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Danville's public safety director using seized Mercedes

DANVILLE – The Danville Police Department will continue using the 2003 Mercedes sedan that joined its fleet earlier this year despite recent media attention the luxury car has attracted.

Deputy Director Bob Richard said the department seized the car in "accordance with state law." Mayor Scott Eisenhauer won't release details of how the $66,000 car was obtained, citing confidentiality, and could not say which model the car is.


Activist says black traffic stops in Urbana are extreme

URBANA – A community activist argued Monday night that Urbana's traffic stop report for 2005 shows that blacks are nearly three times as likely to be stopped by police than the black driving population would indicate.

Randall Cotton, 508 E. Clark St., C, said the city's report shows that blacks are far more likely to be pulled over than whites, or than other minorities.


Minority traffic stops decline in Urbana

URBANA – Urbana's traffic stop report for 2005 shows that minorities were stopped at a slightly lower rate than the year before but at a higher rate than the statewide average.

The traffic stop report is required by state law and is submitted to the Illinois Department of Transportation. This is the second year the report has been compiled.


Urbana firefighters plan to conduct hydrant checks

URBANA – At the urging of Mayor Laurel Prussing, the city's fire department plans to start twice-a-year inspections of fire hydrants.

The inspections of up to 300 hydrants per year are being ordered due to concern that Illinois American Water Co., which is supposed to maintain the hydrants annually, might be skimping on maintenance, said Urbana Fire Chief Rex Mundt.


Police investigate suspicious purchase of cell phones

TOLONO – Local and state police are investigating a suspicious purchase of cell phones late in July at the Dollar General in Tolono. Last week, two Michigan men were arrested in Ohio on terrorism charges after being found with 12 cell phones, $11,000 in cash and airline passenger lists.

The Tolono incident, according to a police report, occurred July 29 when the store manager called police after finding nine Wal-Mart bags and a Dollar General bag in the store's Dumpster. Each bag contained four or five TracFone packages. The phones had been cut out of the packages, with the chargers and information booklets left behind.


Officials ID body of man found in Crystal Lake Park

URBANA – Authorities this morning confirmed the identity of a man whose body was found in Crystal Lake Park in Urbana on Friday.

The Champaign County coroner's office announced that the body was that of Edward R. Mitchell, 47, of rural Urbana. He was positively identified by family members this morning, the coroner's office said.


Efforts to ID man's body complicated by lack of clothing

URBANA – The man found Friday afternoon at Crystal Lake Park was nearly naked, according to Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup.

"When we recovered his body from the lake, the man was wearing just a pair of undershorts," Northrup said on Sunday night. "Basically, that was it."


Police closer to identifying body found floating in lake

URBANA – Investigators said they were closer to discovering the identity of a man who was found floating in the lake at Crystal Lake Park on Friday afternoon.

People were riding a paddle boat in the lake just before 3 p.m. Friday when they discovered what looked like a body in a lagoon, according to a police report. When they drew close enough to see a human head, they told employees at the lakehouse about it. The employees then called police.


A search for the right evidence

The body of 23-year-old Johnny Willis was found along a well-traveled road east of Rantoul on April 6, 1977. He had been shot in the back of the head at close range with a shotgun.

Nine years later, his ex-girlfriend and two other men were convicted of Willis' murder.


Shelden's Freedom of Information Act suit settled

URBANA – The Champaign County Board has settled a lawsuit with Champaign County Clerk Mark Shelden, paying court costs after giving him the documents he requested.

Shelden had filed Freedom of Information Act requests for information about construction problems at the new $24 million Champaign County Nursing Home.