Former UI football players serving sentences

URBANA – Former University of Illinois football teammates Joseph Ellis and Derrick McPhearson have been reunited at the Champaign County Jail.

Ellis, 21, formerly of Savoy and most recently of Baltimore, pleaded guilty Tuesday before Judge Tom Difanis to one count of felony theft for stealing a laptop computer from an apartment in the 300 block of East Armory Avenue in Champaign on March 2, 2007.

Name to change to Wendl's amid other changes

URBANA – Now that the off-track betting parlor has moved out, The Brickhouse in Urbana plans to change its name to Wendl's – a variation on the TK Wendl's name it used until 2005.

General Manager Chris Corres said the north side of the establishment at 1901 S. High Cross Road will be renovated for a dance floor and banquet hall that will accommodate 100 to 200 people, while the south side will remain a restaurant and bar. Corres said the renovations will probably take until late June to complete.

Rantoul board moves to flatten slope in airport's runway

RANTOUL – A pilot landing on the north-south runway of the Rantoul airport encountered a surprise in June 2005. The runway suddenly sloped upward. The man's plane immediately went airborne once again, and the pilot had to make a quick maneuver to complete a safe landing.

Three years later the slope remains on the runways.

Moultrie-Douglas fair to continue with promise of funding

ARTHUR – The Moultrie-Douglas County Fair will go on as scheduled this summer now that the Moultrie-Douglas counties University of Illinois Extension unit has received word it will be getting its state funding.

Moultrie-Douglas Extension Director Cheri Burcham said discontinuing the fair was under consideration if the state didn't come through with $125,000 appropriated for the unit by the Illinois General Assembly.

Homer building placement rules to be reviewed

HOMER – The Homer Village Board is considering amending current zoning ordinances that require that buildings be set back 85 feet from the center of the road, which is about 20 to 25 feet from the sidewalk.

Mayor David Lucas said the setback is reasonable for most residential properties, but the oldest commercial buildings downtown – built right up to the sidewalk – do not comply.

Study: Fairchild is best corridor

DANVILLE – Even at $41 million, Fairchild Street is still the best alternative for a train-free ride from the east side of the city to the west, according to a preliminary study.

City officials hosted a two-hour open house Tuesday night on results from a three-part study that analyzed four corridors for uninterrupted traffic flow across town. The city council's public works committee was also given an update on the study.

Westville board approves erosion-prevention plans

WESTVILLE – Village officials voted Tuesday to move forward with plans to repair and prevent future erosion along a drainage ditch on the north side of Moses Avenue, north of Zamberletti Park.

In March, inspectors from the Army Corps of Engineers investigated a complaint about erosion in the ditch. According to Mayor Jeff Slavik, village officials apparently authorized a cleaning and deepening of the ditch in 2002 without receiving a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Four years of raises OK'd for four Vermilion County posts

DANVILLE – Right now, Vermilion County's circuit clerk, recorder, coroner, auditor, county clerk, supervisor of assessments and treasurer get paid the same annual salary, $52,600.

County officials have purposely kept the salaries of those seven countywide elected offices equal. But that changed Tuesday night.

Owner: Future of downtown Danville fire site is unclear

DANVILLE – Building owner Tenley Lippie would like to rebuild at 105-109 N. Vermilion St., where a March 26 fire tore through two businesses in downtown Danville. But the decision to rebuild hinges on funding.

Everyone's first choice, said Lippie of Fort Wayne, Ind., is to save the facade and reconstruct the building. But the question is whether that can be funded reasonably, she said.

Co-founder of BET donates $4 million to UI School of Music

URBANA – The University of Illinois was not exactly a diverse place when Sheila Johnson arrived in 1966.

One of perhaps 150 black students on campus, the promising musician and future millionaire found a friend and mentor in Dan Perrino.