Campustown development plan on Champaign agenda

CHAMPAIGN – A plan that will guide the development of Campustown is set for final approval Tuesday by the city council.

The proposed University District Action Plan "sets goals and strategies and a framework for the future developments near campus," said Terry J. Blakeman, a city planner.

Even with higher diesel expenses, district holding up well

URBANA – While the rapid increase in fuel prices might be boosting ridership, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District is also being squeezed by rising diesel fuel costs.

The district's most recent purchase of diesel fuel was at $3.83 per gallon. Spending on fuel this fiscal year, for the first nine months through March 31, stands at $1.5 million. That's $373,000 more than the same period last year, and $115,000 more than the district had budgeted, according to MTD Managing Director Bill Volk.

Tourism bureau touting quick trips around Illinois

CHAMPAIGN – How much of a bite will gas prices take out of tourism this summer?

It's anyone's guess, but the Illinois Bureau of Tourism is promoting inexpensive, close-to-home traveling just in case.

Kraft gets slice of new building for pizza project

CHAMPAIGN – A development company is planning to build a 40,000-square-foot business center on Country Fair Drive, with 6,000 square feet to be leased to Kraft Foods' pizza division.

Becknell Development ex-pects to build the Parkview Business Center on a 4-acre tract at 901 N. Country Fair Drive, said Paul Thurston, a manager for the development company. The portion built for the pizza division is expected to be ready for occupancy by Oct. 31.

Spaghetti Shop serves up last pasta

SAVOY – A longtime fast-food option is no longer available in Champaign County due to the death of the local franchisee. The Spaghetti Shop in Savoy served its last bucket of pasta last Saturday, and the property is for sale.

Lee Johnston, who acquired the store in 2006, died April 13, and his family was no longer interested in pursuing the business, said one of his sons, Jeffrey S. Johnston.

Whooping crane makes area pit stop

OLIVET – Gary Wilford wasn't exactly sure what he would find as he headed out this week to investigate an unusual bird sighted in a cornfield between Olivet and Ridge Farm.

"I got a call about this bird, so I started describing an egret," said Wilford, a naturalist with the Vermilion County Conservation District. "They come through here sometimes, but the people didn't think that was what it was and they said it was banded."

Sale of biodiesel plant completed

DANVILLE – A new group of investors has completed its purchase of the biodiesel plant next to the Bunge milling plant, and the facility is expected to be producing biodiesel fuel by the fall.

Blackhawk Biofuels LLC, based in Freeport, announced Thursday the completion of the sale from Biofuels Company of America LLC to Blackhawk, a group of about 600 investors in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. Blackhawk will own the plant but lease the land from Bunge North America.

Solo Cup posts profit for fourth consecutive quarter

URBANA – Solo Cup Co.'s sales are down and interest expense on debt remains high – but the company has reason to be happy. It showed a profit for the first quarter of 2008 – its fourth straight quarter of profitability after four years of losses.

In reporting the results Tuesday, President Robert M. Korzenski said Solo is benefiting from performance improvement initiatives. He cited "meaningful improvements" in manufacturing and distribution.

Tech crews work to restore WCIA-TV analog signal

CHAMPAIGN – WCIA-TV is struggling to restore the analog signal for Channel 3 after equipment at its transmitter site in Seymour was damaged by lightning.

Some viewers who normally get the station over the air, rather than through cable or satellite, have been unable to get a clear signal for several days, said Russ Hamilton, WCIA's vice president and general manager.

Name to change to Wendl's amid other changes

URBANA – Now that the off-track betting parlor has moved out, The Brickhouse in Urbana plans to change its name to Wendl's – a variation on the TK Wendl's name it used until 2005.

General Manager Chris Corres said the north side of the establishment at 1901 S. High Cross Road will be renovated for a dance floor and banquet hall that will accommodate 100 to 200 people, while the south side will remain a restaurant and bar. Corres said the renovations will probably take until late June to complete.