Champaign council to study cable-phone-Web product

CHAMPAIGN – Plans for an alternative cable-phone-broadband Internet service will be discussed by Champaign City Council members Tuesday.

The study session will start at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Champaign council chambers, 102 N. Neil St., C, with a reception for 14 people being honored by the police and fire departments for exceptional service – in some cases, life-saving – for other citizens in need.

Health care group taking bus to Johnson's Danville event

URBANA – Members of the Campaign for Better Health Care are inviting residents to attend U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson's town-hall meeting Monday in Danville.

The Champaign-based group, which sponsored a forum on health care reform Saturday at the Urbana Free Library, has a bus leaving from the Dollar General parking lot at Cunningham Avenue and East Perkins Road in Urbana at 4 p.m. Monday. They plan to return at 7:30 p.m. The group is asking for a $10 donation to pay for the bus.

Business expo, pageant added to Villa Grove's Ag Days

VILLA GROVE – The 31st Annual Ag Days kicks off at noon Friday. The two-day event will feature several new activities, including a business expo and the Miss Villa Grove pageant on Friday.

UI president, predecessors ready for commission hearing

URBANA – His bosses and employees had their chance to explain an admissions process set up for politically connected applicants at the University of Illinois. Now it's President B. Joseph White's turn.

White is the featured witness at Monday's hearing of the Illinois Admissions Review Commission, which will move from Chicago to Urbana for the day.

Champaign-Urbana crime reports

The following crimes were reported recently to Champaign and Urbana police:

Construction manager has niche in Greek market

MONTICELLO – Nat Rassi credits a trip to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., for opening his eyes to how big his professional world could be.

Rassi, who has lived in East Central Illinois since he was 10 years old, worked in construction management for PKD Inc. before deciding to go out on his own.


First Busey to assess Florida market, business plan

CHAMPAIGN – First Busey Corp.'s management team in Florida will assess that market to see whether the banking company's business plan works there, company officials said.

Last week, Urbana-based First Busey reported a $20.5 million second-quarter loss. The company attributed much of it to loan problems in southwest Florida, where real estate values climbed sky-high before plummeting the last two years.

Ebert on Urbana: 'I was born at the center of the universe'

I was born at the center of the universe, and have had good fortune for all of my days. The center was located at the corner of Washington and Maple streets in Urbana, Illinois, a two-bedroom white stucco house with green canvas awnings, evergreens and geraniums in front and a white picket fence enclosing the backyard. Hollyhocks clustered thickly by the fence. There was a barbeque grill back there made by my father with stone and mortar, a dime embedded in its smokestack to mark the year of its completion.

There was a mountain ash tree in the front yard, and three more down the parking on the side of the house. These remarkable trees had white bark that could be peeled loose, and their branches were weighed down by clusters of red-orange berries. "People are always driving up and asking me about those trees," my father said. He had planted them himself, and they were the only ones in town – perhaps in the world. They needed watering in the summertime, which he did by placing five-gallon cans under them with small holes drilled in their bottoms. These I carefully filled with the garden hose from the backyard, while making rainbow sprays over the grass around.

In Savannah, moss-dripping trees, butter-drenched food

If you want to experience genuine Southern hospitality, try Lowcountry cooking and visit a city of unique charm and 300 years of rich heritage, pack your bag and chart a course to Savannah, Ga., fondly referred to by Savannahians as the "Southern Lady."

You can explore the historic district, delight in blended styles of architecture, visit 21 miniparks graced with oak tree allees, view stately mansions enhanced with tall white columns, take a Savannah River paddleboat cruise, peek through elaborate wrought-iron fences guarding intimate formal gardens, and encounter the essence of Southern life of bygone days, artfully wedded with modern development.

Rantoul man arrested for cocaine possession, battery

CHAMPAIGN — A Rantoul man remained jailed Saturday after being arrested  Friday night for aggravated battery and possession of almost an ounce of crack cocaine.