UI team hoping to pile up points in national energy contest

URBANA – Would you like a house you could heat with a hair dryer? University of Illinois students are putting one together for a competition to be held in Washington.

In October, the U.S. Department of Energy will host the Solar Decathlon, and the UI is one of 20 universities to compete. A house students designed was moved here Monday from Homeway Homes in Deer Creek, which is between Peoria and Bloomington-Normal.

Fischer Theatre back in spotlight this weekend

DANVILLE – The Vermilion Heritage Foundation is lighting up, just as it hopes its work will light up the Fischer Theatre marquee once and for all.

Villa Grove, Shiloh school districts to get technology grants

VILLA GROVE – The Villa Grove and Shiloh School Districts will have approximately $25,000 a piece to improve technology and technology education in their schools and communities this coming school year. The two districts co-wrote the grant application for the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Digital Divide Grant.

The districts have not been informed of the exact amount appropriated to the fund, but will be working with the administrators to work out the details in the coming months.

Philo Road businesses do best to fit in with landscaping

URBANA – Richard Andrzejczyk was happily busy filling drive-through orders at the new Burger King on Philo Road in Urbana on Wednesday, but he took a break to talk about his business.

"We are very excited to be here," said Andrzejczyk, director of operations for the Burger King franchise that now owns eight stores, including ones in Danville, Tuscola, Rantoul and Champaign.

UI senior, two graduates making 'green' their business

CHAMPAIGN – A University of Illinois senior and two 2008 UI graduates have dedicated themselves to making sure Champaign-Urbana businesses are really and truly "green."

They've formed the Illinois Green Business Association, a nonprofit group that helps businesses become certified as environmentally sustainable.

Champaign firm lighting way for Saudi, Egyptian projects

CHAMPAIGN – A Champaign lighting-design firm has landed two major projects in the Middle East.

Charter Sills & Associates is designing the lighting for two giant planned communities in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Operating room robots make surgery less painful

URBANA – Kelly Applegate spent just one night in the hospital after having a hysterectomy last month. By the following evening, she was feeling strong enough to stand up in the shower.

"I've never had any major surgery before," says Applegate, 37, of Champaign. "Outside of having a frame of reference, I'd say it was relatively easy."

1st ever farmers' market to debut on North First Street

CHAMPAIGN – The first-ever Farmers' Market on Historic North First Street is a "go" for next Thursday.

Organizers say they've lined up 21 vendors and have gotten about $9,000 in city grants to install banners along North First Street to help promote the event.

Groundbreaking set for newest Habitat house in Danville

Habitat for Humanity of Danville will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its newest house-building project at 3 p.m. Sunday at 1111 N. Gilbert St., Danville. The project is a partnership between Habitat and the Center for Children's Services.

To volunteer or donate money for the project, call Executive Director John Graves at 497-4234.

Hard work ahead for FutureGen project

WASHINGTON – Illinoisans should know by early next year if Mattoon will indeed be the home to a plant that could cleanly convert the state's abundant supply of coal into electrical energy.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced Friday that an agreement with the FutureGen Alliance to build the first commercial-scale carbon capture and sequestration project in the country will go forward, having previously been pronounced dead by the Bush administration.