Maybe a bargain at $18,250

One thing Senate President Emil Jones will be remembered for his is unfailing (others call it silly and politically motivated) support for Chicago State University. Just two weeks before Jones announced his retirement, the Chicago Tribune disclosed that former CSU President Elnora Daniel spent $18,250 on a coffee table book about herself. Such profligate spending was the norm at Chicago State under Daniel.

The good thing about Elnora Daniel's recently published tribute to herself is that, thankfully, she stopped at only 400 books. That kept the price of the 52-page vanity book to a bargain basement price of $18,250.

Russian attack tests U.S. resolve

Not since the end of the Cold War has the U.S. been involved with such a serious dispute with Russia as the one prompted by Moscow's invasion of neighboring Georgia.

The decision by Russian leader Vladimir Putin to send troops into the neighboring Republic of Georgia, a pro-Western democracy, should put an end to the naive belief that Russian/American tension stopped at the close of the Cold War.

Stopping By: Walnut Point State Park worth it just for food

OAKLAND – Nestled under a canopy of trees, right on the edge of Shady Bay at Walnut Point Lake, sits the Walnut Point Cafe, where you can satisfy just about any craving for homemade comfort food. Ice cream is a big seller here, as are the cobblers and the hot fudge brownie sundaes.

But it's the hot foods, heaped high on the plates, that get the regulars stopping by each week. Co-owners Kathy and Rick Strange have been running the Walnut Point Concessions within Walnut Point State Park for eight years.

Shopping for a Zipcar

Local officials apparently are ready to start a car-sharing program in Champaign-Urbana, subsidized at the start by government. Given its success in other markets, Zipcar probably is worth a test drive here.

Four governments – the University of Illinois, the cities of Champaign and Urbana, and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District – are poised to bet that local residents, especially students, are willing to change their automobile use habits. They are about to sign an agreement with Zipcar, a private company, to begin a car-sharing program in the community.

Clinton testing Obama's resolve

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama is going the extra mile to appease Hillary Clinton and her embittered supporters.

Those who thought former First Lady Hillary Clinton would quietly accept defeat in her campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination have learned otherwise.

Local fire departments turning to students, others for help

Ben Lantow, Grant Yatzkan and Graham Haworth are clearly some of the hardest-working firefighters on Edge-Scott Fire Protection District's department.

The three don't hesitate to pull on their sooty yellow uniforms and take their turn inside a building so hot that steam hisses off the water used to fight the fire. They came to improve, learn the ropes and try putting themselves in an officer's position. They show up most Monday nights – last Monday, to a fire in a cinder-block building at the University of Illinois' Fire Service Institute.

A closer look at the eight new principals in Champaign

Students, parents and teachers will see new faces in the principal's office at many Champaign schools when classes begin this week. Four of the district's 11 elementary schools have new principals, as does one of its three middle schools and both its high schools. The district's new academic alternative program has a new leader as well. The News-Gazette's Jodi Heckel takes a closer look at each of the new leaders.

Sarah Clyne (above)

Longtime Champaign family reinvests in community

A large, historic block on West Church Street in Champaign is changing hands to a family with its own longtime local connections.

It's fitting that a large block on West Church Street, just west of downtown Champaign, now apparently is moving into the hands of a longtime Champaign family.

An issue of public safety or public finance?

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has expressed a sudden interest in tougher enforcement of speeding on interstate highways, but we're left to wonder if his idea is more about raising money than reducing reckless driving.

For a man whose main accomplishment as governor has been to block a state income tax increase, Gov. Rod Blagojevich sure spends a lot of time cooking up ways to increase revenue to the state, whether it is selling the lottery, enacting a gross receipts tax, expanding gambling or increasing various fees. Now the governor wants to put as many as 108 cameras on major highways in the state, ostensibly to catch speeders.

Why not try real elections in Urbana?

More competitive ward maps is one issue Urbana's newest alderman might consider.

David Gehrig, a research programmer working on an astronomy project at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, has been a member of the Urbana City Council for nearly two weeks now. So far, he's showing no ill effects.