DANVILLE – A decade ago, Toula Vrentas felt unsafe in her west downtown neighborhood. That began to change a few years ago, when she saw flowers replace beer bottles and garbage, freshly painted houses replace dilapidated ones and responsible homeowners replace absentee landlords and untidy renters.
"It's cleaner and safer," said Vrentas, who lives in her childhood home on East Harrison Street.
SAVOY – Twenty years from now, will the University of Illinois still be operating Willard Airport? Or will it be run by a separate authority supported by local tax dollars?
That's likely to be one of many issues discussed by a strategic planning group being formed to help chart the future of the Savoy airport.
I finished my Illini career in spring 2004 as the winningest women''s tennis player in school history. I top the all-time UI victory lists in both singles and doubles. I am the only player in the program''s history to be selected to the All-Big Ten team four times and remain the only Illini to win the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award. That same school year (2000-01), I was selected UI Female Newcomer of the Year for all sports. I also excelled in the classroom, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors three times. In 2004, I was the UI''s female winner of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, an award the recognizes extraordinary achievement in academics and athletes.
Illinois'' Justin Spring scored a 9.737 to capture the parallel bars championship Saturday at the NCAA meet in West Point, N.Y.
It was Spring''s second national title. He won the high bar last year.
Unlike last year, Illinois'' future roster is uncertain. News-Gazette staff writer Brett Dawson takes a look at the returning – and potentially departing – Illini:
CHAMPAIGN – The learning process continued Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The subject: timeouts.
Illinois linebacker Anthony Thornhill learned his lesson the hard way, drawing the wrath of coach Ron Zook when he called a timeout during Saturday''s scrimmage.
URBANA – For the past two weeks, a pitching change has also meant a catching change for the Illinois softball team.
UI coach Terri Sullivan has senior Julie Balicki behind the plate when left-hander Mary Miller is pitching but summons sophomore Brittany Koester when right-hander Claire DeVreese enters the game.
At 58 years old, Julia Parker's favorite job has come later in life, working as a teaching assistant at Meade Park Elementary School in Danville.
She briefly considered walking away though, when the federal government's No Child Left Behind legislation required assistants be "highly qualified," directing them either to further their education or take exams proving their competency.
News-Gazette staff writer Brett Dawson looks back at Illinois'' 2004-05 basketball season:
CHAMPAIGN – Considered the next Brandon Lloyd when he first walked on campus, Kendrick Jones caught exactly two passes his first three years in school.
But suddenly, he got it. Jones went from Mr. Potential to Mr. Clutch, catching a team-best 47 balls as a junior. He finished sixth in the Big Ten in yardage and seventh in catches. An All-Big Ten season, or better, seemed like a lock in 2005.