CHAMPAIGN — The clock begins ticking Tuesday for local governments to decide whether they are willing to accept a $22.5 million grant to fund the Big Broadband proposal after officials received word this afternoon that the project will be funded by the federal government.
The announcement ends months of anticipation and gives public bodies 30 days to decide if they are willing to accept the grant.
Local broadband officials are hoping two federal grants to support the Big Broadband project will be redeemed in a second round of funding after they were denied in the first.
But without those two support grants, some officials say the high-speed Internet infrastructure, already being questioned by some elected representatives, could be less effective than they originally planned.
Urbana native Roger Ebert will appear on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on Tuesday, using a new text-to-speech computer-software generated voice based on his own.
Ebert told The News-Gazette on Friday via e-mail that he calls his new voice "Roger Jr."
"I'm writing a blog that will tell all," he added.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic posted last week at Twitter that he had taped an "Oprah" segment and it was to air on Tuesday. Locally, the program airs at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday on WCIA Channel 3.
CHAMPAIGN – Officials are still "cautiously optimistic" about the fate of their $31 million Big Broadband proposal after a federal agency announced its first Illinois award on Friday.
Gov. Pat Quinn was in Sycamore on Friday afternoon to announce that the federal government would release nearly $12 million to develop a high-speed Internet network there. Meanwhile, Champaign-Urbana officials were still wondering whether the governor would have an opportunity to make a similar trip to Champaign.
RANTOUL – Public hearings will be held in Rantoul sometime in May so that citizens can review and comment on proposed cleanup projects at the old Chanute Air Force Base.
URBANA – Comcast will digitize its "expanded basic" channels later this fall, requiring some area customers to get digital set-top boxes and digital adapters.
The change won't take place for several months, but Comcast is encouraging customers to make the change early by providing additional stations to those who do.
Most Comcast customers – about 78 percent nationwide – already subscribe to digital cable, so they won't need to make changes unless they have secondary TVs that aren't properly equipped.
CHAMPAIGN – Apparently the third time was not the charm.
City council members Tuesday will for a third time defer a discussion of the $31 million Big Broadband proposal, after Maryland consultant Doug Dawson informed city officials on Monday that he was still sick and could not make the trip to Champaign.
URBANA – The city council may appropriate more funding to its battery recycling program for at least a year when it meets next week.
The council will meet on Monday at 7 p.m. in the City Building, 400 S. Vine St., to decide whether to give an extra $3,000 to the program that a city official said has become more popular.
A bouquet of flowers or box of chocolates for your valentine? How about an e-valentine instead?
It's not even halfway into the semester yet, and some of the University of Illinois students enrolled in CS 125 (Introduction to Computer Science) have started playing with their newfangled programming skills by creating valentines.
CHAMPAIGN – Sony Corp.'s acquisition of Champaign-based iCyt Mission Technology brings a big player on the global stage into the fast-growing field of biological instrumentation.
Sony announced Tuesday that it has acquired iCyt (pronounced like "eyesight"), a maker of flow cytometry equipment that employs about 30 in the University of Illinois Research Park.