Prison's structure makes lasting impression

The first morning Rodney Baird put his feet on the floor at the Sheridan prison, he could hear fellow inmates singing the "Brother to Brother" song, a motivational ditty with which they start the day.

"I remember thinking, 'What have I got myself into?' " said the 46-year-old Ridge Farm man. "It didn't take long to get with the program."

Electrical short blamed for fire

SADORUS – A rural fire destroyed a barn and killed a dog Friday afternoon near Sadorus.

According to a Sadorus Fire Department report and a Champaign County sheriff's office report, farmer Doug Bialeschki was out in a field working on his tractor when he saw flames coming from his barn at 753 County Road 600 N at 3 p.m. Friday.

Sheridan inmates instructed on making positive changes

About two dozen new inmates per week come to the Sheridan prison, said Warden Michael Rothwell.

And once they're at Sheridan, their experience is a far cry from sitting around marking time. They are part of what's known as a "therapeutic community," Rothwell said. "The (concept) is not new. It's based on social learning theory.

Memorial service moved to bigger venue

The location for the memorial service for Art Lerner, a veteran Champaign attorney who died March 31, has been changed.

The memorial service was originally scheduled to be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 1, at the Champaign County Courthouse. The location has been changed to the Laborer's Hall in Urbana, 108 E. Anthony Drive, to accommodate the large crowd expected, according to John Gadau, president of the Champaign County Bar Association. The time and date of the service remain the same.

New UI trustee a tough trial lawyer and civil rights pioneer

James Montgomery always had something to prove.

First, that a middle child could stand out by going to college and law school – a rarity for black Americans in the 1950s.

Then, that blacks could excel in law school despite hostility from white peers.

Parents remember son for his ability to bring family together

CHAMPAIGN – Shawn Marmion relished preparing and filing his son's income tax return. It wasn't because he was expecting a whopping refund.

"When I folded up the form, I did it so slowly. That was the strangest feeling. I realized that as his dad, this is one of the last physical things I got to do for him," said Shawn Marmion. "It was a hard moment, but I treasured it."

Prison offers a new lease on life for inmates battling drugs

When Charles Truitt began working in the Illinois state prison system in 1992 after more than seven years as a military policeman, he described himself as assertive and eager.

"I wanted to come to work. I have never been a quitter," he said.

UI survey details rising costs of planting crops

MAHOMET – The University of Illinois recently made it official: The cost of planting corn and soybeans went up again last year.

But that news from the UI's Farm Business Farm Management service comes as no surprise to Scott Bidner, who's poised to plant his 12th crop as soon as the weather clears.

It's your business: JDR Cycles up and running in Tolono

With gasoline prices continuing to rise, Jeff Reimer figured it was a good time to open that scooter shop he's been thinking about.

He calls it JDR Cycles, and it can be found at 305 N. Long, Tolono, the former Dairy Bar location.

Amateur winemaking contest set for today at Alto Vineyards

You can watch wine judges in action today as they sample wines from amateur winemakers at Alto Vineyards in rural Champaign.

The Amateur Winemakers of Central Illinois is hosting its third annual Amateur Wine Making Competition at Alto, with the event open to the public starting at 11 a.m.