March 2012

Improper disposal of smoking materials blamed for Stonegate blaze

UPDATED 8:45 p.m.

CHAMPAIGN — Fire department investigators believe a million-dollar fire early Wednesday morning at a west Champaign apartment building was likely caused by the improper disposal of smoking materials.

No injuries in Urbana kitchen fire

URBANA — Nobody was reported hurt in a kitchen fire at an Urbana apartment Thursday afternoon.

According to a fire department report, Urbana firefighters were called to an apartment building at 2409 Prairie Green Drive at 4:24 p.m. Thursday. When they arrived four minutes later, they found a fire on the stove in a second-floor apartment. The apartment was also full of smoke.

Hey, deadbeat, fork it over

That tax refund check may not be in the mail.

In Illinois, it's one thing if the state government owes you money. The state's message is, "Get in line and we'll pay you when we have the cash."

Great man, great coach

Tommy Stewart was the kind of person most want their teachers to be.

Very few people, however accomplished they may be, meet the standards of being a community institution.

But Tom Stewart, the Hall of Fame football coach at Champaign High School and later at Champaign Central, was such a man.

Jefferson Middle School students take Spring Break trip to Washington, D.C.

I always like to hear about what student groups are up to, and after hearing about Jefferson Middle School students' trip to Washington, D.C., over spring break, I thought I'd include something about it here.

Here's Jefferson Middle School teacher Jan Niccum's account of the trip.

Driver in fatal van-motorcycle crash sentenced to year in jail

MONTICELLO — A White Heath man who caused a fatal motorcycle crash last summer while driving on a revoked license has been sentenced to a year in the county jail.

William Eiben, 49, will be released Monday through Friday during the day to go to work, according to Piatt County State's Attorney Dana Rhoades, but will be in jail at night and on weekends for the next year.

19-year-old convicted of robbery of cab driver

URBANA — A Champaign teen convicted of the violent armed robbery of a cab driver faces up to 30 years in prison when sentenced.

Did he win the press conference?

We asked staff writer Bob Asmussen, our media critic, just that. His answer: That's a winner!

My first thought was, "Who invited Jim Furyk to take over as Illinois basketball coach?" (I'm a big fan of the U.S. Open champion).

Coming Friday: New Illini men's hoops coach, state health care hearing, UI provost forum

In Friday's newspaper, we'll have the details on the new Illini basketball coach, a story about the furor over state health care plans, and a forum with a UI provost candidate.

Cool weather, some rain across the Corn Belt

Across the Corn Belt, cool weather has returned to the Great Lakes region, where frost and freeze advisories were in effect Thursday morning. Freezes were mostly confined to Wisconsin and Michigan, where late-March freezes are common. However, the cool weather follows an extended period of record-setting warmth.