Microsoft online training vouchers to be distributed

DANVILLE – The East Central Illinois Community Action Agency, in collaboration with the "Elevate America" program, will distribute 20 Microsoft online training vouchers.

This is a free chance for customers to increase their technology skills, gain marketable job skills and attain certification.

Champaign, Mattoon share in federal grant funds

Police in Champaign and Mattoon say money from a federal grant will help them identify and prosecute child predators, fight child sexual exploitation over the Internet and enforce sex offender registration laws.

Champaign and Mattoon police are two of eight Illinois police agencies sharing a grant of nearly a half-million dollars from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Ficklin Road in Douglas County to be closed for work

Drivers using Ficklin Road in Douglas County may need to plan to take alternative routes this week.

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that Ficklin Road will be closed at the CSX Transportation Railroad crossing in Ficklin, west of Tuscola, for three to five days starting on Wednesday.

Beckman Institute marks 20 years of collaboration

URBANA – In 1985, the Illini baseball field, Strawberry Fields and a cinder track, five laps to the mile, dominated the area near Wright and University.

Within four years, a $50 million facility jutted from the area, a 20-year experiment in bringing scholars from different fields under one roof that has paid off with research that benefits our daily life.

3G service activated on AT&T cell sites in 28 locations

CHAMPAIGN – Customers with AT&T mobile phone service may have noticed increased availability of 3G service in the Champaign-Urbana area in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, the company formally announced that 3G technology has been activated on 28 cell sites in Champaign, DeWitt, Piatt and McLean counties.

Heritage and history highlighted in Piatt barn tour

John Leischner's barn is more than a place where a pony makes its home, it's a building that has been in the family for generations.

Leischner's father inherited the barn at 2038 N. 500 East, DeLand, from his uncle. Now the barn is under the care of Leischner and his siblings.

The family barn will be shared with the public during the 12th annual Piatt County Museum Barn Tour on Friday through Sunday.

What began as a one-day excursion to barns scattered throughout the county has developed into an award-winning three-day festival highlighting one township in Piatt County annually.

Open house will celebrate Fire Prevention Week

CHAMPAIGN – A fire engine rally and a fire department open house are planned this weekend to kick off National Fire Prevention Week.

On Saturday, the Champaign County Fire Chiefs are organizing a fire engine rally.

Attendance low at ICC hearing on water rates

CHAMPAIGN – For the Illinois American Water Co. officials who had to defend the utility's 34.7 percent rate increase request at a public hearing, it could have been worse.

There was plenty of criticism Thursday night, but not many critics.

For UI alumus working at Pixar, filmmaking 'hard fun'

CHAMPAIGN – Making a Pixar animated film might take five years of hard, collaborative work, but gee, the Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif., sure seems like a nice place to work.

University of Illinois alumnus Michael "wave" B. Johnson, who leads the acclaimed studio's Moving Picture Group, showed photographs of the Pixar workplace during a talk he gave Tuesday on the UI campus on Pixar history and culture and its production pipeline.

Garden Hills celebrates completed geothermal system

CHAMPAIGN – Garden Hills Elementary School has brighter hallways and cooler classrooms this fall, and the distinction of being the Champaign school district's "first green school."

On Tuesday, the school celebrated the completion of a geothermal system that provides a more efficient way to heat and cool the building.