Dave Hinton

Dave Hinton

No one hurt in Penfield house fire that causes extensive damage

PENFIELD — A Penfield home and its contents sustained an estimated $100,000 damage when it caught fire late Tuesday morning.

Gifford Assistant Fire Chief Brodie Crozier said the fire caused extensive damage to the basement of the home at 401 Elm St., and smoke and heat damage to the rest of the house.

The owner, Teresa Bice, was not home when the fire was discovered.

Chanute shootout: 160 armor-clad enthusiasts to converge on Rantoul airsoft event

RANTOUL — People wearing military-style uniforms will be firing at each other on the former Chanute Air Force Base.

Not to worry, though. The weapons will be firing biodegradable plastic pellets.

The Sleeping Giant airsoft event will be held Saturday and Sunday at Grissom Hall. The event is sponsored by Airsoft Republic, an Iowa City-based event organizer.

Finalist for Rantoul village administrator job withdraws

RANTOUL — One of the two top candidates for the Rantoul village administrator position has taken his name out of the running.

Mayor Chuck Smith said David Nord, a private consultant who previously served for 25 years as the village administrator in Cherry Valley, has withdrawn his name.

What needs changing at Champaign County's only beach?

PENFIELD — Plenty of campers and other visitors to the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve through the years have let officials know their opinions of the lake and beach — the only public swim beach in Champaign County.

Opinions such as the water level is too low, and there are too many geese that drop loads of unwanted "presents."

A Life Remembered | Gifford trucker had 'a lot of heart and willpower'

GIFFORD — Trucks and truckers were Tom Reitz's life. It was perhaps only fitting that Mr. Reitz — who drove a big rig for more than 40 years — died on the 12th anniversary of the TopGun LargeCar Shootout that he created in Rantoul.

Mr. Reitz, of Gifford, died on July 28 from leukemia. He was 62.

Police cracking down on motorists who can't put phones down

Julie Hardy of rural Rantoul was sitting on her Victory motorcycle at the stoplight at the corner of U.S. 136 and Murray Road when she happened to glance to her right.

She spied the bane of many fellow motorists — a person driving with her head down, gaze fixed upon a cellphone.

What happened next came in the blink of an eye.

Rantoul hog plant adding equipment to prevent inhumane slaughter

RANTOUL — Officials at a Rantoul hog-slaughtering plant hope the addition of a second carbon-dioxide tunnel will prevent a reoccurrence of an incident earlier this year when two hogs were awake on a line that was taking them to a scalding tank.

UI's transportation lab in Rantoul could soon get test track, 'smart city'

RANTOUL — Pavement, heal thyself.

Some day, potholes, the bane of all motorists, might fix themselves — resulting in far fewer vehicle-damage and safety issues. No hypnosis or miracles will be needed. Just technology.

Self-healing roads are just one of the innovative areas where the Illinois Center for Transportation is in the vanguard. And it's all happening in Rantoul.

Twilight tractor drive added to Historic Farm Days in Penfield

PENFIELD — A twilight tractor drive in the rural areas north of Penfield is a new attraction at this year's Historic Farm Days, which opens Thursday and runs through Sunday in Penfield.

The tractor drive will depart the grounds of the I&I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club at 6 p.m. and return prior to nightfall.

UPDATE: Tuesday's tornado near Gifford was an EF-1

UPDATE, 3:26 p.m. Wednesday:

GIFFORD — The National Weather service said the tornado that touched down Tuesday night between Rantoul and Gifford in rural Champaign County had wind speeds of 90 miles per hour.