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CEO of Ravinia Festival Welz Kauffman facing drunken-driving charge

Welz Kauffman

Welz Kauffman

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Updated: July 14, 2012 6:26AM

Ravinia Festival said Tuesday it’s sticking by its president and CEO after he was arrested for drunken driving not far from the famed outdoor concert venue.

Welz Kauffman, 51, had a blood alcohol level of .154 — nearly twice the legal limit to drive — when arrested Thursday night, authorities said. He had called police after side-swiping another car near his Highland Park home.

“For more than a decade the Ravinia Festival has flourished on and off stage under the leadership of Welz Kauffman, and we believe it is in our best interests for him to continue to lead the festival,” Robert Krebs, chairman of the Ravinia Board, said in the statement.

“Both Welz and we recognize that he has an illness, and the Ravinia family will support him as he works to overcome it.”

The arrest happened at 8:46 p.m. Thursday at Roger Williams Avenue and Sheridan Road, Highland Park police said.

Deputy Police Chief David Schwarz said Kauffman was headed south on Sheridan when he sideswiped a vehicle turning left in front of him. He also was ticketed for illegal lane use.

Ravinia hosted Concert Dance Inc. Thursday night in its Bennett Gordon Hall.

Kauffman, who was unavailable for comment, was released on his own recognizance and is scheduled to appear in Lake County Court on June 29.

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