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RANTOUL – Col. Bill Thompson said he was too busy trying to defend his country to worry about breaking color barriers in the military 63 years ago.
"When you put your life on the line to defend the world for democracy, you don't think a lot about a person's color of skin," said Thompson, one of the original members of the 99th Pursuit Squadron. "We were all Americans first."
CHAMPAIGN – A Champaign school teacher's aide is accused of fondling a girl at South Side Elementary School last month.
Donald Lee Stewart, 37, who listed an address in the 1300 block of Larkspur Lane, Champaign, was arraigned Wednesday on charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and aggravated battery in a public place, namely South Side Elementary, 712 S. Pine St.
ROSSVILLE – Months of merger discussions with neighboring school districts may finally give way to action Monday night when the Rossville-Alvin school board considers a resolution to pursue a high school cooperative with the Bismarck-Henning school district – or a consolidation with the Hoopeston Area school district.
Rossville-Alvin Superintendent Carl Sartwell said the resolution states that Rossville-Alvin and Bismarck-Henning will form an athletic cooperative in all sports in the 2004-05 school year and begin sharing some academics. That would serve as a transition to share all athletics and academics in following school years.
DANVILLE – A decision by the Balloon Classic Illinois board of directors to establish an education fund at Danville Area Community College has basically signaled the end of the annual hot air balloon event.
Balloon Classic Executive Director Ron Crick announced Friday that the organization will contribute $100,000 to the DACC Foundation for two annual $500 scholarships for students who are active volunteers in the community. The contribution depletes the organization's reserve funds, making it nearly impossible to finance another Balloon Classic event. The last one was in 2001.
Members of two spinning and weaving clubs will put their talents and products on display this weekend.
The Hoosier Heritage Spinners and Weavers and the C-U Spinners and Weavers Guild will gather for a "reunion" from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Pioneer Homestead Area of Forest Glen Preserve, 7 miles east of Westville. Members of the two spinning and weaving clubs will display fiber art equipment, skills and products at the Vermilion County Conservation District park.
RANTOUL – One of the classes at the Lincoln's Challenge Academy made history this spring by becoming the first class to earn academic awards in all five areas of study.
Cadets from Team 7 captured the academy's top academic awards in literature and art, writing skills, mathematics, sciences and social sciences this spring, according to academy spokesman Dick Steigmann.
SPRINGFIELD – A state audit released Thursday cited the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs for sloppy handling of nearly $2 million in information systems contracts.
"Without proper monitoring of contractors, there exists an increased risk that contractual requirements will not be met and that inappropriate or excessive reimbursements will be made," said the report from Auditor General William Holland.
RANTOUL – Two area legislators said Thursday they are hopeful that Gov. Rod Blagojevich will make a decision within the next few months over whether to award state grant money to libraries in Rantoul, Catlin and Westville.
The three libraries all have one thing in common. Former Gov. George Ryan awarded them library construction grants last fall, but none of the checks were issued before he left office.
URBANA – A unique summer research program at the University of Illinois for Slavic scholars will celebrate its 30th anniversary next week.
The Summer Research Laboratory on Russia and Eastern Europe begins Monday and runs through Aug. 8. More than 200 scholars from the United States and around the world will visit the UI this summer.
CHAMPAIGN – Two hand grenades – apparently live World War II-style – were removed from the basement of a Champaign house by members of the local bomb squad this morning.
Champaign police Deputy Chief Troy Daniels said police were called by residents at 1107 W. Springfield Ave. about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. The house had been recently purchased in an estate sale and the new owners discovered the two hand grenades above some duct work in the basement as they were moving in, Daniels said.