Family's 95-year tradition drawing to a close

CHAMPAIGN — Every first Sunday in August, Mara Roughton knew where she was going to be: at Hessel Park, eating, laughing and making memories with her relatives at the annual Neal family reunion.

It's where, as a kid, she played baseball with Uncle Winterbottom and all her cousins, enjoyed a seemingly-endless expanse of homemade pies and meats and joked with the other children.

Top of the morning, July 31, 2015

One of the lasting images from this week's Kiwanis Tom Jones Challenger League all-star game was UI football player Nick Allegretti mingling with player Kaleb Bochntine.

Turns out Allegretti wasn't there by accident. He's been involved with the Challenger League since arriving on campus.

UI student wins inaugural award named for Dave Benton

CHAMPAIGN — When Michael Hao came to the University of Illinois to study computer engineering in the fall of 2013, he wanted a part-time job to help with expenses but wasn't interested in bagging fast food.

State police district's officer of the year living her dream

PESOTUM — She's perky, positive, passionate, professional and pretty.

And she positively prefers to preach public safety rather than give you a ticket. All those elements add up to why Tracy Lillard was recently chosen as Illinois State Police District 10's officer of the year.

Pesotum woman wins statewide recognition

CHATHAM — A Pesotum woman was honored Thursday at statewide ceremonies in Chatham as the Illinois State Police telecommunicator of the year.

Notes-Worthy: Chad Sherman

C.U. Bands and Fans' Terry Brown chats with Chad Sherman, bass player for Zach Linley & The Rebel Daredevils

Zach Linley & The Rebel Daredevils has hit the ground running, opening for several national artists. What has it been like to be in a band that starts out of the gate in a big way?

Area history, July 30, 2015

Today is Thursday, July 30, 2015. Here are news reports from this date 100, 50 and 15 years ago:

CUTC brings back 'Guys and Dolls'

CHAMPAIGN — When he auditions for musicals high school drama director John Tilford usually indicates he's willing to be part of the ensemble.

And if he lands an ensemble role, as he did in the Champaign Urbana Theatre Company's "Guys and Dolls," opening tonight at Parkland College, he'll do his best and not gripe about not having a lead role.

Top of the morning, July 30, 2015

— Our area's representative at the Special Olympics World Games is enjoying her time in Los Angeles.

Competing in a relay, 800 meters and shot put, 21-year-old Gillian Dabrowski told her mom that the "rooms and food are great" at Team USA's home base on the campus of USC. Dabrowski's final event is Saturday followed by closing ceremonies on Sunday and a return to Champaign on Monday.

Victim's family: 'There's no way to act but cry'

CHAMPAIGN — For Terron Jackson's loved ones, there was no comfort Wednesday afternoon in Room F of the Champaign County Courthouse, where 10 of them watched a judge inform accused murderer Brandon Collier he could face up to 85 years in prison if convicted.

"There's no way to react but cry," said Mr. Jackson's sister and "auntie," Okeima Hampton.