UI's new initiative gets first billing

URBANA – University of Illinois faculty members convened for the annual faculty meeting Monday, at which they could hear from administrators and raise any issues or questions on their minds.

One of the first topics brought up by faculty members was the new Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Fund, an initiative started by donors and alumni to support teaching and curriculum development, research, lectures, scholarships and more. The academy fund launches on campus later this week with a forum featuring Robert Novak and Steve Forbes.

Police investigating BB gun drive-by shootings in Urbana

URBANA – Police are investigating a rash of recent BB gun attacks in South Urbana.

According to police reports, men and women were walking or jogging on various streets when someone in a car drove by and shot them with a BB or pellet gun Sunday. Urbana police Investigator Tim McNaught said all the attacks involved three to four men in their late teens or early 20s in a lighter-color older four-door car.

Area Guard units coming home

CHAMPAIGN – About 30 National Guard soldiers from the Champaign Armory will be among those returning from the front line in Iraq as early as next week.

No date has been set for the return of the soldiers from Company B of the 634th Forward Support Battalion, who have been serving with Company A of the same battalion, which has its headquarters in Mattoon.

C-U baseball franchise in works

CHAMPAIGN – Since its opening in 1988, Illinois Field typically has sat empty during much of the summer.

That would change if a group intent on bringing minor league baseball to Champaign-Urbana reaches final agreement with the University of Illinois on use of its baseball facility.

Friends harvest ailing farmer's crops

SEYMOUR – What goes around comes around, and when word spread in Seymour about Bill Young's health problems, Mark and Jim Nibling knew exactly what to do.

They started organizing, and on Monday, neighbors drove combines to Young's 100-acre cornfield to take out the crop in a matter of hours.

Former Busey exec heading Freestar board

CHAMPAIGN – Former Busey Bank executive P. David Kuhl has been named chairman of the board of Freestar Bank.

Kuhl, whose appointment took effect at the end of last week, was the chairman and chief executive officer of Busey Bank until he resigned last fall.

Danville school district officials hopeful about finances

DANVILLE – Danville school officials hope the district's improved financial picture means it will soon be taken off the state's financial early warning list, where it has been for four years.

Superintendent Nanette Mellen said a preliminary report on an independent audit of the 2006-07 fiscal year shows the district's finances look "very good."

Trial for former police officer set to begin Oct. 2

DANVILLE – A former Belgium police officer accused of using his position to sexually assault several women is scheduled to be tried in Vermilion County Circuit Court next week, but not on all of the 49 charges he faces.

Instead, David L. Lewis, 45, of Lafayette, Ind., will first stand trial on four counts of official misconduct, two counts of criminal sexual abuse and two counts of armed violence, stemming from allegations made by one of a number of women. The jury trial is set for Oct. 2-4.

G-RF board OKs conservative spending plan

GEORGETOWN – School officials approved a $10.05 million spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year on Monday that may include $194,000 in deficit spending.

Georgetown-Ridge Farm Superintendent Kevin Tate estimates the district will generate about $9.86 million in the upcoming fiscal year if it receives the same amount of general state aid as last year – about $4.6 million. Tate said the state budget that was passed weeks ago includes about $300,000 in additional state aid to the district, but that he was skeptical the district would receive that amount, and built no increased funding into his budget.

No one hurt in garage fire

DANVILLE – A garage fire caused an estimated $25,000 in damage Monday afternoon.

Danville firefighters were called to 603 S. Buchanan St. just before 3 p.m. The garage, between 603 and 605 Buchanan St., was engulfed in flames.