Fire-ravaged site's co-owner: 'I would love to rebuild'

CHAMPAIGN – One of the co-owners of the building destroyed by fire early Friday said he hopes to rebuild on the downtown site.

Jeff Mellander was painstakingly renovating and redeveloping the 1870s-era building – which has been called variously the Metropolitan Building and the Bailey-Rugg building – with his partners, Bob Ballsrud and George Grubb.

Now the building is in ruins, and an adjacent building at 215 N. Neil St. that houses the Dobbins Fraker Tennant Joy & Perlstein law firm is heavily damaged on its third floor.

Downtown Champaign suffered a similar blow 21 years ago

CHAMPAIGN – "Big fire, big water." That's what the current Champaign fire chief, Doug Forsman, says about putting out Friday's fire downtown.

Twenty-one years ago, on Dec. 27, 1987, the date of the last big downtown fire, it was the same thing, big water, recalls the chief at that time – Doug Forsman.

Roads open, cleanup finished at site of downtown fire

CHAMPAIGN —  Neil and Main streets were reopened just after 8:30 p.m. Friday following an early morning fire. No injuries were reported.

Church Street, however, will remain closed between Randolph and Neil streets as a fire crew mans the site overnight.

The Metropolitan Building, located at the southwest corner of Church and Neil streets, was consumed by fire shortly after 5 a.m. Friday and was a total loss. The building, built in the 1870s, was undergoing an extensive renovation.

One Main worker becomes firefighter

CHAMPAIGN – Tim Kauffman was one of the heroes of this morning's downtown fire.

Kauffman is an assistant building and operations employee at One Main, across the street from the Metropolitan Building that was destroyed by fire this morning.

Metropolitan owners shocked over loss of 'jewel'

The owners of the Metropolitan Building had put their "heart and soul" into the renovation that was just months from completion, until the building collapsed today.

Bob Ballsrud, who owns the building with George Grubb and Jeff Mellander, said he learned of the fire by phone at about 6:10 a.m.

Danville panel agrees to leave some zoning alone

DANVILLE – The planning and zoning commission agreed Thursday with the wishes of two residents who asked that the current zoning of their properties remain the same, even though city officials recommended a change in the overhaul of the city's zoning ordinance.

Farmers, firefighters work to save grain from blaze

THOMASBORO – Nearly 30 firefighters spent more than eight hours Thursday saving thousands of bushels of corn from a fire after a dryer unit malfunctioned in a grain bin.

Thomasboro firefighters were called out at 1:30 p.m. to 1473 County Road 2500 North, where a grain bin owned by Ehler Brothers was on fire.

Chief group gets trademark warning

Items, logo on Web site were targets of the objection

A student group that supports bringing back Chief Illiniwek has received notice from the University of Illinois that it has infringed on the university's Chief trademarks.

Danville school board delays decision on ex-Walgreens site

DANVILLE – The Danville school board voted Wednesday to postpone a decision on whether to accept the donation of the old Walgreens Accounting building for four months to allow a yet-to-be-formed committee a chance to develop a specific plan for how the building would be used.

"I think it will play a prominent role no matter what we do" with it, said board member Bill Dobbles, who favors accepting the property "with a plan."

Realtor training firm's CEO added to Danville Wall of Fame

DANVILLE – Nina Cottrell never got a college education.

But she had smarts, an "extraordinary" work ethic and a drive to succeed, which took her from a secretary to chief executive officer of the largest nonprofit affiliate of the National Association of Realtors, her older brother said.

"She's an example of what you can do if you put your mind to it," said Wilbert A. Cottrell, who nominated his sister for Danville High School's Wall of Fame.

On Wednesday, Nina Cottrell was announced as this year's inductee. Cottrell was selected by a committee representing a cross-section of the community, including two high school students.