Topics include: a coal mine near downtown Urbana, the future of the Iron Post, official Fighting Illini colors, Illini Hall, freeway vs. interstate, Champaign Central athletic fields, a shift at the International Prep Academy, possible changes at Leverett Road & U.S. 45 and maybe another strip club in Urbana.

Things are looking good for the Champaign County Fair, the reopening of Li'l Porgy's, tours of the Solon House, a campus Sycamore that someone was concerned about and the market for assistant basketball coaches.

Questions about the man who planted more than 6,000 trees in Champaign-Urbana, a solar array on the grounds of the Landscape Recycling Center, fires at the Illinois Fire Institute, the upcoming Cicada show, the future of the Urbana Sweet Corn Festival and all those baseballs used during a typical MLB game.

Business-related questions about the Black Dog Smoke and Ale House, Brothers Bar & Grill, Sweet Basil Cafe, Las Palmas Mexican Grill, Ko-Fusion and the former PNC Bank parking lot.

Morsels in the Mailbag: Fireworks on the Fourth, the COVID moratorium on traffic enforcement has ended, pear trees that are pretty but invasive, Crane Alley reopening plans, a baseball game between Champaign and Paxton 154 years ago and more.

Shipping containers and pools in Urbana; hiking trails in Champaign County; county board members who fear for their safety; and plenty of hotel talk, including what became of the McClurg in Urbana.

This week's bag is almost as big as the waiting list for a COVID shot. Questions about the oldest inn in Champaign-Urbana, new owners for several local mobile home parks, a frightening murder case 41 years ago, Dr. Robert Parker, interstate lane markings, the Silver Bullet, popcorn at concession stands, care for COVID long-haulers and a couple voting-related issues.

I Hotel, electric vehicles, Huber's, Duncan Road, University Avenue, soap operas, hospital helicopters, former nursing homes, attendance at UI spring sports ... this week's 'Bag is stuffed.

Nice changes coming to the University of Illinois Arboretum, how various bridge projects around C-U are coming along, the biggest and smallest schools in the NCAA tournament, jobs losses last year during the COVID shutdown, restaurant history at Market Place and what was at the Apple Dumpling before the Apple Dumpling.

A damaged interstate overpass west of St. Joseph, bike lanes on St. Mary's Road, improvements to Goodwin Avenue south of Florida Avenue, plans for a new Champaign County jail, Illinois Tollway payments, excess parking spaces at Parkland College, glass in bike lanes plus much, much more.

There's a broad variety of questions in this week's mailbag, much like the variety of crops that will be grown this year at The Atkins Group's Clearview Farm.

A look back at a JFK visit to C-U in 1957, what happens to COVID-related biohazardous waste, a large "tin cup" alongside the road to Sidney, the Menards-owned property in Urbana, soliciting at Market Place and whether the recently approved criminal justice reform legislation is problematic.

Area pandhandlers, Mahomet vs. Savoy, a record cold February, what's next after Limbaugh, Urbana bigwigs from the class of 1960, the Eating Illini, plans for Memorial Stadium's centennial, cannabis tax revenue and much, much more.

Commencement ceremonies at the University of Illinois, the reopening of a local restaurant, a new solar technology being applied at the Sidney Lu Mechanical Engineering Building at the UI, renewable energy sources at the university and Kofi Cockburn's slam dunks.

 

Details on a nearly 100-year-old commercial spot near Urbana High School, status of Baxter's, a hazardous household waste collection day is on the calendar, The Venue in downtown Champaign, a damaged bridge on I-74 in Mahomet, hunting for crow, plans for South Mattis Avenue in Champaign.

'Prairie Mountain' in Champaign, a big drop in police calls, a regular cargo flight over Champaign County, a dilapidated building in Tuscola, a mistaken street sign, the whereabouts of the Illinois football equipment truck, a cemetery refurbishment and much more.

Local tributes to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., busiest C-U intersections, Champaign County deaths, Danville Gardens Too, Hickory River, deer in Meadowbrook Park, Mattis Avenue bridges, Rep. Rodney Davis' Facebook page, Stone Creek paths and much, much more.

Overcast weather, new ice-making equipment in Danville, O'Charley's gift cards, parking spaces at the Old Farm Shops, stop sign at the railroad tracks on Cardinal Road and noises made by trains and planes in Savoy. Plus much, much more.

A new life for the iconic "Carmon's" sign in Champaign, railroad cars all over White Heath, why Carle isn't Morris hospital, a book drive for prisoners, taste of Champaign-Urbana tap water and much, much more.

Updates pick-and-cut Christmas trees, IHSA tournaments in C-U, rumors of a Hy-Vee, restaurant, downtown huts and a very cool story about the little notch in the generally straight borderline between Vermilion and Edgar counties. Plus much, much more.

More on illegal parking in Campustown, the origin of Five Points, much-valued IDOT bicycle route maps, the darkened dome of Foellinger Auditorium and a suggestion that Illinois basketball should go back to Kenney Gym or Huff Hall.

Lots of history in this week's mailbag including the beautifully restored Solon House in Champaign, the beloved Wheats Steak House in Urbana, a totem pole in Homer and an addition to the venerable Red Lion in Campustown.

Mysterious lights in the sky, notorious heists from the UI Library, how the $24.3 million project at Champaign's International Prep Academy could be financed, what's going on at an old grocery store near downtown Urbana, mask-wearing college athletes, what happened to the snow ... and much, much more.

The charming story of the origin of the lighted Christmas trees in Champaign's Greencroft neighborhood, details about the new security fence around Danville's VA medical center, a lament about partisan politics in Champaign County, sad news about car seat safety checks, no news yet about the former Savoy 16 theaters and more information about the historic course of the Boneyard Creek. Plus, What is the proper term for residents of Champaign and Urbana?

We'll tell you about the basketball courts at Yankee Ridge School, the smell of skunk, what UI beef cattle are munching on this fall, COVID hospitalization figures around Illinois, abandoned gas stations, Lincoln Square's history and the first Kmart in Champaign.

We dismiss a 40-year local legend, go back to 1855 when Urbana tried to annex Champaign, find out about several local construction and redevelopment projects, explain the reason the intersection of Windsor & First is the way it is, explain KFC's paint job and hear from the newly elected Champaign County recorder.

Streetlights in Urbana, the outlet mall in Tuscola, new housing in Champaign, flashing yellow turn signal in Mahomet, a B-17 over Champaign, recycling cosmetics, donating winter clothing and the loss of in-person Greyhound ticket sales at the Illinois Terminal.

The mailbag staff got around this week, answering questions about Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Danville, Tuscola and even a restaurant chain in Texas.

It's like a kid's Halloween bag, an extensive variety of treats: the next hazardous waste collections, upcoming road improvement projects, the end of MCORE, a Champaign death investigation, Illini fan cutouts, community college enrollment, rad signs, MAGA caps, voting by mail, homes razed near Urbana High, trains through Champaign, I-57 traffic at Tuscola and Target near campus.

Events in a near-empty Memorial Stadium, an abandoned school building in Vermilion County, those Illinois American Water Co. envelopes, new solar panels that follow the sun, railroad crossings, manhole covers, electronics recycling, photographs of uncovered faces and the indoor Urbana farmers market.

Revisiting the tale of the Champaign girl at Monterey Pop, freight car graffiti, ballot signatures, presidential candidate succession, a shuttered dry cleaners, all those plastics involved in COVID testing plus a bunch of interstate and road construction queries.

A butterfly painted on a Champaign fence, an odd-looking structure in Mahomet, low flight approaches to Willard Airport, a Champaign girl in a famous movie filmed 53 years ago, a rock garden that once graced the University of Illinois campus, counting obituaries, more details on Hackberry Hill and much, much more.

Outdoor dining, expungements, Halloween trick or treating, Champaign high schools' progress, Urbana sunflowers, Daylight Saving Time, lights-out over an interstate bridge, the county treasurer's office and the best sledding hill in Champaign-Urbana.

Squirrels in Crystal Lake Park, concrete medians on I-74, smoke from the West Coast fires obscuring the sun over central Illinois, drive-through flu shots and the possible return of Illini hockey may in 2021.

Jeff D'Alessio's Big 10 column, administrator salaries, property tax bills, ballot drop boxes and a bunch of outdoor recreation-related questions in this week's 'bag: missing basketball rims, Champaign tracks, work at Busey Woods and pinpointing as close as possible the origin of the Embarras River.

UI forest plantation's name change, mental health care for Illinois prison inmates, a Jackie Robinson parking lot at the UI, crops at Parkland, a Champaign liquor store in trouble, poor landscaping around public art in C-U, , fast food choice in Tuscola and much more.

Landscaping around Carle at the Fields, the market for sunflowers, distances on the Kaufman Lake trail, the origin of the Embarras River, whether tobacco smoke can carry COVID-19, vulgar yard signs and a sometimes too-popular drive-thru in Champaign.

The cost of Champaign police station vandalism, 42 acres of sunflowers in Urbana, big trees in Champaign County, tagged geese in Champaign, a mystery on the Kickapoo Rail Trail and a whale that once graced Urbana. Plus much, much more.

Architectural features retained at the new Dr. Howard School, property tax payments, new auto dealership group in Savoy, black helicopters, commons areas in Champaign subdivisions, closed restaurants, the former home of the N-G and gift cards for the old Goodrich theater in Savoy.

Questions on trash dumped on township roads, Crystal Lake Park's new look, Parkland Way in Champaign, cameras on Interstate 74, Cardinal Road, gas prices in C-U, a distressing display of the Illinois state flag and promoting honors for the late, great Lou Henson.

Enforcement of COVID-19 rules on the University of Illinois campus, repairs to a Champaign traffic light after an alert from a mailbag reader, an update on Costco, an Urbana hotel project is stalled, a street in south Urbana literally is a parking lot, big parking meter collection losses because of the pandemic and the Bradley Avenue bridge over I-57.

Questions this week about Champaign's honorary Doxology Lane, Cubs games on Comcast, Plantation Point in Urbana, COVID-19 testing in Champaign, COVID-19 cases in Douglas County and so much more.

COVID, rough roads, sports, plastic bags, fireworks, school funding, weeds, trash collection, the weather radio station, the old Golden Corral site, geese and mugshots.

Work on bridge replacements in northwest Champaign, no fireworks this year at the Champaign Country Club, possibly illegal fireworks sales in Champaign County, the reasons for white tents dotting the University of Illinois campus, UI summer enrollment, traffic congestion in downtown Champaign, cemetery care, Canada geese and more.

Queries about a broad roadway in northern Champaign County, birdhouses in Meadowbrook Park, graffiti in Champaign, a permanently closed restaurant, lower gas prices, an overabundance of bunnies, possibly offensive street names and the possibility of Cubs game on TV.

Delays in roadwork on a bridge over I-57, of a parking lot at Urbana's Leal Park and in the opening of a fast food restaurant in Champaign. Also, an old school building, Carle AirLife flights and McDonald's Play Places.

This week: geese at Japan House, looting at Market Place, loud noises heard near downtown Champaign, the return of the weather radio station, the Kickapoo Rail Trail, Champaign picnic parks and that bald eagle family near Savoy.