Geek Squad helps kids learn about computers

CHAMPAIGN – Edison Middle School students were working, bent over tables filled with computer parts, after school Wednesday.

They were installing motherboards and power supplies and adding video cards and CD drives with the help of members of the Geek Squad, who troubleshoot and repair computers.

Provena Covenant Medical Center makes upgrades with patients in mind

URBANA – It may never be fun to go to the hospital, but a Provena Covenant Medical Center Foundation official says there's no reason it can't be more pleasant.

With that in mind, the foundation has paid for nearly $1 million in recent improvements at Covenant, and is working to raise $1 million more for other upgrades, according to Dave Selzer, vice president of development and mission at Covenant.

Local GM retirees are uncertain about their future


TILTON – It's too early to tell what's going to happen to former workers at Tilton's General Motors Central Foundry plant, according to a local union official.

Ed Barney is president of United Auto Workers Local 579 and still a General Motors employee. His job is working with retirees and others receiving health care and pension benefits through the company. He's seen a lot, but is expecting more.

Police warn: new wrinkle in credit card theft has hit town

URBANA – Three Chicago men are accused of using illegally altered credit cards, and a local investigator warns that the high-tech crime is a growing threat.

Arraigned Wednesday on charges of possession of altered credit cards were Sherrell Wayne, 31; Shaun Johnson, 29; and MiquelTharpe, 31, all of Chicago. Tharp also is charged with two counts of burglary and Wayne faces one burglary count. The burglary charges allege Tharpe and Wayne entered businesses with intent to commit felonies.

Equipment failure leaves some Champaign residents without power

CHAMPAIGN – Power was restored to about 400 households before 9 p.m. Tuesday after about a five-hour outage.

An equipment failure left the residents without electricity since about 3:30 Tuesday, said Ameren spokesman Leigh Morris. The outages were near Campbell Drive, he said, which is north of Interstate 74 and just east of Mattis Avenue. That's located in the 61821 ZIP code, where more than 15,000 households have Ameren power.

Danville YMCA holding registration for youth, adult classes

DANVILLE – The Danville Family YMCA is holding open registration for both youth and adult program classes.

Classes for the winter session begin Jan. 5, 2009, and are seven weeks long.

Gold rush: Salvation Army receives fourth, fifth gold coins

This weekend wasn't exactly the fifth day of Christmas, but it produced similar benefits for The Salvation Army.

Instead of five gold rings, the organization received its fourth and fifth gold coins in area red kettles.

Prosecutor, detective give advice on dealing with bad checks

CHAMPAIGN – Merchants can lose their holiday cheer quite quickly if they aren't careful.

Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz and Champaign police Detective Pat Kelly warned members of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce on Monday that they need to take steps to protect themselves from bad-check writers.

Four area police agencies to get laptop computers

Four area law enforcement agencies will soon receive computers from the state.

The Arthur, Tuscola and Villa Grove police departments and the Douglas County sheriff's office will each receive a laptop. Each computer is valued at $6,300.

Recession expected to help trim heating costs

One upside of global recession: Factories aren't using as much natural gas, so your December heating bill will be lower than once forecast.

Only two months ago, the prediction for natural gas prices was up 40 percent from last winter.