Recipe for success? Lake County jail program gives inmates culinary skills

  • Inmates at the Lake County jail last week took part in a new pilot program teaching food safety and food industry management skills. Those who completed the intense three-day course earned a state culinary certificate good for five years, giving them a leg up on fellow jobseekers.

    Inmates at the Lake County jail last week took part in a new pilot program teaching food safety and food industry management skills. Those who completed the intense three-day course earned a state culinary certificate good for five years, giving them a leg up on fellow jobseekers. Courtesy of the Lake County Sheriff's Office

  • Members of the Arlington Heights Police Department's honor guard presented the colors Wednesday before the start of the crosstown matchup between the Cubs and the White Sox.

    Members of the Arlington Heights Police Department's honor guard presented the colors Wednesday before the start of the crosstown matchup between the Cubs and the White Sox. Courtesy of the Arlington Heights Police Department

 
Updated 6/21/2019 10:18 AM

George Allen has a passion for food.

From cooking for his family at home to his two decades' experience working at everything from fine dining restaurants in Chicago to the catering staff at the College of Lake County, it's a big part of his life. And now the Grayslake resident believe he's ready to take his culinary career to the next level by opening his own Caribbean and Creole eatery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

First, he'll need to take care of the driving offenses that have had him locked up in the Lake County jail since May. But even behind bars, Allen is working toward his dream, thanks to a new pilot program launched this month by the Lake County sheriff's office.

Allen and nine other inmates volunteered last week to participate in the IN2WORK Program, an intense three-day course focusing on food safety and food industry management. Those like Allen who completed the course and passed its final exam earned a state culinary certification good for five years.

"The program was very intense," Allen told us from the jail Wednesday. "The director told us we did in three days what normally takes a month."

Allen said he jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the management side of the business and better prepare him to pursue opening a restaurant of his own.

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"While I'm in here, I'm trying to stay active and participate in any program they offer," he said.

An instructor works with Lake County jail inmates last week during the jail's new IN2WORK Program, an intense three-day course focusing on food safety and food industry management.
An instructor works with Lake County jail inmates last week during the jail's new IN2WORK Program, an intense three-day course focusing on food safety and food industry management. - Courtesy of the Lake County Sheriff's Office
Programming note

The culinary course is one example of new Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg's efforts to add more programming for inmates at the county jail. The jail recently hosted volunteers from the Lake Forest-based Art Impact Project, who worked with inmates to create artwork, and has added programs such as a cognitive behavior change class, yoga and the Read to Me Story Book Project that allows parents to record themselves reading books for their children.

The sheriff also restarted the GED program for inmates. Ten have signed up for the course, scheduled to begin next week.

"I believe when an inmate is provided education, tools and skills, it gives them a significantly better chance at finding employment upon their release, thus reducing the likelihood of recidivism," Idleburg said.

"In fact, an Antioch restaurant owner saw our social media post about this program and already reached out saying she'd like to offer a second chance to those participating in the program and provide them a job, upon their release," he said. "There is no better example of community helping community to get back on their feet and positively contribute to society."

Members of the Arlington Heights Police Department's honor guard presented the colors Wednesday before the start of the crosstown matchup between the Cubs and the White Sox.
Members of the Arlington Heights Police Department's honor guard presented the colors Wednesday before the start of the crosstown matchup between the Cubs and the White Sox. - Courtesy of Arlington Heights Police
Crosstown cops

Arlington Heights residents might have spotted some familiar faces Wednesday night at Wrigley Field before the start of game 2 of the crosstown matchup between the White Sox and Cubs. And we're not just talking about Anthony Rizzo or Jose Abreu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Members of the police department's Honor Guard were on the field to present the colors during the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner" pregame.

Illinois State Police and truck drivers are teaming up to combat distracted drivers. The "Trooper in a Truck" program is putting state troopers high up in the cabs of commercial motor vehicles to spot drivers using their phones while behind the wheel.
Illinois State Police and truck drivers are teaming up to combat distracted drivers. The "Trooper in a Truck" program is putting state troopers high up in the cabs of commercial motor vehicles to spot drivers using their phones while behind the wheel. - Courtesy of Illinois State Police
Troopers, truckers unite

If you've seen enough Burt Reynolds movies, you might think truckers and state troopers are sworn enemies.

But the two are teaming up to combat a common adversary: distracted drivers.

Working with the Illinois Trucking Association and Cadence Premier Logistics, Illinois State Police this week announced "Trooper in a Truck," which will place state troopers high up in the cabs of commercial motor vehicles to spot unsafe driving.

When a driver is seen texting, checking social media or holding the phone to an ear while behind the wheel, the trooper will call to a fellow officer up the road, who will make a traffic stop.

So far, state police have conducted Trooper in a Truck details on I-55, I-57, and I-80.

Here's a new one

In the nearly three years since we launched this column, we've written about pretty much every phone scam there is. Or so we thought.

This week, a reader from Palatine introduced us to what for us was a new one: scammers pretending to be federal authorities, who are trying to catch scammers.

The reader -- we're not naming her in hopes it'll keep her off scammers' radars -- said she received a call Wednesday morning from a man claiming to be from the Federal Trade Commission. The agency needed her help to prevent phone scams, he said.

It all sounded on the up and up, until the caller told her she could receive $750,000 for her assistance -- but first she needed to pay a 1% fee.

That's when she ended the call and alerted authorities. The reader suspects she was targeted because she'd taken to Facebook to describe previous experiences with phone scammers.

Don't make it easy

People in a west-side Batavia neighborhood were shocked last week to learn one of their own -- a 20-year-old neighbor -- was suspected of breaking into a pair of houses.

Police used the occasion to remind residents there are steps we can take to lessen the likelihood of falling victim. In one of last week's break-ins, the burglar used a garage door opener left in a vehicle parked outside to get into their house. It was even easier at the second house -- the attached garage had been left unlocked.

"Oftentimes, these types of crimes are committed when the opportunity presents itself and access is easily made," officer Michelle Langston said.

Their advice: Remove valuables and the garage-door opener when you park your car on the driveway. And lock your car, garage and house doors.

• Got a tip or thoughts on a cops and crime-related issue to share? Email copsandcrime@dailyherald.com.

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