Champaign council votes to soften tax increase

CHAMPAIGN – City council members voted 6-3 Tuesday to reduce Champaign's proposed property tax levy by nearly $229,000, a move that will reduce the increase on the average homeowner's tax bill by several dollars.

The owner of a $150,000 home will pay $19 more for the city's portion of the property tax bill next year.

Mahomet's new administrator attends meeting

MAHOMET – Mell Smigielski grinned from ear to ear as Mayor Deb Braunig introduced him as Mahomet's new administrator at Tuesday night's village board meeting.

"If I were a dog, my tail would be wagging," said Smigielski, 50.

Arthur business creates cider from patrons' own apples

ARTHUR – Interested in a jug of apple cider, made fresh while you wait, with your own homegrown apples?

The Shady Crest Orchard and Farm Market south of Arthur has a longtime tradition of pressing apples into cider and drawing customers from miles around for the unique service.

Three-year-old dies in Champaign fire

CHAMPAIGN – A 3-year-old Champaign boy died Monday evening in a fire at 1313 Hedge Road, Champaign, a residential neighborhood directly north of Kraft Foods.

Champaign Fire Deputy Chief Tim Wild said the child was found in a closet in a bedroom of the single-story home. His mother and two siblings escaped the fire that heavily damaged the home.

Champaign school board member points to Savoy needs

CHAMPAIGN – While the school district looks at how to fulfill a consent decree mandate to add seats in north Champaign, it also must consider the growing population in Savoy, said school board member Scott Anderson.

He said the explosive growth in Savoy means that area is underserved by the school district.

Urbana residents air opinions on rental registration

URBANA – About 60 people, many of them local landlords, jammed Urbana City Council chambers Monday night to weigh in on the city's proposed rental registration ordinance.

Proponents, like Urbana resident Diane Marlin, argued that the proposal would increase both neighborhood and tenant safety. Marlin said she has seen certain apartment buildings in southeast Urbana decline noticeably in the past three or four years.

Rantoul school board approves two-year deal for teachers

RANTOUL – School officials Monday approved a new contract for district teachers, resolving negotiations that almost led to a strike.

But both board members and leaders of the Rantoul Township High School Education Association, who did not attend the meeting, voiced dissatisfaction with the two-year contract and the course of negotiations, and two board members, Merle Wilson and Marla Deem, voted against the contract.

Champaign council considers higher tax levy

CHAMPAIGN – Homeowners in Champaign, like their Urbana counterparts, can expect higher property tax bills next summer.

But some Champaign City Council members are talking about providing a modest amount of tax relief.

Movie house owner makes a statement

HOOPESTON – "Jackass Number Two," "The Covenant" and "Material Girls" – those are the reasons the Lorraine Theatre has been dark for the past two weeks.

But watch for the theater's marquee to flicker back on Friday with "Open Season," a family-oriented animated feature.

Program puts excess inventory to good use

CHAMPAIGN – Schools are always in need of more notebooks, pens and highlighters. But towels, sheets, and pots and pans?

The Champaign and Urbana school districts make good use of those items too. There are always families in need, whether they are fleeing Hurricane Katrina, made homeless by a fire, or starting over because of domestic problems.

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