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Published: 43 weeks 1 hour ago

By Dan Petrella/CU-CitizenAccess -- The TIMES Center will see some of its state funding restored thanks to a measure Illinois lawmakers passed in late November during their fall veto session, but officials say it won’t be enough fully restore services at the transitional shelter near downtown Champaign.

In October, we reported that the program, which serves homeless men, is facing an uncertain future due to state funding cuts of about $95,000. Some of that money was part of $4.7 million that was cut statewide from programs that provide emergency and transitional shelter for the homeless.

During the veto session, the General Assembly reversed the $4.7 million cut, which came from the Illinois Department of Human Services budget. As a result, the TIMES Center expects to receive about $25,000 in restored funding, said Shelia Ferguson, CEO of Community Elements, the nonprofit agency that oversees the program.

Ferguson said that Department of Human Services...

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Published: 43 weeks 2 days ago

By Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess -- and Illinois Public Media took a close look at nursing home care across 13 counties in East Central Illinois. Two nursing home administrators - Chuck Schuette of the Champaign County Nursing Home and Chris Kasper of Country Health Care and Rehabilitation in Gifford - weighed in on the issue on an hour-long radio program hosted by David Inge.

Following is their conversation and advice as Tweeted Dec. 6. See full coverage of the issue View the story "How to find good nursing home care " on Storify]

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Published: 43 weeks 4 days ago

By Michelle Hagopian/For CU-CitizenAccess -- Local bars and restaurants embrace social media

If you’re wondering what kind of deal you can get at Radio Maria this week, look no farther than the restaurant’s Twitter.

CU establishments – bars, restaurants, nightclubs – are capitalizing on social media’s ability to reach the masses. Radio Maria, for example, has an active Twitter and Facebook presence.

The restaurant tweets and posts specials to attract more fans. “It's cold outside, so tonight's beer class is sure to warm you up. Stouts. 10pm, $10.” Not a bad start.

Clark Bar has a Facebook profile with 789* friends that is updated every so often. Posts like “Don’t forget! $1 Bud Light drafts every day!!” are common on both Facebook and Twitter. The bar’s Twitter only has 25* followers but is updated as frequently as Facebook.

Country music...

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Published: 44 weeks 5 days ago

By Michelle Hagopian/For CU-CitizenAccess -- With so many neighborhoods in Champaign County, it can be difficult to track how residents communicate and reach out to others.

What is evident in social media, however, is that quite a few CU neighborhoods use Facebook to get the job done.

While most neighborhoods associations or local groups create Facebook pages, the Wilber Heights neighborhood was trickier to locate because it is an actual profile that users must “friend” in order to gain full access.

With 252 friends*, the profile is popular and has a few Google map photos of the area. There are also dozens of older photos, presumably of residents who live in or are from the Wilber Heights neighborhood.

Taking another direction, “The 5th & Hill Neighborhood Rights Campaign” is a Facebook page organized by the Champaign County Health Care Consumers.

This particular page, according to the group...

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Published: 45 weeks 2 days ago

By Christen Grumstrup/For CU-CitizenAccess -- Financial aid might be somewhat overwhelming to future college students and parents, but with the new College Illinois! Corps Program, planning and paying for college gets a little bit easier for thousands of students.

Last year alone, the program and its employees interacted with over 35,000 students and 9,776 parents, according to the College Illinois! Corps Overview missions statement.

The College Illinois! Corps Program was created in 2009, and since then has been striving to help high school students figure out their next step.

Sara Henschen, a regional coordinator for the Corps Program, said, “We help high school students figure out what comes after high school, whether it is a four-year university, a community college or some sort of trade school.”

The Corps Program was created by Eduardo Brambila and Jacqueline Moreno, both of whom, Henschen said, “saw that a shift was happening,...

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Published: 45 weeks 5 days ago

By Michelle Hagopian/For CU-CitizenAccess -- Want to help eliminate food waste? There's an app for that.

Zero Percent, a project started in May by computer science students Adam Carney and Rajesh Karmani, seeks to help businesses achieve zero food waste. What started as a local campaign has expanded nationally, and the mission and its site ( have produced quite the buzz.

Businesses like Dunkin' Donuts, Papa Del's and Jamba Juice participate in the project.

Redesign Agency worked with Zero Percent to create an app for smartphones. It allows businesses to enter instant deals on their excess food, and the app itself is extremely basic and user-friendly.

Zero Percent has taken to social media to get the word out. Like most CU businesses or projects we've seen, Zero Percent has a larger presence on Facebook than on Twitter. Its 527 followers* on Facebook are notified of deals that Zero Percent posts on its page's wall...

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Published: 46 weeks 5 days ago

New health insurance coverage estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show that in 2010, children in Champaign County were the biggest users of public health insurance plans as their only source of coverage of any age group.

The 2010 American Community Survey estimated that 31 percent of those under the age of 18 in Champaign County were enrolled in a public health care plan only - the largest of any age group.

A look at data estimates for health care coverage by type and across age groups showed that less than 20 percent of Champaign County residents were without any type of coverage at all.

Nearly 80 percent of residents 65 years and older were enrolled in both public and private health care plans.

Use the interactive graph below to see estimates of health insurance coverage by age group and by type in Champaign County. Please note, these numbers are rounded and may not equal 100 percent exactly. Numbers less than 1 percent of...

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Published: 46 weeks 6 days ago

By Michelle Hagopian/For CU-CitizenAccess -- Two Champaign-Urbana organizations that might be overlooked during the holiday season are using social media to spread awareness about their causes.

Eastern Illinois Foodbank’s mission statement is “Alleviating hunger. Nourishing stronger communities.” The organization has 866 Facebook followers and 589 followers on Twitter.* The food bank serves soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food pantries in the C-U area, and distributes millions of pounds of food annually.

On Facebook, the group posts fairly regularly, linking to event pages and promoting the bank’s efforts. The group’s Twitter page, however, is less active. On average, the organization tweets several times per day, but the page can go a week without an update.

The Champaign County Humane Society has 4,069 followers on Facebook, but only 464 on Twitter.* The organization posts photos of animals available for...

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Published: 47 weeks 6 days ago

By Michelle Hagopian/For CU-CitizenAccess -- CU organizations, groups and businesses are increasingly using Facebook to share or promote their purpose.

Here are five of the most popular Facebook pages in the area (popular meaning the most "likes"):


1. The Champaign-Urbana music scene (past and present) – 3,105 likes

2. Mix 94.5 - Champaign/Urbana, IL – 2,857 likes

3. Latina/Latino Studies @ University of Illinois Urbana Champaign – 1,311

4. Occupy CU – 1,177 likes

5. Champaign Urbana Theatre Company – 1,052 likes


*Numbers as of Tues., Nov. 8.


With the hype surrounding the Occupy Wall Street protests, Occupy CU is becoming a rapidly growing group both in reality and on Facebook. The group's "About" section says, "We are a peaceful, nonviolent, non-partisan movement," which you can see by catching them in action on the...

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Published: 48 weeks 5 hours ago

By Dan Petrella/CU-CitizenAccess -- Four facilities in East Central Illinois appear on a previously secret watch list that tracks "serious or chronic violators" of the federal Clean Air Act, according to NPR and The Center for Public Integrity.

The internal list, maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was obtained by NPR and The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative news organization, as part of their ongoing series, "Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities."

The four area facilities that appear on the list are Bunge Grain Milling, Inc. and the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, both in Danville; the Clinton Landfill; and Cartsin Brands, Inc. in Arthur. (For the location of each facility, see the first map below.)

According to NPR's story on the watch list:

"The Bush administration's EPA faced criticism for not being tough enough on chronic polluters, so in 2004 it...

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