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Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, is announcing the launch of a petition drive today to protest the University of Illinois' decision to extend same-sex partner benefits to employees.
"The thing that I cannot understand as a legislator is how the UI can cut 506 course sections, lay off 167 lower-level employees, and yet they had no problem finding the $400,000 to pay for this," Rose said. "The bottom line is, they've got their priorities seriously out of whack when they place expanded benefits for a small segment of employees over their core mission, which is education of students, and jobs for key frontline employees that are being laid off."
CHAMPAIGN – Score one for the pedestrians.
Two years of Campustown street improvements that were spurred by a University of Illinois student's death will come to fruition when the newly renovated Sixth Street has a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Local students looking for first-year teachers to harass are going to have a much harder time finding them this year. Whether it's due to state budget cuts or longtime teachers refusing to take retirement packages in an unsteady economy, several districts have few rookie teachers at their schools.
The Urbana school district will start the year with only three first-time teachers, while Danville has five. Champaign, which has the largest school district of the three, is the exception with 22 first-time teachers starting this fall.
CHAMPAIGN – Colwell Systems will replace its two existing plants in Champaign with a new 150,000-square-foot facility northwest of town, company officials said today.
Groundbreaking for the $12 million plant near the intersection of U.S. 150 and Duncan Road is expected to take place in March. The 370 employees from the Kenyon Road and Staley Road plants will move to that facility, as will 50 jobs from a Colwell plant in Roselle.
URBANA – A rezoning petition has been submitted for 76 acres in east Urbana that is under consideration for a possible Wal-Mart Supercenter.
The Urbana Plan Commission will consider at its 7:30 p.m. meeting Thursday a request from the city zoning administrator to rezone the 76 acres at the southeast corner of Illinois 130 and U.S. 150 from industrial to general business.
URBANA – An Urbana native well-versed in promotion and organization has been hired as the new executive director of the Urbana Business Association.
R. Douglas Marcum, 50, returned from New York last week to take the job, just a week before the association's biggest annual event, the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival. Marcum succeeds Laurie Bonnett, who has accepted a job with the Urban League of Champaign County.
After shopping around and finally going out of state for the kind of wedding she wanted, Michelle Baker of Champaign became the Rev. Michelle Baker and started her own wedding business called Nifty Nuptials.
Baker has teamed up with her sister, wedding coordinator Kandice Leonard, and between the two of them, they now handle all the details of a betrothed couple's wedding – including photography, music, flowers and the ceremony itself, performed by Baker, an ordained Christian minister through the Universal Life Church, which does ordinations online without question of faith.
RANTOUL – The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce will have two new board members next month.
Chamber Executive Director Joe Bolser said Thursday that Connie Franzen of Deena's Style Shop and Dennis Long, chairman of the Bank of Rantoul, have been elected to join the chamber board.
ARCOLA – A rural Arcola woman who left her home with her boyfriend nearly a month ago, leaving her two young children behind, was discovered and arrested along with the boyfriend Sunday afternoon by Biloxi, Miss., police.
Biloxi police arrested the woman, Gwendolyn Maxedon, 23, and her boyfriend, Michael McGehe, 24, at a Greyhound bus station in Biloxi. Both were arrested on Douglas County warrants accusing them of residential burglary in connection with the burglary of a garage safe owned by Maxedon's parents in which more than $30,000 in cash, coins and jewelry was taken, according to Rickey Ferguson, Maxedon's father.
Bite into a piece of sweet corn at the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival this week and you will be biting into a piece of University of Illinois history.
Fifty years ago next month in the journal Genetics, John Laughnan, a UI corn geneticist and botany professor, published an article describing a gene that caused corn kernels to store less starch and more sugar.