Vendor total up from a year ago for Taste of Champaign

CHAMPAIGN – The recession isn't hurting participation by local restaurants in this year's Taste of Champaign-Urbana, opening at 5 p.m. today in West Side Park in Champaign.

There's actually one more food vendor this year – 27 – than last year, according to Katie Flint, special events manager for the Champaign Park District.

Danville class aims to turn kids into local history buffs

DANVILLE – Like many of her peers, Sunny Strader had passed by the Fischer Theatre in downtown Danville numerous times without giving it a thought.

Then this spring, the Danville High School student and other members of the school's Local History Club stepped inside the local landmark. They learned about its beginning in 1884 as the Grand Opera House and the many performers who graced its stage. They also learned about the city's unsuccessful attempt to raze it, and the Vermilion Heritage Foundation's ongoing efforts to restore it as a working theater.

Champaign County Board votes to authorize school sales tax

URBANA – Champaign County Board members voted 18-4 Thursday night to authorize a new countywide sales tax to be used exclusively for school construction and building rehabilitation.

Firefighters called to house fire in Westville

WESTVILLE — Several area fire departments helped put out a fire in Westville early Friday.

Champaign bookmobile gets a summer reprieve

CHAMPAIGN – For Marian McPhee, a woman with a disability, and Emma Jackson, an 8-year-old girl who likes to get books from the Champaign bookmobile, a decision made by the library board Thursday is a happy epilogue.

Quinn stumps for tax increase at DSC training site

CHAMPAIGN – Appearing before an enthusiastic crowd of about 500 people in a room normally used as a production area for disabled workers, Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday tried to build support for a two-year, temporary income tax increase to repair an out-of-whack state budget.

Owner wants state/city bar age issue cleared up

CHAMPAIGN – Doug Larson wants Champaign to clear up whether 19- and 20-year-old customers can enter campus bars.

Appearing before the Champaign Liquor Advisory Commission on Thursday, Larson said a new enforcement policy by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, if continued, will force bars to restrict entry to 21 and older.

Annoying but safer mosquito will predominate this summer

With all this rain, it's hunting season for hungry mosquitoes. While you may be multiply bitten, these biters aren't the disease-carrying kind.

University of Illinois Extension entomologist Phil Nixon said almost-daily rains have created a bumper crop of Aedes vexans, the inland floodwater mosquito.

Recent UI graduate accused of stealing signs last weekend

URBANA – University of Illinois police have arrested a recent UI graduate for the theft of two signs that were part of a Native American art project on the UI campus.

Mark Nepermann, 21, a May graduate in fine and applied arts from Batavia, was arraigned Thursday on a single count of misdemeanor theft alleging he stole signs valued at less than $300 from the UI and Edgar Heap of Birds on Saturday.

Rock camp teaches hot licks, stage presence

CHAMPAIGN – The new rock band finishes playing "Wonderwall" by Oasis when an uncomfortable lull sets in. John Jordan, one of the adults in the room, tells lead singer Keller Warfel to talk to the audience. He suggests that Keller introduce the band.

"We're called the Stereotypes," the 9-year-old boy begins. "When we first got to rock camp we got together to decide on a name. We thought of a bunch of things, like Drunk Monkey and Infection."