CHAMPAIGN – What does it take to raise a J Leman, the star University of Illinois middle linebacker and long-haired free spirit?
For Happy and Dianne Leman – J's parents – it meant using both a firm hand and having the judgment to make sure they weren't squelching J's personality. It also was a family effort, as J is but one of seven members of the Leman clan, a family that is remarkable in its devotion to sports, each other and their faith.
PAXTON – A group of local, metropolitan and television reporters waited Friday outside a home in Paxton, hoping to speak with the second wife of Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson, who has been described as a suspect in the recent disappearance of his fourth wife and whose third wife died mysteriously in 2004.
However, Vicki Connolly never appeared at her daughter's home in the 400 block of East Larson Street.
In twos and threes they maneuvered among the portraits, hushed, nearly silent.
One woman stood alone. She looked up through red-rimmed eyes.
A mother looking at the image of her son, a child she would never hug again.
CHAMPAIGN – Sandra Jones, board chair for the Urban League of Champaign County, will serve as interim chief executive officer until a successor is found for Tracy Parsons, who resigned last week.
Board members met Monday afternoon and unanimously agreed to appoint Jones, who was to announce the news to staff members this morning. A national search for a new CEO will begin shortly, coordinated with the national Urban League office. It will be led by a search committee made up of board members, with input from staff and the community. With the holidays approaching, that process is expected to take several months.
CHAMPAIGN – This Veteran's Day, American Legion National Commander Marty Conatser has a little better idea of the things affecting U.S veterans and soldiers.
Conatser, a Champaign resident, toured Walter Reed Army Medical Center last month and spent four days in Iraq in mid-August. He's become well-acquainted with the politics that provide funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
But in the commotion of leading the Legion, Conatser hasn't forgotten he's working for 2.7 million vets.
Whenever he's feeling rushed by his hectic schedule or drained by national politics, all he needs is a visit with a Legionnaire.
IVESDALE – Kamikazes haunted Jack McHale's dreams for years, long after he'd left the South Pacific and returned to Ivesdale to raise his family.
McHale, a recognition officer on the battleship USS Massachusetts from October 1944 until the war ended, was stationed in the crow's nest high above the deck in the middle of the aerial action . His job: to spot aircraft and ships and identify them as friend or foe.
CHAMPAIGN – Tracy Parsons resigned today after 13 years as head of the Champaign County Urban League, saying "the time is right."
"I've been doing this for 13 years," Parsons said this morning. "We've done a lot of good stuff, helped a lot of people. And in some ways I think I changed the climate in this community a little bit. We're going to give somebody else the reins to handle this challenge."
GIBSON CITY – Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School will hold an assembly Monday to discuss the death and funeral arrangements for a senior.
Ethan J. Glascock, 18, of Melvin was killed Friday afternoon in an automobile accident.
URBANA – Without bowling pins or flaming batons, Karla Shelby has fast become a master of the art of juggling.
Handling a full-time job, full-time college and the care of five girls – and leading a motorcycle club – will do that to you.
URBANA – An ex-con who turned his life around and started a nationally distributed magazine is the keynote speaker at a roundtable on prisons and censorship that starts Friday.
Paul Wright, 42, is the editor of Prison Legal News, which has 7,000 subscribers – 70 percent of them behind bars – including linguist/activist Noam Chomsky and billionaire philanthropist George Soros. It also has a Web site, www.prisonlegalnews.org.