Champaign birthday girl collects books, not gifts

CHAMPAIGN — Taylor Hug loves to read.

So when the first-grader has a chance to read to Sally Sue, the literacy dog at Kenwood Elementary School, it's a special treat.

Treecycle program to help forest preserve district

MAHOMET — After picking out your perfect Christmas tree and bringing it home, you probably carefully decorated it with shiny ornaments from days gone by, new ornaments you bought at a local store and items the children made in their art class.

After you've received several weeks of enjoyment from the evergreen, you probably don't want to just send it to the curb.

Annexation of farmland tops Danville agenda

DANVILLE — Two property owners want more than 70 acres of farmland east of the Danville city limits and Lynch Road to be annexed into the city.

Veteran Danville VA director will retire Friday

DANVILLE — Michael Hamilton still remembers his first visit to the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System several years ago.

Then the associate director of the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System in Fort Wayne, Ind., Hamilton was impressed with the Danville medical center's rich history, but less than impressed with its aging infrastructure.

UI won't go triple-X in domain names

Other schools are registering special new domain names to protect brands from adult-oriented enterprises

Unless you like receiving cease-and-desist letters from the University of Illinois' legal team, don't even think about launching a website like to sell or promote, ahem, adult entertainment or anything else.

Quick response contains Champaign fire's toll

CHAMPAIGN — Christmas Eve night at the Shauls in southwest Champaign started as a scene you might see on a holiday card — their family party had adjourned for the night, and three residents stayed up to watch "A Christmas Carol" on DVD with flames lighting up the fireplace.

It's Your Business: Jo-Ann Fabrics sews up new spot in Champaign

Look for Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts to move to a new store on Town Center Boulevard in Champaign next year.

The company plans to take the space formerly occupied by Cost Plus World Market at 722 Town Center Blvd.

Future budget forecasts less cloudy

CHAMPAIGN — The six-month delays in service reductions at Fire Station No. 4 in west Champaign and the police department's front desk cost the city about $278,000, but the overall budget picture is beginning to look brighter.

Relatively brighter.

Fire engine 'brownout,' reduced police desk hours start Jan. 1

CHAMPAIGN — Without city council action, two public-safety cuts that received much community and political attention throughout 2011 will become a reality in 2012.

A fire company on the city's west side — one of nine in Champaign — will severely reduce its activity as of Jan. 1. And the police department lobby — currently open 24 hours — will cut its hours in half.

Getting Personal: Morgan Powell

Getting Personal is an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, News-Gazette staff writer Melissa Merli chats with Morgan Powell, 73, a composer/trombonist (combonist/tromposer, he jokes) and a professor emeritus of composition at the University of Illinois. Getting Personal appears first in print., in Sunday editions of The News-Gazette.