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Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed legislation late last week that would help defray costs for smaller districts seeking to form cooperative high schools.
While school consolidation is still highly controversial, the cooperative high school option allows districts to maintain their own elementary and middle schools while forming a single, larger high school. Several area districts have considered the idea, but a lack of state help with the costs of such mergers has been an obstacle.
CHAMPAIGN – A proposed Champaign City Council rules change is continuing to draw fire from the Illinois Attorney General's office, which contends that the rule, if followed, would violate the notice provisions of the Open Meetings Act.
But Champaign City Attorney Fred Stavins said he believes the council rule complies with state law. And he said he is dropping another provision of the proposed rules that he concedes could be abused.
CHAMPAIGN – Outdoor cafes could soon begin appearing along Green Street in Campustown, but city officials don't want customers to be able to drink alcohol at those cafes.
The Champaign City Council will consider at its study session Tuesday night whether to allow outdoor cafes along Green Street, between Wright and Fourth streets.
URBANA – It may cost $1 million or more that Champaign County says it doesn't have to fix the heating/cooling system in its new $20 million nursing home.
None of the four options to fix the air flow and noise problems is ideal, an independent engineer told the county board Thursday night.
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to sign legislation today creating an independent redevelopment commission for the former Chanute Air Force Base, which closed more than a decade ago.
"This legislation is another important way of turning the Chanute Air force Base into a powerful economic engine once again," Blagojevich stated in a written release. "By working together on the federal, state and local levels, we can attract new companies and bring more jobs to the region."
Proposed legislation in Congress to protect minors from online predators has some local libraries concerned that access to useful Web sites will be blocked as well.
The Deleting Online Predators Act would require libraries and schools to install online filtering software that prevents access by minors to social networking Web sites – ones that allow users to create Web pages or profiles and communicate through instant messaging, forums, e-mail and chat rooms, such as MySpace.com. The act would allow libraries to disable the blocks for educational use by adults and minors with parental supervision.
URBANA – Mayor Laurel Prussing still hasn't signed the ordinance banning smoking in most public places in Urbana, and she may bring the issue back to the city council because she is unhappy about different effective dates for restaurants and bars.
A supporter of smoke-free legislation, Prussing was on vacation in Massachusetts when the Urbana council voted 6-1 on June 5 to approve the public smoking ban.
CHAMPAIGN – Mayor Jerry Schweighart, who adamantly opposed a smoking ban in Champaign, is now talking compromise.
Schweighart, in a June 15 letter to the city council, offered up a variety of possible compromises, all of which would weaken the comprehensive smoking ban passed by the council in a 5-4 vote on May 16.
CHAMPAIGN – City of Champaign Township voters will be asked in November to approve more than doubling the township's overall property tax rate.
The additional money is needed, township officials say, to help the township deal with an increased number of poor people seeking general assistance and to bolster dwindling cash reserves.
URBANA – There's still no date for the county's new nursing home to open, but two contractors have been given a deadline to answer for the delays.
The Champaign County Board's facilities committee voted unanimously Tuesday evening to give the Farnsworth Group and PKD Inc. until June 21 to provide solutions for problems with the new facility's heating and cooling systems.