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All News Content

Jury set to decide on fate of two teens

URBANA – A Champaign County jury was to decide today if punches that two teens rained down on a Champaign man last August amount to murder.

Attorneys for Willie Barry, 17, of Champaign, and Michael Cooper, 18, of Urbana, are expected to argue that their clients had no intention of killing Fredrick "Freddie" McNeal or even causing him great bodily harm when they hit him.

Family of plaintiff recalls historic ruling

URBANA – She remembers the tiring seven-block walk to catch the bus that took her another 2 miles to a segregated all-black school. She remembers tears freezing on her cheeks as she waited in the cold to take her place inside an overcrowded bus.

And she remembers her mild-mannered father, Oliver Brown, taking her by the hand and walking with her into Sumner Elementary School, an all-white school in Topeka, Kan., in September 1950. And she remembers being turned away when school officials refused to enroll her there.

Middle school revamp may cost over $1.5 million

CHAMPAIGN – Realigning Champaign's middle school curriculum will cost more than $1.5 million, according to details released at a public meeting Wednesday.

Unit 4 administrators outlined plans for the changes, which will align specific elementary schools with each of the three district middle schools, and they also proposed changing the starting and ending times at the schools so day lengths at all three are the same.

Buffer strips get solid reviews in UI study

When a community grows in the Midwest, especially in East Central Illinois, chances are that the expansion will involve farmland.

Trouble is, urban residents moving into the countryside and farms don't always make compatible neighbors.

Big changes at polls in Ford County

PAXTON – Hanging chads have become a thing of the past in Ford County.

When Ford County voters head for the polls on March 16, they will be casting their ballots using a new electronic optical scanning system.

Those for, against Chief state cases to trustees

URBANA – Hundreds of people crowded into the University of Illinois trustees' meeting at the Illini Union this morning to lobby for and against Chief Illiniwek.

No vote was scheduled on the issue today.

Speakers for the most part offered familiar arguments. They, like the crowd of about 250 to 300, were about evenly divided on each side of the issue.

Panel studies Vermilion River dams, safety

DANVILLE – A special advisory committee on Tuesday began discussing what the city should do to improve safety at two deadly lowhead dams on the Vermilion River near downtown Danville, and it learned it may get some help along the way.

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer told the committee that University of Illinois Professor Marcelo Garcia has asked whether some of his advanced civil engineering students could take on one of the dams as a class project. "They would study the dam," Eisenhauer said referring to the dam east of Memorial Bridge on South Gilbert Street, "look at the options, determine which one might be feasible and present a recommendation."

Budget cuts continue for Urbana

URBANA – Digging deeper, Urbana school board members Tuesday identified more jobs and programs to cut to reach their next goal of $750,000, on the way to cutting $1 million in expenses.

The board already had reached a list of budget cuts that totaled $515,000, the first step toward their eventual $1 million goal. Members are expected to approve that list at the board's March 16 meeting.

New spark for UI fleet

CHAMPAIGN – The GEM car looks like the product of an unholy marriage between a Mini Cooper and a PT Cruiser.

The University of Illinois has purchased eight of the emission-free vehicles, the first four of which were shown off Tuesday to the roar of – scratch that, the electric engine makes almost no noise.

Champaign magnet schools sought

CHAMPAIGN – School officials this week unveiled plans to apply for a federal grant to create three magnet elementary schools in Champaign.

If the application is successful, the district could receive up to $4 million to make the new program work at Dr. Howard, Garden Hills and Stratton elementary schools, each of which would pick a theme upon which to base course work and extra activities.