Residents show support for threatened jobs at Urbana schools

URBANA – Residents provided an outpouring of support Tuesday for the Urbana school district's parent outreach coordinator at a public forum on budget cuts for the district.

The board room was packed, and many people spoke about how important Janice Mitchell is to the district and the community.

The district must cut $2 million from next year's budget, and her job is one the district is considering eliminating. But parents and students urged the district to find somewhere else to cut.

Tuition increase on table at DACC

DANVILLE – Danville Area Community College trustees said Tuesday they don't like the idea of hiking tuition.

However, they dislike even more the only other alternative they see in light of Illinois' financial crisis – cutting programs and services to students.

"It's important to keep DACC at the highest level possible, especially when the economy is down," Trustee John O'Rourke said during a discussion of a proposed $10 per credit hour tuition increase for in-district students.

Bid process for Eagle Creek cleanup raises suspicions

The Eagle Creek Resort has been a sticky political and financial problem for the state of Illinois for the better part of 25 years, back to Gov. "Big Jim" Thompson and his desire, not unusual among governors, to build some part of his legacy.

Neil Street traffic to be affected by excavation

CHAMPAIGN – One lane of Neil Street in downtown Champaign will be closed during the day for most of next week while work crews install some fiber optic conduit.

Larry Creadon of contractor IHC Construction said a southbound lane of Neil Street between Springfield Avenue and Green Street will be closed between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day beginning Monday and ending March 5, weather permitting.

Community speaks out on proposed Urbana school budget cuts

URBANA – Community members spoke Tuesday night in support of several positions and programs that could be cut from the Urbana school district.

A public forum on budget cuts had a packed house. Many spoke in support of Janice Mitchell, the district's parent outreach coordinator. Her position is one that could be eliminated.

Others spoke in favor of Latino community liaison Lucia Maldonado, the C-U One-to-One mentoring program, and the minority enrichment program at Urbana High School.

Here's link to AP's Olympics page on Champaign's Kuck

The Associated Press's Olympics Web site has a page devoted to Jonathan Kuck of Champaign, who finished 8th Tuesday in the 10,000-meter speedskating competition.

Man who supplied gun in Watseka killing sentenced to nine years

WATSEKA — An Iroquois County judge on Monday sentenced a Watseka man to nine years in prison for his role in the death of a Watseka man.

Chad Walwer, 25, had pleaded guilty in December to unlawful possession of weapon by a felon, admitting that he brought a gun to McSki’s Lounge in Watseka on April 14 that Jeffrey Hite, 31, is accused of using to fatally shoot Roger McVay.

Little chance for elimination of legislative scholarships again

SPRINGFIELD — Even with severe state budget problems it appears it will again be difficult to eliminate the controversial General Assembly scholarships this year.

A special, three-member Senate subcommittee heard two nearly identical bills Tuesday morning that would eliminate the program that, according to Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, costs Illinois public universities $13.5 million a year in lost tuition and fee payments.

350 get sick aboard cruise ship in Caribbean

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – About 350 people were responding well to medicine after getting sick on a cruise to the Caribbean that departed from South Carolina, the cruise line said Tuesday.

Celebrity Cruise spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said 326 of the more than 1,800 passengers on the Celebrity Mercury began complaining Sunday of upset stomachs, vomiting and diarrhea. Martinez says 27 of the nearly 850 crew members also reported symptoms.

9 laid off in UI facilities department

URBANA – Layoffs have struck again in the Facilities and Services department at the University of Illinois' Urbana campus.

The belt tightening at the university, which is owed more than $400 million by the state, means that nine workers lost their jobs last week.

"Thirteen people received layoff notices in November 2009, but they were extended in December and January, because we had enough work for them," Urbana campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler said. "Last Friday, we had to let nine of them go."