Rantoul chamber's new director carries a positive outlook

Last fall, Rantoul resident Chris Kaler became the executive director of the Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce. Recently, News-Gazette staff writer Tim Mitchell sat down with Kaler at his office to talk about his career and the future of the chamber.

Q: Did you grow up here in Rantoul?

A: Yes, just about every longtime resident knows my family. My grandfather, Sig Kaler, was the postmaster here in Rantoul, and my dad, Jack Kaler, was a rural mail carrier in the Gifford area for 40 years. He used to love Christmas because all the farmers would give him homemade bread and rolls. My mom grew up in Thomasboro, and she worked the Mid-Continent telephone company in the dispatch area.

Visiting UI professor to teach Balinese art of group percussion

On the Indonesian island of Bali, every village has at least two or three gamelans – sets of primarily bronze percussive instruments which are kept at an open-air community center.

When the instruments are not in storage, children can play on them, as I Ketut Gede Asnawa did "wildly" when he was a boy.

And nearly every villager is involved in the art form, either playing in the gamelan, carrying the instruments or preparing for the festival occasions where the music will be featured.

UI prof's 'collection of moments' going on display in China

Images of places, faces and words – captured in 45 years of travel – now going on display

Architect James Warfield's exhibition "Roads Less Traveled" opens today in Shanghai, where the companion book also was released today.

Family seeking 'Angels' of Christmas past

FITHIAN – A former Illinois woman is searching for the "angels" who saved her family in a "Christmas miracle" 25 years ago.

Black baseball history stays alive on Web

DANVILLE – Hubert "Daddy" Wooten of Goldsboro, N.C., and Dwight Lucas of Danville have something in common: They are glad Bobo Smalls hasn't given up on drawing attention to the last Negro barnstorming team, the Indianapolis Clowns, on which he played from 1964 to 1986.

Publication for Koreans hits stands

CHAMPAIGN – While some newspapers are struggling for survival, a new one is starting in Champaign-Urbana.

Joohyun Kang of Champaign has begun publishing the CU Korean Times, a biweekly newspaper with both Korean and English editions.

The newspaper, which covers news of interest to Champaign-Urbana's Korean community, is available not only online at, but also in print at many locations around town.

Sound of Mahomet crash spurs Army medic to action

MAHOMET – At about 2 a.m. Wednesday, Army Sgt. Joshua Huddleston heard the scream of wheels and a crash.

He and his brother, Joe, stepped outside into a cold, windy night and saw a flashlight in the distance. Joe went inside, figuring someone would call the fire department. Josh Huddleston ran toward it.

With no coat or gloves, Huddleston sprinted up and across the grassy berm near his parents' home in Candlewood Estates and through a windbreak of trees. He ran across Prairieview Road, to the corner where it intersects with Golfview Drive.

Residents' complaints about trash addressed

URBANA – It was about two weeks ago when the garbage showed up.

Nasty stuff – carpets and carpet pads, ripped mattresses, tipped-over couches – piled up in the middle of a Scottswood Manor Apartments parking lot in the 1200 and 1300 block of Lierman Avenue, Urbana.

Hoopeston man comes up with idea for car safety device

HOOPESTON – Rick Payne has developed a safety tool that he hopes no one will ever have to use.

He is also hoping success in sales and distribution will bring production jobs to the Hoopeston area.

Payne's Breakout Safety Tool is designed to cut seat belts and break out windows, in the case of an extreme emergency, for a passenger to be able to get out of a vehicle.

Spanish teacher's students to teach Latino community

CHAMPAIGN – When Montserrat Oliveras-Heras teaches Spanish at Parkland College, she wants to create as many opportunities for her students to speak the language as possible.

But the conversations in the classroom can be pretty artificial. She wanted to have her students talk with Latinos living in the community, in a way that would benefit both groups.

So next fall, one of her Spanish classes will teach basic computer skills to Latino residents of Shadowwood Mobile Home park in north Champaign. All the training will be done in Spanish, helping her students learn the language in a real-life situation. In addition to the training, residents will get computers and software to use.