Proposed expansion has local officials baffled

CHAMPAIGN – Local planners and officials say they're mystified how a $71 million project to widen Interstate 74 from four lanes to six lanes between Champaign and Mahomet bubbled to the top of area projects.

Early retirement might be offered at UI

URBANA – The University of Illinois is considering a voluntary separation plan, but only for the Urbana campus at this point.

Jail term for ex-worker who stole thousands

URBANA – A Philo woman who admitted stealing thousands of dollars from her former employer because she had a spending problem has been sentenced to four years of probation and six months in the county jail.

Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis Thursday sentenced Jennifer Huls-Sage, 33, for theft over $10,000, and also ordered her to make $70,000 in restitution to Diane Beckett, the owner of the now-closed Maggie's Place in Champaign.

No school today in Danville

DANVILLE – Danville school students are getting a day off today after the first severe winter storm of the season swept through the region Thursday.

Danville students getting a grip on fun, fitness

DANVILLE – Shortly after 9 a.m. on Thursday, several Northeast Elementary Magnet School students, were climbing the wall.

Instead of scolding them, the principal and teachers cheered them on.

Champaign man accused of burglary

URBANA – A Champaign man with a history of stealing linked to his mental illness has been charged again with breaking into a Champaign home.

Timothy Coleman, 32, of the 1300 block of Hanover Drive, was charged Thursday with residential burglary for entering a home Wednesday in the 1300 block of Comanche Drive intending to steal.

Champaign man indicted for violating sex offender law

CHAMPAIGN – A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted a Champaign man for violating the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

According to the indictment, David H. Reiners, 49, who listed an address in the 400 block of Paul Avenue, Champaign, failed to register and update his sex offender registration after he left Iowa to travel to Illinois from March through December 2009.

Local tea party chapter will meet monthly

CHAMPAIGN – A local chapter of the tea party is brewing anew.

The conservative, small-government group, which peaked in popularity last spring with a tax day rally at Champaign's West Side Park, has reorganized and will begin holding monthly meetings. The first is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, at the Champaign Public Library's Robeson Pavilion Rooms, according to Frank Barham of Champaign, chair of the group.

Monticello suspect sketch similar to Paxton drawing

MONTICELLO – Monticello police on Thursday released a sketch of the man they believe robbed a flower shop in that city on Tuesday. The drawing is similar to the one Paxton police have released for the man they say held up a beauty salon there with a knife and sexually assaulted an employee.

Police continue to investigate whether the same man may have committed both crimes, as well as a robbery on Monday at a beauty supply facility in Mattoon. Police believe he acted alone.

Champaign man once again turns backyard into skating rink

CHAMPAIGN – Don Hiles grew up in northern Illinois where winter was not only tolerated but celebrated.

"My four brothers and I, we grew up playing hockey all winter. All the neighbors played it. Everybody played hockey up there. Nobody was any good at it, but that's what we did in the winter," said Hiles, who grew up in the Aurora area but now lives in Champaign and makes furniture at the University of Illinois mill shop.