Power outage tests notification system at Urbana Middle School

URBANA – Nancy Clinton was in a meeting when the lights went out.

It was about 8:15 a.m. or so on Thursday, and the Urbana Middle School principal waited a few seconds for the lights to pop back on.

Teen driving safety focus of students' campaign

GIBSON CITY – Red isn't just one of the school colors at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School, and winning isn't just for the football team this season.

Students at GCMS were all sporting red ribbons and earning prizes in school colors during October's homecoming and Red Ribbon Week festivities, but their focus was on winning the battle to keep students safe from their number one killer – vehicle crashes.

Board votes to add coed soccer at St. Joseph-Ogden High

ST. JOSEPH – Coeducational soccer will be offered as a sport to St. Joseph-Ogden High School students beginning next fall.

Based on results of a student interest survey, the school board decided Monday that there was sufficient interest in soccer and voted unanimously to add the program.

Parkland trustees to discuss campus expansion

CHAMPAIGN – Parkland College plans to expand in the next several years to ease overcrowding, make room for new programs, improve the student-services areas and accommodate future growth in enrollment.

The college has an updated campus master plan outlining building projects and renovations. The board of trustees will begin discussing priorities and how to pay for the estimated $86.6 million cost at a special meeting Nov. 10.

Champaign County chamber not taking side on sales tax for schools

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce won't support or oppose the school sales-tax proposal on Tuesday's ballot.

In a statement to its members, chamber officials said the decision was made because its membership is "clearly divided" on how to pay for school-facilities needs, and many were undecided on the issue.

Urbana power outage closes middle school

URBANA – Urbana Middle School closed early Thursday due to a power outage.

From about 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. about 2,200 people were without power in the area. Power was restored to all but about 100 customers around 11 a.m., according to Ameren spokesman Leigh Morris. The remaining 100 customers were expected to have their power restored mid-day.

Lanman Oil selling parts of business to two farm cooperatives

MATTOON – Two area farm cooperatives have agreed to buy Lanman Oil's farm-fuel delivery, lube oil and nonbranded-transport fuel businesses.

Illini FS is acquiring Lanman's locations in Tilton, Allerton and Kansas as well as a 24-hour key-pump operation in Paris, said Mike Lanman, president of Lanman Oil.

Effingham-Clay Service Co. is acquiring Lanman Oil's farm-fuel delivery business in Mattoon, he added.

Students simulate trials, tribulations of adult finances

DANVILLE – Jayci Nichols was feeling the pinch.

She spent most of her monthly income – $1,811 after taxes – on day care, utilities, groceries, a truck payment and a new winter coat for her daughter. But she still had to pay for housing, insurance and other expenses.

"This is stressful," Nichols said, frowning at her checkbook balance of $375. "I'm going to have to get a second job."

Officials discuss plans for 2 Champaign elementaries

CHAMPAIGN – Fewer than a dozen residents showed up to hear about plans for new programs at Washington and Garden Hills elementary schools in Champaign Wednesday night.

But community involvement will be the key to successfully making the two schools into magnet schools, say architects and school district officials.

Urbana High School students vote in mock election

URBANA – Anna Shea Gunsalus is so, so, so ready to vote.

She's examined the issues, and she knows whom she'd pick for president – Barack Obama.

But she's 17. "I'm about six or seven months too young to vote in the real" election, the Urbana High School student said. "It's really, really annoying."