Uni High taking diversity seriously

URBANA – In some ways, University Laboratory High School looks like any other public school: messy lockers, overstuffed backpacks, teenagers roaming the halls.

But, unlike most public schools, Uni is selective. Its population isn't confined to students from one town, but to students from around the area who've excelled at tests and grades and essays.

Champaign mayor sets Unofficial St. Patrick's Day rules

CHAMPAIGN – Unofficial St. Patrick's Day is expanding into a two-day event this year, and Mayor Jerry Schweighart is issuing an emergency order restricting alcohol sales in the Campustown area.

Former UI football player pleads guilty to felony theft

URBANA – Former University of Illinois football player Derrick McPhearson, 21, will spend his summer in the Champaign County jail after pleading guilty Friday to felony theft.

McPhearson admitted to Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis that he stole a laptop computer worth more than $300 from a UI student's apartment on East Armory Avenue, Champaign, on March 2, 2007.

Operation Hope activities set for Garden Hills

CHAMPAIGN – A joint program of the city, the school district and the park district will give students living in the Garden Hills neighborhood recreational and educational activities, beginning this summer.

The one-year pilot program, which the school district is calling "Operation Hope," aims to promote positive behavior and expose students to career possibilities. It will include homework help and tutoring; recreational activities; and, for high school students, career exploration, job opportunities and community service.

If you don't shovel, city may bill you

CHAMPAIGN – Sidewalks in the downtown and campus areas must be shoveled by 6 a.m. Wednesday or property owners run the risk of the city doing it for them and then sending them a bill.

City Public Works Director Dennis Schmidt on Friday declared that the city's sidewalk snow and ice removal policy was in effect, after several inches of snow fell Friday. According to unofficial National Weather Service information, Champaign and Urbana received about 4.5 inches of snow by late Friday afternoon.

Urbana council to consider agreement revisions

URBANA – City officials are hoping a revised development agreement will help jump start the proposed Gateway Shops project.

The city council will consider the agreement when it meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St., as the committee of the whole.

Long rap sheet brings extended prison sentence

URBANA – A Champaign man with a criminal history spanning three decades was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison for selling cocaine.

James Calvin "J.C." Mosley, 42, whose last known address was in the 1200 block of North Walnut Street, will have to serve the sentence after he completes five years in prison he received in November for possession of cocaine.

Tuscola may lease land to farmer for alternative energy source

TUSCOLA – An expiring lease on city ground near a water treatment facility may put the city on the cutting edge of green energy.

The city is talking about leasing ground sprayed with waste water to a farmer who wants to plant miscanthus, a towering grass being studied for its energy use. If farmer Dan Meyer of Tuscola is able to plant miscanthus on the almost 160 acres northeast of town, it'll be the most in the area. The University of Illinois is currently testing the grass.

Trial date for murder suspect may be set soon

DECATUR – One of the men accused of murdering a Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy may be closer to facing trial.

Defense lawyers for William Thompson, 27, told Judge Tim Steadman on Friday that they hope to set his trial date at his next court appearance May 30.

Electric problem at state fairgrounds cancels event

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Horse Fair, scheduled for Feb. 29-March 2 at the State Fairgrounds in Springfield, has been canceled because of electrical problems at the fairground.

Chuck Hartke, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, said high-voltage electrical distribution problems at the fairgrounds prompted the decision to cancel all use of the state facilities for the event.