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URBANA – Union negotiators Tuesday reluctantly recommended ratifying a one-year teachers' contract, admitting that it's no "dream contract."
After lengthy discussion about the offer's shortcomings, 297 union members attending the late afternoon meeting voted to approve the contract, which offers average pay increases of 3.5 percent. Urbana Education Association President Deb Tuttle declined to reveal the number of members who voted against the contract but she said approval was "overwhelming."
CHAMPAIGN – Ben Settler, 19, goes to the gym four times a week and enjoys his stress-free summer workout with no long lines for the treadmills or weight benches.
That enjoyment will cease rather quickly once other University of Illinois students come back and realize they have one less exercise facility near campus.
URBANA – The Democratic steamroller toward creating a countywide election commission stalled Tuesday night.
The Champaign County Board's policy committee, controlled 6-3 by Democrats, failed to forward the election commission proposal to the full county board, which meets Thursday night.
URBANA – The head of the University of Illinois journalism department will take over as interim dean of the College of Communications.
Ron Yates, who was appointed head of the journalism department in 1997 after a long newspaper career, will be interim dean beginning Thursday, according to a release from UI Provost Richard Herman.
CHAMPAIGN – Look out, Las Vegas ... this toddlin' town can rock until the crack of 2:30 a.m., 365 days a year, effective immediately.
But city council members don't expect Champaign to become a Sodom of the plains.
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.