Builders proceed with caution after glut of new homes

CHAMPAIGN – Homes are still being built in Champaign County, but builders have become more careful and conservative in picking their projects.

Customers are still hiring builders to custom-build homes, said Bill Peifer, president of the Home Builders Association of East Central Illinois.

Gas leak cuts service to downtown Urbana eateries

URBANA – A gas leak in downtown Urbana late Saturday afternoon kept gas service off at two restaurants for several hours.

The leak occurred when an electrical contractor was "boring a fiber optic line and they drilled into a two-inch gas main," said Steve Barkley, gas construction supervisor for AmerenIP, which was working on repairing the line at around 7 p.m. Saturday.

It's your business: Chick-fil-A spreading its wings to campus

One of the nation's largest fast-food chains is coming to roost on the University of Illinois campus.

Chick-fil-A, which credits its founder with inventing the boneless breast of chicken sandwich many decades ago, plans to open a location at the Illini Union next month.

Stray animals worry vet, but 'we just can't handle it all'

MONTICELLO – Kay Lindsay, a veterinarian at the Animal Hospital of Monticello, is concerned about the stray dog problem in Piatt County. But she doesn't know what else she and her colleagues in Monticello can do to help.

In 1979, when she opened the animal hospital, she took in strays from Monticello, plus any villages and unincorporated areas in Piatt County that had contracts with her business.

Dealership, Danville negotiate over a redevelopment proposal

DANVILLE – The city of Danville is trying to work out a redevelopment agreement with the Courtesy Ford Lincoln Mercury dealership on Main Street.

Courtesy, 231 W. Main St., Danville, is within the Western Gateway Redevelopment Project Area, a tax increment financing district created by the Danville City Council in April 2005. City officials are talking with J.R. Fregia, Courtesy's owner, about redeveloping and expanding the dealership, as well as the Dodge franchise he recently acquired.

Legislator pushes for a resolution on FutureGen issue

MATTOON – Congressman Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, is one of several members of Congress asking for a meeting with Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman and the White House over federal participation in the FutureGen clean coal plant.

"We're talking to anyone who has any influence to get this thing rolling and moving ahead," said Phil Bloomer, a spokesman for Johnson.

Owner considers options for Smokey Bones site

CHAMPAIGN – No decision has been made yet about what will happen with the old Smokey Bones restaurant in Champaign, but the former operator has a couple of new options for restaurants to fill the space.

Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill closed its doors in May after two years in business. The restaurant at 1910 N. Neil St. – near the Macy's store at Market Place Mall – was one of 54 Smokey Bones restaurants to close at that time.

Tuscola officials see opportunities in aftermath of pick

TUSCOLA – The publicity Tuscola has received and the extensive research into its proposed FutureGen site will ultimately help Tuscola to land another major industrial development, community leaders say.

"This has put us on the world map," said Tuscola School Superintendent Joe Burgess, who also is president of the board for Tuscola Economic Development Inc. "Right now would be the easiest time for a company to come to Tuscola because all the environmental studies that were done for FutureGen are complete. I'm positive that a forward-thinking company will take advantage of the opportunity to come to Tuscola."

Tuscola residents happy Illinois got nod

TUSCOLA – When FutureGen Alliance Chief Executive Officer Mike Mudd announced that Mattoon was chosen for the clean coal power plant, gasps came from most of the 350 people gathered at the Tuscola Community Building this morning.

Then the residents and business leaders of Tuscola offered a rousing round of applause for their neighbors to the south for getting the $1.5 billion near-zero emissions power plant.

Reactions to the FutureGen decision

"As the entire world watches, Illinois is ready to get to work to ensure that FutureGen is a success."

– Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich