Champaign council to have say before final vote in Urbana on broadband grant

URBANA – Officials in Urbana Monday were anxious to hear whether council members across Wright Street in Champaign will accept a $22.5 million federal grant to build a Big Broadband fiber optic Internet network.

The National Telecommunications and Information Agency awarded the grant for the below-ground fiber optic network to a consortium consisting of Champaign, Urbana and the University of Illinois.

U.S. Senate bill seen as positive step for biodiesel industry

DANVILLE – Employees at Danville's biodiesel production facility are more encouraged after the U.S. Senate passed a bill last week that includes a biodiesel tax credit that had expired Jan. 1, dampening sales in the entire industry.

But the tax incentive still has legislative hurdles to clear before the credit is actually restored to those who purchase biodiesel, an alternative fuel that's made from soybean and other oils, such as vegetable oil.

It's Your Business: New Asian restaurant in Baker's Square site

The newest Asian restaurant to open in the Champaign-Urbana area is Ginger Asian Bistro, which serves Thai, Japanese and Chinese food.

The restaurant is near Market Place Mall in the building that used to be home to Baker's Square, 1902 Center Drive, C.

"It's totally different from what it was before. It definitely has an Asian feel to it as soon as you walk in the door. There's a lot of marble and glass, and it has a high-end look," said Jeremy Martin, a restaurant consultant who is helping open the restaurant.

Broadband proposal gains support in Urbana City Council

URBANA – Council members in Urbana appeared Monday night to want a $22.5 milion federal grant for construction of a Big Broadband fiber optic network and $3 million for additional public computer center and sustainability grants.

Council members agreed without dissent to authorize the mayor to reaffirm support for the broadband project.

However, Mayor Laurel Prussing said the council will need more time to study the grants and will not vote on the issue next week.

More information can be found in Tuesday's News-Gazette.

Competition medals are icing on cake for C-U's own ace

Local pastry chef Ashlee Roderick has created several themed cakes for large competitions. The awards they've won prove her career also has a theme: excellence.

Roderick, 37, has competed in three competitions and is planning to enter another cake this fall in the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show. She's a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and has owned and operated The Cake Artist's Studio in Champaign since 2001.

PDQ Printing's owners see American dreams disrupted

URBANA – Leon Odendaal saw PDQ Printing Services as an opportunity to move to the United States from his native South Africa.

He bought the Urbana-based business in 2007 and moved his family to Champaign County.

But three years later, unable to get a green card for permanent U.S. residency, he is selling the firm's assets and planning to return to South Africa – with eventual hopes of coming back.

Getting Personal: Danville radio stations manager Mike Hulvey

What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?
I wake up every morning at 4 a.m. I read six newspapers online, five news and sports sites along with visiting our company sites and checking e-mail.

Uni High grad's lighting technology has many fans in Hollywood

When you see realistic digital human or alien characters like the blue Na'vi in "Avatar," Superman in "Superman Returns" and a reverse-aging Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," you have University High School alumnus Paul Debevec to thank, in large part.

Debevec developed the groundbreaking light-stage technology that helps make digital actors trick viewers into believing they're seeing the real thing. For his contributions, the 1988 Uni grad recently received the Scientific and Engineering Academy Award.

Celebrities get creative for Danville library's Doodle for Literacy

DANVILLE – The fundraising committee of the Danville Library Foundation wanted to create an event that would be a first for the Danville community without reinventing the wheel.

In the process, the committee came up with the Doodle for Literacy Auction Gala event, which will be held April 10 at the Danville Country Club.

UI junior wins Lemelson-MIT prize for prosthetic arm

URBANA – University of Illinois junior Jonathan Naber has won the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Illinois Student Prize for innovation, for developing an affordable prosthetic arm for people in developing countries.

Naber, who majors in materials science and engineering, has been working with the Illini Prosthetics Team on campus to create an arm that is functional, durable and easily made.

He plans to travel to Guatemala this summer to field-test the prototype at a prosthetics clinic.