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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.

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.

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.

Campus freedom has a price

The idea of using public transportation doesn't sit well with Felicia Gray.

"I don't take the bus," the University of Illinois freshman said with a look of disgust at the mere thought. "I don't like it, and I never had to take it."

UI aims to raise $1 million for charity

URBANA – Even a donation of a few dollars to a charitable organization can make a difference.

That's the message the University of Illinois is sending its employees as it kicks off its annual Campus Charitable Fund Drive on Tuesday. Its goal this year is to raise $1 million.

Farm show gets big hand from volunteers

HENNING – Danville resident Kenneth Kuhn, who was born and raised on a farm in Nebraska, is looking forward to checking out the harvesting machinery at this year's Farm Progress Show.

That is, if he can find the time.

Kuhn, along with about 120 others from Emmanuel Lutheran, Trinity Lutheran and Bethel Lutheran churches in Danville and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Hoopeston, expects to be busy flipping hamburgers and sliding hotdogs onto buns in one of the show's numerous food tents.