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All News Content

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

Federal prosecutors take over gun case

URBANA – A 19-year-old Champaign man, who has spent most of the last seven years incarcerated, now faces federal weapons charges as the result of a shooting at Burch Village.

Charmell D. Brown, who listed an address in the 3200 block of West John Street, waived a preliminary hearing Monday on a federal charge of unlawful possession of weapons by a felon.

Host of first Farm Progress Show in 1953 remembered

ARMSTRONG – Stephen Bass doesn't remember why his uncle, the late Earl Bass, was chosen to host the first Farm Progress Show back in 1953. But after thinking about it, he said it makes sense that his uncle was selected.

"Earl was a good farm manager," Bass recalled of his father's older brother. "He was kind of an innovator. He was always coming up with inventions to make the farm better."

Rantoul mayor keeps promise, takes plunge

RANTOUL – Rantoul's mayor took a flying leap Monday evening.

Neal Williams, 46, summoned up the courage to sky dive at the Rantoul airport during the World Free Fall Convention.