July 2006

July 2006

Van driver found guilty of murder

TUSCOLA – Douglas County Judge Frank Lincoln said that when defendant Levi Gast crashed his vehicle head-on into an oncoming vehicle, Gast expected to die in the crash, so he had to have known the other driver would likely be killed too.

Friday afternoon, Lincoln found Gast guilty of first-degree murder, and scheduled Gast's sentence hearing for Aug. 22. Gast could serve 20 to 60 years, with no possibility of parole.

Member says board should be more open

URBANA – A Champaign County board member says the county could go further after releasing documents about fixing mold problems at the new nursing home

Greg Knott, a Republican from St. Joseph, is one of the county board members – along with Democrat Steve Beckett – who examined documents about the $24 million facility before State's Attorney Julia Rietz released them to The News-Gazette and Champaign County Clerk Mark Shelden.

TATE: Augustine like shot at NBA

CHAMPAIGN – James Augustine's five games with Orlando in the NBA Summer League went pretty much as expected.

He ran the court like a gazelle, led the rookies in offensive rebounds with 13, fouled too much (19), had too many turnovers (13) from his high post position, trailed only Travis Diener in minutes and missed some makable midrange jumpers that would solidify his spot on the Magic roster (he hit 12 of 28 shots and 9 of 10 free throws).

Tate: Zook extends Illini's reach

CHAMPAIGN – Melvin Alaeze's surprising late-July arrival on the UI campus serves as a bombshell reminder that Ron Zook is changing the face of Illini football.

We haven't been accustomed to so many hard-muscled studs pumping iron in Lou Hernandez's weight room. Even the most disgruntled pessimist must recognize the upgrade in physical talent.

Legislature, voters should check Blagojevich power grab

What does it tell Illinoisans when their governor deceives state legislators and the public – not once but twice in consecutive years – about the contents of the state budget?

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has again lied to the Legislature about what is in the state budget. After telling lawmakers that there was no money in this year's spending plan for stem cell research, he acted last week – a day after President Bush vetoed any federally financed expansion of embryonic stem cell research – to convert a $5 million administrative line item in the Department of Healthcare and Family Services budget to a line item for stem cell research. Last summer, he announced after the Legislature had left town that he had hidden $10 million in the budget for the controversial research.

Glory days have passed for Rantoul's Chanute base

RANTOUL – A marmalade cat sprints through the rubble of an old Air Force operations building that fell from its own weight after termite infestation.

"That's our rodent control system," explains Rantoul village Administrator David Johnston.

The building's filled with asbestos and lead-based paint. A few hundred yards away is an even larger building– White Hall – that's also full of asbestos and lead-based paint. White Hall is better known as Buckingham Palace to hundreds of thousands of airmen who passed through it from 1939 until Chanute Air Force Base's closure in 1993.

Potomac high schooler competes in National rodeo

SPRINGFIELD – Ever the strong, silent type, it was difficult to get comments from Mike Glines about his experience participating in the National High School Rodeo Championships.

Mom grateful son was found

OAKWOOD – When 19-year-old Ryan Katcher went missing on Nov. 5, 2000, his mother began praying for his return.

More than 5 years later, her prayers finally were answered.

Uni-High gets internet upgrade

URBANA – Come Aug. 23, University Laboratory High School students will be wired – and wireless.

As part of a network upgrade going on in older buildings at the University of Illinois, the high school will have a speedier Internet connection – from 10 megabits per second to 100, with capability for 1,000 – and wireless access in all classrooms and public areas.

New home school puts focus on black males

CHAMPAIGN – A small community home school for middle school-aged black boys will begin classes next month, with the aim of providing an education that sets high expectations and accommodates individual learning styles.

Leigh Estabrook of Champaign and William and Lori Patterson of Urbana founded the Campus Academy, which will begin classes Aug. 23 for six to eight students.