Bank plans expansion into northern Illinois

EFFINGHAM – Midland States Bank – which last year acquired the assets of Champaign-based Strategic Capital Bank – expects to acquire 12 AMCORE Bank offices in northern Illinois on March 26.

The offices are in the communities of Dixon, Freeport, Mendota, Oregon, Peru, Princeton, Rock Falls and Sterling.

Leon Holschbach, chief executive officer of Effingham-based Midland States, worked 10 years for AMCORE, managing its community bank group before joining Midland States two years ago.

Bonfire goes out of control

Emergency personnel from two fire departments are responding to a report of a bonfire that got out of control.

Firefighters from the Carroll and Eastern Prairie fire departments were called to the fire on the 1200 block of Eastern Avenue shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Motorists are asked to avoid the area until the firefighters can put out the fire.

Feds take over prosecution on cannabis haul in Douglas County

URBANA — Federal authorities have assumed the prosecution of two California men, caught with more than two tons of cannabis in Douglas County last month, who were apparently ferrying the drugs through the Midwest regularly.

Last week, a federal grand jury in Springfield indicted Jesus Guzman, 31, and Eric Cabrera, 35, of Livingston, Calif., on charges of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of cannabis.

Man arrested after owner follows stolen car

URBANA — An Urbana man was arrested after a woman spotted him driving her stolen car.

According to a police report, a St. Joseph woman went out to start her car Monday when she discovered that her 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix had been stolen.

Fire in Champaign likely caused by failure within dishwasher

UPDATED 12:45 p.m.

CHAMPAIGN — Firefighters believe a fire that significantly damaged a Champaign home likely started in the kitchen.

A family of five was coming home from church Monday evening when they saw what they thought to be fog enveloping the garage at their home at 1108 Hollycrest Drive, C, at about 8:37 p.m. They determined it was smoke and dialed 911.

A Champaign Fire Department report listed the occupants as Peter and Andrea Dixon and three children, ages 9, 11, and 15.

Urbana City Council to vote on towing fee next week

URBANA – A fee to cover the costs created for Urbana staff in processing towed cars will be considered by council members next week.

Meeting Monday night as a committee of the whole, the council agreed to forward a proposed ordinance to create a $25 administrative fee for processing police tows, for such things as drunken driving, illegal parking or nonpayment of parking fines, and commercial-relocator tows for illegal private parking.

Urbana council sets vote on nuisance violation for landlords

URBANA – A city ordinance to create a violation if landlords don't show good faith in trying to correct problem properties where crimes are occurring will be voted on by the Urbana City Council next week.

Meeting Monday night as a committee of the whole, the council voted to send the aggravated public nuisance ordinance to the regular meeting March 15.

Tim Cauture, who owns four rental properties in Urbana, said it is unfair to hold landlords accountable for crimes that the tenants commit.

Georgetown-Ridge Farm board cuts $600,000 from budget

GEORGETOWN — School officials cut $604,000 in staff, programs and materials from the upcoming school year on Monday in an effort to prepare for a drop in state funding.

Superintendent Greg Irwin said he was preparing for a $620,000 reduction in general state aid next year — a “worst-case scenario” that he said was entirely possible.

According to Irwin, from July 1, 2009 to Jan. 31, 2010, the state has fallen behind $351,858 in payments to the district. The state also still owes the district about $500,000 from the previous fiscal year.

Champaign school board cuts jobs, other expenses

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school board on Monday night approved cutting the equivalent of four full-time high school teachers next year – two at Central and two at Centennial High School – in addition to other jobs and expenses.

The goal of the district for making budget cuts for next year was to keep the cuts as far from the classroom as possible, said board member Sue Grey.

Broadband proposal gains support in Urbana City Council

URBANA – Council members in Urbana appeared Monday night to want a $22.5 milion federal grant for construction of a Big Broadband fiber optic network and $3 million for additional public computer center and sustainability grants.

Council members agreed without dissent to authorize the mayor to reaffirm support for the broadband project.

However, Mayor Laurel Prussing said the council will need more time to study the grants and will not vote on the issue next week.

More information can be found in Tuesday's News-Gazette.