Survival Guide to life in C-U

Finding a place to live

Rental agents are listed in the telephone directory´s Yellow Pages under Apartment Finding & Rental Service, Real Estate Management and Real Estate Rental Service. If you want to buy a house, real estate firms can help. You can find rentals and property for sale in classified advertisements in local publications. Listings for both home sales and rentals also are found in The News-Gazette and on its website (www.news-gazette.com).

If you have a complaint about a landlord, you can find out your rights by talking to the Champaign-Urbana Tenant Union, 44 E. Main St., Room 208, C, 352-6220. University of Illinois students should contact the tenant union office at Room 326 of the Illini Union, 333-0112.

Starting utilities

AmerenIP is the electric and gas provider. Its 24-hour number is 800-755-5000. You need to call AmerenIP; this is something a friend or a parent can´t do for you. There is an activation fee for electric and gas service and another fee if you´d like someone to relight your pilot. More information is available on the Web: http://www.amerenip.com.

Water service can be started by calling Illinois American Water Co. at 352-1420. Cable television service is provided by Comcast Cable, 303 Fairlawn Drive, U, at 888-736-6612. There´s Direct TV and Dish Network for satellite television.
 
Sending mail

Most mail posted in C-U leaves town at 10 p.m. daily. The latest you can mail a letter and get it out the same day is 8 p.m. at the main post office, 2001 N. Mattis Ave., C. Champaign substations and contract stations are at 600 N. Neil St. and Third and Green streets.

In Urbana, the post office is at 3104 E. Tatman Court. Substations are at 202 S. Broadway Ave., adjacent to Lincoln Square Village; and in the University of Illinois´ Altgeld Hall, 700 S. Wright St. If you leave town for more than 10 days, the post office will hold your mail if you notify it in writing.

Newspaper subscriptions

-Call The News-Gazette circulation department at 351-5488. The Daily Illini, the campus newspaper, is distributed free Monday through Friday and is also available by mail for a fee by calling 337-8300.

The Champaign and Urbana public libraries have some newspaper subscriptions, and the University of Illinois newspaper library, in the main library building at the south end of Wright Street, has papers from Illinois cities and many national and international papers, too.
 
Hunting for a job

Check newspapers´ classified advertisements. Check job postings at the Illinois Department of Employment Security´s Job Service office at 1307 N. Mattis Ave., C. Websites also list jobs available around Illinois or nationwide. To check on jobs at the area´s largest employer — the UI — call 333-6747 about academic level jobs; 333-3101 about staff jobs or extra help/clerical. The UI´s Web site also has job listings: http://www.illinois.edu.

You also can call private employment agencies listed in the telephone directory; some charge fees. In Vermilion County, you can go to www.442jobs.com, which lists open positions in the area.
 
Driving legally

For a driver´s license or license plates, go to the Driver´s License Examination Station at 2401 W. Bradley Ave., C (just across from the main entrance to Parkland College), or in Vermilion County, go to the examination station at 7 E. Southgate Drive in Tilton, south of Danville on Illinois 1. To find facilities in other cities, check the secretary of state´s website at cyberdriveillinois.com.

Some drivers can renew over the Internet; the secretary of state´s office will tell you if you´re eligible. If you intend to become an Illinois resident, you need an Illinois license. University students from out of state aren´t required to transfer their licenses.

The offices are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays; and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Road tests end earlier than the closing times. The office is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Call the Champaign examination station at 278-3344 and the Danville exam station at 442-1564 for the things you need to take with you. The list includes birth certificate or passport, proof of address and Social Security number.

For license plates, bring your vehicle´s title or a copy of your loan agreement and current registration. It costs $99 to license a car for a year. Personalized, vanity and special plates are available for extra fees. License plate renewal stickers also can be bought at most financial institutions and at private licensing and title shops. It´s a little faster but costs slightly more.

The secretary of state´s Web site is www.cyberdriveillinois.com.
 
Registering a bicycle

Neither Champaign nor Urbana requires bicycle registration, but both offer it as a service. It helps with recovery if your bike is stolen. You provide the serial number, make, model and a description.
In Champaign, register your bike at any of the fire stations. In Urbana, do it at the Finance Department in the City Building, 400 S. Vine St. There is no charge. The UI strongly urges students to register bikes at the Public Safety Building at the corner of Springfield and Goodwin avenues. There is no charge.

Finding day care

Call the UI Child Care Resource Service at 333-3252 or check the phone book and newspaper advertisements.
 
Enrolling in schools

For public schools in Champaign, call the administrative office at 351-3800. In Urbana, call 384-3600. In Danville, call 444-1004. For private, parochial and special schools, check your telephone directory. If your child is severely mentally and/or physically disabled, call the Swann Special Care Center, 356-5164.

Being a citizen

To register to vote, visit the Champaign County clerk´s office, 1776 E. Washington St., U. Bring two forms of identification with you, including one showing your permanent address. That´s where you go, too, to get a marriage license or a copy of a birth certificate. Call 384-3720 for vital records or election information. To register to vote in Vermilion County, visit the county clerk´s office at 6 N. Vermilion St. in Danville. Call 554-1900 for vital records or election information.

In Champaign, you can also register at the driver´s license station, 2401 W. Bradley Ave., or Champaign Public Library, 505 S. Randolph St.; or in Urbana, at the Urbana Free Library, 201 S. Race St. In Danville, you can register at the driver´s license station, too, 7 E. Southgate Drive in Tilton.

You can protest a property tax assessment by visiting the Champaign County Board of Review, 1776 E. Washington St., U, or by calling 384-3758. In Danville, call the Vermilion County Board of Review, 6 N. Vermilion St. in Danville, at 554-1952.
 
Applying for a passport

Go to the main post office, 2001 N. Mattis Ave., C, or to the Champaign County circuit clerk´s office on the first floor of the courthouse, 101 E. Main St., U. Bring proof of citizenship (certified copy of birth certificate or old passport); two full-face pictures (they must be 2 inches by 2 inches); and a picture identification such as a driver´s license. In Danville, the U.S. post office is at 303 N. Hazel St.

A passport costs $100 for ages 16 and over and is good for 10 years. If you´re under 16, the fee is $85, and the passport is good for five years. Children 13 and older have to come with a parent and sign their own applications. You´ll normally receive a passport within four to six weeks of applying.

The process can be expedited for a fee. More information is available at http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.
 
Checking out a business

The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, 1817 S. Neil St., C, 359-1791, has information about chamber members. The Web site is http://www.ccchamber.org/. In Danville, the chamber is at 28 W. North St. in Danville, or call 442-1887.

Complaints about a business

Complaints may be lodged with the Illinois attorney general´s Consumer Protection Division (800-243-0618 or http://www.ag.state.il.us/consumers/index.html) and the Better Business Bureau in Peoria, which serves this area (800-500-3780 or http://www.peoria.bbb.org/). If you have a complaint about a local restaurant, contact the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, 710 N. Neil St., C, 373-7900.

Checking a charity

Call the Illinois attorney general´s office at 312-814-2595 to see if a group is registered. Some information about non-profits is available at the attorney general’s website at http://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov Beyond that, ask solicitors questions like these: Exactly how will the money be used? How much of each contribution goes for overhead? (State law requires telephone solicitors to tell you. More than 40 percent is considered excessive.) Is a donation tax-deductible? Ask for written information.

If the organization is tax-exempt, ask to see its IRS Form 990, which shows how the charity spends money.

The Form 990 is a public record. Federal law says the charity has to show you the form and give you a copy if you ask; the charity may charge you for the copy. Contribute by check so you have a record of your donation. A valuable website for learning about charities is guidestar.org. And the IRS has information at http://www.irs.gov/charities/index.html.
 
Adopting a pet

Call or visit the Champaign County Humane Society, 1911 E. Main St., U, 344-7297 or http://www.cuhumane.org, or the Danville Humane Society, 1225 N. Collett St. Or call the Vermilion County Animal Shelter at 431-2660 or go to www.vermilioncountyanimalshelter.com.

Hunting and fishing

Anyone over age 16 needs a license to hunt or fish in Illinois. If you´re older than 65 and a resident of Illinois, your license is discounted. You can buy licenses at sporting goods shops and at the Department of Natural Resources office, 15675 State Highway 54, Clinton, IL 61727. The department´s office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is 935-6860.

Fishing licenses cost $15, hunting licenses $12.50. A $5.50 habitat stamp also is required for hunting. For seniors, fishing licenses are $7.75, hunting licenses $6.50.

Safety classes are required for boating, hunting, snowmobiling and trapping; class information is available at the Natural Resources office.

Joining others

If you have a hobby, want information about an illness, are looking for a support group or want to join a civic organization, chances are there´s a group in Champaign-Urbana that shares your interest. There is no central list of such organizations, but the Champaign Public Library´s website comes close. Go to http://www.champaign.org.
 
Getting help

If you don´t know where to start, try Family Service of Champaign County´s “First Call for Help” line at 352-6300.

Local township offices sometimes provide general assistance. In Champaign, call 352-4500. In rural Champaign, call 352-9433. In Urbana (Cunningham Township), call 384-4144.

You also may call the state Department of Human Services about longer-term aid. Its information number is 800-843-6154. Food stamps are available through the state Department of Human Services. To apply, go to 801 N. Walnut St., C. Call 278-5605.

Shelters available:
 — The Salvation Army, 119 E. University Ave., C, 373-7830.
 — The Center for Women in Transition, 506 and 508 E. Church St., C, 352-7151.
— A Woman´s Place, 1304 E. Main St., U, 384-4390.
 — TIMES Center, 70 E. Washington St., C, 398-7785.
 — St. Jude Catholic Worker House, 317 S. Randolph St., C, 355-9774.
 — The Roundhouse, 311 W. White St., C, 359-5276, provides temporary shelter for adolescents between the ages of 11 and 17 as well as two beds for 18-, 19- and 20-year-old women and their children. The Crisis Nursery of Champaign County, 1309 W. Hill St., U, 337-2731, provides emergency services for families and children 5 and under. These agencies are gathered in an online resource called “The Help Book,” now available at http://helpbook.famservcc.org/.
 
Calling in emergencies

Call 911 for police, fire or medical help. If you need assistance, but it´s not an emergency, call Champaign police at 351-4545; Urbana police at 384-2320; University of Illinois police at 333-1216; or the Champaign County sheriff´s office at 333-8911. In Danville, if it´s not an emergency, call Danville police at 431-2250, or the Vermilion County sheriff´s office at 442-4080.

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