Citizens, Frerichs discuss plans to fund education

CHAMPAIGN – Most of the 10 locations for Birkey's Farm Store dealerships border on neighboring states, so they are in direct competition with businesses in Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri.

That's bad news for CEO Ron Birkey, if Gov. Rod Blagojevich's gross receipts tax proposal becomes law. The plan would tax most business transactions, while phasing out the corporate income tax, to pay for Blagojevich's health care plan and provide more money to public schools and higher education.

Break for Danville gas station weighed

DANVILLE – As renovations near completion at the former Shop Rite grocery store on Gilbert Street, city officials are considering a second redevelopment agreement with a gas station down the street.

Wortman-Meyer Properties, which owns the Mach One Food Shop at 510 N. Gilbert St., has asked city officials for tax breaks since the gas station and convenience store are within the city's tax increment financing district.

Five cities named Tree City USA winners

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources on Monday named Champaign, Paxton, Rantoul, Savoy and Urbana as 2007 Tree City USA winners.

The designation recognizes communities that invest at least $2 per resident in forestry programs; adopt an ordinance outlining forest management and tree care standards for the community; conduct an annual Arbor Day tree planting ceremony; and legally designate a city official or volunteer to serve as tree advocate.

Council to consider downtown Champaign apartments

CHAMPAIGN – The city council will consider Tuesday authorizing a letter of support indicating the city's backing for a proposed downtown apartment project where artists and entrepreneurs could both live and work.

The letter would indicate the city's willingness to provide the developer, Gorman & Co. of Madison, Wis., with control of the north part of the city parking lot at the southwest corner of Walnut and Washington streets if certain conditions can be met. The lot is located north of The News-Gazette building at 15 Main St.

Champaign schools of choice registration deadline is Friday

CHAMPAIGN – Parents of children who will start kindergarten this fall in Champaign have just one more week to participate in the schools of choice lottery system.

The deadline for registration during the lottery period is Friday.

Fire destroys historic building in Oakland

OAKLAND – A historic building in Oakland's town square was destroyed in a fire Saturday.

At around 1 p.m., Oakland residents reported hearing an explosion coming from the basement of the former Inn on the Square, a pillared white house on Montgomery Street.

Unattended food blamed for Champaign fire

CHAMPAIGN – A chat with a neighbor apparently distracted a Champaign woman whose house caught fire Sunday night.

According to Dena Schumacher, spokeswoman for the Champaign Fire Department, firefighters were called to the house at 1601 Thornton Drive at 8:01 p.m. Sunday.

Breeders show off felines at Illini Cat Club show

SAVOY – Lois Jensen swoons over high cheek bones. Over silky, long hair, groomed just so. And muscles – she loves good muscle tone on a male.

"It felt like I was judging a German Shepherd," she said, running her hands over a sturdy, black-and-white Maine Coon cat.

Investigation continues in deaths of three people in Danville

DANVILLE – Danville police are investigating a Sunday morning shooting that has left three dead – two young women and a 30-year-old man who was found bleeding in the middle of East Main Street.

Danville police and the Vermilion County Coroner's office are not yet releasing the names of the three victims.

Retired Urbana choral teacher to direct Gibson City show

GIBSON CITY – Music educator and director Willie T. Summerville of Urbana tried to urge a more dramatic sound from his group of singers Sunday.

"You're telling a story and you've got to keep the people interested," Summerville told them. "Give me that trillion-dollar sound again."