Parks and Recreation
DANVILLE – Lillian Gentry couldn't stop smiling as she watched her son, Mikel Kirby-Prater, on East Park Elementary's schoolyard on Thursday, throwing and catching rubber balls and kicking others into a net.
Nine months ago, she recalled, Mikel could barely catch a ball.
"He'd try to, but the hand-eye coordination wasn't there," she said. "He's really improved. I'm so proud of him."
Gentry credits the Special Olympics Illinois' Young Athlete program, piloted this year in preschool classrooms at East Park, Southwest and Garfield elementary schools.
CHAMPAIGN – As 21 bicyclists rode together down the streets of Champaign-Urbana on Wednesday evening, the only sounds that could be heard were of bike wheels turning and birds chirping.
The cyclists, many wearing homemade black armbands, rode in silence. A few of them occasionally paused to wipe away a tear or to pat another cyclist on the back.
Public swimming pools will be open in Champaign and Rantoul, but there will be no bus or mail service Monday.
The Sholem Aquatic Center, 2200 W. Sangamon Drive, C, opens Memorial Day weekend, with reduced hours while Champaign public schools are in session. The water park will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays starting Tuesday until schools are closed for the summer and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends. Spaulding Pool, 910 N. Harris Ave., C, also opens Memorial Day weekend.
CATLIN – Renovations to the playground equipment in the park have already begun, village officials said Tuesday, and more changes are expected to take place before the end of the year.
Catlin Village Board members voted on Tuesday to replace four toddler swing buckets and the hooks and chains that connect the buckets to the swing frame, and to replace two worn backhoe diggers in the pea gravel pit.
You can't get much more central to the notion of "they just don't make movies like that any more" than "The Sound of Music," the next offering in The News-Gazette Film Series at 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign.
CHAMPAIGN – Several local groups have been awarded $60,000 in Marajen Stevick Foundation grants through the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois.
Bill Nugent, president of the Stevick Foundation, which includes The News-Gazette, WDWS and WHMS, and several weekly newspapers, said the grants reflect the values of the late Marajen Stevick Chinigo, who owned the paper for decades after the deaths of her parents, David and Helen Stevick.
DANVILLE – Angela Bates has taken her involvement with riding motorcycles a step further by creating an organization to promote motorcycle safety and the importance of motorcycle awareness.
H.E.Y. (Help Educate Yourself) Riders! will hold its first memorial ride and fundraiser from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Memorial Day, May 25, with activities and the beginning of the ride at the Temple Plaza at the corner of North and Vermilion streets in downtown Danville.
I'm not a seer or a prophet, but when I first saw Edgar Heap of Birds's "Native Hosts" signs on Nevada Street on campus, I figured they'd eventually be vandalized. Maybe I'm a pessimist, or maybe I've just read too many letters to the editor of this newspaper.
So I was not surprised that four signs so far in his "Beyond the Chief" series have been damaged. No vandals have been apprehended yet.
VILLA GROVE – The city council was informed Monday that it is no longer obligated by state law to purchase defibrillators for public use at the city's parks this summer.
Villa Grove police Officer Adam Deckard, who has been investigating the issue and advising the council on the defibrillator purchase, told the council Monday night that the state law requiring the defibrillators has been amended. According to Deckard, any park owned by a municipality is not mandated to have the devices available.
DANVILLE – The Vermilion County Conservation District was $400,000 closer on Wednesday to building a 32,000-square-foot environmental education center at Kennekuk County Park, after the state announced $21.2 million in grants for 59 park and land acquisition projects across the state.