Bus driver credits military training for heroic rescue

CHAMPAIGN – George McCoppin said training he received in the military more than 30 years ago came back to him in a flash Wednesday night when he saw a gasoline tanker truck go over on its side.

The 56-year-old Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District bus driver witnessed the crash between the truck driven by David Hudson of Decatur and a van driven by Erin Ruprecht of Mahomet.

Urbana family decorates home with multiple Christmas trees

URBANA – At this time of year, deliverymen for a certain sandwich shop flip a coin for the chance to go to the Meister home in Urbana.

They want a glimpse of the "big tree" that the Meisters put up in the foyer of their home on West Washington Street each Christmas. This year the pine tree is more than 12 feet tall. The tallest ever stretched to 14 feet.

Neighborhood development manager a pillar in Danville

DANVILLE – Until recently, city neighborhood development manager John Dreher had a habit of poking little holes in the coffee filters at work each morning before starting a pot of coffee.

"He shops at Big Lots and he came in one day and told me about this great bargain he got with coffee filters," recalled Angie Jestis, one of Dreher's coworkers. "Come to found out, they're not thin enough to filter water through."

Knitter offers up warmth from within

CHAMPAIGN – Berendina Kramer's fingers deftly wrap green yarn around one knitting needle. Three other needles are stuck through the crown of the hat she is knitting. A skein of yarn sits at her feet, and light green and dark green scarves are draped across the chair.

When she's finished, she'll tie the hat and one of the scarves together with another piece of yarn. By next fall, she'll have 99 similar bundles, and the hats and scarves will be delivered to school children to keep them warm.

Church friends buy, remodel home to help man with MS

CHAMPAIGN – Home for the holidays has special meaning for the Nix family this year.

The four Nixes have a new-to-them three-bedroom house in southwest Champaign that members of their church made handicapped-accessible.

Lovable character was tireless ambassador for Arthur

ARTHUR – Once, every small town around here had a lady, usually, who wrote weekly columns tracking the happenings in the community.

Phyllis Stock of Arthur became one of those correspondents more than 30 years ago, and few ever did it with more flair or talent – or fun.

Fogelberg had roots on UI campus

URBANA – In the years before Dan Fogelberg became a major star with "Leader of the Band" and other hits, his own "band" usually meant the singer and his guitar or piano at the Red Herring Coffee House.

The Peoria native, who died Sunday at 56, was a University of Illinois student from 1969 to 1971. He admitted he didn't study much, but did have a good time playing folk music and drinking whiskey at the now-defunct Red Lion in Champaign.

Danville loses its grandma with passing of 'Mrs. R'

DANVILLE – Many residents of Danville lost an extra grandmother when Phyllis "Mrs. R" Randall died Saturday.

"She probably raised half of Danville," said Pat Stitt, a friend and co-chairman of many a Schlarman Style Show.

School crossing guard puts smile on everyone's face

CHAMPAIGN – No one's allowed to be grumpy on this street corner, not even on a wet, dreary school day.

Crossing guard Erma Tyler, who has faced her share of heartache with a rock-solid faith, spreads a little cheer every morning to even the most reluctant South Side student.

Parkland employees $3.5 million richer

FISHER – Every week for three and a half years, co-workers Pam Lytel and Donna Mayer played the lottery together, using the same numbers.

Sometimes they won money – $3 here, $100 there. They socked it away in a special account, which paid for the tickets they alternated buying. They work together at Parkland College's financial aid office.

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