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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.
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.
CHAMPAIGN – Longtime Champaign library employee Essie Harris has been appointed manager of the Douglass Branch Library, capping a difficult and divisive episode that pitted Douglass patrons against the library board over the firing of the previous branch manager.
In another administrative decision, Mary Bissey has been appointed assistant director for the main library, filling the position left by the retiring Cecilia Gaines.
CHAMPAIGN – Proposed money-saving cutbacks in Parkland College services and activities have put administration and support staff union members at odds.
About 40 members of the Professional Support Staff Association attended the board meeting Thursday night to air their objections to suggested plans to close the college's theater, planetarium and art gallery during the summer, possibly as soon as next summer.
CLINTON – A Canadian man faces federal charges accusing him of taking money from a Clinton woman who had been duped into thinking she had won a million dollars in a Canadian lottery, according to federal prosecutors.
U.S. Attorney Jan Paul Miller announced that Joseph Baroud, 37, a Canadian citizen who listed a New York, N.Y., address, was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on a charge of interstate transportation of stolen money. If convicted, Baroud faces up to 10 years in federal prison.
ARCOLA – Despite what the parents of a missing Arcola woman characterize as a threat to keep them quiet, they continue to seek help from the public through reporters in locating their daughter.
At a news conference in Arcola on Wednesday, Rickey Ferguson of Arcola said he and his wife Annette remain committed to keeping information about their daughter, Gwendalyn Marie Maxedon, in the public eye.