Benefit concert raised $400,000

BLOOMINGTON — The Dec. 4 benefit concert, Rock To The Rescue Extends A Hand To Those In Need, raised $400,783 for towns hit by recent tornadoes.

The sold-out show at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington raised funds for central Illinois communities, including Washington and Gifford, that were affected by the recent devastating tornadoes and winds.

Past, present, future together at Rose and Taylor

CHAMPAIGN — Quenton Hillsman doesn't have any hair. It doesn't make sense that he'd turn up in a barbershop.

There's still time to see Santa before Christmas

If you still want "an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time," as Ralphie Parker did in "A Christmas Story," it's not too late to ask Santa, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

The News-Gazette has made a list and is checking it twice for late-season Saint Nick appearances.

My Amish Home: Bike makeover better than meal mistakes

"As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him. For who is God, save the Lord? And who is a rock, save our God? God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect." 2 Samuel 22:31-33

Illinois Ancestors: Visit state in new 'Roadside History'

Anyone with an interest in the history of the cities and towns in Illinois will enjoy Stan Banash's new book, "Roadside History of Illinois," which is both informative and entertaining. Written almost as a tour guide, the book identifies Illinois' cities and towns in seven regions: Southern, Western, Central, Eastern and Northern plus Metropolitan Chicago and Chicago's Neighborhoods.

'Shop with a Cop' sends extra help to Gifford families

CHAMPAIGN — When a tornado destroyed the family farmhouse outside Gifford last month, Nicole Swinney feared there would be no Christmas for her 11-year-old twins at the Rantoul rental they now call home.

Little did she know that a secret Santa had already added Evan and Emma's names to a special list.

Transcript of Obama's speech at Mandela memorial

Here is a transcript, provided by the White House, of remarks by President Obama at the memorial service in Johannesburg, South Africa, for Nelson Mandela.

Schools raise more than $20,000 for tornado relief

Area schools have raised more than $20,000 and delivered truckloads of supplies for tornado victims in Gifford and Washington. Here’s how they did it:

Paxton-Buckley-Loda Schools

Students learn 'life lesson' helping tornado victims

The day after the Nov. 17 tornado ripped through Champaign and Vermilion counties, several farmers stopped by Armstrong Township High School.

They asked if they might get some help from the student FFA group to clean up debris strewn around the fields outside Gifford. Principal Darren Loschen and his staff quickly agreed.

'An Urbana kind of guy' takes a leave from classroom

URBANA — If you were trying to sum up what kind of person Michael Pollock is, you probably could not do better than the way he once described himself.

"I'm an Urbana kind of guy," he told Urbana school officials about 10 years ago when he'd finished earning his teaching certificate later in life and stopped in to inquire about jobs.