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All News Content

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.

Group seeks to retire Chief in dignified, solemn manner

URBANA – There are rabid and radical Chief opponents. There are rabid and radical Chief supporters.

And somewhere in the middle, there is ActNow.

Teens' murder trial gets started

URBANA – The Freddie McNeal emergency personnel picked up late on Aug. 8 was alert, responsive and didn't particularly want their help. Two hours later that same man was in grave condition needing a higher level of care.

It was the alert Fredrick McNeal, 44, that Willie Barry and Michael J.R. Cooper left at the Mac's Amoco on North Neil Street in Champaign on Aug. 8, said the attorneys defending the men against charges that they murdered Mr. McNeal.

Urbana endorses tram idea

URBANA – Urbana City Council members, unlike their counterparts in Champaign, decided Monday night they aren't willing to give up yet on a proposed $178 million tram project.

Urbana aldermen voted 5-2 to endorse a fixed guideway or tram system as the locally preferred alternative for improving the local mass transit system, and to support the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District's efforts to apply for federal funding for continued study of engineering, design and costs and benefits of such a system.

Monticello hopes to put trail proposal in motion

MONTICELLO – The city of Monticello hopes to acquire a stretch of an abandoned railroad bed as the first part of a proposal hiking and biking trail linking Monticello with Allerton Park.

If the initial project succeeds, recreation enthusiasts hope to extend the trail northeast to White Heath and dream of eventually extending it further east to Champaign-Urbana and on to Kickapoo State Park near Danville.

Women credited for key civil rights victories

URBANA – Women are often cited as the powers behind the throne. When it comes to civil rights leadership, Bernice Barnett will cite you women who not only were behind the throne, but in front, on top and right alongside it.

Take Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark civil rights case that struck down the separate-but-equal clause that had defined the treatment of blacks in public schools since the 1800s.

County 911 can now trace cellphone calls

URBANA – Emergency dispatchers were able recently to track down a call from a woman who was involved in a fight with her husband, thanks to improvements in the local 911 system.

Greg Abbott, 911 coordinator for the Metropolitan Computer-Aided Dispatch service in Urbana, said Monday that cellphone users now have a new level of 911 access available.