Children's deaths in fire ruled an accident

DANVILLE – A Vermilion County Coroner's jury on Wednesday ruled that the January deaths of two young boys in a mobile home fire in Westville were accidental.

The six jurors also recommended that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services investigate the case and the well-being of the boys' brother who survived the fire.

Skating program readies for season finale

DANVILLE – Jane Smittkamp likes to spend quality time with her daughter and found a way to do so and get exercise, too.

Smittkamp and her daughter Mary-Hunter Smittkamp of Paris, drive to Danville to participate in the Learn to Skate program at the David S. Palmer Arena.

Rantoul wants to be paid by Free Fall organizers

RANTOUL – A village board member says he thinks the World Free Fall Convention should pay compensation to the village for failing to meet the final two years of its contract to hold the event in Rantoul.

Convention organizers announced on Tuesday they were canceling this year's convention, which had been scheduled for the Rantoul airport. The village had a contract to host the event through 2008.

Danville High School's library club provides computer training

DANVILLE – Linda Cumbow thought a mouse was a rodent that ran on the floor, but Danville High School student Kalipb Wiggins taught her differently.

"It's the little thingy on the screen," Wiggins told the 90 or so senior citizens at CRIS Senior Services on Wednesday.

Dynegy Inc. donates Vermilion County site as part of settlement

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday acquired 1,100 acres of undeveloped property connecting the Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area, Kennekuk County Park and Kickapoo State Park.

Former Illinois Power owner Dynegy Inc. donated the site, valued at $2.25 million, as part of a 2005 clean air settlement between the company, Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office, the federal government and several environmental organizations.

House: State must fund scholarship programs

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House approved legislation on Wednesday to force the state to fully fund its military and veteran scholarship programs.

State law requires that community colleges and universities waive tuition and mandatory fees for the students who qualify for the Illinois Veteran's Grant, Illinois National Guard and Naval Militia Grant and MIA/POW Scholarship programs, but the amount it budgets for that purpose has fallen far short of the actual costs.

Champaign City Council supports live-work complex

CHAMPAIGN – Despite some concerns about losing valuable downtown parking, the city council voted 7-2 to authorize a letter of support for a proposed 65-unit tax-credit apartment project in downtown Champaign.

The letter will help the developer, Gorman & Company Inc. of Madison, Wis., when it applies next week to the Illinois Housing Development Authority for tax credits that, if approved, would be used to generate $7.1 million in financing for the project.

Champaign shooting under investigation

CHAMPAIGN – Police are continuing an investigation this morning following a shooting in the 900 block of North Fourth Street Tuesday night.

Lt. Joe Gallo said officers were dispatched to the area at 5:07 p.m. Tuesday and learned that shots had been fired at a car, but nobody was injured.

Music a main focus at 9th annual Overlooked Film Festival

CHAMPAIGN – The ninth annual Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival this year will be strong on music and live performances, Ebert said, with the '60s rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock performing on the last day of the five-day festival, after the screening of the cult movie "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls."

Its screenplay was written by Ebert himself.

2003 Nobel Laureate dies at Urbana home

URBANA – It was 1977, and Paul Lauterbur was taking images of green peppers with a new type of imaging technology.

He was puzzled.

One of the images showed a sort of "fuzziness" growing inside the pepper, recalled Mr. Lauterbur's wife, Joan Dawson.

That fuzziness turned out to be a tumor.

Today, 30 years later, doctors around the world are using the technology Mr. Lauterbur pioneered – magnetic resonance imaging – to detect diseases such as cancer in humans and animals.

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