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CHAMPAIGN – The Roundhouse shelter for homeless teens and runaways, the only one of its kind in the region, narrowly escaped closure this week when Provena Behavioral Health agreed to take it over.
The Chicago-based Children's Home and Aid Society of Illinois, which has operated Roundhouse since 1978, decided in May to pull out of all services in Champaign County, including the shelter and related counseling and crisis intervention programs. President Nancy Ronquillo said the programs had been on the agency's financial "watch list" for two years and were no longer viable given the bleak funding picture for social services.
URBANA – Police found a missing Urbana man alive and well late this morning.
Frank Spina, 50, was located by detectives from out of state, Urbana police Sgt. Bryant Seraphin said.
"He has been physically located," Seraphin said. "He is physically fine."
URBANA – A 15-year-old Champaign youth who admitted he participated in the beating and kicking death of a homeless man last summer was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison.
Of the four youths charged with the Aug. 8, 2002, murder of Robert James Nash, three have been convicted and one was acquitted. And of the three convicted, Ricky King Jr., who listed an address in the 1100 block of Dorsey Drive, received the shortest sentence.
HOOPESTON – First Apostolic Church Pastor Kenneth Murray is not hiding his distaste for the new Wiccan school in Hoopeston. His church on 205 E. Penn St. is directly across from the school, which is set to open in the fall.
"I don't appreciate it whatsoever. It is not biblical," Murray said about the alternative religion. "It is witchcraft because they believe in god and goddesses, and that ain't right."
Local bookstores are throwing Hogwarts extravaganzas tonight in the final countdown hours before cash registers can begin ringing up sales of the new Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
Presale parties complete with games and crafts for kids will be going on, starting at 9 p.m., at Pages for All Ages Books Music & Cafe in Savoy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Champaign.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.