People

Election season busy for sign maker

HILLERY –

In a pole barn cramped with rolls of bulk vinyl , autographed University of Illinois basketballs and stacks of design books, Kathy Pichon's latest project – a banner for a local politician's birthday – blazed on a computer screen.


'I'm happy because I'm here'

Antonio Aguas is not griping about much these days. In fact, he's just downright happy to be alive.

"I say, 'Thanks, God, for the second opportunity to be around,'" said the 43-year-old husband, father, brother, son and business owner.

Late last summer, Aguas lost six days of his life to kidnappers looking to be handed a chunk of the money that he's worked so hard to earn in the last 20 years.


Library's new executive director receives 5-year contract

URBANA – Debra Lissak is the new executive director of the Urbana Free Library, starting May 15.

The Urbana Free Library board approved a five-year contract with Lissak at its March 27 meeting. She will be paid $85,000 during the first year.


Former hostage still suffers from captivity in Iran

URBANA – Watching British captives freed from Iran, Paul Lewis can't help remembering his 444 days in captivity. Even if his mind let it go, the nerve damage to his shoulders and wrists would remind him.

Having his arms handcuffed behind his back for more than a day at a time has caused damage he's still being treated for, and prison dysentery still gives him stomach troubles.


Paxton woman missing for almost a month

PAXTON – Area police are asking for help locating a Paxton woman who has been missing almost a month.

Paxton Police Chief Robert Bane said Jamie E. Harper, 20, was last seen by family members in Paxton on March 9 and later that evening in Rantoul.


Hoopeston native – and alligator – hope to meet president

RALEIGH, N.C. – Hoopeston native Dan Breeding has met Kelly Ripa, Jay Leno and David Letterman.

On Monday, Breeding anticipates adding President Bush to that list.


Playground co-chair earns 74th award

DANVILLE – Though the AMBUCS Playground for Everyone opened in 2001, Bob Richard's work on the 30,000-square-foot, universally accessible structure in Winter Park did not end.

The playground co-chairman helped add an open-air pavilion and other amenities to draw more families to the park. Then he and co-chairs Bill Fulton and his nephew, Bill Fulton, put their knowledge of building playgrounds and desire to help others into two more projects – AMBUCS Independence Playground, which opened in Lincoln Park in 2004, and AMBUCS Sprayground for Everyone that's in the works for Garfield Park.


In midst of war, soldier finding time to create

CHAMPAIGN – Staff Sgt. Sean Caddy doesn't waste his free time while serving in Iraq.

The Champaign native has written a novel, "9 Deceiving Faces," and created a hip-hop album with military overtones. He's trying to market them both, which isn't easy for a guy who has six months to go in Iraq.


No grump, attorney Lerner was 'absolute delight'

CHAMPAIGN – A veteran Champaign attorney known as an aggressive advocate for his clients, especially in divorce cases, is also being remembered as a softie with a great legal mind and an even better sense of humor.

Arthur "Art" Lerner, 71, of Dewey, died early Saturday from complications from Crohn's disease, according to his son Scott, who practiced law with him in Champaign.


C-U resident's business trip becomes a 'personal sojourn'

When Imani Bazzell went to Africa recently, it was for work.

But the trip was also a spiritual journey for her as she walked the same path slaves once did.


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