Fire-stricken Champaign family lacks funds to relocate

CHAMPAIGN – Members of a family whose house was seriously damaged in an electrical fire Monday say they cannot afford to rent a new home because their landlord refuses to return their damage deposit or refund the remainder of January's rent.

The landlord said she will return some of the money, but notes she has a month to do so.

Trinidad Morales' family – which includes her husband, 2-year-old daughter, pregnant sister, brother-in-law and 1-year-old nephew – is now sleeping in a friend's living room. Morales' other two daughters were visiting their sick grandmother in Mexico when the fire occurred and cannot return to Champaign until the family finds a new place to live.

Old Ned Kelly's to become Montana Mike's Steakhouse

URBANA – Montana Mike's Steakhouse plans to open in Urbana this spring in the building that formerly housed Ned Kelly's Steakhouse and The Timbers restaurant.

Montana Mike's is a franchise steakhouse that prides itself on satisfying big appetites for good value, said Greg Schmidtknecht, who will co-own the restaurant with John Frenz.

Champaign duo's Snickers ad earns $5,000 in contest

CHAMPAIGN – You could say Joe Taylor and Bill Kephart are enjoying a satisfying result in their first video contest.

The two, with actor Thomas Nicol and others, created a 30-second ad for Snickers candy bars that placed among the top three in a competition facilitated by Poptent, a Web-based group of filmmakers who contact companies that might want to sponsor ad contests.

Champaign Surplus ownership passes to 3rd generation

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign Surplus owners Ira and Lynn Wachtel have sold their store for outdoors enthusiasts to their daughter and son-in-law, Shira and Dan Epstein.

It's the second time the 63-year-old store has passed to a new generation. Twenty-nine years ago, the Wachtels bought the business from Lynn's parents, Leo and Anne Weisel.

Former St. Joe man found shot to death in home

ST. JOSEPH – Police are investigating the murder of a former St. Joseph man in his home in Will County.

According to a Will County sheriff's office report, police were called to a home in unincorporated Frankfort Township at about 8 p.m. Monday.

Christie to open at new location

CHAMPAIGN – Christie Clinic will relocate its physical therapy and orthopedics departments to new offices at 2110 Fox Drive, C.

The new location will open Monday.

Executive says hospital project will help Monticello's economy

MONTICELLO – The construction of a new hospital in Monticello should provide about a $1 million boost to the city's economy, Steve Tenhouse, chief executive of John & Mary E. Kirby Hospital, projects.

Groundbreaking is now set for late this spring, with 15 to 18 months of construction on the new hospital and medical campus set to follow.

Vermilion Advantage acting to cut expenses

DANVILLE – Vermilion Advantage is cutting staff hours, instituting furlough days and making other changes to cut expenses and fill a gap between revenue and expenses.

Vickie Haugen, president and chief executive officer at Vermilion Advantage, said member dues, which are the only source of revenue for the nonprofit organization that serves as the local economic development office, have been flat but expenses, such as for health insurance and utilities, continue to increase.

Indianapolis banker named market president for Central Illinois Bank

CHAMPAIGN – An Indianapolis banker will succeed Joe Henderson as market president for Central Illinois Bank's 12 branches in Illinois, the bank announced Wednesday.

J. Brian Chaffin, who has worked 12 years for the bank's parent company, CIB Marine Bancshares, will take over the role immediately. He will move to Champaign from Indianapolis, where he has been the company's market president for Indiana for three years.

Chamber launches wellness program for area companies

CHAMPAIGN – Employers want a healthy work force, but they're caught in a bind these days.

Decent health insurance benefits just keep getting more expensive, and offering a workplace wellness program to keep health costs down is a luxury many small businesses just can't afford.