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County budget gets boost

URBANA – Champaign County Recorder Barb Frasca says the workload at her office in recent months has her and her five full-time employees "about ready to pull our hair out."

Record low interest rates are leading to record numbers of mortgage refinancings and healthy real estate sales. She's projecting her office will handle as many as 60,000 mortgages, deeds and related real estate documents this year, compared to 45,097 during fiscal 2002, which was a record.

Senior job program changes hands

CHAMPAIGN – A program that provides employment training for more than 50 older workers will continue, but not under the auspices of the Urban League of Champaign County.

The U.S. Department of Labor chose not to renew a $15 million grant to the National Urban League for the Seniors in Community Service Employment Program, $400,000 of which went to the Urban League of Champaign County.

Investigators of shooting seek witness

URBANA – A team investigating the shooting of a Phoenix man last Friday night by police are asking that a witness contact them.

Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that a man approached Deputy Jonathan Reifsteck shortly before 10 p.m. Friday, June 20, to say there was a person slumped over the steering wheel of a truck on East University Avenue near Smith Road.

State planning to enforce no-call phone list with fines

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has something on her schedule today beside her regular duties – she's going to stop telemarketers from calling her.

Today's the first day Americans can ask their federal government to put them on a huge "no-call" list.

Urbana project moves ahead

URBANA – A Northbrook company has been tentatively selected by the city to develop a project that would bring four retail storefronts and 30 residential condominiums to downtown Urbana.

The city of Urbana intends to begin negotiating soon with Brinshore Development LLC about the proposed $7.5 million project, to be called Stratford Center, according to Bruce Walden, Urbana's chief administrative officer.

News-Gazette office to be closed on Saturdays

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign office of The News-Gazette will be closed on Saturdays, beginning this weekend.

The office was open for years on Saturdays, mostly to accept payments from carriers. But changes in the paper's billing practices mean the carriers no longer have to come in on the weekends.

Area police agencies will leave Task Force X

CHAMPAIGN – Local police agencies are pulling out of Task Force X – the multiagency drug investigations unit for Champaign County, law enforcement officials announced Wednesday.

Champaign police Deputy Chief John Murphy said the main reason for the move is to allow agencies to be more flexible in their use of the officers currently assigned to the unit.

Area technology centers land grants

Three community technology centers based in Champaign-Urbana received training grants from the state Wednesday.

"Having a well-trained and diverse workforce is a key element in attracting new and expanding businesses to Illinois, which then creates job opportunities for the people in this state, said Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Citizens blast Illinois Power

CHAMPAIGN – City officials from Champaign and Urbana are planning their next move after two hours of unrestrained bashing against Illinois Power.

A Wednesday night hearing on IP's service and reliability – following a 30-minute power outage that affected thousands of customers in Champaign that afternoon – drew a roomful of unhappy institutional and commercial customers, homebuilders, contractors, developers and elected and appointed officials. Everybody had an outrage to share. And all appeared eager to enlist the city's muscle to correct the situation.

Two finalists for principal discuss plans

CHAMPAIGN – Two finalists – men with completely different styles – talked to parents Wednesday night about expectations and action plans for the new Edison Middle School principal.

The finalists are Stephen Lucas, a University of Illinois faculty member who's an academic expert on middle school education with past experience in the classroom and administration, and Richard Patton, a Champaign native who most recently taught special education in rural Alaska where challenges include finding programs and activities to engage the native peoples there.