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.

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.

Illinois could see effects of climate change as soon as 2020

July was the hottest month in recorded history. And continued increases in temperature and a shift in rain patterns could mean a 15 percent yield loss in the next five to 25 years and up to a 73 average yield loss by the end of the next century if farming patterns don’t change significantly, University of Illinois finance professors Don Fullerton and Julian Reif laid out in a report released from the Institute of Government and Public Affairs last year.

Construction of Cronus fertilizer plant delayed as costs soar

A new fertilizer plant slated for Tuscola is further delayed and projected to be more costly than originally touted. This spring Cronus Chemicals quietly announced on its website that the estimated cost is now $1.9 billion – more than 30 percent above the original estimate. The website also says the plant will not be finished until the last quarter of 2019 – or at least 30 months later than the initial completion date.

39 restaurants fail inspections over 10 month period; 11 establishments closed for violations

Ants on the wall, a live cockroach next to a meat grinder, fruit flies “too numerous to count” and a bucket of bloody juice were some of the worst violations over a ten-month period in Champaign County restaurants.

In total, 39 restaurants in Champaign County failed health inspections – several more than once – from June 2015 to April 2016, according to a review of inspection records. An additional 7 restaurants failed and were temporarily closed.

Four others were closed because of non-payment of annual fees or missing paperwork