Business

Business

Candidates field environmental queries

URBANA – Local politicians had to answer some interesting questions relating to the environment – including why the federal government doesn't urge its citizens to become vegetarians and the environmental effect of war.

Audience participants at a Tuesday political forum submitted these questions to those seeking election and re-election this fall, as did the Prairie Group of the Sierra Club. Participants also fielded questions from moderator Kirstin Replogle that included topics such as offshore drilling.

Provena Covenant Medical Center stands pat on tax refund

URBANA – Provena Covenant Medical Center's attorney says the hospital will hang onto the $6.1 million property-tax refund it received from Champaign County earlier this year – at least for now.

The county is demanding the money back after the 4th District Appellate Court last month came down against the hospital and overturned a 2007 circuit court decision that had found Covenant tax-exempt.

Provena wants to keep $6.1 million tax refund

URBANA – Provena Covenant Medical Center's attorney says the hospital will hang onto the $6.1 million property tax refund it received from Champaign County earlier this year – at least for now.

The county is demanding the money back after the 4th District Appellate Court last month came down against the hospital and overturned a 2007 circuit court decision that had found Covenant tax-exempt.

Officials working on final details to make Zipcars available

CHAMPAIGN – The first Zipcar in town is a burgundy box on wheels called a Scion xB.

Its driver is Jenny Larios Berlin, the hourly car rental firm's general manager for universities.

Ameren pleased with gas plant site investigation

CHAMPAIGN – Contamination from a former manufactured gas plant at Fifth and Hill streets has spread off site in all four directions, but generally by less than 100 feet and only 150 feet at its furthest point, according to AmerenIP.

Ameren officials said they were pleased with the findings of their latest site investigation report, which came after they drilled 45 new soil borings around and on the 3.5-acre site this past April and May. Results showed that the contamination has not spread far and most of it is at least three feet underground, where the public is less likely to be exposed through inhalation of dust or direct contact with soil, said Brian Martin, an Ameren consulting environmental scientist.

Stopping By: Good sleep, wealth of history at Pestoum inn

PESOTUM – I was greeted at the front door of Sweet Dreams Bed and Breakfast Inn by proprietor Cheryl Smitley. Her friendly greeting set the tone for my visit with her and Fred, her husband of 31 years. However, I was not prepared for the beautiful elegance of the home they showed me.

The Smitleys say they fell in love with the original woodwork and fine craftsmanship when they first saw the 1902 Victorian-style home at 300 East Adams Street in Pesotum.

UI seeks participants for study on brain exercise for seniors

A little more than a year ago, 70-year-old Eileen Bunting looked across the street and saw a fire hydrant.

Except when she saw the hydrant, she couldn't remember what it was called. It took her several days to recall the words, fire hydrant.

As you get older, she said, sometimes it takes a while to recall or spell words.

"Now I seem to have less trouble bringing words to my mind. Now when I forget the title for a word, I let my mind relax. I think it out and it comes," said the Mahomet resident.

As a research participant in the University of Illinois' Senior Odyssey project, Bunting spent several weeks in the spring playing word and number games. And with a team of other seniors, she figured out solutions to challenges, such as how to wrap several items with a limited amount of paper and Scotch tape within a time limit.

Feeling the Pinch: Experts say nest is rickety, but egg will be OK

CHAMPAIGN – As prices rise at the gas pump and grocery store, those counting on their nest egg to grow have been sorely disappointed.

Stocks tumbled this year, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 13 percent since Jan. 1. For people whose retirement plans and portfolios are stock-heavy, it's been a dismal time as folks watch their savings shrink.

People who depend on their nest egg for income are particularly troubled. Do they withdraw more money to cover expenses, or simply try to cut back on living expenses? And when will the market turn around?

Housing slump proves challenging for area real-estate agents

CHAMPAIGN – Wes Cravens bought a house in Champaign's Sawgrass subdivision two years ago when he moved here to take a job as a software engineer.

Now his three-bedroom house on Trailway Drive is on the market as he and his family contemplate moving to a larger house.

The house has been up for sale only three weeks, but already Cravens has noticed the market has changed since 2006.

At that time, the family had a baby on the way, and he needed to find a house quickly. But he couldn't find much in the size, style and location he wanted.

"When I look now, there are tons of them," he said. "There's a much bigger inventory now."

Foreclosed properties proving not to be worth risk right now

CHAMPAIGN – Some area real estate agents are getting calls from prospective buyers wondering how to buy a foreclosed home, according to Barb Manka, president of the Champaign County Association of Realtors.

But at least one real estate agent who has bought foreclosed homes and fixed them up is no longer doing so because of the soft market.