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All News Content

Area police teaming up

Local police departments announced a new partnership Friday for officers to receive training on dealing with people who suffer from mental illnesses.

The Champaign, Rantoul, University of Illinois and Urbana Police departments have joined forces to create the East Central Illinois Crisis Intervention Team. Funded by an Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board $100,000 grant, the Crisis Intervention Team will provide response by trained officers for mentally ill persons who may be in a crisis.

Foundry damages reduced

URBANA – A Champaign County judge Friday let stand her earlier ruling that reduced the amount of punitive damages that 36 neighbors of Alloy Engineering and Casting are to receive.

In September, a Champaign County jury ruled that the 63-year-old foundry at 1700 W. Washington St., C, should have to pay $1.08 million in damages to 36 of 80 plaintiffs who had filed suit against the plant alleging that emissions from the plant were damaging property and diminishing the quality of life for neighbors.

Trams on council agenda

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign City Council will be asked Tuesday night to endorse a fixed-guideway or tram system for improving Champaign-Urbana's mass transit system.

But at least two council members say they have some doubts about pursuing such a project. The estimated cost is $178 million, and 20 percent to 30 percent of that would come from local sources.

UI president search discussed

CHICAGO – Finding presidents of major public research universities isn't a task the University of Illinois Board of Trustees is very familiar with. So they're taking their time, and getting lots of advice along the way en route to finding a replacement for James Stukel.

The search process, and the kinds of advice the board will be seeking, was the subject of a special board meeting Thursday at the Chicago Illini Union.

Legislation seeks charity care changes

The same day Carle Foundation Hospital announced a voluntary expansion of its charitable care program, a state Senate committee advanced legislation to require hospitals to provide free or discounted health care to an even larger pool of patients and limit their debt collection practices.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, state Sen. Barack Obama, D-Chicago, said the bill is needed to address price gouging and predatory collection activities against the uninsured poor.

Mental health services for kids get attention

One in 10 Illinois children suffers from severe depression or other serious mental health problems. Yet only a fifth of them get the services they need.

Statistics like those prompted the state to form a new panel to develop a comprehensive mental health plan for children ages birth to 18.

UI group will check for artifacts in Savoy

SAVOY – Savoy is enlisting the help of the University of Illinois anthropology department to check for American Indian artifacts before it proceeds with its new 50.7-acre park.

Instructors, students and graduates from the UI's public service archaeology program, which is part of the anthropology department, will be bringing their digging tools this spring to farmland south of Church Street and east of the Canadian National Railroad tracks. The archaeological survey will cost the village about $600.

Carle hospital will face review on tax status

URBANA – While a recent decision by the state to revoke Provena Covenant Medical Center's property tax-exempt status reverberates nationally, Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana will undergo similar scrutiny.

Carle Foundation and Cunningham Township officials said Thursday that the main block of Carle Foundation Hospital, the complex of buildings located north of University Avenue, will be reassessed next month by the Cunningham Township assessor's office. The entire block of property will then be placed on the tax rolls, including portions of the buildings used by the hospital, which is currently property-tax exempt.

Higher education spared some, but UI would still lose $14 million

SPRINGFIELD – The University of Illinois would receive about $14 million less in state money next school year under Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed budget, a figure that area lawmakers are not thrilled with but say could have been a lot worse.

"It's what we expected," said Terrance McLennand, assistant director of state relations for the University of Illinois. "It's manageable. We understand the state's in very difficult budget times."

Rep. Black: Agriculture budget seems like insult added to injury

SPRINGFIELD – As expected, the agriculture community is not thrilled with Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget, which eliminates funding for the Council on Food and Agricultural Research, proposes moving some functions of the Department of Agriculture into other state agencies and imposes a new sales tax on farm chemicals.

The new sales tax would apply only to farms with revenues of at least $1 million and is designed to spare smaller family operations.