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First day offers chance to promote ag products

HENNING – At the Farm Progress Show, companies such as John Deere and New Holland show off their latest and greatest products.

Crowds gathered Tuesday morning and afternoon to marvel at the new, hulking machinery found at the exhibit field and demonstration areas east of Tent City.

Urbana educator lands big grant

URBANA – Kathy Barbour believes children learn history better and enjoy it more if they can connect what they're learning with a world that's familiar to them.

So the Urbana Middle School history teacher applied for a federal grant to teach teachers how to make that connection. She found out Tuesday she has been awarded $717,235 over a three-year period to conduct a project that will pair the middle school with the Urbana Free Library, the Early American Museum at Mahomet and the Champaign County Historical Museum.

Texan changes horses from wild to mild

HENNING – Horse trainer Craig Cameron knows all about the nature of horses, but he knows a lot about human nature, too.

As the 56-year-old Texan stepped into the horse ring Tuesday morning with a 5-year-old, untrained quarter horse, he told the approximately 400 people in the audience that he knew what many of them really hoped to see – a rodeo.

Judge considers motion to toss suit

URBANA – Champaign County Presiding Judge J.G. Townsend said he expects to make a quick ruling on a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against Champaign County Clerk Mark Shelden for failing to turn over telephone numbers of registered voters to the State Board of Elections.

Following a court hearing Tuesday morning, Townsend said he will make his ruling in writing at the earliest opportunity.

New judge selected for Champaign County

URBANA – A veteran prosecutor and former Champaign police officer has been selected as Champaign County's newest judge.

Champaign County Presiding Judge J.G. Townsend announced this morning that Charles "Chase" Leonhard, 49, of Champaign, has been selected to fill the associate judgeship being vacated by the upcoming retirement of Ann Einhorn. The judges interviewed 16 candidates Friday; the 13 elected circuit judges from the 6th circuit submitted their written ballots that day to the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts.

School dealing with rain's aftermath

URBANA – Just when school officials thought they were successfully wrapping up three years of renovations at Urbana Middle School, the rains came.

More than 7 inches of rain Labor Day weekend in fact, a downpour that turned the school's 1950s vintage gym floor – construction technically known as a "floating floor" – into exactly that.

Urbana trustee will have official vote

URBANA – The student trustee from the Urbana campus will have the official vote in a year when the University of Illinois Board of Trustees will be setting future tuition rates and could deal with the Chief Illiniwek issue.

Nate Allen, 21, a senior in urban planning on the Urbana campus, was designated by Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Friday to have the official student vote on the board.

Early morning blaze destroys Pizza Hut on Mattis

CHAMPAIGN – Fire destroyed a Champaign restaurant early this morning, causing an estimated $1 million in damage.

Investigators are still trying to determine a cause for the fire that gutted the Pizza Hut at 409 N. Mattis Ave., according to Champaign fire spokeswoman Dena Schumacher. The fire apparently started in the southwest side of the restaurant, she said.

Deputies busier on late shift

URBANA – The Champaign County sheriff's office's calls for service after midnight have risen dramatically compared with a year ago, and the recent decisions by the city councils in Champaign and Urbana to allow alcohol sales to be extended until 2 a.m. could be one of the reasons why, a sheriff's sergeant said.

Sheriff's Sgt. Ed Ogle, who works the late shift, told members of the Champaign County Liquor Advisory Commission that the sheriff's office is seeing more calls, more domestic disputes occurring at later hours, more fights and more serious traffic accidents involving alcohol occurring at later hours.

Visitors arrive early to begin touring site

HENNING – Grain farmer Paul Musick doesn't want to miss one moment of the 2003 Farm Progress Show.

The early riser left his farm in Camp Point (25 miles northeast of Quincy) at 3:30 a.m. to ensure he would be able to start touring the site as soon as the gates opened at 7:30 a.m.

Musick was not the only one. As the sun rose above the cornfields at 6:30 a.m., lines of trucks and vans rolled toward the show from Illinois 49, U.S. 136 and Henning Road.