Troop comes to the rescue with oxygen mask for pets

CHAMPAIGN – Dogs, cats, snakes. Even iguanas.

Champaign Fire Department Squad 171 will now be equipped to rescue family pets.

Researchers chart papaya gene map

Not many papaya trees in the fields around Champaign-Urbana to be sure, but a University of Illinois professor was in the middle of the event when scientists unveiled a landmark draft of the papaya's gene map this week.

The papaya genome already is revealing new information about angiosperms – or flowering plants, a category that goes far beyond the melonlike tropical fruit rich in vitamins A and C – and the gene map should be a font of knowledge particularly as it relates to sex determination in those plants, UI Professor Ray Ming said.

Urbana High teens not shaken up by ceiling mishap

URBANA – For students performing in the Urbana High School musical, "All Shook Up," the show must go on – even if their performance space is shut down.

Sometime before school Friday, part of the ceiling fell in the high school auditorium, where the students planned to open their show next Thursday.

Governor's medal honors slain Douglas County deputy

SPRINGFIELD – Fallen Douglas County Chief Deputy Tommy "T.K." Martin will be awarded the governor's Medal of Honor next month.

Mr. Martin, who died last year after being shot during a Douglas County crime spree, is being honored with 27 other officers who performed heroically in the line of duty. It's the highest honor issued by the state.

Event helps youths perfect life skills

URBANA – Imagine shaving with your eyes closed. Or putting on lipstick while wearing binoculars. The results probably wouldn't be pretty.

But, with practice, they could be perfect.

Post-prom events are meant to keep kids safe, sober

Area high school students have spent months preparing for prom.

They've purchased glittering dresses and rented stately tuxedos, scheduled pictures and booked dinner reservations.

But they're not the only ones making big plans. At many area schools, parent groups have banded together to host huge post-prom parties.

C-U Foundation to give $200,000 a year to area teachers

CHAMPAIGN – The C-U Schools Foundation will give away $200,000 a year to teachers in Champaign and Urbana schools through a new grant program.

The foundation announced the Splash Grant Program at its 20th anniversary benefit gala Friday night.

Region's parks receive big boost from state

A new forest preserve for Champaign County and upgrades to parks in Champaign, Danville, Mattoon, Cissna Park and LeRoy will be made possible through more than $2.3 million in grants announced Friday by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The largest chunk – $543,000 – will go to the Champaign County Forest Preserve District to acquire 160 acres on both sides of the Sangamon River in northwest Champaign County.

Mahomet museum gets national recognition

MAHOMET – Museum evaluators say that outstanding outreach efforts with the community were a primary reason why the Early American Museum at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet has been awarded the highest national recognition a museum can receive – accreditation by the American Association of Museums.

Museum director Cheryl Kennedy said this marks the fourth time the Early American Museum achieved national accreditation.

County Board gets outside help to look at financial issues

URBANA – A new advisory board for the Champaign County Nursing Home will get a management report and help from an outside accounting firm in trying to resolve the facility's financial problems.

The nursing home has an outstanding $741,000 loan from the county and expects to borrow another $460,000 in June.