GIBSON CITY – While Ford County's retail sales and agricultural output have declined for the second straight year, its unemployment rate is lower than much of Illinois, and its home sales are on the rise.
Ed Scharlau, vice chairman of First Busey Corp., painted a mixed picture of the county's economy in his eighth annual Busey Bank Ford County Economic Seminar, held Friday at the Railside Country Club.
DANVILLE – Joshua Kruger's former girlfriend told jurors that the day after Peter Godels was found beaten to death in his home, Kruger confessed to her about the Westville man's murder.
"He pointed to the TV and said, 'I killed that man,'" said Michelle Carlton, 26, of Danville, the mother of Kruger's twin children, during testimony Friday in Kruger's murder trial.
CHAMPAIGN – Every fall for 37 years, Barb Yount has opened her Holy Cross School classroom door to greet new classes of seventh- and eighth-graders, wondering what challenges and joys the year would bring.
On May 30, she closed that door for the last time, an event the no-nonsense Yount views with mixed emotions. But she said she knows the time was right to retire.
URBANA – After spending a week finding an Urbana man who was reported missing, police aren't going to spend any more time trying to figure out why he temporarily disappeared.
Frank B. Spina, 50, who had last been seen by family members on a Father's Day visit in Bourbonnais, was found at midday Friday in Michigan, according to Urbana police Lt. Michael Metzler.
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."