City's long-term plan for 12 parks slowly takes shape

DANVILLE – The women's world horseshoe-pitching champion plans to compete again in this year's 19th Annual Open Horseshoe Tournament at Douglas Park.

For Joan Elmore, 57, the park's 20 horseshoe courts are some of her favorites.

School officials developing ways to keep students active

RANTOUL – Mike McMahon will spend his spring break this week building a fitness trail with exercise stations at Northview School where he teaches.

It's the latest activity in his campaign to get students at his school – and parents and staff members – in shape. That's a new worry for school officials all over the country who had to have "wellness" plans in place last fall.

Six area projects waiting on fate of state law

SPRINGFIELD – It's been more than five years since Dr. Tom Pliura first applied for a state permit to build an outpatient surgery center in Urbana.

And now he sees a possible chance to start building without one, come April 2.

Urbana to look at neighborhood conservation districts

URBANA – Betsey Cronan thinks a proposal to allow the creation of neighborhood conservation districts could be a good thing for her west Urbana neighborhood.

A resident of 305 W. High St. and co-coordinator of the West Urbana Neighborhood Association, Cronan is proud of her stucco, prairie-style craftsman home, built in 1911. But when she tried to get historic landmark status for the home, she was told it didn't qualify because the side porch had been enclosed.

UI students help entrepreneurs in developing countries

On its Web site, Kiva bills itself as a way to make loans that change lives.

The organization is talking about microloans, small amounts, a few hundred or a thousand dollars, lent to would-be entrepreneurs trying to start or expand village-level businesses in developing countries like Azerbaijan, Kenya, Cambodia and Ecuador.

Climate for change UI prof takes his science, engineering expertise to new state panel

If you scan a media report on climate change and it often turns up Michael Schlesinger's name, there's good reason.

He's quick with a quip, for one thing.

Districts cooking up ideas for making meals healthier

DANVILLE – Brenda Demos put more soy in her school lunches at Liberty School – with mixed results.

"It was a healthy new idea," said Demos, a Danville school district employee for more than 30 years who's in charge of food service. She worked with University of Illinois dietitians to try to find new ways to serve lunches fortified with high-protein soy.

It's Your Business: Estate Sale shop offers antiques, much more

When Savoy businessman Bob Grossman bought an old mansion in Champaign, he had to furnish it, didn't he?

The only problem is, once he started picking up antiques for the house, he couldn't stop.

Jury still out on governor's pension plans

SPRINGFIELD – After two years of reduced contributions, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is now pushing a dramatic plan to invest $26 billion into the public pension systems for teachers, university workers, state employees, judges and members of the General Assembly.

"I'm pleased really that the governor has brought this issue to the forefront, and has proposed a significant influx of cash to the pension funds," said Dan Slack, executive director of the State Universities Retirement System. "Underfunding of the pension systems of Illinois has occurred for decades. But we're still in the process of learning and analyzing details of the proposal."

Company acquires home care business in Charleston

CHAMPAIGN – Alpha-Care Health Professionals of Champaign has acquired the Hearts and Hands private-duty home care business in Charleston.

Now known as Hearts and Hands of Alpha-Care, the business will continue to have an office in Charleston, having recently moved to 1550 Douglas Drive.