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Fans of McHenry Outdoor Theater, the only remaining drive-in in the suburbs, can rejoice that its owner has long-term plans for the future with a bunch of upgrades and improvements.

Scott Dehn, who has operated the theater for years, announced on Feb. 20 on Facebook that about two months ago he exercised his option to buy the property at 1510 Chapel Hill Road in McHenry.

“The threat of redevelopment is now nonexistent,” wrote Dehn, whose company Golden Age Holdings, LLC, is listed as the property owner by the McHenry County Treasurer’s office.

Dehn said he’s planning to install a new screen for “the brightest and most crisp resolution” ever projected at the theater; add stone, gravel and rock to the parking lot and grade it to eliminate potholes; and add speakers to the exterior of all buildings.

Read more here.

When a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said this week that she had contacted her local school superintendent with questions on how the coronavirus would impact students, at least one suburban Chicago administrator took immediate notice.

“I will tell you I was surprised that school superintendents had immediately become a flashpoint in a public health issue, but as soon as this thing started, we’ve been putting strategies and procedures in place,” Barrington Community Unit School 220 Superintendent Brian Harris said Wednesday.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters Tuesday that it’s no longer a matter of wondering if the coronavirus will hit the U.S., but when. Suburban school officials like Harris say they have been preparing for this possibility since the initial outbreak of the virus was reported in China.

At the Barrington district, which enrolls 9,000 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, Harris said officials have heard from parents who were worried about their children’s proximity to teachers with the district’s Chinese Immersion program, some of whom have traveled recently to China.

Read more here.

Women veterans of every branch of the U.S. military salute as the national anthem is sung at an auditorium at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago for the announcement of the state’s first all-women Honor Flight to Washington D.C. later this year. (Photo courtesy of Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times)

Illinois’ first Honor Flight exclusively for senior female veterans will become a reality later this year thanks to the efforts of an enterprising Lisle woman.

Ginny Narsete, an Air Force veteran and former chief of staff for the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, is the chairwoman of the newly launched Operation HerStory, which on Oct. 7 will take 100 women veterans on a flight to Washington, D.C. The effort was unveiled Tuesday in a ceremony at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in downtown Chicago.

More than 140 regional hubs across the country offer Honor Flights for veterans, but there has been a distinct lack of participation from women, even accounting for the fact that most veterans are men, said Narsete, who began working on the initiative last summer.

“The reason they are not on the flights is, they’re like my mom: they’ll relinquish their seat for a man,” Narsete said. “The second thing is a lot of them didn’t think they were veterans. The reason they didn’t know they were veterans is they didn’t get the same accolades as a man did.”

Read more about this overdue distinction here.

Some Village signs (such as the one pictured at left) might be prohibited under the proposed sign regulations.

Notice is hereby given that a Public Hearing will be held on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. by the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Village of Barrington Hills at the Village Hall, 112 Algonquin Road, Barrington Hills, IL, concerning the Zoning Board of Appeal’s proposed text amendments to the Village’s Zoning Ordinance, Title 5 of the Village Code, specifically to amend sections setting forth regulations regarding signage on property in the Village.

A copy of the Zoning Ordinance and the proposed amendments are available for examination at the office of the Village Clerk at the Village Hall, weekdays between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. All interested parties are invited to attend the Public Hearing and will be given an opportunity to be heard. Written comments on proposed text amendments to be made part of the record of this proceeding will be accepted in the office of the Village Clerk through 5 PM, March 9, 2020. 

Barrington Area Unit District 220 will seek voter approval next month to borrow $147 million for building projects, including safety and security upgrades at all its schools.

Regardless of the outcome of the March 17 referendum vote, district residents will see a reduction in their property tax bills. How much depends on voters.

Former school board President Brian Battle said the decision to pare the proposed borrowing by $38 million shows officials listened to voters.

Battle, now part of a residents’ group called Yes for Barrington 220’s Future, said the timing is right to support the request. That’s in part because of historically low interest rates.

However, some like Barrington resident Willard “Bill” Bishop are questioning the district’s request, saying that after extensive study, he’s concluded too little annual spending on building maintenance has led to the $147 million proposal.

Over the years, Bishop contends, the school board elected to “fully support spending on personnel in each year’s budget” while not devoting enough to facility maintenance.

Read more here.

Pritzker’s plan would replace Illinois’ flat tax with a graduated income tax projected to increase revenue by $3.6 billion a year, chiefly by hiking tax rates on the top 3% of all earners.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s speech Wednesday was billed as his annual budget address. But it was much more than that.

The budget part of the speech held few surprises and was far less ambitious than last year’s agenda. After a first year in which Pritzker passed gambling and cannabis legislation and a $45 billion infrastructure plan, the governor is taking a breather this year, relatively speaking.

The key part of Pritzker’s address was the governor’s pitch for a constitutional amendment that would enable him to change the state’s tax structure and make wealthy people pay more.

“This budget is a bridge to the future,” Pritzker said. And from there, he went on to lay out the benefits, as he sees them, from the graduated income tax.

Read more of Friday’s Tribune op-ed here if you missed it.

Twenty years ago, a Sun-Times reporter joined a dozen families who traveled to China. ‘I can’t picture my life without her,’ one mom says of her adopted daughter.

Before it became the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, Chicagoans were unlikely to have heard of Wuhan, a sprawling city of 11 million in central China sometimes referred to as the Chicago of China.

But for some Chicago-area families, the city was where they welcomed abandoned or orphaned children into their families, forever changing the lives of parents and children.

Twenty years ago, a Chicago Sun-Times reporter joined the dozen families as they traveled to Wuhan to complete the adoptions. They were among nearly 1,000 adoptions in China arranged by Chicago-area clinics from 1995 to 1999.

China was the most popular destination for Illinois families seeking to adopt internationally then. With 4,100 adoptions in 1999, China was second to Russia nationwide. It’s now surpassed Russia, though the number of adoptions dropped to 1,475 in 2018.

To learn what the Barrington Hills connection to this story is, read more here.

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