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All News Content

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.

Ruling: Provena not tax-exempt entity

URBANA – The Illinois Department of Revenue has ruled that Provena Covenant Medical Center in Urbana is not a tax-exempt charitable organization – a ruling that could force the hospital to pay $1.1 million annually in local property taxes.

Champaign County and Provena officials confirmed the ruling was handed down on Friday.

No vendetta in earlier case, Culver says

LONGVIEW, Texas – Randall Coggin had worked for the Longview Independent School District for more than 30 years when he had a confrontation with a new superintendent.

Early in March 1999 Arthur Culver took charge of the east Texas district where Coggin was supervisor of the district's career and technology education department.

Governor's plan erases deficit

SPRINGFIELD – To solve what he estimates is a $1.7 billion deficit, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today proposed a $43.5 billion operations budget for the year beginning July 1 that spares the University of Illinois from major cuts, but will mean higher taxes for large farms and corporations, and elimination of funding for the Council on Food and Agricultural Research and other grants.

According to budget director John Filan, the governor plans to cut costs by $840 million, and expects to generate $945 million in new revenues on top of modest $280 million in estimated base revenue growth. That's enough to cover the deficit and a $340 million net increase in spending without raising the sales or income taxes, he said.

UI task force backs UI college

CHAMPAIGN – The University of Illinois College of Communications has received a glowing endorsement, and backing for expansion, by a 13-member task force appointed by the dean.

The task force, headed by journalism Professor Walter Harrington, recommended the college be expanded to a four-year program; that the advertising department be repaired rather than disbanded; and that WILL dramatically expand the involvement of students in its operations, among other recommendations. The recommendation now goes to College of Communications Dean Ron Yates, then on to UI Provost Richard Herman for review.

C-U seeks purchase option in water deal

URBANA – The cities of Urbana and Champaign want the option to be able to buy the local water system from Illinois American Water Co.

City officials disclosed this week that they are seeking a purchase option, and several other groundbreaking new provisions, as part of ongoing franchise renewal negotiations.

Reaction to white-only scholarship divided at UI

Members of some University of Illinois student organizations were divided in their reaction to an East Coast university group's decision to set up a white-only scholarship.

The College Republicans chapter at Roger Williams University now offers a $250 scholarship for white students only, a move they said was designed to protest affirmative action.

State handing out 5 ag scholarships

Applications are now available for "Excellence in Agriculture" scholarships from Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka's office.

"Agriculture education is so important to keeping the industry alive and well in Illinois," Topinka said in a written statement. "By encouraging today's students, we can help ensure agriculture's success well into the 21st century."

Jury to decide on price tag for farmland

URBANA – A jury will decide how much the University of Illinois pays for a farm near Savoy – the owner's estimate is about twice the university's.

Judge Arnold Blockman opened the eminent domain proceeding Monday by instructing jury members that their job isn't about deciding whether the state can take the Burwash farm at First Street and Old Church Road, but how much it will have to pay for it.

Man convicted of armed robbery at Jerry's IGA

URBANA – A 23-year-old Urbana man with a history of violent crimes faces up to 30 years in prison for his most recent conviction.

A Champaign County jury on Monday convicted Sean Blackwell, whose last known address was in the 2200 block of Cottage Grove Avenue, of the Feb. 2, 2003, armed robbery of an employee at the Jerry's IGA, 2010 S. Philo Road, U.