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Bob Hope dead at 100; he entertained crowds in Champaign, Vermilion counties

CHAMPAIGN – This town has plenty of memories to thank Bob Hope for.

There was the time in January 1951 when the comedian was to perform after an Illini-Iowa basketball game at Huff Hall. Bad weather grounded the Hawkeyes' plane, and their bus trip forced the game to start after 11 p.m.

It's Your Business: A Gift Collection moving to new location

Pam Ramey of Champaign started her gift basket business, A Gift Collection, four years ago as a sideline in her home to help raise money for women and children in need.

Since then, it's grown so much she's moving to a new location at 1509 S. Neil St., C, and opening there Friday.

Future building blocks

Coal ash, a waste product now, may be poised to become a high-quality building product in the form of bricks and concrete blocks in the wake of work by local researchers.

The scientists at the Illinois State Geological Survey, based at the University of Illinois, have been researching bricks made from the fly ash of burned Illinois coal for about four years and recently saw them enter full-scale production testing.

Local Alzheimer's office closed in spring

CHAMPAIGN – After several years of coping long-distance with her mother's memory loss, Ginny Sims decided to move her from Arkansas to Champaign in 2000.

Inez Sims, now 78, first showed memory lapses in 1991, shortly after her husband died, and "it just got progressively more difficult," said Ginny Sims, a graphic designer at the University of Illinois Counseling Center.

Scouring the community for services to help her mother, Sims found the Champaign office of the Alzheimer's Association in the phone book and promptly went over to pick up a packet of materials. Through the staff, she hooked up with a caregiver support group and found a doctor who accurately diagnosed her mother's Alzheimer's disease and prescribed medications that "helped tremendously."

Stronger community ties are Provena chief's goal

URBANA – When Mark Wiener considered the prospect of becoming the new president and chief executive officer of both Provena hospitals in Urbana and Danville, he recalls seeing opportunities for success in both communities.

Now, after two months on the job, Wiener says, "I'm more enthusiastic than ever."

Free Fall fest focused on safety

RANTOUL – World Free Fall Convention organizers are expecting 3,500 sky divers at the Rantoul airport beginning this Friday.

Village and convention officials are planning safety precautions in an effort to avoid a repeat of the deaths at last year's convention.

Schools feel burden of driver's education

CHAMPAIGN – Students show up on time for these classes, no matter how early or late they convene, and they pay strict attention to the lessons because a lot is at stake.

Specifically, their driver's licenses.

UI set to change pay date

URBANA – As the University of Illinois converted to a new payroll system, it needed to move the dates of the academic calendar forward and change the dates on which employees were paid, as well.

Employees with 12-month appointments received a smaller than usual paycheck in the month of September and a slightly shorter appointment for one academic year. The change was accomplished without any mention of controversy in the local press.

Hoping to blaze new trails

MAHOMET – Bert Gray has always loved the outdoors.

As a youth growing up near Oswego, he camped frequently and was a camp counselor. He earned a forestry badge as a Boy Scout by learning from foresters at the famous Morton Arboretum.

Drowning prompts river safety measures

   OAKWOOD ? Canoeists and fishermen along the Middlefork and Vermilion rivers will begin to see more warning signs along the banks of both rivers this summer as officials take steps to make the waterways safer.

   The signs were prompted by a canoe accident three weeks ago in which a Champaign woman drowned.