Roger Ebert announces his film festival's lineup

CHAMPAIGN – Roger Ebert believes it's a good thing that his film festival in Champaign is no longer tagged with the term "Overlooked."

The more general title, Roger Ebert's Film Festival, allows the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic to screen, at the 11th annual festival from April 22 to 26 at the Virginia Theatre, the Academy Award-nominated "Frozen River" and "Woodstock." The 1969 film, with director Michael Wadleigh present, will open the five-day festival.

Grant to link produce, nutrition education

SPRINGFIELD – Urbana has received a $7,500 grant through the Illinois Department of Agriculture to help promote its farmers market, which will open at Lincoln Square Village on May 2, a week earlier than in the past.

The grant money, which originates with a federal specialty crops promotion program, will be used to promote "Sprouts at the Market" at the Urbana farmers market, according to Lisa Bralts, an economic development specialist in Urbana and director of Market at the Square.

Danville businessman pursues deal to open liquor store

DANVILLE – Danville businessman Sam Hazari hopes a pre-annexation agreement with the city will satisfy aldermen who have concerns with his plans to open a drive-through package liquor store on East Main Street just outside the city limits.

Hazari planned to run the store at 3164 E. Main St. under a county liquor license, but the property falls within the zoning buffer that extends one and a half miles beyond city limits. The site is currently zoned B-2 highway business, a designation that requires a package liquor store to seek a special-use permit to operate.

Raggedy Ann, Andy Museum closing this year

ARCOLA – A Douglas County museum dedicated to two famous dolls will close at the end of the year.

Arcola resident Joni Wannamaker said she and her husband, Tom, will close the Raggedy Ann and Andy Museum in December.

4th annual Homer Business Expo scheduled April 4

HOMER – The fourth annual Homer Business Expo will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 4 at the Homer Village Hall, 500 E. Second St.

The event, sponsored by the Homer Community Improvement Association, will showcase products and services offered by local businesses.

Historic Lincoln Hotel closes; sheriff's sale scheduled


URBANA — The company managing the Historic Lincoln Hotel says the hotel’s owners plan to go ahead with a multimillion-dollar renovation — even though a sheriff’s sale of the property is scheduled April 24.

Historic Lincoln Hotel closing for nine-month renovation

URBANA – The Historic Lincoln Hotel in downtown Urbana was in the process of closing Tuesday, in preparation for a nine-month renovation project.

The hotel notified about 10 employees that their jobs were ending, said Fred Rotermund, vice president of Global Hotel Management. It also informed six guests that they would need to check out.

Renovation under way on First Bank's newest branch

CHAMPAIGN – First Bank hopes its new branch in downtown Champaign will be open for business Oct. 1.

The bank began interior demolition on the former Great Impasta building at 114 W. Church St., C, in mid-February. It hopes to begin soon with a $1.3 million renovation project, said Adam Yeazel, the bank's Champaign County market president.

Local doctors notice uptick in recession-related illnesses

CHAMPAIGN – The recession may be having an unhealthy effect on more than your bank account.

It's making a lot of people sick, too. Doctors are seeing more stress-related illnesses these days, and from what many patients are telling them, a lot of the stress is coming from lost jobs and money worries.

Economic group creates DVD showcasing area schools

You may know the tale of the Fisher Bunny.

Struggling high school basketball squad decides to wear rabbit's feet for luck, starts to win and – voila! – a famous mascot is born.

But did you know:

– Every University High School student is required to run (or walk) a 5K race?

– Rantoul Township High School has a state-of-the-art greenhouse?

– St. Thomas More students must do 50 hours of community service before graduation?

Those tidbits and others from all 12 county high schools and Parkland College are detailed in a DVD under production by the Champaign County Economic Development Corp. The DVDs will be handed out to prospective businesses to showcase educational opportunities in the county.