Officials concerned about Amtrak service to Chicago

Ehab Samy, 22, was sitting in the lobby on the second floor at Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign recently, waiting for a late-morning Amtrak train to Chicago.

A University of Illinois graduate with a degree in economics, Samy was headed for a job interview. The Champaign resident says he uses Amtrak to get to Chicago five or six times a year.

Music teacher makes a big production out of learning

The kindergarten students in Bob Smith's music class are up out of their seats, dancing around as they sing the jelly bean song. They jump up and down, rub their bellies, pat their heads and kick their legs.

"I need singers," Smith reminds them to sing as well as move. The song is a favorite of the children.

Builders eye vacant corner in Urbana

URBANA – A Danville company is planning to construct a new 31,000-square-foot, three-story retail and office building at the southwest corner of University and Lincoln avenues.

Urbana officials say the building will be built in an urban style, close to the northern sidewalk, and will provide an attractive gateway to the University of Illinois.

Biodiesel plant may be leased out

DANVILLE – A new group of investors is planning to take over the biodiesel production plant that was recently finished adjacent to Bunge's milling operation in Danville.

Deb Seidel, director of communications for Bunge North America, based in St. Louis, said an asset purchase agreement is being worked out between Biofuels Company of America LLC and Blackhawk Biofuels, a group of about 600 investors, including farmers and businessmen.

Hearing response only a trickle

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign County residents might be concerned about a proposed 60 percent increase in water rates requested by Illinois American Water Co.

But they sure didn't show it Wednesday night.

Analysts: Expect regulation, but not credit crunch

CHAMPAIGN – The collapse and sale of Bear Stearns may lead to more regulation of investment banks, but it's not likely to result in less credit being available to local consumers, financial professionals say.

"How it affects people here in Champaign-Urbana is minimally," said Ron Kiddoo, chief investment officer for Cozad Asset Management in Champaign.

Developer sees future for Bresee

DANVILLE – On more than one occasion, chunks have fallen from the cornices of this early 1900s building, a historic landmark that stretches high above other rooftops in a small downstate town.

First National Bank once filled the first floor, but eventually, all of the building became vacant and neglected and started seriously deteriorating. Demolition seemed like the only option.

Popular Homer gathering spot to close

HOMER – Loyal customers of the Homer Emporium say they're disappointed the bottled-soda and antique shop will close its doors for good on March 29.

Since it opened over the July 4 weekend in 2003, Christine Cunningham, co-owner with her husband, Ray, has been welcoming customers of all ages into the shop to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or a bottle of soda with friends.

Urbana country club property to be leased

URBANA – The Urbana Golf & Country Club has agreed to lease the club's 130-acre property in north Urbana to Flex-N-Gate Corp. President Shahid Khan, with the expectation that the facilities will be upgraded.

Terry Rathgeber, president of the club's board, said Khan agreed to lease the property, effective April 1, with an option to buy.

Group to host 'clinic' on phone bills

CHAMPAIGN – It just amazes Jim Chilsen how many people pay for things on their phone bills that they never use.

He was even one of those people once.