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Champaign man travels many paths before becoming restaurant owner

CHAMPAIGN – Long before he became a restaurateur, Harold Allston dreamed of being a chess champion, or the next Great American Novelist.

But a chance job he took at the now-defunct Greater Downtown Food & Beverage restaurant in downtown Champaign started him on a different path.

Rental registry proposal irks Urbana landlords

URBANA – It's just a draft ordinance, subject to future changes. But a proposed rental registration and systematic inspection program in Urbana is already drawing heat from landlords.

The Urbana City Council, as the committee of the whole, will discuss the draft starting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.

Shopping center plan endorsed for Urbana

URBANA – The Atkins Group is planning to break ground in late July or early August on a 7-acre commercial development at the southeast corner of Windsor and Philo roads.

The development will be called The Pines at Stone Creek Commons. It will include six standalone buildings with 28,000 square feet of space grouped around a plaza. The development will also include three outlots of about an acre each that will be marketed for sale.

UI Researchers create computer that recognizes body movement

Read my lips isn't the half of it.

When humans talk, we do more than pay attention to the words coming out of our mouths.

Madigan seeking audit of water company

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants the Illinois Commerce Commission to audit Illinois American Water's statewide billing, metering and customer service operations, she announced on Wednesday.

"Illinois American's customers deserve the best possible service for the rates they pay," Madigan stated in a written release. "Our investigation revealed that these customers cannot rely on the billing they receive and that customer service follow-up is inadequate."

UI Researchers get ultrasound to act like laser light

Richard Weaver appears almost giddy talking about sound waves.

Here's something cool, he relates. Stand in a big echoing room, like a cathedral, clap your hands, and listen to the sound bouncing around.

New foundation off to solid beginning

CHAMPAIGN – It's only a few months old, but already the newly created Champaign Parks Foundation has collected more than $80,000 to help support city parks.

The foundation was created late last year by the Champaign Park District to provide additional financial support to the park district, which derives most of its income through property taxes.

Wendy's on South Neil in Champaign shuts its doors

CHAMPAIGN – "Ain't no reason to go anyplace else."

That was once the slogan of Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers. But as of this week, patrons of the Wendy's on South Neil Street had a very compelling reason to go elsewhere: The restaurant was closed.

Mayor changes her mind, signs smoking ordinance

URBANA – Mayor Laurel Prussing has changed her mind and signed a city council ordinance that bans smoking in indoor public places and workplaces, but sets different effective dates for bars and restaurants.

The ordinance bans smoking in bars effective Jan. 1, but sets an earlier effective date, Aug. 1, for restaurants and other public places and places of employment. The city council approved the ordinance on June 5 in a 6-1 vote.

Proximity to parts plants a crucial factor

DANVILLE – A glance at a map explains why Honda Motor Co. officials opted for an Indiana site over Vermilion County's 2,000-acre proposal.

"Geography got us in it. ... Geography ultimately got us to the final four. But the serious consideration was our location to other Honda sites (in Ohio)," said Vicki Haugen, CEO and president of Vermilion Advantage, the county's economic development agency.