Energy Department defends power-plant plan

Despite threats from Sen. Dick Durbin, Undersecretary of Energy C.H. "Bud" Albright Jr. maintains that his department will restructure FutureGen.

Albright announced Wednesday in a conference call that the Department of Energy created a draft of the requirements for power plants that will use federal money. Companies would be able to apply for the money by mid-summer, he said. The department could choose the plants by December, and they could be operating by 2015.

Coal-gasification expert criticizes energy plans

The Department of Energy insists that combining two environmentally friendly processes into one – or more – commercial plant is the best deal for taxpayers.

But one expert on coal gasification thinks it will slow down the technology that converts coal into a synthetic gas that is cleaned before it's used.

Suspect in death of woman from Loda pleads innocent

KENOSHA, Wis. – A Wisconsin man accused of running over a former Loda resident with a car last month after she fell off the vehicle's hood pleaded innocent to charges of homicide by negligent driving and hit-and-run involving death Wednesday in Kenosha County Circuit Court.

A jury trial for Thomas J. Sillcocks, 37, of Kenosha, Wis., could be scheduled during a final pretrial hearing to be held at 9 a.m. May 22 in Judge S. Michael Wilk's courtroom, said Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Mark Dooley.

Big effort planned to enforce seat-belt law

State and local police will be cracking down on seat-belt violations as warmer weather puts more motorists on the road.

"We're trying to save lives by writing tickets," said Illinois state police spokesman Master Sgt. Brian Ley.

Champaign man faces child pornography charges

URBANA – A Champaign man is accused of having and distributing child pornography.

Alan Walworth, 49, who listed an address in the 600 block of West Church Street, Champaign, was arraigned and pleaded innocent Wednesday to felony charges accusing him of dissemination and possession of child pornography between Jan. 1 and May 5 this year.

Contract to repair Vermilion County's GIS approved

DANVILLE – A Vermilion County panel agreed Wednesday to sign a second contract with a consulting company that will completely revamp the county's geographic information system.

Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon said the system is broken and needs to be fixed. He recommended at Wednesday's executive committee meeting signing a contract with Bruce Harris and Associates in Batavia to allow them to fix the system.

Bus to serve as cross-county job transport

DANVILLE – On Monday, at least 26 Vermilion County workers will board a big blue bus at the Danville Township offices for a ride to jobs in Champaign County.

The workers have been hired through Staff Management 56, 3310 W. Springfield Ave., C, for entry-level jobs at Plastipak Packaging Inc., also at 3310 Springfield Ave.

Trash pile catches fire; no one injured

DANVILLE – Hot embers from construction work involving steel cutting accidentally ignited a large trash fire south of Danville on Monday night, a fire official said.

Scott Weidig, chief of the Lynch Area Fire Protection District, said no one was injured and no property was damaged.

Judge convicts Clark on weapons charge

DANVILLE – Former NBA player Keon Clark faces a year in jail after his conviction on a misdemeanor weapons charge stemming from a March 2006 incident at his Danville home.

"The evidence in this case shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant possessed a firearm without having a valid firearm owner's idenfication card," Vermilion County Circuit Judge Michael Clary wrote in his ruling, issued Friday.

Urbana Middle School students stay late after gas leak

URBANA – Students at Urbana Middle School were kept inside the school for several minutes past dismissal time this afternoon, after a construction crew hit a gas line on Michigan Avenue on the south side of the school.

Urbana firefighters asked the students to remain inside the school while they monitored the area and the building for natural gas, said Division Chief Tony Foster. Then students were dismissed through the north entrance to the building.