Colleague of King says Illinois made civil rights national issue

URBANA – Illinois was a seminal state in transforming the civil rights movement from a regional to a national issue, said one of the leaders of that movement.

"The change from the South to the North came because of Illinois. When we came to Chicago, we became a national movement, not a Southern movement. When we came north, we were no longer the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We became the national movement called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference," said the Rev. C.T. Vivian.

Champaign attorney glad to be home, where he can give back

CHAMPAIGN – With his work experience and a degree in international trade and business law, Mark Palmer could probably be looking out the window of a high-rise toward Lake Michigan.

Instead, he gets a warm feeling as he looks out his window at Main Street in downtown Champaign.

Reporter's Notebook: Slowly warming up to the task

WASHINGTON – Friends and family back home have been asking what the weather's like here.

Not quite as cold as in Illinois, yet it's frigid, with biting winds, yet sunny with clear skies. Invigorating, but whenever I try to take notes outside with my pens, the ink barely flows.

Some in Washington want to stay far from the madding crowd

WASHINGTON – Former Champaign residents Gary and Elaine Harshman had a lot of fun when they attended the inaugurations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Then living in Washington, they took their toddler son, Miles, in a stroller to the Bush inaugural parade.

They wouldn't be able to do that on Tuesday when Barack Obama takes the oath of office and marches down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Former Frances Nelson site now home to 2 Habitat homes

CHAMPAIGN – When Frances Nelson Health Center decided to move out of the Carver Park neighborhood, residents there got busy.

Mental illness was no barrier to love, respect

Eugene Hart loved to dance and he loved to dress up. His animated movements and his colorful clothing were attention-getting as he briskly walked on Champaign and Urbana streets.

Last week, the 56-year-old Champaign man was found dead under a staircase at an apartment building in the 200 block of East Clark Street in Champaign, frozen from being outdoors.

President of Flex-N-Gate says disputed taxes have been paid

URBANA – The president of Flex-N-Gate Corp. says he and his wife have paid in full a disputed amount the Internal Revenue Service says they owe – and he hopes to get all the money back through litigation.

Shahid R. Khan also bristled at how a short story in Forbes magazine characterized the tax dispute, calling it an "absolute hatchet job" that misrepresented a lot of facts.

"There isn't a hint of a criminal issue here," Khan said, claiming the magazine portrayed him as both a philanthropist and a tax cheat.

Life Remembered: Newspaperman dedicated life to helping others

URBANA – Spend some time talking to those who knew and loved Byron "By" Vedder and it's not hard to see what made him such a remarkable man..

Mr. Vedder, who died Wednesday from complications of pneumonia, lived by kindness, hard work and never-ending wit. His obituary appears on page A-4.

Urbana division clerk found home in federal court system

URBANA – Growing up in Peoria, Veronica Ball wanted to be a lawyer. But her life took her in another direction.

Ball, 47, is Urbana division manager at the U.S. District Court Clerk's office.

Champaign man breaks into script-writing with a prize-winner

CHAMPAIGN – Christian Heinze always wanted to be a writer. As a kid he wrote short stories and even a family newspaper.

However, his father, then a business professor at Chico State University, discouraged his son from a career as an author and encouraged him to instead consider a lucrative and secure profession.