New gas station in Urbana will have pump with E85

Clean-burning fuel fans, prepare to rev up your engines.

A Marathon gas station under construction in Urbana will have a pump with E85 fuel, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

Local school districts hoping to strengthen bonds with UI

CHAMPAIGN – The University of Illinois' strategic plan commits to forging stronger ties with Champaign and Urbana schools.

It's not very specific, however, about how UI development plans would affect the schools' tax base and tax revenues.

Danville basketball coach reinstated

DANVILLE – In a close decision, Danville school board members decided Monday night to reinstate the Danville High School boys' basketball coach after a 20-day suspension.

After more than an hour discussing the situation behind closed doors, the school board voted 4-3 to immediately reinstate coach Scott Olson.

Police-school plan on Champaign City Council agenda

CHAMPAIGN – A proposal to have Champaign police designate six officers who would work out of the Champaign middle schools and high schools will be discussed Tuesday by the Champaign City Council.

The city council meets in study session at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

Parkland College students gearing up for Olympics

CHAMPAIGN – Kaizad Irani's landscape design students in China have set their sights on Olympic gold.

They're getting ready to work on the country's biggest production in centuries – Beijing 2008, the summer Olympics. Irani said landscaping companies are already recruiting his students at Beijing Vocational College of Agriculture so they'll have personnel with high-level design and installation skills to make them competitive for the massive project.

A-MAN program offers children hands-on lessons

CHAMPAIGN – Hey, this science stuff is pretty cool.

That's the word from students in the local chapter of the African-American Male Achievers Network, or A-MAN. The after-school science program, started last fall, aims to help primarily disadvantaged kids learn to enjoy chemistry, physics and the like and to start looking to the sciences for viable career options.

Board believes now is time to build before schools are overrun

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign school board members present a united front as they face the challenge of selling their March 21 bond issue to voters.

At issue: a $66 million building package to construct three new elementary schools, air-condition and refurbish old elementary schools and lay the groundwork for a second referendum to move work up to the middle and high school level.

Buy? Sell? Wait? What's best in 2006?

There's no question the last few years have been a boom time for the housing market in Champaign County.

Interest rates were at historic lows. New homes popped up to expand the fringes of Champaign, Urbana and their suburbs. "Sold" signs appeared in a matter of days after "for sale" signs. Home prices kept creeping – and leaping – upward.

The heat is on – your checkbook

You've gotten your December power bill, and it doesn't look pretty.

$200, $300, even upwards of $500 to keep a home warm for one month.

Take the case of Kelly Searsmith, who usually paid $158 to heat or cool her 1,500-square-foot home in Mahomet. Like many consumers, she knew in the fall that an increase was coming due to the spike in natural gas prices. She and her husband were prepared – they had even installed an insulated garage door.

But the big bill still came: In December, she discovered they owed AmerenIP $266 after her budget plan was readjusted.


Champaign schools' building plan not yet final

CHAMPAIGN – Under intense deadline pressure, Champaign School Board members are reviewing building options in order to design a package for voters to consider in March.

They meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday – two days before the deadline to submit referendum proposals for the March 21 ballot – to hash out that final plan, and negotiations about what's in and what's out are likely to continue right up to the meeting at 703 S. New St.

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