McHenry board chair touts successes in state of county address

McHenry County Board Chairman Mike Buehler touted recent achievements and things to come. last week during this annual State of the County address.

The address was delivered through a video filmed inside the new McHenry County Sheriff’s Office training facility in Cary, which opened last fall. The training center was among the items Buehler celebrated in his address.

“We couldn’t beat the price,” Buehler, a Republican from Crystal Lake, said of the $1 the county paid for the building that was renovated for the training center.

Buehler addressed the county’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and a variety of projects, including a medical glove manufacturer’s plan to move into the former Motorola plant in Harvard that’s sat largely vacant and unused for 20 years.

McHenry and Woodstock have launched “ingenious” business incubators, Buehler added, and he encouraged “other municipalities to follow suit.”

He also discussed the recently opened interchange at Route 23 and Interstate 90 in Marengo and how thousands of new homes are under construction in the county.

Also earning a mention was the one-year agreement between McHenry and Lake counties to house Lake County inmates in the McHenry County jail due to a staffing shortage in Lake.

“The additional revenue will help make up for what McHenry County lost when the state of Illinois forced us to terminate our contract to house federal immigration detainees and will help offset some of the expenses we’ve incurred with the SAFE-T Act,” Buehler said.

Looking ahead, Buehler noted the Route 47 widening project that is set to begin this year in Woodstock, which he said officials have been trying to start for years.

“Our persistence has paid off,” he said.

Buehler also addressed Randall Road construction. Work in Crystal Lake and Lake in the Hills is also set to begin construction this year, and the county received a $20 million grant in November to fund some of the project.

He also talked about the Longmeadow Bridge in the Algonquin area, expected to open this year. The county board voted in December to chip in $1 million to help eliminate the plan for a tollbooth at the bridge. Buehler said $35 million was needed to do that, of which the state chipped in $30 million. McHenry, Kane and Cook counties were on the hook for the rest, Buehler said.

“This was a great investment that will save commuters hundreds of dollars per year,” Buehler said.

The State of the County address comes as Buehler is gearing up for a reelection campaign this year. He does not have an opponent in the March 19 primary, but will run against board member Kelli Wegener, a Democrat from Crystal Lake, in the November general election.

In member’s comments following the address, Wegener spoke about gun violence, mentioning Wednesday’s shooting in Kansas City following the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade. The Associated Press reported Thursday that 22 people had been shot, and one person was killed.

Kelli Wegener

“This was supposed to be on a celebratory day for a Super Bowl win,” Wegener said. “When those with guns threaten our daily lives and the special events that we hold dear, you would think something would be done.”

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