Driver's education bill sails through state committee

SPRINGFIELD – Legislation to add distracted driving to the list of traffic safety issues taught in driver's education classes won unanimous approval in a Senate committee on Wednesday.

State Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Gifford, said SB 1557 was a response to the death of 25-year-old bicyclist Matt Wilhelm, who was struck and killed by a teen driver who ran off the road while downloading ring tones for her cell phone.

County tax board gets legal advice on Open Meetings Act

URBANA – The Champaign County Board of Review has been sent a legal opinion by a county attorney recommending steps to comply with the Open Meetings Act.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Susan McGrath does not admonish the three-member board for any violations in the memo. She suggests the board look at how other counties operate.

Urbana School Board approves facility improvements

URBANA – Board members Tuesday approved about $1 million worth of school improvements.

And that doesn't count the life safety work to be done in the district, with a price tag of about $493,000, covered by money from a designated fund.

Four more sentenced for 'takeover robberies'

URBANA – Four more Kankakee men were sentenced to federal prison Tuesday for their roles in a rash of armed robberies that resulted in more than $400,000 being stolen and several people being beaten or threatened.

The sentencings Tuesday brought the total imposed for seven men to more than 212 years.

Charges filed in 2005 beating

URBANA – Genetic material on a soda can has led to criminal charges against three men in connection with the beating and robbery of a Pesotum man two years ago.

Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said that in early February, her office was notified by the state crime lab that DNA found on a soda can in the driveway of a home where a 50-year-old man had been attacked in February 2005 matched that of Richard Davis.

Public defender assigned to horse abuse case

TUSCOLA – A Mattoon woman could be sentenced to up to a year in jail in connection with the death of two horses at a horse training center in rural Douglas County.

Roxanne Smith, 47, who listed an address on the 600 block of Marion Street in Mattoon, was scheduled to appear before Circuit Judge Chris Freese at the Douglas County Courthouse on Tuesday morning.

Student charged with burglary in dorm

URBANA – A University of Illinois student out on bond for a November burglary has been charged with entering another student's room and stealing electronic equipment.

Saul Ocampo, 19, a sophomore from Cicero, was arraigned Tuesday on a charge of residential burglary, accusing him of entering a room in Scott Hall on Peabody Drive in Champaign on Dec. 2 or 3, 2006, and stealing credit cards, an iPod, and a laptop computer.

Newly appointed trustee joins in on Illiniwek vote

URBANA – When the final vote came on the Chief Illiniwek resolution, a familiar but surprising face was at the board table.

The UI learned Monday that Gov. Rod Blagojevich had reappointed Trustee Robert Vickrey for another six-year term, according to UI spokesman Tom Hardy.

Home in Urbana a total loss

URBANA – Local and state fire officials and police are investigating a house fire Tuesday that appears to have been intentionally set.

"It's definitely suspicious," said Lt. Ed Ogle of the Champaign County sheriff's office of the fire at 2401 E. Elm St., U.

UI trustees OK Global Campus

Imagine a college degree, without the dorm food.

Always wanted a University of Illinois degree but couldn't spend four or five years on campus? The UI's new Global Campus program might be just the thing.