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Champaign bar serving second week of suspension

CHAMPAIGN – Kam's, a popular Campustown tavern, is closed for business through this Monday, as the business serves the second week of a two-week suspension ordered this summer by Champaign Mayor Jerry Schweighart.

"I've said binge drinking won't be tolerated," said Schweighart, who said the suspension resulted from the bar's sponsoring happy hour drinking games last spring.

Ready for school to start

CHAMPAIGN – Gwen Toren spent last week getting her South Side School classroom ready for 23 students, who report on Wednesday to begin mastering fifth-grade skills.

Toren taught at Stratton School for three years before she moved to South Side for the upcoming school year. She was one of about 20 teachers at Stratton assigned to new schools after a reshuffling that affected all Champaign schools.

Record number of freshmen attending UI

Jeff Pittelkow already has an interesting twist to his freshman year. When he received his residence hall room assignment, he found out he was around the corner from his sister, Liz, who happens to be the resident adviser for the adjacent wing.

Pittelkow should have plenty of fun telling the story to his fellow freshmen, who constitute the largest class ever admitted to the University of Illinois. Unofficially, 6,768 first-year students will start classes in 2003, about 400 more than last year. There were about 22,271 freshman applications, compared with 21,484 in 2002.

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.

Urbana OKs later alcohol sales

URBANA – As expected, the Urbana City Council followed the lead of the city of Champaign and extended allowing alcohol sales from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m.

The vote was unanimous.

But the council even upped the ante a bit, allowing bars to stay open until 3 a.m., a half-hour later than Champaign permitted.

Air traffic controllers against privatization

SPRINGFIELD – Air traffic controllers from across the region gathered at Capital Airport to protest the possible privatization of their jobs at the Springfield airport, Willard Airport in Savoy and other similarly sized airports across the country.

Controllers said on Monday that the safety of the public will be put at risk by a White House initiative to contract out the service traditionally operated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

'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.

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.