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School districts get grants for construction

St. Joseph and Paxton-Buckley-Loda are among the school districts sharing in nearly $500 million in state school construction grants announced Wednesday.

The matching grants were awarded to 71 school districts around the state.

United Way leader hired for county

CHAMPAIGN – Tammy Lemke has been chosen as the new director of the United Way of Champaign County.

Lemke has been the organization's chief financial officer since April 2002, and takes over from Bill Kitson, who left in June to take a job with the United Way of Greater Milwaukee.

Lake deaths investigated

CLINTON – The driver of a car that sank in Clinton Lake with three children in it has been charged with driving under the influence, and the DeWitt County sheriff said this morning the details of the deaths are a mystery.

"There is no way that I can tell you what happened here," said Sheriff Roger Massey. "None of us know exactly what happened."

Net a force in raising support for a candidate

CHAMPAIGN – Lighting designer Jim Hultquist is almost 20 years older than University of Illinois freshman Justin Cajindos, but they have a common trait: Neither has ever been part of a grass-roots campaign of any kind, let alone the impending presidential race.

Both men and about 40 other community members gathered Wednesday at Green Street Coffee House on campus, joining others across the nation on the Internet as part of a scheduled "Meet-Up Day" to discuss Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's presidential campaign. The crowd ranged from an engineering professor at the University of Illinois to a second-year medical student to young freshmen and older political activists.

UI part of project to study infectious diseases

URBANA – The University of Illinois will join 12 other Midwestern universities and research institutions as part of a regional center to study infectious diseases.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of the National Institutes of Health, announced the selection of the institutions that will make up the Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research today. The center will be headed by scientists from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. The UI's Urbana and Chicago campuses will be part of the center.

Police officer pleads innocent to charges

HARRODSBURG, Ky. – A Champaign police officer pleaded innocent Tuesday to charges accusing him of planning to murder a woman and her family.

Kevin Paul Crum, 31, who listed an address in the 1900 block of Lynwood Drive, Champaign, was arraigned in district court on six counts of attempted murder and four counts of carrying deadly weapons. He is also charged with criminal trespassing and improper registration for possessing a stolen license plate.

Council rezones 74 acres

URBANA – The Urbana City Council has cleared the way – zoningwise – for a potential Wal-Mart Supercenter in east Urbana.

Will Wal-Mart soon follow?

Pool profits take dip

Champaign Park District General Manager Bobbie Herakovich said income at Sholem and Spalding swimming pools is down $40,000 from a year ago.

"Most of it was due to the early cool weather," Herakovich said. "If the weather doesn't stay warm during the evenings, it hurts pool usage, especially in the weekends.

Cellphones ring in new year

University of Illinois student Rachel Smith doesn't want to envision a world without cellphones. She's had her phone for two years and felt the need to bring her free long-distance minutes to campus.

"I knew it was going to be important because I can take it anywhere," said the freshman in general curriculum. "If I don't have my phone, it's kind of like I lost my world."

Champaign County panel to discuss fee hikes

URBANA – A raft of proposed fee increases for users of the Champaign County government would help generate nearly $740,000 annually for county government during fiscal year 2004.

But even that added income may not be enough to enable the Champaign County Board to award salary increases for county employees this coming year, county officials say.