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Helping on the home front

CHAMPAIGN – Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn says making donations to a relief fund established to help people serving in the military and their families is a great way to show patriotism.

"If you want to do something specific to help the troops and their families, please consider sending a donation to the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund," Quinn said. "All donations are tax deductible, and every penny goes to the families of Illinois National Guard members and reservists who have been called to active duty."

Dust suspected in recent blast

CHAMPAIGN – Two men hurt in Wednesday`s explosion at the Interstate Research Park in Champaign have been transferred to a hospital in Springfield.

Two employees for Huls Construction Co. of Gifford were moved Thursday from Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana to the regional burn unit at Memorial Medical Center, 800 N. Rutledge St., Springfield.

Tilling field of history

PENFIELD – Every tractor at Historic Farm Days has its story, and the century-old Hart-Parr Number 3's tale is lengthy and well-documented.

By contrast, the 1904 Hart-Parr tractor that followed it in a parade Friday at Penfield show headquarters has belonged to the same Indiana family for its entire 99-year life, much of which was spent in a hedgerow until family members pulled it out of the underbrush 40 years ago and worked on it until it ran again.

Greek event takes on new name this year

CHAMPAIGN – Some changes are planned for an annual informal summer gathering of University of Illinois fraternity and sorority alumni.

The "Greek Reunion," which has occurred each year for at least 20 years, drew up to 10,000 people at its peak, but attendance has declined in recent years.

Flooding precautions pay off

The last time this much water fell this fast on Champaign-Urbana, it was free-swim time in Campustown.

Two days of storms on Aug. 11-12, 1993, dumped 6.88 inches of rain on parts of the city, sending the Boneyard Creek out of its banks, flooding basements across the city and creating the usual "lake" at Fourth and Green streets.

Banks still busy despite increase in mortgage rates

CHAMPAIGN – Local lenders say the upward bounce in mortgage rates caught some customers holding out for lower rates by surprise, but it hasn't slowed down the new home loan and refinancing business much.

"I don't think it's slowed things down at all," said Jan Buerkett, vice president of Busey Bank's mortgage department, on Thursday.

UI official: Budget cuts affecting tuition

URBANA – The University of Illinois has seen the effects of the poor economy in cuts to its state budget for the last two years.

The UI had a mid-year rescission in fiscal year 2002, a $74 million budget cut in fiscal year 2003 and another rescission that year. And its budget for the current fiscal year was cut by $58 million.

Meeting addresses problems at Franklin

CHAMPAIGN – Franklin Magnet Middle School parents met Thursday to discuss problems at the middle school, ask what the new administration is going to do about them, and find out how they can help.

Sandy Powell took over the principal's job last month from Mel Crafter, who resigned after a year. She told parents that high expectations, extensive communications, physical changes in the school itself and other factors will contribute to turning around the climate there.

C-U area soaked

A second day of storms dumped as much as 6 inches of rain in Champaign-Urbana, triggered a fire in Champaign and clogged roadways with water, causing a man in Urbana to fear for his life.

The rain was heavier some places than others. More than 6.1 inches of rain was recorded at WCIA-TV in central Champaign, and about 5.5 inches was recorded at WILL Radio in Urbana, but only about 1.5 inches fell at Willard Airport in Savoy.

Pharmacy fire under review

URBANA – A fire at a pharmacy and medical supply business on North Cunningham Avenue appears to be arson.

"I believe it was intentionally set," said Urbana Fire Division Chief Richard Rotramel, who is investigating the fire at the Carle Rx Express pharmacy and Carle Medical Supply, both at 1208 N. Cunningham Ave., U. "We took some evidence to be analyzed."