Zoning ordinance waivers upset Urbana renovation's neighbor

URBANA – Rich Cahill has a problem with the city's zoning ordinance.

His unhappiness arose this year after he learned, firsthand, that city officials could waive certain requirements of the city's zoning ordinance without any public notice.

State board OKs Urbana High School restructuring plan

URBANA – Urbana High School's restructuring plan has met the approval of the State Board of Education, several months after the state sent back the Urbana school district's initial plan for further refinement.

Don Owen, the district's assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, brought the state board's notice of approval with him to the Urbana school board meeting Tuesday night. He noted that because the high school made adequate yearly progress for the 2007-08 school year, the district is not required to follow through with the plan.

Rantoul school board ratifies three-year teachers' contract

RANTOUL – The Rantoul Township High School board on Monday unanimously ratified a three-year contract with the teachers union that provides for an average annual salary increase of 4.6 percent.

Ratification by the union came Oct. 14, four days after a six-hour bargaining session with a federal mediator that broke a deadlock over salary.

Champaign County courts

URBANA – The following criminal cases were resolved recently in Champaign County Circuit Court:

– A jury acquitted Tommy Johnson, 25, of the 1600 block of Short Street, Rantoul, of home invasion following a two-day trial.

Complaints prompt look at Catlin's solicitor ordinance

CATLIN – Village officials said Tuesday they want to review and possibly revise a 1961 ordinance regulating solicitors following a recent rash of complaints.

Mayor Clay Woodard said the village hall had been bombarded with calls of complaints from residents who were approached by two separate door-to-door solicitors recently. Woodard said the solicitors had registered with the village clerk and complied with the village ordinances, but were still causing people to complain.

Police issue 35 tickets for underage drinking at 3 bars

CHAMPAIGN – Police issued 35 tickets for underage drinking as a result of the latest campus bar checks in Champaign.

Champaign police and state troopers conducted a joint Operation Campus/Tap detail Friday. The program, which provides money to hire back officers through a grant from the U.S. Department of Juvenile Justice, is intended to reduce underage drinking. The campus portion focuses on college-age youths, while the tap portion is aimed at high-school-age youths.

Officials explain plans to relocate Carrie Busey Elementary

CHAMPAIGN – When Ata Durukan and his wife were picking a school for their daughter, who is now in the first grade, they had quite a few schools within a mile and a half of their home.

They chose the closest – Carrie Busey Elementary School, their neighborhood school.

"It's well within walking distance for us, and that was the main factor in our choice," Durukan said.

He was concerned when he heard about plans to move the school's staff and students to a new school building in Savoy if the school-facility-sales-tax proposal passes in November. His main concern was not the distance, but whether the teachers would all move with the school.

Case of priest facing drug charges continued

URBANA – It will be at least early next year before there's any resolution of the case of a Catholic priest from Champaign accused of using and dealing cocaine.

The Rev. Christopher Layden, 33, formerly a resident of the Newman Center on the University of Illinois campus, made his first court appearance Tuesday morning since being charged in Champaign County Circuit Court on Sept. 11 with delivery of cocaine and possession with intent to deliver cocaine.

Issues remain with software used by Villa Grove school district

VILLA GROVE – Most of the report findings in this year's financial audit of the Villa Grove school district can be directly attributed to the software conversion undertaken this financial year, according to John Knoblett of Kemper Accounting Group.

"The big problems all stem from the software," he told the Villa Grove school board at their Monday night meeting.

Fisher school district adds another second-grade class

FISHER – The school district will hire an additional second-grade teacher because there are so many students enrolled at that level.

The Fisher school board on Monday agreed to create a third section of second grade. Currently, there are 53 students in two sections. The new class will mean that only 17 or 18 students will be in each classroom.