Centennial grad hospitalized after Rhode Island circus accident

Samantha Pitard, a Centennial High School graduate in her second year with Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey, remains hospitalized in Rhode Island, two days after an accident during a hair-hanging stunt injured her and other performers.

Top of the Morning, May 6, 2014

When she asked her daughter what she'd like for her fifth birthday, Tracy Grotrian figured it'd be a stuffed animal or doll or maybe a board game.

Anything but I want to milk a cow.

"Kids come up with the craziest ideas," Tracy said.

But Kiera Grotrian, a Mahomet preschooler, was serious.

Top of the Morning, May 5, 2014: From the archives

Sunday was the 44th anniversary of the shootings at Kent State.

And to this day, college students turn their impassioned views outward.

From burning draft cards to candlelight vigils, the campus of the University of Illinois has been home to student demonstrations for decades.

Area history, May 4, 2014

Today is Sunday, May 4, 2014. Here are news reports from this date 100, 50 and 15 years ago:

Change marks history of Stocks

CHAMPAIGN — Maggie McGuire went to work for Stocks Inc. as a Xerox machine operator in 1979.

Thirty-five years later, she owns the company, and it's a drastically different operation from when she first signed on.

Today, Stocks sells office furniture, but when the company was founded by Joe Stocks in 1954, it was a blueprint and photography service.

Letter from Birdland: Flowers aren't the only things sprouting quickly

In Birdland, the skies are gray, but the drizzle enriches the color. Tulips have added their pinks, reds and oranges, and even whites to the daffodils' yellow. The little redbud tree holds its pink close to the dark brown of the wood, with no intervening leaves. The ornamental quince sprinkles its shell-like flowers amongst the new greenery.

Melissa Merli: Stone kept his promise

When director Oliver Stone first started working on "Born on the Fourth of July," Al Pacino was slated to play Ron Kovic, the young Marine paralyzed by a bullet during the Vietnam War.

With Pacino on board, the cast and crew rehearsed for two weeks. Then funding for the movie fell apart.

At the time, Pacino was a major star but 37 or 38 years old.

Getting Personal: Cindy Shepherd

Each week, we offer a Q&A with a local personality. Here, a chat with 57-year-old Cindy Shepherd of Philo, who is moving to Urbana in June. ‘I try to get things to grow — tomatoes, groups, caterpillars, relationships,’ she said. Her latest nurturing project is Faith in Place.

So ... what's new with you?

Studio Visit: Zoe Mann

Studio Visit is a Q&A with a local artist. Here, a chat with Zoe Mann, a 22-year-old Parkland College student, who is studying chemical engineering and is a peer tutor. She also is a "knitting genius," according to her mom, Cindy. Three of her artworks were in the college's Art and Design Student Juried Exhibition 2014, which closed Saturday.

The Big Ten with Jeff D'Alessio, May 4, 2014

We asked 10 pastors, priests, monsignors and ministers: Of all the church services you've given, what's the one memory that would make your congregation chuckle on this Sunday morning?


Chaplain, St. Thomas More, Champaign

Parochial Vicar, St. Matthew Catholic Church