Bills aim to crack down on distracted driving

SPRINGFIELD – The tragic death of 25-year-old bicyclist Matt Wilhelm prompted several bills now moving through the Illinois General Assembly.

Wilhelm was struck and killed by a teen driver, who ran off the road while downloading ring tones for her cell phone in September. The driver, Jennifer Stark of Urbana, got the maximum sentence the law allowed – a $1,000 fine and six months of probation.

ICC gives Pesotum green light to sell water utility operations

PESOTUM – Residents may be drinking water from Champaign by early summer.

Pesotum has received approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission to sell its water utility operations to Illinois American Water.

Danville's personnel policy updated

DANVILLE – After May 1, city employees cannot gamble on the job, play computer games at work or sell prescription medication during business hours.

These activities were already prohibited under the city's personnel policy, but proposed updates to the city ordinance now specifically ban them. Ordinance subcommittee members began dissecting the city's personnel ordinance earlier this week, looking at suggested improvements and analyzing some of the decades-old statements.

Low enrollment leads to end of Catlin art program

CATLIN – School officials voted Thursday to let the part-time Catlin High School art teacher go, citing low student enrollment in the art program.

The Catlin School Board voted to honorably dismiss Brenda Young on Thursday. Superintendent Guy Banicki said Young retired last year after 30 years with the district, but agreed to return and teach three high school art classes a day this year.

$35,000 prize split among four student teams

CHAMPAIGN – Four teams of University of Illinois students divided $35,000 in prize money in Thursday's finals of the V. Dale Cozad Business Plan Competition.

RealmWare Corp., which is developing a tool that can help build three-dimensional games, simulations and visualizations, took first place in the competition's commercial venture division and received $25,000.

DeLand-Weldon teacher facing charges

MONTICELLO – A DeLand-Weldon High School English teacher was scheduled to be in court this morning to be arraigned on charges that he inappropriately touched two male students.

Randy DeJaynes, 56, was charged in Piatt County Circuit Court on Wednesday with three counts of aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Authorities say 'Unofficial' went much smoother this year

A 50 percent increase in arrests in Champaign was the biggest difference in "Unofficial St. Patrick's Day" on the University of Illinois campus this year compared to a year ago.

Things were quieter for Urbana and UI police.

Four teens charged with beating

URBANA – Four teens from Rantoul and Gifford have been charged in connection with the beating of a Thomasboro man that occurred last month.

Rantoul police detective Justin Bouse said the victim, 22, sustained broken facial bones in the Feb. 23 attack for which he had to have surgery.

Police arrest man, find 126 pounds of cannabis

URBANA – Champaign police and Champaign County sheriff's deputies are continuing to investigate who might be responsible for 126 pounds of cannabis found in a northwest Champaign neighborhood Wednesday morning. One person has been arrested.

Champaign police Sgt. Tom Walker said both departments have recently received several complaints about possible drug trafficking in the Dobbins Downs neighborhood.

Rather says hard work is key to success

How did Dan Rather go from being a college student manning a rural Texas radio station – characterized as no more than an outhouse with an antenna on the top – to the long-running evening news anchor for CBS?

"I think the single-most important thing is be determined to work hard," he told University of Illinois students Wednesday evening.