UI professor is conversant in many dialects including computer

Check your bank balance, make an airline reservation, call for help with Windows – you talk to computers on the telephone all the time. But try holding a conversation, even a limited-scope business conversation. You'd be better off chatting up a preschooler.

"We have no technology in existence that's capable of carrying on a decent cocktail party conversation," University of Illinois Professor Richard Blahut said recently.

Researchers try to give military neighbors less bang for their buck

If you think your neighbor's loud stereo is a pain, imagine the noise if the family next door routinely fired off an artillery battery.

Kind of makes those Fourth of July firecrackers disturbing the peace in your neighborhood of late pale by comparison.

South Philo Road is starting to boom again

URBANA – Clive Follmer has seen the fortunes of South Philo Road wax and wane during the past 30 years.

In recent years, Follmer, the longtime owner of Sunnycrest Mall and an Urbana attorney, has witnessed a lot of bad news as first Jewel, then Kmart and Jerry's IGA – along with several smaller retailers – closed their doors.

Council wants to upgrade Philo Road's look

URBANA – City council members are hoping that spending some money sprucing up the South Philo Road corridor might help attract even more retail activity there.

At a recent city council committee meeting, the council asked the administration to come back with a funding source, a budget amendment and a plan to spend up to $200,000 upgrading the look of the Philo Road area.

In the wake of tragedy

Rick Tharp mowed his little patch of yard outside his camper trailer in the Green Acres Campground on Clinton Lake late in the afternoon on Thursday, July 7, 2005.

The Farmer City man had been coming to his home away from home with his family more than a decade.

Convicted former Uni High coach flees to Amsterdam

URBANA – A former University High School coach convicted of criminal sexual assault has apparently fled to Amsterdam, Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh said Friday.

Walsh said Yuri Ermakov, 25, a Russian citizen who lives in Urbana, apparently flew from Indianapolis to Newark, N.J., then to Amsterdam, just hours after a Champaign County convicted him.

Free trailer to be used as mobile command center in Monticello

MONTICELLO – When Monticello Police Chief John Miller sent one of his officers to Springfield to apply for free police equipment, he never dreamed his department would end up with a trailer worth $24,000.

In Springfield, the Federal Emergency Management Agency set up a trailer to demonstrate a mobile command unit. The agency is trying to sell trailers used to house those displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Urbana man due in court Aug. 14 on rape charge

URBANA – An Urbana man accused of raping his neighbor was ordered to have no contact with her and be back in court Aug 14.

Greg Rusher, 40, who listed an address in the 2600 block of Brownfield Road, was charged with three counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault and one count of unlawful restraint, from alleged acts July 10 and in the early hours of July 11 at a party at a home in that mobile home park.

Drug conviction nets 3-year term

In Champaign County court cases recently resolved with guilty pleas:

– Robert Lee Dunn, 51, who listed an address in the 1200 block of West Church Street, Urbana, was sentenced to three years in prison for unlawful delivery of a controlled substance. He admitted selling less than 1 gram of cocaine on Jan. 4.

Community group leaders meet with police, homeowner

CHAMPAIGN – Concerns about a shooting on Hedge Court in Champaign are being raised by leaders of three local organizations, but the leaders say they will be somewhat patient in getting answers to their questions.

Tracy Parsons of the Urban League, the Rev. Jerome Chambers of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Rev. Charles O. Nash Sr. of the Champaign-Urbana Ministerial Alliance said Friday they met with Mildred Davis, whose house was the scene of a shootout between Champaign police officers and Torriano Johnson on June 24.