet, have been sighted in dozens of locations across the Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states as far south as Cape Hatteras, N.C. The owls live in the Arctic, but when their population spikes or lemmings are scarce, young ones fly south.


    Seventh graders Stephanie Rivas, right, Julia Sulicka and Anna Lee pick out pajamas as students from Carl Sandbug Middle School selected toys and clothing from Target In Mundelein and purchased them for a needy Mundelein family. The Community Service Club raised $333 to help the family for the holidays.

    Editorial: It’s the best time to share the wealth

    A Daily Herald editorial says that as Americans get wealthier, plenty of organizations and individuals need help.


    Little talk of ‘affordable’ in PR push

    One striking thing about the new White House Obamacare promotion campaign is that so far it hasn’t had much to say about the central focus of Obamacare, which is helping Americans buy affordable health insurance.


    The open wound that is Israel

    Columnist Richard Cohen: In Israel, nothing is easy, which is why the subtitle of Ari Shavit’s book is “The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel.” One does not balance the other — and both are true.


    Moderate Schneider should get new term
    A Hawthorn Woods letter to the editor: Brad Schneider should be re-elected as the 10th District’s representative in Washington, D.C.


    Test scores don’t tell the whole story
    A Mount Prospect letter to the editor: The modest gains revealed by the Nov. 7 release of this year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) indicate that the current test-based, austerity-driven education environment promoted by the Obama administration not only has failed to provide the support that all children, and especially poor children, need to reach their full potential, but also failed to provide requisite support for teachers


    Can we not keep Christ in Christmas?
    A Lombard letter to the editor: In a letter to the editor of the Daily Herald on Dec. 8, Steve Howard expresses the sentiment that “whatever you do, do not use the offensive word Christmas anymore.” Has it become offensive in this free land of religious liberty to keep Christ in our Christmas celebration? Can we still tolerate this basic free speech?


    How about more science news?
    A Glendale Heights letter to the editor: I recently read the article, “Earth spared from ‘monster’ cosmic blast’s radiation” about the supernova’s gamma ray burst, and I enjoyed it very much. I was very excited to read about a huge scientific event and I began thinking of how great it would be to read more stories of scientific nature in the Daily Herald.


    State needs integrity, not more money
    An Aurora letter to the editor: As a taxpayer and DuPage County Board member who fights for fiscal responsibility, I say enough is enough when it comes to the state’s tax and spend policies.


    Better to get fined and go uninsured?
    Better to get fined and go uninsured?Recently published research, Forbes, Nov. 4, indicates that the Affordable Care Act health insurance premiums will increase on a national average of 41 percent. The new health policies, with the required ACA health requirements, are also offering reduced networks of doctors, clinics and hospitals with an increase in deductibles. Illinois rates will increase on average 43 percent, while New York decreases 40 percent and Nevada increases by triple digits.Unless you are a state of Illinois pensioner, raises and cost of living have increased less than 3 percent per year. With the dramatic increase in health care premiums how can an individual/family afford the ACA? Everyone needs a shelter so mortgage and rent payments will be made promptly. Student loans repayments, saving for college, contributions to a 401(k) or purchasing a new home could be delayed. Big ticket purchases like automobiles, refrigerators and large flat screen TVs could no longer be a priority.The area in the monthly expense that could be removed is the health care premium invoice. With thousands of dollars in deductibles, which must be satisfied before the co-pay of insurance begins, is the premium payment worth the additional expense? President Obama, Senators Harry Reid and Dick Durbin and Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Bill Foster by approving the ACA without first reading the legislation have done exactly the opposite of how the ACA was envisioned. Instead of having individuals/families applying and receiving health insurance, these people must decide if it is better to have health insurance or become part of the uninsured and only pay a ACA fine?Jack McCabeBatavia


    Send message about waste, corruption
    A West Dundee letter to the editor: Thanks to the sequester, federal spending from Jan 1 to Oct. 1 was reduced by $100 billion. That is the good news, the bad news is that the budget deficit for fiscal 2013 will still be a staggering $680 billion.


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