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All News Content

Unfamiliarity, inexperience cited in canoe tragedy

DANVILLE – A fatal canoeing accident in Vermilion County on Monday should remind people on river trips or any boating experience to take certain precautions, especially when the boaters are not familiar with an area, according to a local official.

Dallas Bowman, Illinois conservation police officer, said the biggest problem with Monday's canoeing accident was the canoeists' unfamiliarity with the area.

Fisher Fair still thrives

FISHER – Twenty-eight years ago, Rick Roesch showed up at the front gate of the Fisher Fair and asked what he could do to help out as a volunteer.

Little did Roesch know that he would spend more than a quarter of a century organizing and planning the fair.

Business association leader leaving post

URBANA – The woman who has headed the Urbana Business Association for the past three years has resigned, effective Sept. 1, to accept a new position with the Urban League of Champaign County.

Laurie Bonnett, 42, said she accepted the job last Thursday as director of fund development with the Urban League. She intends to stay on in her current position, as executive director of the Urbana Business Association, through the Aug. 22-23 Sweet Corn Festival in Urbana, the association's major fund-raiser for the year.

Governor signs contraceptives bill into law

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill into law Monday that will save some Illinois women hundreds of dollars in birth control costs each year.

The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, requires state-regulated health insurance plans to cover birth control pills, patches, shots and other forms of prescription contraceptive drugs, devices and associated services for women. State employees will also receive those benefits, but the law does not include coverage of abortion or sterilization procedures.

Board approves more funding for UIC project

URBANA – The University of Illinois is moving up the completion date for a medical research building on its Chicago campus to be able to attract research grants and top faculty.

The UI Board of Trustees Executive Committee approved a $41.37 million increase in the project budget for the College of Medicine Research Building at UIC. The board's executive committee met by telephone conference call Monday afternoon.

Canoes capsize; woman killed

DANVILLE – A river trip turned fatal Monday afternoon when four friends in two canoes went over a small dam on the Vermilion River, capsizing their canoes and plunging them into the swift, churning water.

One of the four Champaign-Urbana women managed to get out on her own. Emergency personnel rescued two more using ropes, but the fourth canoeist, 24-year-old Naperville native Sandi Barnett, was pulled under by the current before rescuers could get to the scene, according to the Vermilion County coroner's office.

Dredging plan raises concern of rivers group

GIFFORD – A statewide river conservation group is expressing concern about plans to dredge 5 miles of the Spoon River, saying the move could harm fish spawning grounds that are helping to restore the fish population in the Salt Fork River.

But a commissioner for the Spoon River Drainage District said the dredging work is needed to maintain adequate farm drainage. The commissioner said the drainage district board intends to talk with officials of the conservation group, the Prairie Rivers Network, to see if the two sides can reach a mutual understanding.

Methadone clinic contract will be canceled

URBANA – Missed deadlines and other problems have led the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District to drop its plans to have a not-for-profit company, The Harm Reduction Resource, operate a methadone maintenance clinic in Urbana.

Instead, a new not-for-profit firm, headed by Dr. John Peterson of Urbana, will spearhead efforts to gain regulatory approval for the clinic and eventually operate it.

Luecking's last day nears

   CHAMPAIGN ? Jim Luecking tried to retire once before, but this time it looks official.

Friday will be his last day as chief of the Champaign Police Department.

Disparity seen in graduation rates in area

CHAMPAIGN – Class of 2003 statistics are in, and some schools are celebrating success at keeping youngsters in school, on task and headed for graduation.

And some schools aren't.

Champaign Central High School Principal Don Hansen said he doesn't have copies of the numbers submitted annually to the Illinois State Board of Education detailing senior class demographics because his registrar sent them electronically and left for a vacation.