Turning Point shelter in need of help

Published8/10/2008 11:58 PM

Every day Turning Point gives to McHenry County by offering safety, shelter, counseling and more to victims of domestic violence and their families.

Now it's McHenry County's turn to return the favor.


On Friday Aug. 22 and Saturday Aug. 23, radio station WZSR-FM, Star 105.5, will hold "Take a Stand for Turning Point," a 36-hour radiothon to raise funds for the agency.

The event comes at a crucial time for Turning Point as it faces a significant funding shortfall brought about by the perfect storm of a slowing economy, federal budget cuts and delays by elected leaders in Springfield getting an Illinois budget passed.

"Without a budget signed by the governor, no funding can be released at all," Turning Point Executive Director Jane Farmer said. "So not only do we have this permanent loss of funds, but currently we are not even getting funds that were allocated."

The cuts, Farmer said, specifically target some of the agency's children's programs. She is hopeful the radiothon, the agency's largest annual fund-raiser, helps them get through a very rough patch.

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"I know that McHenry County will come through for us again," she said. "We are determined to close this budget gap and not allow our programs to be eliminated."

The station will be broadcasting the radiothon live from Sam's Club in Crystal Lake, starting at 6 a.m. Aug. 22 and continuing most of the day with special guests and musical performances. Saturday morning kicks off at 6 a.m. with kids games and activities, a car seat safety check by Crystal Lake police and afternoon performances by Cheer Fusion competitive cheerleaders and dancers and the local band Lincoln Avenue.

Donations will be accepted by calling in to the station during the radiothon or visiting the live broadcast, or ahead of time by calling Turning Point at (815) 338-8081.

Finally, Smith trial set to begin:

Barring a last minute delay - far from an impossibility -- jury selection is scheduled to begin today in the re-trial of Kenneth Smith, ending a three-year saga full of more unexpected twists and turns than a Chuck Palahniuk novel.


Smith, 32, of Park City, faces charges of first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery in the 2001 slaying of Raul Briseno during a botched holdup at the victim's Burrito Express restaurant in McHenry.

A jury first convicted Smith in 2003, but a state appellate court overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial.

In the years since, we've seen one key prosecution witness die, another disappear -- only to be located in Louisiana by Briseno's family - and a plea bargain fall through because a judge wouldn't accept it.

As if that were not enough, a Smith co-defendant who went to trial - and lost - on murder charges rather than testifying against him has changed her mind and is expected to take the witness stand for prosecutors. In the meantime, a second co-defendant, who cut a deal to testify against Smith, now is refusing to do so despite a threat of being found in contempt of court.

Suffice to say, there will be no shortage of courtroom drama for the next couple of weeks.

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