Conference center doing well, but I Hotel still in the red

CHAMPAIGN – The Web site promises "a commitment to 'wow.'"

The I Hotel opened in August 2008 touting itself as "a blend of luxury, privacy and comfort" – granite countertops, upscale fixtures, walnut columns, spa, the works.

Woodwork supply, tool store ready to carve new niche

CHAMPAIGN – Woodworkers, wait no more.

The new CU Woodshop Supply store, which had been expected to open earlier this fall, is slated to open to the public on Friday.

The store, at 1401 Parkland Court in northwest Champaign, will carry power tools, professional-grade hand tools, assorted hardware and domestic and imported hardwoods, said Dennis Coleman, a woodworking enthusiast who is one of the store's backers.

Area update

Unit 7 board approves property tax abatement

TOLONO – The school board has approved using a property tax abatement for the district.

Easton-Bell Sports reports decline in sales, income for quarter

RANTOUL – Easton-Bell Sports reported net income of $6.29 million for the quarter that ended Oct. 3, down slightly from $6.34 million for the comparable quarter a year ago.

But net sales for the quarter were $180.4 million, down about 11 percent from $203.4 million for the same quarter in 2008.

One-time hoops expert indicted in bank robberies

PEORIA – A once-popular basketball talent analyst with a history of robbery and theft has been indicted by a federal grand jury for bank robbery again.

Stephen D. Wacaser, 57, no address available, was indicted Wednesday for the Oct. 19 robbery of the Regions Bank in Decatur and the Oct. 20 robbery of the Illini Bank in Sherman.

Soil cleanup proposed at 7 Chanute sites

RANTOUL – The Air Force has proposed removing 6 inches or more of soil from seven separate sites on the old Chanute Air Force Base property as a way of cleaning up the property and making it available for redevelopment.

The proposal is part of a plan to remove environmental hazards on the 2,174-acre former military base by 2016. It was made public Thursday at a quarterly meeting of the base's restoration advisory board.

Windsor Swim Club site to become condo community

URBANA – Architect Gary Olsen and his wife, Michele, say they hope to redevelop the Windsor Swim Club property in Urbana for condominiums.

The Olsens have agreed to buy the 4-acre site from the Harold Lopeman family, which operated the club for 43 years. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year, both parties said.

UI receives federal grant for carbon dioxide study

CHAMPAIGN (AP) – The University of Illinois is getting a roughly $900,000 grant to study the possible environmental impact of storing the chief man-made greenhouse gas under water reservoirs.

The EPA grant covers what could be a three-year research project involving subsurface storage called sequestration.

Danville teachers' contract talks may soon begin anew

DANVILLE – Though Danville teachers and other school staff finally have a new 1-year contract, board members said it won't be long before the two sides will have to start working on a new agreement, and they would like to see representatives come together soon to start talking about issues.

Central Illinois Bank parent reports big 3rd-quarter loss

CHAMPAIGN – The parent company of Central Illinois Bank reported a net loss of $13.9 million in the third quarter, resulting in a $30 million net loss for the first nine months of 2009.

Since the quarter ended Sept. 30, CIB Marine Bancshares has received approval from bankruptcy court for a prepackaged plan of reorganization.