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Champaign County panel to discuss fee hikes

URBANA – A raft of proposed fee increases for users of the Champaign County government would help generate nearly $740,000 annually for county government during fiscal year 2004.

But even that added income may not be enough to enable the Champaign County Board to award salary increases for county employees this coming year, county officials say.


Renters do their homework

When sophomore Sahil Bhatia was searching for his first apartment, it wasn't simply location that topped his wish list. He targeted a nine-month lease because he has no plans to take summer classes in 2004.

"I didn't want to go through the hassle of subleasing," said Bhatia, who moved into his new four-bedroom apartment at Melrose Place this month. "It's much easier for students."


Woman's sculpture a tribute to farmers

ROSSVILLE ? Dana Thomas is thinking huge these days.

The owner of D2 of Rossville does specialty painting for businesses and private residences, applying faux finishes, painting murals and creating special effects. Whether it's a margarita door or a simulated tin ceiling, Thomas makes her clients environs something to talk about.


Salt Fork plan draws opposition

URBANA – The Upper Salt Fork Drainage District has filed plans to clear-cut the banks and remove sediment from several miles of the Salt Fork from St. Joseph to Rantoul, sparking another conflict with conservationists, who contend the project is unnecessary, costly and damaging to the wildlife habitat.

The district project seeks a $672,800 assessment that would be raised through taxes on landowners, 10 other drainage districts and the villages of Rantoul and St. Joseph.


Water, water, everywhere

DANVILLE – Rising waters forced officials to evacuate the homes off Hungry Hollow Road and place barricades in a number of locations. Flooding and the inability of storm sewers to handle the volume of water made some areas impassable.

The Danville Fire Department, at the request of the local Emergency Management Agency, notified the 30 to 40 residents of Morins Addition by going door-to-door beginning around 9:30 a.m. Monday.


UI's percentage of minorities up again

The University of Illinois continues to dispel the myth that increased diversity equals reduced academic standards.

In a record enrollment of 6,822 freshmen this year, the UI rose in minority enrollment from 30.5 percent to 31.4 percent. That's 2,148 students, 203 more than in 2002. It marked the third consecutive year above 30 percent.


Businesses react to proposed sales tax

RANTOUL – Jerry Glazik, owner of The Aquarium pet shop in downtown Rantoul, said he is concerned about how a proposed 1 percent village sales tax will affect his business.

"I think all the retail businesses are going to get hurt," Glazik said. "I don't think the Rantoul economy needs an increase right now. In the wake of the closing of Chanute Air Force Base, the village should be doing things to help businesses rather than raising our costs."


The sweetheart of sweet corn

HOOPESTON – Miss Georgia, Kandice Pelletier, took the title of the 2003 National Sweetheart at the Hoopeston Sweetcorn Festival on Sunday night.

The blue-eyed blonde from Acworth, Ga., was popular with the crowd from the outset.


Curtis Orchard reserves sales for its store

If you're accustomed to buying Curtis Orchard products at your local grocery store, you'll have to drive a little bit farther to get them now.

The owners of Curtis Orchard said they'll be reserving all their apple and cider production this fall for their store at 3902 S. Duncan Road, C.


Rule bans electronics in federal courts

SPRINGFIELD – Lawyers and other court visitors will soon be forced to leave electronic devices at the door at federal courthouses in central Illinois.

Under an emergency rule effective Oct. 1, the Central District of Illinois will ban cellphones, personal digital assistants, computers, digital audio recorders and related small devices.