Vote planned on Rantoul water-system study

RANTOUL – Rantoul has changed a lot over the last eight years.

A Wal-Mart SuperCenter and Meadowbrook Farms' pork processing plant provide jobs on the west side, while Rantoul's largest employer – Collins & Aikman – closed its doors.

Vermilion health chief asks to raise mileage rate

DANVILLE – Vermilion County's health department administrator thinks the county's mileage-reimbursement rate is too low and has asked for an increase.

Administrator Steve Laker, who has as many as 40 employees getting mileage reimbursements, has asked the county board to consider increasing the current reimbursement rate to the same level as the federal rate approved by the Internal Revenue Service, which is currently 50.5 cents per mile.

Vermilion County has a floating rate that is 2.5 cents less than the federal rate. Currently, the county rate is 48 cents a mile.

How to avoid problems with produce

Michelle Kim pushed her cart around the aisles of produce inside Schnucks grocery in Urbana this spring, picked up a couple containers of berries and bagged a variety of other fresh fruits and vegetables.

She wishes she could buy more organic produce at the Urbana farmers' market, but she explained Schnucks is convenient. In either case, she doesn't think much about the possibility of it making her sick – or killing her.

Receptionist stays positive despite the inhumanity she's exposed to on the job

CHAMPAIGN – Jan Orr hears lots of the bad side of humanity. But friends and relatives say that part of her job with the Champaign Police Department hasn't colored the way she leads her life.

Orr, 47, is the receptionist for the Champaign Police Department investigators. Among her duties are transcribing tapes for detectives and helping to disseminate bulletins and information for the Champaign County Crimestoppers organization.

UI would get 2.8% increase in funding

SPRINGFIELD – The state budget sent to Gov. Rod Blagojevich would give the University of Illinois $19.9 million more in operating funds next year, or a 2.8 percent increase.

That would help the university plug a $17 million gap in the $4.1 billion preliminary 2008-09 budget approved by UI trustees in late May. That budget, based on no additional state funding, showed $51 million in new income next year – mostly from tuition – but about $68 million in new costs.

Instant replay? Activist group seeking second chance at placing advisory questions on ballot

URBANA – An Urbana group is seeking a special meeting of the Cunningham Town Board to consider putting two proposed advisory questions on the Nov. 4 ballot. And Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing said she's less than pleased about it.

Durl Kruse said the group, calling itself Urbana Citizens for Instant Runoff Voting, submitted petitions signed by 28 voters last Friday to Urbana City Clerk Phyllis Clark. He said state law provides that a special township meeting must be held whenever at least 15 voters file a written statement requesting such a meeting as "necessary for the interests of the township."

Lightning takes WEFT off air

CHAMPAIGN – WEFT 90.1FM was knocked off the air Friday evening after its transmitter was struck by lightning, and may not return for several days, according to Station Manager Mick Woolf.

He said the strike occurred at about 6 p.m. as a powerful storm swept through the area, damaging a controller and circuit board critical to the operation of the station's 20-year-old transmitter.

Douglas County sheriff's office greets addition

TUSCOLA – Dan Brown has been in his new position in the Douglas County sheriff's office a little more than a week.

But he already has his goals set: to do his best to support the officers in the field and the citizens they serve.

Charges filed in accident

URBANA – A Rantoul man remained hospitalized and a Potomac man faces charges following a rear-end crash last weekend on U.S. 136.

James "Bud" Marron, 81, of Rantoul was listed Friday in serious condition at Carle Foundation Hospital.

Unique culture informs choice of new principal

CHAMPAIGN – Washington Elementary School is demographically unique in the Champaign school district.

It has a largely black and Latino population. More than 80 percent of its students come from families below the poverty rate. The school offers bilingual education, and more than one-third of the children have limited English proficiency.