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All News Content

Champaign school bus procedures revamped

CHAMPAIGN – School buses rolled through their routes empty today during a dress rehearsal to make sure a revamped pickup and drop-off schedule works smoothly.

On Wednesday, it's show time. It's the first day of school, buses will be filled with anxious students, and officials say they've made schedule improvements to reduce riding time for most students, to separate elementary and secondary students and to eliminate all transfers.

14-story campus site proposed

CHAMPAIGN – The skyline of Campustown could undergo a major change under a preliminary redevelopment proposal before the Champaign City Council.

The tentative plan for the northwest corner of Sixth and Green streets calls for constructing a 14-story apartment building with two floors of commercial space and a nearby 400-space parking deck.

It's Your Business: Babbitt's Books on campus to close soon

Babbitt's Books at 606 E. Green St., C, will close by Sept. 15 and continue doing business at its store in Normal and on the Internet at

Brian Simpson, who has owned the store since 1985, said he is selling all his merchandise at half off, and he'll be increasing the discounts as the closing date gets nearer. He's also selling some bookshelves.

Police target seat belt violators

URBANA – Signs on Cunningham Avenue northbound and southbound announced the drivers were entering a seat belt enforcement zone.

That warning plainly was not enough Sunday afternoon, especially around 5 p.m., when five state police officers and one Urbana officer were handing out $55 seat belt tickets at the rate of 1 per 3 minutes just north of Interstate 74.

'Fairly organized chaos'

CHAMPAIGN – There were swarms of cars lined up Sunday on First Street near Memorial Stadium, with drivers navigating through bumper-to bumper traffic before finally finding parking spots. Then hordes of adults and students leaped out of their cars and headed on their way.

It is the annual ritual of students coming back to campus on Move-In Day. Even though the students get all the attention, the day is often hardest on the parents.

Hiring for new pork plant under way

RANTOUL – A pork processing plant in Rantoul has started hiring workers and will open on time in early November, according to company officials.

Meadowbrook Farms Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jim Altemus said Friday that construction workers are putting the finishing touches on the $28 million plant on the west side of the Rantoul Industrial Park on U.S. 136.

The brother left behind

Melvin – Ask Steve Arends about his John Deere tractor and his eyes widen and a grin breaks across his face. He's looking forward to the Farm Progress Show.

That might not seem so unusual for an aspiring farmer, but it is for this 18-year-old. Not so many months ago, he couldn't smile. He couldn't eat, talk, walk or get a joke.

Back to bunnies for candymakers' legacy

TUSCOLA – Other kids in the '70s took time off from school for harvest or hunting season. Every Easter, little Devon Flesor had a week off to spend with chocolate bunnies.

For five long days, she would take molten chocolate and pour it into molds, tapping them on the bottom to force air bubbles to the top. Then she would do another, and another, and another.

Stratton's new team: 'Watch us'

CHAMPAIGN – The news this summer about Stratton School students' academic achievement was excellent – dramatically improved standardized test scores.

But Stratton students need to repeat that test score success one more year to take the school off the state's academic watch list.

Beating drum for C-U schools

CHAMPAIGN – Gail Glende Rost still has to get psyched up to make "cold calls" contacting potential contributors to the cause.

But even though fund raising doesn't come naturally, it's not hard for Rost to get excited about her job, helping teachers find new ways to improve learning for children in Champaign and Urbana. She believes education is the key to the community's future, and she spends her days creating opportunities for teachers.