Vacant building ordinance upsets Danville restaurant owner

DANVILLE – A city resident and business owner complained to the city council Tuesday night about the city's new vacant building ordinance.

David Quick, who owns Charlotte's restaurant on South Gilbert Street and a bed and breakfast in the same area, recently bought a building at 327 Robinson St. near his other businesses. The city would not issue a permit for a new roof until he told city officials his plans for the building and committed to renovating the dilapidated structure within a year.

Liquor law change stops sandwich shop's alcohol deliveries

CHAMPAIGN – The Fat Sandwich Company soon won't be able to deliver package liquor along with their sandwiches.

The city council voted 7-2 Tuesday night to close a loophole that had allowed the Campustown restaurant at 502 E. John St. to deliver cases of beer and liters of whiskey along with their sandwiches. The change will become effective Feb. 27,

Developers plan mixed-use future for Danville's Village Mall

DANVILLE – Village Mall developers are turning the former Steve and Barry's retail site into an office complex and marketing it as "The Commons."

While it's a first for the Village Mall, which opened in the mid-1970s, it's not new in other parts of the country, as other retail centers are creating mixed-use facilities to fill vacant spaces and increase pedestrian traffic.

Local groups to pursue stimulus money for broadband network

CHAMPAIGN – A potential local consortium led by the University of Illinois appears ready to pursue economic stimulus grant funding to construct a "big broadband" network along the Bradley Avenue corridor in Champaign and Urbana to bring advanced broadband service to residents.

The economic stimulus bill signed by President Obama Tuesday includes $7 billion in funding to improve bandwidth and the availability of broadband service in underserved areas.

Champaign Wal-Mart reopens after bomb threat

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign Wal-Mart store reopened late Tuesday afternoon after closing because of a bomb threat.

The store at 2610 N. Prospect Ave. was shut down for about an hour and a half while Champaign police searched the store with store employees. They found nothing suspicious.

Champaign County home sales drop

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign County home sales in the fourth quarter of 2008 fell nearly 27 percent from the same period a year ago.

According to the Champaign County Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service, 286 homes were sold in the fourth quarter of 2008, down from 391 homes in the fourth quarter of 2007.

S.P.E.A.K. Cafe sets open-mic event for spring launch

The S.P.E.A.K. (Song, Poetry, Expression, Art, Knowledge) Cafe will launch again for the spring semester from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Pallette Cafe inside Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive, C.

The theme of the open-microphone event will be "Strange Fruit of Change," or "a little Billie Holiday and Barack Obama mixture to highlight Black History Month," according to emcee/organizer Aaron Ammons.

Frerichs proposes bill raising lending limit for farmers

CHAMPAIGN – A bill introduced by state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, would give young farmers a little financial boost in getting into the business.

Viennese quartet to perform Thursday at Krannert Center

The up-and-coming Hugo Wolf Quartett from Vienna will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana.

The Hugo Wolf Quartett, founded in 1993 at the Vienna University for Music, studied with the Alban Berg Quartet and with Walter Levin of the LaSalle-Quartet. In 1995, the Hugo Wolf Quartett won the Fifth International String Quartet Competition in Cremona and made its debut in the Vienna Konzerthaus.

Urbana council holds cable-franchise talks in closed session

The cities of Urbana and Champaign have been unable to negotiate new cable-franchise agreements with Comcast, and both city councils now appear likely to grant short extensions to Comcast while formally requesting franchise-renewal negotiations, triggering an administrative process.

Meanwhile, The News-Gazette is formally objecting to a closed session the Urbana council held Monday night to discuss "pending litigation," where aldermen discussed cable-franchise negotiations with attorney Brian Grogan, a Minneapolis attorney who is acting as a cable consultant for both cities.