Residents to get say in downtown Danville development

DANVILLE - City officials are forging ahead with plans to bolster development in the west downtown neighborhood by calling on the residents for guidance.

Chris Milliken, planning and zoning manager for the city, said in the next month, a steering committee of mostly west downtown residents and downtown business representatives will be formed to help city development officials craft goals for the neighborhood.

Champaign program dramatically reducing burglaries

CHAMPAIGN – Sometimes, you try something and it works.

In Champaign, a policing technique put into place a few months ago is showing results: a drop of as much as 20 percent in burglaries the first half of 2009 compared with the same time a year ago.

"'Attaboys' all around," police detective Mark Vogelzang says.

Construction update: Residential projects near UI campus

CHAMPAIGN – Last year, construction on campus was overshadowed – literally – by two big apartment projects in Champaign: the 18-story Burnham 310 complex on Springfield Avenue and the 24-story 309 Green complex on Green Street.

This year, several new residential projects have been going up on the west side of campus, despite a slower construction year. Here's a quick look at some of those projects:

Tent community hosts get-together for residents, officials

CHAMPAIGN – Linda Cafin came to the backyard of the Catholic Worker House in Champaign on Saturday afternoon to see what was going on.

The Monticello resident who grew up in a house next door was really there on behalf of her 89-year-old mother, who still lives on Cottage Court, next door to where Safe Haven members have erected a tent city for homeless people.

Urbana resident enjoys pets with personalities

URBANA – Growing up, Karen Seiter had goldfish. They were all her parents would allow.

But a year after she and Henry married, a four-legged furball would enter Seiter's life.

Even with capital funds, Olympian Drive project distant

Although the recently approved multibillion-dollar Illinois capital bill included $5 million for design work and right-of-way acquisition for the Olympian Drive extension north of Champaign-Urbana, actual construction probably is several years away.

For one thing, the Olympian Drive project is listed among the Illinois Department of Transportation's category of multiyear projects for the period 2010 to 2015.

For another, local officials lack most of the money to pay for the estimated $27 million project that would run from Market Street in Champaign to U.S. 45 north of Urbana.

C-U Mass Transit District joining trend of using hybrids

URBANA – Along with new names for previously colorless routes, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District will be introducing "green" buses to its fleet over the next few months.

Five 30-foot hybrid buses, powered by both electricity and diesel fuel, already are being tested on city streets.

And later this fall four 60-foot articulated buses, also hybrids, will join the MTD fleet.

Rantoul man faces drug, battery charges after incident

CHAMPAIGN – A Rantoul man remained jailed Saturday after being arrested Friday night on charges of aggravated battery and possession of almost an ounce of crack cocaine.

A Champaign police report said Howard D. Baker, 28, of the 100 block of North Penfield Street allegedly hit a 54-year-old Champaign man in the head with a pistol in the 200 block of East Hill Street about 10:45 p.m. When police found Baker, he had 26.4 grams of crack cocaine on him, the report said.

Lightning sparks Champaign house fire; family displaced

CHAMPAIGN – A lightning strike on a Champaign house early Saturday has left a family temporarily displaced.

Champaign Fire Department spokeswoman Dena Schumacher said firefighters arrived at the home of John and Elisabeth Barclay at 908 W. Church St., C, at 12:39 a.m. to find smoke coming from the west side of the attic of the two-story house.

Researchers step up efforts to exterminate ash borers

CHAMPAIGN – Don't give up on America's ash trees yet.

Even though an imported beetle poses grave danger to them, scientists are exploring solutions that, in time, may slow or stop the ravaging of the trees.