Champaign police investigating home invasion

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign police are investigating a home invasion and robbery late Wednesday in which three armed, masked men beat up a man, fired a gun at a wall and stole jewelry from the home.

Champaign police spokeswoman Rene Dunn said a 17-year-old man reported he was home in the 400 block of West Beardsley Avenue about 11:45 p.m. when a man with a black hooded sweatshirt over his head and a mask partially covering his face came into his bedroom. The man waved a weapon at him and repeatedly ordered the resident to "give me something."

Ebert gives his alma mater a million reasons to cheer

CHAMPAIGN – Roger Ebert just gave a big thumb's up to his alma mater, in the form of a $1 million gift.

Ebert, class of 1964, and his wife, Chaz, gave the University of Illinois $1 million toward creation of the Roger Ebert Program for Film Studies Fund – a program that didn't have a counterpart in his undergraduate days.

Farmer City man dies after crash

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup has released the name of the man killed in a two-vehicle collision on Wednesday.

Northrup said that Dallas Baker, 19, of Farmer City was pronounced dead at Carle Foundation Hospital at 3:02 p.m. Wednesday.

Urbana honors Ebert with plaque by childhood home

URBANA – Michael and Jackie Esteves stood in front of their home late Wednesday morning, sipping mimosas and, with friends and family, celebrating a special occasion.

Observing them were 100 or so people, most of them strangers to the Esteveses, milling about in the street.

"It's very surreal and very strange to wake up and know people are staring at your house," said Michael, a bass guitarist for the Brat Pack and other groups. "I'm used to being on stage, but it's still kind of weird."

Patrol car's tape of incident in state investigators' hands

VILLA GROVE – The Villa Grove police chief confirmed that his department's squad car recorded the actions of Oluwatofunmi "Toto" Kaiyewu on the evening of April 6 and that the videotape is now in the hands of state police investigating the fatal shooting.

"Yes, we did have video," Police Chief Dennis Gire said. "I did not know we were the only car that had a camera. All cars should have them. Lucky for us, that's the only car we do have a camera in."

Champaign County Dems' chairman choices limited to 1

CHAMPAIGN – Will Rogers' dusty line about being a Democrat – "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat." – fit Wednesday night's Champaign County Democratic Party showdown like a glove.

What at one time had been billed as an election with several candidates ended up, through parliamentary maneuvering, being an election with only one candidate. Later, the 50 or so precinct committeemen who were jammed into the party's cramped office in downtown Champaign elected a vice chair who in 2000 broke from the Democratic Party and endorsed Green Party candidate Ralph Nader for president.

Former firefighter sentenced in Loda arson case

WATSEKA – A former firefighter who admitted setting one of 12 suspicious blazes in the Loda area in fall 2007 was sentenced to three years in state prison Wednesday afternoon.

Iroquois County Judge Susan Tungate handed down the sentence to Steven M. Stout, 24, of Loda.

Champaign council approves raising development fees

CHAMPAIGN – Despite outspoken opposition from local developers, the city council voted this week to raise development fees by an average of 25 percent to 30 percent.

The increases will take effect June 1 and will generate an additional $168,000 annually for the city.

Busey seminar attendees bearish about economy

CHAMPAIGN – Area business and civic leaders predict Champaign County will experience moderate inflation and lower retail sales in 2009.

First Busey Corp. Vice Chairman Ed Scharlau on Wednesday delivered his annual seminar on the local economy and, as is custom, asked attendees to make their own forecasts.

Family of slain man pleads for answers from police

URBANA – Abby Kaiyewu said she wants proof that her youngest son threatened police, since everything she's been told about what led to his death at the hands of the officers makes no sense to her.

Flanked by her lawyer, her husband and her two older sons, the 49-year-old Missouri City, Texas, woman addressed a room filled with reporters in Urbana on Wednesday morning.