CHAMPAIGN — Banks and businesses began returning to their routines as East Central Illinois folks dug their way out of the deep freeze.
By noon Monday, more than half the shops at Champaign's Market Place Shopping Center had opened for business, said Dennis Robertson, the mall's general manager.
"Additional retailers are opening as staff is available," he added.
The mall was expected to be open until 9 p.m. Monday after closing early Sunday, at 2 p.m.
By that hour, snow was coming down heavy, with 5.9 inches falling in Urbana in the 24 hours that ended at 8 a.m. Monday, for a total of 9 inches on the ground.
Meanwhile, the temperature plummeted, hitting a low of minus 14 at 7:19 a.m. Monday, according to the Illinois State Water Survey.
"Bankers' hours" took on a new meaning Monday as several banks adopted shorter schedules or closed altogether.
Busey Bank branches opened at 10 a.m. and closed at 3 p.m., said Amy Randolph, executive vice president of growth strategies for the bank's holding company, First Busey Corp.
The hour delay in opening was intended to ensure the safety of bank associates traveling to work, Randolph said.
Central Illinois Bank opened only one of its branches Monday — the office at Kirby Avenue and Duncan Road in Champaign — and that was only from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
First Financial Bank closed some offices and limited the hours of others. Its office on South Prospect Avenue in Champaign was open from noon to 3:30 p.m. The Urbana office was open from noon to 4 p.m., as were the offices on North Gilbert and North Vermilion in Danville.
One business that refused to close Monday was the Cheese & Crackers store at Old Farm Shops in Champaign.
"I have a large four-wheel-drive vehicle, and I live a straight shot from the store," said owner Bart Basi. "It was no real problem to open."
Basi said he left it up to employees whether to come in. A couple employees were able to make it, as were a couple customers as of mid-afternoon Monday.
"It's a very quiet day, about what I expected," said Basi, whose shop sells, cheese, meats, chocolates and fish.
As part of a promotion tied to the outdoor temperature, McDonald's is preparing to give away free Big Macs and Egg McMuffins today for each Big Mac and Egg McMuffin sold.
From Dec. 31 to Jan. 27, McDonald's restaurants in central Illinois are offering, for each Big Mac or Egg McMuffin sold, an additional sandwich at a discounted price.
The price of the discounted sandwich, in cents, is equal to the temperature at noon the previous day in Decatur.
The midday temperature Sunday in Decatur was 18 degrees, so the second sandwiches were offered Monday for 18 cents, said Scott Miller, a partner in Dash Management, which operates 11 McDonald's stores in the Champaign-Urbana and Decatur areas.
The midday temperature Monday was minus 10, Miller said, so on Tuesday the second sandwich will be free. Miller said.
Customers shouldn't expect to get a dime back with that sandwich. "I can't afford that," Miller said.