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C-U to hear testimony on IP at joint hearing

CHAMPAIGN – The cities of Champaign and Urbana will be conducting a rare joint hearing to solicit testimony from the public on Illinois Power's reliability and service to the community.

The hearing was prompted by the experience of Amdocs in Champaign, which solicited the state and city help to pay for a second power feed to the facility or risk losing the company.

Audit gives Champaign curriculum low marks

CHAMPAIGN – Curriculum auditor Larry Frase said Champaign schools' systems failed to make good grades, and he recommended making substantial changes in the district's administrative and educational structure.

However, Frase said he didn't find any teaching or evaluation shortfalls at Champaign that he hasn't found in other districts.

Group to open school for Wicca in Hoopeston

   HOOPESTON ? The world of Wicca will become more accessible in East Central Illinois because Chicago-based Telepathic Media has purchased the former town hall building in Hoopeston for use as a school to teach Wiccan principles, which include a belief in a god and goddess of nature.

   "God is within the individual, and we teach that people should try to listen to the voice of the deity within them," said the Rev. Don Lewis, who was born into the religion 40 years ago.

Contract has family connection

SPRINGFIELD – State Budget Director John Filan's cousin is a registered lobbyist representing Mesirow Financial, one of two companies Filan chose as financial advisers for the Governor's Office of Management and Budget on the state's recent pension bond sale.

"The procurement officer for OMB is John, and John chose them for their experience in both public finance and the bond market, in addition to their knowledge and experience in the taxable bond market," said Becky Carroll, spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget.

Urbana school contract talks deadlocked

URBANA – Union contract talks at the Urbana school district have reached an impasse.

"We've been in formal negotiations since April 1, and I've lost track of the time we've spent on this," said Urbana Education Association President Deb Tuttle. "We're at an impasse. The next step is for federal mediators to come in to help us come to a conclusion, and we'd like to conclude as soon as possible."

Governor wants say on investing

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget office is attempting to tell the State Universities Retirement System and the other public contributory systems how to invest the proceeds from the state's recent pension bond sales, rather than leave the individual boards to decide.

"Considering how huge a spending pressure the pension contributions are on the state, it would be foolhardy of the state not to have some kind of management oversight of how the pension funds are investing in these dollars," said Becky Carroll, spokeswoman for the governor's Office of Management and Budget.

Art Theatre set to reopen on Saturday

CHAMPAIGN – After a delay of one week, Boardman's Art Theatre will open Saturday with the hit movies "Chicago" and "Spider-Man" and show the films for free all week.

The grand opening, beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, also will feature a searchlight over Champaign and guest speaker John F. Allen, who designed the sound system for the theater and has done sound for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Curriculum audit results to be presented

CHAMPAIGN – A team of experts who have reviewed the curriculum in Champaign schools will report what they've found at two public sessions this week.

Results of the study will be presented to Champaign school board members at a special meeting at 7 tonight. Community members and district employees are invited to attend that session, and they're also invited to attend a meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday for the community, including business and community leaders. Both meetings are at district headquarters at the Mellon Administrative Center.

Urbana Rotary gift benefits A Woman's Place

URBANA – Children forced to leave their homes to escape domestic violence face many adjustments, big and small – like finding a safe place to play.

A routine trip to a public playground can be dangerous for children fleeing an abuser.

Urbana school board OKs tentative budget

URBANA – After wrestling for months with fiscal realities, Urbana school board members Tuesday passed a tentative budget for the upcoming school year that's in the black – for now.

"Everything's very tentative," said Carol Baker, district business director.