Smoking-ban enforcement to increase in Vermilion County

DANVILLE – The Vermilion County Health Department plans to more aggressively pursue smoking violations in the county since the state has made changes clarifying the enforcement of the statewide smoking ban.

Despite the ban's yearlong existence, some business owners and smokers still maintain that the law is a violation of their rights.

Danville school district explores options for warehouse

DANVILLE – Danville school officials are still mulling over a possible new location for the district's warehouse operations.

Art and soul on display at Black History Month Cultural Festival

URBANA – Just a few minutes before their step performance, Kenny Patton and Terrell Wyms check out the crowd in the Urbana High School Commons.

Hundreds of people fill the room, the heat rising from the crowd, as they gather around booths and tables. "It's kind of a shocker to me," said Wyms, a freshman at UHS, of their soon-to-be-audience.

Teen boy accused of sexual assault

URBANA – Urbana school district officials are doing an internal investigation regarding an alleged sexual assault that occurred during a high school physical education class.

A 15-year-old boy has been charged in Champaign County juvenile court with criminal sexual assault in connection with the Feb. 19 incident at the Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center, adjacent to the high school. The alleged assault on the 15-year-old girl happened about 10:15 a.m. and was reported within 45 minutes to Urbana police.

King School temporarily locked down on Wednesday

URBANA – Things are back to normal today at King School in Urbana after a temporary, precautionary lock-down Wednesday.

Urbana police Lt. Bryant Seraphin said they received "very sketchy" information from two sources about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday that a person wanted for murder in Chicago was hiding at a house in the 1000 block of Berkley Avenue in Urbana.

GCMS safety program earns another honor

GIBSON CITY – Promoting teen driving safety doesn't stop at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School just because they recently won more national recognition for their efforts.

In fact, it keeps growing.

Unit 7 officials OK cost-cutting measures

TOLONO – The Unit 7 school board agreed to cost-saving measures Wednesday in buying less expensive security video surveillance equipment and paying for substitute teacher background checks.

An earlier bid of $10,000 for two video cameras from a Decatur company has been dropped to pursue a bid from EP Computers in Champaign for a complete surveillance system, including 17 cameras that will cover the entire Unity junior-senior high school campus. EP Computer's bid is $7,625.

Champaign County court roundup

URBANA – The following Champaign County criminal cases were resolved this week by defendants entering guilty pleas or judges imposing sentences:

– Andrew James, 38, of the 200 block of West Beardsley Avenue, Champaign, pleaded guilty to burglary, admitting he went in the Meijer Store in Champaign on Oct. 11, 2008, intending to commit identity theft. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Assistant State's Attorney Adam Dill said James used credit cards that had been stolen earlier that day from an apartment in the 100 block of East Gregory Street, Champaign.

One-act play competition welcomes additional entries

NORMAL – The Heartland Theatre Company has expanded its original one-act play competition to welcome entries from beyond Illinois to seven Midwest states.

Now called New Plays from the Heartland, the third annual competition provides Midwestern playwrights a chance to share their original plays with central Illinois residents. The contest includes a residency by a nationally known playwright and staged readings of the three winning plays on May 15 and 16. The three winning playwrights also will receive a $150 honorarium.

Urbana's Carle Park getting extensive tree maintenance

URBANA – In the year of its 100th anniversary, Carle Park's towering forest of 274 trees is getting some much-needed attention.

After a careful inventory and assessment of Carle Park's trees, Urbana Park District officials determined this year that 24 of the trees are either dead or diseased and will need to come down. Another 56 trees need to be pruned to ensure their continued health.