Catlin board approves tax levy

CATLIN – School officials voted Thursday to approve a $1.98 million tax levy for the upcoming year – an increase of about $212,000 from the current levy.

Superintendent Guy Banicki said the additional funds would be used to help cover salary and benefit costs and to help with some minor building maintenance projects. He said no major building renovation or repair projects are expected for the upcoming year.

Schlarman to celebrate man's 100th

DANVILLE – Holding an event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of a person's birth after that person has died doesn't happen often.

But the Schlarman High School community is an exception, as it will host a "100th Birthday Celebration" to honor Msgr. Charles Bourk Motsett on Jan 12.

Residents fear fly-ash dump

DANVILLE – Some homeowners near Kickapoo State Park blame a nearby fly-ash dump for tainting their drinking water, and one county board member is pushing for new state laws to better regulate where and how ash is disposed.

"They should have never dumped it here – close around property and wells," JoAnn Osterbur said. She lives near the more than 380,000 tons of fly ash dumped since 1995 in a large ravine on private property in an area known as Grays Siding, just north off U.S. 150, west of the Vermilion County Fairgrounds and Kickapoo State Park.

Champaign's Herges in Mitchell Report

Matt Herges, a former Centennial star whose comeback with the Colorado Rockies was one of the feel-good stories of the postseason, was included in today's Mitchell report.

Roger Clemens, Miguel Tejada and Andy Pettitte were named in the long-awaited report, an All-Star roster linked to steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs that put a question mark — if not an asterisk — next to some of baseball's biggest moments.

Champaign schools panel addresses negative perceptions

CHAMPAIGN – Those planning for the future of the Champaign school district face some challenges.

Updating aging buildings. Ensuring students are adequately prepared for college or the work force. Increasing parental participation in the schools. Providing more professional development for teachers. Paying for everything.

City to share cost of building repair in Gibson City

GIBSON CITY – The city will be paying half the cost of a downtown building repair project, the first large-scale project in the downtown revitalization plan.

Neal Tire and Auto at 125 South Sangamon Ave. spent nearly $9,000 on building improvements such as exterior painting, shutters, new windows and tuck-pointing.

Tribute to veterans in Savoy discussed

SAVOY – The village will be taking steps toward establishing a veterans' memorial.

Trustee Bill Smith brought the idea before the board Wednesday, saying he has spoken with a number of residents who favor a veterans' memorial and have already committed to contributing money.

Area churches schedule live Nativity scenes

While the history of some holiday traditions isn't always obvious, most people don't have trouble tracking the origins of the live nativity scene.

Churches around the area adopted the tradition to celebrate the real meaning behind Christmas.

Committee to oversee hiring PBL football coach

PAXTON – The Paxton-Buckley-Loda school board will create a committee to handle the interview process for the hiring of a new football coach.

Jim Zenner resigned as football coach last month after a disappointing second season.

State official gives tips to avoid identity theft

MONTICELLO – It takes on average of 600 hours to reclaim an identity that's been compromised through identity theft – the fastest-growing crime in the country, according to a representative of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office.

Identity theft "is the use of one's personal information for a criminal's own personal gain," said Megan Fulara, community outreach liaison for Madigan's office. Fulara spoke at Monticello City Hall on Tuesday. It was sponsored by the parks and recreation department.