A day to give C-U children the business

CHAMPAIGN – Selling lemonade is a time-honored tradition for kids – the first step to having a paper route, cutting grass and baby-sitting.

Stimulus grants will go toward area job training

CHAMPAIGN – Parkland College has received two grants totaling more than $900,000 to help train employees at eight area manufacturers and four area hospitals.

Trailblazing nominees sought Innovation Celebration

CHAMPAIGN – Sponsors of the annual Innovation Celebration – which heralds local entrepreneurs – are seeking nominees for eight awards to be given Feb. 25.

The fifth annual awards ceremony is scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m. that day at the I Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First St., C.

Danville Tennis Club installs energy-efficient lighting

DANVILLE – The Danville Tennis Club's power bill has been the subject of recent scrutiny over whether the city should be paying. But an investment by the club in new energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs will soon significantly cut the club's energy use.

Doug Ahrens, Danville public works director, said the city has been working with the tennis club on an electrical system and lighting upgrade that will significantly reduce electrical consumption at the facility in Lincoln Park.

Ameren unveils route plan for new transmission line

URBANA – Ameren Illinois officials are recommending that a new high-voltage transmission line between Bondville and the southwest side of the University of Illinois campus be built through mostly rural areas south of Champaign.

The route, unveiled Monday, will have to be reviewed and approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission before any construction begins.

One family's long journey to find safe housing

Jon Jones and Isela Guerra moved to Champaign from Texas in November 2007 for a construction job Jones was certain he had. But the job fell through, and Jones couldn't find any other work.

The couple spent that Christmas on the streets and lived homeless over the next few months – sleeping by day in local libraries and spending the nights trying to stay warm.

Emergency housing resources scarce, but plans in works

CHAMPAIGN – If you have a family, little or no money saved and the place you rent has been condemned, you may be out of luck – even though local officials and social service providers are working to come up with plans to help people who need emergency housing.

"The bottom line across the board is money, money, money," said John Sullivan, chairman of the Council of Service Providers for the Homeless. "The resources for emergency (housing) are very limited, especially if you are an intact family; you have no place to go."

Freezing fog advisory issued for area

The National Weather Service has issued a freezing fog advisory until 9 a.m. Tuesday for Champaign, Coles, DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, McLean, Moultrie, Piatt, Shelby and Vermilion counties.

Other counties included in the advisory include Knox, Stark, Peoria, Marshall, Woodford, Fulton, Tazewell, Schuyler, Mason, Logan, Cass, Menard, Scott, Morgan, Sangamon, Christian and Macon counties.

Tale of two cities: Inspection policies markedly different

Champaign and Urbana both have rental housing inspection programs, but the two are markedly different.

The inspections are designed to ensure that a rental property complies with fire safety codes as well as city and national maintenance and building codes. The codes cover such issues as lack of proper heating or hot water, roof or ceiling leaks, flooding, mold, plumbing problems, broken or nonworking windows and roach or rodent infestations.

Inconsistent inspection plagues county rental housing

Rental property is big business in Champaign County.

With nearly 35,300 units, Champaign County has the highest percentage of occupied rental housing units among the state's metropolitan counties, according to 2008 Census Bureau estimates.

Yet rental-inspection programs are inconsistent across the county – with stark differences between programs in the cities of Champaign and Urbana and, except for Rantoul, little to no oversight elsewhere.

The inspections are designed to ensure that rental properties – which include non-owner-occupied single-family houses, duplexes and apartment-style buildings – comply with fire safety codes as well as city and national maintenance and building codes.