Plan for state keno game causes stir

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposal for a state keno game to help build schools in struggling districts came as a surprise to many this week.

Even more surprising to some lawmakers was the governor's assertion that he did not need their authority to do so.

Legislation promotes renewable fuels

SPRINGFIELD – A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation to set a state standard for the use of motor fuels made from corn or soybeans and to promote the renewable fuels industry.

"Our proposal expands and invests in Illinois' leading industry: agriculture," said state Sen. Deanna Demuzio, D-Carlinville. "This legislation will further our efforts to become independent from foreign oil. It will provide construction jobs and boost Illinois' economy by increasing the use of crops for renewable fuels."

UI appeal would slow sanctions

URBANA – If the University of Illinois files an appeal regarding its use of Chief Illiniwek with the NCAA's executive committee before Feb. 1, any sanctions due to its use of the symbol will be waived until late April.

The restrictions are to go into effect Feb. 1, along with an NCAA policy forbidding use of "hostile or abusive" American Indian imagery. The policy forbids schools using such imagery from hosting postseason competitions or displaying the nicknames, logos or imagery at the events.

Officials put hiring of police officer on hold

GIBSON CITY – A Gibson City alderman says he had no idea that a former Urbana police officer had been accused of raping a woman last year when he voted to hire the man for the Gibson City Police Department.

The Gibson City Council voted unanimously Monday to hire Kurt Hjort for a full-time position with the department at $14.50 an hour with full benefits.

Rantoul settles with ex-fire chief

RANTOUL – The Rantoul Village Board agreed Tuesday to pay $66,569 to former Fire Chief Richard Quick to settle a lawsuit Quick filed against the village.

Mayor Neal Williams signed the documents immediately following Tuesday's meeting.

Neighborhood packed with UI students' cars

URBANA – University of Illinois students who want to avoid parking fees are using the streets of a north Urbana neighborhood as a free parking lot.

But that could soon change.

Capital program proposal includes funding for area

SPRINGFIELD - New buses for the Danville and Champaign-Urbana mass transit districts, a new I-74 interchange in Urbana and $4.6 million in new roads around the University of Illinois Research Park are among the local goodies in Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed $3.2 billion capital program.

The General Assembly reconvenes in Springfield today, and passing the capital plan is one of the governor's top election-year priorities.

UI students roughed up at Spanish soccer match

URBANA – Several University of Illinois students in Spain for a winter break Study Abroad program were beaten at a soccer match last weekend.

One student, a freshman, required stitches to his face, but none of the others required medical treatment, said Jeremy Geller, director of the UI's Study Abroad program. He did not release their names.

Blagojevich orders water supply study

SPRINGFIELD – In response to this year's drought and the ever-increasing residential and commercial demand for fresh water, Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Monday ordered a statewide water supply study that will likely focus first on East Central Illinois.

"It is critical for Illinois to get ahead of the curve when it comes to water supply planning," Blagojevich stated in a written release. "Last summer's drought demonstrated to us that careful management of our water must be a priority so we always have enough supply for people to drink and use, for our industries like agriculture, and for our fish and wildlife habitats."

Cities explore acquiring water system

URBANA – The cities of Urbana and Champaign are planning to join forces with Peoria and Pekin to explore acquiring Illinois American Water Company assets in their respective communities.

Urbana Chief Administrative Officer Bruce Walden disclosed the effort at Monday night's meeting of the Urbana City Council, saying the city managers and attorneys in the four communities have been talking on a regular basis.

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