Urbana Middle School students stay late after gas leak

URBANA – Students at Urbana Middle School were kept inside the school for several minutes past dismissal time this afternoon, after a construction crew hit a gas line on Michigan Avenue on the south side of the school.

Urbana firefighters asked the students to remain inside the school while they monitored the area and the building for natural gas, said Division Chief Tony Foster. Then students were dismissed through the north entrance to the building.

Urbana school board OKs measure to seek new sales tax

URBANA – The Urbana school board passed a resolution Tuesday night calling for a 1 percent countywide sales tax to be put on the November ballot.

With its vote, 11 school districts in the county have now passed such a resolution. Those districts represent almost half of the county's school enrollment, said Jane Quinlan, superintendent of the regional office of education. State law provides that districts representing at least 51 percent of the county's school enrollment can place a tax question on the ballot by approving a resolution such as Urbana did.

Report links UHS damages to quake

URBANA – The April 18 earthquake that was felt in the area likely caused the collapse of a ceiling in Urbana High School's auditorium, according to an engineering report.

Part of the ceiling beneath the auditorium's balcony collapsed April 25. No one was injured in the collapse, but the auditorium has remained closed.

Mahomet forum discusses possible sales tax

MAHOMET – Discussion of a special countywide sales tax that could pay for schools' building improvements were informal but informational Monday at a Mahomet-Seymour school board study session.

The board used the evening as a public forum about the 1 percent sales tax, which is already being supported by several school districts, including Fisher, Unit 7 and both Rantoul's high school and elementary districts.

County sales tax likely to draw support

URBANA – The Urbana school board is expected to back a proposed county sales tax for schools Tuesday, with the stipulation that a third of Urbana's sales tax income go toward property tax relief.

A state law passed last fall allows school districts collectively to put a ballot question before voters for up to a 1 percent countywide sales tax, to raise money for school facilities. If voters approve it, the money would be divided among districts based on enrollment and could be spent on new buildings, renovations, safety or energy conservation work or building bond debt.

Urbana High School seeks emergency funds to fix balcony

URBANA – Emergency authority to repair the balcony at Urbana High School's auditorium and initial planning for a complete auditorium remodel are also on Tuesday's school board agenda.

Part of the ceiling underneath the balcony collapsed late last week. No one was injured, but the theater has remained closed to students and the public.

Principal fulfills a promise as students raise shelter funds

MONTICELLO – Eric Hillman had no choice.

The Lincoln Elementary School principal had promised that, if the students managed to raise $1,000 for the proposed Piatt County Animal Shelter, he would kiss a duck in front of the entire student body.

Mahomet-Seymour board to host meeting on sales tax

MAHOMET – The Mahomet-Seymour school board is hosting a public meeting about a proposed countywide sales tax.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday at Middletown Early Childhood Center, 101 N. Division St. in Mahomet.

Murdock man charged with firearms possession

MURDOCK – A Murdock man was arrested Wednesday on charges that he illegally possessed firearms.

Police found two pistols and two shotguns belonging to Luther W. Clark III, 49, even though he doesn't have a firearm owner's identification card.

Completion of I-57 interchange still 3-4 weeks away

It's going to take a few more weeks before the Curtis Road interchange on Interstate 57 opens in Champaign.

And drivers between Danville and Champaign-Urbana should be prepared to slow down.