Thumbs-up: To the Hope Takes Action program, which helps people living in long-term poverty become self-sufficient. Six McHenry County participants graduated last week after completing the 20-week workshop series and mentoring program. This was the first year the program took place in McHenry County. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s National Council started incorporating it in 2012, and since then, it has spread to more than 300 communities throughout the country. “I was ready to just give up and lay down, and figure I was going to die one of these days,” said Michael Moore, 62, of McHenry. “But then, through this program, I found all kinds of resources that help me.”
Thumbs-down: To AFSCME workers’ decision to authorize a strike. The union that represents 38,000 state workers wants pay increases and other benefits that would cost Illinois taxpayers another $3 billion over the life of the four-year contract. State pensions are underfunded by almost $130 billion and there’s a backlog of unpaid bills totaling more than $11 billion. Taxpayers simply cannot afford it.
Thumbs-up: To checking the couch cushions. That’s how two members of McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks’ staff discovered the state treasurer’s office was holding $130,000 owed to various county departments as unclaimed property. Franks, D-Marengo, who ran on a platform of reducing the property tax burden and cutting the county budget, said the find is money “we now don’t have to take from taxpayers.” Some of the money has been unclaimed since 1997. Finding $130,000 through a simple search of the state treasurer’s website is a good start, but we’ll need to see more substantive, structural changes for property taxpayers to see meaningful relief. We expect Franks and the County Board to continue down this path.
Thumbs-up: To suicides hitting a seven-year low in McHenry County. The number of suicide deaths in the county dropped from 35 in 2015 to 21 in 2016, and about half of what it was in 2012. We’re hopeful this downward trend will continue and the resources available to those in need in McHenry County continue to strongly support the community. Anyone feeling depressed is encouraged to call the McHenry County Crisis Line at 800-892-8900.