Comcast closing call center at Urbana office

URBANA – Comcast will close the call center at its Urbana office in November, eliminating the jobs of 22 employees there, a company spokesman said.

Farmers in area counties can get federal disaster loans

CHAMPAIGN – Farmers in several area counties may be eligible for federal disaster assistance.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently granted Gov. Pat Quinn's request to designate 58 Illinois counties as natural disaster areas. That designation means farmers in those counties – and 30 contiguous counties – may be able to get federal assistance, including low-interest emergency loans.

Businesses, schools asked to join cancer fundraiser

DANVILLE – Provena United Samaritans Medical Center officials are asking local schools and businesses to participate in the "It's All In the Jeans Day" on Oct. 2.

For a $5 contribution, employees and students of participating businesses and schools can purchase the privilege of wearing denim to work or school.

Sales picking up on higher-priced homes in C-U area

URBANA – Sarah Brown-Schmidt and her husband, Duane Watson, looked at about 20 homes this year before deciding to buy a Queen Anne-style house on West Main Street in Urbana.

They ended up paying $315,000 for the house, which had been on the market about a year, Brown-Schmidt said.

The sellers "had been asking for quite a bit more, but they dropped the price," she said. "We ended up making an offer close to the eventual asking price."

New investment advisory firm opens

CHAMPAIGN – Paul Ruedi and Dan Holder, who for years were executives at Strategic Capital Trust in Champaign, are leaving to form their own registered investment advisory firm.

Ruedi Holder and Associates Inc. plans to open for business today at 2004 Fox Drive, Suite G, in Champaign. Usual hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Alamo Group Inc. to acquire Bush Hog

GIBSON CITY – Alamo Group Inc. of Gibson City recently announced it is acquiring Bush Hog LLC, a leading manufacturer of mowing equipment.

Bush Hog's plant operations will remain in Selma, Ala., but the business will become part of Alamo's North American Agricultural Division, headquartered in Gibson City, according to Tom Taylor, the division's sales and marketing director.

Speaker: Get down to business with social media

URBANA – When Justin Gorrell's Internet service was down, he found a good way to get a quick response from Comcast.

Declining dumping-fee revenue dooms recycling effort

DANVILLE – For 10 years, the Vermilion County Health Department has been providing an opportunity for county residents to "go green" through recycling, but for the county, "green" has meant spending money, not making it.

Lynn Wolgamot, Vermilion County recycling coordinator, said people often think the county makes money on recycling, but the opposite is true. In 2007, it cost the health department $207,952 to run the recycling program's seven sites in Danville, Westville, Georgetown, Catlin, Bismarck, Sidell and Kickapoo State Park. The county contracts with ABC Sanitary Hauling of Champaign to keep the bins emptied on a regular basis and process the material at its facility.

Owners of The Timbers turn attention to Italian food

URBANA – A "family-friendly" Italian restaurant is expected to open later this month in what was formerly The Timbers steakhouse in Urbana.

Nikki Marie's will be operated by the same family that ran The Timbers, which closed Aug. 15 after a two-year run.

Safe Routes project aims to educate students, drivers

The young woman on the cell phone didn't even slow down as she passed Bottenfield Elementary School, even though the crossing guard was already in the middle of Prospect Avenue.

She drove past the school, easily going faster than 20 mph, said Bottenfield parent Leeann Stack, who watched the woman continue her conversation as she drove past the crossing guard last week.