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Two upcoming free events at Spurlock Museum

From the press release: 

Spurlock Museum special event :30

Join the Spurlock Museum on December 6th at 2 p.m. for Fans and Dance: Cultural Traditions around the World. During this presentation by "fan fancier" Robin Goettel, attendees will learn about the geography and cultural use of fans, while exploring ethnic dances incorporating fans in their tradition. Admission is free. The Spurlock Museum is located at 600 S. Gregory, Urbana. For more information, call Kim Sheahan at 217-244-3355.

Spurlock Museum Storytelling Concert

On Saturday, December 13th at 2 p.m., Spurlock Museum storyteller Kim Sheahan will present the concert Stories of Celebration. Come to laugh, smile, and recharge your holiday spirit. Admission is free, and all ages are welcome. The Spurlock Museum is located at 600 S. Gregory St. in Urbana. For more information, contact Kim at 217-244-3355.


Holiday shopping reminder: Don’t be a dick

This is my last SPlog before Thanksgiving, a time usually considered a break from the grind and a celebration of family. Or at least it was before retail outlets started opening their doors and lowering their prices a little in advance of the dreaded Black Friday in order to drum up extra business.

And, of course, they wouldn’t do it if people weren’t willing to drop everything, holiday or not, and line up for a deal on a TV or a toy or whatever the hell it is they want.

Obviously, brick-and-mortar stores are up against more competition than ever, and the marketplace has never been a cushy place to exist, let alone coexist. So, by all means, support your local businesses. Whether it’s a Mom-and-Pop operation or a big box store, I’m fairly certain the people working the help desks and cash registers will be local folks.

All I ask, if you’re headed out this Thursday or Friday — or really any time this holiday season — to do some shopping, is this: Remember why it is you’re doing it. You’re buying a gift for someone else, probably, right? Ostensibly you’re out in the cold, waiting in line, braving the crowds because you’re thinking of someone else. So, while you’re at it, THINK OF SOMEONE ELSE. Think of your fellow shoppers. Think of the retail employees, baristas, and waitstaff in front of you. In other words, think of your fellow human beings.

But, I’ve said all this before.

Most importantly, be careful out there. And be of good cheer.

Tis the season, after all.


Champaign County EDC hosting holiday blood drive December 9th

Per their Facebook event, the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation will be partnering with Community Blood Services of Illinois for a holiday blood drive on December 9th. Check out the details from the event below:

We're excited to partner with Community Blood Services of Illinois to host a Holiday Blood Drive on Tuesday, December 9th from 2 to 5 pm on the Blood Donor Bus in our parking lot.

Location: 1817 S. Neil Street, Champaign, IL 61820 (Illini Plaza Parking Lot)

Make an online appointment here.

All presenting donors will be automatically entered in a drawing for:

  • $100 gift card for a family move experience (choice of theater or video store near you)
  • $250 Target shopping spree
  • iPad or Best Buy gift card ($500 value)
  • $500 Amazon.com online shopping spree
  • $1,000 gift card towards a one-year supply of gas

You must be 17 years old to donate or 16 years old with a parental consent form (download here). An identification card or Donor ID is required to donate.

Please eat before donating, drink extra water, and bring an ID with you. You are eligible to donate if last you donated on or before 10/2/2014.

The Blood Drive is open to the public.

Questions? Contact Carly McCrory at 217-359-6261 or carly@champaigncountyedc.org.


iTV-3 announces construction in Urbana-Champaign

From the press release:

iTV-3 Announces Construction of Gigabit Fiber-Optic Broadband in Urbana-Champaign

URBANA, Illinois, November 26, 2014 – The first Urbana-Champaign residents will soon be connected to some of the fastest Internet speeds in the country. Local broadband provider iTV-3 today announced construction and expansion of the Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) network.
iTV-3 will begin construction in the first Urbana neighborhood located around Pennsylvania Ave. and Vine St. in Urbana. This neighborhood was the first to reach the needed 50 percent of sign-ups in order for iTV-3 to expand.
Want to ensure your neighborhood is the next to be connected? All Urbana-Champaign neighborhoods are encouraged to continue signing up at www.ThePerfectUpgrade.com. A frequently-updated neighborhood status map is available on the website with the numbers of sign-ups needed in each neighborhood. The expansion is driven by demand and iTV-3 will provide service in sectors where at least 50 percent of residents request service.  
“We are excited to begin construction on the first neighborhood in Urbana-Champaign. The enthusiasm for getting iTV-3 fiber optic Internet from the residents of this neighborhood was tremendous,” said Levi Dinkla, Vice President at iTV-3. “We are already seeing the effects of that enthusiasm on other neighborhoods as more and more people sign up. When we partnered with UC2B our vision was to bring gigabit fiber-optic speeds to every home and business in the community. Today's announcement is yet another step toward achieving that vision. We look forward to getting many more neighborhoods to the necessary interest level over the next few months and a very busy construction season in 2015.”
iTV-3 and the UC2B not-for-profit board announced their partnership in May. iTV-3 will operate and expand the UC2B network, enabling Urbana-Champaign to be one of the few communities in the U.S. with gigabit fiber-optic Internet. 
University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise applauded the innovative public-private partnership between UC2B and iTV-3.  “This is another great step forward in bringing new levels of high speed broadband access to the campus and local communities. This is exactly what we envisioned when iTV-3 was chosen as the UC2B partner and we’re all excited to see it taking shape so quickly.”
University of Illinois CIO Mark Henderson acknowledged the network’s ability to spur innovation in the University and surrounding community. “Gigabit access provided via this network enables innovation, including high-speed access to medical, educational, and social resources for our community. Broadband access can also serve as a cornerstone for economic development. Having broadband assets can attract start-ups and other businesses to our region. Further, this network is a slice of a nationwide innovation platform where gigabit applications can be developed through programs like US Ignite and GigU.”
Champaign Mayor Don Gerard recognized the national impact of this announcement. "With the net neutrality debate coming to a head on the national level, I am grateful citizens in Champaign have the opportunity to choose UC2B as the network and iTV-3 as a cable, television and digital voice option. I am already signed up, and very much look forward to the day when my neighborhood is on the docket to be built-out. We are on the brink of a new revolution and Champaign is poised to be in the lead as the U.S. bridges the digital divide."
Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing is delighted to know that her neighborhood is near the 50 percent needed to get service installed. “High-speed Internet opens up tremendous options for people who work from home as well as offering entertainment, education and world-wide communications.”
iTV-3 is a subsidiary of the Illinois-based family-owned company that owns and operates more than 775 Family Video stores in 19 states and Canada. Family Video is the largest movie and game rental chain in the United States. Family Video has three stores in Champaign-Urbana. It has been in the Internet Service Provider business since the mid 1990’s, and has provided fiber-based services since 2009. Learn more at www.ThePerfectUpgrade.com.
UC2B is a not-for-profit organization created by the Cities of Urbana and Champaign and the University of Illinois to oversee the UC2B fiber optic network throughout the community. UC2B started as an intergovernmental consortium in 2010 to build and operate the UC2B fiber-optic network using federal and state grants with local matching funds. For more information about UC2B, visit www.uc2b.net.

Brandon Bowersox-Johnson, UC2B Board Chair, bowersox@uc2b.net
Levi Dinkla, iTV-3 Vice President, levi.dinkla@itv3.com


Memphis on Main Musings: What to do with those Thanksgiving leftovers?

Thanksgiving is near, which means leftovers soon will abound. What to do with them? A few ideas:

  1. How about a REAL drinking game? Recreate a home version of "Will it Blend?" and bottoms up! Last one to spew wins;
  2. When's the last time you and your friends smacked a piñata filled with Thanksgiving slop? My guess is it has been too long. Far, far too long; or
  3. Gather up the goods and bring them to Memphis on Main on Thursday night to share with the rest of us lonely hearts and souls.

Personally, I'm going for #3 and invite you to do the same. Should you choose #1 or #2, I do look forward to the videos...

See you Thursday night at Memphis!


Shop local on Small Business Saturday

As shoppers hit the stores to fill their holiday wish lists in Champaign County, Busey encourages consumers to shop local on Small Business Saturday, November 29th. In contrast to Black Friday, which drives shoppers to large retailers, Small Business Saturday® encourages people to support businesses that are locally owned and operated.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our communities and are essential to strengthening the local economy,” says Jason Van Antwerp, VP & Portfolio Manager at Busey. “Busey is committed to helping entrepreneurs in Champaign County grow and prosper, and we invite you to do the same by shopping local on Small Business Saturday.”

In total, Illinois has nearly 1.1 million small businesses, or establishments with fewer than 500 employees, and represent more than 98 percent of all employers (Source: Small Business Association). Champaign County has 4,099 small businesses and 1,903 of them have four or less employees (Source: U.S. Census Bureau).

“Shopping locally supports local entrepreneurs and their families while keeping profits in our community. These business owners in turn put that profit right back into our community when they make purchases at other local businesses,” says Erin Lippitz, Champaign Center Partnership Executive Director. “Our citizens can take pride in their communities when they shop or attend events in their local communities. This is crucial to maintaining the current retailers, restaurants and specialty shops as well as recruiting more businesses to join our small business retailers.”

In conjunction with Small Business Saturday, Busey will feature local small businesses on social media. Connect with Busey, November 24-29, on Facebook and Twitter or visit www.busey.com for your chance to win a $50 gift certificate.

For more information on Small Business Saturday, visit any Busey location, call 1.80067BUSEY or visit http://www.busey.com/home/resourcecenter/socialmedia.