Wisconsin supports Illinois FutureGen plant

TUSCOLA – Wisconsin is the latest state to throw its support behind the efforts of Tuscola and Mattoon to land the world's cleanest coal plant.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said Tuesday morning that his state was in support of locating the $1.5 billion FutureGen in Tuscola or Mattoon rather than in Odessa or Jewett, Texas.

Majestic holds many live theater memories

PAXTON – The Paxton Majestic Theatre may be gone, but area residents are clinging to hundreds of memories from almost 20 years of live theater performances.

Betty Healey, one of the Paxton Majestic Theatre Group's founding members, remembers it as chaotic and full of kids, "but it sold out every night."

Rossville mayor offers lessons learned from similar tragedy

ROSSVILLE – The community of Rossville knows the heartache Paxton residents are feeling today after seeing a historic building destroyed by fire.

"They have my deepest sympathy," said Rossville Mayor Terry Prillaman, who clearly remembers a February night in 2004 when several historic downtown buildings in Rossville burned to the ground, wiping out a whole block of businesses, including a restaurant and gift and antique shops.

State fire marshal's office investigating Paxton theater blaze

PAXTON – The state fire marshal's office is investigating a fire that destroyed a Paxton landmark this morning.

It's unclear how fire started in the Paxton Majestic Theater, but more information should be available tomorrow, said Investigator Shane Arndt. The building is located in the 100 block of South Market Street.

Board chair to be interim leader of Urban League

CHAMPAIGN – Sandra Jones, board chair for the Urban League of Champaign County, will serve as interim chief executive officer until a successor is found for Tracy Parsons, who resigned last week.

Board members met Monday afternoon and unanimously agreed to appoint Jones, who was to announce the news to staff members this morning. A national search for a new CEO will begin shortly, coordinated with the national Urban League office. It will be led by a search committee made up of board members, with input from staff and the community. With the holidays approaching, that process is expected to take several months.

Illinois residents urged to not light up on Thursday

SPRINGFIELD – Public health officials are urging Illinoisans to get a head start on the statewide smoking ban by participating in Thursday's Great American Smokeout.

"Smoking can cause numerous health problems, such as coronary heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory diseases and premature death," said a statement from Illinois Department of Public Health Director Damon Arnold. "With the state's smoke-free law going into effect in just seven weeks, there is no better time to quit smoking and enjoy the health benefits of not smoking."

Academy plan receives cool reception

CHAMPAIGN – A proposal for an alternative evening academy for high school students was tabled after drawing heavy criticism from the Champaign school board Monday evening.

The board asked district administrators to come back with a different proposal. Concerns ranged from the salary for the director to the hours the academy would operate.

Urbana park board expected to seek tax increase

URBANA – The Urbana park board is expected to ask voters to increase the district's property tax rate by 25 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Park board members will decide tonight whether to place the question on the Feb. 5 primary ballot. The board meets at 7:30 p.m. at the Anita Purves Nature Center, 1505 N. Broadway Ave., U.

New program helps nurses at vet homes

SPRINGFIELD – A new grant program will help pay off the student loans of nurses who work in one of the state's four homes for veterans.

"As we observe Veterans Day, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by the men and women who now reside in Illinois Veterans' Homes," said a written statement from Tammy Duckworth, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs. "One way to honor these warriors is by providing the best care possible. The Veterans' Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program enables us to keep quality nursing professionals on the job doing what they do best."

School resource officers continue to build bonds with kids

CHAMPAIGN – The office has warm brown walls, wood furniture and low lighting. A small waterfall bubbles in the background. The door is closed to the bright, noisy, institutional hallways where high school students are moving to their next classes.

But Ed Wachala's "Pottery Barn Zen" office is anything but a stress-free environment.