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All News Content

Locals look on in shock as fire ruins downtown

ROSSVILLE – Hundreds of Rossville residents watched in equal measures of grief and awe Friday night as fire roared through several businesses in this northern Vermilion County village's quaint downtown.

The blaze, which began shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, engulfed the entire block of buildings on the west side of the town's main thoroughfare, Chicago Street, along Illinois 1. Flames shot high above the historic, two-story buildings as giant clouds of billowing smoke rolled into the night sky.

Demolition kickoff nears for old hospital

CHAMPAIGN – Tuesday will mark the beginning of the end for the old Burnham City Hospital, with Brandenburg Industrial Service Co. of Chicago beginning work as part of a nearly $3 million city contract for environmental remediation and demolition.

City officials say they are confident Brandenburg will do the job well, despite records showing the firm reached a consent agreement with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality last year concerning inadequate asbestos removal from a Michigan bridge.

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.

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.

Right to quick trial waived

CLINTON– It could be late summer or early fall before Amanda Hamm is tried for the murder of her three children.

Hamm, 27, Wednesday waived her right to a speedy trial in connection with the drownings of Christopher Hamm, 6, Austin Brown, 3, and Kyleigh Hamm, 23 months, on Sept. 2 in a submerged car at Clinton Lake.

New Prospect Wal-Mart planned

CHAMPAIGN – The nation's No. 1 retailer is on its way to making it a big three – as in three big supercenters – in Champaign-Urbana and Savoy.

Wal-Mart Stores is making plans to break ground this spring on a new 204,000-square-foot supercenter with general merchandise and a full-service grocery on North Prospect Avenue, across the road from the Beverly Cinema.

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.