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In the company of richly artistic statues of Saddam Hussein and opulent doors that he only half jokingly says are probably worth more than his house here, Ghassan Al-Chaar decided he still would have preferred a one-star hotel to the former presidential palace in Baghdad.
For one thing, the air conditioning wasn't working too well, a liability in a place where 110- to 120-degree temperatures weren't uncommon.
A statewide foster-care agency pulls out of Champaign after more than 40 years of service.
Matthew House, a home for at-risk youth, cancels a major fund-raiser after lackluster ticket sales.
The local branch of the Alzheimer's Association closes its doors, citing a drop in donations.
The United Way of Champaign County fails to meet its fund-raising goal for the first time in several years, forcing it to curb donations to community agencies.
SPRINGFIELD – Dubbed the "all-American" fuel, biodiesel is the buzz these days from Lollapalooza summer music fest, to Berkeley, Calif., to the Springfield bus system.
Now the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation and The Atkins Group have confirmed that a California-based biodiesel production company has approached them about building a $20 million plant in Champaign County.
RURAL FITHIAN – Danville resident Josh Wroblewski fell in love with scuba diving on a trip to a Caribbean island. When he returned home, he knew he wanted to get certified.
To do that, he thought he would have to go to a scuba store in Champaign – the only place in East Central Illinois he knew of that offered a course. Then he saw a small sign in a field along Interstate 74 near Oakwood.
URBANA – The class of '93 picked a classy Latin motto – "Esse, quam videri" or "To be as you seem" – but fairly prosaic class colors, basic brown and pink.
The class of '95 expressed its motto in plain English – "This ends our first lesson" – but graduates' choice of colors was far more fanciful – mahogany and salmon.
CHAMPAIGN – Champaign-Urbana posted a No. 10 ranking for quality of life in a new survey of U.S. cities by Expansion Management Magazine.
The survey ranked 329 metropolitan statistical areas in six categories: level of education spending and attainment; health care cost and availability; quality of life; logistics and transportation infrastructure; labor market quality and quantity, including accessibility to higher education; and business climate, including taxation and regulatory matters.
URBANA – The 2003 wheat harvest has set records, and farmers and crop watchers wonder if those unprecedented yields will set the pace for corn and soybean harvest action.
In fact, corn and soybeans seem to be shaping up well, but historically, there's little connection among harvest outcomes of the three crops, says Emerson Nafziger, a University of Illinois crop scientist. He's been watching the wheat crop carefully this year and describes harvest results as a "European" crop outcome because yields far exceeded typical U.S. averages.
DANVILLE – When a 19-year old Danville man was killed in a one-car accident on Tuesday night, he was just a couple of weeks short of entering basic training with the National Guard.
Joshua A. DeMoss had already been attending unit meetings and training for A Company 2/130 Infantry for a few months, according to company commander 1st Lt. Leland Blanchard.
SPRINGFIELD – East Central Illinois was very good to Gov. Rod Blagojevich this summer.
In campaign finance disclosure documents released Thursday evening, the Friends of Blagojevich campaign committee reported $215,330 in contributions in the first six months of this year, $50,000 of which came from Champaign-area contributors during June.
DANVILLE – The last few months, Danville resident Julie Gilpatrick would drive through downtown, where workers were building the new Temple Plaza.
She could see them laying a brick wall and pouring a concrete floor, but she could not see what she was most curious about – a much-talked about centerpiece that was being kept hidden behind a plywood screen.