410 businesses sign up for energy cooperative

CHAMPAIGN – As the deadline for signing up for an energy buyers' cooperative drew near, Laura Weis found herself fielding lots of calls.

"We've been very busy, but it's been a good kind of busy," Weis said about an hour before Friday's 5 p.m. deadline. "This has been an exciting initiative."

Police looking for help in solving drive-by shootings

RANTOUL – Police are looking for help in solving two drive-by shootings in Rantoul early Thursday.

Detective Sgt. Jeff Wooten said there were no injuries as shots were fired at homes in the 400 block of Letchworth Drive and the 200 block of Arcadia Drive.

Urbana school board president to step down early

URBANA – Urbana school board members will choose a new president when they meet next week.

Joyce Hudson, the current president of the board, has decided to step down from that post as of Tuesday, said district spokeswoman Kathy Wallig.

Lieutenant retiring to teach aspiring officers

URBANA – Turning 50, having colon cancer and losing your best friend to cancer in the space of a few months can mess with a man's mind. Or at least influence how you think about your future.

Those factors, along with 27 years of police work, combined to make Mike Metzler think the time is right to retire from his job at the Urbana Police Department.

Home care, hospice programs growing

CHARLESTON – Carle Foundation Hospital will expand its business in Coles County this month with the purchase of a home care and hospice service.

The hospital announced Friday that its Carle Home Health Services business will purchase the home care and hospice units of Charleston-based Dynamic Homecare Inc. on Feb. 15, and expand Carle's annual client base by 3,000 additional people.

Controller honored for aiding troubled pilot

SAVOY – On Sept. 14, a 67-year-old St. Louis man was flying home alone in his Piper Seneca III when the plane went into a nose dive at 2,800 feet per minute.

It took all of Willard Nickisch's strength to pull out of that 15-second descent, which had brought him down to 5,000 feet above central Illinois, just after noon.

Midwest matchup may mean a good day for bars

CHAMPAIGN – For some people, the crowd at their favorite watering hole can become almost like family.

And on Super Bowl Sunday, owners and managers of several local bars say they're expecting good crowds made up of regular customers to get together to watch the Chicago Bears-Indianapolis Colts matchup. In many cases, bars are offering free food, adding to the familylike atmosphere.

Official accepts blame, expects lawsuits

URBANA – Urbana schools Superintendent Gene Amberg said the district will look for ways to strengthen its hiring process in the wake of the arrest of a teacher over charges of sexual abuse of young students.

He said he expects the district to be sued over the incidents.

List of alleged victims at Urbana school grows

URBANA – An Urbana school teacher accused of molesting students was released from jail Friday afternoon as potential victims continued to come forward.

Jon Andrew White, 26, of Normal, walked out of the Champaign County jail at about 2:30 p.m. Friday after $50,000 cash had been posted to ensure he returns to court on Feb. 27.

Homer business hit by Harley strike

HOMER – A looming machinists' strike at a Harley-Davidson plant in York, Pa., has already taken a toll at a small business in Homer.

Toshware, which makes leather trim for the tanks on some Harley-Davidson motorcycles, got word Thursday that orders for trim have been suspended.