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All News Content

Rossville in flames

ROSSVILLE – A fire broke out in Rossville's downtown business district on Friday night, destroying several historic buildings and many of the antique galleries and gift boutiques for which the village is known.

"It's heartbreaking," Rossville resident Natalie Potter said as she, her mother – with tears in her eyes – and scores of onlookers watched the blaze rip through the buildings and light up the night sky. "There goes a fourth of our town."

Panel discusses corporate diversity

CHAMPAIGN – Being a minority employee is about more than just skin color. That was the general consensus of a five-person panel that talked to business administration graduate students from various universities Friday afternoon.

The program is part of the first ever Minority Case Competition and Career Forum, held in Wohlers Hall, 1206 S. 6th St., C. The event includes a team competition today in which MBA students will compete for cash prizes.

Helicopter now carries children, pregnant women

URBANA – Pregnant women going into early labor and premature babies in distress are now being rushed to specialists at Carle Foundation Hospital a lot faster, via helicopter.

AirLife, the flying ambulance operated by Carle and ARCH Air Medical Service, has added a pediatric and obstetric transport service for expectant mothers and sick children of all ages. And hospital officials say it's making the critical difference in getting the patients to treatment in time.

Urbana schools prepare for cuts

URBANA – School board members are again tackling a familiar job – deciding where to cut programs and services. This year, cuts could add up to $1 million.

Board members will draw up a list divided into three zones – yellow, orange and red, taking their cue from the country's national alert system – and Superintendent Gene Amberg said the "red" zone is somewhere no one wants to go.

Champaign police consider Tasers

CHAMPAIGN – At The Whip Hair Designs, a popular barbershop at 904 N. Fourth St., C, a petition on a stand is prompting plenty of barbershop debate.

"Citizens Against the Use of Stun Guns," reads the document, which was signed by about 16 people as of Thursday afternoon.

Ex-boyfriend's murder trial will be first

CLINTON – Prosecutors have decided to try Maurice Lagrone Jr. first in the deaths of three children who drowned in Clinton Lake. The children's mother will be tried after Lagrone.

Judge Stephen Peters, prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed on Thursday to a schedule calling for Lagrone's trial to begin in late October.

Officials to present downtown initiative

URBANA – Urbana city officials plan to announce a new initiative today to improve the city's downtown.

"Build Downtown" is a six-part plan that consists of six goals with accompanying action items to be accomplished. It was put together in large part by council members Laura Huth, D-Ward 5, and Danielle Chynoweth, D-Ward 4, two of the council's strongest advocates for downtown redevelopment.

UI trustee delays motion on Chief

CHICAGO – University of Illinois Trustee Frances Carroll released a statement Wednesday saying she will not be reintroducing her motion to retire Chief Illiniwek when the Board of Trustees meets in Urbana on March 11.

"I am a consensus builder, and it is important to me that consensus be reached on this topic before I bring it back to the board. Therefore, I am withholding the resolution," she said.

Budget plan may cause pension problems

SPRINGFIELD – The heads of the state retirement systems testified Wednesday that they are already being forced to sell off investment assets to cover the pension checks they owe this year, and that the situation would worsen dramatically under Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed budget.

The governor seeks to reduce the state's contribution to the systems by $860 million over the next four years.

Edison band gives Capitol performance

SPRINGFIELD – Heads were bobbing and toes were tapping around the Capitol on Wednesday as the Edison Middle School Jazz Band 1 from Champaign entertained everyone from lawmakers and lobbyists to security guards and even protesters fighting the closure of Vandalia prison.

The band was invited to play in the Capitol rotunda by state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, who passed a House resolution honoring the middle school musicians.