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Farm show cleanup a massive endeavor

HENNING – England-based manufacturer Ron Daffern had hoped to spend Thursday showing farm equipment to throngs of visitors at the 2003 Farm Progress Show and building a customer base in the United States.

Instead, he spent what was to be the last day of the show packing up to go home.

Harold welcomed home

CHAMPAIGN – Coming full circle and receiving a standing ovation from the audience, former Miss America Erika Harold on Thursday evening took the Virginia Theatre stage where she had won her first local pageant.

After thanking those attending the "Strengthen the Spirit" homecoming event in her honor, Harold belted out the hymn, "To God Give the Glory," setting the tone for her short and rapidly delivered speech.

Sidewalk barricade upsets neighbors

RANTOUL – Residents of an east Rantoul neighborhood say they are upset by a barricade that was put up by a village board member and her husband to block a sidewalk that leads to an elementary school.

Lori Walsh said she saw Ray and Helen Lewis put the barricade across a sidewalk that runs from Birch Street to Pine Street leading to Eastlawn Elementary School on Sept. 19. Helen Lewis is a member of the Rantoul Village Board.

Alloy ordered to pay $1.08 million in damages

URBANA – Stacy Wathen said her participation in a lawsuit against a neighborhood foundry with scores of her neighbors was not primarily about the money. It was about the right to enjoy the home she's lived in for 11 years and not having to worry about her toddler playing outside.

On Wednesday, after some 12 hours of deliberations over two days, a Champaign County jury found Alloy Engineering & Casting of Champaign liable for $1.08 million in damages to 36 of 80 original plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed two years ago. The suit alleged that emissions from the foundry were damaging property and diminishing the quality of life for neighbors of the 52-year-old foundry.

Loading zones proposed

CHAMPAIGN – Those trucks that block traffic lanes in downtown Champaign while drivers make deliveries could soon become a thing of the past.

City staff members are planning to designate five commercial loading zones in the downtown area by mid-October, where truckers and delivery people will be expected to park. Those who continue to block city streets face, potentially, a ticket and a $75 fine.

Problems cited at dialysis center

URBANA – The Champaign-Urbana Dialysis Center has been ordered to correct several deficiencies under threat of losing its certification as a provider of renal dialysis services to Medicare patients.

The dialysis center, which is based in rented space at Provena Covenant Medical Center's new medical office building in Urbana, is operated by New York-based Renal Research Institute.

Consolidation of health services studied

CHAMPAIGN – An assortment of public officials are in the initial stages of an inquiry into consolidating health care services for the poor on city-owned land next to Beardsley Park.

Possible outcomes of the initiative could combine services of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District with the Frances Nelson Health Center in a single building or health campus just east of the existing health district main office at 710 N. Neil St.

Trustee selection change sought

SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, has introduced legislation, HB 3832, calling for a return to the election of University of Illinois trustees.

Mitchell, an Eastern Illinois University graduate, said the current system of appointing UI trustees has not provided enough accountability.

Communications task force given three-phase mission

URBANA – A College of Communications task force has been appointed to address the concerns found in a recent assessment of the college, compare it with the five best programs in the country, and come up with a plan for the future that will likely involve some restructuring.

Ron Yates, interim dean of the college and head of the University of Illinois journalism department, announced the members of the task force Wednesday and gave them a written charge for their work over the next few months.

Farm show has soggy ending

HENNING – Sunshine and steady winds out of the southwest had renewed hopes that the 2003 Farm Progress Show would reopen to the public today after Wednesday's show was canceled due to heavy rains, but an additional quarter-inch of rain Wednesday night dashed those hopes.

"We fought a valiant battle, but a losing battle," said Farm Progress Midwest Regional Business Manager Don Tourte at about 10 p.m. Wednesday after deciding that the additional rain would make it impossible to reopen for the final day of the show.