Hong Kong to Beijing train: Riding in different worlds

I lived in Urbana until age 13 and recently moved back at age 69. One of my favorite trips was one my wife, daughter and I made last year from Hong Kong to Beijing by train.

U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter Hong Kong. Hong Kong is what the Chinese call a special administrative region. The Chinese say of Hong Kong, "one country, two systems," and consider it part of China.

Magazine sale to start at Champaign Public Library

CHAMPAIGN – Starting Saturday, the Champaign Public Library will sell older issues of magazines for 10 cents each at a "Magazine Clearance Sale" on weekends in January. The annual event promotes recycling and benefits the library.

The magazines, most dating from 2008, are copies of the most popular titles among the 400-plus the library offers.

Two Urbana women making eighth Rose Parade trek

Before feeling extreme envy of two Urbana women spending the week in sunny California, consider this:

Melanie Hall and Patty Palmer are marching in the Tournament of Roses Parade for about 7 miles while wearing 2-inch high-heeled shoes, hosiery and skirts.

DACC offering courses in cooking and cake decorating

DANVILLE – Thinking of turning over a new leaf in the new year? Want to cook more at home or maybe fancy up those homemade birthday cakes?

Danville Area Community College's Community Education classes can help with that. The department will offer a series of cake decorating and cooking classes beginning as early as next week.

Tried and True: Ben Galewsky's Spinach Pancakes

Ben Galewsky of Urbana first tried these savory spinach pancakes in the home of a Japanese friend in Urbana.

Area Update

St. Joseph grade school district cuts tax rate

ST. JOSEPH – Thanks to the county's new school sales tax, the property tax rate for The St. Joseph Community Consolidated School District will drop in the upcoming year, said Superintendent Todd Pence.

The Chorale, young talent ready 'Broadway Revue'

CHAMPAIGN – Some of Champaign-Urbana's top young talent will help The Chorale usher in the New Year at the group's annual C-U at the Virginia show on Thursday evening.

The four will sing Broadway songs in both parts of the show, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Virginia Theatre.

Uni High alumnus brings home an Oscar

We all know Champaign-Urbana, the University of Illinois and its University High School produce amazingly talented folks who go on to achieve major things.

One is Uni High alumnus Paul Debevec, described as "Hollywood's Master of Light" by a headline writer for MIT's Technology Review magazine, which in 2002 included Debevec in its list of the world's top 100 young innovators.

'An invisible problem': Homelessness also affects young

Mason Hurtado is an athletic boy with an enormous smile and neatly trimmed hair. He is a sixth-grader at Franklin Middle School in Champaign, where he takes college preparatory classes and participates in chess club, basketball and – come January – wrestling.

Inside the classroom, he looks just like any of his peers. But when he leaves school at the end of the day, Mason heads home to a two-room apartment filled to the ceiling with clothes, toys and other pieces of his family's life from before they were homeless.

Art Theater's new owner plans changes, welcomes input

CHAMPAIGN – Movie lover Sanford Hess is taking over ownership of the only art-movie house in Champaign-Urbana. He has a lot of ideas but no preconceived notions.

And he's open to input about what he is renaming the Art Theater, currently Boardman's Art Theatre.

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