Residents to get say in downtown Danville development

DANVILLE - City officials are forging ahead with plans to bolster development in the west downtown neighborhood by calling on the residents for guidance.

Chris Milliken, planning and zoning manager for the city, said in the next month, a steering committee of mostly west downtown residents and downtown business representatives will be formed to help city development officials craft goals for the neighborhood.

Construction update: Residential projects near UI campus

CHAMPAIGN – Last year, construction on campus was overshadowed – literally – by two big apartment projects in Champaign: the 18-story Burnham 310 complex on Springfield Avenue and the 24-story 309 Green complex on Green Street.

This year, several new residential projects have been going up on the west side of campus, despite a slower construction year. Here's a quick look at some of those projects:

Even with capital funds, Olympian Drive project distant

Although the recently approved multibillion-dollar Illinois capital bill included $5 million for design work and right-of-way acquisition for the Olympian Drive extension north of Champaign-Urbana, actual construction probably is several years away.

For one thing, the Olympian Drive project is listed among the Illinois Department of Transportation's category of multiyear projects for the period 2010 to 2015.

For another, local officials lack most of the money to pay for the estimated $27 million project that would run from Market Street in Champaign to U.S. 45 north of Urbana.

Tent community hosts get-together for residents, officials

CHAMPAIGN – Linda Cafin came to the backyard of the Catholic Worker House in Champaign on Saturday afternoon to see what was going on.

The Monticello resident who grew up in a house next door was really there on behalf of her 89-year-old mother, who still lives on Cottage Court, next door to where Safe Haven members have erected a tent city for homeless people.

Researchers step up efforts to exterminate ash borers

CHAMPAIGN – Don't give up on America's ash trees yet.

Even though an imported beetle poses grave danger to them, scientists are exploring solutions that, in time, may slow or stop the ravaging of the trees.

First Busey to assess Florida market, business plan

CHAMPAIGN – First Busey Corp.'s management team in Florida will assess that market to see whether the banking company's business plan works there, company officials said.

Last week, Urbana-based First Busey reported a $20.5 million second-quarter loss. The company attributed much of it to loan problems in southwest Florida, where real estate values climbed sky-high before plummeting the last two years.

Construction manager has niche in Greek market

MONTICELLO – Nat Rassi credits a trip to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., for opening his eyes to how big his professional world could be.

Rassi, who has lived in East Central Illinois since he was 10 years old, worked in construction management for PKD Inc. before deciding to go out on his own.


Ebert on Urbana: 'I was born at the center of the universe'

I was born at the center of the universe, and have had good fortune for all of my days. The center was located at the corner of Washington and Maple streets in Urbana, Illinois, a two-bedroom white stucco house with green canvas awnings, evergreens and geraniums in front and a white picket fence enclosing the backyard. Hollyhocks clustered thickly by the fence. There was a barbeque grill back there made by my father with stone and mortar, a dime embedded in its smokestack to mark the year of its completion.

There was a mountain ash tree in the front yard, and three more down the parking on the side of the house. These remarkable trees had white bark that could be peeled loose, and their branches were weighed down by clusters of red-orange berries. "People are always driving up and asking me about those trees," my father said. He had planted them himself, and they were the only ones in town – perhaps in the world. They needed watering in the summertime, which he did by placing five-gallon cans under them with small holes drilled in their bottoms. These I carefully filled with the garden hose from the backyard, while making rainbow sprays over the grass around.

In Savannah, moss-dripping trees, butter-drenched food

If you want to experience genuine Southern hospitality, try Lowcountry cooking and visit a city of unique charm and 300 years of rich heritage, pack your bag and chart a course to Savannah, Ga., fondly referred to by Savannahians as the "Southern Lady."

You can explore the historic district, delight in blended styles of architecture, visit 21 miniparks graced with oak tree allees, view stately mansions enhanced with tall white columns, take a Savannah River paddleboat cruise, peek through elaborate wrought-iron fences guarding intimate formal gardens, and encounter the essence of Southern life of bygone days, artfully wedded with modern development.

2009 Showcase of Homes reflects trends, tones

SAVOY – Colors in today's brand new houses form stark contrasts.

A black cabinet hangs on a dark green wall atop baseboards painted white.