Reluctant Townie: Kissing and telling after 15 years

Tomorrow will be the 15-year anniversary of the day I kissed my wife for the very first time.

Plenty of people struggle to remember one anniversary, but we willingly subject ourselves to two. It's good for the relationship — the added pressure keeps us on edge and alert.

Rob Kanter/Environmental Almanac: You don't have to go far to see great things

In recent years, I've been fortunate to have some pretty exotic spring breaks, camping in Florida with my family and touring Costa Rica with University of Illinois undergraduates in a course I teach.

Not this year. But my more local spring break had its moments all the same.

Business listings, April 3, 2016

These applications for assumed business names were filed recently with the Champaign County clerk's office:

217 Outdoor Services, 561 U.S. 150 North, C, Edward Dix, same address, and Matthew Babb, 1778 County Road 2100 E, St. Joseph.

Durango M Drywall, 2413 E. Green St., U, Adam Rodriguez, same address.

Top of the morning, April 3, 2016

A Volunteer To Know

(email candidates to

In 2004, the very first ChessFest drew 26 students to an Urbana elementary school classroom.

Today, it requires a Champaign middle school cafeteria to squeeze in all the K-8 contestants (above).

Bob Swisher: Hitting the road with my brother

My brother, Jim, who lives in Savoy, called with two ideas that he wanted to pursue. Would I be willing to go along?

First, could we drive to Flat Rock, where our mother was born, and attempt to find the grave site of our grandparents and great-aunt who lived to be 99 years old?

Who lives here? April 2, 2016

Each week, The News-Gazette will show a screen shot of a home from a movie or TV show and ask readers, "Who lives here?"

Area history, April 2, 2016

Today is Saturday, April 2, 2016. Here are news reports from this date 100, 50 and 15 years ago:

In 1916: The Illinois secretary of state reports that within Champaign County, there are 2,500 automobiles, including 950 in Champaign, 750 in Urbana and 150 in Homer. A fair estimate of their value would be more than $2 million.

Sandra Mason: Demystifying hydrangea pruning

Every spring, we stare forlornly at our super-sized 6-foot-tall shrubs. We reminisce about the plant label that stated, "Grows to 3 feet."

With our great soil and generally adequate moisture, plants often exceed their usual height.

Weekend planner: A rail love affair

The romance of railroads lives on among members of the Midwest Central Model Railroad Club and others, and in the club's annual Model Train Show. The 35th annual event takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Square (admission is free).

Top of the morning, April 2, 2016

There's a perk to attending today's 7 p.m. showing of "Sweet Smell of Success" — part of The News-Gazette Film Series — at the Virginia Theatre.