Champaign board close to finalizing panel on district's future

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school board is close to finalizing a committee of community leaders to draft their ideas for the future of the school district, said board member Kristine Chalifoux at the board's Monday night meeting.

As well, "we've been meeting with several facilitators who might be able to help us," said Chalifoux, adding that those facilitators were local, and would help the "vision committee, which represents the public." She said the board was also meeting with the city as well as departments within the University of Illinois – including business, planning and education, "all of whom were interested in working with us."

Tuscola man pleads guilty in sex assault case

TUSCOLA – A Tuscola man pleaded guilty in connection with alleged criminal sexual assaults of a Tuscola girl when she was 16 years old.

Jose Ascencion Pacheco, 40, who listed an address in Tuscola, withdrew his previous innocent plea late Friday afternoon. His trial had been set to begin on Monday.

Urbana council rejects historic district

URBANA – A proposal to establish a local historic district in the 800 block of West Main Street failed – by one vote – to get the two-thirds city council majority necessary for passage Monday night.

But council members later moved to reconsider the issue, then deferred it to the council's Nov. 5 meeting. Aldermen said afterward that, rather than letting the issue die, they will try and develop a consensus for a smaller historic district in the same block.

Police: 3 teens confess to Monticello vandalism

MONTICELLO – Police say three Urbana teenagers have confessed to a series of acts of vandalism after police caught them breaking into Monticello High School late Sunday night.

Monticello police arrested Sheridan Sullivan, 17, of 304 S. Grove St., U; Clifford Luster, 18, of 603 Scottswood Drive, U; and a 16-year-old male juvenile who attends Urbana High School.

Jordan breezes into town for 'Today Show' taping

CHAMPAIGN – Michael Jordan has added some orange to a Carolina-blue wardrobe.

And the Illinois basketball program continues to benefit from a unique freshman who has yet to play in a game.

Family faces charges for fake-charity scheme

RANTOUL – A rural Champaign family is accused of falsely claiming to be raising money for charity in Rantoul.

Arraigned Monday on misdemeanor charges of false personation were Jeffrey Dial, 42; Jason Dial, 18; Amanda Dial, 17; and Patricia Dial, 34, all of the 4000 block of North Market Street, Champaign; along with Jacob Crowe, 18, of Xenia.

Researcher focuses on a disease detective

Ryan Bailey has this idea where you walk into your doctor's office for a routine checkup and get tested for early warning signs of cancer and other diseases about as easily as you get your temperature and blood pressure checked.

Not cancer in progress, mind you – although that would certainly show up, too – but the disease at its onset, before it becomes a problem and when it's a relatively simple matter to do something about it.

Po' Boys owner was reliable source of food, advice

CHAMPAIGN – Arnold Yarber was "Arnie" to football coaches, millionaires, scores of Champaign and Illini athletes, and untold thousands who loved his grandmother's barbeque recipe – hold the tomato sauce.

He'd wanted to be a chiropractor, and worked a number of jobs for the state and the University of Illinois, but most people knew him as the owner of Po' Boys, a restaurant on the north edge of downtown Champaign that had a cult following for more than half a century.

Scaring up tickets to Haunted Happenings not hard this year

DANVILLE – Ticket sales for the Vermilion County Conservation District's annual Haunted Happenings event have been a bit slow this year.

The evening of Halloween adventure began in 1996 and has evolved over the years.

Suspicious fires put Loda residents on edge

LODA – After a string of suspicious fires in this southern Iroquois County town, one resident can't help but wonder: What will be next?

"It's creepy," said Sue Gibson, a Loda resident. She's the owner of an Elm Street garage damaged in a suspicious fire earlier this month. It was one of 10 suspicious fires – six structural fires, two hay-bale fires and two grass fires – since Sept. 30.