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The News-Gazette's Tom Kacich is retiring

Fortunately for his readers, he will not be bowing out completely. After working as a reporter and columnist for 43 years, Kacich will be pulling back, but will continue to write a Sunday column as well as continue answering your questions through Tom's Mailbag. 

You can read more about it here.

Photo from the Pygmalion website

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Boswell Hutson's co-authored piece published in Washington Post

You might remember Boswell Hutson's byline here at Smile Politely as recently as August 2017. Hutson is from Monticello, but lives now in Champaign, and was a part of this here magazine for a good chunk of time.

Today, an article that he has co-written was published on The Washington Post called "Ben Carson called this small Illinois town a ‘dying community.’ Its people, and basketball, are hanging on". The article was co-written by Hutson and Jesse Dougherty, with photos and video to accompany it by Michael Robison Chavez. Read it, linked above.

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The Rare Book and Manuscript Library has acquired an Isaac Newton Manuscript

The manuscript contains instructions for making the philosopher's stone, a substance with a long and legendary story dating back to the middle ages, and a substance that was sought after by many, including Sir Isaac Newton (and you know, Voldemort). 

Seriously though, this is a pretty amazing find. You can read more about the manuscript here.

Photo from the Illinois News Bureau

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Shad Khan offers to buy Wembley Stadium in London

Champaign-Urbana's Shad Khan is a very wealthy individual. One of the wealthiest humans on the planet in fact. This isn't news, he being a version of the American Dream.

He owns the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Fulham FC in London, and now he has made an offer to buy the Wembly Stadium in London. 

From the article on the Jaguars' website:

JACKSONVILLE – Shad Khan is working to expand his London presence in a big way.

Khan, the Jaguars’ owner and owner of Fulham Football Club, has extended an offer to The Football Association board of directors to purchase London’s legendary Wembley Stadium. Khan confirmed the offer in a statement Thursday.

Read the whole article linked above. 

Photo from Jaguars' website.

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Overload, video game developed in Urbana, will be released on some platforms May 31st

It has been a few years since Overload surfaced as a game being developed by Mike Kulas' game studio. Read back about it, as Emilio took a dive into what the game was shaping up to be.

There's been an update about the game, which is now slated for release (in some capacity) on May 31st:

Today is a big day for Overload! We have some good news and some not-so-good news.

The good news is that Overload will launch on PC (Windows, Mac, Linux) on May 31 on Steam and GOG.com with full multiplayer support.

The not-so-good news: We are sorry to say that the Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions are being delayed by a couple more months.

Even though the other platforms are being rolled out in the near future, this is good news for this crew, they've been hard at work for a few years getting this one geared up for release.

Top photo from Overload's website.

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City of Urbana wants your input regarding the Lincoln Square Mall area

Ah Lincoln Square Mall, always a hotbed of discussion in Downtown Urbana.

Here's your chance to be heard: the City has launched "What's in Your Square?" — which is seeking public input and feedback for the future of LSM. Here's the survey.

From the press release:

The City of Urbana has launched an initiative to seek community input on a nine-square block area in downtown Urbana which includes the Lincoln Square mall, the now-closed Landmark Hotel, and approximately eight acres of city-owned parking lots.

Led by Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin and city staff, a visioning process dubbed “what’s in your square?” will help inform future development of the site. 

“Look around the community,” Marlin said.  “Everything you see started as someone’s idea. Bold projects start with big ideas. So, tell us what you want to see and do in this nine-square block area in downtown Urbana.”

what’s in your square?” asks the public to give their ideas via an online survey and at various community events over the next four months.  “No idea is too big or too outlandish.  We want people to think about what will serve this community for the next 50 years,” Marlin said. 

According to Mayor Marlin, “what’s in your square?” comes at a time when the site is at a critical juncture. “The mall is losing its major office tenant, the retail landscape has changed, the hotel is closed, and we need to transform this site,” Marlin said.

Marlin noted that other factors make this the right time to make over the site.  “People tell me that they want more housing in downtown Urbana and a wider variety of entertainment, restaurants, and services,” she said. “Plus, the MCORE project will rebuild Green St., making it the main connection between the U of I campus and downtown Urbana. We have to make sure there is something exciting there to attract visitors.”

Marlin noted that the initiative was inspired by her experience last fall at a workshop sponsored by  the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ and National Endowment for the Arts, Addressing Civic Challenges Through Design,  where planners and architects,  from all over the nation come together  to help mayors with urban design challenges.  

“The Lincoln Square site is a premiere location, so tell us what you envision for this site.” Marlin said. “This is the first step in developing a plan for this area.”

To hear the full Mayor’s message, go to the “what’s in your square?” video at youtu.be/kAFPVgnzu6Y.  

For more information about “What’s in your square?” and to take the survey, visit www.urbanaillinois.us/urbanasquare. #UrbanaSquare

 

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The Illinois Attorney General is suing Suburban Express

We have had many opportunities to highlight the horribly racist actions of Dennis Toeppen, most recently because of a Suburban Express email that alluded to passengers on his buses "not feeling like they were in China," which got picked up by the national news media. They issued a half-assed apology, then a more official apology, and then Toeppen visited China, which was interesting. I guess that wasn't enough to smooth things over.

Here's the full story from the News-Gazette. This should be fun to watch.

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You should check out the University Library’s online Roger Ebert exhibit

With the opening of Ebertfest upon us, now seems as good of time as any to browse the University Library's online exhibit featuring Roger Ebert: his childhood in Urbana, his time as a student at the University of Illinois, and his correspondance with faculty mentor Dan Curley. 

If you happen to catch any of Ebertfest this week, be sure to check out the library's display of Ebert's original press kits for the films being screened this year. 

Cover photo: Roger Ebert, September 29, 1972, Daily Illini Negatives File, Record Series 41/8/12, University of Illinois Archives, from the University Library website.

Selena press kit photo from the University Library Facebook page.

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The cities of Champaign and Urbana are having a bulk rain barrel and composting bin sale

Reduce waste and enhance your garden by adding rain barrel or compost bin to your yard. The City of Champaign and City of Urbana offer both at bulk prices one time each year. Here's the info from Facebook:

Take advantage of one-day only bulk pricing for rain barrels and compost bins. Urbana and Champaign residents are eligible for a $25 rebate for rain barrels with proof of residency such as a utility bill. Sale is open to all.

Pre-order now at: http://www.upcycle-products.com/Urbana-Champaign.html

RAIN BARRELS
$49 Regular $24 W/ Rebate

COMPOST BINS
$105 for Tumbling Bin
$46 for Stationary Bin

Pick up is on May 5th between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the City of Urbana building on Vine. Check the sale website for specifics.

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The University Library helped launch a website celebrating the accomplishments of U of I women

The site was a collaboration between the library and the Gender Equity Council and spans the 150 years of the existence of the university. You can scroll through biographies of the first African-American woman to graduate from the U of I, Maudelle Brown, Bousfield and Tatyana McFadden, famed paralympic athlete, and decades worth of other accomplished women. You can read more about it here.

Collage by Eric Todd Wilson via Illinois New Bureau