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Agencies step in to run services for teen runaways

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.

Missing man found alive, well

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."

Teen sentenced for part in man's beating death

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.

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."

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.

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.