Daily Archive : Thursday February 13, 2014



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    This is one of four red-light cameras in Rosemont. It was installed in 2007 at the intersection of River Road and Balmoral Avenue.

    Rosemont extends red-light camera contract

    The Rosemont village board voted unanimously this week to extend its red-light camera contract with Lombard-based RedSpeed Illinois LLC through Aug. 23, 2016. The original six-year contract went into effect Aug. 24, 2007.

    Police and wrecker crews work to remove dozens of vehicles that were either parked or abandoned on a street in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday.

    ‘Oh, not again’: Northeast is hit by another storm

    Yet another storm paralyzed the Northeast with heavy snow and sleet Thursday, giving the winter-weary that oh-no-not-again feeling, while hundreds of thousands across the ice-encrusted South waited in the cold for the electricity to come back on. At least 20 deaths were blamed on the treacherous weather,


    Northwest suburbs police blotter

    Thieves stole trucks and trailers worth about $90,000 in recent days in Elk Grove Village. A 2012 Stoughton trailer was taken Jan. 30-31 at 875 E. Devon Ave., a 2007 Volvo tractor Feb. 1-2 at 1601 Oakton St., a 2007 refrigerated utility cargo trailer Jan. 22 at 2700 Coyle Ave.

    The Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling will extend one of its runways and make safety improvements with funding from a $5.3 million capital project grant announced Thursday

    Grant expected to fund safety improvements at Chicago Executive Airport

    The Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling will extend one of its runways and make safety improvements with funding from a $5.3 million capital project grant announced Thursday. About 90 percent of the funding for the project will come from the Federal Aviation Administration, 5 percent from the state and 5 percent from the airport

    Kevin Gillespie

    Island Lake man pleads not guilty in fatal crash

    An Island Lake man accused of being impaired when he struck and killed an intoxicated pedestrian in September in unincorporated Lake County pleaded not guilty in court Thursday. Kevin Gillespie, 22, is being held in Lake County jail on $250,000 bail.

    Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford denies accusations against him during a news conference Monday in Schaumburg.

    Rutherford won’t release independent probe yet

    The independent probe into accusations of sexual harassment and improper campaign work against Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford will remain a secret for now, his attorney said. Attorney Peter Andjelkovich said he advised Rutherford not to release an independent report by former FBI agent Anthony D’Angelo, even though earlier this week Rutherford, a Republican candidate for governor, said...


    Carol Stream Battalion Chief: PIP was ‘Designed for me to fail’

    Joseph Gilles said he refused to sign a performance improvement plan given to him by Carol Stream Fire Protection District Chief Richard Kolomay because “it was vague, all subjective, with no objective standards” and that Kolomay was looking for ways to get rid of him.


    Dist. 211 to prevent leaks at Conant, Fremd

    Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board members Thursday recommended a $1.46 million repair of Conant High School’s roof and a $248,000 repair of Fremd High School’s skylight this summer to prevent a potential for leaks in the near future. The maintenance issues were discovered through an update of the district’s Health/Life Safety Survey, required for all...


    Woman charged in connection with local puppy thefts

    A Missouri woman has been charged in connection with the theft of puppies from suburban pet stores late last year.


    Lawsuit claims second victim of church volunteer

    A pair of lawsuits filed against a convicted child sex offender and Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington claim the man, a former church volunteer, molested more than one child through its program for special needs kids while the church negligently supervised him.

    Steven Mandell

    Witness: Buffalo Grove man’s murder plot may have included daughter

    The murderous intentions of Steven Mandell, the former Chicago police officer and onetime Illinois death row inmate charged with attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder-for-hire, didn’t stop at the businessman whose money and property he coveted, a witness testified Thursday.

    Debbie Miller of Elgin talks to the crowd during a Republican candidates forum for the state’s 65th House District Thursday at Del Webb’s Sun City in Huntley.

    65th House GOP hopefuls talk gay marriage in Huntley

    Candidates for the Republican nomination for the state's 65th House District seat have similar views on the state's finances and what to do about them. But at a forum Thursday in Huntley, two of the three did disagree on a social issue -- whether to revisit the matter of gay marriage.

    As Valentine’s Day approaches, a new poll suggests Cupid’s arrow hit the target for most Americans.

    Valentine bliss outpaces dread, according to poll

    The state of the union is blissful. A new Associated Press-WE tv survey finds 66 percent of paired-off adults say their relationships are perfect or nearly so. Most are excited for Valentine’s Day and have a gift on their wish list for the holiday.

    In this photo taken late Wednesday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul, right, greets his Afghan counterpart, President Hamid Karzai, in Ankara, Turkey.

    White House sees longer wait for Afghan agreement

    The White House is dropping its insistence that Afghanistan sign a crucial security pact within weeks, suggesting it could be willing to wait to see whether Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s successor might be easier to work with in deciding how many U.S. and international troops remain in Afghanistan when combat concludes at the end of the year.

    Ontarioville Elementary School teacher Emma Page, right, has been chosen as Hanover Park’s Educator of the Year.

    U-46 teacher named Hanover Park’s educator of the year

    At the start of every school year, Emma Page gives each of her students a picture of a horse. Page wants kids in Ontarioville Elementary School’s dual language program to devour books faster than ... well ... some cute pony. The Palatine woman’s horse race is simple: First-graders move up a reading level, and the horses move up the classroom wall.

    Professor Gerlant Van Berlaer poses at the University Hospital UZ Brussels in Brussels. Belgian lawmakers approved Thursday a controversial euthanasia law. It will decriminalize euthanasia for children, if they are in great pain, suffer from a terminal condition and are expected to die soon.

    Belgian lawmakers extend euthanasia to children

    Belgian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to extend the country’s euthanasia law to children under 18. The law empowers children with terminal ailments who are in great pain to ask to be put to death by their doctor if their parents agree and a psychiatrist or psychologist certifies they are conscious of what their choice signifies.

    Al Wagner raises queen bees in Fox Lake.

    Introductory beekeeping class creates buzz

    Relaxed rules for beekeeping has created a bit of a buzz in Lake County. The changes have prompted the Lake County Beekeepers Association for the first time to offer an introduction to beekeeping class.


    Air quality will be addressed at The Centre pool

    After hearing complaints from swimmers, the Elgin City Council approved spending more than half a million dollars for a new ventilation unit for the pool at The Centre. That was among several big ticket expenses approved Wednesday night, including about $420,000 in new flooring for city facilities and about $865,000 in renovations at the Wing Park Family Aquatic Center.


    Missing Aurora Twp. man gets 45 years for child sex assault

    An 85-year-old Aurora Township man who went missing just weeks before his December trial on charges he sexually assaulted a young girl he knew, was sentenced to 45 years in prison Thursday. Enrique Ruiz is suspected of fleeing to Mexico.

    Work is scheduled to begin in May on improvements to the Lake in the Hills Airport involving construction of an aircraft fueling area and a new fueling facility.

    Lake in the Hills Airport improvements begin in May

    Work will begin in late spring on improvements to Lake in the Hills Airport involving construction of an aircraft fueling area and a new fueling facility, officials said Thursday. Gov. Pat Quinn’s office announced Thursday a $664,000 investment in the project — part of Quinn’s agenda to create jobs.


    Police want to connect with Mulberry Court residents in Elgin

    To tackle neighborhood problems in the Mulberry Court area in southwest Elgin, police are embarking on new initiatives including staffing a booth at a nearby indoor mall.


    U-46 scraps early start idea for upcoming school year

    After thousands of parents protested, Elgin Area School District U-46 is scrapping the idea of starting classes a week earlier next school year. The administration recommended classes start on Aug. 13 this fall and Aug. 12 in 2015-2016. But about 90 percent of comments submitted through the district website opposed the earlier start. So the recommendation now on the table is for an Aug. 18 start...

    Students join artist Bill Weyna, second from left, fill in the graffiti-inspired mural Thursday at McHenry County College. Helping out, from left, are Ivan Burik of Crystal Lake, Weyna, Katie Barucca of McHenry, Erick Marchessault of Cary and Jake Kvidera of McHenry. Students helped with the mural between classes and during their lunch break.

    Graffiti artists educate, inspire MCC students

    McHenry County College students Thursday participated in creating a graffiti-inspired mural with artist Nino Rodriguez.

    Gene Carsello, left, tries his hand at Wii bowling, assisted by Reference Librarian Merril Tlusty. Carsello and other senior citizens gather the second Thursday of every month at the Bloomingdale Public Library to socialize and play a variety of video and board games as part of a free program called the Senior Games.

    Bloomingdale Public Library offers ‘Senior Games’

    Old-fashioned board games have not lost their appeal for a group of senior citizens who meet monthly at the Bloomingdale Public Library to participate in the Senior Games program. Karen Paras said she’s been coming regularly “because no one else plays board games.” “Everybody (else) is on their little iPad doing their own individual little thing,” she said.

    Tom Cross, right, answers a question posed by the Daily Herald editorial board as Bob Grogan, his opponent, listens. They are running for Illinois treasurer in the Republican primary March 18.

    State treasurer candidates debate ‘extreme approach’ to balance budget

    Should the people of Illinois sue Gov. Pat Quinn and the General Assembly to force passage of a balanced budget for the first time in 10 years? One Illinois treasurer candidate, state Rep. Tom Cross of Oswego, considers it a viable option. His opponent, DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan of Downers Grove, calls the idea “ludicrous.” It’s one issue where the two treasurer...


    No one injured in Palatine garage fire

    No one was injured in a garage fire at a Palatine home on Thursday, officials said.

    All Mundelein High School students will be given Chromebook laptop computers starting in the fall.

    Mundelein High preparing to issue laptops to all students in fall

    As Mundelein High School officials prepare to issue laptop computers to all students next fall, they're cautioning teens and their parents about proper -- and improper -- use of the machines.

    Jason S. Elders

    Ex-Carpentersville firefighter found guilty of punching woman

    A former part-tme firefighter for Carpentersville and West Dundee pleaded guilty Thursday to misdemeanor battery and was sentenced to a year of court supervision, 30 hours of public service and ordered to pay $350 in court fines and costs. Jason S. Elders, 39, of St. Charles, punched a woman in the face several times at a Christmas party in December.


    Wright team in national event:

    Daniel Wright Junior High School’s Science Bowl team will be part of a national competition in April, officials announced Thursday.


    Rosemont signs ad agreements with Rivers Casino, Pepsi

    Rosemont will collect more money from advertising sponsorships with Rivers Casino and Pepsi at several of its properties. The village board this week approved a new advertising agreement with Rivers, which will pay $150,000 a year for three years in exchange for ads on ticket stubs at the Allstate Arena, and digital signage facing River Road at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.


    WINGS delivering roses to abuse victims

    Again this year, WINGS volunteers will deliver a dozen roses to domestic violence victims on Valentine’s Day. One of the WINGS graduates, Sarah McClarey, started the WINGS Alumni Association a few years ago. Its signature project, Operation Shelter Cupid, delivers roses to people living in all of the WINGS facilities and two other shelters in the Chicago area.


    Lincolnshire art display:

    The village of Lincolnshire is displaying art work created by residents from Sedgebrook Senior Living Community, 800 Audubon Way.


    Libertyville 100 years ago:

    Life in Libertyville 100 years ago will be the topic at the Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Cook Park Library, 413 N. Milwaukee Ave.


    Hoffman Estates remembers former trustee Boester

    Hoffman Estates officials past and present are remembering former village trustee Lloyd Boester, who passed away last month at the age of 78. Boester served on several Hoffman Estates committees, as well as on the village board for about a decade beginning in the late ‘90s.

    Howard E. Branding

    Funeral set for Lake Zurich business owner Howard Branding, 73

    Howard E. Branding, the former owner of one of downtown Lake Zurich's more popular eateries, is being remembered for his easygoing style — and a favorite breakfast dish. He died this week at age 73.


    House Republicans roll out heroin legislation in DuPage County

    DuPage County set an unwelcome record in 2013 with 46 heroin-related deaths. In response, several Republican lawmakers and DuPage County officials on Thursday unveiled proposed legislation they hope will ensure that record is never broken. The package, scheduled to be introduced piecemeal next month in Springfield, first calls for repurposing the former, 40-bed, DuPage County Youth Home in...


    District 50 kindergarten:

    Woodland Elementary District 50 will host kindergarten registration from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Woodland Primary School, 17366 W. Gages Lake Road, Gages Lake.


    Fox Valley police reports
    A $300 Coach purse, which contained several credit cards, an iPhone and $300, was stolen between 3 and 3:45 p.m. Tuesday from the 40N900 block of Woodlawn Lane near Elgin, according to a sheriff’s report.


    Tri-Cities police reports
    Two St. Charles women — Jody M. Campbell, 33, and Joyce K. Tatera, 52 — were charged with disorderly conduct Sunday on the 1800 block of Eldorado Drive, Geneva, according to a police report.


    Facebook’s new gender identity options
    Here's a look at Facebook's new gender identity options.

    Mark Rouse, owner of Runners High ‘n Tri in Arlington Heights, with his daughter following the 2013 Color Run in Arlington Heights. Supports will hold a “virtual run” in Rouse’s honor this weekend.

    Virtual race planned to help Arlington Hts. business owner

    Athletes around the suburbs will be running, biking or participating in other sports this weekend as part of a “virtual race” to raise money for Mark Rouse, owner of Runners High ‘n Tri in Arlington Heights. Rouse suffered from an aortic dissection, or a tear in his aorta, last week and is facing a long recovery in the hospital.


    Widow files suit in Palatine trash compactor death

    The widow of a legally blind Palatine man killed last year after he fell into his condominum building’s trash compactor while searching for a lost cellphone filed suit this week against the building’s management and homeowner’s association, alleging their negligence is to blame for his death.

    Richard Welton

    Former Gurnee Mayor ‘surprised’ at plan to put his name on plaza

    Gurnee's longest-serving mayor says he's "pleased and surprised" at a proposal for construction of a village plaza that would carry his name. Plans for the Richard A. Welton Village Plaza will be unveiled Monday.

    Matthew Barbini

    Palatine District 15 picks deputy superintendent

    The Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board this week hired Matthew Barbini as its new deputy superintendent of schools. Since 2007, Barbini has served as the assistant superintendent of student services in Highland Park-based North Shore School District 112.


    Starbucks, Subway on move in Mount Prospect

    A Starbucks will open in a new location in Mount Prospect next week, in the “Shops and Lofts” building at Northwest Highway and Emerson Street. Subway also is relocating to the Shops and Lofts building from the Northwest Highway/Wille center.


    Roselle seeking donations for fireworks

    If Roselle residents want the village to have a fireworks show in July, they need to dig into their pocketbooks to help pay for it. The town is once again doing a “Get a Bang for Your Buck” campaign in an effort to raise $25,000 for the village's annual fireworks display. “Everybody who came to the fireworks last year enjoyed them immensely,” Mayor Gayle Smolinski said.

    Thomas J. Franzen

    Police: Man caught with pot-laced chocolate bars

    Authorities said they arrested a Kane County man Wednesday after a 42-pound shipment of marijuana-infused chocolate bars was delivered to his home from a California dispensary. Thomas J. Franzen, of Montgomery, faces six to 30 years in prison if convicted. Police said the shipment contained 430 individually foil-wrapped chocolate bars that retail for $13 each, or a total of nearly $5,600.


    Fire causes $100,000 damage to Downers Grove home

    No injuries were reported Thursday morning in a fire that caused roughly $100,000 damage to a house on the 300 block of 55th Street in Downers Grove, authorities said. Firefighters said they arrived to find smoke coming from the roof and eaves of a small one-story house. The first crews on the scene entered the house and found the fire centered in the kitchen and extending into the attic.


    ATM customer robbed in Arlington Heights

    A customer retrieving cash from an ATM at a Chase bank branch at 43 E. Golf Road in Arlington Heights was robbed about 9:40 p.m. Wednesday, police said.

    Third-grader Anna DeRosa and classmates at Butterfield Elementary School in Libertyville play a version of the game Headbandz. They put hearts on their foreheads and tried to guess who they are during a Valentine’s Day party Thursday.

    Libertyville students celebrate Valentine’s Day

    Students in kindergarten through fifth grades celebrated Valentine’s Day early at the Libertyville Elementary District 70 schools.


    Elgin, casino bringing back fireworks this July 4

    For the first time in seven years, Fourth of July fireworks will be held this summer in Elgin, barring a last minute about-face by city council members. City council members voted at committee of the whole meeting Wednesday night to partner with Grand Victoria Casino for a concert and fireworks show at Festival Park.

    Lining lake shorelines with native plants, these Waubonsie Valley High School students teamed with the Fox Valley Park District to promote sustainability. The plants filter runoff, keeping waterways clean and creating a healthier environment for residents and wildlife alike.

    Piloting sustainability, FVPD a green leader

    Sustainability initiatives go back to the very origins of the Fox Valley Park District, which was created in 1947 to “protect and preserve scenic vistas along the Fox River,” among many other aspirations.

    Dwayne K. Smith

    West Chicago man charged in camera lens robberies

    A West Chicago man has been charged in connection with two recent robbery attempts involving camera lenses in Glen Ellyn. Dwayne K. Smith, 22, of the 29W200 block of Lee Road, faces charges of attempted aggravated robbery and aggravated robbery, Glen Ellyn police said Thursday. Smith responded to two separate Craigslist ads last week from residents trying to sell camera lenses, police said.

    Darwin Amador-Velasquez

    Chicago man gets 24 years in Villa Park robbery

    A Chicago man was sentenced Thursday to 24 years in prison for his role in a Villa Park home invasion in which three people were tied up and robbed. Darwin Amador-Velasquez, 30, or Chicago, was one of four men charged in the Feb. 12, 2013, crime that unfolded after one of the victims arranged to meet a prostitute at his home.

    Amy O’Herron’s sixth-grade class waves goodbye to Erin Blair, 32, an Olympic hockey referee in Sochi at the Winter Olympics. Blair teaches health at Lakewood School in Carpentersville. Blair Skyped with her students at 7:45 a.m. Thursday.

    Carpentersville teacher touches base from Winter Games

    With the lights dimmed and the volume turned up on the Skype call, 32 students at Lakewood School in Carpentersville quietly gathered around a SMART Board Thursday morning as their teacher, Erin Blair, described what it was like to be a hockey referee at the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, seen here, and House Speaker John Boehner convinced many in their GOP caucus to accept legislation lifting the nation’s borrowing authority with no concessions from the Obama administration.

    Debt limit saves GOP from political showdown

    Republicans’ new acquiescence to letting the government pile up more debt with no strings attached paid double political dividends: It spared the GOP another politically debilitating showdown with President Barack Obama and also forced Democrats to cast votes that rivals immediately used against them in this year’s midterm elections.

    Hanover Park Police Chief David Webb

    Hanover Park police see historic drop in crime

    For the fourth straight year, Hanover Park crime stats fell dramatically to a record low. Police credited community policing and an embrace of social media for a 20 percent drop in the number of serious crimes recorded last year. "Our commitment to working with the community to reduce crime seems to be paying off," Police Chief David Webb said.


    NSA to Congress: Snowden copied co-worker password

    The National Security Agency is telling Congress that former NSA analyst Edward Snowden gained access to at least some classified files by copying a password from a co-worker who has now resigned.

    A taxi cab is surrounded by water on a flooded street after a water main break flooded several blocks in Detroit.

    Winter takes toll on nation’s pipes and pavement

    This merciless winter is taking a heavy toll on the nation’s pipes and pavement, breaking hundreds of water mains that turn streets into frozen rivers and opening potholes so big they snap tire rims and wheel axles like Popsicle sticks. From Iowa to New York and Michigan to Georgia, the relentless cycle of snow and bitter cold is testing the strength of the steel-and-cement skeletons on...

    The DuPage County Forest Preserve District, which owns Graue Mill, is considering whether to make structural improvements to the historic structure in Oak Brook.

    DuPage forest preserve looks at Graue Mill improvements

    Graue Mill in Oak Brook could get much-needed repairs and a major expansion, depending on how far DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioners want to go with proposed improvements to the historic structure. Numerous repairs are needed to address “repeated flooding of the structure, wear and tear on the mechanical gears and grist operations, and compromises to wooden structural components...

    Organizer Harold Lucas is part of a group advocating for Bronzeville, the city's historic center of black culture, business and politics, to become the home to a Barack Obama presidential library. Bronzville is one of six potential Chicago sites bidding to be the location for the library, each backed by different interests.

    Rival Chicago groups clash over Obama library bid

    Barack Obama's journey from community organizer to lawmaker to president was also a journey through several different Chicagos, from the city's isolated and neglected Far South Side to its elite centers of political and social power. So it's perhaps no surprise that the contest to host his presidential library has set off some classic Chicago infighting between activists in depressed...

    Marco Ortiz.

    Immigration debate often overlooks personal costs

    Guest columnist Maro Ortiz: The bitter cold felt this past Jan. 29 wasn't an obstacle for the 99 individuals who attended their naturalization ceremony in Chicago. Among these new citizens was my 23-year-old daughter.


    Ky. gas line blast injures 2, destroys homes

    An underground gas line in rural southern Kentucky exploded early Thursday, sending two people to the hospital and destroying two homes, a county official said.

    Randy Johnson, right, and Luke Barlowe answer questions following the announcement from U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn striking down Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Louisville, Ky. Heyburn stated that the state’s law approved by voters in 2004 treated “gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them.”

    Ky. gay marriage ruling looks to precedents

    A federal judge has ruled that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, pointing not only to recent decisions that have struck down bans in other states but also to older rulings on a person’s right to marry. While the case dealt with out-of-state marriages, it does not require the state to perform same-sex marriages.

    Starved Rock State Park site superintendent Mark McConnaughhay points to Curtis Canyon, part of White Oak Campground property south of Utica.

    Old campground folded into Starved Rock

    Mark McConnaughhay stepped through deep snow to the bluff edge. White-tailed deer darted along the hillside. Two bald eagles roosting in a tree took flight. McConnaughhay, site superintendent for Starved Rock State Park, was checking out the park's latest land acquisition, the former White Oak Campground south of Utica.

    Workers begin to demolish a portion of a building in Mount Prospect Wednesday due to severe damages left by an early Sunday morning fire.

    Mt. Prospect demolishes part of historic building

    With the partial demolition of the 1926 Busse Building assured in downtown Mt. Prospect, our communities are in danger of losing another unique old building that for many years defined the downtowns of suburbia.

    Here is another picture of the original Busse building looking south on Main Street.

    Editorial: In aftermath of downtown fire, an ode to the old

    When the wrecking ball attacks the Busse Building in Mount Prospect, an important piece of our suburban past will be relegated to the landfill. A Daily Herald editorial reflects on the heritage reflected in many suburban landmarks.


    1 dies in house fire in central Illinois

    Fire officials say one person died in a house fire in the small, rural central Illinois community of Lexington. Wednesday’s blaze took firefighters more than seven hours to extinguish. The found the person’s body in the kitchen of the home.

    A track worker repairs some lights that were damaged after a worker was hit by a forerunner bobsled just before the men’s two-man bobsled training at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

    IOC: Bobsled track worker has broken legs

    An Olympic track worker struck by a bobsled broke both his legs and may have a concussion, IOC officials said Thursday. The worker was on the track when he was hit by a forerunning sled near the finish line at the Sanki Sliding Center, just before the start of Thursday’s two-man bobsled training.


    Boy, 14, killed in gang-related Chicago shooting

    Authorities say a 14-year-old boy died after being shot in the head on Chicago’s South Side. Police spokesman Hector Alfaro says the shooting happened around 8 p.m.


    Illinois lawmakers seek marijuana reclassification

    Two lawmakers from Illinois are among 18 members of Congress who’ve sent a bipartisan letter to President Barack Obama supporting the removal of marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

    U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is holding a second hearing on the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails.

    Durbin to hold hearing on solitary confinement

    U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is holding a second hearing on the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails. The Illinois Democrat said in a statement he will chair the hearing on Feb. 25 in Washington.


    Fort Wayne sets record low for day at 15 below

    The National Weather Service says Fort Wayne’s temperature dropped Wednesday morning to 15 degrees below zero, breaking the city’s record for the coldest mark on the date.


    Man sentenced for soliciting sex for neighbor

    A Racine County judge has banned a Waterford man from using the Internet after he posted fraudulent ads on Craigslist soliciting sex for his neighbor.

    Officials in an Indianapolis suburb say they might hire trappers to deal with a surge in complaints about coyotes in the community.

    Indianapolis suburb consider coyote trappers

    Officials in an Indianapolis suburb say they might hire trappers to deal with a surge in complaints about coyotes in the community. Carmel officials say the city just north of Indianapolis continues receiving reports of coyote sightings and about cats and dogs being threatened or missing.


    Hearing on bid to form college players’ union

    A federal agency has begun a hearing on a request by Northwestern University football players who are trying to form a first-of-its-kind college athletes union.


    Jail inmates get creative with contraband

    With a lot of time on their hands, inmates at the Howard County jail can be creative. Unlike state prisons where drugs, cellphones and cigarettes make up the majority of contraband found, most of the banned items found inside the Howard County jail are homemade. “Most of the stuff we find is made by inmates,” said Assistant Jail Commander Lt. Robin Byers.


    Quinn to bestow ‘Order of Lincoln’ on 7

    Seven Illinoisans will receive the state’s highest honor for professional achievement and public service this year. Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday he will bestow the “Order of Lincoln” on the recipients at a May ceremony.


    Olympic skater honored; Arlington Hts. names acting fire chief

    Olympic skater honored with ice sculpture. Arlington Heights names acting fire chief. Rolling Meadows woman with a passion for helping others has died. GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Jim Oberweis says he wouldn't back a federal medical marijuana law. Termination hearing starts for Carol Stream Fire Protection District battalion chief. Bulls' Rose only thinking about his rehab.

    Vicki Rae Thorne of Sleepy Hollow is one of the organizers for an event Friday in Elgin to bring awareness and to recognize survivors of rape and violence. Thorne knitted this scarf with panels representing victims.

    Elgin event to spotlight violence against women

    Vicki Rae Thorne of Sleepy Hollow kept secret for almost 40 years that she had been sexually assaulted. "I was in a really dark place. Until I broke my silence, I felt like an island,” she said. “Now, I feel fantastic." She is among the organizers of a Friday event in Elgin designed to bring awareness to all forms of violence against women.

    Milton Whitington, 63, of Waukegan is all smiles Wednesday as he gets into his car. The refurbished Dodge Neon was presented to Whittington through a program called Recycled Ride sponsored by Carstar in Mundelein and Esurance.

    Waukegan man grateful for his new set of wheels

    When Milton Whittington was told he'd been nominated to receive a free car through a national promotion to help people in need, he was dubious. “I didn't believe it,” Whittington, of Waukegan, said. “I was very wary.” But on Wednesday, as the 63-year-old Army veteran climbed behind the wheel of a shiny, silver 2005 Dodge Neon SE, he smiled broadly. “I'm...

    Terri Cornelius, left, and her husband, Gerald Jacobs of Lake in the Hills, talk about what they want in the next superintendent to lead Community Unit District 300, during a community forum held Wednesday. They were among 11 people attending.

    Community has its say on next Dist. 300 superintendent

    The next person to lead Community Unit District 300 should trust the staff’s expertise, inspire greatness among students and staff, hold people accountable for their performance, support special education students and possess the political chops to fight for the district, about a dozen parents and residents said Wednesday. It also wouldn’t hurt if the future superintendent is...


    Difficulties can’t defeat us when we receive God’s love.

    It’s my desire that, whatever hardship you’re facing this Valentine’s Day, this message will help you receive God’s love. He loves you because he is love. It is his nature to love and forgive, says columnist Annettee Budzban


    Applicants sought for sheriff’s scholarships

    The Lake County Sheriff’s office will award one $500 scholarship to a student wishing to pursue higher education in the 2014-15 academic year, the office announced in a news release.


    Former White Sox starter Jack McDowell

    Black Jack McDowell is back, and he has thoughts

    Former White Sox Cy Young Award winner Jack McDowell was back at U.S. Cellular Field Thursday night. Beat writer Scot Gregor caught up with "Black Jack," who was typicaly candid on a number of topics.


    Girls basketball/Fox Valley roundup

    Larkin 48, West Chicago 40: Stopping a 3-game losing skid to close out the regular season, the Royals (10-18) were able to handle West Chicago at home in Upstate Eight crossover action. Freshman Marlee Kyles scored a team-high 16 points for the Royals. Quixmia Washington and Rachel Martinez were also able to contribute for Larkin, scoring 8 and 7 points respectively.East Aurora 34, Elgin 32: Despite holding East Aurora to just 1 point in the first half, the Maroons (6-21) were unable to pull off the Upstate Eight crossover victory at Chesbrough Field House. Senior Maggie Powers did not go quietly into the night in her last home game. The 2-year captain scored half of her team’s points, finishing with a team-high 16. “Powers played a heck of a game. I’m real proud of her and all our seniors,” Maroons coach Dr. Nick Bumbales said.Hinckley-Big Rock 62, Harvest Christian 35: “A great season and a huge improvement” is how Lions coach Kelly Friestad described her team after they finally ran out of gas, losing in the Class 1A regional championship game to host Hinckley-Big Rock. Kylee Knox, the area’s leading scorer at over 20 points per game, was held to just 12 points for the Lions (15-11) and faced pressure the entire night. “They doubled Kylee almost the whole game,” Friestad said. “There were a couple of times she got out of it but it got to be too much.” Rachel Oostdyk led the Lions with 13 points.Burlington Central 50, Glenbard West 34: The Rockets (22-4) were able to pick up another win before the playoffs, winning a nonconference game at Glenbard West. Sophomore Sam Pryor was a force on the floor, hitting 4 3-pointers and going 6 of 6 from the free-throw line to finish with a game-high 22 points. Alison Colby also added 10 points for the Rockets, who scored in double-digits each quarter.

    Elgin Community College's Zach Cooper makes his way around a block by College of DuPage's Ryan Rader during a game in Elgin last season.

    ECC soph nearly dies on basketball court

    Elgin Community College sophomore Zach Cooper might have died on the basketball court last week had it not been for the quick response of certified athletic trainer Alicia Mikulski, armed with an automatic external defibrillator. Cooper, a Lake Park High School graduate, was enjoying the best season of his basketball career when he lost consciousness and nearly died.


    Girls gymnastics scoreboard: Thursday’s results
    Thursday’s results*NILES NORTH SECTIONALTEAM SCORESNew Trier 142-875, Carmel 141.050, Stevenson 137.650, Glenbrook South 136.750, Mundelein 134.875, Glenbrook North 130.100.STATE QUALIFIERS(The top 5 competitors advance to the next stage automatically. At-large advancers will be announced on the IHSA Web site no later than 10 a.m. on Monday.)Vault — Moccia (Lake Forest), 9.525, Hartley (GbkS) 9.425, Betman (GbkN) 9.400, Shank (Stev) 9.350, Kehr (Mun) 9.325, Burns (NT) 9.325.Uneven bars — Moccia (Lake Forest) 9.225, Lee (Libertyville) 9.200, Stoddart (NT) 9.175, Osowski (Car) 9.000, Shank (Stev) 8.900.Balance beam — Weisberg (Stev) 9.625, Moccia (Lake Forest) 9.600, Sullivan (Loyola Acad.) 9.575, Kehr (Mun) 9.550, Hartley (GbkS) 9.425.Floor exercise — Moccia (Lake Forest) 9.500, Shank (Stev) 9.400, Osowski (Car) 9.400, Kehr (Mun) 9.350, Sullivan (Loyola Acad.) 9.325.All-around — Moccia (Lake Forest) 37.850, Shank (Stev) 36.925, Kehr (Mun) 36.725, Weisberg (Stev) 36.650, Hartley (GbkS) 36.625.


    Girls basketball scoreboard: Thursday’s results
    *Class 2A Ottawa Marquette regional championship gameAurora Christian 53, Seneca 49Aurora Christian — Andersen 3 2-8 9, Madsen 3 3-4 11, Robinson 3 0-0 7, Moser 1 3-4 5, Brown 5 2-4 12, Galbato 2 5-6 9, Hultine 0 0-0 0, Hochsprung 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 15-26 53Seneca — Misener 2 2-2 6, Hauch 7 1-3 16, Juricic 2 0-0 4, Baker 7 0-0 14, Lamboley 4 0-0 9, Anderson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 3-5 49Aurora Christian 17 12 8 14 —53Seneca 15 11 10 13 —493-point baskets: AC: Madsen 2, Andersen, Robinson; S: Hauch, LamboleyFouled out: S: Misener, Baker*GRANT 58, LAKE FOREST ACADEMY 47Grant — Wold 1 1-4 3, Ja. Sangster 6 0-1 14, Ju. Sangster 4 2-2 10, Filip 0 0-0 0, Kanzler 7 2-5 17, Weaver 0 0-0 0, Hundley 1 0-0 3, Drake 5 1-4 11. Totals 24 6-16 58.LFA — Tarr 3 1-2 8, Akogu 0 0-0 0, Ja. Sawyer 4 1-2 9, Levitt 0 0-0 0, Krasnow 2 2-2 7, Al. Sawyer 4 2-2 10, Sturkey 3 6-10 13. Totals 16 12-18 47.Grant 11 20 6 21 —58LFA 8 11 15 13 —473-point baskets: Grt: Ja. Sangster 2, Kanzler, Hundley; LFA: Tarr, Krasnow, Sturkey.*Class 1A Hinckley-Big Rock regionalHinckley-Big Rock 62, Harvest Christian 35Harvest — Rayappa 3 0-0 6, Lockwood 0 2-2 2, Knox 5 1-2 12, Ellis 0 0-0 0, Hendricks 0 0-0 0, Carrillo 0 0-0 0, Oostdyk 6 1-2 13, Rodriguez 0 2-2 2. Totals 14 6-8 35.Hinckley — no stats reported.Harvest 11 14 6 4 —35Hinckley 13 13 19 17 —623-point baskets: HCA — Knox.*Geneva 56, Bartlett 45Bartlett — Lyjack 1 1-2 3, Brohan 1 0-0 2, Arco 4 2-4 10, Giampapa 7 0-0 19, Harris 0 0-0 0, Johnson 3 0-0 9, Janczak 0 0-0 0, Gerdevich 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 3-8 45.Geneva — Novak 1 0-0 2, Seberger 5 1-3 13, McCloughan 2 5-6 9, Santos 2 0-0 4, Loberg 10 4-9 24, Williams 0 0-0 0, Dunn 2 0-0 4, Reynolds 0 0-0 0, Loebel 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 10-18 56.Bartlett 11 12 9 13 —45Geneva 11 18 13 14 —563-point baskets: B — Giampapa 5, Johnson 3; G — Seberger 2.*St. Charles North 56, South Elgin 51South Elgin — Uveges 3 1-2 7, Tracy 4 3-3 12, D. Kelleher 0 0-0 0, Fahey 0 0-0 0, Miller 5 4-8 14, Williams 0 0-0 0, M. Kelleher 2 6-11 10, Yang 3 1-2 8. Totals 17 15-26 51. STC North — Neslund 0 2-4 2, Rosencrants 8 5-9 21, Davern 0 0-0 0, Helsel 2 4-6 10, Novak 1 0- 1 3, Sample 1 0-0 2, Davidson 8 2-2 18, Mackay-Zacker 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 13-22 56. South Elgin 6 14 9 22 —51STC North 14 7 17 18 —563-point baskets: SE — Tracy, Yang,; SCN — Helsel 2, Novak.Fouled out: SE — Uveges.*Streamwood 55, Metea Valley 46Metea Valley — Cast 0 0-0 0, Logan 4 1-2 10, Lawrence 1 0-0 2, Clay 2 0-0 6, Voytell 6 2-2 15, Parker 3 5-6 11, Morgan 1 0-0 2, Gaul 0 0-1 0, Bobo 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 8-11 46. Streamwood — Cimino 0 0-0 0, Giwa 0 2-2 2, Foret 7 4-4 21, Caldera 0 0-0 0, McGlone 5 0-0 10, Williams 4 2-6 10, Jeremiah 2 7-8 12, Hawkins 0 0-0 0, Miranda 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 15-20 55. Metea Valley 12 12 6 16 —46Streamwood 11 18 7 19 —553-point baskets: MV — Clay 2, Voytell, Logan; S — Foret 3, Jeremiah.*Larkin 48, West Chicago 40West Chicago — Molskow 4 2-4 11, Sartore 0 1-2 1, Gimre 7 4-6 19, Kusper 1 0-0 2, Williams 3 1-3 7, Warrins 0 0-1 0. Totals 15 8-16 40.Larkin — Kyles 6 4-5 16, McGhee 2 0-0 6, Wahl 1 0-0 2, Washington 3 2-5 8, Hill 1 1-2 3, Casebeer 2 0-0 4, Evans 1 0-0 2, Martinez 3 1-3 7. Totals 19 7-15 48.West Chicago 5 7 9 19 —40Larkin 9 15 13 11 —483-point baskets: WC — Molskow, Gimre; L — McGhee 2.*East Aurora 34, Elgin 32East Aurora — Sanchez 1 0-2 2, Bell 0 1-2 1, Esparsze 7 1-1 17, Sepeda 3 0-0 7, Shepard 1 4-13 6, Villezcas 0 1-2 1, Adekdia 0 0-2 0. Totals 12 7-22 34.


    Boys basketball scoreboard: Thursday’s results
    Thursday’s results*graySLAKE CENTRAL 73, WOODSTOCK NORTH 68 (OT)Woodstock North — Jandron 5 5-6 17, L. Ortiz 5 1-2 13, Basaran 1 0-0 2, Creighton 4 0-3 9, Herscha 7 2-2 16, V. Ortiz 2 3-4 7, Devore 1 0-0 2, Peterson 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 11-17 68.Grayslake Central — Loeffl 0 0-0 0, Vargo 1 0-0 2, Mudd 1 2-5 4, Reed 4 4-6 12, Benko 6 3-5 15, Anderson 2 6-9 10, Fleming 0 0-0 0, Llorens 4 0-0 10, Ruhlmann 5 2-3 12, Beckman 4 0-2 8. Totals 27 17-30 73.Woodstock North 11 13 17 23 4 —68Grayslake Central 17 16 16 15 9 —733-point baskets: WN: Jandron 2, L. Ortiz 2, Creighton; GC: Llorens 2.Fouled out: WN: Herscha, V. Ortiz*Cary-Grove 51, Huntley 48Huntley — Jacobs 1 0-1 2, Slonka 0 0-0 0, Egekeze 12 5-5 30, Gorney 5 0-1 10, Wicks 0 1-4 1, Bessey 1 0-2 2, Spoeth 1 0-0 23. C. Boesch 0 0-2 0. Totals 20 6-15 48.Cary-Grove — Szydlo 2 1-2 5, Blair 1 0-0 2, Coleman 2 0-0 5, McDonough 2 0-0 6, Gregoire 5 9-11 21, Franz 1 0-0 2, Krich 2 0-0 6, Sutherland 0 0-0 0, Barr 2 0-0 4. Totals 17 10-13 51.Huntley 11 13 14 10 —48Cary-Grove 17 10 10 14 —513-point baskets: H — Egekeze, Spoeth; C-G — Krich 2, Gregoire 2, McDonough 2, Coleman.*christian liberty acad. 65, Roycemore 58Roycemore — Hewit 8 9-12 27.Christian Liberty Acad. — Daniel 4 0-0 11, Kemper 2 0-0 5, Silva 3 2-4 10, Swiderek 11 4-9 29, Salomonson 4 2-4 10. Totals 24 8-17 65.Roycemore 10 15 11 22 —58CLA 15 17 18 15 —653-point baskets: CLA: Daniel 3, Kemper, Swiderek 3, Silva 3.*IC CAtholic Prep 78, Marian Central 66IC Catholic Prep — Epting 5 13-19 24, Sutton 6 (0-2) 16, Taylor 5 1-3 11, C. Brinkman 4 1-1 9, Lyles 2 4-4 8, Fleming 3 1-4 8, Rowell 1 0-0 2, daly 0 0-0 0, Muno 0 0-0 0, S. Brinkman 0 0-0 0, Russ 0 0-0 0, Turkowski 0 0-0 0, Burrows 0 0-0 0Marian Central — Piscke 4 6-7 14, Lindell 4 4-5, Waytula 1 7-9 9, Ricchiuto 4 1-1 9, Caldez 4 0-1 7, Patterson 3 0-0 7, Einecker 1 0-0 2, Haley 1 0-0 2IC Catholic Prep 21 20 16 21 —78Marian Central 16 15 17 18 —663-point baskets: IC: Sutton 4, Epting, Fleming. MC: Lindell, Caldez, Patterson*WHeaton Academy 66, Walther CHristian 55Walther Christian — Willis 2 0-0 4; Stockley 7 3-4 21; Hardrick 5 2-2 14; Coleman 1 1-2 3; Morrison 4 0-2 8; Reynolds 0 0-0 0; McNeil 0 0-0 0; Duff 2 0-0 5. Totals 21 6-10 55.Wheaton Academy — Collins 0 0-0 0; Smith 1 0-0 3; Johnson 0 0-0 0; Sandberg 0 0-2 0; Ruggles 5 6-6 18; Burdett 2 1-2 6; B. Fuzak 2 3-6 7; Behr 5 3-5 15; Williams 1 0-0 2; C. Fuzak 5 2-4 12; Lindstedt 1 1-2 3. Totals 22 16-26 66.Walther Christian 11 20 14 10 —55Wheaton Acadmey 23 13 14 16 —663-point baskets: WC: Stockley 4, Hardrick 2, Duff. WA: Smith, Ruggles 2, Burdett, Behr 2. Fouled out: None.*

    (25) Kayla Sharples of Naperville North and (13) Katie Moran of Naperville Central give it their all during the Naperville North at Naperville Central girls basketball game Thursday.

    Ryan, Naperville Central stun Naperville North

    Naperville Central senior Shannon Ryan didn’t score until the third quarter of Thursday’s girls basketball game against cross-town rival Naperville North. She was just saving her points for a more dramatic moment.


    Cary-Grove upsets Huntley

    Compared to the duel that materialized between Huntley’s Amanze Egekeze and Cary-Grove’s Jason Gregoire in Cary-Grove’s 51-48 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division boys basketball upset win at Elroy Fitzgerald Gymnasium Thursday night, Tyler Szydlo’s 5 points for the Trojans didn’t seem to measure up to much. After all, two of the top 10 scorers in the area — Egekeze, who poured in a game-high 30 and Gregoire scored a team-high 21 — put on a show so to speak, but the “ooh and ahh” factor Szydlo displayed with 57 seconds left resonated the biggest cheers of the night for the Trojans (13-9, 6-3).


    Stevenson’s Shank an all-around success

    Elizabeth Shank didn’t know what to expect going into the state gymnastics series. The Stevenson junior chalked up the sectional runner-up spot in the all-around competition with a 36.925 at Niles North, as she refused to let her nerves get the best of her Thursday night.


    Every detail concerns bowlers heading into sectionals

    It’s the bane of furniture restorers but will be crucial at Saturday’s girls state bowling sectionals.

    Geneva’s Grace Loberg blocks a shot by Bartlett’s Shelley Lyjack (11) during Thursday’s game in Geneva.

    Geneva beats Bartlett for 9th straight

    Geneva’s girls basketball team appears to be peaking at the right time. The Vikings (21-5) extended their winning streak to 9 heading into postseason play next week with a 56-45 victory over Bartlett (16-11) in Thursday’s Upstate Eight Conference crossover contest between the second-place finishers from the River and Valley Divisions, respectively.


    Cubs add pair of pitchers

    The Cubs on Thursday made the official announcement of free-agent contracts for pitchers Jason Hammel and James McDonald. Hammel is likely to gain the fourth spot in the team's starting rotation.

    Bulls center Joakim Noah, the team’s only all-star, shoots against the Nets’ Paul Pierce during the second half Thursday night at the United Center. The Bulls go into the all-star break at 27-25.

    Bulls feeling good heading into break

    The Bulls returned to two games above .500 for the first time since the day Derrick Rose suffered his season-ending knee injury in Portland. By beating Brooklyn 92-76 on Thursday at the United Center, the Bulls headed into the all-star break on a three-game win streak.


    Aurora Christian knocks off top-seed Seneca

    Down by a point in the final minute of the Class 2A Ottawa Marquette regional championship game Thursday night, Charissa Robinson didn’t hesitate to shoot when the ball came to her in the right corner.


    West Aurora rallies past Lake Park

    Taylor Jacobsen escaped the doghouse with impeccable timing for the West Aurora girls basketball team Thursday night.


    Wheaton North runs away from Glenbard North

    A 59-39 result was just what the Wheaton North girls basketball was looking for to close its regular season, defeating the Glenbard North Panthers on Thursday at Glenbard North.


    Regional crown eludes Lisle again

    In search of its first regional crown in a decade, the Lisle girls basketball team came up short Thursday night, suffering its second consecutive regional-final defeat.


    St. Charles North upends South Elgin

    Junior Nichole Davidson and sophomore Morgan Rosencrants, when their games are on, give St. Charles North’s girls basketball team a formidable scoring tandem. Thursday night, their games were on. Davidson and Rosencrants each had a double-double as the North Stars led from wire-to-wire in defeating South Elgin 56-51 in an Upstate Eight crossover game in St. Charles.


    Football assumes top priority for Lakes’ Edwards

    There’s still about a month left of basketball season, but TJ Edwards is already in football mode. The Lakes senior guard has decided to shift his focus to training and putting on weight for next season, when he will be playing college football at Wisconsin. He will not be playing in any more basketball games for the Eagles.


    Sullivan, Christian Liberty net regional title

    To say Megan Sullivan has had a banner sports career at Christian Liberty Academy could not be any more fitting. The Chargers senior guard became the first girl in school history to help hang a regional banner in Grace Gymnasium in three different sports. Sullivan’s 20 points, 10 steals and 6 assists helped the CLA get its first regional title in girls basketball with a 56-21 victory over Chicagoland Jewish in the Chargers’ own Class 1A regional.


    Prospect joins Fremd, Barrington in state field

    The Knights missed qualifying to the girls gymnastics state meet in 2012 by one spot, finishing .325 points behind Lake Forest. Just last year, they missed qualifying to the state meet by two spots, finishing only .175 behind Lake Forest. Then, to start this season, the Knights lost top all-around gymnast senior Gianna Scala to an ACL injury. But Prospect regrouped, finishing fourth at the Conant sectional on Monday after scoring a 142.925. That meant the Knights had to sit tight for the conclusion of the final three sectionals in hopes of earning an at-large berth to the state meet. Prospect was rewarded for its patience on Thursday night, as it was confirmed that the Knights advanced. “Finally,” said Prospect coach Randy Smith, who along with the core of his team attended Thursday night’s final sectional at Niles North. “We had a good feeling, but you never know. I think when we finally saw the results and knew we were in, we were able to let out a big exhale.”

    Streamwood’s Hannah McGlone shoots around Metea Valley’s Jenny Voytell Thursday in Streamwood.

    Emotional win for Streamwood

    Senior Night is always special and emotional. Thursday night was a little more of both for Streamwood’s Hannah McGlone. McGlone’s father, Greg, was in the stands for the first time since the last week of January following a recent stay in a hospital. He got to see McGlone play her final game at Streamwood, a 55-46 victory over Metea Valley in an Upstate Eight Conference girls basketball crossover game.


    Benko delivers as Grayslake Central prevails

    Michael Benko scored a season-high 15 points, and Grayslake Central’s boys basketball team rallied after squandering a fourth-quarter lead to outlast visiting Woodstock North 73-68 in overtime Thursday night.

    Before facing his former team Thursday night, ex-Bull Marquis Teague talked about feeling supported by Nets coach Jason Kidd. “When I’m in the game, he’s letting me make decisions,” Teague said. “He’s just letting me play, letting me get freedom. I’m confident.

    Teague feeling confident in new role with Nets

    Since arriving in Brooklyn, former Bulls guard Marquis Teague is seeing a little more game action, but not much. Before facing his former team, though, Teague talked about feeling support from Nets coach Jason Kidd.

    Photos from the Naperville North at Naperville Central girls basketball game Thursday, Feb. 13.

    Images: Naperville North vs. Naperville Central girls basketball
    Naperville Central hosted Naperville North Thursday, Feb. 13 for girls basketball.

    Streamwood’s Kiana Jeremiah, left, and Holly Foret double-team Metea Valley’s Jenny Voytell .

    Images: Metea Valley vs. Streamwood girls basketball
    Streamwood hosted Metea Valley in a girls basketball matchup Thursday night in Streamwood.

    Warren’s Eric Gillespie drives to the hoop during the Blue Devil’s game against North Chicago on Tuesday night.

    Warren’s Gillespie standing tall

    Warren point guard Eric Gillespie might be small in stature, but he's been making big plays for Warren all season.

    Michigan State’s Adreian Payne (5) pulls down a rebound against Northwestern’s Alex Olah (22) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in East Lansing, Mich. Payne led Michigan State with 20 points and 14 rebounds in an 85-70 win.

    No. 9 Michigan State beats Northwestern 85-70

    dreian Payne had 20 points and 14 rebounds, and No. 9 Michigan State cruised past Northwestern 85-70 on Thursday night to stay tied atop the Big Ten. The Spartans (21-4, 10-2) are even in the standings with rival Michigan — and those two teams meet in Ann Arbor on Feb. 23.

    Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, right, celebrates with Taj Gibson after Gibson scored a basket during the second half of a game against the Brooklyn Nets Thursday night at the United Center. The Bulls won 92-76.

    Gibson, Boozer leads Bulls past Nets, 92-76

    Taj Gibson scored 16 points and Carlos Boozer returned for an injury to add 15 in the Chicago Bulls’ 92-76 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night. Boozer missed the last three games because of a strained left calf. Joakim Noah had 14 points and 13 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double. The Bulls (27-25) moved two games above .500 for the first time since they were 6-4 on Nov. 21. They have won four of five.


    Scouting wrestling sectionals / Lake County

    Here's a look at the upcoming wrestling sectionals, from the perspective of teams in Lake County.


    Star-studded audiences watching Stevenson

    The gym at Stevenson was packed from top to bottom last Friday night for the Patriots’ North Suburban Conference Lake Division battle for first place against Zion-Benton. Yet, not everyone could blend in with the crowd. The Stevenson student section made sure to point out the star power in the building. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo was there to scout Stevenson star guard Jalen Brunson. Ditto for Illinois head coach John Groce, who brought his entire staff.

    Montini’s Kelly Karlis, center, looks to pass up court against Bolingbrook during the 24th annual McDonald’s Shootout, a girls basketball tournament at Willowbrook High School.

    Let the fun begin

    Can you feel it? Conference championships are being won. The Class 1A and Class 2A girls basketball playoffs are under way, with Class 3A and Class 4A kicking off next week and the boys playoffs just around the corner.


    Kanzler, Grant top LFA

    Kaylie Kanzler’s 17 points led three players in double figures for Grant’s girls basketball team, as the Bulldogs wrapped up the regular season Thursday night with a 58-47 win over host Lake Forest Academy.

    Bryan McNulty

    Hard-hitting McNulty happily adds football to his Warren duties

    Bryan McNulty says he's honored to be Warren's next football coach.

    Nothing says Winter Olympics quite like curling as Erika Brown, skip of the United States team, middle, delivers the rock to her sweepers Ann Swisshelm, left, and Jessica Schultz during women’s curling competition against Japan on Thursday.

    Olympic thoughts while trying to survive winter

    The good and bad from the Olympics, plus some very random thoughts and more in this week's Spellman's Scorecard.


    Scouting sectional wrestling / Northwest

    Here's a look at this weekend's wrestling sectionals, from the perspective of teams in the Mid-Suburban League plus Maine West and St. Viator.

    Naperville Central and guard Ryan Antony have won their last nine games.

    Naperville Central feeling good

    A handful of boys basketball teams can make an argument for being the best in the Class 4A East Aurora sectional.There’s no debating the hottest team.Naperville Central solidified that honor with last week’s 57-56 DuPage Valley Conference victory at West Aurora, a win sealed by Ryan Antony’s late 3-pointer. If the Redhawks (17-5) beat Wheaton Warrenville South on Friday, they’ll be riding a nine-game winning streak into sectional seeding.


    Crowded gyms, big games no excuse for herd mentality

    Unfortunately, as the intensity and magnitude of basketball games increase as the season winds down, so does the likelihood of hearing things spewed from crowds that make you wonder if some people think before they speak, er, shout. Sportsmanship statements that are announced to fans before games seem to have fallen on deaf ears about 4.3 seconds after the opening tip.

    Senior Sebastian Piekarski helps put host Barrington in a position of authority entering this weekend’s Mid-Suburban League meet.

    Outlook’s sunny for this MSL meet

    This weekend's Mid-Suburban League boys swimming and diving championships will bring to light some terrific competition as the conference continues to improve by leaps and bounds.

    Images from the Bartlett vs. Geneva girls basketball game Thursday, February 13, 2014.

    Images: Bartlett vs. Geneva girls basketball
    Geneva hosted Bartlett in a girls basketball matchup Thursday night in Geneva.

    France’s Martin Fourcade competes during the men’s biathlon 20k individual race.

    Images: Winter Olympics, Thursday, February 13th
    Images of Thursday at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Highlights include figure skating, speedskating, luge, curling, and much more.


    Bartlett, Lightning schedule softball clinics

    Bartlett softball coach Jim Wolfsmith has scheduled two clinic dates for players in grades 4-8. The camps will focus primarily on hitting but there will be pitchers on hand to work with those skills. The clinics will be run by the Bartlett High School coaching staff and players.

    Jason Brown competes Thursday in the men's short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics.

    Highland Park's Jason Brown sixth after short program

    Highland Park resident Jason Brown sits in sixth place after the men's short program in Sochi today. He scored 86 points. Yuzuru Hanyu leads heading into Friday night's final with 101.45 points. Brown is less than a point out of third place.

    Evgeni Plushenko of Russia, left, speaks with team members, including his coach Alexei Mishin, right, before he pulled out of the men’s short program figure skating competition due to illness at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.

    Plushenko withdraws from Olympic figure skating

    Evgeni Plushenko withdrew for medical reasons Thursday from the men’s figure skating competition at the Sochi Olympics. The four-time medalist who helped Russia win the team gold over the weekend fell on a triple axel during warmups for the short program and immediately grabbed his back.

    Men’s freestyle ski slopestyle medalists from the United States Gus Kenworthy, left, silver, Joss Christensen, center, gold, and Nicholas Goepper, bronze, right, pose for photographers Thursday at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

    5 things to know Thursday about the Sochi Olympics

    Fast five, Thursday edition: Things you’ll want to know about the 2014 Winter Olympics. Team USA got a sorely needed medal boost with Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper sweeping the podium in freestyle ski slopestyle. Temperatures in Sochi reached into the mid-60s on Thursday as the warm front on the beachside resort town continued. The Russian men’s hockey team made its Sochi debut on Thursday, and the headliners of the Winter Games enlivened the rest of Olympic Park.

    USA goaltender Jonathan Quick and defenseman John Carlson (4) defend against Slovakia defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) during the 2014 Winter Olympics men’s ice hockey game at Shayba Arena, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. USA defeated Slovakia 7-1.

    USA crushes Slovakia 7-1 in men’s Olympic hockey

    Paul Stastny scored twice during a six-goal barrage in the second period, and the United States got off to a spectacular start in the Olympic men’s hockey tournament with a 7-1 victory over Slovakia on Thursday. Ryan Kesler, David Backes, Phil Kessel and Dustin Brown also scored as the Americans battered Slovakia for six consecutive goals in a 13:51 span, turning what was expected to be a tough matchup into a laugher.

    Jeremy Abbott of the United States crashed to the ice on his first jump and slid into the padded end boards, staying down for an extended period,

    US champion Abbott falls hard in short program

    SOCHI, Russia — U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott fell hard on an attempted quadruple toe loop Thursday in the men’s short program at the Olympics, yet finished the routine.Abbott crashed to the ice on his first jump and slid into the padded end boards, staying down for an extended period, clutching his right hip. He looked like he wouldn’t get up, and his coaches moved toward the entry door to the ice.But Abbott, 28, struggled to his feet and, to the surprise of many and the applause of the crowd, resumed skating. And he performed quite well, hitting the rest of his elements. When his music stopped, the four-time champion drew a huge ovation from the fans. He hit himself lightly in the head while shaking it, as if to say he couldn’t believe what had just happened.


    Mike North video: Chicago sports and media landscape
    Mike North talks about the state of Chicago sports landscape and what he is doing right now in the sports media world.

    Nicholas Goepper of the United States celebrates his bronze medal Thursday in men’s slopestyle skiing at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. Behind him are teammates Gus Kenworthy, left, who won silver, and Joss Christensen, who won gold.

    Christensen leads U.S. sweep in slopestyle skiing

    The U.S. has swept the podium in men’s slopestyle skiing. Joss Christensen soared to gold in the sport’s Olympic debut, posting a score of 95.80 on Thursday to beat teammates Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper. The gold was the fourth for the U.S. in Sochi, all won on the slopes of the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

    Austria goaltender Bernhard Starkbaum reaches for the rebound as Finland forward Aleksander Barkov looks to score Thursday in the third period at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

    Finland beats Austria 8-4 in Olympic hockey

    SOCHI, Russia — Finland had more than enough offensive talent to overcome its slow start against Austria, even with Teemu Selanne back in the dressing room. Jarkko Immonen and Mikael Granlund scored two goals apiece as Finland opened preliminary-round Olympic play with an 8-4 victory over Austria on Thursday.Jussi Jokinen and Petri Kontiola each had a goal and an assist for the Finns, who put 52 shots on beleaguered Austria goalie Bernhard Starkbaum despite playing the final two periods without Selanne, their captain and the leading scorer in Olympic history.The 43-year-old ‘Finnish Flash’ had an assist in the first period of his record-equaling sixth Olympics before sitting out with an upper-body injury. Selanne should be fine for the Finns’ next game, team spokesman Janne Lahti said.“He’s an old man, so he needs some rest, more than the other guys,” Kontiola said.Sami Lepisto and Olli Maatta also scored for Finland, which has never lost to Austria at the Olympics. Granlund had a three-point game and defenseman Sami Vatanen had three assists in their Olympic debuts.Selanne got just eight shifts before apparently having problems with his neck or shoulders. Finland’s trainers massaged Selanne on the bench late in the first period, and he didn’t return from the first break.“Maybe he got the bad pillow!” said Sami Vatanen, Selanne’s teammate with the Anaheim Ducks.Even with Selanne ailing, Finland took control with two goals in 8 seconds during the final minute of the first before taking a four-goal lead in the second.“It’s tough to see him get injured, but he’ll be OK,” Olli Jokinen said of Selanne. “He’s a big part of this team, and he’s our leader. It’s never easy when you lose a guy like him.”The Finns also survived a shaky Olympic debut from Tuukka Rask, the vaunted Boston Bruins goalie who yielded four goals on just 20 shots.“The first goal, everybody was caught sleeping there,” Rask said. “After that second goal, everybody kind of woke up and got back to playing again.”Michael Grabner had three goals in his Olympic debut for Austria. The New York Islanders forward scored 36 seconds into the first period, and Austria had two early leads before Finland took control.“In case we didn’t know what we were up against, we got a reality check,” Austrian forward Thomas Vanek said. “You’ve got to play a certain way, and I think we didn’t do it. Our goalie needs to be our best player, and we need to help him more.”Finland is the most consistently successful Olympic nation of the NHL era while winning medals in four of the last five Olympics overall. The Finns have a solid shot at medals again despite placement in Canada’s preliminary-round group, and an eight-goal performance in their opener will help their cause.Austria, which qualified for its first Olympics since 2002, surprised the Finns in the opening minute when Grabner converted a cross-ice pass from Michael Raffl.Granlund got Finland’s first goal on a play set up by Selanne, who took Vatanen’s outlet pass and fed Granlund while screening Starkbaum.Austria went back ahead when Thomas Hundertpfund’s shot from behind the net went off Maatta’s skate in front and beat Rask, but Lepisto equalized 2:04 later. Maatta put the Finns ahead with a vicious slap shot from the blue line with 35 seconds left in the first period — and Immonen scored 8 seconds later.Six Austrians are back from their Salt Lake City team along with the Olympic debuts of Grabner and Vanek, his Islanders teammate. Grabner added two goals in the third period for his hat trick.

    United States skier Ted Ligety makes a jump Thursday during men’s downhill combined training at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

    Kostelic, Miller, Ligety chase medals in combined

    KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Bode Miller is the defending Olympic champion in the super-combined. American teammate Ted Ligety was the 2006 Olympic gold medalist, is the reigning world champion and is tied for this season’s World Cup lead in the event.So one might have expected them to merit a mention when U.S. men’s head coach Sasha Rearick began discussing whom he expects to perform well at the Sochi Games in the super-combined, which adds the times of one downhill run in the morning and one slalom run in the afternoon.Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic, whose father Ante set the slalom course, “is going to be strong,” Rearick began. Then he mentioned another Croatian, Natko Zrncic-Dim.The next name off Rearick’s lips after Thursday’s last official training session on the downhill course was France’s Thomas Mermillod-Blondin, a guy he noted “hasn’t been on the podium yet really recently, but (is) skiing really well.” Then came another Frenchman, Alexis Pinturault, who “of course” must be included, Rearick said.Adding to the growing list, Rearick continued: “Some of the downhill guys that are light on their feet, quick on their feet, that can make decent slalom turns — the course setting suits them.” That describes racers such as Carlo Janka of Croatia, and Peter Fill of Italy.When it was pointed out that he’d yet to make mention of his own top two entrants, Miller and Ligety, Rearick replied, “I’m telling you who the competition is,” and then skied off to go oversee slalom practice on a nearby hill.With temperatures topping 50 degrees (10 Celsius) this week, Friday’s downhill start was pushed up to 10 a.m. (0600 GMT), one hour earlier than originally scheduled, in a bid to get going before sunshine softens the snow. The slalom is scheduled for 5 hours later.Miller was third fastest in downhill training Thursday, trailing Ondrej Bank of the Czech Republic and Dominik Paris of Italy. Downhill gold medalist Matthias Mayer was fourth, with Kostelic — the silver medalist behind Ligety and Miller at the last two Olympics — sixth. Ligety was 11th, Pinturault was 12th, and Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal was among 16 racers who sat out.After dominating training before last weekend’s downhill race but then finishing eighth behind Mayer, Miller is hoping he’ll be able to do well enough in that portion of Friday’s race to make up for what he’ll lose in the second leg.But he figures that’ll be tough.“Right now the downhill is so easy and so basic there’s nothing challenging about it, really,” said Miller, already the owner of a U.S.-record five Olympic medals. “There’s no way to put any time on the slalom guys. Everyone just skis normal and everyone is within a second and a half or so.”Paris agreed.He laughed at the idea of hoping for a 5-second lead after the downhill leg and added: “The slalom is so tough here that luck will count for a lot.”Like others, he’s aware that Ante Kostelic is known for setting courses that are different from the week-in, week-out World Cup fare.On Thursday morning, Rearick skied down the slalom slope that will be used for the super-combined and noticed that the seemingly random placing of gates removes much rhythm.“It’s a course that’s obviously intended to trap guys, to knock people out. There’s no place on the course where you can really look for speed. So you have to ski smart from top to bottom,” Rearick said. “His obvious strategy is to knock out as many guys as possible to hope for a medal for Ivica.” Ligety, meanwhile, is counting on a strong slalom showing.

    Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk celebrates Thursday after winning the women’s 10K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

    Kowalczyk of Poland wins women’s 10K classical

    KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Justyna Kowalczyk dominated her favorite event at the Sochi Olympics on Thursday, winning the women’s cross-country 10-kilometer classical race despite skiing with a fractured foot. On a warm, sunny day in the Krasnaya Polyana mountains, Kowalczyk led from the first intermediate time in the interval start race and only increased her lead as the race went on. She finished in 28 minutes, 17.8 seconds, beating silver medalist Charlotte Kalla of Sweden by 18.4 seconds. “It’s something big for me because I broke my foot two weeks ago,” said Kowalczyk, who wept during the flower ceremony. “I was fighting with myself with this injury.”Therese Johaug of Norway took bronze, 28.3 seconds behind. Four-time Olympic champion Marit Bjoergen tried to keep up with Kowalczyk but tired toward the end and was fifth, 33.4 behind. Kowalczyk injured her left foot last month and posted a photo of an X-ray on her Facebook page this week showing a small fracture, but said it wouldn’t stop her from competing. It certainly didn’t seem to bother her in her signature event, as the Pole earned her second Olympic gold medal. She won the 30K classical-style mass-start race in Vancouver four years ago, beating Bjoergen in a tight sprint finish. There was no drama in this one, though, as no one could keep up. Bjoergen was only 1.9 seconds back after 2.3 kilometers, but that gap grew to 9 seconds by the halfway point and the Norwegian simply ran out of steam after that.The weather was again unseasonably warm for a cross-country race, with the temperature at 12 degrees C (54 F) at the start. Several skiers used short-sleeved shirts, with American duo Sophie Caldwell and Sadie Bjornsen going without any sleeves at all.Kalla won the 10K race in Vancouver when it was a freestyle event, and showed again that she is now also among the best classical-style skiers. She took silver in the opening 15-kilometer skiathlon as well, behind Bjoergen. “It’s incredible. I didn’t think I could get a medal at 10 kilometers because it was so tough, but it was tough for everyone,” Kalla said. “You have to fight for every meter (in the soft snow). You don’t have the high speed on the downhills, as we had at the beginning of the championships.”The race also featured a number of lower-ranked skiers going out after the favorites, with some trudging slowly through the mushy snow in the sunlight. Farzaneh Rezasoltani of Iran was more than 14 minutes behind Kowalczyk, while Ivana Kovacevic of Serbia was last, going so slowly up the final hill that race officials could walk alongside her. She finished more than 17 minutes behind.

    Fan Kexin of China, center, loses her balance as Liu Qiuhong of China, right, and Li Jianrou of China compete Thursday in a women’s 500m short track speedskating semifinal at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

    China’s Li wins crash-filled 500 Olympic final

    SOCHI, Russia — Li Jianrou of China won the gold medal in 500-meter short track speedskating after she was the only woman who didn’t fall in the final. Li survived the crash-filled final Thursday to keep the Olympic title in China’s hands. Injured countrywoman Wang Meng couldn’t defend the title she has won at every Winter Games since 2002. Arianna Fontana of Italy took the silver and Park Seung-hi of South Korea earned the bronze.Elise Christie of Britain caused the first crash of the wild final and was disqualified.

    United States cross country skier Sophie Caldwell leaves the finish area Thursday after finishing the women’s 10K classical-style race at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

    SOCHI SCENE: Sleeveless Skiing

    KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — It’s warm. It’s snowy. It’s sunny. It’s the Olympics. It’s ... time to improvise.While Olympians and Olympic spectators alike bask in, and cope with, a highly balmy Sochi Games, we’re starting to see some unusual juxtapositions out in the arenas of competition. Here’s one from Thursday, from Associated Press photographer Matthias Schrader: cross-country skier Sophie Caldwell of the United States doing the women’s 10K classical-style race in a sleeveless top.Temperatures in Sochi are expected to hit 61 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) on Thursday and 63 (17) on Friday.

    Elizabeth Yarnold starts her first run Thursday during the women’s skeleton competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

    Yarnold leads Pikus-Pace midway through skeleton

    KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Lizzy Yarnold is halfway to the Olympic gold medal. Noelle Pikus-Pace is right on her heels.What, you expected something else?The World Cup leaders all season are the leaders again halfway through the women’s skeleton competition at the Sochi Olympics, with Britain’s Yarnold ahead of Pikus-Pace by 0.44 seconds after Thursday’s first two runs at the Sanki Sliding Center.Yarnold, this season’s World Cup champion, finished two runs in 1 minute, 56.89 seconds. Pikus-Pace, of Eagle Mountain, Utah, was second in 1:57.33, and Russia’s Elena Nikitina was a slightly surprising third, another 0.11 seconds off the pace.So the final two runs should be loaded with drama. It’s the last time Pikus-Pace will compete before retirement, as she looks to finish her career with an Olympic medal. Yarnold will try to give Britain its second straight gold in the event after Amy Williams won at Vancouver in 2010. Nikitina will have the support of the home crowd, and sitting in fourth is Katie Uhlaender of Breckenridge, Colo., still very much in the chase for a podium trip.Australian officials protested Thursday’s results, saying the Russians had an unfair advantage by using their own push track before the race. The protest was denied.Yarnold was 0.25 seconds better than Pikus-Pace in Run 1, then 0.19 seconds faster her second time down, with virtually that entire cushion due to the simple fact that the British star is much better at the start.Pikus-Pace’s starts are among the slowest in the field and that won’t be changing, but what she relies on is her knack to build speed by using her driving skills — probably the world’s best — as she gets down the track.Example: Thursday’s second heat. She was behind Uhlaender around the midpoint, then a quarter-second clear of her teammate again by the finish.But catching Yarnold will be far more difficult.Yarnold and Pikus-Pace both won four times this winter on tour. Pikus-Pace would have medaled in every race if she wasn’t disqualified from the season-opener in Calgary over a dispute about how much tape was permissible on the handle of her sled. Their consistency atop the results was unmatched, and the Olympics looked to serve as the ultimate tiebreaker to their rivalry this season.So far, advantage Yarnold.Pikus-Pace and Yarnold were the first two sliders down the track in the opening heat, and for a while it seemed like everyone else was waging a separate competition for the bronze. Pikus-Pace opened with a run of 58.68 seconds, Yarnold followed with a 58.43 clocking, and none of the next nine sliders could come close to matching their times.Nikitina changed that in a hurry.Only 13th in the World Cup rankings this season — but having benefited from who-knows-how-many runs down the Sochi track, even skipping the final race on tour this winter to get more training time in before the Olympics — she posted a first-run time of 58.48 seconds, passing Pikus-Pace and putting pressure on Yarnold.Home ice advantage clearly was paying off. It was the first time Nikitina posted a better head-to-head time than Pikus-Pace in their last 20 competition runs together, going back to late in the 2012-13 season.But Pikus-Pace was better in the final run Thursday, moving back to second, and setting up what could be a wild run for medals on Friday night.

    Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia compete in the pairs free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

    Volosozhar and Trankov of Russia win pairs gold; U.S. ninth

    Maxim Trankov hopes young figure skaters all over Russia will take inspiration from what he and Tatiana Volosozhar accomplished at the Olympics.The two restored the country to the pinnacle of pairs Wednesday, and their teammates made it almost total domination. Volosozhar and Trankov won gold, while Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov took silver.“I think tonight all of the country will celebrate this beautiful victory,” Trankov said.


    Some of the 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors, each about 7 feet high and 10 feet wide, reflect sunlight to boilers that sit on 459-foot towers. The sun’s power is used to heat water in the boilers’ tubes and make steam, which in turn drives turbines to create electricity in Primm, Nev.

    Huge U.S. thermal plant opens as industry grows

    A windy stretch of the Mojave Desert once roamed by tortoises and coyotes has been transformed by hundreds of thousands of mirrors into the largest solar power plant of its type in the world, a milestone for a growing industry that is testing the balance between wilderness conservation and the pursuit of green energy across the American West.

    Comcast announced Thursday it is buying Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion in stock. The deal combines two of the nation’s top pay TV and Internet service companies and makes Comcast, which also owns NBCUniversal, a dominant force in both creating and delivering entertainment to U.S. homes.

    What the Comcast deal means to you

    Comcast’s plan to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion will create an enormous company with extensive control over the television content and Internet services a large portion of the country receives. Here’s what the deal, if approved by regulators, means for you.

    Stocks rose Thursday, after benchmark indexes ended a four-day rally yesterday, as better-than- forecast earnings and a $45.2 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc. overshadowed a drop in retail sales.

    Stocks rise as investors assess earnings

    The stock market rose for the fifth time in six days Thursday as higher earnings from several big U.S. companies helped investors shrug off discouraging news about jobs and retail spending.

    Transgender activist Nori Herras-Castaneda, a spokeswoman for the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center in San Jose, Calif., discusses Facebook’s expanded gender identification options. The social media giant is adding a customizable profile option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender.

    New gender options for Facebook users

    You don’t have to be just male or female on Facebook anymore. The social media giant is adding a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender as well as three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them.

    H. Ty Warner, the billionaire who created Beanie Babies, is seen at court Jan. 14. On Thursday, the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago filed a notice appealing the sentence for Warner that included no prison time for hiding around $25 million from U.S. tax authorities.

    Appeal seeks prison time for Beanie Babies creator

    Federal prosecutors say they’re appealing the sentence for billionaire Beanie Babies creator that included no prison time for hiding around $25 million from U.S. tax authorities.

    Netflix’s Internet video service is coming to the rescue of “Star Wars” fans left in limbo by the abrupt cancellation of “The Clone Wars,” an animated television series that embellishes the lore of the Jedi Order and Sith Lords.

    Netflix to show final season of ‘Clone Wars’

    Netflix’s Internet video service is coming to the rescue of “Star Wars” fans left in limbo by the abrupt cancellation of “The Clone Wars,” an animated television series that embellishes the lore of the Jedi Order and Sith Lords.

    Prospect High School students Jessica Hirsh and Lauren Becherer were among nearly 300 teens to show up for last year's Arlington Heights Teen Job Fair, but representatives of only 10 businesses — including Cari Henderson of the Mariano's Fresh Market — were there. Organizers are working to get a larger business presence at this year's event, scheduled for March 8.

    Arlington Hts. teen job fair hopes for larger business presence

    The Arlington Heights Youth Commission is teaming up with the Arlington Heights Memorial Library for the village's second annual Teen Job Fair, and officials are hoping this one draws interest from more employers than the first. Nearly 300 teens attended last year's fair looking for jobs, but only 10 employers showed up.

    CareerBuilder's annual survey on office romance found nearly two in five (38 percent) U.S. workers have dated someone who worked for the same company, and 16 percent said they have done so more than once.

    Survey: 38% of workers have dated a co-worker

    Looking for a Valentine? The office may be a good place to start. CareerBuilder's annual survey on office romance found nearly two in five (38 percent) U.S. workers have dated someone who worked for the same company, and 16 percent said they have done so more than once. The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from November 6 to December 2, 2013, and included a representative sample of 3,008 full-time, private sector workers across industries and company sizes.

    Part of the HealthCare.gov website page featuring information about the SHOP Marketplace in Washington.

    January insurance sign-ups meet monthly goal

    While states are having varying success getting people to sign up, January marked the first time since new health insurance markets opened last fall that a national monthly enrollment target was met.

    Airbus Group NV is targeting its second export order for the A400M military cargo plane before the end of this year, said Christian Scherer, head of marketing and sales at the company’s defense and space division.

    Airbus targets one export order for a400m plane by end of year

    Airbus Group NV is targeting its second export order for the A400M military cargo plane before the end of this year, said Christian Scherer, head of marketing and sales at the company’s defense and space division.


    Woolworths profit climbs as higher earners support sales

    Woolworths Holdings Ltd., a South African food and clothing retailer, said first-half profit increased 22 percent as demand from higher-income shoppers boosted sales, even as growth in the economy slows.


    Nestle forecasts sales growth in 2014 near low end of target

    Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company, forecast growth near the low end of its target in 2014 after reporting the smallest annual sales advance in four years amid sluggish spending and lower prices in developed markets.

    Amtrak is canceling some of its trains and modifying the schedules for others because of the winter storm that’s battering the Northeast and the South.

    Amtrak changes train schedules because of storm

    Amtrak is canceling some of its trains and modifying the schedules for others because of the winter storm that’s battering the Northeast and the South.

Life & Entertainment

    Joseph Utsler, known as Shaggy 2 Dope, left, and Joseph Bruce, also known as Violent J, form Insane Clown Posse. The yearly festival headlined by the Detroit rappers is seeking a new home.

    Insane Clown Posse again seeks new festival site

    A yearly festival headlined by the rap-metal group Insane Clown Posse won’t be staged this summer at a central Missouri town’s campground after all. Some two weeks after announcing the Gathering of the Juggalos was bound for CryBaby Campground in tiny Kaiser, Mo., organizers of the event say the campground has backed out.

    David (Alex Pettyfer) and Jade (Gabriella Wilde) exchange tepid romantic looks in the remake of “Endless Love.”

    Tepid sparks fly in never-ending 'Endless Love'

    No amount of candy and flowers will minimize the damage this feckless film will do to romantic intentions. The original 1981 “Endless Love” dealt directly and insanely with obsession, the kind of blinding romance that drives a young man to think of inventive ways he can force his girlfriend's standoffish family to appreciate him. This is more like “Lady and the Tramp” by Nicholas Sparks.

    Peter (Colin Farrell) and Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay) are romantic soul mates in “Winter's Tale.”

    Comically overstated romantic fantasy not one to love

    Akiva Goldsman's directorial debut “Winter's Tale” offers grand overtures of imagination and romance with woozie visual effects that overpower the characters and render its Dan Brownish plot comically incoherent. This movie, based on Mark Helprin's novel, isn't real big on explaining the rules of this universe of magical un-realism. We have to piece things together as the fantasy unfolds.

    Tim Jenison investigates a master painter's work in the documentary “Tim's Vermeer.”

    'Vermeer' doc chronicles painter's obsession

    The documentary “Tim's Vermeer” chronicles one man's obsession. Sheer, unbridled, unstoppable obsession. Here, Teller (half of the magic act Penn & Teller) details wealthy inventor Tim Jenison's obsession to prove that 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer used an early form of photography — the camera obscura — to achieve the photo-realistic qualities of his canvas masterpieces. No matter what the cost.

    Audio released by the California Highway Patrol on Wednesday includes two motorists who describe Chris Kattan’s driving and the aftermath of his collision with a road crew on a Southern California freeway during the early morning Monday.

    911 calls about Kattan driving, crash, released

    The California Highway Patrol has released audio of two motorists’ calls reporting erratic driving and the aftermath of an early-morning collision involving actor-comedian Chris Kattan. Kattan was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence early Monday after crashing into a road crew on westbound U.S. 101 in Southern California. No one was injured in the crash and Kattan was released after his arrest.

    Danny (Michael Ealy) finds love with Debbie after a one-night-stand in “About Last Night.”

    'About Last Night...' doesn't conjure the heat it needs

    The remake of "About Last Night" moves the story from Chicago in the 1980s to modern-day L.A. There's also a bit more comedy, thanks to the main couple's best buds -- played by bickering Kevin Hart and Regina Hall.


    Theater events: Get cozy at Steel Beam’s Valentine cabaret

    Steel Beam Theatre hosts a Valentine's Day cabaret, BoHo revives "Amadeus" and Steppenwolf's annual showcase of the city's storefront scene, this week in Chicago-area theater.

    Adding in a few pink accessories freshens a great room or living room for spring. A pink pouf is a practical piece with flair.

    Spruce up your home with spring's rosy glow

    This spring, pinks are popping up all over home decor — the softer versions soothing and nurturing, the bright ones bouncy and vivacious. Warm pink light can be flattering, so designers have long employed tricks like painting lampshade interiors in those hues or switching regular bulbs for soft pink ones. “Pink's such a fun color to play around with. I see it two ways — dusty, light and classic, or vibrant, 'statement' and sharp,” says Boston-based designer Taniya Nayak.

    Sky, a wire fox terrier, enters the ring during the best in show competition at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show Tuesday. Sky will have a walk-on role at Thursday night’s performance of “Kinky Boots.”

    Westminster’s top dog heads to ‘Kinky Boots’

    There are plenty of divas onstage at Broadway’s “Kinky Boots” — and a special four-legged kind plans on joining them soon. Sky, the 5-year-old wire fox terrier crowned top dog at the Westminster Kennel Club, will have a walk-on role at Thursday night’s performance.

    An ornate saddle is on display at the Albuquerque Museum as part of the exhibition “Arte en la Charreria: The Artisanship of Mexican Equestrian Culture.” The artifacts, some dating to the 1800s, were culled from prestigious collections throughout Mexico.

    N.M. museum highlights culture of Mexican horsemen

    There’s no mass production here, just evidence of the slow and patient work that went into handcrafting the costumes and tools behind one of Mexico’s most important traditions. From fine embroidery to ornate saddles and silver inlaid spurs, more than 150 pieces are on display at the Albuquerque Museum as part of the exhibition “Arte en la Charreria: The Artisanship of Mexican Equestrian Culture,” which is on display through March 30. The artifacts, some dating to the 1800s, were culled from prestigious collections throughout Mexico. Each item reflects different elements of the culture of the legendary charro — the Mexican horseman.

    Marlo, a Clumber spaniel, sits next to Helen Marshall at her home in Ottawa, Wis. Marshall will walk with Marlo in the Friday, Feb. 14, parade that kicks off the National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic, a trade show in Milwaukee for canines that point out, scare up and retrieve fowl.

    Bird-dog lovers descend on Milwaukee

    Hunting dogs are on display at two canine gatherings this week. One is in New York at the famed Westminster Kennel Club show, where judges look for perfection in the breeds’ appearance — the shape of an ear, the size of a tail. The other is in Milwaukee, where bird hunters will celebrate the canines that point out, scare up and retrieve fowl, while attending sessions on topics like training dogs to retrieve antlers. Seventy to 100 dogs representing about 40 breeds are expected at Friday’s parade that kicks off the National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic, a trade show geared toward hunters whose prey includes quail, pheasant, grouse, woodcock and prairie chicken.

    Chinese five-spice powder boosts the flavor profile of this sirloin and shiitake stew.

    Quick-braised five-spice sirloin and shiitake stew

    Part stir-fry, part stew, this aromatic, hearty dish draws flavor and texture from shiitake mushrooms, bok choy and Chinese five-spice powder: a blend of cinnamon, star anise, ginger, anise and cloves.

    Chinese five-spice powder boosts the flavor profile of this sirloin and shiitake stew.

    Quick-Braised Five-Spice Sirloin and Shiitake Stew
    Five Spice Beef Stew


    Reel life: Ebert documentary director to speak

    Dann sees George Clooney's WW II "Monuments Men" again to make sure his review was right. He also reports on the Chicago premiere of the new Roger Ebert documentary "Life Itself," and continues with Oscar prediction programs.

    Pop group Emblem3 makes a stop on its national tour at the Rosemont Theatre Saturday.

    Music notes: 10,000 Maniacs, Emblem3 stopping in the suburbs
    Alternative rock favorites 10,000 Maniacs bring its literate music to St. Charles this weekend, and entertainer extraordinaire Justin Timberlake arrives in Chicago for two shows.



    Skills, not just hard work needed today
    A Kildeer letter to the editor: More inequality in America has come about because the middle class is harder to attain and has shrunk because the hard work of unskilled labor or even higher education are no longer adequate.


    Important to learn from black history
    A Zion letter to the editor: As American Muslims, we recognize the importance of educating ourselves with the history of African Americans.


    Kirk supports cook-the-planet law
    A Glen Ellyn letter to the editor: Once again Senator Kirk has demonstrated his support for global warming. He is cosponsor of a bill that would cancel EPA’s proposed rules limiting carbon dioxide emissions from new power stations.


    How do you really spot the bad guys?
    An Elgin letter to the editor: I’ve been reading how the violence problem in our country can be settled by making sure “good guys” have guns and “bad guys” don’t. How does anyone know who is a “good guy” and who is a “bad guy”? There are many people without a criminal background who are very capable of bad things with guns.


    Some advice while the flu season lingers
    An Elk Grove Village letter to the editor: Recently some dude wrote a letter stating that people should know the research before getting a flu shot. But why bother getting research that may not be accurate? You trust your doctor? Then listen to him, not some dude who isn’t qualified.


    Letter missed basic tenets of Christianity
    A Palatine letter to the editor: I’m writing in response to the kindhearted letter posted by Rachel Robb on Feb. 9. The essence of her letter is that people should be at peace with one another regardless of their sexual orientation, and I could not agree with her more.


    Catholic schools need help from the states
    An Arlington Heights letter to the editor: All over the country the Catholic Church is closing schools — except in Kansas. There, they took the opposite tack. They accept all students even if they cannot pay. The schools are full; the parishioners are giving a little higher percentage than those in the rich states.


    Pension stories not in line with facts
    A Naperville letter to the editor: The Daily Herald’s latest articles (by Griffin and others) on so-called “pension reform” in Illinois reflect your very poor attention to the facts. To begin with, the IMRF is not a state pension program. Instead it is a very financially solid, carefully implemented, retirement system established by municipalities for their hardworking, dedicated, employees and promised to these professionals when they were hired.


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