The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois on October 17, 2003 · Page 1
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The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois · Page 1

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Friday, October 17, 2003
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www.pantagraph.com FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2003 50 Cents C 0 N N E & TRAL ILLINOIS ft Red Sox, Yankees take pennant race into extra innings sports Researcher looking J5 h to preserve legacy r'Mki' of Sears homes I Yom fSTC7 PARAGRAPH 7 ?,, I) .V, '.".$: . .. .. , r it it Ed Rust Jr. Rust: We all have role in teaching State Earm CEO addresses NAACP banquet By Mlchele Stelnbacher PANTAGRAPH STAFF NORMAL The entire community, not just educators, needs to work to improve education, especially for vulnerable children, the head of State Farm Insur ance (Jos. said Thursday at the NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet in Normal. "We can't point a finger and blame the educators," said Ed Rusf Jr., chairman and CEO of State Farm. Rust previously has called on the business community to help improve the education system. On Thursday, he said providing equal education is the responsibility of everyone in a community While State Farm is committed to health and safety issues, . such as learning how and why children are injured in car accidents, it also campaigns to improve education for all U.S. children, Rust said. Rust applauded the NAACP for working "so that all children enter the economic and social mainstream of the United States and experience everything it has to offer." State Farm provides grants to more than 100 branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, he said. Communities need to address why so many schools have fallen behind in the effort to provide equal education, Rust said. Often, minority children, children from low-income homes, and those from single-family homes are not expected to compete, he said. But, the federal No Child Left Behind Act is a step toward making schools accountable, he said. "It's not perfect and it has faced criticisms," but the act provides a road map to help schools make necessary changes, he said. It looks at Output data rather than input data. SEE RUST BACK PAGE INSIDE ABBY D4 CLASSIFIED C3 COMICS B8 CROSSWORD D8 ENTERTAINMENT D6 HOROSCOPE D5 LOTTERY A2 MOVIES D6 OBITUARIES All OPINION A12 STOCKS ' C2 Weather TODAY'S FORECAST Mostly sunny and cool. High56Low'42 For complete weather information, see Today's Weather on the back page. Copyright 2003 The Pantagraph A Pulitzer newspaper III 6 l",32685"0000f"1 5 4 sections, 44 pages 00 El Paso, Gridley districts to join By Sharon K. Wolfe PANTAGRAPH STAFF . The El Paso and Gridley school boards voted unanimously Thursday night to ask their voters to approve merging their districts. The vote was 5-0 in Gridley, said Superintendent Bill James. He said two board members who could not attend the meeting indicated in writing they would have voted for it had they been present. The vote was 7-0 in El Paso, said Su- iirfs sipprows ifflif Chenoa to Join Prairie Central school district Page A3 perintendent Jim Miller. "I'm very pleased," Miller said. "We've seen a lot of cooperation between the two school districts and the two communities." The petitions seeking consolidation will be filed Monday with the Regional Office of Education for Marshall, Putnam, and Woodford Counties, Miller said. The Regional Board of School Trustees for that region is expected to have public hearings in mid-November at El Paso High School. The districts have been planning on winning approval in time to put the consolidation question on the March 16, 2004, ballot. Residents will be able to ask questions at a meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at El Paso High School's Centennial Gym. The Committee of Ten, a coalition of school and community leaders from both towns, has been working on the details of a consolidated district for months. The plan envisions El Paso having the high school and fifth- and sixth-graders. Gridley would have seventh- and eighth-graders, and both towns would house schools for kindergarten through fourth grade. In addition to voting on consolidating their districts, voters in both communities will be asked to approve property tax rates for the new district. The committee has recommended an education fund tax rate of $3.40 per $100 equalized assessed valuation. The districts at one time considered annexing Gridley, which has about 390 students, into El Paso, which has about 925 students. Officials rejected that, however, because that would have bound them to El Paso's $3.20 tax rate, which they decided was not high enough to assure a financially sound district. Correspondent Brian Hillmer contributed to this report. Veterans work nearly complete 'its ' r--"' MM ill 1 i An I4U : w .r I V" -s lilt ' S J f v J Mm Kv ' . . ?y -i HI -r r 1 . t h : ' : T" -: VI r- v.v'': ' 5 The PantagraphSTEPI Eddie Shickel, right, of Rowe Construction in Bloomington, used a Global Positioning System as construction was being Pipeline Road in Normal on Wednesday. The PantagraphSTEPHANIE OBERLANDER aone on 1-55 interchange won't be finished until next summer By Mary Ann Ford PANTAGRAPH STAFF NORMAL The northbound lanes of Veterans Parkway from Fort Jesse to Shepard roads in northeast Normal opened this week, and the southbound lanes should follow in about a month. The rest of the project, which includes a new Interstate 55 interchange, probably won't be completed until early next summer about a half year later than the original target date of mid-December. Bob Hack, Illinois Department of Transportation resident engineer for the project, said a wet spring and July flooding held up the $37.2 million project. If the weather cooperates now, Hack said Veterans Parkway from Fort Jesse to Shepard roads "should be pretty well wrapped up" and the new lanes of 1-55 should be done by the end of the year. Drivers will have to use some temporary ramps through the winter, Hack said, then the road work will continue next spring and probably be completed in June. Accompanying landscape work will likely go into July, he added. SEE VETERANS BACK PAGE ' Jury: Boy's death in hospital a suicide By Steve Silverman PANTAGRAPH STAFF URBANA A 12-year-old Bloomington boy killed himself at a psychiatric hospital after becoming distraught about an impending move to a new foster home, a Champaign police officer testified Thursday. A Champaign County coro- ners jury Ronald Hamilton ruled Thurs day that Ronald Hamilton's death was a suicide. After the hearing, officer Patrick Funkhouser said no criminal investiga tion is under way because there's no evidence of intentional misconduct by anyone at The Pavilion in Champaign,' where the boy was hospitalized. However, the state Department of Children and Family Services is looking into whether neglect at The Pavilion, 809 W. Church, Champaign, was a factor in the boy's death. How child-welfare workers handled the family's case also is under review. A DCFS spokeswoman said results are expected in November. Funkhouser told the jury that staff members and a patient at The Pavilion reported Ronald began acting out Aug. 10 after learning he would be sent to another foster home the next day. He was "verbally disruptive," but gave no indication that he intended to harm himself, Funkhouser said. The boy later was found lying unconscious on the floor. He apparently hanged himself by wrapping a bed sheet around his neck and attaching it to the . door of his room, Funkhouser said. Ronald died a' few days later from massive brain injuries. Funkhouser said notes made by staff members at The Pavilion indicated the boy was checked every 15 to 30 minutes on the day of his death. Asked by a member of the coroner's jury whether the boy could have rigged the bed sheet and hanged himself within that time frame, Funkhouser replied: "I think he could have." Chief Deputy Coroner Bill Fabian said Ronald's physical condition suggested the hanging was discovered relatively quickly SEE SUICIDE BACK PAGE Unit 5 alters junior high, high school bus routes 1 1; M The PantaqraphSTEVE SMEDLEY Unit 5 school bus driver Tom Grove, of rural Car-lock, looked over his new route as he waited for students Thursday outside Kingsley Junior High School in Normal. The new route will start Monday.,"lt's like starting the school year all over again," said Grove. Changes should shorten students' ride, wait times By Rebecca Loda PANTAGRAPH STAFF NORMAL Unit 5 is making transportation changes that will separate junior high and high school students as well as reduce ride and wait times. New bus routes will take effect Monday. Letters about the changes and the new routes were mailed to families Wednesday, said Assistant Superintendent of Operations Randy Vincent. Information also is available on the district Web site, www.unit5.org. Drivers ran each of the new routes between Oct. 8 and Monday. The routes will continue to be monitored for adjustments. The district experienced transportation problems at the beginning of the school year, which resulted in some route revisions. The latest changes will be another step in the right direction, Vincent said. "I feel better about these routes than certainly what we began the school year with," he said, adding that there is "potential for greater improvement" in the future. No elementary school or special-education busing changes are planned. The new junior high routes are designed to reduce total ride and wait times for most students by 20 to 40 minutes each day. Further reductions might be realized once actual ridership is determined. SEE ROUTES BACK PAGE

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