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This Neutral Cycle Park-to-Park cycling guide is really helpful

I know it's hard to believe, but sooner or later, this warm weather is going to stay around and you'll actually be able to enjoy the outdoors for once. In celebration, Neutral Cycle has released a guide for cycling in C-U across many of our fine parks.

To check out the full guide, click here. You can also read about the specific routes included below: 


Hessel Park to Dodds Park (Approx. 10-12 mile loop)

Hessel Park sits north of Kirby Avenue and a little west of State Street. There are a variety of neighborhood roads that can bring you safely to Hessel Park depending on where you start.

Once you enjoy the Hessel Park loop, head to the north center of the park and take Elm Boulevard north.

Take a left at John Street and ride west (crossing over Mattis Avenue) until taking a right onto Kenwood Road.        

Ride north on Kenwood Road for one block and take a left onto the O’Malley’s Alley Trail that starts right next to Austin Ln.

After a couple minutes on the trail, take your first right (just before the bridge over Copper Slough) and head north

Cross over Springfield Avenue and pedal into the area around Kaufman Lake, keeping the Copper Slough to your left. Follow the path north to Dodds Park.

Enjoy a loop around Dodds park and head back the way you came for a 10-12 mile ride!


Crystal Lake Park to Meadowbrook Park (Approx. 10-12 mile loop)

Crystal Lake Park sits just north of University Avenue and west of Broadway Avenue. Enter the park from the south by crossing University on McCullough Street, Race Street or Broadway Avenue.

Enjoy the ride north towards the Anita Purves Nature Center (maybe even stop to look around!) and experience the calm, solitude of Busey Woods.

Loop back to the south of Crystal Lake park and take Race Street south, passing through downtown Urbana (you could stop for a bite to eat!) and then through Urbana’s charming neighborhoods until Windsor Road.

Cross over Windsor and enter Meadowbrook Park from the West. Take the paved path around the park and head back north on Race towards where you began.


Crystal Lake Park-Dodds Park (Approx. 30 mile loop)

To link these routes, start at Crystal Lake Park and follow the directions above to Meadowbrook Park. After your tour of Meadowbrook Park head west on Windsor Road. Cross over Neil Street and take a right onto Fox Drive.

Take a quick left onto the paved path and meander through Mattis Park, heading north.

Once you get to the top of the path, follow the fork to the right towards Valley Road (to continue straight at the fork will lead you onto Fox Drive again). You can take Valley Road to Kirby and then cross Kirby into Hessel Park!

Follow the directions from Hessel Park to Dodds Park and reverse it for a great ride worthy of a great meal afterwards!

Happy Riding!


Watson’s Shack & Rail debuts new website

First of all, just take a second to admire that picture, which adorns Watson's Shack & Rail's new website. Wow.

Now that you've done that, Downtown Champaign's newest fried chicken establishment, Watson's, just debuted their new website, which includes some sweet pictures of their grub, a downloadable menu, and a ton of cool new features. Most notably, you can now place catering orders and private event bookings online.

To check out the new site, click here. Additionally, here's your friendly reminder that Watson's will be hosting the second edition of their monthly Bluegrass & Brunch series on March 12th (next Sunday), featuring the music of Sam Payne & Dan Andree.


i3 Broadband acquires iTV-3, rights to manage UC2B network

Some interesting news out of the fiber network world: i3 Broadband has acquired iTV-3, and therefore the rights to operate the UC2B fiber network in Champaign-Urbana. 

Cred goes to Gordy Hulton for the tip:

Check out the aritlce here via Yahoo!:

i3 Broadband Expands by Completing Acquisition of iTV-3, Inc. All-Fiber Network in Champaign and Urbana, Illinois

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- i3 Broadband today announced it has acquired from iTV-3, Inc. the rights to manage and operate the UC2B fiber optic network in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.  i3 Broadband plans to aggressively expand the system to provide its "triple play" of Gigabit Internet access, television and telephone services throughout the greater Champaign and Urbana area.  i3 Broadband is wholly owned by CountryWide Broadband of St. Louis and Seaport Capital of New York.

About i3 Broadband and CountryWide Broadband, LLC
i3 Broadband is a subsidiary of CountryWide Broadband, LLC ("CWB"), providing TV, Voice and Internet services through a 100% fiber optic network in the greater Peoria, Champaign and Urbana, Illinois markets.  CWB is a broadband acquisition and management firm headed by a management team with almost 100 years of senior executive experience in national and international telecommunications companies.  Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, CWB is pursuing plans to acquire, consolidate and grow additional broadband properties in markets throughout the United States.

About Seaport Capital
Seaport Capital is a New York City-based private equity firm that invests in recurring revenue companies operating in the communications, information and business services sectors.  Previous Seaport portfolio companies in the Cable industry include Everest Communications, Marianas Cablevision, Otelco and Metrocast Cablevision.

About UC2B
Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) is a not-for-profit agency that supports the development of high speed broadband in the Urbana-Champaign area.  It is a partnership of the University of Illinois and the cities of Urbana and Champaign that was formed to bring the advantages of high-speed gigabit fiber-optic connectivity to our community.  Initially funded by a federal BTOP grant that included state and local matching funds, UC2B works with governments and private sector partners to expand services to the community and believes that high-speed connectivity promotes educational opportunities, creates positive social impacts, and is a key component to economic growth.

Although it is a few years old at this point, read more on fiber in C-U here.


United Airlines coming to Willard? Reddit seems to think so.

The word on the street is that the good folks over at iFlyCU will be hosting a press conference tomorrow at 11 a.m. to announce some good news.

In the mean time, some folks over at the r/UIUC subreddit have unearthed what appears to be evidence of three times daily flights on United Airlines to and from Chicago, starting in June.

Below is the screenshot from the Reddit post, and for more information, check out the comments on the link above.

(Screenshot by Reddit user jpqwerty) 


Today is CSA Day

Today is CSA day, a day intended to encourage people to sign up for community supported agriculture. 

In and around C-U we have plenty of CSA options for produce, meat, cheese, and fowers. Though the 3rd Annual CSA Fair isn't until next Friday, March 3rd, you can still take a look at local options by checking out SP's coverage from last year's fair. The information from last year may not be currently accurate, so be sure to check out next week's fair for specifics. 

In the meantime, you can look into or sign up for Prairie Fruits Farm's cheese and gelato CSA, or Brackett Farm's CSA. 

Top photo by Jessica Hammie. 


Triptych Brewing hosting Day of the Dude at The Art Theatre on March 6th

Finally - the combination we've all been waiting for: The Big Lebowski and locally-crafted beers from Triptych Brewing.

On Monday, March 6th, The Art Theater in Downtown Champaign and Triptych Brewing will be collaboration on a one-of-a-kind showing of the Coen Brothers' classic.

A special imperial stout from Triptych will be made available exclusively for the event, and you'll be able to take home a special Triptych teku-style glass.

Admission to Day of the Dude is $20 and includes the film, the glass, and two beers. Tickets can be purchased now at Triptych Brewing's brewery in Savoy.

For more information, and to RSVP, click here.


Allerton Park hosting community art exhibition on March 10th-11th

In a couple of weeks, Allerton Park will be hosting Art & Soul, a community art exhibition, running both Friday evening and Saturday through the afternoon. Packages that include a room for the night and brunch in the morning, are available. As a Monticello-to-Champaign transplant, I can assure you, a night at Allerton is one of the most unique experiences you can have in Central Illinois - especially when it involves live music and brunch.

Tickets are available here, and for more information, check out the event description below and RSVP here:

Allerton's Art & Soul: Community Art Exhibition will showcase the work of specially selected area artists at the historic Allerton Mansion. Enjoy local jazz combo West of Staley, appetizers, and a cash bar as you peruse the work of professional artists and fine crafts persons at Friday's Opening Reception (7-9pm). As the Reception comes to a close, linger over a drink and conversation, gather with friends in the basement rec room, or retire to your guestroom. A mouth-watering brunch buffet will be waiting for you in the morning (10am or noon), featuring challah french toast, vegetable egg frittata, hash brown casserole, ham, seasonal fresh fruit, and freshly baked breads (plus Mimosas available for purchase!). Individual tickets for the Opening Reception / Brunch / Exhibit (no overnight) are also available.

Get away for a weekend at Allerton – enjoying fine works of art and the good company of friends!

Double occupancy (2/room): $80/person
Single occupancy (1/room): $130/person
Package price includes: Opening Reception, overnight accommodations, and brunch.

Opening Reception Only (3/10, 7-9pm): $10/person
Saturday Brunch (3/11, 10am or noon) + Exhibit Entry: $30/person
Saturday Exhibit Entry Only (3/11, 10am-2pm): $5/person

Lodging and brunch tickets are limited.


State Sen. Scott Bennett and Rep. Carol Ammons hosting town hall meeting on 3/13

While we're waiting for our Representative in Washington to give us an actual town hall meeting, there is some good news on the town hall front today, courtesy of State Senator Scott Bennett and State Representative Carol Ammons.

The two lawmakers will be hosting a meeting, open to the public, covering Illinois state politics on March 13th at the Champaign Carpenter's Hall (402 S. Duncan). Doors open at 5 and the discussion starts at 5:30.

Even in a state in such gridlock as Illinois, it's refreshing to see politicians who aren't afraid to meet with their constituents, face to face, and hear their concerns. 

For more information, RSVP to the Facebook event here, and read the description below:

Join State Senator Scott Bennett, 52nd District, and State Representative Carol Ammons, 103rd District for their third joint town hall update on what’s happening in the Illinois legislature. They will discuss legislation passed, budget status, and answer questions.