Champaign schools' reductions include tech specialist

CHAMPAIGN – Tonia Kirby relies on a computer specialist to help her and her second-grade students learn about new technology, get technology such as SMART Boards set up in her classroom at Robeson Elementary School and troubleshoot problems.

"She has great lesson plans," Kirby said of the specialist. "She teaches my kids why it's important not to share their passwords. She has a whole other perspective than I do as a classroom teacher."

AT&T expansion plans include Champaign, Danville

Champaign and Danville both figure into AT&T's wireless network expansion plans this year. The company said this week it plans to expand the footprint of its third-generation wireless broadband network to new cities, including Champaign, Kankakee, LaSalle, Ottawa and Peru, during 2009. It also plans to add more than 40 new cell sites in Illinois, including one in Danville, the company said.

AT&T's third-generation, or "3G," network delivers LaptopConnect users typical downlink speeds of 700 kilobits per second to 1.7 megabits per second and faster uplink speeds of 500 kilobits per second to 1.2 megabits per second. The company's 3G network is now available in nearly 350 metropolitan areas across the United States.

WILL to stop analog March 31; WCIA, after June 12

URBANA – WILL-TV will stop analog broadcasting March 31, but WCIA-TV plans to continue broadcasting in analog through June 12, station managers said.

WILL-TV's analog signal will cease as of 6 a.m. March 31, station manager Carl Caldwell said. At that point, viewers relying on over-the-air signals will need to get a digital TV or a digital converter box to receive PBS programming on WILL. They can also choose to switch to cable or satellite.

DACC workshops to help organizations go green

DANVILLE – Danville Area Community College, in partnership with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, is providing a series of workshops on organizations becoming more "green."

The workshops will teach participants how to protect the environment and save money. The center is in the process of attaining continuing education units for these workshops, which will be open to large and small businesses, organizations, municipalities and others.

Foundation gives $17,100 for digital police car cameras

URBANA – An organization born out of the deaths of two Ogden sisters killed by a drunken driver has donated another $17,100 to two area police departments to help in the fight against driving after drinking to excess.

On behalf of the Journey Foundation, Jim and Barb Esworthy of Ogden on Wednesday presented $12,600 to Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh and $4,500 to Assistant University of Illinois Police Chief Jeff Christensen to buy cameras to put in squad cars at their departments.

Urbana High students learn about Vietnam era through interviews

URBANA – For a group of high school students, a history assignment has become a case of lights, camera, flashback.

Beyond textbooks, this group of Urbana High School juniors has begun turning the pages of history, studying primary documents and conducting interviews with locals to find out just what motivated people to protest during the Vietnam era – and specifically after Kent State and what it was like on both sides of the barricade.

Energy secretary indicates that FutureGen has a future

CHAMPAIGN – Local officials were encouraged Thursday by news that the Department of Energy may revive the FutureGen project in Mattoon.

If built, FutureGen would be the world's first clean-coal power plant. The $1.8 billion experimental plant would store its carbon dioxide emissions 7,500 feet below the surface.

UI student's facial-recognition technology wins $30,000

URBANA – For two years, John Wright has worked on ways to improve facial-recognition systems.

On Wednesday, those efforts paid off as the 26-year-old doctoral student won the Lemelson-Illinois Student Prize and the $30,000 that goes with it.

Eight UI engineering graduate students up for award

URBANA – Eight finalists have been selected for the $30,000 Lemelson-Illinois Student Prize, the winner of which will be announced Wednesday.

The finalists, all graduate students in the University of Illinois College of Engineering, are:

Danville school officials seek public input on technology plan

DANVILLE – Danville school officials are getting ready to update the district's technology plan, and they're asking for the public's help.

Community members are being asked to fill out a survey on the district's Web site at There's a 24-question survey for parents and another with 15 questions for community members without children in the district.

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