Police hand out 24 tickets at three taverns

CHAMPAIGN – Police handed out 24 citations at three campus area bars last weekend as part of an ongoing program to deter underage drinking.

The Illinois State Police and Champaign police did checks on Friday, Jan. 25, at 11 Champaign bars and found minors in possession of alcohol at three of them.

$3 million would expand Heritage district schools

HOMER – Students at both schools in the Heritage school district will have a new combination auxiliary gymnasium and cafeteria by the end of 2009 under a proposal before the Heritage school board.

Superintendent Andrew Larson said the school board is considering a plan to sell $3 million in bonds to pay for expansion projects at Heritage High School in Broadlands and Heritage Junior High and Elementary School in Homer.

Illinois hasn't entered recession, expert says

URBANA – The University of Illinois flash economic index increased to 103.8 in January, up from 103.6 in December, indicating the Illinois economy has not entered a recession.

The uptick in January came after six months of decline that indicated the state's economy was growing at a slower rate, according to a UI news release. In June, the index stood at 106.8.

Beautification project in Rantoul planned for spring

RANTOUL – Sonna Iorio of Rantoul took her daily walk for exercise one day last summer and ventured downtown, where she saw a great deal of litter and weeds.

The sight disturbed her enough to ask Joe Bolser, Rantoul Chamber of Commerce executive director, if something could be done. There could, he said, and the result was the formation of Clean-Up Rantoul, an organization aimed at cleaning up the litter.

UI, grade-school theater students team up

CHAMPAIGN – The plays to be performed on the University of Illinois campus are short, but packed with imagination, emotion, humor and a reminder of how good the simplest things can be.

The authors are fourth- and fifth-grade students from Washington Elementary School in Champaign.

UI prof gets a $9.1 million commitment for solar cell process

URBANA – It's not every day you get a call offering you $100,000 – much less a commitment for $9.1 million – but Munir Nayfeh got such a call in August.

The University of Illinois physics professor had just published a paper in the journal Applied Physics Letters. The paper explained how an ultrathin layer of nanomaterials could improve the efficiency of solar cells.

Urbana High initiatives succeed in improving discipline

URBANA – Harold Dean remembers not-so-fondly the environment at Urbana High School a few years ago.

"I was called things I had never been called before in my 30 years of teaching," said the retired teacher and frequent substitute.

FutureGen proposal eliminates processes

TUSCOLA – An engineer who has looked at technical documents from the Department of Energy as part of its proposed restructuring of FutureGen says the new proposal eliminates hydrogen from the process needed to generate electricity.

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy's decision not to issue a "record of decision" may mean that none of the four finalist sites (Mattoon, Tuscola, or the Texas cities of Odessa and Jewett) have been cleared by the government as environmentally suitable for similar projects.

Government, alliance use same report to back stance

Though they've ended up on opposite sides of how to build zero-emissions power plants, both the Department of Energy and FutureGen Alliance are using a report on coal to back their arguments.

When the Department of Energy announced its plans to abandon its agreement with the nonprofit alliance of 13 international power companies, it cited "The Future of Coal," written at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

State Honor Roll lists schools in the area

The Illinois State Board of Education announced the state's Honor Roll schools on Thursday, with about 30 percent of the state's 3,888 eligible schools receiving one of the achievement's three awards for 2006-2007.

Honors include the Spotlight Award, given to high-poverty schools meeting the No Child Left Behind test score mandates for 2007 and demonstrating "closing the achievement gap."