DeLand-Weldon teacher pleads not guilty to charges

MONTICELLO – Randy L. DeJaynes, the DeLand-Weldon High School English teacher accused of inappropriately touching two male students, entered a plea of not guilty to three counts of aggravated battery and two counts of criminal sexual abuse in Piatt County Circuit Court on Thursday morning, and waived his right to a preliminary hearing.

DeJaynes appeared with his attorney Tom Griffith before Judge John Shonkwiler.

Senators advance bill to curtail smoking

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois would become the 17th smoke-free state in the nation, under legislation the Illinois Senate passed on Thursday.

SB500 would prohibit smoking in all Illinois workplaces and indoor public areas, including bars, restaurants, casinos and bowling alleys. Smoking would also be banned within 15 feet of any entrance to those facilities and in all government vehicles.

Forest Preserve outhouses for sale on eBay

MAHOMET – Some things only get better with time: fine wines, Rembrandts and outhouses.

If you agree with the last part of that dubious statement, you need to get on eBay and put down a bid on one of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District's 24 cedar privies.

Tax swap plan gets approval

SPRINGFIELD– An education funding reform plan that increases income taxes and adds a sales tax on certain services won House committee approval on Thursday, but still faces long odds.

Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, has already promised not to call the bill for a vote in his chamber, and Gov. Rod Blagojevich has vowed to veto any increase in the income or sales tax. The duo said they did not want to raise taxes on people, and are pushing a $6.3 billion gross receipts tax on businesses instead.

Chicago man gets two consecutive life terms

DANVILLE – A Chicago man will spend the rest of his life in prison for breaking into a Danville man's home more than three years ago and fatally shooting him over drugs and money.

Vermilion County Circuit Judge Claudia Anderson on Thursday sentenced Juan Antonio Reyes, 29, to a life term for first-degree murder in the Jan. 28, 2004 death of William Thomas, 30.

Danville's unemployment rate drops below county's

DANVILLE – For the first time in 16 years, Danville's unemployment rate has dropped below Vermilion County's, the Illinois Department of Employment Security reported.

Danville's rate dropped from 6.8 percent in January to 6.6 percent in February.

Jet charter service may relocate to Danville

DANVILLE – First National Bank of Danville plans to move its jet charter service from Arizona to the Vermilion County Airport if an enterprise zone can be extended to the property.

Vicki Haugen, president and chief executive officer of Vermilion Advantage, said Thursday night that the bank's affiliated with a charter service based in Arizona and has a proposed agreement with the Vermilion County Airport Authority to relocate here.

Russians arrested at Tilton DMV

TILTON – The Illinois secretary of state's office is investigating why several Russian nationals tried to obtain driver's licenses, using false information, at the driver's license facility in Tilton.

Authorities on Wednesday arrested four women and two men on a perjury charge for making a false application or affidavit. The offense is a Class 3 felony.

Residents invited to help plot Spalding Pool's future

CHAMPAIGN – It's not surprising that Spalding Pool got splashed on a little last year.

Thirty-seven years old, open to the general public for just four hours each weekday afternoon, Spalding Pool was definitely overshadowed last year with the July 1 opening of the new $7 million Sholem Aquatic Center.

Parkland makes plans for growth

CHAMPAIGN – Parkland College and the owners of the former K's Merchandise Mart are working out final details for the college to buy the building on North Mattis Avenue.

When the deal is done, Parkland plans to remodel the unoccupied part of the building as new quarters for components of its health professions department, including a special room that will house a $150,000, computer-operated human model that reacts like it's alive, used for training at some medical schools.

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