Discomfort in furniture industry

URBANA – The furniture business isn't an easy business to be in these days.

Consumers aren't willing to pay more for home furnishings, but retailers still face rising costs for utilities, health insurance and employee benefits.

Carter's chief named Retailer of the Year

URBANA – Allen Carter Jr. of Carter's Furniture has been named the Retailer of the Year by the Greater Midwest Home Furnishings Representatives Association.

The organization is made up of representatives of furniture manufacturers who deal with stores in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa and part of Minnesota.

Impact Statement Program takes new approach

DANVILLE – "Pomp and Circumstance" played as the graduates made their way to the stage to receive their certificates. They shook hands with several officials as a video camera recorded the accomplishment for posterity and afterward there was a celebratory reception with cake.

What was unusual was the setting. The ceremony took place in the gymnasium of the Danville prison Feb. 7. It was the first graduating class from the Lifestyle Redirection program.

Game used to simulate disaster scenarios

No plasma rifle or rocket launcher in this Unreal game, which is OK, because blowing up stuff around a nuclear reactor would be a bad idea, anyway.

University of Illinois Professor Rizwan Uddin and some of his students have turned the popular computer game Unreal Tournament into a simulation that could be used to help train nuclear plant workers, emergency responders and others.

Taxpayers bankroll snow day

Many city employees in Urbana and Champaign got the day off Feb. 1, when a storm left 8 inches of snow on the ground.

But in Urbana, the day off came at the expense of taxpayers, with the city picking up the estimated $13,137 bill, while in Champaign, employees who weren't required to report to work had to give up a day of vacation, personal leave or accrued compensation.

Council expected to support restriction on annexations

URBANA – The city council is expected Monday to back legislation that would limit annexation agreements in Champaign County to properties located within 1½ miles of a city's boundaries.

The city council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.

Prof wants to provide best of care – from biggest to tiniest

URBANA – Go looking for examples of the work of Avery Bennett, and you'll find his name on a list of veterinarians to call if you keep a crocodile as a pet.

And on articles about diseases in snakes and rabbits. And on a guide to caring for injured, orphaned squirrels.

NIU reinforces UI campus push for messaging signups

University of Illinois staff members had been chalking messages on sidewalks recently, hanging door tags at residence hall rooms and sending mass e-mails asking people to sign up for the campus emergency messaging system the UI put in place last fall.

The shootings at Northern Illinois University, by a UI graduate student who had attended NIU, drive home that message further.

Former Danville businessman facing 165-year sentence

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A former Danville businessman faces more than 100 years in prison for his role in a nationwide workers compensation insurance scheme.

Robert J. Jennings, 60, formerly of Danville; Donald E. Touchet, 54, of El Cajon, Calif.; and Dr. Richard E. Standridge, 59, of Tempe, Arizona, were convicted Wednesday in Jacksonville, Fla., after a three-week trial in federal court, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's office.

UI advisor: Shooter was 'kind, generous'

URBANA – Steven Kazmierczak was a great student devoted to the study of social work, according to his advisor at the University of Illinois.

"His attendance was very good. His participation was excellent. He was committed to learning as much as he could about the social work practice," said Jan Carter-Black, an assistant professor in the UI's School of Social Work.