Threat at Tuscola school does not affect attendance

TUSCOLA – Students attended Tuscola Community High School mostly as usual this morning after authorities investigated a threat written in the boys' bathroom.

Superintendent Joe Burgess said school officials found the threat at about 6:30 Tuesday night. They cleared the building and called in Tuscola police, state police and University of Illinois police search dogs.

Two asphalt companies join forces

URBANA – The owners of Champaign Asphalt and MACC of Illinois are forming a new company, Open Road Paving Co., that will manufacture and place bituminous hot-mix asphalt.

The new venture will take in all the asphalt plants owned by Champaign Asphalt and MACC of Illinois, said Joe Lamb, president of both Champaign Asphalt and Open Road Paving.

Gasoline tax hike is on table in Danville

DANVILLE – Members of the city council's public works committee are considering the city's gasoline tax as a way to generate more money for much-needed street projects.

The committee, which met Tuesday night, will have a special meeting next week to consider a proposal that would establish an enterprise fund for motor-fuel taxes and increase the taxes by as much as 5 cents.

Assessment finds courthouse annex building not damaged

DANVILLE – After removing a section of the deteriorating facade on the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex, engineers found no excessive damage to the building itself, according to one county official.

Vermilion County Board member John Dreher told the county board during its regular meeting Tuesday night that a 7-foot-by-10-foot section of the facade was removed this week and an initial investigation started into what has caused recent structural problems with the stucco covering on the annex at 6 N. Vermilion St. in downtown Danville.

Danville schools find new bleachers on eBay

DANVILLE – When former Danville resident Brenda Ramsey was surfing eBay's "slightly unusual" category a few weeks ago, she wasn't looking for a good deal for her old high school.

But that's exactly what she found, Danville schools officials said.

Former cop's second trial starts Thursday

DANVILLE – A former Belgium police officer will stand trial a second time Thursday on charges that he used his position to sexually abuse a dancer at the Play Pen Gentleman's Club.

David L. Lewis, 46, of Lafayette, Ind., faces charges of official misconduct and criminal sexual abuse stemming from a March 2006 incident.

Concerns raised about Urbana arts funding proposal

URBANA – A proposal to fund a public arts commission at a rate approaching $150,000 annually has been put on hold for two weeks, after Mayor Laurel Prussing urged "a creative look at how we fund this."

In a voice vote Monday, council members supported a motion to postpone consideration of the proposal, which called for creation of a nine-member public arts commission and a public arts program that would be funded at a rate of $4 per Urbana resident, or nearly $150,000. A special task force chaired by Alderwoman Danielle Chynoweth proposed the plan.

Champaign board OKs alternative academy

CHAMPAIGN – Students who aren't doing well in Champaign's high schools will have a new option in the fall.

The Champaign school board approved an academic alternative academy at its meeting Monday night.

Champaign gets lower bids for deck

CHAMPAIGN – On its second round of bids, the city of Champaign got a more competitive price for building a 600-space parking garage at the southeast corner of Randolph and Hill streets in downtown Champaign and now appears ready to move forward on the project.

English Brothers Co. of Champaign submitted a low price of $10.59 million and likely will be awarded the job at the city council's March 18 meeting, said Craig Rost, deputy city manager for development. A bid opening was held Friday.

Villa Grove board OKs contract with police

VILLA GROVE – After months of negotiations, the Villa Grove City Council has approved its first union contract with the police department. The three-year contract covers three full-time police officers, and according to Mayor Ron Hunt, the agreement with Teamsters Local 26 will not affect police department operations nor will it warrant any reductions in the police force or their services. The agreement serves to separate the police force from other city employees, he said.

Hunt thinks the arrangement might even save the city some money in the long run. The first year of the contract calls for an increase in overall wages totaling about $4,000. After the first year, the increases will be close to what has typically been offered. The benefits negotiated in the new contract will cost the city about $4,000 less annually.