Champaign council OKs new map for districts

CHAMPAIGN – Even in a nonpartisan city, adopting a new political map can be difficult.

Such was the case Tuesday night, when the city council adopted, in a 5-3 vote, new district boundaries for the five council members who represent districts. Three council members and the mayor are elected citywide.

Funding woes voiced to officials

CHAMPAIGN – So many needs.

So little time to hear about them all.

In fact, three minutes apiece is what was allotted to more than 50 speakers lined up to testify at a state budget hearing in Champaign on Tuesday night.

Tolono fire district looks to lower insurance rate classification

TOLONO – On a scale of one to 10, Tolono is a six. But the Tolono Fire Protection District thinks that number is too high.

Tolono's firefighting capability is right in the middle of the pack for property insurance protection with the Insurance Services Organization, a nationwide accreditation service. The group rates Tolono as a Class 6 among the 10 classes certifying a community's public fire risk.

Business closure drastically affects Rantoul budget

RANTOUL – The impact of the closure of Rantoul's largest employer is sending shock waves through the village of Rantoul's 2008-09 budget.

When Collins & Aikman closed its three plants in Rantoul last summer, the village lost more than just hundreds of jobs. At its peak, Collins & Aikman provided more than 1,000 jobs. At the time of the plants' closure, employment was down to 528.

Urbana ban on using cell phone while driving up for debate

URBANA – Alderman Charlie Smyth plans to propose banning drivers from using cell phones in Urbana.

And, unlike 18 months ago, when aldermen dismissed a similar proposal from Smyth, it appears some city council members are willing to give the idea a serious review.

Scholarship established in baby's name

DANVILLE – This year's Reagan Williams Memorial Track Invitational will raise money not only to increase awareness about Shaken Baby Syndrome, but also to fund the first scholarship that will be given in the toddler's memory.

Greg Williams, Reagan's paternal grandfather and head of Danville High School's English department, said the scholarship will go to a graduating Danville High senior who plans to study pediatric medicine or nursing or law enforcement or pursue a career as a firefighter or emergency medical technician. An amount has not been set.

Danville officials try to avoid fire service cuts

DANVILLE – City officials discussed the proposed $22.9 million general fund budget for the upcoming fiscal year on Tuesday, and the projected $310,000 deficit it currently contains.

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer has proposed cutting nine firefighters as a way to make up the budget shortfall, and that recommendation was the key factor in the city council's discussion.

Rossville-Alvin school board unanimously approves layoffs

The Rossville-Alvin school board unanimously approved layoffs at Monday's meeting.

The layoffs, also called "reduction in force," included four support personnel; one three-year probationary teacher, Jane Mehlan; one two-year probationary teacher, Michelle Routien; and three first-year probationary teachers, Michele Payne, Beth DeWitt and Aimee Schlemmer, according to Superintendent Carl Sartwell.

Prepare to pay more to fill tank in Danville

DANVILLE – Citing the poor condition of many city streets and the lack of a steady way to pay for repairs, the city council voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to increase the city's gas taxes starting May 1.

In addition, starting in 2009, the city's gas tax will automatically increase every year at a rate equal to 2 percent of the state's motor-fuel use tax. If the 5-cent gas tax had started last year, for example, the tax rate this year would be 5.32 cents per gallon.

Poems promoting event solicited from kids

SPRINGFIELD – Area children are invited to write short poems promoting the 2008 Illinois State Fair.

Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick announced the theme for the 2008 Illinois State Fair will be "A Family Tradition" and will feature a contest inspired by a popular 1950s advertising campaign for Burma Shave.