Ben Zigterman

Ben Zigterman

Just Askin' | Raking leaves

Each week, biz writer Ben Zigterman takes your questions. Email them to

Q: Why do we rake leaves?

A: Mostly to keep up appearances.

"I think the main reason is because it looks good for the lawn," said Steven Tufte, the owner of Ambassador Lawn Care in Champaign.

Parkland's drone-flying classes seeing rise in attendance

CHAMPAIGN — At Parkland College's drone class, students manuever tiny drones around obstacles in the gym.

The contraptions are just a few inches long, similar to the ones seen in drone racing on ESPN.

Still, they can be difficult to fly and serve as good learning devices, said Mandy Briggs, an instructor with Parkland's Institute of Aviation.

UPDATE: 1 dead, 4 hurt in head-on crash on U.S. 45 near Thomasboro

UPDATE, 11:45 p.m.:

URBANA — The driver of a vehicle involved in a head-on collision with a garbage truck Friday afternoon on U.S. 45 south of Thomasboro has died.

State police responding to three crashes on I-74 in, near Urbana

URBANA — State police are responding to multiple crashes on Interstate 74 between Urbana and St. Joseph.

Around 1 p.m., Illinois State Police at District 10 tweeted that they were responding to a crash in the eastbound lanes near mile marker 186.5 between Urbana and St. Joseph.

UPDATE: 2 to 3 inches of snow reported in Champaign County

UPDATED, 5 p.m.:

CHAMPAIGN — Downtown and Campustown businesses need to clear snow in front of their properties within 48 hours, the city said Thursday afternoon.

Businesses have until 2:45 p.m. Saturday to comply by shoveling a path that's 4 feet wide or the width of the sidewalk, whichever is smaller.

Corner properties also need to clear sidewalk ramps.

UPDATE: Champaign teachers union files notice of intent to strike

UPDATE, 10:45 a.m.:

CHAMPAIGN — The president of the Champaign teachers union said the group has officially filed its intent-to-strike notice after another bargaining session failed to yield a tentative deal Wednesday.

Simulation dummies helping train nurses at Clark-Lindsey Village

URBANA — When nurses at Clark-Lindsey Village want a little more training, they practice on Chester and Seymour.

These aren't unlucky residents, but new simulation dummies the retirement community bought this year, along with a realistic-feeling arm.

Former Davis campaign staffer gets probation in incident at Londrigan event

SPRINGFIELD — A former campaign staffer for U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, pleaded guilty Wednesday to disorderly conduct a week after his former boss was narrowly elected to a fourth term in Congress.

Levi Lovell was arrested in August for allegedly punching a man at a Springfield tavern where Davis' Democratic opponent, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, was holding a campaign event.

Latest El Toro to open in January at Carle at the Fields

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The Mexican restaurant El Toro hopes to open at Carle at the Fields in January.

“We are just starting the buildout of the El Toro space,” said Chris Saunders, owner of Green Street Realty.

Just Askin' | Leftover pumpkins

Q: What's done with all those leftover pumpkins?

A: At Curtis Orchard in southwest Champaign, they're used as fertilizer.

"We put them out in the patch, and some will become pumpkins for next year," said Kelsey Jestis, a manager at Curtis Orchard.

She said there's still some pumpkins for sale, though.