Reluctant Townie: What a disappointing year!

What can be said about 2015 that hasn't already been said about a herpes outbreak? Man, I'm glad it's over, but for some reason, I doubt that's the last we'll be seeing of it.

Even if 2015 comes back under the guise of another year, rebranded with a different name (say, something fresh and edgy like "2016"), it's still going to be carrying the same emotional baggage.

Wired In: Laxmikant 'Sanjay' Kale

On Sundays, staff writer Paul Wood spotlights a high-tech difference maker. This week, meet Laxmikant "Sanjay" Kale, 60, founder of Charmworks, which he developed as the director of the Parallel Programming Laboratory and a professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois.

The team

Letter from Birdland: A walk in the woods makes everything OK

In Birdland, the solstice has passed, and the days begin to grow a tiny bit longer. This is good news. The sun is returning!

Yet today is damp and overcast. Parts of the yard have turned to bog.

Area history, Dec. 26, 2015

In 1915, delegates of most of the Protestant churches in the Twin Cities met to plan a mass meeting the following Sunday at the University Auditorium to discuss moral conditions in the community. It was the general consensus that a relentless war should be waged against bootlegging and social vices. Only Dean T.A. Clark expressed any doubt about its ultimate success.

Champaign dancer was a shoe-in for Lincoln Academy award

CHAMPAIGN — This week, Taylor Casino is taking a breather from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she is a senior marketing major, manager of the university's Student Orientation Program, president of the Student Alumni Ambassadors, a member of the Primo Dance Troupe and a mentor for the Ignite Program, among other things.

Champaign shop restoring piano owned by Lincoln's in-laws

As a longtime Abraham Lincoln and Civil War buff, Steve Schmidt recently was given a job he couldn't refuse:

Restore a square grand piano that had been owned by Mary Todd Lincoln's sister and brother-in-law and that Lincoln himself is thought to have listened to often.

Champaign businessman paying it forward, again and again

CHAMPAIGN — Forty years ago this month, Habeeb Habeeb had no money, no way to contact his parents in his war-torn homeland, no idea how he was going to eat while the college cafeteria was closed for Christmas break.

Area history, Dec. 24, 2015

In 1915, Santa Claus arrived by interurban in Champaign at 4:25 this afternoon and immediately went to the municipal tree in Gazette Square, where he met with children. The snowstorm of the day added much to the spirit of the season. Close to a thousand children swarmed to the headquarters today.

Mahomet woman with MS 'going to get my life back'

MAHOMET — Like many young adults, Taylor Lykins holds down two jobs.

But the 20-year-old Mahomet woman isn't working at Barnes & Noble and Sephora to pay for school, cover monthly bills or buy Christmas presents.

After injury, longtime volunteer finds many willing to help

CHAMPAIGN — Being mobile is a big part of Lisa Frerichs' daily life.

Between getting her family up and ready each day, to devoting hours of volunteer time at Jefferson Middle School, to assisting her dentist husband Jeff Frerichs at the office, slowing down or asking for help aren't typically a part of her agenda.