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New school program focuses on water studies

URBANA – Lindsey Johnson and Shanelle Kimbrough carefully dipped a litmus paper strip into an unknown fluid, watched it turn bright orange, then matched the color to a printed acid/base scale.

"I can't wait to see the which liquid is which," said 12-year-old Lindsey, an Urbana Middle School student of her work with partner Shanelle at the Illinois State Water Survey on Monday. The girls and seven other "citizen scientists" from the school tested soft drinks, cleaning fluids, water and other liquids for acidity, charted the results and tried to match their numbers with numbers on an "unknown substances" chart.

Urbana native says she's ready to go out with a bang

Miss America, Erika Harold, often is asked if she plans to become an entertainer. She doesn't see that happening unless she is asked to become a legal commentator after she graduates from Harvard Law School.

The 23-year-old Urbana native and University of Illinois graduate already has done commentary three times on the "Saturday Final with Lawrence O'Donnell" program on MSNBC Television, which airs over Channel 47 in Champaign-Urbana.

Local man's recipes give new meaning to potluck

CHAMPAIGN – The munchies are nothing to giggle about when you're ill and lack any appetite whatsoever.

Then, says local Rastafarian Chef Ra, marijuana-induced food consumption might be a life-saver for people undergoing chemotherapy or enduring infection by HIV.

Patriot Act debated at UI College of Law

CHAMPAIGN – Supporters of the USA Patriot Act say it's an important tool for investigating terrorists who are targeting this country. Critics call it a vague, overbroad law that tramples our civil rights in the name of security.

A prosecutor, a civil rights lawyer and law students debated the act at the University of Illinois College of Law Monday.

Drainage project in Rantoul nearly done

RANTOUL– Now that Rantoul's new Maplewood storm water detention basin is near completion, the village plans to spend $2.8 million over the next five years on additional drainage projects, mostly in the east and central parts of town.

Three years ago, the village board established a new storm water tax to fund drainage projects around the community. The tax has generated $1.2 million, according to Assistant Public Works Director Pete Passarelli.

UI plans new department

URBANA – The University of Illinois aims to become a leader in bioengineering research and prepare students for jobs in the biotechnology industry by creating its first new department in years.

The Department of Bioengineering has been approved by the UI Board of Trustees and is awaiting approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education. UI officials plan to admit the first class of freshmen to the department in fall 2004.

Tolono group forms historical society

TOLONO – A group of Tolono area residents has formed an organization to preserve the community's history.

Former Tolono Mayor Bill Kirby used to get together with seven friends at his insurance office in downtown Tolono to share stories about Tolono's early days.

UI bike thefts drop

Jeff Kustusch did everything right. He bought a cheap bicycle at the annual University of Illinois police auction, locked it up everywhere he went and it still got stolen.

It happened in September 2002. Kustusch finished an afternoon chemistry class at Noyes Lab and rode back home, placed a metal chain and combination lock on the bike and wrapped it around a rack on the first floor of his apartment. When he woke up the next morning, the red and black Huffy was missing.

It's Your Business: Pilates Center to open in downtown Champaign

Instruction in Pilates, a body conditioning technique that has been growing in popularity, will soon be available in downtown Champaign.

The Pilates Center is set to open during the first week of October at 44 E. Main St., C.

Advance placement classes prepare future collegians

MAHOMET – Robert Pennington took three advanced placement classes at Mahomet-Seymour High School, and he took four exams to earn college credit.

Pennington's a young man in an academic hurry. He started school this year as an honors student at Arizona State University with 39 college credits, which technically makes him a second-semester sophomore. But Pennington, 17, has a long educational road ahead of him, and he's grateful for the jump-start Mahomet's advanced placement – commonly called "AP" – program gave him.