Local Baker's Square closes doors

CHAMPAIGN – No pies for you!

The Bakers Square restaurant in Champaign closed Wednesday night in connection with its parent company, Vicorp Restaurants Inc., filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy Thursday.

Employers, job hunters pack Parkland gym

CHAMPAIGN – Bernard Malemba was laid off from his job at Guardian West on March 3. Figuring he needed to find other work, he and some buddies from the auto parts plant headed to the Parkland Job Fair on Thursday.

Malemba liked some of the opportunities he found. Looking for jobs in manufacturing, production or warehousing, the Champaign resident said he was particularly interested in Hobbico, a distributor of radio-controlled vehicles.

Record number of businesses at expo

CHAMPAIGN – A record number of vendors turned out for the East Central Illinois Business Expo, according to the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce.

About 125 businesses sponsored booths at Wednesday's expo, the fourth consecutive year it was held at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall.

Building damaged by overnight fire

URBANA – Fire officials are continuing to investigate the cause of a fire at an Urbana pizza parlor early today.

Urbana fire Division Chief Brian Nightlinger said firefighters were called to the Papa John's Pizza, 1307 E. Florida Ave., at 1:38 a.m. today.

Lincoln Hotel gets new owner

URBANA – The Historic Lincoln Hotel has a new owner with plans to restore the 128-room downtown hotel to prominence.

Global Hotel Management of Normal closed on a deal to purchase the hotel on March 21 from its owner, Marine Bank of Springfield. Marine Bank had foreclosed on the prior owner, Jay Bhaghavan.

Electrical fault ruled out in fire

DANVILLE – One insurance investigator has ruled out electrical causes for the fire that destroyed a downtown building last week, but fire officials have not been able to pinpoint what did ignite the blaze, according to Deputy Director Bobby Lillard of the Danville Fire Department.

Lillard said investigators know where the fire started – close to the back door of Danville Book World, 107 N. Vermilion St. – but can't determine the cause, which will likely officially be listed as "undetermined after investigation."

Economic index at lowest mark in three years

URBANA – The University of Illinois flash economic index has dropped to its lowest level in three years.

The index, considered a barometer of the Illinois economy, fell to 103.4 in March, its lowest level since February 2005.

School visits give teenagers a feel for how others live, learn

ST. JOSEPH – Barely after 8 a.m., there's a small divide in the cafeteria of St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

On one side, near the door, there's a group of Urbana High School students, some freshmen, others sophomores or juniors, some black, some white, some neither.

Soggy weather delays community-supported ag programs

MAHOMET – Normally this time of year Lisa Haynes is upbeat about the growing season ahead.

But this year, trudging through late March fields turned to bogs by winter snow and rain, Haynes is pessimistic even though she knows in her heart that spring will eventually come, fields will dry out, and crops will eventually grow in them.

Plans for old JBJ building move forward

CHAMPAIGN – The old JBJ antique store and craft mall building will soon be getting a new life as Whiteline Market.

The city council Tuesday night approved a development agreement with Janet and Barry Bubin, owners of the popular Ko-Fusion restaurant at 1 E. Main St. They plan a $3.2 million renovation of the building at the northwest corner of Neil and William streets.