Tom's #Mailbag, Dec. 8, 2017

Tom's #Mailbag, Dec. 8, 2017

Got a question for our veteran columnist? Click here

Much of this week's Mailbag is devoted either to alcohol or the holidays, or both. Questions include: where to enjoy a Tom & Jerry mixed drink, where there's a White Sox bar in East Central Illinois or where to see a miniature Christmas village display.

We're going to need some help from readers on some of these questions.

Meanwhile we've got answers to your questions about lighting up Champaign's newest water tower, how to get your opinion through to the mayor of Champaign, an intersection that needs a paint job, signing up for what was UC2B and old north Urbana gas station that's getting a new life.

White Sox bar?

"I'm relatively new to the Champaign-Urbana area and have noticed that most baseball fans here either follow the Cubs or the Cardinals. This has led me to wonder if there are any White Sox fans in the vicinity. If so, are there any Sox-designated bars?"

I turned to a couple loyal White Sox fans for guidance.

State Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, said there are a "smattering of Sox fans, but no organized group or destination to watch games to my knowledge."

Brendan McGinty said: "Despite our best efforts, the five of us loyal, lifetime White Sox fans in the area can't keep a Sox-oriented watering hole in business. I'll check with the other four to see if they want to open up a place. I'd call it: "You Can Put It On The Board — YYYYES!"

Readers, let us know of any White Sox bars in East Central Illinois.

More on 'pedal pub'

"The mayor's response to a Dec. 1 Mailbag question about the so-called pedal pub got me thinking. If only 'official complaints' about the pedal pub (or any other issue, for that matter) are of interest to our city council members, how does a citizen actually make an official, as opposed to an anecdotal, complaint? Phone call, e-mail, fax, text, snail mail, certified letter? And to whom does one direct such a missive? And what kind of acknowledgment would one expect to receive from the city for going on the proverbial record with said complaint? It seems to me that an attorney such as our mayor would be interested in enlightening the citizens about the way to be 'officially' heard."

Mayor Deb Feinen was eager to answer your query.

"Thanks for the question. You reader brings up a good point and I appreciate the opportunity to respond. I think any of the communication methods mentioned in the question would work to complain as well as in person or at a council meeting," she said. "I didn't mean to leave the impression that someone had to fill out an official form in order for their concerns to be taken seriously as that is certainly not the case.

"I spoke to the Deputy Liquor Commissioner prior to responding (to last week's Mailbag question) and he didn't recall any complaints, written or oral. I have also searched my city emails and did not find any complaints with 'pedal' alone or 'pedal' with 'pub' or 'bike.' My recollection is that since the last time we had the question in the paper I have not received complaints in the nature described in the email. I have had a few people stop me while I am out in the community to comment on the pedal bus as I explained in my answer to the last question but that is it. I suppose it is possible that I may have forgotten a complaint I received but I don't recall any other than those I referenced or those in the mailbag itself.

"I welcome input on this and any topic and I am happy to receive it in writing or orally. I am in the mayor's office daily and every few months I hold office hours on the weekend at a local spot. People should feel free to discuss this topic or any other with me."

Old-timey mixed drink

"Is there a bar in C-U that serves the old-time holiday drink, 'Tom & Jerry'?"

Every recipe I found for a Tom & Jerry calls for the use of eggs, which would be a difficult ingredient to store for your typical bar.

"No, we don't serve Tom and Jerry's, which is variant on egg nog using brandy as the spirit, popular in northern states and Canada," said Paul Wirth of the Iron Post in Urbana. "British and early American egg nogs were rum-based, we (Americans) changed that to whiskey or bourbon. We will have egg nog available for the holidays, to be mixed with whatever the customer prefers. I personally don't mix anything with my bourbon."

But I found two places in downtown Champaign that said they could concoct it: Destihl and Hamilton Walker's.

"If someone came in and asked for it we could make it," said Chris Pluard, a bartender at Destihl. "We have farm fresh eggs here so we could whip it together."

Down the street at Hamilton Walker's, his colleagues called beverage director Josh Gasienica "the barmaster" and said there was no question that he could make a Tom & Jerry.

If Mailbag readers know of any other area places that can make a Tom & Jerry let us in on the secret.

Snow village

"Last year, Lincoln Square had a large Snow Village display in the space that Brownfield Sports previously occupied. Will this display be back this year, and if so, what days/hours?"

The Holiday Wonderland is back at Lincoln Square. It is set up at the south end of the mall in the spot formerly occupied by the Art Mart.

It is open from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

It also will be open with various hours on Dec. 13, 15, 16, 17, 20, 22, 23 and 24.

All donations go to the American Cancer Society.

Candlestick Lane

"Haven't heard anything about Candlestick Lane although I saw a sign for it on Philo Road in Urbana. When will it open this year?"

Candlestick Lane's 54th year (or maybe longer) will light up at 6 p.m. Saturday. The official lighting ceremony will take place at the north end of Grant Place (the corner of Grant Place and Eastern Drive). The east Urbana tradition will continue every night through Christmas from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Streets participating include: Grant Place from Fairlawn Drive to Eastern Avenue, Eastern Drive from Cottage Grove Avenue to Cole Place and Fairlawn from Cottage Grove Avenue to Patton Place.

Illuminate water tower?

"Illinois American Water has built a very nice water tower on the western entrance into Champaign with the slogan, 'Champaign-Urbana The Heart of Innovation.' Problem is it is not lighted. I was wondering if Ameren, Illinois American Water, or even the Convention and Visitors Bureau would like to donate the lighting and electricity so folks entering the Champaign-Urbana community from the west could see it 24 hours a day."

Not going to happen.

Karen Cotton, a spokeswoman for the water company, replied: "Thank you to the person complimenting our water tower. We appreciate them noticing the design and our partnership with the Champaign (Economic Development Corporation). We do not light our water towers. It would cause light pollution to our neighbors and perhaps a distraction to motorists.

"Thank you again for noticing our innovative design."

Intersection needs restriping

"Is there anything in the works to get the lines painted on the road at Mattis & Kirby in Champaign? I noticed it is especially bad on the south side of Kirby and the east side of Mattis. There are hardly any lines visible and it's worse when it rains."

The restriping is planned for early next spring, said Kris Koester, spokesman for the Champaign Public Works Department.


North Urbana refurbish

"There has long been what appeared to be an abandoned building at the northeast corner of Goodwin Avenue and Hill Street in Urbana (approximately 802 N. Goodwin Ave., Urbana). Recently there has been construction activity there. What is the scope of construction and what is coming to this site just south of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Urbana?

The word from John Schneider, community development manager for the city of Urbana: "The property at 802 North Goodwin Avenue was recently acquired by Rector Property Management LLC from the Don Harlow estate. The building is currently being totally refurbished and will be utilized as an office for Rector's rental property business."Burnham Mansion

"With all the uproar over Burnham House, I wondered who actually owns the building? Does the owner have an opinion in this and how much weight does that opinion count? If the owner wants to sell, can PACA, the city or other entity stop that?"

The Burnham house at 603 W. Church now is owned by the Champaign school district. It acquired the property earlier this year for $1.7 million and, yes, it wants to use the property for parking at an expanded Champaign Central High School campus. After the city council vote Tuesday night against granting the property landmark status there's less likelihood that it will survive where it is.

UC2B signup

"I'm wondering how I can sign up for UC2B broadband. As I understand it, the network expands into neighborhoods where 45 percent of households have signed up. When I visit the map ( and follow the prompts, I receive the following message:

"'Residential services, the address entered unfortunately appears not active for residential services at this time.

"'We extend out our network to the residential areas where demand is highest. Please continue on to register your interest with a sign-up, and to encourage your neighbors!'

"I can't figure out how to actually sign up. What am I missing? And will UC2B be advertising for sign-ups any time in the near future? I'm dismayed to see so many neighborhoods languishing in the single digits, especially given the FCC's recent actions toward repealing net neutrality rules. The two providers currently offering service at my address (Comcast and AT&T) have undermined net neutrality, and the sooner I'm able to take my business away from them the better."

Earlier this year St. Louis-based i3 Broadband acquired iTV-3 and said it will operate the Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) fiber-optic network.

Champaign-Urbana residents are able to show interest with no obligation at or by contacting the company's Peoria office by phone at 217-530-0333.

About those bright lights in Savoy ...

Savoy Mayor Joan Dykstra reports that concerns about bright lights coming from a shopping area parking lot along U.S. 45 had been addressed.

"The company was out last evening to direct the light down," she wrote. "Dan Davies, our zoning director, emailed the constituent to confirm the remedy."

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (1):Tom's Mailbag

Comments embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments