Twenty food spots fail health inspections

From campus town bars to Italian restaurants, 20 restaurants were closed or failed for serious health code violations during the last part of 2016.

Drain flies in sinks and bathrooms, moldy celery and limes at a popular campus bar and dishes not being cleaned with soap were among the worst violations leading to closures and failures of eateries across Champaign County between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, according to a review of inspection reports.

Additionally, five establishments were closed for a failure to pay their permit fees, including KAAM’s Steak and Seafood mobile food truck, LMK’s Smokin’ BBQ mobile food truck at Boomerang’s, the Rantoul Public House, the Rib Cage mobile food truck at Alexander’s Steakhouse and the Village of Sidney baseball concession stand.

In total, 17 restaurants failed their routine inspections, ranging from problems like improper placement of an employee’s drink, improper hand washing, incorrect storage temperatures and improper chemical storage.

Champaign potholes still costly to city, drivers

In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, the city’s public works department responded to 329 pothole service requests from residents — a slight decrease from the 397 service requests in the previous fiscal year.

Popular items mean long waits for Champaign-Urbana library patrons

“I think our patrons are pretty used to how the system works,” said Kelly Strom, collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. “If they don’t want to wait on a holds list, then they can get a rental book if it’s available for that particular title. Otherwise, they seem to go pretty quickly because we buy so many copies.”

Central Illinois already seeing effects of climate change

“We’re actually at the warmest part for the historical record for Illinois,” said State Climatologist Jim Angel, speaking to a crowd of about 60 at the Champaign Public Library on Tuesday. “This is a different climate for what our parents, grandparents or great grandparents would’ve experienced in Illinois.”

Despite influx of funds, vacant housing increases in county

CHAMPAIGN-URBANA: Since the housing market crashed in 2007, the cities of Champaign and Urbana have received more than $2 million in state and federal dollars to combat vacant and nuisance housing. Yet the number of empty houses is still climbing. As of 2014, one in every 10 housing units in Champaign County sat vacant, according to the most recent U.S. census data available. That total number, 8,700, was nearly double the number of vacant housing units in the year 2000. Each year, Champaign puts at least $20,000 into demolishing homes across the city.