Government

Improving public safety in McHenry County a goal for county officials this year, chairman says

McHenry County Board Chairman Mike Buehler speaks for his annual State of the County address Wednesday, February 9, 2022 in Woodstock.

Improving public safety is one of the main goals in the coming year, McHenry County Board Chairman Mike Buehler said in his annual State of the County address Thursday.

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with municipal law enforcement, the McHenry County Mental Health Board and the Community Foundation for McHenry County to create a police-social worker program, Buehler said.

The police department will be supported with full-time social workers to help bridge the gap between the county’s police departments and its social service providers, he said.

People calling the police when they are in need of mental health services will be provided the help they need, Buehler said.

The county also is converting the former Cary village hall into an indoor police training facility, Buehler said. He cited the long-standing need for the indoor training facilities and said it will help officers and first responders hone their skills.

This agreement includes a portion of Cary’s public works property for an indoor shooting range and is supposed to save the county millions of dollars in construction, travel and training expenses, Buehler said.

He also highlighted the Advance McHenry County program, through which the County Board recently awarded grants to McHenry County College and Crystal Lake-based Community High School District 155 for job training programs. The program also will assist the McHenry County Child Advocacy Center, which will provide child abuse awareness training to law enforcement.

“Our top-notch fiscal stewardship means we can take the almost $60 million in COVID relief funding we’re receiving from the federal government and put it to work in our communities through our groundbreaking Advance McHenry County program,” Buehler said.

People facing financial hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic also can continue to receive help this year with their rent and utilities, he said.

The McHenry County Emergency Utility and Rental Assistance program plans to disperse $9 million in federal funding to help people pay for rent and utilities, Buehler said. This year, the amount was expanded to $16.3 million, which means more people can receive assistance. Applications are open until Sept. 30 at McHenryRent.com.

Buehler also said roadwork is a priority.

McHenry County is partnering with the city of Marengo to develop a plan for the Interstate 90 and Route 23 interchange in hopes of creating more jobs and improving manufacturing in the area.

Work focusing on safety and capacity will begin this year on many intersections along Algonquin Road through Huntley, Lake in the Hills and Algonquin, Buehler said. The intersection of Wilmot Road and Main Street in Spring Grove also will see improvements.

Additionally, the Illinois Department of Transportation this year is expected to finish the engineering on a project to widen Route 47 through Woodstock, Buehler said. Construction is expected to begin in 2023.