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You can get a taste of some good whiskey at Collective Pour on Wednesday

Collective Pour is offering an opportunity to try a pour of WhistlePig 12 Year Old World Marriage, a bottle of which would run you over $100. 

Samir Naik, owner of Collective Pour and whiskey enthusiast is cracking open a bottle on Wednesday, July 1st, and you can sign up to go in and try a one ounce pour for $6. To partake in this "Break the Bottle Not the Bank" tasting, head over to the Collective Pour website to register, as they are selling a limited number of pours. Show up at 6 p.m. and they will check you off the list. Pouring will happen in a designated area, and you are asked to wear a mask and keep your distance from others. 

Image provided by Collective Pour.

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Aroma Cafe is now part of Cowboy Monkey

As of today, Aroma Cafe will occupy the same space as Cowboy Monkey. Aroma will operate from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, then Cowboy Monkey will be open from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Chef Alwes is working on a new menu for both restaurants, which will include brunch for Cowboy Monkey. Here is their Instagram post:

Aroma Cafe/Cowboy Monkey
6 Taylor Street
Champaign

Photo from Aroma Cafe Instagram.

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Request your Vote by Mail ballot now

The election isn't until November, and you have until October 29th to request your ballot, but you should really take five minutes to request your mail in ballot now. Voting by mail is safe and secure, and you don't need to leave your home.

COVID-19 will not go away before the general election — an election that is among the most important in decades — so make sure your vote counts and you're limiting your (and others) exposure to the virus.

Top image from the Champaign County Clerk's Facebook page.

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Here is what Phase 4 means for the Urbana Park District

Urbana Park District released their plans for Phase 4 of Restore Illinois, which means a few more things will be available for use. Here are some new guidelines for outdoor things:

UPD Outdoor Basketball and Volleyball

•  Stay home if you are sick
•  Practice social distancing
•  Wash or sanitize your hands before and after use
•  Encouraged to wear a face covering when within 6 feet of others
•  Outdoor sport courts/fields are not sanitized and users play at their own risk
•  Limit group use to no more than 50 in accordance with public health rules

UPD Outdoor Playgrounds

•  Stay home if you are sick
•  Practice social distancing
•  Wash or sanitize your hands before and after use
•  Encouraged to wear a face covering when within 6 feet of others
•  Outdoor playground surfaces are not sanitized and users play at their own risk
•  Limit group use to no more than 50 in accordance with public health rules

The outdoor restrooms and water fountains remain closed.

For now their programming will remain largely virtual, and Crystal Lake Pool will not open this year. There may be some Yoga in the Park offered later in the summer, and they are looking to open the indoor pool at some point. 

Photo from Urbana Park District website.

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Unit 4 has just passed a resolution declaring racism is a public health crisis

The Champaign Unit 4 Board of Education has unanimously approved a resolution declaring that racism is a public health crisis. What does that mean, excactly? You can read the full resolution, but in short, it aims to create oversight and plans for addressing systemic racism and inequities in education the students, hiring faculty and staff, and supporting people (and children) of color. In terms of timeline, the  "Board expects policy recommendations, as outlined in this resolution, to be brought forth within three (3) months for discussion and ratification; be it further resolved that the Board will evaluate district progress towards the goals above and will revisit every six (6) months, with its first evaluation to be held at the first scheduled Board meeting in January 2021."

You can watch the Board meeting here.

DATE:  June 26, 2020

Unit 4 Board of Education unanimously approves resolution declaring racism is a public health crisis

Resolution states the Board’s commitment to establishing, supporting and sustaining a culture of anti-racism districtwide

The resolution was approved on a 7 to 0 vote at a Special Board of Education meeting held on June 24, 2020. All seven Board members voted in favor of adopting the resolution.

Board President Amy Armstrong thanked Board members for their swift and unanimous work in adopting the resolution. "Collectively this whole board has such incredible strengths and we are united in our shared commitment to serve our students," said Armstrong. "I learn so much from each of you and I appreciate your hard work and commitment as Board members. Special thanks to Board members Dr. Gianina Baker, Bruce Brown, Elizabeth Sotiropoulos and Heather Vazquez for their leadership on this important resolution.”

Board Vice President Dr. Gianina Baker said "The Board recognizes that this is an urgent matter and needs to happen now. I hope this is a start in building trust especially with our black community and within ourselves, our teachers, our colleagues, and our staff."

The full text of the resolution is available here. Video of the Board meeting, including the many public comments that were made before the Board acted on the resolution, can be viewed at https://vimeopro.com/champaignschools/school-board.

Top image by Jessica Hammie.

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Champaign County Forest Preserve District is opening facilities on a limited basis

The Champaign Forest Preserves have been a wonderful respite as over the past few months as a way to get out in nature and spend some time out of the house. Now they will be expanding their offerings to include Museum of the Grand Prairie and Homer Lake Interpretive Center, with strict guidelines of course. From the press release:

Beginning July 8, 2020. Homer Lake Interpretive Center will be open from 1:00 p.m to 5:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, with a limit of 10 guests at a time. Masks and social distancing will be required within the facility. Handwashing/sanitizing is encouraged before entering or upon entry to the building. Patrons are asked to check themselves and members of their party for symptoms before arriving and stay home if they are sick.

Also beginning on July 8, 2020, the Museum of the Grand Prairie will be open from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. The first hour of every Wednesday will be reserved for persons over 65, and other vulnerable groups. Patrons will be required to sign up for a time to visit. Sign up times will be available by pressing the register/reserve button on the website www.ccfpd.org. A name and contact information will be required for each registrant in case contact tracing should be required. Visits are scheduled in increments of an
hour, and there will be a limit of 10 patrons per hour in order to keep patrons and staff safe and facilitate cleaning. Masks and social distancing will be required within the facility. Handwashing/sanitizing is encouraged before entering or upon entry to the building. Patrons are asked to check themselves and members of their party for symptoms before arriving and stay home if they are sick.

Visitors should note that many hands-on, interactive experiences may be closed, or removed temporarily as required by the governor’s office and local public health officials. The Museum of the Grand Prairie’s Discovering Home exhibit, on the lower level, will be closed until further notice. Bathrooms and popular public areas will be cleaned on a regular basis.

Photo from Homer Lake Interpretive Center Facebook page.

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Farren’s is forgoing indoor dining

Illinois enters into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan today, which allows restaurants to start offering indoor dining in a limited way. However, not all restaurants are going that route. Notably, Farren's has decided to stick with outdoor dining and carryout. Here is the statement from their Facebook page:

At this time, we have decided to continue operating on the patio and for curbside only. Our Farren's family has made this decision together. We feel that this is the safest way to operate at the moment. Everybody's health is of utmost importance to us.

We will keep our current hours (Sunday-Thursday, 11AM-9PM and Friday-Saturday, 11AM-10PM).

Once again, we extend our sincere appreciation for all of the love and support our community has shown us as we navigate our way through this pandemic. We love being a part of this community and more specifically, Downtown Champaign.

Be kind. Be empathetic. Spread the love, people!

Restaurants are making tough decisions right now. Let's continue to support them as we can, and no matter what type of dining you choose to do, be considerate, patient, tip well, and follow the guidelines they've set up. 

Photo by Anna Longworth.

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PACA is holding a sale of salvaged Unit 4 materials on Saturday, June 27th

The Preservation and Conservation Association (PACA) has been working with Unit 4 during the school district's renovations of multiple properties.

PACA is selling all sorts of things salvaged from Unit 4 schools, including lockers from Edison Middle School, folding chairs from Central High School, and slate blackboards, clocks, carts, roll down maps, and worktables.

The sale is Saturday, June 27th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1302 Parkland Court in Champaign (behind CU Woodshop).

A flyer for PACA's sale of items salvaged from Unit 4 schools. Image courtesy of PACA. Image courtesy of PACA.

Top image screenshot from PACA flyer.

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Maybe don’t have an unofficial prom during a pandemic

As reported in The News-Gazette yesterday, Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department is asking people who attended an "unofficial prom" at a house in Mahomet on June 13th to get tested for COVID-19. This "unofficial prom" was not a Mahomet-Seymour school district sanctioned event (obviously).

Ten people who allegedly attended this event have tested positive for the virus. And despite that, CUPHD "hasn’t been able to obtain a list of those who attended the party."

Excuse me, what?

Apparently snitches get stitches in Mahomet, too.

Everything is difficult and yes, it sucks to miss graduation and prom and all sorts of milestones, but, ahem, pardon my yelling: YOU HAVE YOUR LIFE. Missing prom isn't going to ruin it.

You know whose life might be ruined? The people who are working in the grocery store, or the restaurant, or your hair stylist, or the nurse or doctor, or the pharmacist, or the firefighter who tested positive and now 12 more firefighters in Champaign who are in quarantine. How about the people who are trapped in a fire or lose every single thing they own because a different fire station, further away, had to respond to a fire because the closest one is understaffed? What about all the people you infect when you go to your job, which as a high school student could possibly be making food for other people?

Our communities are connected. I don't want to hear about how you're bored and how your kids are missing out on the best years of their lives. (If high school years are the best of your life, you need to challenge yourself). You're selfish.

Press release stating that 12 firefighters in Champaign are quarantined for 14 days because of COVID-19. From the City of Champaign.Image from the City of Champaign.

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Please be nice to, and stay away from, this bear traveling through Illinois if you see it

Though this isn't exactly a hyper-local story to Champaign County, there's a black bear that's traveling through the state, and Illinois Department of Natural Resources is asking that you be nice to the bear if you spot it.

Officials have stated the bear was seen just a few days ago on June 21st "headed south toward Stronghurst in southern Henderson County." If you're like me, you don't know where Stronghurst is located. Here it is on the map. While there's no indication it is close to Champaign County, I felt that bear news was good news to share.

Apparently, a group of 300 people were harrassing the bear — which is quite literally the least cool thing in the world to do. This caused IDNR to remind people to not fuck with the nice bear. It wasn't doing anything, and yet, all of the issues were caused by people fucking with it. Just mind your own business, and let the bear live its life already. 

Here's IDNR's Facebook post about it:

Top image from IDNR's Facebook post.

Link / Word

Neil St. Blues is re-opening today, Wednesday, June 24th

Neil St. Blues is re-opening today, Wednesday, June 24th. Starting at 11 a.m., you can order this Black-owned restaurant's opening day special: $5 pulled pork sandwich or $5 pulled chicken sandwich, both served with fries.  

Follow them on Facebook for more updates. 

Neil St. Blues
301 N Neil St
Champaign
T-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

 

Top image from Neil St. Blues Facebook page.

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All Black Lives Matter march is happening Saturday, June 27th

Champaign ABLM (All Black Lives Matter) and the UP Center are hosting the march and rally at 11 a.m. this Saturday, June 27th at West Side Park in Champaign.

Per the Facebook event page:

Champaign ABLM (All Black Lives Matter) is dedicated to working alongside local organizations to uplift the voices of ALL Black people. This march and rally is to give the community yet another opportunity to use their voices and speak up against racial injustice, police brutality, and systemic oppression against Black people. While the narrative is often occupied by the plights of Black men, it is imperative that we recognize the experience of ALL Black lives and the effect of different intersectional identities. Of these, the Black LGBTQIA+ community is often overlooked and omitted in the narrative, and given the unique forms of oppression and persecution that this community faces we hope to amplify their voices and provide a supportive environment to celebrate their excellence.

Below you'll find FAQs; for the route map and ways you can support the march, rally, and all Black lives in C-U, visit ChampaignABLM's Facebook page.

Graphic with Guidelines for the All Black Lives Matter march on June 27th. Image from the Champaign ABLM Facebook page. Image from the Champaign ABLM Facebook page.

Graphic poster for the All Black Lives Matter march and rally at West Side Park in Champaign on Saturday, June 27th. The poster is light brown, and the upper left corner of the image includes a drawing of six Black individuals wearing medical masks carrying protest signs and lifting thier fists in a show of Black power and pride. Image from the ChampaignABLM Facebook page. Image from the Champaign ABLM Facebook page.

Top image from the Champaign ABLM Facebook page.