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Archive for the ‘Public Safety’ Category

From the Daily Herald-

“It’s been almost two years since the badly beaten body of a Barrington Hills construction magnate was found dead in a torched vehicle abandoned in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. We don’t seem any closer to knowing who is responsible or why.

James D. Gerage, 43, was co-owner of the powerhouse Omega Demolition Corp. The Elgin-based company is one of the largest demolition firms in the Midwest, receiving numerous substantial contracts over the years to do work for the Illinois tollway, O’Hare and Midway airports, McCormick Place and the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

On Sept. 23, 2016, Gerage was found dead in the back seat of a burning vehicle on the 600 block of West 21st Street, a mostly vacant block between the Chicago River and the Dan Ryan Expressway.

About a month later, the Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide, saying Gerage died from “multiple injuries due to assault” before the company-owned vehicle was set ablaze.

The killing has remained unsolved. We checked in this week with Chicago police to see where things stand.

“It’s still an open investigation,” officer Michelle Tannehill told us, adding that she could not provide additional details because of the pending investigation.

We also put in an interview request to Chuck Gerage, James’ brother and business partner, but he did not respond.”

To read the original Daily Herald article, click here.

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bcfpd-logoBarrington Countryside Fire Protection District officials say they plan to be a good neighbor if a new station for ambulance calls is built near a middle school and a building serving young children on an unincorporated site along Dundee Road.

Fire district officials attended a special meeting Tuesday night at Barrington Middle School-Prairie Campus to address concerns with the proposal for 36 E. Dundee Road.

Barrington Area Unit District 220 officials say their concerns about the planned third station include noise disrupting learning and traffic. District 220 board President Brian Battle said elected officials will decide whether to file an objection to the plan with the Cook County zoning board of appeals.

“We’re trying to be, I think, a responsible school board,” Battle said. “We’re trying to weigh what we think would be kind of an impact on the education of this (Prairie) campus, along with trying to weigh the public safety issues that have been identified by our friends at the fire protection district. We’re trying to find that right balance.”

The entire Daily Herald article can be read here.

 

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This news comes via the Barrington Hills Police Department:

“Barrington Hills Police Department (BHPD) Officer Jeremy Hensler was recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is progressively debilitating and eventually terminal. As we all know, lives, priorities, and future plans can change in an instant and this is sadly the case for Officer Hensler.

Jeremy is a 13-year veteran of BHPD and served five years as a police officer in Richardson, Texas before moving to Illinois with his wife and young daughter. His daughter is now 15 years old, beginning her high school years and is the light of Jeremy’s life.

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BHPD Officer Jeremy Hensler

Jeremy has spent all of his adult life in public service and he has gone above and beyond in his career at BHPD, serving 12 years as a Northern Illinois Police Alarm System (NIPAS) Emergency Services Team (EST) sniper. Jeremy is also a 10-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps in which he served as an infantry rifleman in the 1st Battalion 9th Regiment at Camp Pendleton, California – consequently, he is very proud and was initially reluctant in allowing Department members to organize a request for assistance on his behalf.

Jeremy is currently on an administrative desk assignment and is in the process of obtaining a non-duty-related disability. He will need progressively more care and assistance during the course of this terrible disease. While we all pray for a miracle cure or remission, we also realistically know that the financial strain on Jeremy is something he should not need to worry about.

Any assistance you may provide to assist Jeremy in facing this difficult disease will be greatly appreciated by him, his daughter, and the entire Barrington Hills Police Department staff.”

Interested parties may contribute to Officer Hensler’s Go Fund Me page here.

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Screen Shot 2018-05-13 at 5.29.53 AMPolice are searching for the driver of a truck who struck and killed a bicyclist late Friday in Barrington Hills, authorities said Saturday.

The victim, identified by the Cook County medical examiner’s office as 28-year-old Rafal Ryndak of Schiller Park, was thrown several feet from his bicycle and was unresponsive when first responders arrived to the crash scene after 10 p.m. on Route 59 south of Route 68, according to Barrington Hills police.

When police arrived, they observed the bicycle, badly damaged, on the shoulder of the roadway. Paramedics from the Barrington Countryside and Lake Zurich fire departments provided emergency medical assistance to the victim at the scene, according to a news release.

The man was officially pronounced dead at the scene at 10:22 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Cause of death was listed as multiple injuries after an autopsy on Saturday.

Police said the vehicle that hit the bicyclist and fled is a dark-colored Toyota Tundra pickup truck. A description of the driver was not available.

You can read the full Daily Herald article here.

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Police arrested five men they say worked together to distract and rob an 87-year-old Barrington Hills woman.

On April 30, the five-person group police referred to as a “ruse burglary crew” rang the woman’s doorbell and tried to lure her outside using ploys such as seal-coating the driveway, working on construction on an adjacent property and landscaping her backyard, according to a news release from Illinois State Police.

When the woman went to the back of the home to look at the landscaping, the remaining men broke into the house and stole about $60,000, the release stated.

The woman became suspicious and asked the crew to leave when the men began to question if anyone else was home. As she called 911, she saw two men running from her bedroom and out the front door, according to the release.

As officers approached the home, they saw the offenders fleeing the front door running from the backyard, the release stated.

The full article in the Northwest Herald can be found here.

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As the Observer looks back at another year gone by, we thought we’d take the opportunity to point out some people and issues that made an impact in Barrington Hills news, whether it was good, bad or just plain phony.

ThumbsUpPresident Martin McLaughlin and Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan were re-elected for their second terms in April 2017. We applaud their excellent service to our village and appreciate the personal sacrifices that they have made to keep Barrington Hills the special place that it is . conicek-300x200@2x

ThumbsUpMcLaughlin continued his astounding record of financial stewardship. Having analyzed every aspect of village spending for the last five years, Marty has surgically excised waste and improved efficiencies in the village budget. Since 2013, the tax levy has been reduced by 20%, 20% more road miles have been paved per year, and cash reserves have increased by 40%.McLaughlin-300x200@2x

ThumbsUpSince McLaughlin took office, every administrative employee at Village Hall has changed. In prior years, Barrington Hills hired a new Village Attorney and Treasurer, and, due to the retirement of Chief Michael Murphy, Rich Semelsberger became Police Chief. In 2017 alone, a new Building Permit Coordinator, new Engineering Firm, Clerk and a new acting Director of Administration were hired.

ThumbsDownTwo candidates from the “Your Barrington Hills” slate narrowly won election to the Board of Trustees. Paula Jacobsen and Robert Zubak ran on a platform of unfounded and disproven complaints about village governance, and promised to do more to: 1) protect open spaces and property rights, 2)produce better results for our tax dollars, 3) restore public safety and security which they alleged had been sacrificed, and 4) improve transparency and information distribution. More than eight months have passed since the duo were sworn into office, and nary a mention has been made of any of these so-called initiatives. And, not surprisingly, neither trustee has presented their new ideas for those better results for our tax dollars.  This confirms our belief that their sole reason for running for office was to attempt to change the current commercial horse boarding protections.

Paula Jacobsen Robert ZubakJacobsen and Zubak also made campaign promises to vigorously challenge the Plum Farm land development in Hoffman Estates, falsely accusing McLaughlin and Konicek of doing nothing to oppose the project. Yet Jacobsen and Zubak have not even aired the Plum Farm issue during a board meeting.

ThumbsUp For the first time in many years, the Riding Club of Barrington Hills did not officially involve itself in the village election. Despite pressure from some of the Club’s most strident and vocal members, club president Jane Clement declined to make an political endorsement to the RCBH membership. We commend her for that. Politics and non-profit social clubs shouldn’t mix.

ThumbsUpThe 2017 hiring of Nikki Panos as part-time Building Department permit coordinator was a breath of fresh air. Panos brought competence and professionalism to the office whose previous occupant was frequently brusque and unkempt. We congratulate Panos’ promotion to Village Clerk and are confident that residents will be well served by her.

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Nikki Panos, Village Clerk

ThumbsUpThe wave of change at Village Hall continued with the engagement of a new engineering firm – Trotter & Associates – replacing Gewalt Hamilton. Gewalt Hamilton had served the Village for decades, but without review or evaluation. We look forward to the fresh perspective that Trotter will provide and hope that residents will receive better service at a lower cost.

ThumbsDownIn the spring of 2017, the owners of Barrington Hills Farm (whose 600+acres is now located almost entirely OUTSIDE the borders of Barrington Hills) flouted village laws when they demolished a home, engaged in major earth-moving, cut down numerous trees without adhering to the Tree Preservation Ordinance, and failed to obtain proper permits prior to engaging in the project. When the activity on this property (formerly owned by the recently deceased Barbara MacArthur) was finally discovered by the Village, two stop work order signs were posted by the village inspector, and both signs mysteriously disappeared. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done, and all the village could do was collect the permit fees and penalties months after the fact.

ThumbsDownApparently feeling slighted by having to follow the Village Code as all other residents and property owners have to do, the Barrington Hills Farm L.L.C. ownership demanded disconnection of the property in question into unincorporated McHenry County, a request that was granted by the Board of Trustees.

jokerSpeaking of Barrington Hills Farm, whatever happened to the HARPS facility they had planned near the intersection of Church and Chapel Roads, immediately adjacent to Barrington Hills homes on Alderberry Lane? It’s been over two years since representatives of the L.L.C. presented plans to both the village and McHenry County, and after all the hullabaloo they created over necessary curb cuts for the proposed driveway entrances and the nonsense over granting easements and rights-of-way, the corner remains undeveloped. There is no new information about the facility on the HARPS website either. Strange, isn’t it?

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Trustee Brian Cecola continued his excellent management of the Village’s Roads and Bridges.  He is completely engaged in his position, interfacing well with residents, village engineering firm and his fellow board members.  Miles of road paving per year are up, and Cecola is looking to increase that benchmark in the coming years.  Congratulations for a job well done!

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Trustee Brian Cecola

ThumbsUp 2017 brought the long-overdue retirement of Village Administrator Bob Kosin. His 35 years of service to Barrington Hills is much appreciated, but Kosin had long since ceased serving the residents efficiently, and was increasingly difficult to work with. His convoluted explanations and arcane knowledge of village history may have been interesting in the past, but residents and commission members no longer found his digressions amusing or beneficial.

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We are hopeful about the appointment of Anna Paul (previously Village Clerk) as acting Administrator. While the search for a permanent administrator may continue, the Observer has been pleased to watch Paul’s progression through the ranks of village administration. She offers a familiarity with VBH operations that no outside candidate with years of lead experience can match. Her organization and communication skills are outstanding, and despite her relative youth, she is steady, impartial and poised in any situation. We wish Anna Paul well in her new assignment.

jokerThe Observer usually doesn’t comment on state or federal races, but we feel compelled to comment on the unlikely candidacy of resident Kelly Mazeski in the Democratic Congressional primary in IL-06. Mazeski, whose recent civic resume consists of only of membership on the village’s Plan Commission, previously ran unsuccessfully for Village Board in 2013, and unsuccessfully for State Senate in 2016. Her campaign’s PR machine has been busy at work, trying to repackage her from the “financial expert” she called herself in 2016, now calling herself “mom/scientist/cancer survivor”. What’s next – butcher/baker/candlestick maker?

jokerSpeaking of Kelly Mazeski, it seems as though she’s been grasping for endorsements, trotting out support from “environmentalists” Karen Rosene and Karen Selman, as well as a big thumbs up from former trustee Mikey Harrington. Now that’s a lot to be proud of, isn’t it?

jokerAlthough he opted not to run for re-election as trustee, the specter of Fritz Gohl continues to loom over the village. Gohl, now receiving financial compensation as a Barrington Township trustee, still can claim his title of village buffoon. His frequent public comments during Board of Trustees meetings are no more logical or coherent now than they were during his tenure on the board.

ThumbsDownChuck Stewart, Village Arborist, is the last of the Kosin-era hold-overs. In appearances in front of village commissions and the BOT, Stewart communicates poorly and comes across as disorganized. The Observer is also concerned about the questionable judgment he demonstrated in enforcing the Tree Preservation Ordinance both in the Hasan case and in the aforementioned Barrington Hills Farm matter. Those faults, combined with an undisclosed potential conflict of interest (Stewart rents office space in a building owned by one of the members of the board of Barrington Hills Farm), makes him a poor choice to continue in the role of Village Arborist. The Village needs a tree expert who can communicate clearly with residents and builders, as well as with Village administration.

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We are pleased to announce the recipient of the 2017 Shining Star Award — Barrington Hills Police Chief Richard Semelsberger. Chief Semelsberger epitomizes the very best in a public safety professional, and the residents of our village are very fortunate to have such a dedicated individual at the helm of our Police Department.

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Chief Semelsberger is well-known to many in the community, having started as a patrolman in 1989, and rising through the ranks over the last 28 years.  Having worked under four of the nine previous village chiefs of police, Rich became Deputy Chief in 2011, eventually becoming Chief of Police in March 2015, after the retirement of Chief Michael Murphy.

He is respected and well-liked by officers in his department, and works easily with our elected officials, village hall staff, and attorneys.  A familiar face to many, Rich is in attendance at each annual Hills Are Alive Heritage Fest, where he can be seen engaged in friendly conversation with village residents.

Over the years, Semelsberger has continually impressed us with his vast knowledge of the department’s operating budget during Board of Trustee meetings, always having the appropriate facts and figures when questioned by board members.  But what has been the most striking recently has been his active participation in many other discussions during Board Meetings.  Whether the topic was the somewhat controversial outsourcing of our 911 Dispatch services to QuadCom, or the purchase of a new phone system for the Village Hall, it was obvious that Semelsberger had studied the issues very carefully and had an intimate understanding of all of the pros and cons.

The Chief’s low-key yet highly effective style was most notably on display in early 2017 when he set the record straight on the many of facts surrounding the village’s CTY alert system, police staffing levels, and the false accusations of discontinuation of the police non-emergency number.  These issues had been raised during the months leading up to the April 2017 Election by the “Your Barrington Hills” slate and their supporters.  Despite the highly political atmosphere that had been created, Semelsberger calmly and clearly refuted the unfounded allegations one-by-one in a decidedly nonpartisan and straightforward manner that left little doubt what the facts were.  See these Observer articles for more detail: All the world’s a stageApril 24th Board meeting recordings released, and Regime revived?

Our village is indeed lucky to have such a fine man as Richard Semelsberger fully committed to serving and protecting our homes and families.  We commend the Chief for his leadership of our award-winning Police Department, and for making our community safe each and every day.  Thank you from the residents and from all of us at the Observer!

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