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Registration for Unit 4’s Free/Reduced meals plan now open

Applications are now open for free and reduced lunch for students and families in Champaign's Unit 4 School District, and you can do it all online.

For full instructions and details, check out this info from Unit 4: 

To complete the online application, parents should visit http://cusd.heartlandapps.com.

The online application offers a quicker response time and a high level of accuracy for families. Only one application per family should be completed. Parents may visit http://schoollunchstatus.com to check the result of their application after 48 hours.  

Families at Booker T. Washington STEM Academy, Kenwood, Dr. Howard, Garden Hills, International Prep Academy, and Stratton do not need to complete this application and should instead complete a separate form that will be made available at their school. These campuses participate in a separate school-wide program that offers free meals to all students.

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WILL launches The Bandwagon, a new sports podcast

In the world of Champaign-Urbana sports talk radio, options are generally pretty dry. Outside of ESPN Radio's Tay and J Show and assorted sports programs on WDWS, there isn't really anything alternative to the mainstream. 

Luckily, WILL has been seeking to change this lately with their podcast, The Bandwagon, which is available online every two weeks or so. You can stream the podcast here, and for more information, check out the press release below:

Join WILL's Brian Moline, Lisa Bralts, and John Steinbacher every two weeks for your new favorite sports podcast, The Bandwagon.

“This all started with a conversation last year about how to bring people who don't identify as sports fans into a conversation about sports,” said Brian Moline, co-host of the show.

This idle suggestion-turned-podcast stands at the intersection of sports and culture, pondering what’s really going on. The Bandwagon isn’t just about scores and trade rumors and the holy trinity of MLB/NBA/NFL, it’s also about having thoughtful discussions around issues that affect athletics and ethos. Hosted by two guys and a woman with wildly different athletic interests, each episode’s topics can range from ping pong to dressage to youth sports to social media’s role in the sports world.

In fact, the distinct lack of “hot takes” and “REAX” is what makes The Bandwagon distinct among the many other sports podcasts out there. “While outcomes are very interesting, the experience of ‘the game’ itself from the athlete’s perspective, the viewer’s perspective, the perspective of someone who doesn’t think sports matter but is affected by them anyway… those are the things that interest us and that’s what we love to discuss,” explained Lisa Bralts, co-host of the show.

Sports are both a fascinating diversion and a reflection of our society, often serving as a significant component of people’s interaction with one another, whether they identify with sports or know nothing about them, e.g. The Superbowl. “They’re a way for people to connect on a larger scale, and especially given the polarization going on around so many topics in today’s society, I think they can be more significant than ever before,” said John Steinbacher, co-host of the show.

However, things that avid sports fans take for granted aren't necessarily common knowledge for everyone, so The Bandwagon works to be a bridge between the sports and non-sports camps—a podcast place where everyone can come to listen and learn something new.

There is also a lot of rivalry talk. “Rivalries are what make sports great both for the athletes—who need someone or something to compete against to keep the fires stoked—and the spectators,” continued Bralts. “I think the three of us learn something new every time one of us brings a rivalry, whether it’s in the research or in the on-mic discussion.”

So forget the “hot takes” of your typical sports podcasts and come aboard The Bandwagon. This week the show is talking about lesser-known Olympic sports, the US-USSR Olympics rivalry during the Cold War, the Crossfit Games, and the silly stuff we saw on social media this week!

You can follow the podcast on Twitter @bndwgnpdcst, and you can listen to all past episodes at http://will.illinois.edu/bandwagon.

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Courier Cafe and Silvercreek going up for sale

According to The News-Gazette's interview with Allen Strong, longtime owner of Urbana's Courier Cafe and Silvercreek restaurants, both restaurants will be up for sale soon. Check it:

URBANA — After about 45 years of serving food — everything from ice cream sodas and deli sandwiches then to chicken saltimbocca and pan seared duck breast today — restaurateur Allen Strong says he wants to do something else.

He wants to get out of the food business and is looking for someone to take over his two restaurants (Silvercreek, Courier Cafe) about two blocks apart on Race Street in Urbana.

"I can't do it forever and at some point — before your health starts to go — you've got to figure out something. And (wife) Nancy, she's desperate to travel and do other things, and we've both worked hard all of our lives and we just feel it's time to let somebody else take over the reins, if there is anybody," said Strong, who turns 64 later this month. "There may not be anybody who's interested. Who knows?"

Do yourself a favor and read the entire article, pretty interesting stuff. We'll see what happens in the near future.

Check out Jess' features on both Silvercreek and Courier.

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C-U lands top 50 “Best Cities for Music Fans in 2016” by ValuePenguin

In a recent study by ValuePenguin, they've put out a list of best and worst U.S. cities for music fans — and Champaign-Urbana makes the list at #45, as Consequence of Sound points out.

Check out the top 50 below, and head over to ValuePenguin to check out the whole study:

01. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN
02. Urban Honolulu, HI
03. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
04. Madison, WI
05. Austin-Round Rock, TX
06. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY
07. Tucson, AZ
08. Rochester, NY
09. Pittsburgh, PA
10. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
11. Salt Lake City, UT
12. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI
13. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
14. Eugene, OR
15. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA
16. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
17. Asheville, NC
18. Burlington-South Burlington, VT
19. Boulder, CO
20. Binghamton, NY
21. Wilmington, NC
22. Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA
23. Fort Collins, CO
24. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL
25. Duluth, MN-WI
26. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
27. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
28. Sioux Falls, SD
29. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
30. New Orleans-Metairie, LA
31. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV
32. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
33. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
34. Trenton, NJ
35. Colorado Springs, CO
35. Lincoln, NE
37. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
38. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
39. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN
40. Gainesville, FL
41. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
42. St. Louis, MO-IL
43. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY
44. Appleton, WI
45. Champaign-Urbana, IL
45. Lynchburg, VA
47. Charlottesville, VA
48. Rockford, IL
49. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
50. Portland-South Portland, ME

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Columbia Street Roastery hosting free coffee tasting this Saturday

Good news for those of you who are coffee connoisseurs, Champaign's own boutique roastery, Columbia Street Roastery, is hosting a completely FREE coffee tasting this Saturday from 10 - 11 AM. Registration is required in person at Columbia Street Roastery before Saturday's event.

For more information, make sure to check out the Facebook Event:

***Due to large demand we are only taking sign ups in store. Please stop by 24 E Columbia St. and get your name on the list for our free coffee cupping!!!***

Come join us Saturday July 16th, 2016 at 10am for our free coffee tasting session. It is open to the public. Its a chance for you to learn and taste different coffees from around the world. Send us your email or stop by our retail store and let us know your coming. We only have 15 spots so please sign up early as they do go fast.

The tasting (or as we like to call them cuppings) will happen at the Roastery located at 24 Columbia St. Champaign IL. Remember ... ITS FREE!!

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Young Blu releases new video

Champaign hip-hop artist Young Blu has just released a new video. Entitled “Cuttin’ Up//Playa Made,” it’s the first single from his EP The Gin Tape, which is the latest in a solid series of releases that spans several years. The EP is currently available on all major streaming platforms, such as iTunes and Spotify. Check it out here.

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Urbanalove and Neutral Cycle hosting showing of Wizard of Oz next Friday

Urbanalove and Neutral Cycle are partnering to present the very first outdoor film series show of the Summer, featuring the Wizard of Oz, hosted in the parking lot of Busey Bank in Downtown Urbana. Of course, the event is free and open to the public, and would make a great weekend event if you've got nothing going on.

The film kicks off at 8:30 on Friday, July 23rd. For more information, RSVP to the Facebook Event here and read the description below:

Come out to the first installment of this year's Urbanalove Summer Movie Nights! Join us for a celebration of our community with activities, food, music, and a film.

Featured Movie: The Wizard of Oz [runtime 1:52]
Sunset: [approx. 8:30pm]

Film Review: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-wizard-of-oz-1939

Visit our website for updates on future events: http://urbanalove.com/

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Polyvinyl Records kicks off 9th Annual Garage Sale

Our own hometown record label, Polyvinyl Records, is hosting their annual Garage Sale RIGHT NOW!

This sale, which happens online, features a ton of items that are marked down due to shipping errors, damage or any other reason.

For more info, check out this, from Polyvinyl's website

Welcome!

Throughout the year, we find ourselves with a fair amount of CDs and vinyl records that were damaged in shipping. Sometimes our warehouse goofs and forgets to double box our vinyl when they ship it to us, and the corner of a record jacket is bent; occasionally the jewel case of a CD cracks or the corner of a digipak is bent.

What do we do with the banged up product we receive? Well...that's how the idea of a garage sale came up.

Nearly all of the record jackets in the garage sale have some superficial damage to them. Some are worse than others and we've done our best to come up with fair prices based on availability and condition. In most cases the albums are still shrink-wrapped meaning the vinyl inside is in pristine condition.

All CDs in the garage sale are guaranteed to be scratch-free and will play with absolutely no problem.

Any CD normally in a jewel case will be sent in a plastic sleeve. The tray card and the booklet are both included and can easily be placed in a new jewel case.

Any CD normally in a digipak will be sent in the digipak, just not shrinkwrapped.

If you are a die hard collector whose record collection must be in mint condition, this is probably not the sale for you. If you are looking to find some excellent gems at affordable prices though, welcome home, and happy shopping.

The sale is first come first serve and we cannot hold items back for anyone under any circumstances. Have fun browsing!

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City of Champaign Public Works announces Move In/Out service and website

If you've been out at all lately, you've probably noticed a large amount of people walking around, staring at their phones trying to catch Pokemon on a video game. From a purely observational perspective, new technological capabilities are making our lives more convenient and interesting than ever before. This same type of convenience in innovation is being felt everywhere, including in the City of Champaign's Public Works Department.

Just this week, they have unveiled a new website for their Move In/Out service, where they will pick up all types of goods from your curbside and donate them to local non-profit organizations (so long as you live in the City of Champaign).

This site will allow you to pick a 15 minute window of your choice, and at that time, Public Works will come to your curbside and pick up any junk you have that needs to leave the premises.

What a time to be alive; the future is now. Pay a visit to the website for yourself to schedule a time to have your items picked up and donated to non-profits.