Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 12, 2011

Danville School Integrates Health & Wellness Into Curriculum

Northeast Elementary Magnet School in Danville has earned national recognition for its approach to fighting childhood obesity --- by teaching its students how to stay healthy. It's the subject of the first report in our WILL-Connect initiative on health and wellness. Reporter Lisa Braddock paid a visit to the school to see how the program works.

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Categories: Education, Health, Recreation

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 12, 2011

Seven-Hour Standoff in Urbana Ends Peacefully

Five men from Urbana have been arrested and charged with home invasion following a standoff at an Urbana apartment complex Monday morning.

Urbana Police Lieutenant Bryant Seraphin says shortly after 3 a.m., the men broke into a unit at the Country Club Apartments in the 900 block of North Broadway Avenue, wielding guns and knives. But Seraphin says a female tenant was able to escape and call police.

Seraphin says Champaign County SWAT team negotiators were able to talk the four men out of the building around 10 a.m. He says the relationship between the men and victim is still unclear at this point.

"Initial information is that yes, there was some connection," said Seraphin. "We're trying to sort that out as to why this apartment was chosen. But I do not believe it was a random act."

There are no reports of injuries.

UPDATE: The tenant at the apartment complex tells police the five men claimed to be hiding from police when they broke in her apartment and stole items. A robot later used to search the apartment later found it was unoccupied, and the five men were discovered in an adjoining apartment. Those taken into custody are identified as 23-year old Sherrick Cooper, 19-year old Terrell Larue, 19-year old Herbert Shah, 25-year old Eric Kirk, and a 16-year old juvenile. The stolen items were recovered, along with two handguns.

One of the men in custody, Terrell LaRue, was arrested in August in connection with the February murder in Danville of 25-year old Kevin Jackson. But the case against him was dropped last week in Champaign County Court after witnesses couldn't be found to testify against him.

The area near the apartment was blocked to traffic for several hours, but re-opened about 10:30 a.m.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 11, 2011

Occupy C-U Movement Moves Focus to Bank Accounts

(Reported by Azra Halilović)

One of the latest efforts of the Occupy Movement is to not only protest Wall Street banks, but to encourage others to close out their accounts with them.

"Move Your Money" or "Bank Transfer Day", took place in some cities in early November, but those with Occupy Champaign-Urbana started up the campaign in West Side Park on Saturday.

Despite cold temperatures, about 50 demonstrators met to protest banks they say are 'too big to fail.' They passed out harmonicas and performed a call and response as they launched the new "Move Your Money" campaign.

Groups ranging from local unions to family businesses spoke out against Wall Street banks, urging people to close their bank accounts. Demonstrators waved signs, handing out fliers outlining the campaign's mission to promote local industry by boycotting relationships with federal banks. University of Illinois student Scott Kimball spoke on behalf of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He'd like to see the government help veterans adjust to life back home.

"Veterans have an unemployment rate that's about double the national average," Kimball said. "For African-American women veterans, their unemployment rate is over 30 percent, and that's unacceptable. We have veterans that are jobless, that are homeless, that their houses are being foreclosed on. Our nation's veterans aren't getting the treatment they deserve."

Kimball says he's also excited about a change in consciousness within the group, as the Occupy movement welcomes other demographics.

"People of color have a different set of circumstances, there are veterans who have a different set of circumstances, people in the LGBTQ community have issues that they need to voice," he said. "The bigger the tent that we create, the more marginalized voices that we lift up, the better this movement becomes - the more powerful it becomes and then we can really, truly make the claim that we are the 99 percent."

The group made its way to Chase Bank, where one of the demonstrators closed her account - with plans of moving her money to a local credit union. Organizers plan to hold a similar demonstration on Monday, asking protesters to hold signs at some the area's busiest intersections.

(Photo by Azra Halilović)


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 11, 2011

Illinois Advances to NCAA Women’s Volleyball Final Four

Illinois is headed to Thursday's Final Four round of the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament for the first time since 1988, after beating Florida in three out of four sets Saturday, to win the regional in Gainesville.

Illinois posted a 25-22, 23-25, 25-14, 25-20 victory over the Gators. After a .068 performance in an opening set that saw weak performances from both sides, the Illini players hit .455, .394 and .514 in the final three sets, respectively, and .338 for the night. Former Gator Colleen Ward led the way for Illinois with a .500 performance, with 23 kills in 42 swings ---- including nine out of nine in the final set. Ward was named Regional Tournament MVP, and named to the All-Regional Tournament Team, along with Illinois' Michelle Bartsch and Jennifer Beltran.

Illinois is headed to the Final Four round in San Antonio with a season record of 31-4 and a seven-match winning streak. The Illini will face No. 7 USC,which defeated No. 15 Pepperdine 3-2 to win the NCAA Honolulu Regional.

Categories: Education, Sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 09, 2011

UI Volleyball Team Advances to Regionals

For the first time since 1992, Illinois's volleyball team is heading to a regional final.

The third-seeded Illini won a fierce battle with fellow Big Ten member Ohio State Friday, advancing to Saturday night's regional final in Gainesville, Fla. The Illini will be looking for its third appearance in the national semifinals and first since 1988. The Illini reach the 30-win mark for the 7th time in school history.

The Illini (30-4) reach the 30-win mark for the seventh time in school history, but the first since that 1992 season. Illinois also end a string of three straight years in which their season has ended in the Sweet 16. Illinois wins its seventh straight match overall and eighth straight against Ohio State in the series between the two schools.

Categories: Education, Sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 09, 2011

Unit Four Announces Four Finalists for Supt. Post

The Champaign Unit Four School Board has chosen four finalists for the job of district superintendent.

One of the finalists is already at Unit Four. She's Assistant Superintendent Dr. Judy Wiegand who becomes interim superintendent next month, when current interim Robert Malito's term runs out. The other finalists are Dr. Darryl Taylor, superintendent of a one-school district in Calumet City ... Dr. Johnnie Thomas, an associate superintendent at the Arlington Heights Township high school district ... and Steven Cobb, the Chief Academic Officer for Fort Wayne Community Schools. Taylor and Thomas are African-American.

The finalists were chosen from a field of nine candidates selected by a search firm hired by the district. The school board made their selection after interviewing the nine. Board member Greg Novak says he's looking for a new superintendent who can help move the school district forward.

"It sounds vague", says Novak of that goal, "but we broke that down. We were looking at areas like technology, academic success, experience with building facilities. But again, the goal was we want to take the district to the next step."

School Board President Sue Grey says they chose the four finalists with an eye towards building on the progress Unit Four made under the last superintendent, Arthur Culver.

"We made great strides while we were working through the consent decree process, things with curriculum and equity and achievement and all of our students", said Grey. "And so that was something that was very important to us as a board, that people understood the significance of that, and how we wanted to continue making progress."

The four finalists will be in Champaign next week for interviews with the school board and with an advisory committee made up of community members. The committee includes Nathaniel Banks (a former school board member), Laurie Bonnett, Charles Burton, Joan Dixon, Peter Fox, Ginny Holder, Charles Larenas, Pat Lewis, Rebecca Motley, Prue Runkle,Ryan Searby, Jennifer Shelby, Seth Swartz, Mirelsie Velazques, Scott Walter and Barb Wilson.

The interviews will held be behind closed doors, but the public can email their questions for the candidates, now through Sunday, December 11th, at communitycommittee@champaignschools.org

Board President Grey says a final vote on a new superintendent could be made as soon as the December 19th school board meeting. Unit Four hopes to have a new superintendent hired and ready to begin work by July 1st, 2012.

The previous superintendent, Arthur Culver, left Unit Four earlier this year, and is now the superintendent for the East St. Louis school district. Since then, retired school administrator Robert Malito has served as an interim superintendent on a parttime basis. Judy Wiegand is scheduled to take over as the interim superintendent in January.

Categories: Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 09, 2011

EIU Taps Baylor Assistant to Succeed Spoo

Eastern Illinois has hired Baylor assistant coach Dino Babers to take over for longtime head football coach Bob Spoo.

The school announced Babers' hiring on Friday. The longtime assistant coach was a member of Spoo's first staff at Eastern in 1987. The Football Championship Subdivision school plays in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Babers coached Baylor's wide receivers and has been at the school since 2008. The Bears went 9-3 this season and are headed to the Alamo Bowl.

He played at Hawaii and has been an assistant at schools including Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, San Diego State, UCLA, Arizona, Purdue, Northern Arizona and UNLV.

Spoo announced plans to retire before this season. The Panthers finished 2-9. Spoo finished with a career record of 144-131-1.

Categories: Sports
Tags: sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 09, 2011

Raw Audio: Jon Corzine Testifies Before House Ag Committee

Former U.S. Senator and New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine told a congressional panel Thursday that he never intended to break rules requiring failed securities firm MF Global to safeguard client funds. He also said he doesn't know what happened to an estimated $1.2 billion that went missing. Among those who questioned Corzine on Capitol Hill was Congressman Tim Johnson (R-Urbana).

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 09, 2011

University of Illinois Hires Toledo’s Football Coach

The 23rd head football coach in University of Illinois history is Tim Beckman, who hails from the University of Toledo.

Introduced in an afternoon press conference Friday, Beckman calls the job an opportunity of a lifetime. He says the top goal is building a family - an accountable group of players that will set aside personal goals to achieve team goals.

"It's very important that each one of these players understands that," said Beckman. "Because throughout my career, throughout my time as a coach's son, I've seen some great, great football teams have excelled on the football field, excelled in the classroom, and excelled in the community because they were successful as being men, and successful as being a family."

In three seasons, Beckman led the Toledo Rockets to a 21-16 record, and two bowl bids. "I was raised in this profession," said Beckman. "There are only certain coaches in college football that can say for every waking minute of my life I've been around football."

Beckman inherited a team that went 3-9 in 2008, improving to 5-7 in 2009 before going 8-5 with a 7-1 record in the Mid-American Conference. Beckman's father, Dave, coached football on all levels, including at Iowa, and worked in the front offices of the Browns and Chargers. He learned under such names as Pat Dye, Urban Meyer, Mike Gundy, and Jim Tressel.

He says his first priority in his new job is recruitment. And he says his players will quickly learn his intense style of play.

"You will see that on every football player's face and every football player's game-type ability that he shows each and every day that he steps out there in this great stadium that we have, or in this great conference that we have in the Big Ten," said Beckman.

"He's a mentor," said U of I Athletic Director Mike Thomas. "And it's not just something that happens in the recruiting process and as these kids are with us for four or five years, but part of their lives when they leave the University of Illinois with their diplomas."

Beckman, 46, is a native of Berea, Ohio. Prior to his three years at Toledo, he held a variety of roles on the staff of teams, including those at Oklahoma State, Ohio State, and Bowling Green Universities. He'll earn a salary of $9-million over 5 years at the U of I. And Beckman confirmed he would only be a spectator at the Illini's appearance in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on New Year's Eve. Vic Koenning will serve as interim coach for that game.

Beckman holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Findlay, and a master's from Auburn University.

Watch Tim Beckman's opening remarks on Friday, December 09, 2011

Categories: Biography, Education, Sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 09, 2011

Champaign Police Chief Finalists Weigh in on Citizens Police Review Board

Champaign residents had the chance Thursday night to hear from the four people vying to become the city's next police chief. The event was organized by groups like the League of Women Voters of Champaign County, the NAACP, and the ACLU.

This was the first time the city of Champaign held public interviews with each of the police chief candidates. They each answered 11 questions based on topics submitted by the public ranging from police community relations to the use of excessive force.

The police force has faced heavy criticism in the last few years over police-community relations. Those concerns have prompted renewed calls for a citizens police review board.

Urbana Assistant Chief of Police Anthony Cobb said he wants to bring credibility back to the Champaign Police Department. Cobb said he was involved in creating Urbana's Civilian Police Review Board, and he acknowledged that it could work in Champaign.

"In order to do it correctly, it's going to take both sides - the citizens and the police - to sit down and truly tackle what are the issues we're trying to address," Cobb said.

But Kim Johnson, who's the police captain in East Lansing Michigan, said he doesn't have a citizens police review board where he works, and it has worked out just fine.

"We've been very transparent in how we do policing in East Lansing," Johnson said. "So, I'm not in favor of the citizen review board."

Johnson said if he becomes Champaign's next police chief, he would try to make the department more transparent. However, if there is still a need for a citizens police review board, he said he would support one.

Another one of the candidates is St. Louis, Missouri Police Lieutenant Colonel Antoinette Filla, who has worked with the same police force for nearly 40 years. She said she likes the idea of that kind of oversight, and she said other police officers shouldn't be discouraged by it.

"I know officers think that as soon as a citizen's review board comes in that everybody's going to get fired, and that's not the case," she said.

The other candidate being considered for the job is Gregory Anderson, who is the police chief in the Chicago suburb of Oak Forrest. He is opened-minded about a citizens police review board, saying if it's done; it needs to be done right.

"But I would hope there's other ways we could do it by the police department being much more open with the public, being transparent, and explaining the police processes in exactly why we do things in a certain way," Anderson said.

All of the candidates said Champaign's police force could have a stronger relationship with the community that is built on transparency and respect.

"We have a situation in Champaign where we have a great police force and a great community, and we need to integrate them," said Mayor Don Gerard. "I think that community-based policing is the way to go."

Champaign City Manager Steve Carter said one of these candidates will likely be offered the job as the city's police chief right after the start of new year, and begin work in February or March.


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