Parolee reform a target issue for group

SPRINGFIELD – This year, more than 40,000 inmates will be released from prison in Illinois, and the Champaign/Vermilion County area is the fifth most common place they choose to live, according to the Department of Corrections.

About half of the state's parolees reoffend, though, and many wind up back in prison.

Lawyer gets indefinite suspension

SPRINGFIELD – An Urbana attorney with an apparent substance abuse problem has been suspended from the practice of law for at least a year and likely longer.

Peter Rotskoff, senior counsel for the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, said the Supreme Court on Monday took action against Rodney Lane Harrison, 38, after previously having given him a chance to resolve his problems.

Suit filed in police taping case

URBANA – Two men who were arrested and subsequently released for videotaping a police officer for a documentary have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that their civil rights were violated.

The suit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in Urbana by Martel Miller and Patrick Thompson against the cities of Champaign and Urbana and Champaign County. Miller and Thompson are representing themselves.

City to study partial ban on smoking

CHAMPAIGN – Proponents of a smoke-free Champaign won a partial victory Tuesday night when the city council agreed to study a limited ban on tobacco.

Five of the nine council members must sign on for a study session to be held. Last week, only four were willing to do so, but at Tuesday's meeting, council member Gina Jackson changed her vote.

Grant will be used to build park near White Heath

WHITE HEATH – Recreation enthusiasts in Piatt County will have a new place to fish, canoe or hike by this time next year.

The Piatt County Forest Preserve District is using a $115,000 grant to establish a new park near White Heath.

Proposal to construct new homes in Rantoul unveiled

RANTOUL – Rantoul developer Joe Warner said he would build up to 400 new homes on the community's west side if the village board includes residential property in its proposed tax increment financing district.

Speaking Tuesday at a special meeting of the Rantoul Village Board, Warner and his tax increment financing district consultant, Bob Vancil of LeRoy, said money from tax increment financing could jump-start the village's housing market.

Blood supplies low

URBANA – When most folks hear an ambulance siren, they wonder, where's the accident.

Tricia Haworth, a longtime employee of the local blood bank, thinks about something else:

"Every time I hear sirens, I think about how much blood will they be using," she said.

Officials looking into cause of Urbana blaze

URBANA – An Urbana fire official said this morning he still isn't sure what sparked a fire in a southeast Urbana apartment complex early Tuesday that displaced about a dozen people.

"We're still in a holding pattern. It may be some time before we figure this one out," said Urbana Fire Division Chief Richard Rotramel.

Apartment fire displaces at least 10 residents

URBANA – Fire investigators are trying to determine what caused a fire early today in a southeast Urbana apartment building that displaced at least 10 residents.

Urbana Fire Division Chief Richard Rotramel said a mother and daughter lived in the apartment of the Colorado Trace apartment building at 902 E. Harding Drive that was heavily damaged around 1:30 a.m.

Mahomet-Seymour school board compromise on prayer OK'd

MAHOMET – The Mahomet-Seymour school board on Monday adopted a compromise that retains the controversial board prayer, but moves it off the agenda and out of the board room.

"This, in my mind, meets the need that I see personally for us having prayer in this school and standing for that, and at the same time removes the legal risk and financial exposure that each of us has," school board President Mark Gerst said.

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