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SPRINGFIELD – As Labor Day approaches, two new state laws will make life a little easier for the lowest-income working families in Illinois.
"Americans honor work, yet too often, we fail to reward it," said Jerry Stermer, president of Voices For Illinois Children.
URBANA – Yen Ching restaurant in Urbana is no more, as developers James Burch and Paul Tatman have acquired the property at the northeast corner of Five Points intersection and plan to clear it soon for redevelopment.
But Wenxiu Lin, the owner of Yen Ching, has signed a lease to open a new Chinese restaurant at the south entrance of Lincoln Square Mall. The 120-seat restaurant, to be called Tang Dynasty, should be open by mid-November or early December in vacant space just opposite Art Mart.
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.
RANTOUL – A Rantoul retirement community is taking advantage of a little-used part of the Illinois tax code to avoid paying property taxes.
As a result, Rantoul's assessed valuation will drop by about $616,000, so all other property owners in Rantoul will eventually pay higher property taxes to make up what Prairie Village will no longer pay.
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 – 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.