Rantoul man biking 500 miles to help children, church

RANTOUL – Brad Neal is going the distance for Cunningham Children's Home and Rantoul's First United Methodist Church.

The Rantoul resident plans to leave Saturday on a solitary 500-mile, seven-day bicycle ride to the southwest St. Louis suburbs in an effort to raise money for both organizations.

Burglary reports

The following burglaries and thefts were reported recently to area police:

Two men robbed at Shell gas station in Urbana

URBANA – Two armed men robbed two other men in an Urbana parking lot on Saturday.

According to an Urbana police report, two black men approached a 22-year-old Urbana man and a 23-year-old Champaign man in the parking lot of a Shell gas station in the 1800 block of North Cunningham Avenue, Urbana, at 4 p.m. and displayed a gun. The robbers took a cell phone from one of the men and cash from both of them and then left the scene in a four-door Buick LeSabre.

Charges expected following shootout in Mattoon

MATTOON – Police responding to a call for assistance to prevent a reported suicide attempt at a Mattoon apartment building found themselves involved in a shootout with a Shelbyville man over the weekend.

Matthew D. Thomas, 26, who listed an address in Shelbyville, was wounded early Saturday morning and taken to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center for treatment, according to a Mattoon police report.

Senior Odyssey looking for volunteers

URBANA – Senior Odyssey, a community-based research program investigating the effects of mentally stimulating activities on cognitive functions in older adults, needs volunteers for the next phase of its research.

Senior Odyssey is beginning in mid-October its third cycle of a five-year grant funded by the National Institute on Aging. To be eligible, volunteers must be at least 60 and involved in less than 15 hours a week of regularly scheduled activities, such as volunteer work or employment.

Fire reported at unoccupied Champaign house

CHAMPAIGN — Firefighters are at the scene of a working fire at 405 W. Beardsley Ave. in Champaign.

Firefighters were called to an unoccupied two-story home about 6:15 p.m. Monday. When they arrived, they found smoke billowing through the roof. Firefighters are currently on the roof cutting holes to get to the source of the fire.

DACC group promoting 'civil dialogue' for nonreligious

DANVILLE – Nathan A. Ingold said nonreligious people face a social stigma that oftentimes keeps them from expressing their views.

As an atheist, he wants to change how atheists and agnostics are perceived by others and "try to put a more positive face on nonreligious students."

That's why Ingold and some of his friends at Danville Area Community College are starting Nonreligious Students United at Danville Area Community College, or NSU@DACC.

District can delay response to attorney-fee request

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school district has until later this month to respond to a request for attorney fees in its consent-decree case.

District Court Judge Joe Billy McDade granted a motion allowing the district to wait to respond to the attorney fee request until after the court rules on a settlement agreement in the case.

Champaign police seek information on armed robbery

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign Police Department needs help solving an armed robbery that occurred in west Champaign late last month.

About 9 p.m. Aug. 30, a man was getting items from his vehicle in the 2500 block of West Springfield Avenue when he was approached from behind by several men. One of them pressed an object that he believed was a handgun to his head and told him not to move or he would be shot. More men then approached and took items from him and his vehicle, including his wedding band, his wallet and the global positioning unit from his vehicle. When they started to back away, the victim tried to look at them but was repeatedly hit in the head.

Champaign council to hear police's prevention strategies

CHAMPAIGN – New uniforms are not the only changes at the Champaign Police Department.

Champaign Police Chief R.T. Finney wants patrol officers to become integrated with neighborhoods, not only to solve problems, but, when possible, prevent them.