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Commemorations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. start in East Central Illinois on Friday and continue for nine days.
The black minister who was a spokesman for nonviolent civil rights activism was born on Jan. 15, 1929, and assassinated in 1968.
CHAMPAIGN – Backed into a financial corner by delays in state grant payments and lackluster donations, the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club nearly closed its doors in late 2008.
Churches and community donors rallied, coming up with more than $350,000 to sponsor children through the club's new Youth Investment Campaign.
Area legislators offered a mixed reaction to Gov. Pat Quinn's State of the State address on Wednesday afternoon, especially his comments on high-speed rail, the economy, taxes and education.
Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, called the speech a review of what the state achieved under his leadership over the past year.
DANVILLE – For at least two months, the future of the Vermilion County Health Department has been in doubt because the state is not paying what it owes, but it may be the Vermilion County Board that closes the health department's doors.
Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon told board members Tuesday night that they will be voting next month on whether to extend a $300,000 loan that the health department owes the county.
"If you vote 'no' on (the health department) loan, then (the health department is) out of business the next day," said McMahon, who put the issue on Tuesday night's agenda and had Administrator Steve Laker there to answer questions.
Businesses interested in bidding on state contracts can attend a workshop in Champaign this Friday.
"Having not had a capital plan for years, and now we have a major capital plan, many contractors may not be familiar with the policies and procedures on bidding for state contracts," said Dave Blanchette, spokesman for the Illinois Capital Development Board, which manages state-funded, nonroad construction projects.
VILLA GROVE – When Gary Amole sees newspaper headlines about young men in trouble with drugs and alcohol, he says, "I can help these guys." He's hoping he will get the chance, by opening a faith-based rehabilitation facility in Villa Grove.
The Camargo resident is proposing the facility as a new use for the former Living Hope Church and parsonage located on the corner of Oak and Jefferson streets. Amole will rent the buildings from the Living Hope church with an option to buy both buildings in the future.
NEWMAN – Friends and neighbors of Pat Dillon are planning a benefit dinner and auction to help the lifelong Newman resident with ongoing medical treatment for kidney disease.
Dillon underwent a kidney transplant in December 2006 but has recently developed complications with the procedure, according to a letter the planning committee sent to local businesses asking for donations. The 49-year-old travels to St. Louis regularly to receive treatment and is likely to need another transplant soon.
URBANA – The University of Illinois is willing to consider unpaid furloughs for several thousand civil service workers to prevent layoffs, interim President Stanley Ikenberry said.
The school would like to reach "a cordial agreement" with unions that represent civil service workers on a furlough plan like the one announced Tuesday for other employees, Ikenberry told The News-Gazette this week.
Annexation urged for proposed factory tract
GIBSON CITY – The city has taken another step toward landing a new industry.
Its planning commission has voted unanimously to recommend annexation and rezoning of private land now under a purchase option to Eco Manufacturing.
DANVILLE – Senior citizens in Vermilion County dependent on congregate and home-delivered meal service offered by CRIS Senior Services will see changes beginning next week.
It's another example of the state of Illinois withholding money.