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Centegra Huntley tops local stories of 2012

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A new hospital and the end of a longtime mental health provider top the Northwest Herald’s list of most newsworthy local events of 2012.

After two years, Centegra Health System got permission to build a Huntley hospital. And funding issues led to the closing of Family Service and Community Mental Health Center.

Two teachers’ strikes that last one day each spared parents of longer-term child care concerns, and the completion of the long-sought widening of Rakow Road now spares tens of thousands of commuters.

As in previous years, this year’s top news events also include the deaths of local servicemen – one in Afghanistan and the other in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting.

1. Centegra gets nod to build Huntley hospital

Persistence paid off for Centegra in its quest to build a Huntley hospital.

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board in July voted to grant Centegra a certificate of need to build a $233 million, 128-bed hospital at tReed and Haligus roads in Huntley. A certificate of need is required in Illinois to build or close a hospital.

Centegra applied for a certificate in December 2010, the same day that Mercy Health System reapplied to build a hospital in Crystal Lake. Janesville, Wis.-based Mercy is appealing its latest rejection.

Centegra officials said they hope to have the Huntley hospital open in 2016.

2. Family Service shuts its doors

A 50-year-old mental health clinic that served more than 6,000 clients a year closed at the end of June.

Funding issues, such as $850,000 in late state-aid payments and debts on two mortgages, brought an end to Family Service. The ailing agency had pinned its last hopes to stay alive on a merger with North Central Behavioral Health Systems, but the deal fell through in May.

3. Crystal Lake sailor killed in Colo. shooting

A fourth-generation Crystal Lake sailor was among the 12 killed in a mass shooting in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater.

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Larimer died July 20 when a gunman opened fire into the audience during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” The 27-year old Larimer, a 2003 graduate of Crystal Lake South High School and a Navy cryptologist, was stationed at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora.

Larimer died shielding his girlfriend from the gunman’s fire. She escaped unharmed, but 58 others were wounded.

4. Crystal Lake Marine killed in Afghanistan

McHenry County started the year mourning a local Marine who died in a helicopter crash.

Capt. Nathan McHone, 29, was one of six Marines killed when their helicopter crashed Jan. 19 in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

County residents turned out to pay their final respects to the 2001 graduate of Crystal Lake South High School as his procession made its way to Windridge Memorial Park Cemetery in Cary.

McHenry County has lost four servicemen – two soldiers and two Marines – in Afghanistan.

5. Rakow widening done, Western Bypass starts

Workers tackled one major commuter headache this year and started work on another.

The two-year, $37 million widening of Rakow Road wrapped up in November, ending the era of two-lane, bumper-to-bumper rush-hour gridlock.

Work also began on the long-sought Algonquin Western Bypass. The two-year, $33.3 million project aims to build a four-lane route west of Route 31 to relieve congestion at Routes 31 and 62 in downtown Algonquin.

The bypass is expected to be finished by summer 2014.

6. Teacher strikes in D-46, D-300

The Year of the Illinois Teachers Strike included several McHenry County districts.

Teachers in Prairie Grove District 46 and Carpentersville District 300 hit the picket lines in October and December. The strikes lasted for only one day before teachers and their school boards agreed on contracts.

Teachers in Huntley District 158 gave their union the authority to call a strike, but both sides reached a contract deal in November.

Statewide, teachers in Chicago, Geneva, West Chicago and elsewhere either went on strike or threatened to do so in 2012.

7. Ken Koehler out as County Board chairman

A new McHenry County Board decided earlier this month on a new leader.

The newly sworn 24-member board earlier this month chose Tina Hill, R-Woodstock, as chairwoman over four-term incumbent Ken Koehler, R-Crystal Lake.

Nine new board members were sworn in after the November election, in which all 24 seats were up because of post-census redistricting. The freshman class is the largest for the County Board in at least 20 years.

8. Disabled teen abandoned in Tenn. bar

An Algonquin mother made national news when she left her 19-year-old severely disabled daughter at a Tennessee bar.

Eva Cameron on June 28 left her daughter, Lynn, at a bar in Caryville, Tenn., about an hour northwest of Knoxville. It took authorities 10 days to identify Lynn Cameron because of her inability to communicate and a lack of identification.

A Tennessee grand jury earlier this month declined to press charges. Officials called Eva Cameron’s actions “inexcusable,” but they said they are not indictable under Tennessee law.

Lynn Cameron was returned to Illinois and placed in a state-funded home for people with developmental disabilities.

9. LITH plane crash kills 2

Two people died May 3 when their single-engine Beech 35 Bonanza crashed into a quarry next to Lake in the Hills Airport.

The afternoon crash claimed the lives of the plane’s owner, Paul San Filippo, 82, of Grayslake, and Scott Clark, 65, of Lake Forest. San Filippo was piloting the plane.

The National Transportation Safety Board last month released a factual report of the crash, but has yet to determine a probable cause.

10. Huntley woman beaten to death

A domestic homicide shocked the residents of Sun City in Huntley.

Huntley police were called March 18 to the home of Robert Signorile, where they found the woman he lived with, Michelle Mathieu, unconscious on the master bedroom floor. She was taken to Sherman Hospital, where she died six days later.

Signorile, 43, was charged with first-degree murder, about seven months after being charged with domestic battery in a previous incident involving Mathieu, 52. In that incident, he was sentenced to one year of supervision for battery and ordered to undergo anger counseling.

The murder charge against Signorile is still pending.

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