CHAMPAIGN – Education, criminal, health and economic disparities among black males and other racial groups have prompted a series of town hall meetings statewide, including a stop next week in Urbana.
The state's Department of Human Services' Task Force on the Condition of African American Men in Illinois will have a town hall meeting in Urbana on Tuesday.
RANTOUL – Volunteers for the second Clean-Up Rantoul effort want a litter-free community heading into the cold weather months.
The spruce-up effort is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.
CHAMPAIGN – Margaret Neil uses a wheelchair to get from place to place, but she uses her mind, her heart and her positive thinking to accomplish many things.
Neil is a resident leader at Joann Dorsey Homes public housing in Champaign and chairman of the Resident Advisory Council for the Housing Authority of Champaign County. This summer, the agency dedicated the Margaret Neil Community Resource Center in her honor and awarded her the first "embracing resident empowerment" plaque.
PAXTON – It practically defies logic. A Republican incumbent in a staunchly Republican county who could run for office without competition. So why isn't Tony Lee going for a sixth term as state's attorney?
"Twenty years is enough. I'm ready to try something else. I'd like to see if I can succeed at something that has nothing to do with the practice of law," said Lee, adding he would like to write, but the creative writing course he signed up for at Parkland College this semester was canceled.
URBANA – Erica Van Zuidam loves the feeling of a good workout that gets her heart pumping.
"It feels like how it used to be. My old life, in sports and everything," she said. "I think that's why it's so fun. It brings back good times."
On Saturday, Van Zuidam ran a 5-kilometer race – 3.1 miles in two laps around the University of Illinois campus, from the Illini Union to the Stock Pavilion. It was her first race on her carbon fiber legs with the zebra-striped cloth covering the top. Her first race since her feet and hands were amputated, the casualties of a nearly fatal case of bacterial meningitis she contracted at the end of her freshman year at the UI.
CHAMPAIGN – Drew McDaniel was having a really good vacation from his Army life in Iraq.
A new agreement between the University of Illinois and a group that wants to advance free market entrepreneurial capitalism on campus may still be in the works, although the university faculty as a whole has not yet seen it.
It was one year ago this month that the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Fund held its coming-out party, an event in the Illini Union that featured speakers such as publisher Steve Forbes and conservative columnist Robert Novak.
DANVILLE – In between attending the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City and receiving a Rising Voice of Women award in Chicago, human rights activist Molly Melching will make a stop at her alma mater, Danville High School.
URBANA – During the Democratic National Convention in Denver last month, Will Fernandez, 14, interviewed politicians and delegates. He saw Gov. Rod Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan exchange an awkward hug, prompted by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. at a morning Illinois delegation meeting.
He had some celebrity sightings, like Chevy Chase getting his picture taken with Denver police officers and "House" actor Kal Penn helping in the convention center.
URBANA – While Jamar Smith wouldn't necessarily want to repeat the last 20 months of his life, he said he feels fortunate that things happened the way they did.
"I'm thankful this happened because it saved my life. I feel fortunate I'm living. I got pretty deep into my addiction," said the 21-year-old former University of Illinois basketball player.