CHAMPAIGN ? In many ways, Kody Patterson is just like any other 7-year-old. He plays T-ball and basketball, devours books and cartoons and loves to dance ? especially to hip-hop.
Most people, his mother says, can't believe he's legally blind.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
URBANA – A yearlong search for a new dean for the University of Illinois College of Communications has been called off, and a committee will assess the college this summer and make recommendations for its future – leading some to wonder if it has a future.
Provost Richard Herman announced the actions in a letter to the college's faculty dated May 22, which indicated concerns about the ability of the departments in the college to work together.
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.
CHAMPAIGN – Summer mornings are anything but quiet at Champaign's Columbia Center.
Teachers dance, clap, sing and shout. Students join in, belting out every kind of song from rap to Quincy Jones' version of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus."
Carol Davis-Hargest says she knows how hard it is for women who aren't skinny to find nice dresses and suits at stores in Champaign-Urbana. So, she's opening her own boutique at Sunnycrest Mall in Urbana that will fill that need for women sizes 14 and up.
Her shop, to be called The Grapevine Boutique, will open in late August or early September, she said.