Local Editorials

Our View: McHenry County 4-H program celebrating 100th anniversary

Thumbs-up: To the McHenry County 4-H program celebrating its 100th anniversary. The program is a staple in McHenry County, and is celebrating its anniversary this year in conjunction with the McHenry County Fair. 4-H provides hands-on learning experiences to youth in McHenry County, including serving on planning committees, becoming an officer or leader, and attending regional, state and national events.

The club started by offering 4-H students the chance to participate in cooking or sewing projects, or showing livestock. Now members can pick from hundreds of categories such as crafts, photography, rocketry, electronics and robotics. Any program that provides youth leadership experience and the chance to explore new skills is a good thing. Thumbs-up to the club for working with McHenry County families for so long. We wish it many more years to come. 

Thumbs-up: To Wondertucky Distillery and Bottling Co. in Woodstock, which plans to add an outdoor tasting component and possibly become a stop along the Northern Illinois Bourbon Trail. Owner David Cunningham said the change will allow the distillery to expand its business profile in the Illinois and Midwest tourism industry. We’d like to see this venture be successful and draw safe tourism and tax dollars to Woodstock.

Thumbs-up: To the Crystal Lake City Council for repealing the city’s foreign fire insurance tax. The council’s decision came after repeated requests from firefighters to spend the money from the tax fund on everything from health club memberships to coffee beans.

In the past few years, the Foreign Fire Insurance Tax Board – made up of members of the fire department – has sought City Council approval to use the money for Fitbits, health club memberships, day care services for children and duffel bags. The City Council has turned down such requests because they were personal use expenses, Fire Rescue Chief Paul DeRaedt told the Northwest Herald. Other expense requests included coffee beans, which Mayor Aaron Shepley said the city of Crystal Lake already provides for its departments.

The tax is imposed for the sole purpose of providing “maintenance, use and benefit” of the city’s fire rescue department, including buying and maintaining equipment for firefighting, training and conditioning, and covering training or certification fees authorized by the fire rescue chief, according to city code. We support the City Council’s decision here.

Tax dollars – regardless of source – need to be used properly. It makes sense to zero out the tax until the Foreign Fire Insurance Tax Board can demonstrate better judgment.

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