Daily Archive : Thursday February 6, 2014


    Devan Marcomb, 5, holds up a crappie he caught with his uncle Bob Kiesgen, both from Antioch, Saturday at the 54th Annual Chain O’ Lakes Fishing Derby at the Thirsty Turtle in Antioch.

    54th Annual Chain O’ Lakes fishing derby

    The 54th Annual Chain O’ Lakes Fishing Derby and Winter Festival, which began Saturday at the Thirsty Turtle Beach Bar and Grill on Channel Lake near Antioch, continues Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Sixth-graders Jane Pak, left, and Kaitlyn Lu of the “Fuzzy Pink Bunnies of Doom” team from Woodlawn Middle School in Long Grove compete Saturday for the Illinois First Lego League’s Northern Illinois title at the Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights.

    Lego robot competition commences in Arlington Hts.

    Teams of elementary and middle school students from around the suburbs competed Saturday for the Illinois First Lego League’s Northern Illinois title Saturday at the Forest View Educational Center, 2121 S. Goebbert Road, Arlington Heights. The teams, 62 in all, design, build and program an autonomous robot using Lego Mindstorms technology to create innovative solutions to problems facing today’s...


    Maine committeeman candidate hosts open house

    Carol Teschky, Maine Township supervisor and a candidate for township GOP committeeman, will host an open house at her campaign office on Saturday, Feb. 8.


    Northwest suburban police blotter

    Burglars kicked open the front door between 9 a.m. and 9:19 p.m. Jan. 27 at a home on the 1600 block of Cornell Place in Hoffman Estates and stole three TVs, a video game system, seven or eight video games, an iPad, laptop computer, keys, a gold and diamond wedding ring and a gold and pearl ring.

    Bensenville Police Chief Frank Kosman announces a $10,000 reward Thursday for information leading to the arrest of two suspects in the Jan. 19 fatal shooting of Hussein Saghir in front of Sam's Tobacco and Food Mart.

    Bensenville police offer $10,000 reward in slaying of store clerk

    Bensenville police Thursday offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the identification and arrest of two suspects believed to be responsible for shooting and killing a convenience store clerk last month.

    Firefighters work at the scene of a house fire Thursday night near the intersection of Route 25 and Villa Street in Elgin.

    Fire leaves Elgin home uninhabitable

    A fire left some $60,000 worth of damages to a 2-story house Thursday night in Elgin, authorities said. A passer-by noticed smoke and flames coming from the house on the 300 block of South Liberty Street, and reported it to authorities at 6:37 p.m., according to the Elgin Fire Department.


    Taxi companies sue Chicago over ride-share law

    Chicago's major taxi companies on Thursday sued the city over a proposed ordinance that Mayor Rahm Emanuel says closes a loophole that has given ride-sharing companies an unfair advantage over taxicabs. But the taxi companies say the ordinance as written lets the ride-share companies off lightly.

    Rob Devine of Des Plaines and Athena Korines of Elk Grove Village won $1 million Jan. 24 with a scratch-off lottery ticket. They regularly scratch off tickets together at the bar where Korines works in Glenview.

    $1 million lottery ticket was no joke

    Two friends from the Northwest suburbs are celebrating their $1 million winnings from a scratch-off lottery ticket. “I thought it was a fake ticket. I thought maybe it's a joke ticket,” said Athena Korines, 51, of Elk Grove Village. "I wasn't a believer before. I'm a believer now.”


    Quinn touts new biotech center in Chicago

    Illinois is investing approximately $4 million for a new Chicago center designed to help start medical technology companies, state officials announced Thursday.


    Bus catches fire in Prospect Hts.

    A Pace bus driver escaped uninjured after his bus caught on fire Thursday afternoon in Prospect Heights, authorities said. The bus didn’t have any passengers about 3 p.m. when it was traveling on Apple Drive, near the intersection with Milwaukee Avenue, according to the Prospect Heights Fire Protection District.

    Conant High School’s Joe Ranallo, center, won’t just be suiting up for a big game Friday night. Before tip-off, he’ll be presenting representatives of downstate Washington High School with $15,000 he raised to help the tornado-ravaged community as part of a class project.

    Conant student raises $15,000 for tornado-ravaged town

    In November, Joe Ranallo set out to raise $10,000 to help students at Washington High School dealing with the aftermath of a tornado that ravaged their community. Friday night, the Conant High School senior will present Washington officials with that, and about $5,000 more.

    The 300-year-old Stradivarius violin that was stolen from MSO concertmaster Frank Almond. After three arrests, the violin was recovered, police said Thursday.

    Police: Art thief among 2 held in violin heist

    The mystery of what happened to a multimillion-dollar Stradivarius violin stolen in a stun gun attack was answered Thursday when Milwaukee police recovered the instrument and blamed the heist at least in part on an art thief who once stole a statue from a gallery and then tried to sell it back.

    President Barack Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Northern Ireland on June 17, 2013.

    Obama: Putin’s ‘shtick’ is to look like tough guy

    President Barack Obama says part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “shtick” is to look like the tough guy in Russia. Obama says Putin has always treated him with the utmost respect. He says when he meets with Putin, there’s lots of humor and give and take.


    Voting by mail gets started

    As candidates for political office vie for position in the weeks before the March 18 primary election, voters Thursday could begin requesting ballots by mail to vote in advance. Until March 13 registered voters can apply to receive an absentee ballot from their county offices.

    Laura Stoecker/lstoecker@dailyherald.com Registered CT Technologist, Kat Kearney, has Kane County Coroner Rob Russell raises his arms above his head in prep for a heart CT scan during his "Heart & Vascular Risk Screening Package" at the Advocate Sherman Outpatient Center in South Elgin on Thursday, January 30. Russell was in the scanner less than 30 seconds.

    Following coroner’s lead: Heart screenings sell out

    When Advocate Sherman Hospital officials set out to promote Heart Month in February, they didn’t expect such an overwhelming response. Even after adding 50 sessions for heart and vascular screenings, the spots were sold out in a few days. “This was a good lesson for us,” spokeswoman Tonya Lucchetti-Hudson said. “We’ve wanted for many years to be able to offer this...

    Kayden Powell is missing

    5-day-old boy missing in Wisconsin

    Federal and state law enforcement agencies joined local authorities Thursday in searching for a 5-day-old baby who disappeared from a bassinet at a home in southern Wisconsin.

    The Obama administration is considering an extension of the president’s decision to let people keep their individual insurance policies even if they are not compliant with the health care overhaul, industry and government officials said Thursday. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is seen here.

    Administration said to ponder insurance extension

    The Obama administration is considering an extension of the president’s decision to let people keep their individual insurance policies even if they are not compliant with the health care overhaul, industry and government officials said Thursday.


    Chicago alderman backs ex-con for county board

    A least one Chicago alderman doesn’t believe the criminal record of a former colleague should stand in the way of him seeking another public office.

    Gilbert R. Boucher II/gboucher@dailyherald.com William Chialdikas, playing Sebastian, left, and Sammie Kopp, playing Ariel, dance with other 4th and 5th graders during dress rehearsal of “The Little Mermaid Jr.” on Thursday at Seth Paine Elementary School in Lake Zurich. The performance will be held at Lake Zurich High School’s Performing Arts Center on February 14th and 16th.

    Seth Paine School to perform “The Little Mermaid Jr.”

    Seth Paine Elementary 4th and 5th grade students are holding a dress rehearsal for an upcoming performance of Little Mermaid Jr. at their school from 3-5pm Thursday, February 6. The performance will be at Lake Zurich high school's Performing Arts Center on February 14 and February 16.

    Brent Vincent Betterly, of Oakland Park, Fla., Jared Chase, of Keene, N.H., and Brian Church, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., are accused of plotting Molotov cocktail attacks during the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.

    Trial poses question: Who’s a terrorist?

    The question of when a planned protest becomes conspiracy to commit terrorism was the focus of closing arguments Thursday in the trial of three men accused of hatching a plan to throw Molotov cocktails at President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters and other Chicago sites before the 2012 NATO summit.

    House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday it will be difficult to pass immigration legislation this year, dimming prospects for one of President Barack Obama’s top domestic priorities.

    Speaker: Immigration overhaul tough to pass

    Speaker John Boehner on Thursday all but ruled out passage of immigration legislation before this fall’s elections, saying it would be difficult for the Republican-led House to act on the issue that President Barack Obama has made a top domestic priority.

    Sen. Charles Schumer, the Democratic Policy Committee chairman, right, accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, points to a graphic during a news conference on Capitol Hill Thursday, where they charged Republicans are thwarting Democratic efforts pass a bill to extend unemployment benefits which expired at the end of last year.

    Unemployment bill stalled anew in Senate

    Senate Republicans narrowly blocked the advance of legislation to restore benefits for the long-term unemployed on Thursday for the second time in less than a month, and Democrats said they intended to call yet another vote on the issue.

    Anti-government protesters armed with sticks rally near the parliament building in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday. The threat of new protest violence in Ukraine is tapering off but the country’s two-month-old political and economic crisis remains far from being resolved, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Wednesday.

    US sees Russian hand in envoy’s bugged call

    Two senior American diplomats, thinking their conversation about the Ukraine was secure and private, were caught disparaging the European Union in a phone call that was apparently bugged, and U.S. officials say they strongly suspect Russia of leaking the conversation.

    Jack Partelow

    Could choosing a Metra chairman be ‘sparks’ free?

    Metra could have two new leaders in the space of two weeks. The board is set to meet Tuesday and likely will chose a new chairman from three Cook County candidates. The last two chairman exited abrupty ini the midst of controversy.

    Blue Box Cafe is slated to open the week of Feb. 17 at 176 E. Chicago St. in Elgin, in the space formerly occupied by Ravenheart Coffee, said owner Chris Mau of Elgin.

    Blue Box Cafe will take spot of old Ravenheart Coffee

    A new coffee and sandwich shop is coming to downtown Elgin to replace the old Ravenheart Coffee that closed in November. Blue Box Cafe at 176 E. Chicago St. is slated to open the week of Feb. 17, said owner Chris Mau, who currently works a block away as manager of the Elgin Public House.


    Longtime Palatine staff member gets new job in Inverness

    After 16 years working for the village of Palatine, Assistant Village Manager Sam Trakas is taking on a new job in a new village — but he won’t have to go far. Trakas will be the new Inverness village administrator.


    Craft beer tasting:

    A craft beer tasting event will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Sullivan Community Center, 635 N. Aspen Drive, Vernon Hills.


    Bulldog Nation fundraiser set:

    Wauconda High School’s Bulldog Nation Foundation will hold its annual Dinner and Dance Gala on March 7.


    Health, wellness fairs:

    Advocate Condell Medical Center’s Centre Clubs will host two free community health and wellness fairs in February.


    Aurora man charged with solicitation of a child

    An Aurora man was arrested Wednesday in Schiller Park where authorities say he traveled to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex. John E. Jones, 44, was charged with traveling to meet a minor and indecent solicitation of a child. A judge set his bail at $75,000 Thursday.


    Roselle attorney charged with theft, fraud

    A Roselle attorney has been charged with multiple counts of theft by deception and financial fraud, Cook County prosecutors announced. Lino J. Menconi, whose law license was suspended last November, was charged with appropriating client money for his personal use.


    Former Schaumburg priest named to Chicago archdiocese abuse list

    The former pastor of St. Matthew Catholic Church in Schaumburg has been added to the Archdiocese of Chicago’s list of clergy who have substantiated allegations of abuse against them. Joseph Wilk resigned from the priesthood in 2010, according to the list. He led the parish from 1994 until 2006, when he resigned abruptly.


    No deal yet, but District 57, union still talking

    District negotiators and teachers-union representatives in Mount Prospect Elementary District 57 continue to work hard on a new deal. The two sides met for about five hours Wednesday night, and additional sessions are scheduled Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

    Preliminary work has begun at Riverside Plaza in Algonquin after several years of delays. Front Street is lined with construction barrels and will eventually be shut down once the heavy work begins, Community Development Director Russ Farnum said. The project is expected to be completed in the summer.

    Early work begins on Algonquin’s Riverside Plaza

    After almost five years of false starts and financing issues, interior work will begin in earnest on Riverside Plaza in Algonquin, a project leaders say will bring new life and activity to the downtown once it’s completed this summer. “It’s been a long, long haul,” Village President John Schmitt said Thursday. “The economy falling apart certainly put a damper on being able to get projects done,...


    Supreme Court says man must register as sex offender

    A DuPage County man has to remain on the state sex offender registry after his bid to remove himself was rejected by the Illinois Supreme Court Thursday. Christopher Bailey of Clarendon Hills plead guilty in 2007 to sexual assault for having sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend when he was 17.


    Lake in the Hills considers medical marijuana rules

    Lake in the Hills is considering zoning regulations for allowing medical marijuana dispensaries or cultivation centers to locate in the village. It will discuss the matter Feb. 18.

    Cliff McIlvaine, a St. Charles homeowner under fire for a long-running construction project, talks outside his home in May 2013.

    Home improvement project continued until next month

    A Kane County judge wants more information before allowing the city of St. Charles to take over the home addition project of Cliff McIlvaine, who was first issued a building permit in 1975. Judge David Akemann wants attorneys from both sides to agree on a list of items for McIlvaine to complete or remove and will rule on the issue on March 18.

    Cars at the Chicago Auto Show are both crowd pleasers.

    Images: Chicago Auto Show Media Day
    Images from media day at the Chicago Auto Show in McCormick Place. Highlights for 2014 at what is touted as the nation's largest auto show are fuel economy cars as well as an aluminum-bodied Ford F-150. The annual offering of concept cars are there as well.

    Tonia Khouri

    DuPage might oppose graduated income tax

    Some DuPage County Board members are pushing a plan to formally oppose a proposal in Springfield to replace Illinois’ flat income tax with a graduated income tax. Opponents of the proposed change, in which those who make more money would pay a greater percentage in taxes, say DuPage residents and small business owners already are contributing their fair share to the state.

    Robert Theodore

    Woodridge trainer gets 4 years for sex abuse of teen

    A former trainer accused of sexually abusing a Naperville teen in the hot tub at a Warrenville fitness center and other locations was sentenced to four years in prison. Robert Theodore, 61, pleaded guilty in December to one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

    David Stieper

    County board candidates talk attracting business, trimming government

    Reducing the size of government, challenges with drawing businesses to the county, and fixing traffic congestion problems are top priorities for the three Republican candidates vying for a seat on the 24-member McHenry County Board. Candidates Andrew Gasser, 41, of Fox River Grove; incumbent Robert Nowak, 61, of McHenry; and David Stieper, 50, of Barrington Hills will face off in the March 18...

    Brian Malloy, a senior energy technician for ComEd, holds a standard electricity meter, left, and a new “smart” meter in North Riverside.

    ComEd can charge customers who refuse smart meters

    ComEd customers who refuse new smart meters will pay a penalty. The Illinois Commerce Commission on Wednesday approved a $21.53-a-month tariff to the bills of ComEd customers who don’t let the company install the new gadgets.

    Fifth-grader Noah Ranson, sporting a snazzy cape, has a word with author Jeramey Kraatz, author of the “Cloak Society” series, after a Naperville READS presentation Thursday at Longwood Elementary School.

    Naperville READS brings heroes, villains, athletes to schools

    Superheroes and villains squared off not against each other on Thursday, but against athletes like football players. The battle was far from literal, but it was, in fact, literary, as it took place during a Naperville READS assembly at Longwood Elementary School in Indian Prairie Unit District 204.

    The Tap House Grill is now open at Metropolitan Square in Des Plaines.

    Tap House Grill now open in Des Plaines

    The latest addition to Des Plaines’ downtown Metropolitan Square development is open for business — and quite a different concept from the restaurant it replaced. Tap House Grill’s ninth suburban location, at 1472 Market St., opened in place of the former Jimmy Buffett-themed Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant, which closed about two years before.


    Cubs move game to avoid traffic from Pride Parade

    The Chicago Cubs are rescheduling the June 29 game to ease traffic in connection with the city’s annual Pride Parade. Cubs officials announced Thursday that the team will now play a day-night doubleheader on Saturday, June 28, with start times of 12:05 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.

    Jeremy Betancourt

    Attorney wants probation in fatal crash

    The defense attorney for an Antioch-area teen who was charged in an illegal street race that left one person dead said his client should be sentenced to probation, not prison, because “extraordinary circumstances” exist in the case.


    Suburban prostitution sting nets eight in Aurora

    Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announces numerous arrests from various sububran jurisdictions related to a crackdown on prostitution solicitation. The crackdown was part of a nationwide campaign ending on Super Bowl Sunday.


    Motorcycle show rumbles into Rosemont

    The Progressive International Motorcycle Shows Tour is rolling into Rosemont this weekend, featuring hundreds of motorcycles, aftermarket parts and accessories from top brands, organizers said.

    Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, a new grocery chain created by supermarket industry veterans, will launch its first store in the country later this year in Mount Prospect. The store, which will have a heavy focus on fresh produce and natural foods, will open in April at the former Sports Authority location, 211 W. Rand Road.

    New grocery chain launching first store in Mount Prospect

    A new player in the grocery world plans to stake its first claim in Mount Prospect later this year. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, a new company created by supermarket industry veterans reportedly with the backing of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer, plans to open its first store in the nation in the former Sports Authority location at 211 W. Rand Road.


    Schaumburg police teach prevention of workplace violence

    The Schaumburg Business Association, Schaumburg Police Department and security risk management firm Hillard Heintze are holding a seminar to help local business leaders learn more about workplace violence, and how to prevent and plan for an incident. It will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Schaumburg Police Department, 1000 W. Schaumburg Road.

    Alec Mollenhauer, 15, looks at a website on the history of the Chicago Police during a history fair in the Vernon Hills High School library Thursday. The fair featured traditional cardboard displays, as well as websites and video documentaries.

    More than 200 history buffs participate in Vernon Hills High School’s first history fair

    More than 200 U.S. history students at Vernon Hills High School participated in the school’s first history fair Thursday. The top entrants will advance to the regional and, possibly, state competition, coinciding with National History Day.


    Jury awards Lake County deputy $750,000 in discrimination case

    A federal jury has awarded a veteran Lake County sheriff’s deputy $750,000 in a gender discrimination case, an attorney said Thursday.

    Faith Christian Academy alumnus Joel Klenke performs Thursday for third- and fourth-grade students in Geneva. Klenke and his brother, Jeremy, and members of the U.S. Army Field Band conducted a mini concert for students.

    Faith Christian alumni part of quintet visiting school

    A quintet from the U.S. Army Field Band performed at Faith Christian Academy in Geneva Thursday.


    Fox Valley police reports
    Carpentersville police are investigating a burglary they say took place Jan. 31 in the 100 block of Siesta Road while the homeowner visited family elsewhere. Police said a laptop, a flat-screen television, a digital camera, gold necklaces and rings, and a purse with credit cards inside were stolen from the home. There are no suspects, Cmdr. Erman Blevins said.


    Tri-Cities police reports
    Johnny L. Williams, 54, of Geneva, was charged with misdemeanor phone harassment at 10:32 a.m. Jan. 31, according to a sheriff’s report. Williams is accused of repeatedly calling and sending 21 texts to a St. Charles woman.


    Former home health worker guilty in Elk Grove Village theft

    A former home health worker from Chicago charged with stealing items from an Elk Grove Village couple pleaded guilty to charges of theft, court records show. In exchange for Matthew Pedros's guilty plea, a Cook County judge sentenced him to two years in prison.

    Sameera Samreen

    Addison mother pleads guilty to stabbing young son in the neck

    An Addison woman accused of stabbing her 3-year-old son in the neck “so they could die together” plead guilty Thursday to one count of aggravated battery of a child in exchange for prosecutors capping their sentence recommendation at 15 years and requiring her to register, for 10 years, as someone who has committed violence against a youth.

    Winfield is seeking another sales tax increase through a March 18 referendum proposal. Voters last year approved a quarter-cent sales tax boost to help fund road improvements and this year the village is asking for the same thing.

    Winfield referendum asks for another local sales tax increase

    Last April, about 53 percent of Winfield voters approved increasing the local sales tax from 7.25 percent to 7.50 percent to help pay for road repairs. Village officials say the extra 0.25 percent is bringing in about $75,000 in revenue annually. On March 18, voters will decide whether to raise the tax by another 0.25 percent, bringing the total local sales tax to 7.75 percent.

    City contributions to parking and Riverwalk improvements as part of the $85 million Water Street District development in downtown Naperville are one of the top projects included in next year’s capital improvements plan, city officials say.

    Naperville poised to spend on parking, traffic signals, safety

    Spending on parking, public safety, traffic management and improved online services appears to be in Naperville’s future. The city council has begun reviewing spending plans for operations and capital improvements before its new fiscal year starts May 1. Projects including construction of a parking garage at the Water Street District, improvements to the city’s website, placement of more devices...

    Jack Ablin, chief investment officer for BMO Private Bank, speaks at the economic outlook breakfast at the Wojcik Conference Center at Harper College on Thursday in Palatine.

    Analyst talks at Harper about economy, housing

    Jack Ablin, executive vice president and chief investment officer for BMO Private Bank in Chicago, spoke Thursday on the economy and investing as well as his forecast for this year at the 2014 Economic Update and Outlook Breakfast at Harper College in Palatine. Speaking to a reporter before the event, he said the frigid, snowy winter is hurting the economy and the stock market. Bit with low...


    Plumbing ruse used to steal ring in Streamwood

    A man claiming to work for a plumbing company stole a white gold diamond wedding ring valued at $12,645 from a Streamwood woman’s home, police said.

    Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir of The United States compete in the team pairs short program igure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday

    A few things to watch with the Olympics beginning

    Time for the games to begin. Thank goodness. To put it mildly, this has not been the most carefree of lead-ups to the Olympics. It has been roiled by security concerns, arguments about gay rights and the still-questionable hosting abilities of a country that spent $50 billion but remained busy slapping paint on buildings only hours before the cauldron was set to be lit.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a wall while visiting the Coastal Cluster Olympic Village ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on Wednesday in Sochi, Russia.

    Sochi’s opening show: Let Putin’s games begin

    They’re designed to celebrate a millennium of Russian might and this country’s modern rebound, and kick off two weeks of extraordinary human endeavors and planetary sportsmanship. But the ceremony opening the Sochi Olympics on Friday, more than anything, will be about one man: Vladimir Putin.

    Jose Ricardo Orellana shows a photo of his son Jose Salvador Alvarenga when he was in his late twenties during an interview at his home in the village of Garita Palmera, El Salvador, Tuesday. The account of Alvarenga’s survival after more than 13 months in an open boat has proven a double miracle for his family, who lost touch with him years ago and thought he was dead. Alvarenga says he left Mexico in December 2012 for a day of shark fishing and ended up on the remote Marshall Islands.

    A year adrift on the Pacific? A medical Q and A

    The story of a Salvadoran fisherman who says he survived more than a year adrift on the Pacific Ocean raises many medical questions. The Associated Press spoke with Claude Piantadosi, a professor of medicine at Duke University and author of the book “The Biology of Human Survival,” to find out what is physically possible and for his view on the tale of Jose Salvador Alvarenga. This is an edited...

    Gay rights activists carry rainbow flags as they march during a May Day rally in St. Petersburg, Russia, last May. When the Sochi Winter Olympics begin Friday, Feb. 7, many will be watching to see whether Russia will enforce its law banning gay “propaganda” among minors if athletes, fans or activists wave rainbow flags or speak out in protest. The message so far has been confusing.

    How Russia enforces its ban on gay ‘propaganda’

    When the Sochi Winter Olympics begin Friday, many will be watching to see whether Russia will enforce its law banning gay “propaganda” to minors if athletes, fans or activists wave rainbow flags or speak out in protest. The message so far has been confusing.

    Tuskegee Airmen G.I. Joe action figures are seen in a display at the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. A half-century after the 12-inch doll was introduced at a New York City toy fair, the iconic action figure is being celebrated by collectors with a display at the military museum, while the toy’s maker plans other anniversary events to be announced later this month.

    GI Joe, the world’s first action figure, turns 50

    G.I. Joe is turning 50. The birthday of what’s called the world’s first action figure is being celebrated this month by collectors and the toy maker that introduced it just before the nation plunged into the quagmire that would become the Vietnam War — a storm it seems to have weathered pretty well.

    Michael Axtell

    Tests requested by Antioch-area man charged in girlfriend’s death

    Defense attorneys for an Antioch Township man accused of killing his girlfriend are asking for more testing of tissue samples before taking the case to trial. Michael Axtell, 42, remains held in lke County jail in lieu of $3 million bond. Judge Victoria Rossetti set a status date of March 15 to see if the tissue testing was complete.

    Good Shepherd hospital near Lake Barrington.

    Coroner: Nurse hit in hospital parking lot suffered multiple injuries

    A nurse who was struck by a plow truck at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital near Lake Barrington died of multiple traumatic injuries, an autopsy revealed Thursday.

    Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes, right, shakes hands with Will Beiersdorf following his speech at the community prayer breakfast in Arlington Heights Thursday.

    Arlington Heights prayer breakfast focuses on service

    Arlington Heights elected officials, business and community leaders gathered on Thursday morning to discuss faith and the importance of service at the Mayor’s 27th Annual Community Prayer Breakfast. “It’s really up to each of us to step outside that comfort zone and use the talents we have to give back,” Will Beiersdorf said. “Ask yourselves, ‘If not me, then...

    A Potomac Edison worker begins to remove a number of fallen branches from a high voltage line in Frederick, Md. Many area homes and traffic lights were without power.

    Pa. utility agency says 451K remain without power

    Pennsylvania’s utility regulator said Thursday that 451,000 customers were still without power as the south-central and Philadelphia regions worked to recover from a crippling ice storm.


    Employee raises, snow removal big ticket items for Kane County

    Kane County officials will earmark more than $500,000 to fund raises for non-union employees in 2014. That announcement comes as the county board is set to vote on a new contract for county employees who are members of the AFSCME union next week. The goal is to keep union and non-union raises on a level playing field.


    Forest preserve features St. James Farm after dark

    Trail trekkers can listen for the sounds of wildlife at night and see historic buildings illuminated for the evening during the St. James Farm After Dark program.

    Joey Cambio

    Help Grayslake boy battling brain cancer

    The family of Joseph Dominic Cambio, 13, of Grayslake has created a youcaring link to provide information about his treatment for brain cancer and fundraising efforts to offset his medical costs, a family member said.

    Suzanne Basso, who was convicted of torturing and killing a mentally impaired man she lured to Texas with the promise of marriage, was put to death Wednesday evening in a rare execution of a female prisoner.

    Woman executed in Texas for 1998 torture killing

    A woman convicted of torturing and killing a mentally impaired man she lured to Texas with the promise of marriage was put to death Wednesday evening in a rare execution of a female prisoner. The lethal injection of Suzanne Basso, 59, made the New York native only the 14th woman executed in the U.S. since the Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume. Almost 1,400 men have been...

    Texas Sen. Wendy Davis, who has said she would support expanding gun rights, now says that includes allowing concealed handgun license holders to openly carry their weapons in public.

    AP: Texas gubernatorial candidate supports open carry law

    The Wild West tradition of openly carrying your six-shooter on the street has long been banned in Texas under state law. But the next governor could change that. Rising Democratic star and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has joined her top Republican rival in supporting a proposed “open carry” law. It would allow people with concealed handgun licenses to wear a pistol on their hip, in full...

    Senior Stephanie Wang, right, learns to throw a clay pot during the 10th Odyssey fine arts festival Wednesday at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. The two-day event featured musical and stage performances and student participation in art media, dancing, music and literature arts.

    Odyssey fine arts festival an exciting experience for Stevenson High students

    Despite an overnight snowstorm that snarled Wednesday morning commuter traffic, only a handful of performers and lecturers missed the 10th edition of the Odyssey biennial fine arts festival at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire.

    Melissa Hedlund stands by a “Mural of Love” outside of the River Edge Café in Aurora. She had 100 people contribute to two panels of the mural with the directive to draw what they love. A bucket of chalk sits in front of the third panel so anyone can add to it.

    Wheaton native uses art therapy to help those facing difficult transitions

    Wheaton native Melissa Hedlund uses art therapy to help people facing difficult life transiitions. In 2010 she founded The Light of The Heart: A Community Art Therapy Project and her work continues to help those in need.

    Having spent so many happy moments with her husband, Bill, in their 75-degree greenhouse, 85-year-old widow Penny Bailey will take those memories with her as she moves into senior housing. But she has to decide which of the hundreds of plants will come with her.

    Rolling Meadows woman to leave greenhouse where joy blossomed

    No matter how cold it gets this winter, Penny Bailey escapes to her 75-degree paradise in Rolling Meadows. Now widowed and about to move into a senior living facility, she is selecting a few plants from her greenhouse to move with her. “I really enjoy caring for them,” Penny says. “It's like children. You can't have a favorite. Every plant has a story.”


    Dawn Patrol: Autopsy today on hospital nurse; 2 pets die in fire

    Autopsy today on hospital nurse killed in hospital parking lot. Two pets die in Hoffman Estates fire. Carol Stream battalion chief termination hearing continued. Chicago Symphony considers DuPage forest preserve sites. West Dundee gives green light to red-light cameras. Hawks beat Ducks.

    Daniel Smrokowski, 25, of Westmont is the founder and executive director of Special Chronicles, which aims to give respect and a voice to people with special needs. He podcasts disability stories from his insider's perspective.

    Suburban man gives a voice to the special needs community

    Communication is Daniel Smrokowski's biggest passion, but it's also his biggest struggle. The 25-year-old Westmont man is the founder and executive director of Special Chronicles, which produces podcasts, news and opinion pieces featuring the voices of people with special needs. "People need to hear our stories and our abilities," Daniel says.

    Firefighters responded to a house fire Wednesday afternoon on Basswood Street in Hoffman Estates. Two pets were later found dead, and the home was left completely uninhabitable.

    Residents escape Hoffman Estates house fire, cause under investigation

    Two pets were found dead in a Hoffman Estates fire that started Wednesday afternoon in an attached garage, spread to the home and left it uninhabitable, authorities said. Investigators were still looking for the cause of the fire that started at 1:50 p.m. in the garage of a ranch home on the 1000 block of Basswood Street.

    Steve and Marla Brown of Highland Park are heading to Sochi, Russia, to watch their son Jason — seen at top at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships last month in Boston — compete in men's figure skating at the Olympics.

    Highland Park couple to see son skate in Sochi

    Steve and Marla Brown are excited to watch their figure-skating son Jason compete in the Winter Olympics. But they weren't content to watch the Sochi Games at home. The Highland Park residents — and 16 relatives — are making an estimated 15-hour journey to Russia to watch him compete live. “We're still just so in shock,” Marla Brown said. “It's hard to believe we're...

    Bruce Rauner, left, shakes hands with Treasurer Dan Rutherford before their participation in a Republican primary candidate debate Tuesday in Naperville.

    Accusations against Rutherford stay private for now

    Two of Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford's Republican primary opponents for governor both used the word “bizarre” to describe a drama first brought to light by Rutherford himself that features an anonymous person making unspecified accusations against him. “Obviously, the whole thing is bizarre,” said candidate for governor and state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, adding...



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


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


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


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

    Veronika Srey of Glenbard East performs on the balance beam during regional gymnastics action at Geneva High School Thursday.

    Geneva wins 4th straight regional crown

    Geneva wasn’t looking to win a state title during Thursday’s Geneva regional. As a heavy favorite, the Vikings were merely looking to advance to next Tuesday’s Wheaton Warrenville South sectional as a team and get as many of their individual gymnasts to qualify as well. Mission accomplished, and then some.


    West Aurora comeback stuns Wheaton North

    Great defense and some great shooting helped a bunch, but the most impressive thing about West Aurora’s fourth-quarter effort at Wheaton North may very well have been on the mental side.


    St. Charles North plays spoiler vs. Batavia

    Two weeks ago St. Charles North had a golden opportunity to hand Batavia its first Upstate Eight Conference River Division loss, letting a 49-44 fourth-quarter lead slip away on the road.

    UIC guard/forward Lance Whitaker, who is rehabbing after his second major knee surgery in three years, is keeping his focus on rejoining the Flames next season as a redshirt freshman.

    Bartlett grad Whitaker focused on his UIC future

    Former Bartlett High School basketball star Lance Whitaker missed his junior season due to a left knee injury. Now at UIC, the guard/forward is out again with a right knee injury. Rather than dwell on two major injuries in three years, Whitaker is focused on coming back strong next season.


    Bartlett tops East Aurora

    Bartlett 60, East Aurora 59: Ryan DiCanio poured in 30 points to lead the Hawks to an Upstate Eight Valley win Thursday in Aurora. Justin Busch added 13 points for Bartlett (14-10, 4-5).


    Full-force effort from Fremd

    Fremd had all hands on deck in the girls gymnastics regional meet it hosted Thursday night. The Vikings showed their depth, especially on balance beam, in cruising to its 22nd consecutive regional title with 148.175 points in Palatine. Rolling Meadows sophomore Kelly Johnston won the all-around title (37.65 points), propelling the Mustangs to second place with a season-best score of 139.875. Maine South (136.15) took third, followed by Maine East (105.05).


    Girls basketball/Fox Valley roundup

    Hampshire 47, Westminster Christian 43: Sophomore forward Emma Benoit single-handedly took over in the Whip-Purs’ nonconference road win over the undefeated champions of the Northeastern Athletic Conference. Benoit registered a season-high 26 points on 11 shots, 11 points coming in the third quarter, along with 18 rebounds to earn the Whips (10-13) their third-straight win. Payton DeChant also chipped in with 14 points. Westminster’s McKaila Hays had the hot hand with 14 points on 3 3-pointers, but the Warriors (20-4) only managed 3 points in the fourth quarter, 2 coming from Claire Speweik who totaled 11 points. Crystal Lake South 66, McHenry 49: Chanel Fanter (22 points), Rachel Rasmussen (19 points) and Sara Mickow (18 points) were responsible for 59 of the Gators’ points in a Fox Valley Conference Valley Division romp. South (14-11, 6-4) led the Warriors by 3 early but turned on the jets as Fanter and Rasmussen each nailed 3 3-pointers while Mickow hauled in 21 rebounds. CLS owned the rebounding edge 37-24 and a 50 percent clip (7 3s made) from downtown.Willows Academy 58, Harvest Christian 47: Kylee Knox poured in 21 points on the road but it wasn’t enough to earn a nonconference win for the Lions in their regular-season finale. Rachel Oostdyk also registered 12 points in the loss. Harvest (14-10), which had won 5 of its last 6 coming in, enters as the No. 2 seed in the Class 1A Hinckley-Big Rock regional and will take on No. 3 seed Elgin Academy in a semifinal Tuesday at 8 p.m. Geneva 64, Elgin 26: The Maroons (6-19, 1-10) couldn’t get off the schneid in this Upstate State Eight River battle, but watched Melanie Berg and Anna Eckholm score 9 points apiece in their eighth-straight defeat.


    Blackhawks get 2 from Islanders for fourth-round pick

    The Blackhawks have acquired forwards Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard from the New York Islanders for a fourth-round pick in this June’s NHL draft.The Islanders made the deal Thursday night after losing for the sixth time in seven games.

    Larkin’s Taylor Boley works the offense against Streamwood earlier this season. The Royals host Elgin tonight.

    Larkin will honor St. John Friday night

    Elgin-area superfan Dave St. John will be recognized at halftime of Friday night’s boys basketball game between Larkin and Elgin for his unwavering support of the athletic programs of each high school. St. John, 77, has deep ties to both schools. He is a 1954 graduate of Elgin High, where he met his wife, Nila (Class of ‘56). The couple’s five sons later attended Larkin. Three played sports. St. John soon became a fixture at Larkin sporting events. He even worked the chains for Royals home football games for 10 years. “That’s when I got hooked,” he said.


    Blackhawks game day
    Blackhawks' game day


    Carmel Catholic handles Wauconda

    Kathleen Felicelli scored 24 points to lead Carmel Catholic’s girls basketball team to a 66-51 win over host Wauconda in nonconference action Thursday night. Emma Rappe added 17 points for Carmel (18-7), and Nicole Bitter contributed 7.


    Nardini (30 points) paces Vernon Hills victory

    Robby Nardini poured in a career-high 30 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and Vernon Hills’ boys basketball team used a big second half to defeat Chicagoland Jewish 76-60 Thursday night.


    Wrestling regionals: Scouting Lake County

    Here's what to expect from this weekend's wrestling regionals from the perspective of Lake County's competitors.


    At long last, St. Viator tops Fenton

    It was worth the wait for St. Viator’s girls basketball team. After its game with the host school of the Fenton tournament had twice been postponed due to extremely cold weather (Jan. 6 and Jan 20), the Lions and Bison finally played each other on Thursday night in Bensenville. St. Viator (14-3) was obviously eager to play. The Lions raced out to an 18-2 lead after one quarter and never looked back en route to a 55-24 triumph which gave the Lions second place in the tournament.

    Streamwood’s Hannah McGlone goes up to block a shot by Larkin’s Marlee Kyles Thursday in Elgin.

    Streamwood handles Larkin

    Streamwood’s Holly Foret struggled during warm-ups Thursday night. Her shooting woes didn’t carry over into the game. The senior went 3-for-3 behind the 3-point arc and scored 11 points in the first quarter as the Sabres beat Larkin, 59-43, in Upstate Eight River Division play in Elgin.

    Bob Chwedyk/bchwedyk@dailyherald.com Mark Falotico drives to the net during St. Viator vs. Joliet Catholic boys basketball action.

    St. Viator adjusts, then rolls past Joliet Catholic

    After a second-quarter stumble, St. Viator rolled to a 80-54 win over Joliet Catholic in East Suburban Catholic Conference play Thursday. The win keeps them 1 game behind Marian Catholic for the top spot at 4-1 in conference and 17-4 overall.

    Photos from the Glenbard East at Naperville North girls basketball game on Thursday, Feb 6.

    Images: Glenbard East at Naperville North girls basketball
    Naperville North hosted Glenbard East Thursday, Jan. 6 for girls basketball in Naperville.

    Dave Froelich has coached 29 wrestlers to Mid-Suburban League titles in a standout coaching career at Rolling Meadows.

    Froelich, Cortez leave their mark as winners

    Even without all the victories, team trophies and time served in the sport of wrestling, what you have in both Dave Froehlich and Ralph Cortez are credentials nothing short of brilliant. The retirement tour continued for both Saturday afternoon, just before the finals of the Mid-Suburban League wrestling tournament took place. Host school Hersey and coach Jim Wormsley recognized the marvelous careers of both men to a rousing ovation from the large crowd on hand. And there’s plenty to salute, as these two have dedicated a combined 70-plus years to coaching high school wrestling.

    Grant’s Jonathan Wells, the defending Class 3A state champ in the high jump, will compete for the University of Illinois.

    And now, full speed ahead for Grant’s Wells at Illinois

    With family, teammates and classmates watching, Grant's Jonathan Wells, the reigning Class 3A state high jump champion who helped the Bulldogs tie for fourth at state last May, signed a national letter of intent to compete track and field with the University of Illinois.

    Mundelein senior swimmer Ayrton Kasemets is poised for a successful finale to his high school career and will be competing next season at Oakland University.

    Dedication puts Mundelein's Kasemets in pole position

    Whether Ayrton Kasemets is training year-round to perfect his technique and time or coaching children, he feels most at home in the pool. “If you ask any of the coaches or the parents, they will ask me if I live there because I'm always at the pool,” he said. “I feel I can be completely myself when I'm at the pool swimming.”


    Scouting regional wrestling / Northwest

    Here's a look at wrestling regionals involving teams from the Mid-Suburban League plus Leyden, Maine West and St. Viator.


    New Trier regional postponed

    Girls gymnasticsNew Trier regional: Thursday’s scheduled regional was postponed due to a power outage.The competition — which features Lake Forest, Libertyville, Loyola, New Trier and Vernon Hills — was rescheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday.


    S. Elgin, Huntley, Burlington C. draw top seeds

    There were few surprises Thursday when the IHSA released the seeds for the upcoming Class 3A and Class 4A girls basketball postseason. In Class 4A, all Fox Valley area teams feed into the Judson University supersectional, which will be hosted by Westminster Christian. Sectional winners from Addison Trail and Crystal Lake South will meet in that Elite Eight game.

    Benet will meet state power Stevenson on Saturday night at the Batavia Night of Hoops.

    Benet ready for next challenge

    Anyone hoping to follow Benet’s boys basketball team better have a good GPS system. The Redwings have played in every corner of the Chicago area in search of the best competition they can find. The journey comes to a bit of an end on Saturday when they travel to Batavia’s Night of Hoops event to take on state power Stevenson (18-1) and elite junior guard Jalen Brunson. Saturday’s game marks the fifth and final shootout appearance of the season for Benet (13-6), which will enter the postseason among the state’s most battle-tested teams.

    The answer to continued movement between the Upstate Eight and DuPage Valley conferences might be a merger.

    Scattered thoughts on a busy season

    Nothing upsets Eyes on Five more than postponed basketball games. Whether it’s cold or snow this winter, something always seems to be getting in the way of a seamless season. Save the cancellations for the spring, we say! This week we scatter our hoop thoughts as we (snow) drift closer to the playoffs.


    Jacobs, Dundee-Crown looking for postseason success

    This year’s IHSA girls’ bowling state series features a new twist. A regional level of competition has been added where the top 4 teams in each regional and the top 10 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the sectional round. Regionals get underway Saturday morning. District 300 neighbors Jacobs and Dundee-Crown are two Fox Valley-area teams looking to carry over regular-season success into the new postseason format.

    FILE - In this April 30, 2013, photo, Vancouver Canucks' Henrik Sedin, of Sweden, adjusts his helmet during hockey practice in Vancouver, British Columbia. Sedin says he's physically unable to play for Sweden at the Sochi Winter Games. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck, File)

    Canucks’ Henrik Sedin sitting out Olympics

    Vancouver Canucks star Henrik Sedin will sit out the Sochi Olympics, saying he’s physically unable to play for Sweden.In a statement issued by the NHL club Thursday, Sedin said: “I’m disappointed not to be physically able to represent my country at the Winter Olympic Games. This is a difficult decision but ultimately the best decision for me personally, Team Sweden and the Vancouver Canucks. I wish my teammates the best and look forward to returning to play.”

    Bode Miller is at his fifth Olympics and already owns a U.S.-record five Alpine medals, so in many ways he certainly already has, as he put it Thursday, "been here and done this." While Miller's past accomplishments, plus propensity for saying whatever is on his mind, might have made him an athlete to keep an eye on during the Sochi Games anyway, his skiing still can grab headlines. Miller delivered the fastest opening downhill training run ahead of Sunday's race, finishing in 2 minutes, 7.75 seconds.

    Bode Miller leads downhill training; women delayed

    Bode Miller is at his fifth Olympics and already owns a U.S.-record five Alpine medals, so in many ways he certainly already has, as he put it Thursday, "been here and done this." While Miller's past accomplishments, plus propensity for saying whatever is on his mind, might have made him an athlete to keep an eye on during the Sochi Games anyway, his skiing still can grab headlines. Miller delivered the fastest opening downhill training run ahead of Sunday's race, finishing in 2 minutes, 7.75 seconds.

    Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir of the United States compete in the team pairs short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday.

    U.S. behind after 1st day of team figure skating

    Meryl Davis and Charlie White comforted and cheered their fellow Americans on a tough first night of competition for the U.S. in the new Olympic event of team figure skating. Nice to have their support, no doubt. But the biggest pick-me-up they can provide? Two dazzling performances in ice dancing. The United States team was tied for the fifth-most points after the Thursday short programs for the men and pairs, technically resting in seventh after tiebreakers among 10 nations.

    The Cubs and second baseman Darwin Barney agreed to a new one-year contract worth $2.3 million for next season.

    Cubs avoid arbitration with second baseman Barney

    The Cubs and second baseman Darwin Barney avoided salary arbitration, agreeing Thursday to a one-year deal worth $2.3 million. The Cubs also announced a scheduling change that would give them a rare Sunday off at home this season.

    Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek of Italy compete in the team pairs short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics.

    Images: Winter Olympics, Thursday, February 6th
    Images from the Sochi Winter Olympic Games on Thursday. Events taking place in advance of the opening ceremonies included figure skating, luge, ski jumping and biathlon.

    Members of Jamaican Olympic team, including bobsled brakeman Marvin Dixon, third from left, and coach Paul Skog, second from left, pose Thursday with the Choir of Siberia after a welcome ceremony at the Mountain Olympic Village prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics.

    Jamaican team “cool” running at Sochi Olympics

    KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Everything’s cool and running with Jamaica’s bobsled team.They’re back inside the Olympic rings, and back on the track.After their equipment was delayed in arriving to the Sochi Games, driver Winston Watts and his teammates got in their first two runs down the Sanki Sliding Center track on Thursday. The Jamaicans, who qualified for the first time since 2002, couldn’t train Wednesday because they arrived ahead of their luggage, which was on a later flight to Russia.Without their clothing, sliding suits, helmets or the expensive runners for their two-man sled, the Jamaicans couldn’t do anything but watch on their first day at the Olympic venue.Watts said the team got its gear around midnight, enabling them to take part in the second day of “unofficial” training. It wasn’t until the Jamaicans got to the track that they realized their belongings had been tampered with. Watts said security opened containers of protein powder and the contents spilled out on his clothes and equipment.He even got powder in his eyes after putting on his helmet.“Security went through them. I don’t know who, but the lids were open,” he said. “I didn’t look at my bags last night and all of the stuff was all over my stuff. Protein. They take the seal off and open. They may think there was something else in there.”Not even the transit delay could dampen Watts’ enthusiasm in making it to his second Olympics — he shrugged it off in Jamaican style.“We are from the sunshine,” he said, flashing his megawatt smile.The Jamaicans didn’t race on the World Cup circuit this season, but they qualified for these games by accumulating enough points in lower-tier races in North America.Qualifying was one thing, but the Jamaicans weren’t sure they were going to be able to make the trip because they didn’t have enough to cover the travel expenses as well as purchase additional sets of runners.Jamaica needed help, and got it as the team quickly raised $178,000 before telling fans and friends to stop donating.“We didn’t want them to think that we’re greedy people,” he said. “We said we wanted this to make it possible to get better equipment and that’s what our goal was. And apparently it went on and on because people want to achieve and they haven’t seen us for a long period of time.”Although they’re a longshot to win a medal, the Jamaicans, whose inspiring journey to the Calgary Games in 1988 was told in the film, “Cool Runnings,” have helped pull the spotlight toward bobsled.American driver Steven Holcomb said having the Jamaicans around is great for the sport.“They did work hard,” said Holcomb, who will defend his gold medal in four-man. “It’s not easy to qualify for the games. They were trying in `06, they missed. They tried in `10, they missed. They tried again, they made it. So it’s good to have that exposure.”Watts said he and his teammates have always felt embraced by the world’s other sliders.“All the guys in here, we are a family,” the 46-year-old veteran said. “The bobsleigh circuit is like a family and we’re welcomed. All people love Jamaica. When Jamaica is not around, they’re not happy because we are a fun-loving, caring group. We make people smile all the time even when they are having a bad day. We just keep them going.”Bobsled isn’t Jamaica’s best sport. Not by a long way.The island nation is home to sprinter Usain Bolt, six-time Olympic champion and the world’s fastest man.Watts hopes to hear from Bolt while he’s in Russia, and joked that he may one day ask him to jump in his sled.“He would be a very good pusher, but he’s not a person who likes cold,” Watts said. “He’s said that. It would be awesome to have him on my team because a strong guy like me and him, could you imagine that?”

    United States’ Hannah Kearney jumps during qualifying in the women’s moguls at the Rosa Kutor Exreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

    Favorite Kearney cruises through moguls qualifying

    Team USA’s Hannah Kearney’s bid for another Olympic gold medal in women’s moguls is off to a flawless start. The defending champion cruised through qualifying on Thursday, posting a score of 23.05, well clear of Canada’s Chloe Dufour-Lapointe for the top spot.

    Canada’s Maxence Parrot reacts Thursday after a run during the men’s snowboard slopestyle qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

    Canadian Parrot takes lead in Olympic debut of slopestyle

    And to think, Shaun White chose not to ride down this course. Snowboarders kicked off competition at the Olympics on Thursday by making the slopestyle layout that White deemed “intimidating” feel anything but that. Sunny skies. No wind. Decent snow. All in all, slopestyle’s debut on the grand stage was a great day for riding rails and grabbing big air and an even better day for scores.


    Mike North video: Chris Collins making a difference at NU
    Northwestern University basketball is doing something different under first-year head coach Chris Collins; they are playing defense, which they never played with Bill Carmody.

    United States skier Bode Miller starts Thursday in a men’s downhill training run for the 2014 Winter Olympicsin Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

    Bode Miller tops opening downhill training session

    KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Bode Miller mastered the Olympic course on his very first run Thursday, leading the opening downhill training session.A bronze medalist in the event four years ago, the 36-year-old Miller clocked 2 minutes, 7.75 seconds down the Rosa Khutor piste, where he injured his left knee two years ago during the Sochi test event.“Unfortunately they don’t give you medals for training runs,” said Miller, who also led the only training run on the famed Streif course in Kitzbuehel, Austria, last month, but then made a big error in the race, finishing third. “If they did, I would be psyched today. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to come out here and ski well first run. I just have to keep trimming time.”Patrick Kueng of Switzerland, who won the classic downhill in Wengen on home snow last month, was second, a slim 0.03 seconds behind. Matthias Mayer of Austria was third, 0.17 behind.Marco Sullivan of the United States was fourth, although he was one of several skiers who missed gates on their way down. Christof Innerhofer of Italy was fifth, 0.69 behind, and should be a contender on a course that suits him.Erik Guay of Canada and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, two other big favorites, were seventh and eighth, respectively.Svindal took too straight of a line in several sections and had to slow down to make a few gates.“It was a bad run actually, to be honest,” Svindal said. “I mean 1.2 behind I would definitely like to be faster. But I have some big things I need to change. So I’m not too worried.”Two more training sessions are scheduled before Sunday’s race opens the Alpine events.Miller cut his 2011-12 season short after his injury in Sochi then had microfracture surgery and took all of last season off to let his knee properly heel. Showing off a slimmed down physique this season, Miller quickly regained his form and finished second in a World Cup giant slalom in December. Then he had two podium results in Kitzbuehel last month.But last weekend he banged up his right knee during a crash in a giant slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland.“It’s still puffed up a little bit and a little bit sore,” Miller said. “There’s nothing wrong with it, just got banged hard.”Consequently, Miller was a bit tentative on the Sochi course’s biggest jump, labeled the Russian Trampoline, which comes midway down.“It’s really bumpy and rattley,” he said of the icy landing area. “That’s one of the places where I went way out in the soft snow.”Overall, though, Miller was pleased to see that the course hadn’t been altered much since the 2012 test event, in which several other skiers were also injured.“They didn’t dumb it down much, which is nice,” said Miller, who finished fourth in the test downhill. “They didn’t ice the top, which is understandable — the turns are huge up there. The swing and turns would make it very tough for guys on top if it were icy. It would be better for me but that’s fine. I still feel like I have the ability to ski that top and put time on guys.“But once you come out of the chute all the way down they didn’t take anything away. The speeds are up, the terrain is challenging and the jumps are big,” added Miller, who showed off the U.S. team’s new white racing suits. “There’s a lot of different places where you can make mistakes and where it’s really challenging — especially linking sections together.”The training session was held in perfect conditions, under a bright sun and clear skies. The snow was grippy on top, icier in the middle section and softer at the bottom where the temperature was above freezing.“It’s interesting,” Svindal said. “We have perfect winter snow. Then you have ice that looks like it’s breaking up a little bit, so it’s bumpy ice in the middle section and I think that combination to me looks like maybe the most challenging part of this downhill right now.”Svindal said the course suits Miller.

    Speedskater Ireen Wust of the Netherlands trains Thursday at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

    Skaters hope super suits give them golden edge

    SOCHI, Russia — Top speedskaters at the Sochi Olympics are all squeezing into new high-tech suits which will either shave fractions of seconds off their times or sow enough doubt in the minds of opponents that they will start their race with a real disadvantage.Double Olympic gold medalist Ireen Wust said Thursday that between the three Dutch suits she has used since the 2006 Turin Games, “the difference is not that big.”But in a sport where the margin of victory is sometimes measured in hundredths of seconds, it might be just enough to make the difference between gold and silver. Bert van der Tuuk, who makes the suits for the Dutch and Russian teams, says victory “is partly determined by clothing.”

    Lake’s TJ Edwards, flanked by his parents and backed by coach Luke Mertens, signed his letter of intent with Wisconson on Wednesday.

    Commitment time: Antioch’s Lazarz motors toward Moorhead

    The almost 10-hour car ride to far northwest Minnesota didn’t scare off Tyler Lazarz. “I’m used to driving long distances to go up north,” Lazarz said. “We go to a cabin up in Wisconsin a lot and it’s about five hours away, so I’m fine with the driving.” Even though Lazarz won’t be vacationing at the end of his long drives to Minnesota, he’s in for just as much fun. The Antioch senior will be playing football next fall at Division II Minnesota State Moorhead, and officially announced his plans on Wednesday as part of national signing day for high school football. Around 30 football players in the Daily Herald’s Lake County coverage area joined Lazarz in firming up their plans and inking the necessary paperwork.


    Collins, Maine W. sink LZ

    Brittany Collins was a force for Maine West as the Warriors claimed a 57-47 victory over visiting Lake Zurich on Wednesday in nonconference play.Collins, a senior forward, pumped in a game-high 33 points, making 14 field goals and 5-for-8 at the foul line.Senior guard Erin Ross contributed 9 points and senior center Julia Huinker had 6 for the Warriors, who held the Bears to 7 points in the second quarter on the way to grabbing a 29-19 halftime lead.Sophomores Frankie Nasca and Abby Pirron had 10 points apiece to pace Lake Zurich.Mundelein 43, Lake Forest 38: On Tuesday night, Maggie Mahar scored 14 points for the visiting Mustangs in their North Suburban Lake win.Jamie Hemmer added 9 points for Mundelein (18-7, 7-4), which won its second in a row and seventh in eight games.Lake Forest’s Annie Keller led all scorers with 16 points.Deerfield 58, Lakes 43: On Tuesday night, Sam Ney scored 12 points and freshman Izzy Quaranta added 7 for the visiting Eagles in their nonconference loss.Lakes (5-21) trailed 30-22 at halftime.“We continue to come out with no energy in the third quarter,” Eagles coach Pete Schneider said. “We tried many different things but continue to struggle after the break.”Schneider said junior Olivia Pawlak also played well, as she continues to improve.Deerfield was led by Haley Greer with 19 points.“(Coach) Mike Muldrow always has his kids ready to play,” Schneider said. “They play well together.”


    Large food companies are trying to head off state-by-state efforts to enact mandatory labeling of genetically modified ingredients by proposing new voluntary labels nationwide. The food industry and farm groups are pushing Congress to pass legislation that would require the Food and Drug Administration to create guidelines for the new labels, which food manufacturers could use.

    Food industry seeks voluntary GMO labeling

    People who want to know more about genetically modified ingredients in their food would be able to get it on some packages, but not others, under a plan the industry is pushing. Large food companies worried they might be forced to add “genetically modified” to packaging are proposing voluntary labeling of those engineered foods, so the companies could decide whether to use them or not.

    Colin Wickstrom of Wickstrom Ford Lincoln in Barrington shows off the revolutionary 2015 Ford F-150, made with an aluminum frame, at the Chicago Auto Show Thursday.

    Auto show: Lighter, fuel-efficient and safer

    Fuel-efficient cars and even trucks souped up with the latest in high-tech safety systems predominated at the Chicago Auto Show media preview at McCormick Place. Among the offerings are a remake of Ford's beloved F-150 pickup truck, which has shed 700 pounds with an aluminum alloy makeover. “Consumers are so conscious of fuel economy nowadays,” said Colin Wickstrom, a Barrington dealer.


    New rules would ensure safety of infant formula

    After nearly two decades of study, the Food and Drug Administration announced rules Thursday designed to make sure that infant formula is safe and nutritious.

    Stocks rose Thursday, sending benchmark indexes to their best gains this year, as claims for unemployment benefits fell and earnings from Walt Disney Co. to Akamai Technologies Inc. surpassed estimates.

    US stocks end higher; Dow has its best day of 2014

    After a rocky start to the week, U.S. stocks roared back on Thursday, giving major stock indexes their biggest gain of the year. The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 index each closed up 1.2 percent, their largest single-day increase since Dec. 18.

    Months after winning the Frontier League title in just their second season, the Schaumburg Boomers are renewing efforts to sell naming rights for their ballpark, now known Boomers Stadium. The stadium was called Alexian Field when it hosted the now defunct Schaumburg Flyers.

    Boomers looking to sell stadium naming rights

    Striking while the iron is hot, the Frontier League-champion Schaumburg Boomers baseball team is renewing efforts to sell the naming rights for its stadium — once known as Alexian Field when it hosted the Schaumburg Flyers. “We’re pretty confident and happy with the position that we’re in,” Boomers President/General Manager Andy Viano said. “There’s a brand somewhere that says we need to make a big splash in Chicago.”

    Associated Press A phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange features a Twitter logo. Twitter Inc., the microblogging service that amassed more than 200 million users in seven years, is now struggling to widen its audience as quickly. The shares tumbled in U.S. trading.

    Twitter stock sinks on user growth worries

    Twitter’s stock is sinking on worries that the short online messaging service is not popular enough. Twitter Inc. had reported stronger-than-expected revenue and adjusted earnings in its fourth-quarter financial report Wednesday, its first as a publicly traded company. But its user numbers signaled that growth is slowing.

    A lightning strike on control tower at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, which also injured an air traffic controller, is prompting the Federal Aviation Administration to examine hundreds of air traffic control towers nationwide.

    AP: FAA to examine airport towers

    A lightning strike that injured an air traffic controller at Baltimore’s main airport has exposed a potential vulnerability at airport towers during storms and is prompting Federal Aviation Administration officials to inspect hundreds of towers nationwide, The Associated Press has learned. The FAA will look for problems with the lightning protection systems for airport towers.


    North Chicago’s AbbVie makes $320M investment in Singapore

    North Chicago-based AbbVie Inc. said it is making a $320 million investment to establish operations in Singapore for small molecule and biologics active drug substance manufacturing.


    Sears Holdings names chief of pharmacy business unit

    Hoffman Estates-based Sears Holdings has named Mark Panzer as senior vice president and president, Pharmacy. Panzer most recently served as president and CEO of Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, Inc.

    “Boulevard Monmartre, Spring Morning” from 1897 was bought for $32.1 million.At the same sale Wednesday, Vincent Van Gogh’s “Man is at Sea” sold for $27.5 million.

    Pissarro painting sells for $32 million in London

    A Paris streetscape by Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro has sold for double its top estimate in a week of strong sales at London auction houses. “Boulevard Monmartre, Spring Morning” from 1897 was bought for $32.1 million.

    Coca-Cola said Wednesday that it's buying a 10 percent stake in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. for $1.25 billion as part of an agreement to bring its familiar brands into the fast-growing at-home market.

    Coca-Cola to let people make its drinks at home

    Coca-Cola is looking to tap into a new market, with plans to let customers make its sodas and other drinks at home. The world's biggest beverage maker said Wednesday that it's buying a 10 percent stake in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. for $1.25 billion as part of an agreement to bring its familiar brands into the fast-growing at-home market.

    A Chicago alderman wants to outlaw horse-drawn carriage rides, citing concerns about safety, sanitation and animal cruelty.

    Chicago councilman wants to ban horse carriages

    A Chicago alderman wants to outlaw horse-drawn carriage rides, citing concerns about safety, sanitation and animal cruelty. Ald. Edward Burke made the proposal Wednesday, saying, “Carriage rides have outlived their usefulness in Chicago in 2014.”


    Bad weather snarls air travel for 3rd straight day

    U.S. airlines have canceled about 2,900 flights because of snow and freezing rain in the Northeast and the Midwest. Wednesday was the third consecutive day bad weather snarled air traffic. The flight tracking website FlightAware says Wednesday's disruptions followed 1,600 cancellations Tuesday and 2,100 Monday.

    Tearle Ashby poses with some of his G.I. Joe action figures in Niskayuna, N.Y.

    5 things to know about GI Joe as he turns 50

    G.I. Joe was introduced in either February or March 1964, depending on whom you ask. Collectors and the manufacturer, Hasbro Inc., say it was February at the American International Toy Fair in New York. But fair organizers say it was held in March that year.

    Northbrook-based Allstate said Wednesday its net income more than doubled in the fourth quarter compared with a year ago,

    Allstate 4Q income rises without Sandy costs
    Northbrook-based Allstate said Wednesday its net income more than doubled in the fourth quarter compared with a year ago, when it reported more than $1 billion in catastrophic insurance losses related to Superstorm Sandy.Allstate said insurance premiums grew for all of its brands. In the fourth quarter of 2012 the company surprised Wall Street by reporting a profit, but its results were affected by $1.12 billion in pre-tax catastrophe insurance losses related to Sandy, which hit the East Coast in late October.The company said its net income rose to $810 million, or $1.76 per share, from $394 million, or 81 cents per share. Excluding one-time items Allstate said earned $1.70 per share, up from 59 cents per share a year ago. Its revenue increased 3 percent, to $8.79 billion from $8.55 billion.FactSet says analysts expected net income of $1.38 per share and $6.9 billion in revenue.The company, said its annual net income fell 2 percent to $2.26 billion, or $4.81 per share. Revenue grew 4 percent to $34.51 billion.Shares of Allstate Corp. fell 35 cents to $49.55 on Wednesday and picked up 70 cents to $50.25 in after-hours trading.


    Bill would require project to block Asian carp

    A member of Congress proposed legislation Wednesday that would order the federal government to cut off links in Chicago waterways between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River system to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp and other invasive species.

    French-U.S. telecommunications equipment company Alcatel-Lucent SA says it is in talks to sell its business that deals with corporate clients to China Huaxin for around $362 million.

    Alcatel-Lucent inks deal with China Huaxin

    French-U.S. telecommunications equipment company Alcatel-Lucent SA says it is in talks to sell its business that deals with corporate clients to China Huaxin for around $362 million. The company has local operations in Lisle and Naperville.

    Paul Valade/Daily Herald Metra’s board has voted to hire a chief audit officer to provide additional oversight as it continues to set a new direction and choose new leaders. The Chicago commuter rail agency’s board announced the decision Wednesday.

    Chicago area’s Metra to hire chief audit officer

    Metra’s board has voted to hire a chief audit officer to provide additional oversight as it continues to set a new direction and choose new leaders. The Chicago commuter rail agency’s board announced the decision Wednesday.


    European rates decision could be close call

    The European Central Bank is facing conflicting pressures as it decides Thursday whether to cut interest rates for the 18-country euro currency area.

    General Motors CEO Mary Barra watches the North American Truck of the Year and Car of the Year awards at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

    GM reports lower-than-expected 4Q earnings

    General Motors’ fourth-quarter profit rose 2 percent from a year ago, but the company fell short of Wall Street expectations. GM rode record North American earnings to make $913 million, or 57 cents per share. That compares with $892 million, or 54 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue rose 3 percent to $40.5 billion.

    After six years, Color Me Mine ceramics studio in Kildeer is closing. The owners will continue to operate a store in Vernon Hills.

    Kildeer’s Color Me Mine studio to close

    The owner of Color Me Mine paint-it-yourself ceramics studio announced Wednesday that it will close the Kildeer location on Feb. 17. Natasha Braxton of Mundelein said it is “with a heavy heart” that she has to close the studio, but will keep her Vernon Hills location open.

Life & Entertainment


    Furnace problem lingers past home’s purchase date

    Q. My husband and I bought our first home about a month ago. During our home inspection, the inspector determined the furnace was in poor condition and required servicing. Our attorney sent a letter regarding this and the sellers agreed to repair the furnace.

    Jay Leno appears during the final taping of NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” in Burbank, Calif., Thursday. Leno brings his 22-year career as the show host to an end Thursday in a special one-hour farewell broadcast.

    Leno bids farewell to ‘Tonight’ after 22 years

    BURBANK, Calif. — Jay Leno has said goodbye to “The Tonight Show” before, but not like this. The comedian became tearful and choked up Thursday as he concluded what he called the “greatest 22 years of my life.”“I am the luckiest guy in the world. This is tricky,” said an emotional Leno, stepping down for the second and presumably last time as host of TV’s venerable late-night program. Jimmy Fallon takes over “Tonight” in New York on Feb. 17.Leno shared that he’d lost his mother the first year he became “Tonight” host, his dad the second and then his brother.“And after that I was pretty much out of family. And the folks here became my family,” he said of the crew and staff of “Tonight.”It was a tender finish to a farewell show that was mostly aiming for laughs, with traditional monologue jokes, clips from old shows and a wild assortment of celebrities helping to usher Leno out the door.Leno first departure came in 2009, when he was briefly replaced by Conan O’Brien but reclaimed the show after a messy transition and O’Brien’s lackluster ratings. In ‘09, he was moving to a prime-time show on NBC; this time he’s out the door, and has said he’ll focus on comedy clubs and his beloved car collection.Looking sharp in a black suit and bright blue tie, Leno was greeted by an ovation from the VIP audience. The typically self-contained comic betrayed a bit of nervousness, stumbling over a few lines in his monologue.He didn’t trip over his opening line, though — a final dig at his employer.“You’re very kind,” he told the audience. “I don’t like goodbyes. NBC does.”Leno brought his show full circle with Billy Crystal, who was his first guest in May 1992 and his last guest Thursday. Crystal played ringmaster at one point, calling on Oprah Winfrey, Jack Black, Kim Kardashian, Carol Burnett and others for a musical tribute to Jay with a “Sound of Music” song parody.“So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye. If Fallon tanks you’ll be back here next year,” sang Jack Black.“The Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parson’s contribution: “We’ve watched you when we’re weary. Your great success is called the big chin theory.”In a videotaped segment, celebrities offered career advice to Leno.“Why would I give am (expletive) about what he does. He’s a grown man,” said Mark Wahlberg.President Barack Obama, like other politicians a favorite target of Leno’s, struck back in his clip.“Jay, you’ve made a whole lot of jokes about me over the years, but don’t worry, I’m not upset,” Obama said, then said he was making Leno the U.S. ambassador to Antarctica. “Hope you have a warm coat, man.”Crystal sang Leno’s praises during the show, saying the late-night host made America feel a little better at bedtime and invoking his predecessor, Johnny Carson. Leno’s “Tonight” tenure was second in length only to Carson’s 30 years.“You were handed the baton by one of the all-time greats. But once it was in your grasp, you ran the race,” Crystal said. He and Leno, longtime friends, reminisced about the old days, with Leno recalling how Crystal and other comedians visiting his town, Boston, stayed in Leno’s apartment.Leno told how he was poised to make his network debut on Dean Martin’s show in 1974 when news came that President Richard Nixon had resigned in the Watergate scandal. Leno’s appearance didn’t happen.“Making me the last guy screwed by Nixon,” Leno said.

    Confetti blows over the crowd for the grand finale of Insane Clown Posse’s performance on the last night of the Gathering of the Juggalos near in Cave-In-Rock, Ill. Organizers of a yearly outdoor festival headlined by Insane Clown Posse are moving the event to the central Missouri town of Kaiser after six years of troubled get-togethers in southern Illinois.

    Insane Clown Posse festival leaves Illinois

    An annual festival headlined by the rap-metal group Insane Clown Posse will be staged at a Missouri farm’s campground after seven years in southern Illinois, promoters of the trouble-plagued Gathering of the Juggalos said. Suburban Detroit-based Psychopathic Records Inc. offered few details on the shift from the Hogrock campsite near Cave-In-Rock — the gathering’s home since 2007 — to the CryBaby Campground in Kaiser, a rural community about 170 miles west of St. Louis.

    Emmet (Chris Pratt), Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and Batman (Will Arnett) prepare to battle President Business in “The Lego Movie.”

    Pop culture comedy follows the 'Lego' brick road

    “The Lego Movie” is an intense, cracked-out, pumped-up, animated big-screen sensory assault teeming with clever pop culture references, plus jokes and sight gags coming at you like Gatling gun bullets. Warning: No restroom breaks for this one. You won't want to take time. “The Lego Movie” entertains us with every blockbuster movie cliché known to humankind while ridiculing those cliches.

    People listen to actor Eric Bogosian speak during a candlelight vigil for actor Philip Seymour Hoffman at the Bank Street Theater, home of the Labyrinth Theater Company, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in New York. Hoffman died Sunday of a suspected drug overdose.

    Broadway mourns Hoffman as 3 face drug charges

    While three of four people arrested amid the investigation of the Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death were arraigned on drug charges, the New York theater community mourned the actor with a dimming of Broadway’s marquee lights and a candlelight vigil. The vigil Wednesday night was held outside the 90-seat home of the Labyrinth Theatre Company, where Hoffman had long been a member. And at 7:45 p.m., Broadway’s lights turned off for a minute.

    Rachel Frederickson, left, David Brown, Bobby Saleem and host Alison Sweeney on the finale of “The Biggest Loser” in Los Angeles.

    ‘Biggest Loser’ winner faces criticism on social media

    A day after Rachel Fredrickson won the latest season of “The Biggest Loser,” after shedding nearly 60 percent of her body weight, attention wasn’t focused on her $250,000 win — but rather the criticism surrounding her loss. Experts cautioned that regardless of her current weight, the criticism being levied on social media about her losing too much isn’t helpful. A more constructive message is needed, they say, centering on overall healthy living and body image. The 5-foot-4, 24-year-old Frederickson dropped from 260 pounds to 105 under the show’s rigorous exercise and diet regimen, and time spent on her own before the finale.

    Simon Pegg struggles to keep his comic edge in the dreary "A Fantastic Fear of Everything."

    Even Simon Pegg can’t save unfunny ‘Fantastic Fear’

    Simon Pegg is a very talented comic actor, but you would never guess that in "A Fantastic Fear of Everything," a claustrophobic, strained stream-of-consciousness, sinking cinematic showboat.

    British action star Craig Fairbrass demonstrates his fighting style in the thriller "The Outsider."

    Inert direction hampers ‘The Outsider’

    The action thriller “The Outsider,” written and directed by Brian A. Miller, suffers from several handicaps, the first being “Property of RLJ Entertainment No. 211” blazing across the screen in bright white letters on the press DVD sent to me for review from the distributor. And then there's the inert direction and boilerplate dialogue, too.

    Adam (Alex Weisman) dances a soft shoe with his beloved leading lady Natasha (Gail Rastorfer) on a New York-bound ocean liner in “Rough Crossing,” a 1984 farce by Tom Stoppard at First Folio in Oak Brook.

    First Folio navigates wacky waters in ‘Rough Crossing’

    You know First Folio Theatre’s theatrical ship is on course when the crew includes Kevin McKillip. The presence of the lissome, loose-limbed actor helps ensure smooth sailing for the company’s madcap revival of Tom Stoppard’s 1984 farce “Rough Crossing.” The play-within-a-play (with music) is an affectionate sendup of 1930s musicals and melodramas right down to its convoluted plot (which matters little) and requisite wackiness (which matters a great deal).

    Simon Pegg struggles to keep his comic edge in the dreary "A Fantastic Fear of Everything."

    Reel life: 'Fantastic Fear' a bit of a bummer

    Simon Pegg is a very talented comic actor, but you would never guess that in this claustrophobic, strained, sinking cinematic showboat. Pegg plays a former children’s novelist-turned-crime novelist. Now obsessed with researching Victorian serial killers, Pegg’s paranoid nut job prances in his undershorts while hiding out in his junked-up London apartment, holding a knife and waiting with Norman Bated breath for Jack the Ripper to arrive at his door.

    Dimitri Leonidas, left, John Goodman, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bob Balaban look for stolen art in George Clooney’s fact-based drama “The Monuments Men.”

    Scholars chase Nazi art booty in Clooney’s ‘Monuments Men’

    George Clooney’s “The Monuments Men” possesses the gritty, realistic look of 1940s war-torn Europe. As for a gritty, realistic story with compelling characters? They’ve gone missing, just like the Picassos and Rembrandts the Nazis have stolen. The real star here is Alexandre Desplat’s score, mood-setting music constantly affirming the emotions that its generic characters struggle to muster.

    Carrie Fagerstrom’s catio allows her eight cats to enjoy the outdoors, but not the harmful elements that come along with it, in Portland, Ore. The playground for the cats has an 11 foot by 14 foot base and is 11 feet high, with mesh wiring on the sides and a clear roof. The room includes scratching posts, a small water fountain and plenty of toys to entertain them.

    Catios give cats a safe way to enjoy the outdoors

    When Carrie Fagerstrom was looking for a new home in Portland, Ore., her must-have list didn’t include a spacious yard, plenty of closets or even a large kitchen. Her highest priority: the comfort of her cats. I really wanted a house that would allow me to build a place for them,” said Fagerstrom, who had visions of a catio out back. A catio is essentially a cat’s playground. It’s an enclosed, covered area, much like a patio, that allows feline friends to be exposed to the outdoors, getting fresh air and scenery, while keeping them safe from predators.

    A new Neve Designs men’s under-layer shirt is 75 percent silk, 20 percent ultra-fine merino wool and 5 percent spandex, and the graphics evoke vintage ski posters. They were among a number of skiwear products for next season shown at the annual SnowSports Industries America Trade Show.

    Focus is on comfort for next season’s skiwear

    Women who go shopping for skiwear next fall should find it a lot easier to get a good fit, thanks to new sizing options launched by outerwear manufacturers Spyder and Burton. But it’s function as well as fit that’s getting an overhaul for the 2014-15 season. Watch for outerwear for men and women designed to look just as chic in Brooklyn as it does in Breckenridge. Those were among the trends unveiled at the 60th annual SnowSports Industries America trade show.

    The Gateway Arch, built as a monument to westward expansion, stands 630 feet tall along the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis. For a fee, visitors can ride a tram to the top of the Arch and gaze over downtown St. Louis, but many attractions at and around the Arch are free.

    5 free things: St. Louis celebrating 250th anniversary

    St. Louis is turning 250 this year, and visitors who want to join in the celebration can find plenty to do without spending a dime. The Gateway City was founded by Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau on Feb. 15, 1764. A series of anniversary events are planned throughout the year. Amid the hoopla, there’s plenty to do for free, including visits to one of the world’s biggest breweries, two popular animal attractions, a science center and a towering monument that has come to define St. Louis.



    Editorial: One more example of state’s illogical pension approach

    A Daily Herald editorial says annual pension bumps to municipal retirees are one more example of Illinois' illogical pension system that needs to be re-examined.


    Information can do only so much; what counts is how we use it

    Columnist Jim Slusher: Can there really be nothing more to say about heroin than to trot out a seemingly endless parade of celebrity tragedies as object lessons and repeat just as endlessly the phrase, “Don’t do this. Don’t do this. Don’t do this.”?


    Big Brother is not retreating to 18th century

    Columnist Gene Lyons: Let’s cut to the chase: If Big Brother wants you, he’s got you, telephone metadata notwithstanding. This disconcerting fact of modern life has been true more or less since the invention of the camera, the microphone and the tape recorder.


    All must respect freedom of religion
    An Elk Grove Village letter to the editor: If honest men differ over the truth, the only thing required is to discuss their ideas until there is some measure of agreement. This is not easy, but it is necessary. May I offer one more idea. If one hates the truth, is it not possible the truth looks like hate?


    Ty Warner sentence sends a bad message
    An Arlington Heights letter to the editor: I strongly disagree with the overly lenient sentence that was handed down to Ty Warner. While I appreciate and applaud his many good works and charitable contributions, the fact of the matter remains that he broke the law, knowingly and willingly over a long period of time, and cheated the American people out of millions of dollars in taxes.


    More church interest in money than lives
    A Pingree Grove letter to the editor: I was appalled by the tidbit in the Feb. 1 World & Nation in 60 seconds section that reported the Helena, Montana diocese is declaring bankruptcy because of a $15 million pederasty settlement.


    Illinois shouldn’t emulate Michigan
    A St. Charles letter to the editor: This is in response to the article regarding “State jobless offices closing.” I certainly hope that Illinois will do a much better job of setting up its online application process for applying for and receiving unemployment benefits than the state of Michigan’s system.


    Oops. Lee Hamilton was/is a Democrat
    A Wheaton letter to the editor: The author of the letter entitled “Be fair when citing party affiliations” (Feb. 1) complained that the Daily Herald cites party affiliations when mentioning Republicans who have done something wrong, but not when they have done something right. Further, he claims the opposite is the case for Democrats.


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