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Smile Politely now seeking Opinion Editor

Good afternoon, readers. Smile Politely is a magazine full of opinions written by our community writers and editors, and now we're looking for an Opinion Editor. The ideal candidate will be a very engaged and interested community member with a penchant for the written word, a knack for managing a small team of community writers, and a good sense of grammar. In addition, the right candidate will be willing to write at least once or twice per week, develop other authors from the community along the way, as well as contribute to the Weekender and SPlog on a weekly basis.

There is an ample amount of topics in the C-U area to discuss, especially in the Opinion section, so we're looking for someone who is interested in helping us cover the bases in that section, while seeking out writers in the community to contribute to the section each week.

If you're interested, please get in touch with us at with qualifications and other necessary information that might be relevant to us.


Cast list for CUTC's Joseph announced

I'm about to put out our pre-summer theatre article, showcasing all the performances that will be available for those of us who don't get out of town during the "off-season". Not only did my research turn up the cast list for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, but it revealed some excellent news: Tafadzwa Diener will be playing the Narrator. 

If you haven't seen Joseph, The Narrator is the female role that stretches from the beginning to end of the show, is almost always on stage, and requires an amazing set of pipes. Diener got to display those chops during last year's performance of Dreamgirls at Krannert, so I am supremely excited to see her being awarded more large roles that highlight her talents. As I saw on a facebook post made by another cast member: "This is pre-Tony Tafadzwa". 

I certainly hope so, and hope everyone gets a chance to see her before she blows this town and makes it big. 

The entire cast for this show will highlight some local greats and favorites; congratulations to everyone who will be appearing: 

Trey Ball: Joseph
Tafadzwa Diener: Narrator
Gil Yohnka: Jacob
Joel Shoemaker: Potiphar
Colleen  Burton: Mrs. Potiphar
Josh  Meesey: Pharaoh

Chris Kreps: Reuben/One More Angel solo
Ethan Smith: Simeon/Canaan Days Solo
Matt Doyle: Levi
Tyler Cook: Naphtali
Quinton Ohlsson: Issachar
Nick Hittle: Asher
Arch Robison: Dan
Gideon Kerber: Zebulun
Ben Gilly: Gad
Josiah Zielke: Benjamin
Joe Omo-Osagie: Judah/Calypso Solo

Aiden Tibben; Ray Essick; Alec Campbell; Curtis Reynolds; Grace Kreps; Timothy Purnell; Marc Wilson. 

Lauren Barnes; Abby Cohen; Tori Corkery; Ashley Massey; Michelle McDonaugh; 
Chloe Ward; Susan Zielke (featured dancer); Ruth Zielke (featured dancer); Lindsay Vallance (featured dancer); Anna Summers (featured dancer); Tina Radi (featured dancer); Erin Kauffman (featured dancer); Jenny Gleason (featured dancer). 

HeatherAnn Layman: Ft Dancer/ “One More Angel” Female solo/Ensemble

Children's Chorus: 
Lizzy  Barnes; Charlotte Breitwieser; Jonathan Dare; Rowan Fisher; Tobias Kreps; Joshua Kreps; Jakob Lu; Isaiah Robertson; Benjamin Summers; Gideon Wright; 
Brailey Yohnka.

Photos by Sam Logan & Scott Wells 


Visit Champaign County moving into former BLDD space in Downtown Champaign

From the press release:

Visit Champaign County to Relocate in Downtown Champaign

Champaign, Illinois – After six years at the Atkinson Monument Building, Visit Champaign County will relocate this July to a new location in Downtown Champaign at 17 Taylor St., formerly occupied by BLDD Architects.

“This new space provides unlimited possibilities for Visit Champaign County with its prime location in the heart of downtown Champaign while still serving the entire Champaign County area,” states Jayne DeLuce, President & CEO of Visit Champaign County. “Residing along a major walkway through downtown, we will be visible to a greater number of residents and visitors as they discover all the area restaurants, shops and local events.”

When Visit Champaign County initially moved downtown in 2011, the organization was looking for a different type of space separate from the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation and the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, with whom they had shared space. The Atkinson Monument Building allowed Visit Champaign County to create their own identity through the Welcome Center in a highly visible area.

DeLuce anticipates a boost in foot traffic in the new location, which has an abundance of patrons to businesses in that area, including the Blind Pig Brewery, Cowboy Monkey, Radio Maria, Nando Milano Trattoria, and Christopher’s Fine Jewelry.

“I'm thrilled Visit Champaign County chose the former BLDD Architects office at 17 Taylor Street in downtown Champaign as their next headquarters,” states Jeff Mellander, owner of the building. “It's a bright vibrant space and seems like a great fit for the Welcome Center.”

“We’ve developed numerous portal welcome areas in Champaign County where visitors can access area information,” explains DeLuce. “With new visitor centers at Willard Airport, Market Place Mall, Illinois Terminal and our new mobile visitors center, we’re able to serve visitors in multiple ways.”

A grand opening for Visit Champaign County’s new space will be announced at a later date. 


Celebration Company holding open auditions Saturday

The Obie-award winning farce, The Foreigner, by Larry Shue, takes a humorous look at trust. Distraught by the state of his own life, Charlie Baker trips into pretending to not speak English while on vacation. As a result, the other vacationers end up voicing things they may not have, if they knew he understood every word they were saying. 

Director Thom Schnarre will hold auditions on May 13 and 14 from 2-5 pm at The Station. There are seven roles available (5 men and 2 women) and auditions will consist of cold readings from the script. Alternate audition dates available on request through contacting the director via email at

Performances run 6/29-7/15! Rehearsals will begin soon after casting.

The roles are as follows:

Charlie Baker: A meek accountant type from England, who is Froggy's assistant. Actor needs both a convincing British accent (upper class probably) and a gift for pantomime, physical comedy and character voices as he learns to "speak English". Married in a complicated relationship that is terminal. Immediately smitten by Catherine. Age range mid-20s to early 40s. Racial identity not specified in script.

Froggy LeSueur: A former military man still in uniform and a regular visitor to the Georgia lodge that's the setting for the piece. In business now with his assistant Charlie. Very loyal to Charlie. British accent (working class probably) and coarser and more social than Charlie. Age range late-20s to mid-40s. Racial identity not specified in script.

All other characters are Georgia locals (Accent required. Sort of a Designing Women lilt can be used as a model). They are also all Caucasian.

Betty Meeks: Mature owner of the lodge. Wiry, maternal, quick-witted and feisty. She's tough, despite her age. Age range 50 and up. 

Reverend David Marshall Lee: Glad-handing televangelist wannabe. All he has is a local church and his secret KKK affiliations. A nasty human with a sugary act, one might describe him as oily. Age appropriate partner for Catherine. Age range 20s-40s.

Catherine Simms: A modern Southern Belle with a bun in the oven. Oops! Feisty and smarter than she lets on. Very loyal to baby brother, Ellard. Sort of trapped in a relationship with Reverend David. Uses Charlie as a mute therapist and then her feelings grow. Age range 20s-30s.

Ellard Simms: A dim, but sweet boy. Never met an enemy, but he's been bullied a lot which makes him skittish and shy. He responds affectionately to praise. A puppy of a boy. Must have a gift for physical comedy and pantomime. Age range mid-teens-20s.

Owen Musser: A repellent moron. Racist KKK member and SUPER proud of it. Guy voted most likely to be killed in a bar fight in high school. Very superstitious as ignorant men often are. Just gross. Age range 20s-50s.


Free chemistry day camps offered for middle school girls

If you know of a girl entering sixth, seventh, or eighth grade who shows interest in science, The American Chemical Society- Women's Chemist Committee is offering 2 day camps for them to explore the field of chemistry. It's no secret that women are seriously underrepresented in the STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) fields, so every opportunity to bring girls into the fold is an opportunity to change that. And it's free, people! Check out the press release and flyer below for dates and info on how to sign up:

Subject:   UIUC Chemistry Day Camp for Middle School Girls

            This summer your rising sixth, seventh, and eighth grade girls have an awesome and fun opportunity.   The American Chemical Society - Women's Chemist Committee (WCC) is hosting their tenth annual "Bonding with Chemistry: A Day Camp for Girls".  We will be having the day camps on Saturday, June 24th and Saturday,  July 8th from 9-3pm.  Our day camp allows middle school girls to play and learn about chemistry through exciting and fun hands-on demonstrations, led by current University chemistry graduate students, faculty, and staff.

  Registration for the day camp is FREE! To sign up for this fun-filled event, parents can fill out this easy form:

  For more information regarding the day camp, or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Michaela Carlson and Courtney Ford at

   Thank you for your time and we hope to meet some of your students for some chemistry fun this summer!


  The ACS-WCC Board


NCSA’s Blue Waters Project provides $1.08 billion direct return to Illinois’ economy

From the press release:

NCSA’s Blue Waters Project Provides $1.08 Billion Direct Return to Illinois’ Economy

Study finds the nation’s most powerful, open-science government-supported supercomputing program has positive impact on state and local economies

URBANA, IL. — The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign released a study Wednesday detailing the current and projected economic impact of its Blue Waters Project on Illinois’ economy. The project manages the nation’s most powerful sustained-performance supercomputer for open-science and its related workforce development and education program. The study finds that the Blue Waters project—which is a joint investment between the State of Illinois, University of Illinois, National Science Foundation (NSF), and related activities funded by the university, NSF and other federal agencies—has a projected $1.08 billion direct economic impact on Illinois’ economy and will have created 5,772 full-time equivalent employment over the project’s lifespan (October 2007 - June 2019).

Conducted by Dr. Sandy Dall’erba, Director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory and Associate Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACES) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the study calculated in 2015 values the project’s impact on the creation of economic output (production), employment (Full Time Equivalent, FTE), labor income, local and state tax revenues, and federal tax revenues. The $1.08 billion in economic impact includes $487,143,813 in labor income from 5,772 FTEs, $56,477,093 in state and local taxes, $122,813,903 in federal taxes, and a $227,300,00 impact resulting from research grants awarded from granting agencies to Illinois researchers, faculty, and students because they had access to conduct research on Blue Waters. The study does not include additional economic and societal benefits coming from the significant amount of computer time provided to Illinois researchers, strategic projects, and industry, nor does it account for the workforce development activities of the Blue Waters project—as they are a magnet for recruiting expert talent to Illinois—or the impacts of the science, engineering and research results that can only be accomplished on the Blue Waters.

Another way to express these results is through a multiplier, a measure of the “bang for the buck.” Over the project’s lifespan (October 2007 - June 2019), Blue Water’s output multiplier is 1.864 (every $1 spent for BW-related activities leads to an additional $0.864 of production in the state economy) and its employment multiplier is 2.044 (every job created by BW-related activities leads to one additional job created in the state economy).

“My sincerest gratitude goes to the University of Illinois, the State of Illinois, and the National Science Foundation for supporting this critical project which is enabling us to better understand our world, improve quality of life, and develop the nation’s advanced digital workforce,” said Dr. William “Bill” Gropp, NCSA interim director and co-principal investigator for the Blue Waters Project. “State and federal support for advanced high-performance computing provides immediate economic impact for our communities and positions the United States to lead the world during a critical era for cyberinfrastructure and at the same time provide unique future contributions from the results Blue Waters enables.”

Illinois was awarded the $360 million Blue Waters Project through an NSF Request for Proposal process in 2007. The construction of the National Petascale Computing Facility (NPCF), a state-of-the-art computing and data center housing the system, was made possible by investments of $60 million by the State of Illinois and $87 million by the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus. The construction of the NPCF alone (July 2008-June 2012) generated about $131.7 million in total impact on Illinois’ economy, which includes the creation of 701 direct and indirect jobs, ranging from construction, to technical, to administration. The construction generated $4.3 million in local and state taxes and $9.6 million in federal taxes.

“Illinois is proud to have partnered with the National Science Foundation to support this bold endeavour to create leadership-class resources for researchers in Illinois and around the nation,” said Robert J. Jones, chancellor of the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus. “NCSA has once again proven its ability to excel at stewarding major infrastructure investments and scientific innovations. We intend to continue leading the nation in high-performance computing.”

The Blue Waters project, which has just completed its fourth full year of full service operations, is a key resource for recruiting and retaining world-class researchers and academic professionals. Since the project went online in April of 2013 until the study began in June 2016, it has supported 1,892 direct and indirect jobs and $177.9 million in labor income throughout the State of Illinois. The presence of Blue Waters during this period created a total of $20.9 million in local and state taxes and $41.8 million in federal taxes. The full operation and maintenance has generated a total impact of nearly $380.4 million, $227.3 million of which is due to research grants awarded to faculty with Blue Waters computing allocations.

The resulting overall direct economic impact sums to $1.08B for Illinois along with all the other benefits to the state, the university and nation the Blue Waters Project brings.  

“I applaud NCSA’s for its successfully stewardship of Illinois’ financial support that has enabled this best-in-class education program and resources for Illinois students and researchers,” said Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36), chair of the Illinois House of Representatives Higher Education Appropriations Committee.

The report’s executive summary, including methodology, is publicly available for download here.


Get your Mother’s Day and Graduation flower needs through Fleurish

This weekend is no doubt a big one for Champaign-Urbana. With Mother's Day on Sunday and the University of Illinois commencement taking place from Friday until Monday. I think it's safe to say, that flowers will be needed for most.

Fleurish in Downtown Champaign is making it easier than ever to order your arragnements and have them delivered to wherever you are. The shop is now featuring flower-valet for no-hassle pick-up. Plus, if you can't get to the shop or if the shop will not be able to deliver fast enough, Uber is available for last minute, quick delivery. 

Don't forget to pre-order!

Call Fleurish at (217) 607-0015, located in Downtown Champaign at the Corner of Walnut and Taylor at 122 N Walnut.


Rodney Davis says he’ll meet with the media; only meets with media he likes

As we know, our ever-missing congressman Rodney Davis is in town this week, and even meeting with constituents (at 2 p.m. this afternoon on Fox Drive if anyone is interested). In addition, he's holding an event for media today at Curtis Orchard in west Champaign, where he will be touring and learning about bee production in central Illinois.

Notice that the event is for media in Champaign-Urbana. Guess who didn't get an invite?

It's not that we're heartbroken, Rodney. We're not, though we would have loved to have eaten apple doughnuts and had a serious talk with you. But truth be told, this picking sides between the media is a very dangerous slope to go down. This Trump-era selective partisan media framing is quite literally tearing at the core of American democracy, and now, Rep. Rod, you are complicit.

Invite the media you want, paint the picture you want, and it's like the bad stuff never happened. It's a very scary road to go down when this type of freedom becomes compromised.

For instance — The News-Gazette gets an invite, here's our friend Tom Kacich on the scene:

Read Gale's conversation with the communication director for Rodney Davis here. It appears that Davis is only prepared to invite and communicate with media he approves of.

In addition, and not to throw shade on every person who works for every one of these companies, but here are a list of your friends and neighbors who are both hosting and financially supporting our extremely cowardly and mostly shit for brains Representative Rodney fucking Davis.
Here's an email invite from the Champaign County Republican Party:
  • Board member -Busey Bank; News-Gazette (Downey)
  • Former co-owner of O'Brien Autopark (Turner) 
  • Partner at Meyer Capel (Sholem)
  • BPC (Habeeb)
  • Christie Foundation (King)
  • Former owner - TriStar Mobil Superpantry (Stewart)
  • MJ Reed (Reed)
  • Champaign Asphalt Company (Lamb)
  • Coldwell Banker Devonshire Realty (Harrington)
  • Farm Credit Illinois (Tracy) 
  • WDWS/WHMS (Downey) 
  • Berns Clancy (Berns)
  • HL Precision Manufacturing (Hillard)
  • BankChampaign (Ballard)
  • Central Illinois Manufacturing Company; Parkland College Trustee (Ayers)

There's a fundraising event tonight in Champaign-Urbana. Check out the information above, and find out where... somehow.

At the time of publishing, we're awaiting word from legal counsel to determine whether we can publish the address of the fundraiser or not.

Top image by Cameron Raab.


Smile Politely seeking Food & Drink writers

Smile Politely is always welcoming new writers into the fold, and that, of course, includes our Food & Drink section. Being a town with a plethora of dining and drinking options, there is constantly much to cover.

We're looking for some writers for this particular section, and in order for this to really work, you must have at least a mild grasp on food culture, and also have a fairly good grasp on local culture, and preferably be able to tie the two together. Don't worry, you don't have to be a perfect writer — we'll help with that part. Prospective writers must also be able to take at least 6 high quality photos to accompany their features.

Perks of being a Food & Drink writer include, but are not limited to:

  • Going to restaurants and providing a take on your experience for our readers.
  • Eating foods and drinking drinks, which isn't out of the ordinary, we hope.
  • Earning (a little) extra spending money.
  • Pick up some valuable writing experience along the way.

If this sounds like something you're interested in, fire an email off to


Celebrate bike month with a moonlit bike ride

May is National Bike Month, and C-U does not sleep on getting active and celebrating it. there are plenty of local activities to participate in, including one perfect for night owls. Four different bike shops are participating in a Full Moon Night Ice Cream Ride, taking place this Wednesday. The ride begins at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana at 7:40 and lasts 22 miles, taking you on a pleasant, moonlit ride on mostly empty country roads. The ride includes a stop at Sidney Dairy Barn for some well-earned ice cream.

This is a free, family-friendly event that includes lots of activities other than the ride. The ride itself is optional.

Check out the event page for more information on the evening ride. Don’t forget: State law requires lights and helmets for night riding.