CHAMPAIGN – It wasn't the end of Ron Zook's world, but he could feel it creeping into his soul.
Uplifted briefly by Jason Reda's opening field goal two years ago, the Illini coach watched helplessly as Penn State rattled off eight straight touchdowns. The 56-3 halftime score sent Illini fans packing (they didn't miss much as Joe Paterno pulled in the reins) just as they had in the previous home game when Michigan State embarrassed the UI 61-14.
CHAMPAIGN – The city council, at least a portion of it, will hit the road Thursday morning, bound for West Lafayette, Ind., on an educational trip. And residents with a serious interest in city government are welcome to come along.
Champaign officials are planning a bus trip Thursday to find out how another Big Ten city, West Lafayette, deals with issues like developing a university research park, controlling student alcohol abuse and methods to improve neighborhoods.
MAHOMET – The Mahomet Village Board voted 4-2 at its regular meeting Tuesday to approve a zoning change on a parcel of land near Lincoln Trail School to allow the construction of condominiums.
The change will allow developer Joel Rasche, who owns the long narrow parcel on State Street, to start building four buildings that will house 14 condominium units.
CHAMPAIGN – With a push to enlist new business support, the United Way of Champaign County has again set a $3 million goal for its annual fund drive.
The agency fell just short of the $3 million target last year, collecting just over $2.9 million. But the United Way's new president and chief executive officer, Lyn Jones, said Champaign County has the capacity to reach that goal.
SADORUS – Volunteers and food donations are needed this weekend in a search for Sadorus resident Naomi Arnette, the mother of seven who has not been seen since May.
Searchers will set up a command center at the Sadorus Community Park. Members of Texas EquuSearch plan to start searching for Arnette at 8 a.m. Saturday. They'll start searching at the same time Sunday if necessary, said TexasEquuSearch case manager Cindy Wisdom.
CHAMPAIGN – While no final decision has been made, it appears Illinois tailback Troy Pollard will have season-ending knee surgery.
The freshman was hurt late in Saturday's game at Indiana. He left the field with his right leg heavily wrapped.
URBANA – Exactly what a jury will hear about allegations that a former Urbana grade school teacher sexually molested female students will be hammered out in an Urbana courtroom next month.
Champaign County Judge Harry Clem on Tuesday gave attorneys prosecuting and defending Jon White, 27, of Normal, four days in October that he will hear pretrial motions concerning what evidence will ultimately be presented to the jury that hears charges of predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse against White.
MONTICELLO – The Monticello Education Association voted "overwhelmingly" Tuesday night to file an intent to strike as the Monticello School Board and the union have failed to reach a contract settlement.
The teachers' contract expired in August, and the two groups met with a federal mediator last Thursday, but reached no agreement.
That the Champaign Park District made the right decision converting Sholem Pool to a different kind of facility – with a lazy river, tube slide, body slide, kiddie pool and other amenities – is indisputable. Attendance there this summer was almost three times what was found at the community's two traditional outdoor pools combined: 104,000 versus about 38,500.
Now the question for both the Urbana and Champaign park districts is what to do with those other pools – Crystal Lake in Urbana, where there were 26,300 admissions this summer, and Spalding in Champaign, where attendance was just 12,179.
If he didn't have so much influence – as in suggesting that a barrel of oil might soon cost $100 – and didn't associate with other international troublemakers, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez might be considered something like a guilty pleasure. He's so amusing that he's hard to ignore, especially when he sets the record for the longest television show by a governmental leader.
The other day Chavez broadcast live on state television for more than eight hours. He talked about energy policy, constitutional reform (he wants to amend his country's constitution to eliminate presidential term limits), peace talks with Colombia and the increasingly common practice in Venezuela of parents buying breast implants for their daughters on their 15th birthday. At the end of the program, Chavez grinned at the camera and said, "The first time in history."