April 2005

April 2005

Illini''s battery changes have been positive

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.

Schools help teaching assistants meet competency requirement

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.

For the record (books)

News-Gazette staff writer Brett Dawson looks back at Illinois'' 2004-05 basketball season:

Illini roundup: Baseball remains perfect

EAST LANSING, Mich. --The Illinois baseball team improved to 7-0 in the Big Ten by sweeping a doubleheader from Michigan State on Saturday, 9-2 and 6-5.

It''s the team''s best league start since 1990.

Tate: Talent pool a bit shallow

The great basketball scramble is on.

It''s not exactly the Oklahoma Land Rush, but it''s close. It''s the nature of the beast. At the NBA level, where trading is legal and routine, roughly a fourth of the league turned over this season. At the college level, numerous athletes make adjustments each spring to find their proper level.

A sister's walk bears witness: Depression kills

CHAMPAIGN – Kathleen Ashley decided that it was time this spring to talk publicly about the deaths of her two brothers.

Tom Ashley died in July 1995 in St. Louis at age 40. His twin, Tim, died in August 2003 in Texas. Both died by suicide.

State's attorney advocates help victims navigate system

URBANA – Within days of the near death of their 11-month-old grandson on Aug. 26, 1999, Rod and Janet Warfield were reeling from the news that their former daughter-in-law had been criminally charged with poisoning him.

For the next five months, as Theresa Heater's criminal case wound through the Champaign County court system, advocates in the Champaign County state's attorney's office kept the Warfields informed.

Danville's feeling good about west downtown neighborhood

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.

Airport authority, UI oversight up for discussion

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.

Third''s the word for UI in team competition

WEST POINT, N.Y. – Justin Spring earned All-America honors in the all-around Friday, but the Illinois men''s gymnastics team had to settle for third place in the team competition at the NCAA championships.

Spring scored a career-high 9.9 in the high bar en route to a 55.25 all-around total, good for sixth place overall. He advanced to today''s individual finals on the bar as well as the parallel bars, one of five Illini to compete for individual gold.