By Charles Keeshan and Susan Sarkauskas
In his decadeslong law enforcement career, Round Lake Park Police Chief George Filenko has faced off against killers, hardened gang members and drug dealers linked to notorious Mexican cartels.
For the past two weeks, he and his officers have had to contend with a band of particularly foul foes: skunks that have made a home under their police station.
Filenko calls it a "Skunkapalooza."
"You walk in the station and ... well, you know what that smells like, especially in a contained area," he said.
The odor surfaced March 12. The department set a trap and captured a skunk the next day. They released it in a nearby forest preserve, hoping the olfactory nightmare was over.
"It just got worse," Filenko told us.
The village's next step was hiring a professional trapper, but all he caught was a cat. Finally, on Wednesday, an officer bravely went under the station and found the source of the stink -- a dead skunk, which was promptly removed.
With the stink that's infected the station for the past 10 days starting to waft away, Filenko and his staff are looking forward to not having to choose between working with windows open in 30-degree weather or enduring the terrible smell.
"We've been dealing with this for two weeks," he said. "It's been unbelievable."
Filenko points out the combination of the skunks and a large amount of marijuana held near the front of the station for an upcoming trial has created an interesting aromatic experience for those in the station.
"You go to the front of the building, you get hungry," he said. "You go to the back, you lose your appetite."
A group of skunks is called a "surfeit," which quite fittingly is defined as "an overabundant supply," according to Merriam-Webster.
Kenneth Spaeth last week admitted to illegally using the Kendall County Community Food Pantry's credit card for more than $14,000 in personal expenses.
According to police records we obtained, his purchases included rounds of miniature golf, haircuts for his sons, service work on his vehicle, a refrigerator, an orthodontics bill and three purchases at a tattoo shop. In all, there were 244 transactions in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, New Jersey, South Carolina and Florida, according to Yorkville Police Department documents.
Spaeth, a former Yorkville resident who served as the pantry's treasurer, pleaded guilty March 12 to theft. His wife, Maria, was its executive director. She also was suspected of stealing from the pantry but died several weeks into the criminal investigation.
Kenneth Spaeth started repaying the money March 19 under the terms of his sentence, which also includes two years of probation, according to Kendall County court records.
Spaeth's father-in-law, William Crowley, also is charged with stealing from the food pantry. His next court date is April 23. A lawsuit is seeking reimbursement for about $25,000 in credit-card charges.
Congratulations to Buffalo Grove Deputy Police Chief Scott Eisenmenger, who last week graduated from the FBI's National Academy.
Graduates of the 10-week course, held at the FBI campus in Quantico, Virginia, complete undergraduate- and graduate-level courses pertaining to law, media, crisis management and leadership. There's also a series of fitness challenges, including the "Yellow Brick Road," a 6.1-mile run over a hilly trail built by the U.S. Marine Corps.
Eisenmenger joins Buffalo Grove Chief Steve Casstevens and Deputy Chief Michael Szos as alumni of the academy.
Honor for Aurora cop
Also deserving of kudos this week is Aurora police officer Steve Pacenti, who on Wednesday was named his department's Employee of the Year.
Pacenti, an eight-year department veteran who works as a third-shift patrol officer, earned praise for several important collars in 2017, including multiple arrests that took illegally possessed guns off the streets.
To see a video of the award ceremony, and learn about some of the other finalists, check out the department's Facebook page.
Lake in the Hills police and the McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition are teaming for their fourth annual Teen Safety Series, a three-week program kicking off Wednesday, April 4.
Topics will include alcohol and drug effects, gang issues, bullying, dating violence, sexual assault, peer pressure and social media safety and more. It's open to anyone 12 to 16 years old but limited to 25 participants.
Classes will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. April 4, 11 and 18, at the Safety Education Center, 1109 Crystal Lake Road, in Lake in the Hills. To register, email email@example.com, or call (847) 658-5676 for more information.
• Got a tip? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (847) 427-4483.