Workshop offered on rules for selling food at farm stands

CHAMPAIGN – Farmers interested in selling food products on their farms, at farmers' markets or elsewhere can learn how to meet county, state and federal regulations affecting their products at an upcoming workshop in Champaign.

Danville's Bryant Industries will try again for expansion

DANVILLE – In October, neighborhood complaints derailed a new auto-parts salvage area at Bryant Industries, west of Danville, even though the project received almost full support from the city's planning and zoning commission.

Since then, Bryant Industries has tried to address neighbors' concerns over the project, which requires a special-use permit from the city.

Supportive living facility in Monticello holds open house

MONTICELLO – LaVern Gerth lived happily for nine years in a Decatur retirement home, but when she needed a wheelchair, she had to find someplace else to live.

Last month she became the first resident in Piatt County's new supportive living facility, Maple Point, which is located on the north side Monticello, near the Piatt County Nursing Home and Kirby Hospital.

Shiloh school district looks for new superintendent

HUME – The Shiloh school board hopes to hire a new school superintendent by March.

The Catlin school board last month hired Shiloh Superintendent Gary Lewis to be superintendent in Catlin, after the resignation of Guy Banicki takes effect at the end of the school year.

Farmer City Council discusses issues in closed session

FARMER CITY – The Farmer City Council took no action Monday night but went into executive session to discuss "personnel business."

Asked to give a specific, numbered exception to the Illinois Open Meetings Act, neither City Manager Trent Smith nor Council President Delwin "Buster" Kirby could offer one, repeating only that "personnel business" was the reason for the closed meeting. Kirby said no action would be taken following the evening's closed session.

Tax abatements for Monsanto discussed

FARMER CITY – Blue Ridge school district board members voted Monday to allow Superintendent Jay Harnack to start discussions with officials of Monsanto's plant in Farmer City on the topic of enterprise zone abatement.

Joan Steckel, senior tax manager, and Pat Geneser, site manager from the Monsanto Co.'s Farmer City plant, presented a proposal to board members. Steckel and Geneser wanted board members to vote to grant 100 percent property tax abatement to Monsanto for a five-year period.

UI flash index: Economy shrinking for first time since March '04

URBANA – The University of Illinois flash economic index has fallen below 100 – the dividing line between economic expansion and contraction – for the first time in nearly five years.

The index, considered a barometer of the Illinois economy, dropped from 100 in November to 98.7 in December, a UI news release stated.

Champaign businesses feeling heat after Neil Street closure

CHAMPAIGN – The closure of North Neil Street in downtown Champaign nearly two months ago led to less-than-robust Christmas sales for some nearby retailers.

Meanwhile, city officials say they still don't know when Neil Street can be reopened.

The street was closed just south of the intersection with Main and Church streets on Nov. 10 because of concerns about the structural integrity of the three-story building at 215 N. Neil St. that was heavily damaged in a Nov. 7 fire.

Bad economic times, good gold prices turn pawns into kings

At Gold Rush II in Champaign, the store's name has been prescient. With gold prices on a relative upswing – listed at $877 an ounce midday Friday, according to the New York Mercantile Exchange – people have been selling or getting loans on gold.

For co-owner Don Crowder, that's been true at the shop at 41 E. Main St. He's found more people are trading in their gold – often in the form of necklaces and rings – for cash.

Curtis Road interchange still a mystery to most GPS devices

The woman's voice entreats you.

"In 500 feet, make a U-turn if possible."

You ignore the voice. It grows higher in pitch and louder in volume.

"Please make a U-turn NOW!"

You ignore her again, and drive onto Interstate 57 at Curtis Road.

You do this without the help of the disembodied voice in your GPS unit because it doesn't know there's an interchange at Interstate 57 and Curtis Road.