UI flash index's February decline less steep than in January

URBANA – The University of Illinois flash index dropped again in February, indicating the Illinois economy continues to shrink. But the drop was not as sharp as the previous month's decline.

The index dropped from 97 in January to 96.3 in February, according to UI economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the index for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

Danville school officials seek public input on technology plan

DANVILLE – Danville school officials are getting ready to update the district's technology plan, and they're asking for the public's help.

Community members are being asked to fill out a survey on the district's Web site at There's a 24-question survey for parents and another with 15 questions for community members without children in the district.

Danville's severance offer entices those not facing layoffs

DANVILLE – A severance package prompted by city cuts has become a retirement incentive, with more workers taking advantage of the offer than just those employees whose positions were eliminated.

Nine city employees, including three police officers and the director of the fire department, decided the city's offer of two days' pay for every year of service and about a month of health insurance made last week the right time to retire. The retirements and personnel cuts took effect Friday.

Homer craftsmen offering custom-built furniture for sale

HOMER – A new shop downtown offers traditional country furniture and replicas of antique furniture in unusual varieties of hardwood.

Pat & John's Primitive & Custom Furnishings is already taking custom orders and bidding on a local project. The store at 110 S. Main Street will be open by appointment and whenever the nephew-and-uncle team happen to be at work in their shop.

Oakwood's hometown grocery store could reopen soon

OAKWOOD – At 91, Dorothy Dalbey doesn't drive a lot, especially at night, so she misses having a grocery store in her hometown of Oakwood.

But Dalbey and the other 1,400 residents in town may not be long without a local grocery if the new owner, Wes Burres, decides to reopen it.

Burres confirmed that he bought the building from previous owner Dana Reagan, but he could not confirm exactly what he plans to do with the building that has not been cleared out since it closed Feb. 5. He did say that he's considering a grocery there.

Volunteer counselors sought for Bloomington summer camp

BLOOMINGTON – Volunteer counselors are needed this summer at a camp for children and teens with muscular dystrophy.

The camp is held from June 28 to July 4 at Timber Pointe Outdoor Center in Hudson, near Bloomington.

Champaign firm has big plans for its microplasma lamps

CHAMPAIGN – Bye-bye, fluorescent lighting. Hello, microplasma.

That's one of the goals of Eden Park Illumination, a locally grown company that hopes to revolutionize the lighting industry with microplasma lamps that are lightweight, energy-efficient and nontoxic.

Schools flex scientific muscles at Olympiad; 4 going to state

CHAMPAIGN – By 4 p.m. Saturday, the gym at Franklin Middle School – maximum occupancy 900 – teemed with screams, cheers and the screech of tennis shoes running across the floor.

Up until then, the competition was fierce.

State grant paying for Douglas County recycling program

Douglas County residents will have a new electronic recycling program starting Tuesday.

The program, sponsored on a pilot basis by the Lincoln Heritage Resource Conservation and Development Council, will provide recycling every two months in Arcola, Arthur, Atwood, Tuscola, Villa Grove and Newman.

Musical event to be cat-friendly fundraiser

CHAMPAIGN – Feline-friendly musicians will take the stage today at Mike & Molly's to raise money for the Champaign Area Trap, Spay/Neuter and Adoption Program.

The volunteer organization provides spay/neuter assistance to low-income families; trap, neuter and return programs for feral cats; and foster and adoption services for stray and special needs cats.