Top of the morning, July 11, 2015

Don Dodson's last day at The News-Gazette included cake, coffee and kind words.

Our longtime, highly respected business writer has retired after 30 years with us. He's moving to his hometown of Terre Haute, Ind., to work on the family home and be closer to his brother and sister.

Area history, July 10, 2015

Today is Friday, July 10, 2015. Here are news reports from this date 100, 50 and 15 years ago:

200 volunteers helping where they're needed

CHAMPAIGN — Three weeks after Nathan and Alyssa Young tied the knot, the Morton couple opted to sleep in the classrooms at St. Thomas More as part of a week-long work camp.

Top of the morning, July 10, 2015

One of the best recent additions to The News-Gazette is Jeff D'Alessio's Big Ten, which runs Sundays on the front of the Local section.

Jeff asks one question, to people from different walks of life, and runs the 10 best answers. Great stuff.

Area history, July 9, 2015

Today is Thursday, July 9, 2015. Here are news reports from this date 100, 50 and 15 years ago:

In 1915: The business district of Champaign will receive more than a half million dollars in improvements by the end of the current building season, according to a survey of about 20 projects underway. The four-story Morrissey-Stipes Building at Park and Neil streets will be the largest.

Notes-Worthy: Larry Fredrickson

C.U. Bands and Fans' Terry Brown chats with Larry Fredrickson of the Tons O' Fun Band:

How long has the Tons O' Fun Band been a band and how many members are in this band?

Steve "Big Daddy" Shaw is the leader of TOFB. He started the band in 1990.

Tripping the light 'Fantasticks'

CHAMPAIGN — After moving to New York in 1961 to try to break into acting, Nick Schneider saw "The Fantasticks," which had opened just a year earlier.

He loved it and so did many others: "The Fantasticks" went on to become the longest running musical in the world.

Youth, age, women and men

Recently released population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show that Champaign County's on the young side, Piatt County's on the old side and, around here, time is on elderly women's side. Some numbers of note:

Faraway flyby coming to Parkland

Three years ago, even though it would be in the wee hours of a morning, Dave Leake opened Staerkel Planetarium to star-gazers to watch the NASA feed on the Mars rover landing.

"I thought there would be three or four insomniacs here at 2 a.m., but we had standing room only," he remembered.

'I'm a sucker for nostalgia'

CHAMPAIGN — When Tim McMahon isn't selling pharmaceuticals thoughout the Midwest, he spends his spare time serving as the new president of the Champaign Park Board. Staff writer Tim Mitchell sat down with the Champaign Central High School grad in his favorite Champaign Park District park, Hessel Park, to talk about running marathons, volunteering for the St.