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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."

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.

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.

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.