Battling blaze from on high proves taxing

CHAMPAIGN – It's easy for some to minimize what firefighters do.

Hey, they get two days off out of three, are paid fairly well and get a great pension, right?

Then a major fire erupts.

And for Wally Worley, a Champaign Fire Department engineer on Ladder Co. 161, doing his job meant he was climbing a ladder eight stories high in the air, wearing gear and an air pack that weighs about 70 pounds total, and directing water into an inferno.

Spokesfamily for Tree of Hope thrilled with help that they got

CHAMPAIGN – Bouncing around the auto showroom, tussling with his big brother over their toy cars, Mark Davis is the epitome of a busy 3-year-old.

Area events to celebrate 40th anniversary of Project 500

The University of Illinois campus will mark the 40th anniversary of Project 500 with several events this weekend.

Project 500 was the first major attempt by the Urbana campus to provide equal educational opportunity for all children of families in Illinois.

Realtor training firm's CEO added to Danville Wall of Fame

DANVILLE – Nina Cottrell never got a college education.

But she had smarts, an "extraordinary" work ethic and a drive to succeed, which took her from a secretary to chief executive officer of the largest nonprofit affiliate of the National Association of Realtors, her older brother said.

"She's an example of what you can do if you put your mind to it," said Wilbert A. Cottrell, who nominated his sister for Danville High School's Wall of Fame.

On Wednesday, Nina Cottrell was announced as this year's inductee. Cottrell was selected by a committee representing a cross-section of the community, including two high school students.

IRS unable to deliver funds to hundreds of area people

CHAMPAIGN – Nearly 160 people in Champaign County and 42 in Vermilion County are due federal tax refunds or economic stimulus payments, but the IRS has been unable to deliver them.

To find out whether you're one of them, you can go to the IRS Web site – – and use the "Where's My Refund?" and "Where's My Stimulus Payment?" tools to check the status of your payment. You can also get instructions on how to update your address.

Christmas Food Basket, Toys For Tots sign-ups set

DANVILLE – The Salvation Army will hold sign-ups for both its Christmas Food Basket program and the Toys For Tots program, shared with the Marine Corps League, from Nov. 3 through 26 at its facility, 855 E. Fairchild St.

Signup times are from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, except Nov. 11, when the Salvation Army facility will be closed for Veterans Day.

Cunningham Township voters to see 3 advisory questions

Voters in Cunningham Township will be able to voice their opinions about several different issues on Election Day, from how they choose city council members to whether or not they would support health care legislation.

There are three advisory questions on the ballot this year for Cunningham Township residents. These are nonbinding, meaning they don't have any legal implication.

Former Washington Post editor earns UI journalism award

URBANA – Benjamin Bradlee, the Washington Post editor who helped break the Watergate scandal and topple the Nixon presidency, has won a lifetime-achievement award from the University of Illinois.

Bradlee, executive editor of the Post for more than two decades, received the Illinois Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism at a reception Friday at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Paxton resident hears, answers call for wild animals

PAXTON – Ken Walker lives in a two-story house on Paxton's east side and keeps two cats and a dog as pets.

But his online business offers a pair of white rhinos or tiger cubs, and about 30 kinds of other unusual animals.

Walker is an exotic animal broker, a middleman between the people who want to sell exotic animals and those who want to buy them. Almost none of the animals come through Paxton.

Friends, family hold birthday fete for LED inventor

CHAMPAIGN – A shadow box of achievements, a $300,000 graduate student award and a cake with LED candles capped a day-long symposium Friday that celebrated Nick Holonyak's birthday.

Dozens of friends, family and colleagues came to honor the life of Holonyak, inventor of the first practical light-emitting diode in the visible spectrum, a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the recipient of numerous national and international awards and honors.