Daily Archive : Friday December 20, 2013


    Clara Etheridge, 7, attends Lake Park School in Addison.

    Images: Weather Sketchers, Dec. 8-14
    Artwork from our young weather sketchers from the week of Dec. 8-14.


    Mt. Prospects loosens liquor restrictions

    The Mount Prospect village board this week amended the section of its village code dealing with alcoholic liquors to allow customers at restaurants and even barbershops, spas and beauty shops to bring in their own bottles. “This is a responsible expansion and on some level, as we have already discussed, it’s already happening,” Trustee Paul Hoefert said.


    Two crashes on Metra’s North Central line

    Service along Metra’s North Central line was disrupted twice Friday. A juvenile intentionally stepped in front a slow-moving train that afternoon near Lincolnshire, while later that day, a train hit a car in Des Plaines.


    Police shoot man in Bensenville

    Bensenville police said charges are pending against a 24-year-old man who fired on an officer before being wounded himself by gunfire and disarmed Friday night.


    Libertyville woman dies in crash

    A Libertyville woman died early Friday morning after losing control of her SUV on I-294 in Deerfield and crashing into an embankment.

    This combination of surveillance photos released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows Andrew Maberry, a serial bank robber the FBI dubbed the “I-55 Bandit” in, from left, Hurricane, W.Va., on July 30, 2013; Arnold, Mo. on July 2, 2013; and Bel Air, Md. on June 5, 2013.

    ‘I-55 Bandit’ pleads guilty to bank robbery

    The teenage serial bank robber dubbed by the FBI as the “I-55 Bandit” for a series of crimes in five states pleaded guilty Friday in federal court. Andrew Maberry, 19, of O’Fallon, Ill., could face up to 20 years in prison.

    President Barack Obama speaks during his end-of-the-year news conference Friday in the Brady Press Room at the White House in Washington.

    Obama puts a rosy spin on rough presidential year

    In his annual year-end news conference, President Obama refused to dwell on his tumbling approval ratings, the disastrous rollout of his signature health care law or the pile of unfinished domestic priorities he leaves behind as he heads for a Christmas holiday in Hawaii. Asked whether this had been the worst year of his presidency so far, he laughed and said, “That’s not how I think about it.”

    A North Aurora police squad car guarded the entrance to a home on the 700 block of Jorstad Drive in North Aurora where Michael Harris, 41, was stabbed to death on Aug. 20, 2012. His son, Martrell, was sentenced Friday to 11 years in prison.

    North Aurora man gets 11 years for fatally stabbing father

    A 25-year-old North Aurora man was sentenced to 11 years in prison Friday after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder last year’s stabbing death of his father. Martrell D. Harris stabbed Michael Harris, 41, after the elder Harris argued with family members. The younger Harris argued that he believed other family members were in danger, Kane County prosecutors said. "We...

    State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, from left, state Sen. Bill Brady, state Sen. Kirk Dillard and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner are seeking the Republican nomination for governor.

    Cook County GOP to make rare endorsement for governor Saturday

    The Cook County Republican Party is making its first endorsement in a gubernatorial primary in at least 25 years, calling it a show of cohesion that could boost voter turnout for the group’s candidate of choice in the state’s most populous county. The odds are in favor of Winnetka venture capitalist Bruce Rauner.

    Robert A. Huggins

    Madigan: State’s most prolific child porn trader arrested

    Two McHenry men were arrested this week on child pornography charges, including an Algonquin man described as the state’s most prolific trader of child porn. Robert A. Huggins, 63, of Algonquin, was arrested Thursday after authorities searched his home on the 2100 block of Honey Locust Drive. His bail has not been set. Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office said Huggins was the state’s “highest...

    Genevieve Ortiz

    Four charged with counterfeiting in Elgin

    Four people were arrested in Elgin and charged with counterfeiting U.S. currency, police said Friday morning. George Cotton, 31, of Rockford, James “Rico” Williams, 35, of the 300 block of Raymond Street in Elgin, Genevieve Ortiz, 27, and Artaveus Lowe, 35, both of the 1600 block Mark Avenue, were charged in U.S. Northern District of Illinois federal court with counterfeiting, police said.


    Lake Zurich high classroom evacuated after pepper spray released

    Two Lake Zurich High School students were taken to a hospital Friday after someone released pepper spray or a similar chemical in a classroom, authorities said. The students, both girls, were not critically injured.

    A Barrington man has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence in connection with a rear-end crash Thursday into a Lake County sheriff’s patrol car.

    Barrington man charged in crash with squad car

    A Barrington man has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence in connection with a rear-end crash Thursday into a Lake County sheriff's patrol car.

    The Vernon Hills High School chamber choir performs Christmas carols for the Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 office Friday in Vernon Hills.

    Carolers bring Christmas cheer to District 128 office in decades-old tradition

    Continuing a tradition that goes back at least 30 years, Vernon Hills High School students sang Christmas carols at the district office Friday morning. The 24 teenagers, wearing matching blue-and-silver scarves and hats to reflect the school's colors, performed a cappella songs both classic and modern. The audience loved every note. “It really starts our holiday,” administrative...


    Judge, Preckwinkle spar over jail issue

    Chief Judge Timothy Evans on Friday issued a statement accusing Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle of being untruthful about what’s causing jail overcrowding.

    Mooseheart fifth-grade student Gabriele Mulford´s eyes lit up when she received a DVD from Santa Claus Thursday.

    Special Santa continues to thrill at Mooseheart

    St. Charles Santa continues his visits to Mooseheart to thrill the kids there, but no longer because it's part of his job. It's more personal than that.

    Nailah Winkfield, mother of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, cries before a courtroom hearing Friday regarding McMath, in Oakland, Calif. McMath remains on life support at Children’s Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead.

    Mother tells of daughter’s tonsil surgery gone wrong

    The family said hospital officials told them in a meeting Thursday that they want to take the girl off life support quickly.“I just looked at the doctor to his face and I told him you better not touch her,” her mother recalled.

    A northern spotted owl.

    Feds begin killing barred owls to help spotted owl

    It is not unusual to kill one species to help a threatened or endangered one. Cormorants and sea lions are regularly killed to help salmon. Biologist Robin Bown said blood and genetic samples are taken from each barred owl that is killed, and the frozen carcasses are sent to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, where they are available for further research.

    Kanye West, left, and television personality Kim Kardashian arrive for the screening of “Cruel Summer” at the 65th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France. West had many righteous things to rage about in 2013, from the fashion industry not giving him credit for brilliant, life-changing designs like leather jogging pants to not getting respect from President Barack Obama.

    The past year was a wild, wacky and tacky affair

    This year, Hollywood reminded us of one long Kanye West rant — somewhat intelligible yet completely nonsensical; intriguing but annoying; and something you wanted to ignore but just could not look away.

    Eric Ohena Lembembe was tortured and killed in Camaroon this year just weeks after issuing a public warning about the threat posed by “anti-gay thugs.” Lembembe was the most prominent African gay-rights campaigner to be killed since 2011, when the victims included South African lesbian activist Noxolo Nogwaza and Uganda’s David Kato.

    Uganda passes tough new bill against homosexuality

    The bill targets gays “with brutal persecution and is one of the worst human rights violations of our time,” said Ross Murray, director of news for the American activist group, GLAAD. Murray said U.S. evangelical preachers and groups “created this travesty of justice, and it is now up to fair-minded Americans to speak out for the very lives of LGBT people in Uganda.”


    Storms create uncertainty for travelers

    The busy holiday travel weekend underway in Illinois comes with predictions for nasty weather and hazardous driving conditions. A major storm system aimed at the state has forecasters talking of heavy rain, freezing rain or snow, depending on the region.

    Army Spc. Ethan Harris, masquerading as Santa Claus, gives his mother, Kim Harris, a high school math teacher, quite the Christmas present Friday in Brushy Prairie, Ind., by coming home early from a tour in Afghanistan.

    Indiana soldier appears as Santa, surprises mom

    A northeastern Indiana soldier surprised his mother Friday with an early return home, masquerading as Santa Claus while she sat on his lap at a school staff Christmas breakfast while she gave a wish list of gifts. “This tops the list and couldn’t be a better Christmas,” Kim Harris said.


    Cops: Glen Ellyn sixth-grader accused of hitting asst. principal

    Glen Ellyn police say they are investigating a report of a sixth-grader at Hadley Junior High striking an assistant principal because the 11-year-old boy did not want to stay after school. School officials contacted police and reported the assault, which Deputy Police Chief Bill Holmer said took place about 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the school at 240 Hawthorne Blvd.

    Associated Press/Nov. 18, 2003 John Hinckley Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington.

    Reagan shooter granted more time outside hospital

    In court hearings before the ruling, Hinckley’s lawyer, Barry Levine, had asked for his visits to be expanded to 17 and 24 days, arguing that there is no evidence Hinckley is a danger to himself or others. Attorneys for the U.S. government, however, argued that Hinckley is “capable of great violence” and told the judge that granting expanded privileges was “premature and ill conceived.”

    Nevada Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. on Thursday. Reid, 74, was still hospitalized early Friday after feeling unwell as the Senate was winding through its final hours.

    Congress OKs new IRS chief, ends turbulent year

    Before leaving town, senators voted 59-36 to approve President Barack Obama’s nomination of John Koskinen, a retired corporate and government turnaround expert, to become IRS commissioner. The tax collection agency is still reeling from this spring’s revelations that its agents targeted tea party and other conservative groups for especially rigorous reviews when they sought tax-exempt status.

    Gov. Pat Quinn

    Quinn visiting wounded service members

    Gov. Pat Quinn is heading to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to deliver holiday cards to wounded armed service members from Illinois.


    Man charged in knifing that blinded Chicago woman

    A suspect has been charged in a knife attack that left a young Chicago woman blind in both eyes. Wednesday’s attack took place around 6 a.m. outside the woman’s home in the Rogers Park neighborhood.


    Inmates tearing down vacant buildings

    Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says boot camp inmates will tear down abandoned buildings in areas hit hard by foreclosures. Dart said Friday that more than 100 people serving Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center sentences have been working on manual labor projects.

    Highland Park has banned assault weapons like these on display at a shop in New Castle, Pa.

    Highland Park sued over assault weapons ban

    A gun rights group has filed its first lawsuit against one of the Illinois communities that rushed to pass an assault weapons ban before a state law allowed people to carry concealed weapons in public, and the group strongly hinted Friday that the lawsuit will not be its last.

    U.N. troops from India patrol at the compound in Juba, South Sudan. The U.N.’s humanitarian arm said Friday that 34,000 people in South Sudan are seeking refuge at U.N. bases in three locations across the country.

    U.N. evacuates South Sudan base

    The UN Security Council expressed “grave alarm and concern regarding the rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.”


    Barrington H.S. band in London New Year’s Parade

    Members of the Barrington High School Marching Band will be starting 2014 a little ahead of their classmates as they cross the Atlantic to participate in London’s New Year’s Day Parade. They will be among 10,000 participants who will be viewed by more than 500,000 people in person and more than 280 million in broadcasts worldwide.


    ECC, faculty reach tentative 3-year deal

    A tentative agreement for a new faculty contract at Elgin Community College was reached, officials said. Negotiating teams for the college’s faculty association — which represents 526 part-time and full-time instructors — and the college board reached a tentative agreement on Thursday for a new three-year contract. Details of the agreement will not be released until it is ratified by union...


    Buffalo Grove abates 1.4% of its tax levy

    Buffalo Grove trustees this week approved an abatement of this year’s real estate taxes, payable next year. The abatements are an annual tradition in the village. This year, the amount to be abated totals $204,500, or 1.4 percent of the village’s initial levy request. Assuming a tax base assessed at $1.5 billion, the initial village-wide levy rate of $.9603 per $100 of assessed value has been...

    Edwin Portillo

    Addison man sentenced to 12 years for sexual assault

    An Addison man who repeatedly sexually assaulted a young girl and filmed her in the shower was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison. Edwin Portillo, 22, of the 300 block of Army Trail Boulevard, plead guilty in September to charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child in exchange for prosecutors not seeking a sentence longer than 16 years.

    Tom Lambert of Naperville, seen here wearing the gray “Payton Sweetness” sweatshirt, gathers in Michigan with friends from a men’s group affiliated with Third Unitarian Church in Chicago. Jim Dickert of Oak Park, Jim McCormick of Lombard, Mike Collins of Barrington Hills, Lambert, Don Wheat of Michigan and Ed Walbridge of Chicago all were present at what they called the “Tom Lambert Weekend” in October.

    Family, friends ‘so supportive’ of Naperville couple killed in fire

    Family, friends and fellow cancer patients had formed a circle of support around brain tumor patient Tom Lambert of Naperville in the months before he and his wife, Jan, were killed when a fire struck their home. “(Tom’s sister) was so supportive of him and you could tell how close they were,” said Linda Conlin, a licensed clinical social worker with Edward Cancer Center who led the brain tumor...


    Fox Lake holiday movie:

    Fox Lake residents are invited to attend a family movie showing of “Arthur Christmas” on Dec. 22, at the Grant High School Field House on Devlin Road.

    Supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi raise flags Friday with a logo showing a hand with four raised fingers which has become a symbol of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where Morsi supporters had held a sit-in for weeks that was violently dispersed in August.

    Two Egypt soldiers killed fighting Sinai militants

    In a statement Friday, the Brotherhood-led alliance said that the protests are the beginning of a week of protests. It called the upcoming vote on the constitution “a betrayal of the revolution’s martyrs.”


    Hawthorn IMRF contribution

    Hawthorn District 73 will make a $500,000 payment to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund in an effort to reduce its $4 million unfunded liability to the retirement plan.


    Santa Claus at Lambs Farm

    Santa Claus will be at Lambs Farm Saturday and Sunday. Seatings for holiday brunch are available at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon both days.


    Lake County economic forecast

    The Lake County Chamber of Commerce hosts its seventh annual Economic Forecast Lake County Luncheon on Friday, Jan. 17, officials said in a news release.


    Pedestrian struck by train in Glen Ellyn

    An unidentified man taken to an area hospital Friday afternoon after being hit by a commuter train in downtown Glen Ellyn. Police said the man was struck by an eastbound Metra train shortly after 2 p.m. at the Main Street crossing.

    Gabriel Saenz

    Former Woodridge soccer coach gets 180 days in child porn case

    A Woodridge man accused of possessing four pornographic photos of girls younger than 13 was sentenced Friday to a mix of probation and jail time. Gabriel E. Saenz, 31, of the 2400 block of Spring Street, pleaded guilty in August to four felony counts of child pornography. DuPage County Judge John Kinsella sentenced him to four years of sex offender probation, and 180 days in the DuPage County...

    Hip-hop artist Common, left, will be the keynote speaker when Naperville’s North Central College remembers Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in ceremonies next month. His address will be called “Greatness!”

    Hip-hop artist Common to honor King at North Central

    Hip-hop artist Common will be the next speaker to honor Martin Luther King Jr. in same the building where the civil rights leader spoke in 1960 at North Central College in Naperville. Common will deliver a keynote address called “Greatness!” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21 in Pfeiffer Hall at 310 E. Benton Ave. as part of the college’s annual remembrance of King. He will host a...

    Case manager John Aliprandi, right, and Clinical Director Todd Stull light candles as Journeys-The Road Home in Palatine holds its annual Homeless Memorial Service to honor the area's homeless who have died during the past year.

    Vigil in Palatine remembers deceased homeless of Northwest suburbs

    On the eve of the winter solstice, when daylight is at its shortest, homeless residents of the Northwest suburbs who died over the past year were remembered at a service Friday morning intended to keep their lives from simply fading into darkness. The candlelight vigil was held at the Palatine day center of Journeys-The Road Home, which operates 18 PADS shelters at churches in the area.


    ADM agrees to pay $36.5 million to settle bribe case

    Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. agreed to pay $36.5 million to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to resolve allegations it bribed officials in Ukraine to win tax refunds.

    Carlos Lopez-Almaraz

    Addison teen gets probation in air-rifle shooting

    An 18-year-old Addison man was admonished Friday for his childish behavior before accepting a plea agreement that keeps him out of jail. Carlos Lopez-Almaraz of the 600 block of South Iowa Avenue was charged in June with aggravated battery for shooting a Canadian National freight train engineer with an air rifle after apparently getting tired of targeting beer cans.

    Charles Johns

    West Chicago District 33 names next superintendent

    An educator who began his career in the Northwest Suburbs has been selected to become the next superintendent of West Chicago Elementary District 33. Charles Johns, who currently serves as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Elmhurst Community Unit District 205, was named on Thursday night by the District 33 school board. He will begin leading District 33 in summer...

    Jeff Schielke

    180th birthday on New Year’s Eve features local band

    Batavia willl celebrate its 180th birthday with a little party on New Year's Eve, splitting the difference in the argument over whether the town was first settled in 1833 or 1834.

    Rosemont’s MB Financial Park entertainment district will be featured during ABC 7’s live broadcast of “Countdown Chicago 2014” on New Year’s Eve.

    Rosemont to be featured during New Year’s TV broadcast

    Rosemont’s entertainment district is ringing in the new year at all of its venues on December 31, but those who can’t be there in person can still be part of the celebration at home. The village’s MB Financial Park is one of the sites that will be featured during ABC 7’s “Countdown Chicago 2014” live New Year’s Eve broadcast.

    Santa, Paul Zillman of Palatine, finds his way to the right houses in the Willow Wood subdivision with the help of his elves, from left, Emmi Antonik, Samantha Mogensen, Blake Nudo and Brent Nudo.

    Santa still makes house calls in Palatine neighborhood

    A tradition played out in the Willow Wood subdivision of Palatine this year, and not even most neighbors living in the area realized it stretched it stretched back 45 years. Santa and his elves made house calls throughout the neighborhood, visiting some 20 homes and more than 50 children.

    Students at Trinity Lutheran School in Lombard display blankets they made with senior citizens during a senior luncheon at the school Dec. 10. The blankets have been donated to hospice patients at Lexington Health Center.

    Lombard students, senior citizens make blankets for hospice patients

    Students from Trinity Lutheran School in Lombard had a chance to work with senior citizens last week to make blankets for hospice residents at Lexington Health Center. The blankets were made at the school on Dec. 10 during an annual Senior Luncheon.

    In this July 20, 1969, file photo, Astronaut Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., lunar module pilot, descends the steps of the Lunar Module ladder as he prepares to walk on the moon.

    Light gravitational pull allows astronauts to walk on moon

    Nancy Sullivan’s sixth-graders from Frederick Nerge Elementary in Roselle asked, “Why do objects float in space, but you can still walk on the moon?"

    The ornaments that hang in Elgin resident Mike Arnold’s tree were something that he saw with his wife while driving around looking at Christmas lights. They liked the ornaments and figured out a way to make them out of cups. Every year, they add another ornament to the tree, now totaling 38.

    Moving picture: Elgin man goes big with trains, Christmas lights

    Handyman Mike Arnold of Elgin is a man of many passions, splitting time between his love of model trains and Christmas lights displays. Both hobbies have given him a lifetime of joy. “Trains have been a big part of my whole life,” Arnold says. “I got my first set before I was 5. I still have it, I still run it and it is still in perfect shape. How many kids can say that?”

    Richard Pickard

    Bartlett man pleads guilty in Walgreen theft case

    A Bartlett man accused of stealing thousands of dollars of computer equipment from Walgreen Co. in Lincolnshire pleaded guilty to criminal damage to property in Lake County Court. Richard Pickard, 47, was sentenced to probation as part of the negotiated plea. He was also sentenced to 100 hours of community service and must pay more than $51,000 in restitution to the company.

    A prison service officer stops a car on the road at the prison where Mikhail Khodorkovsky was kept in Segezha, near Petrozavodsk, Russia, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Russia’s once richest man Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the arch rival of President Vladimir Putin, has been released from prison after a decade behind bars, his spokeswoman told the Associated Press on Friday.

    Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky a free man

    After spending 10 years in Russian jails for what many in the West believe were trumped-up offenses, Mikhail Khodorkovsky left prison a free man Friday and immediately flew to Germany. Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned his long-time rival Friday morning and the country’s Federal Penitentiary Service said Khodorkovsky quickly left the IK-7 prison in the remote northwestern village of...

    Project Two, a group specializing in the music of Broadway, will perform a fundraiser concert at Huntley High School Saturday, Dec. 28. Members of the group are all from McHenry County.

    Project Two brings Broadway tunes to Huntley

    Project Two is back in town, and its members are ready to celebrate the holidays in support of the fine arts in local schools. They will be performing a holiday concert on Saturday, Dec. 28, raising money for the Huntley High School Thespian Troupe.

    Terri-Jean Bedford gives a victory sigh as she talks to reporters at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa Friday morning, Dec. 20, 2013 after learning Canada’s highest court struck down the country’s prostitution laws in their entirety in a unanimous 9-0 ruling. The retired dominatrix is one of the three principles in the Supreme Court case.

    Canadian court strikes down anti-prostitution laws

    Canada’s highest court struck down the country’s anti-prostitution laws Friday, a victory for sex workers who stepped up their fight for safer working conditions. Prostitution isn’t illegal in Canada, but many of the activities associated with prostitution are. The high court struck down all three prostitution-related laws: against keeping a brothel, living on the avails of prostitution, and...

    Daily Herald columnist Sammi King, at center in front of Birgit Ridderstedt, appeared with other local children in 1957 on a WTTW special on Swedish Christmas customs.

    Keeping Swedish Christmas traditions alive

    By the time Christmas comes, Sammi King says she will have made dozens of Swedish cookies, nine loaves of Swedish rye bread, 2 cardamom coffee cakes, 144 Swedish pancakes and 15 pounds of korv, or Swedish potato sausage, all to keep her Swedish celebrations alive.

    Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., right, confers with Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., as a vote nears on a sweeping, $633 billion defense bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013.

    Obama orders military to review sexual assault

    President Barack Obama on Friday gave the military one year to make progress on an epidemic of sexual assault or face potential tougher reforms, hours after Congress sent a sweeping defense bill for his signature that cracks down on the crime in its ranks.


    Fox Valley Presbyterian community dinner cancelled

    Fox Valley Presbyterian Church will not be holding its Third Friday Community Dinner this evening. The meals usually are served at The Salvation Army, 1710 S. Seventh St., St. Charles. The community dinner will resume next month.

    Mundelein Police Officer Rick Witt shares a special moment with one of the children who participated in the village of Mundelein´s Shop With A Cop program.

    Mundelein ‘Shop with a Cop’ helps record number of kids

    The Mundelein Police Department, Mundelein Fire Department and the Mundelein Super Target recently teamed up to help make the holidays happier for a record number of children in need through the annual “Shop With A Cop” event.


    Naperville Art League sponsoring public contest

    For the 10th consecutive year, the Naperville Art League is inviting individuals to enter an original work of art in its public art contest. This year’s theme, “Grounds for Potential,” was inspired by the collaboration between the arts organization and fellow nonprofit Loaves and Fishes Community Pantry.

    Megan Robertson, campaign manager for Freedom Indiana, makes a phone call in Indianapolis. Indiana lawmakers will decide whether to ask voters to amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriage when they reconvene in January.

    Gay marriage supporters see hope in deep-red Ind.

    In one of the most conservative states in the nation, supporters of gay marriage are pondering the unthinkable: a victory, or at least not a loss. A proposal to amend Indiana’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage has sparked a flurry of phone banks and appeals to big-money donors as the state prepares to become a 2014 battleground on an issue that has largely been decided in other states.

    A fire brigade truck waits outside The Apollo Theatre in London, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Authorities are carrying out a structural assessment at the Apollo Theatre after the partial collapse of its ceiling injured more than 75 people in the packed auditorium.

    Safety reassurance after London theater collapse

    LONDON — An industry group sought to reassure theatergoers Friday that London’s elegant but aging venues are safe after chunks of ornamental plaster fell from a ceiling of the Apollo Theatre, showering patrons with dust and debris and injuring 79 people.

    Navy veteran Beth Jarosy, her husband, Nate Jarosy, and their kids are excited about the rehab done on their house in Villa Park by Habitat for Humanity's Veterans Initiative.

    Villa Park veteran finds home through Habitat for Humanity

    U.S. Navy veteran Beth Jarosy found a house for herself and her family in Villa Park thanks to the efforts of Habitat for Humanity and its increaing emphasis on helping vets in need.


    Rain, ice could make travel difficult this weekend

    According to accuweather.com, a stationary front over the Northwest suburbs could drop temperatures below the freezing mark, causing ice to form on area roads this afternoon. The freezing rain advisory is in effect until 3 p.m. this afternoon and a winter storm watch is set to begin Saturday evening, ending Sunday afternoon.


    Dawn Patrol: 30 puppies in 1-bedroom apartment; hazing trial delayed

    Lake County sheriff's deputy injured in crash. North Chicago woman accused of hoarding 30 puppies. Maine West hazing trial delayed. Naperville fire victims remembered. Elgin Moose Lodge to face liquor commission. Dann Gire remembers Larry Lujack. Bulls lose to Thunder. Briggs could return Sunday.


    Hotline hours extended to offer insurance help

    An Illinois hotline for people who need help signing up for new federal health insurance is extending its hours through Monday.That’s an important deadline under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. People who want their private insurance coverage to start on Jan. 1 must enroll by Monday, although enrollment continues for private coverage through March 31.


    Springfield man pleads guilty in beating death

    SPRINGFIELD — A Springfield man has pleaded guilty in the 2010 beating death of a railroad worker whose body was discovered by a co-worker.


    Chicago theater helps visually, hearing impaired

    Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company says it’s trying to make productions more accessible to people with visual and hearing impairments.The downtown Chicago theater said Thursday that it will now provide open captioning, Braille programs, touch tours and audio-described performances for certain performances of all productions.


    Wisconsin program for at-risk youth to graduate 115

    STEVENS POINT, Wis. — A Wisconsin National Guard program for at-risk youth is preparing to graduate 115 cadets this weekend in Stevens Point.


    Better Business Bureau offers travel tips

    MADISON, Wis. — The Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin has some tips to help make traveling over the holidays less stressful.For drivers, the BBB recommends having the car checked by a mechanic before hitting the road and packing a car safety kit just in case of emergencies. It also recommends removing distractions, like texting while driving, and starting early to avoid having to rush.


    Durbin, Kirk support Argonne mass transit study

    Illinois’ two U.S. senators say they’re supporting a proposal by Argonne National Laboratory to conduct new federal research into mass transit safety.Argonne wants to lead a program that would examine how well mass transit systems plan for and respond to emergencies.


    Simon delivering gifts to Illinois town hit by tornado

    GIFFORD, Ill. — Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is delivering holiday gifts to a central Illinois community damaged by last month’s deadly tornadoes.In a press release Thursday, Simon’s office says she has been collecting gifts at her offices in Carbondale, Springfield and Chicago. The Carbondale Democrat plans to take the gifts to the community of Gifford on Friday morning.


    $19 million in road, bridge work planned for Cook County

    SPRINGFIELD — Road and bridge improvements totaling $18.6 million are planned for several Cook County communities. Gov. Pat Quinn announced the seven projects Thursday.


    Lasers pointed at planes near Fort Wayne airport

    FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Authorities in Fort Wayne are watching for whoever has been pointing a laser at planes coming in for landings at the city’s airport.Two pilots reported a green laser was aimed at their aircrafts Wednesday as they approached Fort Wayne International Airport.


    George Webb employee fatally shot

    MILWAUKEE — Police say a George Webb employee has been fatally shot in Milwaukee. Authorities say the employee was trying to remove a disorderly customer from the restaurant about 2 a.m. Friday when the customer pulled out a gun and shot him.The victim is a 21-year-old Milwaukee man. Police say they are looking for the suspect.


    Ice cometh before the storm

    MILWAUKEE — Freezing rain is closing schools and making travel difficult in Wisconsin. Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, Edgerton, Boscobel and Burlington are among the dozens of schools closed Friday. The National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory for parts of the Badger State.


    Indiana education board releasing ‘A-F’ school grades

    INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s State Board of Education is set to release “A-F” school grades for the 2012-13 school year four months after a grade change scandal sparked a review of the grading system.


    Camp Atterbury’s new commander to be installed

    EDINBURGH, Ind. — The new commander of the Indiana National Guard’s Camp Atterbury is being installed during a change of command ceremony.The ceremony set for Friday afternoon was to formally establish Col. Richard Shatto as the new commander of the military installation south of Indianapolis. He succeeded Col. Ivan Denton on Dec. 1.


    Ball State starting search for new president

    MUNCIE, Ind. — Ball State University’s trustees have hired an executive search firm for $150,000 to help them find a replacement for outgoing school President Jo Ann Gora.Gora announced in October that she planned to retire next June after 10 years leading the 18,000-student university in Muncie.


    Terre Haute mayor pans business tax phase-out plan

    TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Gov. Mike Pence’s proposal to phase out Indiana’s business personal property tax already is drawing criticism from a fellow Republican.


    Financing deal set on $1 billion southern Indiana fertilizer plant

    ROCKPORT, Ind. — A businessman says he has reached a deal with a Chinese company to finance a proposed southern Indiana fertilizer plant that could cost nearly $1 billion to build.

    Jan Schakowsky

    Suburban Democrats targeted over graduated income tax

    The Illinois arm of Americans for Prosperity, a national conservative advocacy group, is targeting a handful of suburban Democratic state lawmakers with video ads in its fight against the idea of a graduated income tax. Tax issues are likely to be a big topic in 2014 in Springfield, but it's hard to say if the graduated tax will gain traction.

    With plans for a new grocery store at the former Dominick's site in Rolling Meadows having fallen through, city officials are hoping that Wal-Mart will consider the location for its proposed “Neighborhood Market” store. Wal-Mart currently is focusing on a nearby location for the new store.

    Could Wal-Mart be the answer for Rolling Meadows?

    In light of the news that an Uncle Joe's grocery will not be opening in Rolling Meadows after all, city officials are trying to find another retailer for the site on Kirchoff Road. One option is Wal-Mart, which is currently discussing opening one of its "Neighborhood Market" stores at a different Kirchoff Road location. Might Wal-Mart agree to a switch?

    Heather Schluckbier of 503 Dartmouth Lane in Schaumburg is the winner of the Daily Herald Holiday Lights contest. She said winning a contest like this takes a lot of love for the holidays and a little bit of craziness.

    A little crazy and a lot of lights help win Daily Herald contest

    In addition to a deep love of the holidays, Heather Schluckbier of Schaumburg says there's probably one other feature common to anyone who's ever won a holiday house decorating contest — craziness. “It hasn't hurt me that my husband's an electrical engineer,” she said. Her kind of determination made Schluckbier the readers' choice winner of the Daily Herald's 2013 Holiday Lights...

    Todd Mickley stands with his parents, Donna and Hank, in front of their Schaumburg home, which has been decorated with 18,000 holiday lights, at 2049 Tiffany Drive. The Mickleys won the Editor’s Choice award for the Northwest suburbs in the Daily Herald’s holiday lights contest.

    Northwest Suburban Editor’s Choice: 2049 Tiffany Drive, Schaumburg
    An interview with the Mickley family in Schaumburg, winners of the Editor's Choice award for the Northwest suburbs in the Daily Herald's holiday lights contest.

    After 45 year as a downtown St. Charles barber, Ron Saltzgiver is retiring. He bought Berry’s Barbershop, which first opened in 1910, after he returned from Vietnam in 1968.

    Barber retiring after 45-year run in downtown St. Charles

    After 45 years as a downtown St. Charles barber, Ron Saltzgiver is retiring. After returning from Vietnam in 1968, he bought Berry's Barbershop, which first opened in 1910. The shop will close on Saturday, which is Ron's last day, and he's moving to Tennessee. "This is old-time Americana," customer Ray Leone said this week.

    Lake Zurich Unit District 95 has five schools without central air conditioning. Among the buildings without air conditioning is Lake Zurich Middle School South.

    Lake Zurich District 95 gets air conditioning estimates

    An air conditioning feasibility study commissioned by Lake Zurich Unit District 95 shows it could cost $19 million to $25 million to chill five schools. District 95 school board members reviewed the report during a meeting Thursday night.

    Mia cools off in a tub filled with water on a hot day last summer in a Wheeling back yard.

    Images: Photo Contest Finalists
    Each week you submit your favorite photo. We pick the best of the bunch and select 12 finalists. Here are the finalists for the week of December 15th.


    Prigge, Shaw and Gavin vote against 2014 budget

    The Elgin City Council approved the 2014 budget over the objections of three council members who said they wanted residents to pay less in taxes and fees. Other council members, however, said any revenue decrease should be offset by commensurate cuts in expenses to balance the budget not just in 2014, but in future years as well. The budget goes into effect Jan. 1.

    Ela Historical Society and Museum President Ron Frank works near one of the Nativity sets on display in Lake Zurich.

    Nativity scenes on display in Lake Zurich

    Around 45 Nativity scenes are on display at the Ela Historical Society and Museum in Lake Zurich. Saturday is the last chance before Christmas to see them.


    Build muscle, strengthen core and burn calories in the Schaumburg Park District’s free Fitness Unlimited and Club 55 group fitness classes Jan. 2-8.

    Free fitness classes offered in Schaumburg

    Schaumburg Park District will offer free Fitness Unlimited and Club 55 group fitness classes from Jan. 2-8.

    Elgin's Abby Pierre-Louis (22) blocks a shot by Larkin's Marlee Kyles (3) during Friday's game at Elgin.

    Elgin blocks out Larkin in OT

    Elgin junior Abby Pierre-Louis heeded her coach's words Friday night. Pierre-Louis cleanly blocked a potential game-winning shot attempt by Larkin's Victoria Patterson with four seconds left in regulation, then the host Maroons put away their crosstown rivals in overtime, winning the Upstate Eight River girls basketball contest, 53-46, at Chesbrough Field House.


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


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


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


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


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

    Despite chaos all around him, rookie Canucks goalie Eddie Lack makes a save against the Blackhawks on Friday at the United Center.

    Former Wolves goalie Eddie Lack stonewalls Hawks in shootout

    Eddie Lack called it the biggest start of his brief NHL career. The Vancouver Canucks goalie certainly rose to the occasion. Lack, who previously played for the Chicago Wolves, made 24 saves, then stopped 7 of 8 attempts in the shootout to lead the Canucks back from a 2-0 deficit to a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks at the United Center on Friday.


    UIC falls to UC Riverside

    Nick Gruninger made a game-winning layup with 2.6 seconds remaining to lead UC Riverside past Illinois-Chicago 57-56 on Friday night.


    Hot-shooting Prospect prevails

    Prospect’s girls basketball team reached double digits in wins and almost did the same in 3-pointers on Friday night at Elk Grove. The Knights (10-1, 2-1) connected for nine three pointers en route to a 50-28 victory over the Grenadiers in the Mid-Suburban East contest.Taylor Will (game-high 19 points) hit four 3-pointers while her sister Haley (9 points) had 3 and Mallory Gonzalez (6 points) added 2.


    A happy Fremd homecoming for Desruisseaux, Schaumburg

    Schaumburg coach Paul Desruisseaux returned to his old stomping grounds, while Rolling Meadows delivered an historic dual meet victory against Buffalo Grove in Mid-Suburban League boys swimming Friday.


    Weiss, Christian Liberty pick up road win

    Six-foot-3 junior Paul Weiss scored a team-best 15 points to help Christian Liberty past host Harvest Christian 52-46 in Northeastern Athletic Conference play on Friday.


    Montini, IC reach goals, but only Knights get win

    In a basketball game it’s uncommon for both teams to achieve their coaches’ defensive goals.

    The Bulls’ Joakim Noah is guarded by the Thunder’s Kendrick on Thursday. After the game, Noah was visiting tormer teammate Thabo Sefolosha in the Thunder locker room when Perkins complained loudly about Noah’s presence.

    Perkins assails Noah in locker-room tiff

    The biggest news after the Bulls' loss in Oklahoma City on Thursday was a post-game verbal altercation between Joakim Noah and the Thunder's Kendrick Perkins. The OKC center was upset that Noah ventured into the opposing locker room to visit old friend Thabo Sefolosha, but there may have been other reasons for Perkins' grumpiness.

    Stevenson’s Matthew Morrissey takes a shot Friday night during the Patriots’ victory in Gurnee.

    Warren tests Stevenson

    This road had yet to be traveled. At least not this season. The Stevenson boys basketball team had been pushed to the brink last season in its drive to the Class 4A state championship game. But so far this season, the Patriots had breezed through their schedule. That is, they had until they met up with a pumped up Warren team on Friday night in Gurnee. The Blue Devils used five 3-pointers and a tempo-dictating zone defense to push top-ranked Stevenson harder than any team has this season. But star guard Jalen Brunson knocked down 2 free throws in the final seconds to help Stevenson escape Warren with its closest-shave win of the season, 52-51.


    Girls basketball/Fox Valley roundup

    Westminster Christian 70, Alden-Hebron 42: The Warriors (12-1, 7-0) remain undefeated in Northeastern Athletic Conference action. Maddie Versluys led the way for Westminster with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals. McKaila Hays finished with 14 points and 5 steals. Liz Meschewski contributed 11 points and 5 steals, while Claire Speweik added 8 points and 5 rebounds for the Warriors. Harvest Christian 46, Christian Liberty 33: Kylee Knox finished with 27 points, 3 assists and 3 steals for the Lions (5-2, 3-1) in the Northeastern Athletic Conference. Rachel Oostdyk scored 8 points and brought down 5 rebounds. “Kylee and Rachel really worked well together tonight and took what the defense gave them, ” said Harvest Christian coach Kelly Friestad.Nazareth Academy 51, St. Edward 37: Katie Swanson led all scorers with 20 points and added 10 rebounds and 4 steals for the Green Wave (6-4) in nonconference action. Clarissa Ramos contributed 7 points for St. Edward.South Elgin 72, West Chicago 40: The Storm (7-4, 3-1) defeated Upstate Eight Valley Division opponent West Chicago Friday. Kennede Miller scored 15 points and Bridgette Williams added 12 points for South Elgin.


    It ends up as another Barrington win

    Barrington girls basketball coach Babbi Barreiro wasn’t exactly thrilled with the way her team closed Friday’s Mid-Suburban West game at Palatine. But the Fillies sure have opened their season in a thrilling matter.They ran their record to 11-1 after a 44-36 victory over the Pirates, who outscored the visitors 18-11 in the final eight minutes.


    Reiser, Gallimore lead Antioch victory

    Freshman guard Amy Reiser earned her first career double-double, and Paige Gallimore scored a game-high 25 points, as Antioch’s girls basketball team defeated visiting Grant 73-45 in North Suburban Prairie Division action Friday night.


    Grayslake North lines up win over Antioch

    Shooting free throws has been a thorn in the side of Grayslake North’s boys basketball team since the opening week of the season. So the Knights turned to practice in search of better results. They then hit the court Friday night and — lo and behold — got the results they sought. They made 17 of 21 shots from the charity stripe for 81 percent and beat visiting Antioch 56-48 in a nonconference game.

    Jayvon Thomas of York takes one to the net during the Glenbard West at York boys basketball game Friday.

    Diversity the key to York win against Glenbard West

    Glenbard West’s boys basketball team had good reason to be concerned about York’s inside game. The concern, however, went far beyond the post Friday night. The Dukes received contributions from everywhere in a 57-47 West Suburban Silver Conference victory over Glenbard West in Elmhurst.

    Geneva’s Loudon Vollbrecht and Larkin’s Andrew Jones fight for a Vikings rebound in the third quarter on Friday, December 20.

    Larkin wins again on road

    Back-to-back wins are never easy to attain. Back-to-back wins on the road are even tougher. Fresh off an emotional 71-67 victory over cross-town rival Elgin, Larkin (9-1, 5-0) held off a late charge to defeat host Geneva 59-55 in Upstate Eight Conference River Division basketball action Friday night.


    Boys basketball/Fox Valley roundup

    St. Edward 63, Chicago Christian 44: The Green Wave (10-1, 2-1) defeated Chicago Christian during Suburban Christian crossover action Friday. Nick Duffy and Davontae Elam scored 11 points apiece to lead St. Edward. Danny Favela finished with 10 points, Joseph French scored 9 points and Ryan Mathews scored 8 for St. Edward.Luther North 60, Westminster Christian 38: The Warriors (5-4, 1-2) lost a Northeastern Athletic Conference matchup against Luther North. Sam Carani led Westminster Christian with 18 points, including a 6-for-6 finish from the free throw line.Christian Liberty 52, Harvest Christian 46: Harvest Christian lost Friday’s game to Northeastern Athletic Conference opponent Christian Liberty. The Lions (3-6, 2-4) were led by John Vislisel, who finished with 25 points.


    Palatine’s abrupt turnaround continues

    Palatine came skidding into a rough road week with five consecutive losses. But the Pirates made sure their boys basketball season didn’t spin out of control. They followed up a Tuesday night win at Mid-Suburban East leading Prospect by pulling out a 46-41 victory on Friday that sent Barrington to its first MSL West defeat.


    St. Charles N. dominates Batavia from get-go

    The first possession was as telling as it was a precursor to the outcome. St. Charles North senior guard Alec Goetz had already misfired once, only to hit a short baseline jumper moments later. It was the third shot of the North Stars’ opening possession against Batavia Friday night in Upstate Eight River boys basketball action in St. Charles. The North Stars would never trail, nor was the game ever tied, in their 70-49 victory.


    Stephani’s 39 points lead the way

    Mid-Suburban League boys basketball victories aren’t easy to come by. Even with Jeremy Stephani’s 39-point effort, Wheeling had to endure the final agonizing seconds as two Hersey attempts to tie the game and force overtime bounced away. The 61-58 victory snapped a 3-game losing skid for the Wildcats, who take a 6-5 record (2-1 in the MSL East) into their Hardwood Classic on Monday night.

    St. Charles East’s Will Shanel swims at last year’s state meet.

    Scouting Tri-Cities boys swimming

    Tri-Cities boys swimming season outlook


    Aurora Christian tops Aurora Central to end losing streak

    Everyone knows losing stinks — especially when those losses come in succession by 7, 5, 3 and 3 points like they had for Aurora Christian. The Eagles ended their skid Friday night at home against Aurora Central Catholic. Zach Singer scored a career-high 21 points and Johnathan Harrell added 15 in a 65-50 Suburban Christian Blue victory.


    Naperville North gets needed win

    With thoughts of contending in the DuPage Valley Conference, Naperville North could ill afford to drop a third straight league boys basketball game Friday night in Wheaton.


    Eshoo’s 3-pointer gives Benet last-second win

    With time running out sophomore point guard Kathleen Doyle drove the lane and kicked the ball left to junior Emily Eshoo, waiting just behind the 3-point line. Eshoo’s shot swished through with 1.6 seconds to play, giving the Redwings a 61-58 victory at Naperville North in the Naperville North/Benet Holiday Tournament on Friday night.


    Marian Catholic comes back, beats Benet in overtime

    Benet started out strong but Marian Catholic put it together late in the first half and into the second to defeat the Redwings 89-84 in overtime in the opening game of the East Suburban Catholic Conference on Friday in Chicago Heights.


    Rolling Meadows buckles down at Buffalo Grove

    You might not see a better defensive effort in the Mid-Suburban League this season. Rolling Meadows’ boys basketball team clamped down so hard on Buffalo Grove on Friday night that the Bison might still be looking for their shooting touch after the visiting Mustangs scored a 44-26 MSL East victory heading into holiday tournament time.


    LaBarbera happy to be a Hawk

    Jason LaBarbera has always played well against the Blackhawks, owning a career record in goal of 4-1-0 against them. Now he’s excited about possibly playing for the two-time Stanley Cup champs. Tim Sassone has more in today's Blackhawks notebook.


    Frasco, Beyak lead Prospect rally

    Bobby Frasco and Kyle Beyak became friends over the summer. They learned how to take care of each other on the basketball court. That all came into play as Frasco and Beyak rallied Prospect to a 55-52 win over Elk Grove at the Jean Walker Field House in Mt. Prospect.

    Fremd forward Ben Carlson splits two Schaumburg defenders including Demetrios Roumbos, right, on Friday in Schaumburg.

    Glassmann, Fremd win at Schaumburg

    Fremd’s Riley Glassmann made sure his final trip to Schaumburg was a successful one. Glassmann, who has been a three-year starter for the Vikings, scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half as Fremd remained unbeaten with a hard fought 39-35 victory over the Saxons on Friday.


    Wauconda adjusts, keeps winning momentum

    Wauconda's girls basketball team built a double-digit lead against Lakes by the middle of the fourth quarter and hung on for a 43-34 victory that stretched its winning streak to four games.


    Boyer, Vernon Hills cool under pressure

    It just seems that, no matter what, Vernon Hills senior guard Jake Boyer is always in the mix. Whether it’s in practice, during a game, or even creating a unique cookie recipe that he carried in a neatly decorated jar for the holidays, Boyer’s stirring things up. “I think all you have to do is dump it in a bowl and add eggs,” Boyer said. “It looks kind of cool, though.” Boyer was cool for the Cougars at the free throw line in a tight game with visiting Grayslake Central on Friday night. With Vernon Hills holding a tenuous 55-52 lead with 14.8 seconds left, Boyer stepped to the line and calmly sank both of his free throws. The 2 points were the first in over two minutes for Vernon Hills as the hosts hung on for a 58-54 win over the Rams in a nonconference contest.


    Crystal Lake South holds off Dundee-Crown

    When the last whistle sounded, injury-riddled Crystal Lake South’s girls basketball team had enough to produce a 56-48 win over Dundee-Crown in a semifinal contest of the Northern Illinois Holiday Classic held at McHenry High School Friday night.

    Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell fires off a pass to a teammate during the second half of Friday’s game against Nicholls State in Bloomington, Ind. Indiana won 79-66.

    Indiana downs Nicholls State 76-66

    Yogi Ferrell scored 16 points and had a season-high eight assists, and Indiana overcame mistakes and sloppy play in a 79-66 win over Nicholls State on Friday night.

    Minnesota guard Austin Hollins drives against Nebraska-Omaha guard Marcus Tyus during the first half of Friday’s game in Minneapolis.

    Minnesota defeats Nebraska-Omaha

    MINNEAPOLIS — DeAndre Mathieu scored 27 points to lead five Gophers in double figures as Minnesota defeated Nebraska-Omaha 92-79 on Friday night. Malik Smith scored a season-high 19 points, while Andre Hollins added 18 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota (10-2), which was playing its first game in 10 days after taking a break for finals week.Alex Phillips, Devin Patterson and CJ Carter each scored 15 to lead the Mavericks (8-4).Smith, a senior who transferred from Florida International when head coach Richard Pitino left FIU to take the Minnesota job last summer, scored all 10 points in a 10-4 spurt that pushed the Gophers to their biggest lead of the game, 71-60 with 11:27 to play.But Nebraska-Omaha quickly responded, with Justin Simmons making a jump shot and two free throws and Matt Hagerbaum throwing down a dunk in traffic to buoy the Mavericks. Minnesota missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities, and Patterson’s runner made it an 8-0 run and a 71-68 Gophers lead.Smith then knocked down another 3-pointer, his fifth of the night, but Carter converted a three-point play at the other end to cut the Gophers’ lead back to three.That’s when Mathieu took over. He scored nine of Minnesota’s next 11 points and showed off the full range of his offensive game in the process. The 5-foot-9 junior-college transfer converted a drive to the basket, hit an outside jumper, got to the free throw line and hit one of two, and finished the streak with a floating, one-handed runner that put Minnesota on top 85-79.The first half was a back-and-forth affair that featured eight lead changes and 15 3-pointers, including 10 in 16 attempts for the Mavericks’ snipers. Phillips hit 4 of 5 from behind the arc, while Carter and Patterson each hit a pair of 3s. Meanwhile, senior guard Caleb Steffensmeier entered the game in the final 16 seconds of the first half and canned a buzzer-beater from the corner that tied the score at 44-all at the break.The Mavericks entered the game having won five straight, including an 82-80 victory at Nevada last Saturday in their most recent game. With single-digit losses at Iowa and UNLV to its credit this year, Nebraska-Omaha is showing progress in just its third season as a Division I program.


    Portland dispatches Bradley 74-53

    Ryan Nicholas scored 18 points to lead University of Portland to a 74-53 victory over Bradley in the Holiday Hoops Classic on Friday night in Las Vegas.

    Ryan Kesler scored the deciding goal in an eight-round shootout, and the Vancouver Canucks rallied to defeat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Friday night. Kesler fired a high shot past Antti Raanta to help Vancouver end a two-game losing streak. Mike Santorelli was successful in the first round as the Canucks improved to 2-4 in shootouts.

    Hawks fall to Canucks 3-2 in shootout

    Ryan Kesler scored the deciding goal in an eight-round shootout, and the Vancouver Canucks rallied to defeat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Friday night. Kesler fired a high shot past Antti Raanta to help Vancouver end a two-game losing streak. Mike Santorelli was successful in the first round as the Canucks improved to 2-4 in shootouts.


    Geneva puts away Streamwood

    Geneva girls basketball coach Sarah Meadows would like to see her to team take a lead and keep extending that lead. The Vikings never trailed Friday night but didn’t put Streamwood away until late in the third quarter in a 54-41 Upstate Eight River Division victory.


    Hersey completes winning pattern

    Hersey was looking to complete an early season “circle,” as they called it, in the Mid-Suburban East. Since Wheeling had previously defeated Buffalo Grove in conference, BG had beaten Prospect and the Knights had won over the Huskies, the theory was that Hersey had to beat the Wildcats to close the loop. Sort of an MSL six degrees of separation — and the way the Huskies played Friday night at Ken Carter Gymnasium, the closure and the outcome was never in doubt. Hersey (10-1, 2-1) jumped all over the visiting Wildcats (5-6, 1-2) early then put up a 21-point second quarter to salt the game away in a 59-33 victory.

    Images from the Larkin vs. Geneva boys basketball game Wednesday, December 20, 2013.

    Images: Larkin vs. Geneva boys basketball
    Geneva hosted Larkin in a boys basketball matchup Friday night in Geneva.

    Photos from the Schaumburg vs. Fremd boys basketball game on Friday, December 20th, in Schaumburg.

    Images: Schaumburg vs. Fremd, boys basketball
    The Schaumburg High School boys basketball team hosted the Fremd High School boys on Friday, December 20th, in Schaumburg.


    Larkin tops Elgin in Crossface Classic

    Beating a rival is something most teams look forward to. Beating them after losing the year before makes the win that much better. Being able to win a trophy because of the victory puts the cherry on top. Larkin’s wrestling team came away with the headgear in the second installment of the Crossface Classic, beating crosstown rival Elgin 50-21 Friday night.

    Photos from the Glenbard West at York boys basketball game Friday, Dec. 20.

    Images: Glenbard West at York boys basketball
    York High School hosted Glenbard West Friday, Dec. 20 for boys basketball in Glen Ellyn.


    Seniors help Conant turns back Hoffman Estates

    With the game hanging in the balance, teams rely on senior leadership to step up and help preserve victories. That is exactly what the Conant boys’ basketball team received Friday night. Cougar seniors Joe Ranallo and Kevin Copher both made plays in the final two minutes to give Conant (6-3, 2-1) a 54-53 win over Mid-Suburban West foe Hoffman Estates inside William N. Perry Gymnasium.

    Larkin’s Shawndre’a Hill and Elgin’s Jess Ramirez wrestle for a rebound .

    Images: Larkin vs. Elgin girls basketball
    Elgin hosted Larkin in a girls basketball rivalry matchup Friday night in Elgin.


    Mundelein makes it interesting in Libertyville victory

    After getting out to a 25-3 lead early on, it looked like visiting Libertyville might be able to coast to victory Friday night at Mundelein in this North Suburban Conference wrestling dual meet. But the host Mustangs did make things interesting as a 15-point run cut the gap to 25-18 with five matches remaining. That was as close as Mundelein (9-3, 0-2) would get, though, as the Wildcats (6-1, 3-0) pulled away in the end for a 39-25 NSC Lake Division victory.


    Late free throws lift WIU over Troy

    Jabari Sandifer made 3 of 4 free throws in the final six seconds on Friday night to give Western Illinois a 61-58 victory over Troy in the Basketball Travelers Classic at Utah State.

    Mark Grace is now the hitting coach of Class A Hillsboro, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced Friday.

    D-backs promote Mark Grace

    The Arizona Diamondbacks have promoted Mark Grace to hitting coach of Class A Hillsboro, 16 months after the former All-Star left his broadcasting job following a second DUI arrest.


    Bolingbrook DB to enroll at Northwestern

    Parrker Westphal, a defensive back from Bolingbrook, has committed to play for Northwestern. The school announced Friday that Westphal will enroll in the winter quarter and be eligible to participate in spring practice.

    Kevin Youkilis has a .281 average in 10 big league seasons with 150 homers and 618 RBIs.

    Youkilis will play in Japan

    Kevin Youkilis is leaving the major leagues after an injury-plagued season and heading to Japan. The three-time All-Star has agreed to a one-year contract with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League.

    Bears coach Marc Trestman’s philosophy is to talk with players about any outside “noise” surrounding the team, such as when fans and media were debating whether or not Jay Cutler (above) should play over backup Josh McCown last week.

    Trestman not quiet when dealing with ‘noise’

    Some call it “scuttlebutt” and others may say “negative chatter.” Bears head coach Marc Trestman calls it “noise.” It was the talk that swirled around town and around the team last week regarding Trestman’s decision to insert starter Jay Cutler as the No. 1 quarterback despite the excellent relief work done by Josh McCown. "Wwhen I have to address it, I do,” he said. “I don’t leave anything out there."

    Bears linebacker Lance Briggs has been medically cleared to play Sunday night in Philadelphia against the Eagles.

    Briggs cleared, but Bears will decide on Sunday

    Lance Briggs was a full participant in Friday's practice for the first time since he suffered a fractured shoulder on Oct. 20, and coach Marc Trestman is "optimistic" that the seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker will play Sunday night vs. the Eagles. But Briggs is questionable on the injury report and a decision on his status might not be finalized until just before game time.

    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers plays with the ball before an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

    Rodgers out for Steelers game

    The Packers have ruled out Aaron Rodgers for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.It will be Green Bay’s seventh straight game without Rodgers since the franchise quarterback fractured his left collarbone during the first series of a 27-20 loss to the Bears on Nov. 4.

    Illinois guard Rayvonte Rice (24) drives to the basket on Oregon guard Mike Moser during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Portland, Or., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

    Missouri 10-0, Illinois 9-2 for annual matchup

    Missouri is unbeaten, but far from cocky, entering the annual Braggin’ Rights game against Illinois.The 23rd-ranked Tigers realize their 10-0 start, and their four-game winning streak in the series, will mean little at tip-off of the 33rd renewal of the neutral-site matchup known for its boisterous sellout crowds — half rooting for each team.

    Photo courtesy of Chicago Blackhawks Andrew Shaw models the new Blackhawks jersey the team will wear for its March 1 game vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field. The jersey features chrome-treated logo designs.

    Blackhawks unveil Stadium Series jersey

    When the Blackhawks hit the ice against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 1, the venue will have a different look, and so will their jerseys. As part of the NHL’s Stadium Series, the Blackhawks unveiled a new jersey design they will wear when they play Pittsburgh at Soldier Field in their first outdoor game since play at Wrigley Field in 2009.

    Outfielder Carlos Beltran signed with the New York Yankees for $45 million over three years.

    Yankees introduce Beltran

    Closer to the end of his long career than the start, Carlos Beltran finally got to put on the uniform of his favorite childhood team. The eight-time All-Star was introduced at a Yankee Stadium news conference Friday after signing a three-year deal worth $45 million that was agreed to two weeks ago but made official on Thursday.

    Iowa guard Josh Oglesby is expected to make his season debut Sunday.

    No. 25 Iowa ready for return of Oglesby

    No. 25 Iowa is gearing up for the return of junior guard Josh Oglesby, one of the team’s best outside threats. Now the Hawkeyes just have to find a place to play him.

    Catcher Kurt Suzuki hit .232 with five homers and 32 RBIs for the Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics last season.

    Source: Twins agree to deal with Kurt Suzuki

    The Minnesota Twins have found a replacement for Joe Mauer at catcher. The Twins and catcher Kurt Suzuki agreed to a $2.75 million, one-year contract on Friday, a person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press.

    Running back Tarean Folston and the rest of the Fighting Irish will play a game at Fenway Park next season.

    Notre Dame to play at Fenway Park in 2014

    Notre Dame won’t play a Big Ten opponent in 2015, the first time that’s happened in more than 100 years, but the Fighting Irish will play a home game against Boston College at Fenway Park. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick released schedules for the next three seasons on Friday, saying a goal was to follow the model Jesse Harper started back in 1913 when he scheduled games at Army, Penn State and Texas and helped give the Fighting Irish a national following.

    Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, left, smiles with Chicago White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn during a news conference where Hahn announced a six-year, $68 million deal with Abreu. Mike Spellman likes all of Hahn's moves so far though he was sad to see Jose Santiago go.

    Three cheers for White Sox wheeler-dealer Hahn

    I know sports is a business, but it was still tough seeing a good guy like Hector Santiago traded. Fortunately, it looks like the White Sox got aother good guy in return.

    With a playoff berth at stake, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles will try to beat Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears on Sunday night.

    Lots of pressure in Bears-Eagles game

    It's the second week of the Jay Cutler big-money contract drive. That means the Chicago Bears are hoping their mistake-prone quarterback can go to Philadelphia and light up the Eagles. The Bears enter this game as 3-point underdogs, and it seems as if the fans still don't trust Cutler. The plan of action against the Cleveland Browns last week was supposed to be Jay from beginning to end, and fortunately it worked. But let's say Jay Cutler has an average to below-average first half against the Eagles and they are down 20 at the half. If he's your franchise quarterback I guess you keep him in, but don't forget “Big Game Josh” McCown is on the bench, and maybe a decision will have to be made by head coach Marc Trestman. But let's hope it doesn't come to that. For now, it's another pressure-packed game for the Bears and Eagles, two teams that have their against the wall.New gig with FoxI'm happy to say I will be joining Andy Furman Monday through Friday on Fox Sports Radio nationally from 5 a.m.-8 a.m. CST. You can access the show on Foxsportsradio.com or iHeart radio or Northtonorth.com.I'm proud to carry the Chicago mantle nationally, and hoping the show will be picked up along the way on a local radio outlet. Thanks to Fox's Bruce Gilbert (senior vice president of sports operations) and Chicago radio legend Jeff Schwartz (vice president of sports sales) for their belief in me. Check it out.LeBron still no MJ:I watched the Miami Heat and LeBron James against the Indianapolis Pacers on Wednesday night. As we were watching at home, Be-Be, my wife, said to me “what's with the empty seats?” I said, “It's Miami, — rollerblading, swimming, sunshine and just having fun.”But then I started thinking, when MJ played there I would imagine the seats were all filled. When didn't he play to a full house? And when he played, you never knew what was going to happen next so you didn't even want to go the concession stands or the restroom in case you missed something big. Heck, people didn't even want to miss the intros at the United Center. LeBron is a superstar, but the charisma doesn't match Michael Jordan's — at least not yet. Arnold Palmer is still one of the top endorsing sports figures, and he hasn't won a pertinent tournament in over 35 years. It's the same with MJ — he will be like Palmer and keep doing underwear commercials and other things until he's old and gray. Will LeBron? Only time will tell. Program Notes• Follow me on twitter at north2north.• I will be hosting alone next week because my partner, Andy Furman, is on vacation. Listen from 5-8 a.m. Monday- Friday on Fox Sports radio and from 9 p.m. to midnight Sunday. Check me out on iHeart radio or FoxSportsradio.com.• Listen to The Mike North Pregame Show from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on WIND 560-AM The Answer.Merry Christmas to all!• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.


    Trader Warren Meyers, center, works Wednesday on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Investors continued Friday to breathe a sigh of relief that the U.S. central bank has committed to keeping interest rates low.

    Stocks rise on strong economic growth

    Friday’s gross domestic product estimate was the latest report to show unexpected strength in the U.S. economy. The 4.1 percent annualized growth rate is the fastest since 2011. More importantly, most of the increase came from consumer spending, a key part of the U.S. economy.

    A shopper waits outside a Kmart store for it to open in Anaheim, Calif.

    Stores open for 100 hours to attract shoppers

    Some stores are ending the holiday shopping season the same way they began it — with round-the-clock, marathon shopping hours.Kohl’s for the first time is staying open for essentially five days straight, from 6 a.m. on Friday through 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

    A man in La Paz holds a miniature replica of the Bolivia’s first telecommunications satellite during the live broadcast Friday from China of the launch.

    Bolivia celebrates its first telecoms satellite

    Ivan Zambrana is director of the Bolivian Space Agency, says the satellite should be fully operational by March and help bring down communications costs and improve television and Internet services for people living in rural areas.

    This rendering shows the planned Centegra Hospital-Huntley, a $233 million, 360,000-square-foot facility that will go up on Haligus Road, between Algonquin and Reed roads. Huntley approved Centegra's final plans Thursday night with construction expected in the spring.

    Centegra gets final OK for Huntley hospital

    Centegra Health System has won final approval to build a hospital in Huntley, almost three years to the day the McHenry-based health providor announced plans to build it. “You'll probably see dirt being moved...even as soon as February,” said Susan Milford, Centegra's senior vice president of strategy and development.

    Roger Breisch, executive director of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is leaving next month after 10 years at the post.

    Breisch will serve until the end of January

    Roger Breisch, the executive director of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is quitting after 10 years, come the end of January. "I want to get to doing more of" things such as writing, thinking, and conducting seminars and workshops. "I will try to see where life takes me," Breisch said.


    Foul weather threatens to snarl US holiday travel

    stew of foul weather, ranging from freezing rain and snow in the Midwest to thunderstorms and possible tornadoes in the South, is arriving just in time for one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. AAA projected that nearly 95 million Americans would travel 50 miles or more during the holiday period, which runs from Saturday through Jan. 1.


    European regulator: Google offer not enough

    Europe’s top regulator said Friday Google’s recent concessions to resolve concerns it is abusing its dominant position in search are not enough.


    Unemployment rates fall in nearly all states

    Unemployment rates fell or were unchanged in all 50 U.S. states in November, evidence that hiring is improving across the country. Illinois reported one of the country's highest rates at 8.7 percent.

    BlackBerry on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 reported a massive $4.4 billion loss in the third quarter and 56 percent drop in revenue. The results are the BlackBerry’s first under new chairman and interim chief executive John Chen.

    BlackBerry posts 3Q loss of $4.4B

    BlackBerry reported a massive $4.4 billion loss in the third quarter and 56 percent drop in revenue in its first results under new chairman and interim chief executive John Chen who hopes to make the company profitable again by 2016.

    The Senate voted Friday to confirm retired corporate and government turnaround specialist John Koskinen to head the Internal Revenue Service.

    Senate confirms turnaround specialist to head IRS

    The Senate voted Friday to confirm a retired corporate and government turnaround specialist to head the Internal Revenue Service, an agency recovering from scandal as it gears up to play a big role in implementing the president’s health care law. John Koskinen, 74, won a five-year term as IRS commissioner, which would last beyond President Barack Obama’s stay in office. The vote was 59-36.

    Walgreen’s fiscal first-quarter earnings soared 68 percent as investments in other companies paid off for the nation’s largest drugstore chain, but a slowdown in generic drug introductions helped squeeze profitability.

    Walgreen’s 1Q profit jumps 68%

    Walgreen’s fiscal first-quarter earnings soared 68 percent as investments in other companies paid off for the nation’s largest drugstore chain, but a slowdown in generic drug introductions helped squeeze profitability. The Deerfield company said Friday that it booked a total of $376 million in income during the quarter that ended Nov. 30 from its stakes in European health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots and U.S. pharmaceutical wholesaler AmerisourceBergen Corp.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she will use authorities in the Affordable Care Act to issue a “temporary hardship exemption” for people whose existing insurance has been canceled because of the law so they will not be hit with tax penalties for failing to line up new coverage.

    Options set for those lacking new health coverage

    People whose existing health care insurance has been canceled because of the Affordable Care Act will not be hit with tax penalties for failing to line up new coverage as required under the law. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she will use authorities in the law to issue a “temporary hardship exemption” from those penalties.

    With less than a week until Christmas, a real-life Grinch has stolen the credit and debit card information of about 40 million Target shoppers.

    Answers to questions about the Target data breach

    With less than a week until Christmas, a real-life Grinch has stolen the credit and debit card information of about 40 million Target shoppers. arget says anyone who made purchases by swiping cards at terminals in its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their accounts exposed. Here are some answers to the most common questions about the theft.

    Target says that about 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been affected by a data breach that occurred just as the holiday shopping season shifted into high gear.

    Fury and frustration over Target data breach

    Potential victims of credit card fraud tied to Target’s security breach said they had trouble contacting the discounter through its website and call centers. Angry Target customers expressed their displeasure in comments on the company’s Facebook page. The fury and frustration come as the nation’s second-largest discounter acknowledged Thursday that data connected to about 40 million credit and debit card accounts was stolen as part of a breach that began over the Thanksgiving weekend.

    The U.S. economy grew at a solid 4.1 percent annual rate from July through September, the fastest pace since late 2011 and significantly higher than previously believed. Much of the upward revision came from stronger consumer spending.

    U.S. economy expands at 4.1 percent rate, fastest since 2011

    The U.S. economy grew at a solid 4.1 percent annual rate from July through September, the fastest pace since late 2011 and significantly higher than previously believed. Much of the upward revision came from stronger consumer spending. The Commerce Department’s final look at growth in the summer was up from a previous estimate of 3.6 percent. Four-fifths of the revision came from stronger consumer spending, primarily in the area of health care.

Life & Entertainment

    Avery Johnson, 7, will be among the many performers taking part in Christmas services at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington. More than 75,000 worshippers are expected to attend the services.

    Willow Creek set for “inspiring” Christmas services

    More than 75,000 worshippers are expected to attend services featuring a retelling of the Christmas story beginning Saturday at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington. “We want to bring the timeless message of Christmas to life in a way that will capture the hearts of people of every age,” Teaching Pastor Rev. Steve Carter said.

    According to a government survey released on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, the detached dad is mostly a myth. Most American fathers say they are heavily involved in hands-on parenting, the researchers found.

    Dads do diapers and more, myth-busting survey says

    The detached dad, turning up his nose at diapering and too busy to bathe, dress and play with his kids, is mostly a myth, a big government survey suggests. Most American fathers say they are heavily involved in hands-on parenting, the researchers found.

    Brady Williams poses with his wives, from left to right, Paulie, Robyn, Rosemary, Nonie, and Rhonda, outside of their home in a polygamous community outside Salt Lake City. TLC has announced it will air a full series about the progressive polygamous family from Utah that starred in a one-hour pilot show earlier this year.

    Utah polygamous family gets full reality TV series

    TLC has announced it will air a full series about a progressive polygamous family from Utah that starred in a one-hour pilot earlier this year. The cable TV network said Thursday it will produce nine, one-hour episodes about Brady Williams and his five wives and 24 children. The first episode is set to debut March 9. The September pilot episode drew good ratings.

    Riverdream Productions’ new show, “Heartbeat of Home,” kicks off at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto next month and will stop in Chicago’s Oriental Theatre from March 4-16.

    Creators of ‘Riverdance’ plan to tour new show

    The folks behind “Riverdance” have a new thundering Irish dance show poised to tour North America, but don’t dare call it “Riverdance II.” “Heartbeat of Home” integrates the Emerald Isle’s signature high-stepping with the tango, the flamenco, Cuban salsa and even hip-hop, reflecting the growing multiculturalism of Ireland since “Riverdance” debuted two decades ago.

    Singer Justin Bieber arrives at the premiere of the feature film “Justin Bieber’s Believe” at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, in Los Angeles.

    Usher says Bieber’s mishaps are part of growing up

    Usher says though Justin Bieber had a wild year, people shouldn’t count the pop singer out just yet. “I mean more money more problems,” the R&B singer said in an interview Wednesday at the premiere of “Justin Bieber Believe” in Los Angeles.

    British singer Adele Adkins holds her MBE for services to music presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in London, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013.

    British singing star Adele receives royal honor

    Singing star Adele has been honored at Buckingham Palace, being made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Prince Charles.


    Intervening in ugly dispute may be a waste of time

    Reader says her friend and the and the man she had an affair with are in an ugly dispute. She wants to know if she should intervene. Carolyn Hax says it probably is a waste of time.

    Two former assistants to Nigella Lawson and her former husband were acquitted of fraud Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 in London, capping a case where allegations of unauthorized spending on lavish goods were often overshadowed by titillating glimpses into the celebrity chef’s troubled home life.

    Nigella Lawson’s ex-assistants acquitted of fraud

    Two former assistants to Nigella Lawson and her ex-husband were acquitted of fraud Friday, capping a trial where allegations of unauthorized employee spending on lavish goods were often overshadowed by titillating glimpses into the celebrity chef’s troubled home life.

    Harry Potter is coming to the stage. J.K. Rowling said on Friday that she is working on a play about the boy wizard’s life before he attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

    J.K. Rowling to work on Harry Potter stage play

    Harry Potter has traveled from page to screen — and now to stage. J.K. Rowling said Friday she is working on a play about the boy wizard’s life before he attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Rowling said in a statement that the play will “explore the previously untold story of Harry’s early years as an orphan and outcast.”

    John McGinty, foreground, plays Billy, a deaf young man whose recent immersion in the Deaf community causes a schism in his family and distresses older brother Daniel (Steve Haggard), background, in Nina Raine's “Tribes,” running through Feb. 9 at Steppenwolf Theatre.

    Communication at issue in Steppenwolf's 'Tribes'

    If the garrulous family members in Nina Raine's “Tribes,” in its Chicago-area premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre, seem familiar, it's because they are. Well-educated and hyper-articulate, Raine's characters — an upper-middle class family living in present-day England — are those chatty, self-absorbed types who dominate stage and screen. The family dynamic shifts when deaf son Billy — who speaks and reads lips but has never learned sign language — meets Sylvia, who is losing her hearing, and she introduces him to signing and the Deaf community.

    JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound will headline a New Year's Eve event in Rosemont. The rock-and-soul band has won acclaim for its energetic live shows.

    JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound headlines New Year's Eve party in Rosemont

    Rock 'n' roll and New Year's Eve make a great couple again this year, with plenty of stellar shows for music fans in the suburbs. One highlight will be a performance by acclaimed rock-soul band JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound at the New Year's Eve Rock 'n' Roll Ball in Rosemont. “We're looking forward to it,” said Brooks, the group's frontman. "The energy just keeps going up. We hope to see that continue on New Year's Eve.”

    In this Red Currant and Chocolate Cheesecake chopped chocolate is a distinct, toothsome confetti strewn throughout the cake.

    Red Currant and Chocolate Cheesecake
    Red Currant and Chocolate Cheesecake

    A discussion on the popularity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character follows the Dec. 21 performance of “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose” at Raven Theatre.

    Theater events: Join Raven's Sherlock Holmes discussion

    Writer and Chicago native Graham Moore (“The Sherlockian”) discusses the popularity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character following the 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, performance of “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose” at Chicago's Raven Theatre. Redtwist theatre's late-night and off-night series continue with the latest installment in Scott Woldman's "luv cycle" and a work featuring local college-age theater artists this week in Chicago-area theater.

    Do you have an allergy to that burger? Alpha-gal allergy is a reaction to red meat that results from having been bitten by a tick.

    Want hives with that burger?

    Almost every time he eats a steak, Mack Halsey develops hives on his arms and legs. Burgers are no better. About two to four hours after a meal, his skin starts to itch and break out in hives. For a long time, Halsey, who lives in Charlottesville, Va., blamed the additives in meat, the antibiotics, the hormones. It was only after he went to Scott Commins, a University of Virginia immunologist, that he got his diagnosis: alpha-gal allergy, a reaction to red meat that results from having been bitten by a tick.

    The Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, where Bill and Hillary Clinton lived before he became president, offers free tours by reservation.

    5 free things to see and do around Little Rock

    Arkansas is nicknamed the Natural State, and its capital lives up to the moniker. There are plenty of ways for people to experience the great outdoors in and around Little Rock. Plus, many of them are free.

    The holidays are the perfect time to gather around a punch bowl.

    Holiday gatherings perfect for punch

    Punch is a drink of celebration. Its very presentation brings people close: Guests gather around the sacred pool of the punch bowl, extend their cups and — assuming you’ve mixed it well — plead Dickensianly for more.

    Jimmy Fallon, left, and Justin Timberlake will return this weekend to “Saturday Night Live.”

    The state of ‘SNL’ as it approaches 40

    “Saturday Night Live” reaches the halfway point of its 39th season this weekend with what should be its most entertaining episode of 2013: Former cast member Jimmy Fallon returns to host with musical guest — and unlikely comedy assassin — Justin Timberlake. The episode, airing at 10:30 p.m. Saturday on NBC, comes at a critical time for the television stalwart. A show often criticized for not being as good as it used to be is actually living up to that tired line.

    Host Hugh Jackman, left, and the first family, from second left, Marian Robinson, Malia Obama, Sasha Obama, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, join performers on the stage singing a Christmas carol during the annual 2013 Christmas in Washington presentation at the National Building Museum in Washington. It airs on TNT tonight.

    TNT’s ‘Christmas in Washington’ perfectly pleasant

    Everything about TNT’s family-friendly “Christmas in Washington” concert, airing Friday, is classy and lovely and perfectly planned, like a present neatly wrapped with a big red bow. Always a jumble of genres and styles, this year’s lineup included host Hugh Jackman, Sheryl Crow, R&B siren Janelle Monae, Anna Kendrick, Train frontman Pat Monahan and the Backstreet Boys.


    About real estate: Borrowers to feel changes in mortgage market next year

    Another banking collapse is unlikely, but many borrowers in 2014 will feel the pinch of tighter loan requirements.

    The Chestnut Corners neighborhood in Lake Zurich features 270 houses built in the mid-1990s.

    Neighborhood profile features Chestnut Corners

    Homes in Lake Zurich's Chestnut Corners were built in the early to mid-1990s, yet they show many of today’s current features. Considering when the subdivision was built, it’s unique because homes offer many ageless features, like open floor plans, 9-foot ceilings and luxury bathrooms.


    Keep your holidays safe and free from house fires

    At this time of the year, we all are very busy shopping and partying with our friends and family. Just promise us that you will take a few minutes and give your home a safety upgrade. Here are a few things you’ll want to check:


    Former Metra CEO Alex Clifford, center, speaks to the oversight RTA board last summer. Under new leadership, the RTA must focus on reform.

    Editorial: RTA needs serious focus on reform in 2014

    A Daily Herald editorial says the RTA needs to make serious changes to improve its image and its oversight of transportation in the Chicago area.


    Congress still isn’t being responsible

    Columnist Lee Hamilton: Congress is winding down its historically unproductive session with a small flurry of activity. It’s a welcome change, but so long overdue that it can’t possibly make up for what should have been accomplished on Capitol Hill this year.


    Israel must not persuade us into war
    A Mount Prospect letter to the editor: My thanks go to John Kerry for reaching an agreement with Iran over their nuclear program. This agreement should be given a chance to work. Meanwhile, Israel and its people in America are working to sabotage this negotiation.


    Reform pensions, but leave retirees alone
    A Schaumburg letter to the editor: Pension reform is surely needed. There have been abuses that must be corrected going forward. However, a better and constitutional bill would leave the current retirees alone.


    Cut do-nothing federal departments
    A Palatine letter to the editor: The Energy Department throws money down a rat hole to please Mr. Obama. And the Department of Education spends more money every year, and our ranking in the world goes down. We were No. 1 in the world before this department was created.


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