Fallen Georgetown soldier's funeral scheduled today

GEORGETOWN – The body of fallen soldier Sgt. Kenneth Nichols of Georgetown will be laid to rest today at the National Cemetery in Danville.

Sgt. Nichols, 27, was killed Dec. 1 in Afghanistan, a day after the Army promoted him to sergeant. He died on patrol when his vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Sgt. Nichols also served in Iraq and was a 2000 graduate of Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School.

Woman's book describes virtues of Vermilion County

DANVILLE – When Vickie Hicks overheard people making negative comments about Vermilion County, it inspired her to write a story about appreciating the area's assets.

Now the tale, "A Story of the Kingdom of Wannalot," will be used to help instill community pride in area students, and get them thinking about how they can improve their hometowns.

Photos offer hope to families of children born premature

About four years ago, Paula Barton of Tolono was six months pregnant and doing well. She went in for a checkup before Christmas, and while her blood pressure was high, doctors attributed it to stress induced by a recent snowstorm and her workload teaching kindergarteners.

But soon after, she started to get really sick, and a few days after Christmas, Brad, Paula's husband, rushed her to the emergency room.

Seniors strike S-Wii-t Sixteen in national tournament

URBANA – Members of the Guttergals bowling team at Clark-Lindsey Village are a competitive bunch.

"We're not happy unless we have a strike or more than 200 points (during each game)," said Shirley Mahaffey, who at age 80 admits she's "a very competitive person.

Harwal Hotel owner welcoming city inspection

DANVILLE – Several workers were tearing drywall, plaster and other material out of the Harwal Hotel this week before a Thursday walk-through by city inspectors.

"It's been positive," building owner Eric Williams said of his recent dealings with city officials, who inspected the vacant structure Thursday to identify any code improvements that need to be made, as Williams begins to rehabilitate the Harwal. "All I've wanted to do is put the building back together."

Slain Georgetown soldier's procession begins today

GEORGETOWN – The body of fallen soldier Sgt. Kenneth Nichols of Georgetown is expected to be flown into Vermilion Regional Airport this morning.

Sgt. Nichols' casket is scheduled to be flown from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and arrive at the Vermilion Regional Airport at about 9 a.m., weather permitting.

Kindergartner gets surprise holiday visit from father

RANTOUL – Five-year-old Jamison Sommer stood in music class holding a triangle when Pleasant Acres School Principal Cliff Englishharden announced the class was receiving an early Christmas present.

Officer won't face criminal charges in Carrington death

URBANA – Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz has concluded that the shooting of a Champaign teen by a police officer in October was an accident and that no criminal charges will be filed against Officer Daniel Norbits.

On Tuesday morning, Rietz released her own 13-page summary of the Illinois State Police investigation into the Oct. 9 shooting death of Kiwane Carrington, 15, and the arrest of his friend, Jeshaun Manning-Carter, 16, also of Champaign.

Drive-through toy collection set today at WDWS/WHMS

CHAMPAIGN – If you haven't bought a toy for a needy child yet, you've got all day to pick one up and bring it to the drive-through toy collection being held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at WDWS/WHMS radio stations, 2301 S. Neil St., C.

The drive-through collection is the conclusion of the 25th annual toy drive sponsored by Carle Foundation Hospital, Carle Clinic and WDWS/WHMS.

Schools were braced for worst, but things stayed quiet

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school district prepared for the worst.

But it was business as usual in the school buildings Tuesday.

Teachers and school administrators were instructed to be on alert and be ready for a "soft lockdown" of school buildings if the release of the report on 15-year-old Kiwane Carrington's death generated a negative reaction in the community. A soft lockdown means all outside doors of a school building are locked and all outside activities, such as recess, are canceled.