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.

Bank's parent company trying to pay off $40 million debt

CHAMPAIGN – Central Illinois Bank's parent company is planning to pay off $40 million in debt so it won't have to sell off the company.

The parent company, Wisconsin-based CIB Marine Bancshares, released a long-awaited report Tuesday to the Securities & Exchange Commission showing the company suffered a net loss of $13.8 million in 2007.

Champaign getting 2 new hotels

CHAMPAIGN – Developers are planning to build about 200 additional hotel suites in Champaign, all catering to visitors planning longer stays.

Construction will start this spring on two new extended-stay hotels – one to be a Candlewood Suites at 1917 Moreland Blvd., and the other to be a Value Place hotel at 1212 W. Anthony Drive.

Wind causes power outages in Gibson City, Piper City

GIBSON CITY – Customers in Gibson City and Piper City were still without power Tuesday morning due to the wind taking down 25 utility poles west of Gilman.

Leigh Morris, spokesman for AmerenIP, said there were a number of small outages due to the weather, but the two major areas would be restored as soon as workers can install new poles. Linemen were working this morning with hopes of having all power restored sometime during the day.

Philo man helps Casey's start computer repair drop-off service

PHILO – Dan Ault had driven seven hours to get to Ankeny, Iowa.

The Code4pc managing partner and his operations manager, Wyatt Scheiding, arrived at the corporate headquarters of Casey's General Stores, a structure roughly the size of Champaign's Kraft Foods facility.

It's your business: Mexican restaurant headed to Champaign

Taco Loco, a fast-food Mexican restaurant in Mahomet, is expanding to Champaign.

Owner Sandro Cuellar said the new restaurant will open in June at 523 Town Center Blvd., next to the Regency Beauty Institute.

Old public health offices to be converted for Estate Sale

CHAMPAIGN – What could be a more appropriate home than a French estate for a business called The Estate Sale?

That's what Bob Grossman says the former Champaign-Urbana Public Health District headquarters will look like, once the building at 710 N. Neil St. has been renovated.