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Columnist
Sheriff calls out telemarketers for misrepresentation
By Amy Mack | Daily Herald Columnist

Larger signal warning signs topped by flashers now greet motorists approaching one of the region's deadliest intersections at Randall Road and Route 72.

 

George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/14/2007 12:31 AM

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Have you ever wanted to call the cops on a telemarketer?

Here's your chance. Nah, you can't get them arrested for spoiling your dinner, but do be wary if they claim they're collecting to provide bulletproof vests or anything for McHenry County sheriff's deputies.

McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren is so ticked at the telemarketers' claims, he's urging us to call his office or even the Illinois attorney general's office to file a complaint.

The sheriff says his department pays for bulletproof vests, canine cop services and anti-drug efforts the telemarketers claim they're collecting for. He says the more than $500,000 you've already donated to the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 118 actually pays for insurance and other benefits for a select few.

FOP leadership did not respond to phone calls last week when we first wrote about Nygren's current complaint.

He's previously tangled with this FOP because of its restrictive membership and telemarketing tactics, but they're still at it.

Some might dismiss his concerns because the FOP is headed by a couple of his political rivals. But I once investigated this very political FOP's tactics and was dismayed. Not only are they deceiving us about where the money goes, but about 80 percent of what's donated goes to telemarketers, not police.

I get these same calls more than once a year. The sheriff is right about the high-pressure tactics -- how comfortable are you turning down a request to help police? I always ask those callers for written information about what they're spending on what. I'm still waiting.

The sheriff says he has repeatedly asked the FOP officers to change the tactics but nothing has changed. "Nothing's ever happened when we go to them, so we're going to the people," Nygren said. "People are under the impression these telemarketers represent the McHenry County sheriff's department, and they do not. I'm not looking for a fight with anybody, but I'm tired of our department being put on the spot because of what they do. Enough is enough."

You can call the sheriff at (815) 338-2144 or the Illinois Attorney General's Charitable Trust Division at (312) 814-2595. You also can just hang up when you get these calls.

Good warning

After the latest accident at one of the region's deadliest intersections, several of you wrote to express your concerns about what's being done to make Randall Road and Route 72 safer. As regular readers know, it's been a big concern for me and, certainly, for many of you for some time now.

One reader had just witnessed someone run a red light at the crossroads where too many already have died or been seriously injured. Others tell me you won't let your teen drivers go that way for fear they'll be next. I know I, personally, avoid it if I can.

County and state officials share our concern and they've been steadily working to find the best fix. I was delighted to find new, larger signal warning signs with yellow flashers posted before the intersection in all directions. Despite the detour sign that blocks the northbound Randall sign somewhat, they should get people's attention.

They've also lowered the speed limit to 50 mph all the way from the tollway to County Line Road in Algonquin. I, um, didn't notice those signs myself.

And, perhaps, most helpful to improving that intersection's safety, they're working hard to make it a left-turn on arrow only in all directions with, eventually, double left-turn lanes.

"A lot of turning crashes is what concerned us and IDOT, and that's the focus of what you see there now," said Tom Szabo, traffic manager for the Kane County Division of Transportation. He said the Illinois Department of Transportation is taking the lead to obtain funding, engineering and equipment to put up new signals within the next year, possibly by late spring or early summer. It'll take a bit longer to add lanes. In addition, he said, Elgin police are stepping up enforcement efforts. All is good to see, but, bottom line, we all need to remain wary at that intersection.

Parade, anyone?

Want to be in a parade? West Dundee Village Manager Joe Cavallaro said they'd love to have you join the Dickens in Dundee parade at 10 a.m. Dec. 1 from the West Dundee village hall, along Route 72 through downtown East Dundee. Go to wdundee.org/dickens for details.

"We've got a good base -- we're looking to build on it," Joe said.

What's that?

Speaking of building, there's a lot going on at the former Cooper's Charhouse on Route 31 in West Dundee. Cooper's former owners have just told the village they're working on bringing an Italian beef/sausage, Portillo's-type restaurant this way in a couple of months. Yum!