G-RF school district has uses for state funding increase

GEORGETOWN – Superintendent Kevin Tate said Monday he is hopeful that the district will get an additional $300,000 from the state over the next six months, and that he should have an accurate figure by the end of January.

Georgetown-Ridge Farm School Board members approved a $10.05 million spending plan for the 2007-08 fiscal year last fall that included $194,000 in deficit spending. At that time, Tate estimated the district would generate about $9.86 million in the upcoming fiscal year if it got the same amount of general state aid it received last year – about $5 million. Although the state budget included about $300,000 in additional state aid to the district, Tate said he was skeptical the district would get that amount, and built no increased funding into his budget.

Numbers reflect ethanol's effect on other crops

The rise of ethanol use and production is being felt in fields across Illinois, according to figures released over the weekend by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But some local ag leaders said rising soybean prices and the high price of nitrogen could mean a rebound for soybean production in 2008.

State officials advise against refund loans

SPRINGFIELD – Rapid-tax-refund offers may sound appealing, but they can be costly, state officials warned on Monday.

"Every tax season we see more ads to get your refund fast," said a statement from Gov. Rod Blagojevich. "But these refund-anticipation loans come at a high interest rate and take advantage of those who need their whole refund the most."

Danville school board to vote on buying new textbooks

DANVILLE – Kindergarten through fifth-graders could be learning from new science and social science textbooks next school year.

The Danville school board on Wednesday will vote on a recommendation to buy textbooks for the 2008-09 school year from the Houghton Mifflin Company.

Finances cloud nonprofit group's future

DANVILLE – Your Family Resource Connection faces several challenges in the wake of dismissing its executive director and finishing its 2005-2006 fiscal year more than $100,000 in the red.

A 2007 audit of Your Family Resource Connection, as well as the organization's tax documents – copies of which were obtained by The News-Gazette – show that the organization failed to maintain accurate accounting records and has lost money.

Danville mayor asks for a public housing cut

DANVILLE – The Danville Housing Authority will be submitting its annual and five-year plans for federal review this week – but not without concerns from Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, who wants less public housing in the city.

The housing authority board voted to approve the agency's annual and five-year plans in December. As required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the plan must be reviewed by the city before submission. The housing authority has to submit the plan this week.

Task force to study sidewalk snow shoveling issue

URBANA – On second thought, it appears that Urbana won't be enacting a snow removal ordinance for sidewalks in the immediate future.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing said Sunday that she's decided to appoint a task force of about 10 people, representing different interest groups, that will be asked to study the issue in-depth and make recommendations. That means it's unlikely Urbana will enact an ordinance this winter, she said.

Comments on request by Ameren to be heard

An upcoming forum will allow area citizens to tell the Illinois Commerce Commission what they think about Ameren's request to raise power delivery charges by almost a quarter of a billion dollars in November.

The hearing, set for 7 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the Champaign City Council chambers, 102 N. Neil St., is one of six the commission has scheduled around the state. Oral and written comments are welcome, the commission stated in a news release.

Three charged in attack at Rantoul motel

URBANA – Three Rantoul residents are in custody today after being charged with beating up and robbing a man at a Rantoul motel.

Arraigned Friday on Class X felony charges of armed robbery were Patricia Merritt, 40, John Parker, 18, and Tryone Kellup, 43. Judge Richard Klaus set bonds at $75,000 for Merritt, $100,000 for Parker and $150,000 for Kellup.

Urbana board to decide if past talks need to stay confidential

URBANA – When the Urbana school board meets on Tuesday evening, at least part of the talking will be about what the board can't talk about.

At the 7:30 p.m. business meeting, the board will review minutes of past closed sessions to determine whether the discussions still need confidentiality. Types of issues that allow a closed meeting – where no public or reporters are allowed to attend – are discussions of individual staff members' performances or situations where the district has or expects litigation either against the district or on its behalf.