Fraud attempt puts freeze on some Busey accounts

URBANA – Busey Bank hopes to reactivate its business customers' debit cards once it determines it's safe to do so, bank President Lee O'Neill said this morning.

The bank deactivated the debit cards Friday – essentially freezing or stopping access to accounts – after an attempted case of fraud in some accounts over the Christmas holiday, he said. Only business debit-card holders were affected by the deactivation, and "a very small percentage of those customers" had fraudulent activity in their accounts, O'Neill said. None of the bank's personal customers was affected by the deactivation.

Hoopeston man comes up with idea for car safety device

HOOPESTON – Rick Payne has developed a safety tool that he hopes no one will ever have to use.

He is also hoping success in sales and distribution will bring production jobs to the Hoopeston area.

Payne's Breakout Safety Tool is designed to cut seat belts and break out windows, in the case of an extreme emergency, for a passenger to be able to get out of a vehicle.

Web is where it's at for these twin brothers at UI

CHAMPAIGN – Ryan and Ashton Clark spend a lot of time churning out ideas for Web-based businesses.

In the past seven years, the 20-year-old twin brothers – both juniors at the University of Illinois – have formed more than a dozen such ventures, with products ranging from online music to sports apparel to parking-place reservations.

Danville officials ponder a 'pay before you pump' ordinance

DANVILLE – Jasmine Lohr always pays for her gas before she pumps.

"I think it's smarter, because then you won't go over the amount of money you have," said Lohr as she put gas in her vehicle at the BP Station at the corner of Gilbert and North streets in Danville.

Officials with the city plan to talk with local gas station owners to determine if there is interest in an ordinance that would require all gas stations in the city to have pay-first pumps.

When the Champaign County temps plummet, so do the burglaries

Maybe the burglars around here don't like to get their tootsies cold.

The number of burglary calls in Champaign County drops by more than 20 percent if the temperature hits freezing or below.

Cities' tax receipts starting to drop during recession

As the recession worsens, Champaign and Urbana are beginning to feel the pinch of declining sales tax and state income tax payments, while Danville is managing to hold its own on sales taxes.

Champaign and Urbana recently received sales tax receipts for September – when the stock market and nation's economy went into free fall – and they show a small decline compared with a year ago. There is a three-month lag between when the consumer pays sales taxes and when the state pays those taxes to a city.

Ex-Champaign educator developing program for administrators

DANVILLE – As a longtime principal and mentor to aspiring principals, Carol Stack knows both the pressures of the job and what makes a successful school leader.

Stack retired in 2007 after 31 years in education, almost all of it in the Champaign school district. But she hasn't left behind her interest in seeing talented educators take on leadership roles.

Barbecue, ale on tap at former Urbana bar

Like barbecue? If so, downtown Urbana may soon have a place for you.

Mike Cochran and Pedro Heller plan to open the Black Dog Smoke & Ale House in the former Tod & John's tavern space at 201 N. Broadway Ave.

Eastern Prairie will take over emergency coverage at Plastipak

CHAMPAIGN – Starting Jan. 1, the Eastern Prairie Fire Protection District will provide fire and limited emergency medical coverage for the Plastipak Packaging Inc. plant in unincorporated Champaign.

A one-year contract between the company, which employs about 700 people, and the fire protection district was signed recently, according to Fire Chief Michael Kobel.

Local session of regional conference will be Jan. 7

URBANA – Crop production, farm economics and pest management will be the major themes of the 2009 University of Illinois Corn and Soybean Classic.

Six regional conferences are planned throughout the state during January, including one to be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 7 at the I Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First St., C.