UI student convicted in campus robbery

URBANA – It didn't help Ahmed Yusuf's case any that he sent his victim an e-mail begging him for forgiveness for robbing him at gunpoint.

"I had a fake BB gun that could not have hurt anyone. I am very, very sorry. I made some mistakes in my life but nothing close to as big as this," the University of Illinois student wrote to Maokun Li, also a UI graduate student, begging him to ask a prosecutor to dismiss the armed robbery charge lodged against him in November 2006.

Rantoul woman pleads innocent to 2 charges

URBANA – A Rantoul woman pleaded innocent Wednesday to an armed robbery of a Rantoul bank and will be released on electronic monitoring pending trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge David Bernthal ruled Wednesday in federal court in Urbana that Krystal Brown, 18, be released with no bail, with supervision by the federal probation office, including home detention and electronic monitoring.

Children making strides in fitness

The Thomas Paine Elementary School buses dropped students off a little far of the mark this morning. But that was a good thing.

Because today is International Walk to School Day, and even children who live too far away to walk to school regularly got a chance for a little a.m. exercise. At about 7:50 a.m., dozens of children stepped off the bus and into the welcoming paws of the Thomas Paine Tomcat, a giant gray cat (or a person in a cat suit, anyway) who is the school's mascot.

Joint task force to investigate woman's death

URBANA – Human remains found near Sadorus on Sunday are those of Sadorus woman Naomi Arnette, confirmed Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh and Coroner Duane Northrup on Tuesday afternoon.

"Dental records and other evidence confirm that the body found south of Sadorus is Naomi L. Arnette," Walsh and Northrup stated in a press release.

School officials discuss security expenses

URBANA – The Urbana school district is considering charging some volunteers for the fingerprinting the district now requires of all people who regularly work with children in the schools.

The idea – and the new policy – sparked much discussion from board members at the Urbana school board meeting on Tuesday night.

Tax burden on rural landowners to ease

SPRINGFIELD – A new law is designed to encourage conservation while protecting some rural landowners from massive property tax hikes.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed SB 17 on Monday, and it takes effect immediately.

Judges give teens seven reasons to leave the party

URBANA – Often when teens get in front of a judge, it's a bad sign.

But not on Tuesday morning.

Board refuses to extend hours for two Catlin taverns

CATLIN – Despite the failure of two proposals to gain village board approval on Tuesday for extended tavern hours, Alley Cat owner Shelly Thomas-Eichorn said the issue is not dead.

"This is just a bump in the road," she insisted. "I'll come back again."

Danville officials identify body

DANVILLE – Local officials have identified the body of a Danville man found alongside the Vermilion River on Saturday afternoon.

The body of Gerald Coe, 39, was found by two people at 4:30 p.m. Saturday as they were picking up cans to recycle, said Danville Police Deputy Director Doug Miller.

Danville teacher honored with office supplies

DANVILLE – The surprise on Rena Pate's face was equaled only by the delight on Principal Brenda Yoho's when Office Max honored Pate's teaching efforts with nearly $1,200 in office supplies.

An overwhelmed Pate barely moved when her name was announced, then slowly made her way to the front of the gymnasium at Southwest Elementary School in Tilton. The entire school had assembled Tuesday for a discussion of safety issues – as a ruse for her surprise award.