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updated: 12/30/2011 9:48 AM

Year in Review: Your most-read stories online

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  • Suburban residents hit the stores to stock up before the big blizzard hit on Feb. 1 , 2011. The story we posted on Jan. 31 predicting up to 20 inches of snow was your most-read story on dailyherald.com in 2011.

      Suburban residents hit the stores to stock up before the big blizzard hit on Feb. 1 , 2011. The story we posted on Jan. 31 predicting up to 20 inches of snow was your most-read story on dailyherald.com in 2011.
    Mark Welsh

  • Myrtle Rose 75 checks out her 1941 Piper J-3 Cub after a brief flight from the airstrip at her home Friday Aug. 5 2011 in South Barrington. The aviation enthusiast was out for a quick flight on Wednesday when she saw two F-16 fighter jets out her cockpit window after she strayed into restricted airspace during a visit to Chicago by President Barack Obama. Rose says she's filed a report with the Federal Aviation Administration explaining she didn't know she wasn't supposed to fly in the area that day.

      Myrtle Rose 75 checks out her 1941 Piper J-3 Cub after a brief flight from the airstrip at her home Friday Aug. 5 2011 in South Barrington. The aviation enthusiast was out for a quick flight on Wednesday when she saw two F-16 fighter jets out her cockpit window after she strayed into restricted airspace during a visit to Chicago by President Barack Obama. Rose says she's filed a report with the Federal Aviation Administration explaining she didn't know she wasn't supposed to fly in the area that day.
    Associated Press

  • The scene of an early morning car crash on the 400 block of South Windsor in Arlington Heights.

       The scene of an early morning car crash on the 400 block of South Windsor in Arlington Heights.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • Jereme Richmond was arrested on Monday in Waukegan related to battery and gun charges.

      Jereme Richmond was arrested on Monday in Waukegan related to battery and gun charges.

  • A light haze settles over the Busse Woods Forest Preserve near Elk Grove Village Tuesday. Smoke from a massive wildfire in Minnesota spoiled what was otherwise predicted to be a clear and sunny day in the Chicago area.

       A light haze settles over the Busse Woods Forest Preserve near Elk Grove Village Tuesday. Smoke from a massive wildfire in Minnesota spoiled what was otherwise predicted to be a clear and sunny day in the Chicago area.
    Tim Broderick | Staff Photographer

  • Daniel Ascencio 17 talks about the accident that took the lives of three of his friends and the fact that he survived.

       Daniel Ascencio 17 talks about the accident that took the lives of three of his friends and the fact that he survived.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

 
 

1. Storm could be one for the record books


By Paul Biasco, posted on Jan. 31, 2011

Chicago meteorologists plan to bring cots and a change of clothes to work this week as a massive blizzard is expected to dump up to 20 inches of snow starting Tuesday.

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A blizzard watch will be in effect starting Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon for all of northeastern Illinois, according to the National Weather Service.

Current forecasts predict about 20 inches of snow for portions of southern Cook, DuPage, Kane and Will Counties and 18 inches for most of northeastern Illinois.

"I wouldn't want to be trying to get anywhere," said Bill Nelson, Observation Program Leader for the National Weather Service. "We are planning on bringing in a couple of cots in case we get stuck." Full story.

2. Lone survivor of Prospect Hts. crash says he told driver to slow down


By Deborah Donovan and Eric Peterson, posted on June 12, 2011

The lone survivor of a horrific weekend crash that killed three Northwest suburban teens said a last-second decision to buckle up may have saved his life.

"My mother said it's crazy that I'm not in a wheelchair," said Daniel Ascencio, 17, of Mount Prospect. "I have no broken bones or anything."

Killed in the crash were Freddy Najera, 16, of Mount Prospect; Jessica Ferrer, 15, of Arlington Heights; and Elibeth Solis, 16, also of Arlington Heights.

Ascencio said he believes the stolen car in which he and his friends were riding may have been traveling as much as 90 mph just after 3 a.m. Saturday when it plowed through a mailbox and into two trees outside a Prospect Heights home.

Ascencio said he strapped on his seat belt when the car began shaking and its driver, Solis, didn't heed his warnings to slow down. She may have lost control while talking to one of the teens in the back seat, he said. Full story.

3. 75-yr-old S. Barrington widow surprised by F-16s


By Madhu Krishnamurthy, posted on Aug. 5, 2011

A 75-year-old South Barrington pilot got the surprise of her life when her small plane was intercepted by two F-16 fighter jets Wednesday night after it entered restricted airspace temporarily put in place for President Barack Obama's visit to Chicago.

The jets were scrambled from Toledo by the North American Aerospace Defense Command at 5:34 p.m. after the Kitfox Model 2, piloted by Myrtle Rose, flew into temporarily restricted airspace, NORAD spokesman Lt. Michael Humphreys said.

NORAD officials said Rose's plane did not have a radio, forcing the Command to scramble the jets to identify it. The jets intercepted the plane, forcing it to turn around and return to its home airport at Mill Rose Farm, Humphreys said.

The pilot, Myrtle Rose -- William's widow -- was flying the plane by herself, South Barrington Deputy Police Chief Ray Cordell said.

"She was unaware that she had entered restricted air space," Cordell said, adding that Rose didn't seem shaken. Full story.

4. Canucks' names would dishonor Cup


By Barry Rozner, posted June 7, 2011

When last we saw the Vancouver Canucks against the Blackhawks some six weeks ago, they were a gutless collection of whining, cheap-shot artists whose best quality was their ability to do their hair while driving to the rink -- not to mention hair-pulling after they got there.

However, we must confess that with the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals, there's been a change.

Oh, yeah, they're still a gutless collection of whining, cheap-shot artists whose best quality is their ability to do their hair while driving to the rink -- not to mention hair-pulling after they get there.

But now they've added biting and kicking. What's next, purse throwing?

The Vancouver Canucks have been the best team in hockey all season, and for much of the season they've been a disgrace to the game. Full story.

5. Goldfish killer "didn't want to leave witnesses," police say


By Sheila Ahern, posted Feb. 11, 2011

A 16-year-old Arlington Heights boy told police he poisoned and killed three fish because he "didn't want to leave any witnesses," according to Arlington Heights police.

The boy is charged with residential burglary and cruelty to animals for his role in a Jan. 24 break-in on the 2100 block of South Goebbert Road. Another 15-year-old Arlington Heights boy and 17-year-old Des Plaines boy also face residential burglary charges, said Sgt. Mike Hernandez of the Arlington Heights Police Department.
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All three will be tried in juvenile court.

"As a matter of fact, it's a little disturbing," Hernandez said. "According to the police report, he looked at the fish tank and said 'We can't leave any witnesses.'" Full story.

6. Prospect High student killed in Arlington Heights crash


By Sheila Ahern and Deborah Donovan, posted March 24, 2011

On paper, John "Jack" Gavin was the middle brother of three, a Prospect High School volleyball player and an honors student.

But, according to his mother, that was just the beginning. "He was the bright spot in my day," said Susan Gavin of Arlington Heights. "He was a wonderful son and a wonderful brother, such a sweet kid to everyone. He was very, very loved."

Gavin, 16, died Thursday morning after the car he was riding in slammed into a tree just after midnight in Arlington Heights, police said.

He died shortly before 8 a.m. at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

Officers responding to a 911 call from a passing driver and nearby residents got to the 400 block of South Windsor about 12:40 a.m. to find a 2000 Hyundai Sonata crashed into a tree on the boulevard in the middle of the street.

Gavin, the front-seat passenger, was unresponsive when officers arrived, and rescue crews had to remove the car's roof to pull the boy out. The 16-year-old driver was examined and released to a parent at the scene. Full story.

7. Sex ed teaching method questioned


By Larissa Chinwah, posted Jan. 12, 2011

A Crystal Lake high school health teacher's activity designed to teach sophomore students how the female reproductive system works has caught the ire of a conservative religious group.

The Illinois Family Institute, a nonprofit ministry based in Carol Stream, posted an article on its website this week claiming Jacqulyn Levin, a health and physical education teacher at Prairie Ridge high school, taught students about female anatomy using "the Vagina Dance." The article states the dance, which the group said involved pointing to and singing about reproductive parts while prancing around the room, was set to the tune of the Hokey Pokey.

"Her selection of this inappropriate instructional activity demonstrated a lack of empathy for those who may have a degree of modesty and self-respect that Levin does not possess," wrote Laurie Higgins, director of the Illinois Family Institute's Division of School Advocacy. "Did she consider that some students might feel uncomfortable participating in or even watching this dance and that they might fear being ridiculed if they chose to opt-out?"

School officials, however, called the characterization inaccurate. "It is overtly misrepresentative of the activity in class," said Jeff Puma, spokesman for Crystal Lake High School District 155. "There was no music, no song and no movement around the class. The name that the report gave it is a nickname that the students have called it. It is not the name the teacher gave it." Full story.

8. Daily Herald to charge for online subscriptions


Staff report, posted Aug. 31, 2011

The Daily Herald will become the first newspaper in the Chicago area to charge regularly for digital access, the company announced today in letters to its readers.

"It is our intention that no one without a subscription will have ongoing access to the Daily Herald newspaper content, dailyherald.com or any other Daily Herald digital platform," said Douglas K. Ray, chairman, publisher and CEO of Paddock Publications, which operates the suburban newspaper.

"Why is it necessary to charge for digital access?" Ray asked in a staff memo. "We invest significantly in reporters and editors and an infrastructure that provides tailored coverage of local news, suburban business developments, politics and entertainment as well as sports from the pro levels to preps. We believe that what we do has value to our readers and to the community. A new payment structure will enable us to continue to provide the kind of quality local news and the journalism expected from the Daily Herald." Full story.

9. Former Waukegan hoops star charged with beating woman


By Tony Gordon, posted Aug. 10, 2011

Former Waukegan High School and University of Illinois basketball standout Jereme Richmond was charged Tuesday with beating a woman and threatening her with a gun.

Richmond, 19, and Matthew Riley, 22, of North Chicago, were arrested Monday afternoon outside the victim's house after police found a loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol in the car the men had driven.

After a stellar high school career at Waukegan, Richmond went on to Champaign, but left the team after his freshman year in order to enter the NBA draft.

No team drafted Richmond, however, and many speculated he had attempted to move to the professional level before he was ready.

Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Stephen Scheller said Richmond and the 17-year-old woman had a dating relationship that had soured in recent weeks. Full story.

10. Smoke from Minnesota wildfires blankets suburbs


By Deborah Donovan and Mick Zawislak, posted Sept. 13, 2011

Suburban fire, health and emergency management departments grappled Tuesday with a pervasive pall of smoke that poured over the region from a huge wildfire in northern Minnesota, more than 400 miles away.

Authorities said the smoke is coming from the 60,000-acre Pagami Creek wildfire, sparked Aug. 18 by a lightning strike near Ely, Minn., in the northeastern part of the state.

The Illinois EPA rated Chicago air as "orange" -- unhealthy for children, elderly and those with respiratory or cardiac conditions -- with a particulate reading of 135 at 5 p.m.

Small particulates like those in smoke can harm a person's health because they can pass into the lungs, according to the U.S. EPA website.

The haze first descended on the Northern suburbs about midmorning and edged into the West and Northwest suburbs by early afternoon, sending firefighters from several departments out in search of fires that didn't exist. Full story.

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