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Illini basketball preview: Iowa

Illinois at Iowa
1 p.m.
Big Ten Network

Illinois has been off all week, I'm sure you noticed. Anyway, here's some good news:

Honestly, if you're not laughing at John Groce's spin these days, what are you laughing at? There's not much left to say about the Illini this year, other than speculate on the team's future. This isn't that kind of article, so here's some info on Iowa.

First, Illinois has beaten Iowa this year. You might not remember the 76-64 win on January 25, because winning seems like something that doesn't happen anymore, but it's a fact. In that game Iowa's stud, Peter Jok, was playing hurt. It showed, as he only had 10 rather anonymous points and 2 rebounds. He sat out the next two games for the Hawkeyes and has come back to be almost his old self, with 12, 28, and 13 points in their last three games. 

Beyond Jok the Hawkeyes are a ragtag bunch, but they've managed a topsy-turvy Big Ten season much better than the Illini. At 6-7 in conference, Iowa is only a win from being in the top half of the standings, though their 14-12 record (same as Illinois) is more indicative of where they'll be playing in the postseason (the NIT with a bunch of other Big Ten teams). Fran McCaffrey has extracted value from his bench this season, getting big wins over Iowa State and Purdue. I'd expect something similar when Illinois comes to town.

My prediction suggestion: Go for a hike and enjoy the nice weather rather than watch this game. 


Oops - Rodney Davis sends out incomplete form letter

Many constituents here in Champaign-Urbana have been mad lately, and they're mad because our congressman, Rodney Davis, has consistently ignored calls to converse with him from constituents who are concerned by a variety of issues, ranging from health care to immigration.

A common critique of Sir Rod is that he is notoriously absent from the constituent process, including sending the same basic ACA form letter to people, or ignoring their calls at his various offices. Today, we get a little bit of an inside look into Davis' process, as his offices seems to have accidentally sent out an incomplete version of one of these letters to a constituent. I guess that'll happen when you're trying to automate the most important part of your job.

This isn't an especially large knock on Rodney - he's done worse and I'm sure a lot of legislators have to do this, especially when dealing with a large volume of constituents. I am sure, however, that things like recycled constituent concern letters contribute to Davis' reputation as being out-of-touch with the 13th District, unlike, say, his predecessor Tim Johnson.

Among other things, the letter starts with the super-warm greeting of: "Letter begins here," and follows that up with a short paragraph that doesn't really say anything about policy, and then ends signed "D." Strange times, everyone.

Feast your eyes on the letter, below:


Urbana’s Market at the Square and The Land Connection hosting CSA Fair March 3rd

Urbana's Market at the Square and The Land Connection are teaming up (with some help from Urbana First Fridays) to host the 3rd annual CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Fair on March 3rd.

The fair will last from 4-7 p.m., and will take place at the Urbana civic center. For more information, check out the press release below:




Urbana’s CSA Fair to Feature Local Farmers, Food, Cocktails, Music and More!

Please join Urbana’s Market at the Square, The Land Connection and Urbana First Fridays for the Third Annual Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Fair on Friday, March 3rd from 4-7 p.m. at the Urbana Civic Center, located at 108 East Water Street in Urbana.

At the Third Annual CSA Fair, customers will have the opportunity to meet local farmers and businesses that offer CSA programs and buying clubs, learn about their farms or businesses and select a share or club that best meets their needs!  In addition, the CSA Fair will feature music by Pinecar, a Sprouts at the Market activity table, and, for adults, a delicious selection of freshly prepared vegan-friendly cocktails artfully crafted by Lumen Events featuring freshly squeezed juices from The Dancing Dog Eatery & Juicery.

What is a CSA? It allows customers committed to the local economy an opportunity to connect on a deeper level than purchasing from a retail store, and even differently than making purchases at a farmer’s market.  With the CSA method of doing business, farms offer fresh food products through annual subscriptions, or a flat fee, that a customer pays for up front once a year in exchange for a portion of those farmers’ products. The products are then delivered weekly or monthly to a central pick-up location or made available for pick up at Urbana-Champaign farmers markets.

“We’ve been encouraged by the turnout at the past two annual events and now we’re expanding the event to include more farmers, local cocktails and samples” noted Natalie Kenny Marquez, Director of Urbana’s Market at the Square.   “It’s a great opportunity to get out of the house after a long winter, support downtown Urbana businesses during the Urbana First Friday events and stop in at the Urbana Civic Center to connect with area farmers and secure your share of a local farm for this growing season.”

We encourage customers to connect with farmers and producers directly to learn about their specific parameters around sign-up. For a complete listing of vendors participating in this CSA Fair, please visit There is still plenty of shopping to be done at the local farmers markets, and you’ll never want to skip a market day; however, by participating in a CSA you’ll have the opportunity to help your favorite farmers at a whole new level.

To learn more, please call Urbana’s Market at the Square at 217/384-2319, or email or visit


Very good dog with ties to Urbana wins Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Club

This is a very good dog, Rumor, that took home some hardware at the Westminster Kennel Club recently in New York City.

Full article over at the News-Gazette, but the pup is co-owned by Patti and Van Dukeman — the latter of the two is the President of Busey Bank:

Rumor, co-owned by Patti and Van Dukeman of Urbana, was crowned America's top dog Tuesday night when, a year after a near miss, she came out of retirement to win best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club.

Good girl.

Top photo bJulie Jacobson/AP.


Fighting for our rivers and waterways

This community has proven that it is ready to stand up and fight for clean water, after that insane aquifer battle we thought we'd settled back in 2015. 

So now that the Stream Protection Rule has been repealed, the resources further downstate are threatened once again. 

And while "armchair activist" is usually used in a deragatory fashion, Prairie Rivers Network is giving us a chance to sit down for a good cause by bringing the Wild & Scenic Film Festival — one of the largest environmental film festivals in North America — to Illinois and our own Art Theatre. 

They're even going to be showing the film that Uni High students made which is now part of the Smithsonian's travelling exhibit called Water/Ways: "The Pollution of Our Water Ways". That's just one of the 15 or so all-ages appropriate short films that will be screening at this benefit event. Check out the link for more details, synopses and screencaps. 

So save the date: April 4th from 5-9 p.m. General admission tickets are $10, but you can also purchase PRN membership and get in for a package rate of $30. All proceeds are going to clean water initiatives, which we already need, just maybe moreso in the near future. 


Polyvinyl Records hiring Finance Director

Polyvinyl, Champaign's very own independent record label (and home to some really amazing bands), is hiring a Finance Director for their office in Champaign.

The full details can be found here, or read below:

Polyvinyl is currently seeking a Finance Director in our Champaign, IL office.

This is a full-time (Monday - Friday) position in Champaign, IL, and is open immediately.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Daily accounts receivable/accounts payable tasks such as paying invoices, receiving payments, etc, maintenance of customer and vendor accounts, collections, etc...
  • Reconciliation of financial accounts, credit card statements, etc...
  • Invoicing of sales statements from a variety of sources
  • Maintaining album budgets and tracking spending
  • Royalty calculations and payments


  • Must possess strong problem-solving and analytical skills.
  • Must be able to work independently and multitask with great attention to detail.
  • Proven strong communication skills and organizational skills are essential.
  • Proficiency in Google and Microsoft applications such as Google Drive, Word and Excel.
  • Prior knowledge of Quickbooks is preferred.
  • Should be self-motivated and goal-driven, solving challenges proactively.
  • Ability to set priorities and set deadlines.
  • Must effectively manage multiple, concurrent projects against aggressive timelines without compromising quality.
  • Must have the ability to work in a tight-knit, community-oriented atmosphere.
  • Must have a passion for music and the desire to grow alongside the Polyvinyl family.
  • Previous accounting/bookkeeping experience (or degree in field) is a strong plus.
  • Minimum two-year commitment preferred.


  • Salaried position
  • Health insurance and retirement plan
  • Ten annual paid holidays
  • Paid vacation days

We’re excited to hear from you and want to learn more about what you can bring to this position! For consideration please send a cover letter and resume by March 6, 2017 to:

Please note that only qualified candidates will be contacted.


Isaac Arms announces new album, drops first single

Isaac Arms, former member of the C-U rock outfit Withershins, has announced the release of a new solo album. An eponymous effort put forth with his backing band, The Extremities, Isaac Arms and the Extremities comes out on February 21st via Fourth Street Records. The album will have sonic similarities to Arms’ work in Withershins and other projects, featuring big shoegaze sounds over a pop-emo soundscape, but with a new spin. The first single from the album, “Cut The Anchor,” is available for streaming now. 
Arms is a central member of the local music scene and has been involved in many different projects and causes over the last several years, including many different bands and organizations, and management of the local label Heirship Records. All proceeds from Isaac Arms and the Extremities will go to benefit the organization Girls Rock! C-U, continuing the trend of local musicians doing a lot of good while also doing what they love.
Isaac and his band will play a release show on the 21st at Blips and Chitz. All proceeds from the show will also go to GR!CU.
Stream “Cut The Anchor” below and learn more on the bandcamp page.

Dr. Susan Zola announced as new Superintendent of Unit 4 Schools

From the press release:

The Unit 4 Board of Education has announced Dr. Susan Zola as the next District Superintendent. Dr. Zola will begin her duty as Superintendent on July 1, 2017

"The impressive quality and quantity of the work Dr. Zola has done for Unit 4 was more than enough to propel her to the finalist stage," said Board of Education President Chris Kloeppel. "However, it was her performance during the interview process--her eloquence, passion, poise, and professionalism--that ultimately convinced us to choose her as the next Superintendent of Champaign Unit 4." 

In his remarks, Mr. Kloeppel thanked current Superintendent Dr. Judy Wiegand for her service. "It is my belief that you are leaving Unit 4 in a tremendous place," said Kloeppel. "It cannot be understated how appreciative I am of your leadership and guidance to this District."

Dr. Susan Zola began her career as a first grade teacher in Urbana School District 116. In 1990, she joined Champaign Unit 4 School District and became the Principal of Dr. Howard Elementary School. She later served as the Director of Title I/Literacy, Director of Choice, Principal of Jefferson Middle School, and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. 
Dr. Zola currently serves the District as the Assistant Superintendent for Achievement, Curriculum, and Instruction where she oversees curriculum and instruction work and the District's 12 elementary school campuses. She will continue to work in this capacity in Superintendent Dr. Wiegand's administration until July 1
Dr. Judy Wiegand's planned retirement at the close of the school year prompted the Board of Education to hire the Illinois Association of School Boards to conduct a national search for the District's next leader. IASB assisted in the board in narrowing the number of candidates from 50+ to 7 finalists, who were interviewed in closed session by the Board of Education. 
The pool was then narrowed to 3 candidates who were then interviewed by a panel of community members, faculty, staff, administration, and the Board of Education. The Board of Education reviewed information provided by the panel and deliberated in closed session on January 18 and again on January 23, ultimately selecting Zola as the District's next top leader. The Board will vote to finalize her contract at its next meeting on February 27.