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All News Content

$6 million released for UI facility

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich recently thawed a $6 million grant to the University of Illinois to help move the Illinois Natural History Survey into more spacious facilities at the UI Research Park.

The survey, which is part of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, has been seeking relief from its cramped quarters on the UI campus for more than a decade now, said Chief David Thomas.

Grants will help kids prepare for school

For the first time, agencies in the region have been awarded state grant money to help preschool children prepare for school – a mission that historically has been left to school districts in Illinois.

In Champaign County, Provena Behavioral Health's Mental Health Center was awarded a $135,000 grant and the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission was awarded a $90,000 grant.

Michigan sky diver dies in Rantoul

RANTOUL – A 59-year-old Michigan man died following a sky-dive Wednesday at the World Free Fall Convention when his parachute malfunctioned.

Champaign County Deputy Coroner Duane Northrup said the man was pronounced dead at 6:09 p.m. near the north end of a runway at the Rantoul airport. The man's name was being withheld pending notification of his family.

'Sesame Street' makes changes to boost learning

URBANA – Cookie Monster, Ernie, Bert and other "Sesame Street" characters this year will step up their low-key campaign to improve youngsters' reading skills.

And that new emphasis will help the 17 teachers and representatives of area agencies who met at WILL's University of Illinois studios Wednesday teach the children, parents and guardians they serve how to work together to prepare students to master skills they need to succeed in school, said Holly Downs, coordinator of WILL's Ready to Learn program.

Options to fund sewer work weighed

URBANA – A new fee hike is in store for water users, builders, developers or all three.

The Urbana & Champaign Sanitary District is seeking approval from its board to boost its fees to pay for the extension of sewer mains to open up thousands of acres to new development south and west of Champaign.

Winkel will donate cash from Ryan fund

SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Rick Winkel, R-Champaign, resisted political pressure during his last campaign to give up the $24,500 in donations he had taken over the years from former Gov. George Ryan's campaign fund.

"I am going to wait and see what the prosecutors and the courts do," he said at the time. "If the George Ryan campaign is found guilty as charged, then my campaign committee will donate a sum to charity equal to the amount that it received."

Governor signs bills easing UI unionization

CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed two bills Tuesday that will make it easier for faculty at the University of Illinois to gain union representation.

The bills were signed at a meeting of the AFL-CIO Executive Council in Chicago. One bill (SB1360) reverses a 1995 amendment to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act that required faculty at the University of Illinois' three campuses to organize as a single unit. Another (HB3396) provides automatic recognition of a union for public and educational employees if a majority of workers sign cards indicating a desire to be represented by a union, eliminating the need for an election.

Neighbors rule night

Residents of the Dr. Ellis subdivision in northwest Urbana took to the streets again Tuesday night, but it was a celebration of togetherness for their neighborhood.

"This is the 10th year for us," said Shirley Mock, a member of the Neighborhood Watch group participating in the annual National Night Out – a program aimed at getting neighbors together to prevent crime.

Army investigating disease striking American forces

URBANA – As a mysterious respiratory illness strikes U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait, their families are asking the Army to talk openly about the threat.

The Army is sending two teams of medical investigators to the Mideast and to a German medical base this week to check soldiers and tissue samples for a disease they have labeled as pneumonia.

Bookstores prepare for return of UI students

CHAMPAIGN – University of Illinois senior Jared Mahan spent Monday morning with his mother buying books for the start of fall classes more than three weeks away. He came out with about 30 books, including 10 for just one class.

Even though students shopping this early have been the exception in the past, local bookstore officials said they are getting set for the rush now.