Illinois Public Media News






WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 19, 2012

Virginia Theatre Renovation Schedule to be Set in February

The Champaign Park Board expects to decide next month whether extensive upgrades to the Virginia Theatre will be done at all once, or in installments.

The board is still weighing which option is the best advantage in terms of cost, and the schedule of movies and live shows in downtown Champaign's old vaudeville house.

Regardless, the Virginia is expected to close for work in May, following Roger Ebert's 14th Annual Film Festival. It includes paint and plaster restoration, lighting, new seating, and handicapped-accessible facilities. In 2010, the Park District learned it had been awarded a $500-thousand state grant for some of that work. Spokeswoman Laura Auteberry says getting that money could be in question, but the $3-million in renovations will take place regardless.

"It's a reimbursement process," she said. "So there's just always some concern with the financial state that the state of Illinois is in as to whether or not we would actually get our money. But as far we've been told, the money is there, it's in the budget, it's guaranteed. And it can't be used for anything else."

Auteberry says finding the natural progression for that work has slowed things down.

"And trying to identify what that natural progression should be has taken quite a lot of time," Auteberry said. "You have ADA compliance issues, of course all the paint and plaster work that you don't necessarily want to do after you've put all new seats in. You don't want to do the paint and plaster work before you've torn the walls out do to the electrical."

With or without the grant, Auteberry says the work will get done, covering many expenses with reserves and general obligation bonds. The park board will set the theater's renovation schedule at its February 8th meeting.

Commissioner Jane Solon told the park board Wednesday night she recalls voting last year to do the work in installments. A record of that vote couldn't immediately be found, but Auteberry says the board can change its mind next month. If the Virginia work is done all at once, it's expected to take about 10 months.

And if the work is done in installments, Auteberry says one goal will always be to re-open in time for the film festival.

(photo courtesy of the Champaign Park District)


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 10, 2011

Fuel Standards for Trucks Make Waves at Illinois-Based Navistar

The White House has announced new fuel standards for trucks and buses. They will require trucks built between 2014 and 2018 to drastically reduce fuel consumption.

The new standards mean big changes for companies like Illinois-based truck manufacturer Navistar International Corporation, said Basili Alukos, an equity analyst with Morningstar.

According to Alukos, trucks have mostly removed their dangerous emissions. Now, 18-wheelers at Navistar will get their turn at better gas mileage.

"They typically do about a 150,000 miles a year and they get roughly six miles a gallon," Alukos said. "So I mean, it's ridiculous. If your car got that it'd basically make you broke."

Certain big-rigs will be required to cut fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 20 percent by 2018. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transporation, this would save four gallons of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Navistar has not yet announced what changes they will be making to their new trucks.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 25, 2011

Heat Wave Blamed for 12 Chicago-Area Deaths

The recent heat wave in the Chicago area has now claimed 12 lives.

Autopsy reports released Monday by the Cook County medical examiner's office show heat stress was a secondary factor in the death of a 78-year-old woman. The primary cause of her death was heart disease.

Prior to Monday the death toll was 11. Authorities say most people killed by the heat have pre-existing conditions that are made worse by high temperatures. The last similar heat wave in the region in 1995 resulted in more than 750 deaths over a five-day period.

The Chicago area has since developed a heat response plan that includes more cooling centers and well-being checks to the elderly.

The National Weather Service is predicting highs in the upper 80s for Tuesday.

(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

Categories: Entertainment

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 24, 2011

Van Dyke Headed Back to Danville Via Skype

Dick Van Dyke won't be able to make it back to Danville High School to see the auditorium dedicated to him this weekend. But the 85-year-old comedian will make an appearance of sorts.

Danville High choral director Martha Lindvahl told The (Champaign) News-Gazette that Van Dyke will watch dedication ceremonies and performances Friday and Saturday via Skype. She says Van Dyke was invited and wanted to attend but is having back problems.

Van Dyke has recently been promoting his book, "My Lucky Life, In and Out of Show Business.''

Danville has only about 32,000 residents but Van Dyke is among a handful of famous entertainers from the town on the Indiana border. Others include Gene Hackman, Donald O'Connor and jazz pianist and singer Bobby Short.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 27, 2011

Overlooked’ Still a Priority at Ebert’s 13th Annual Film Fest

The word 'overlooked' is no longer part of the title in Urbana native Roger Ebert's annual film festival.

But the director of the 13th annual event at the Virginia Theater in Champaign says it's still a large part of the mission. Nate Kohn says attendees may be surprised with some of the names attached to the screening, including the Friday night movie, a love story that will be accompanied by Director Norman Jewison.

"Very few people are familiar with the film 'Only You', and yet it stars Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei, pretty prominent names," said Kohn. "I think that's a good example. Most people cite 'In the Heat of the Night' as (Jewison's) best-known film."

Jewison has been nominated for five Academy Awards, winning an honorary Oscar in 1999. Other guests appearing with their work including actress Tilda Swinton, and directors Richard Linklater and Tim Blake Nelson.

Kohn says usually, Friday afternoon is reserved for annual viewing of a silent film accompanied by the Alloy Orchestra. But he says Fritz Lang's vision of the future from 1927, with missing footage, will be among the festival's biggest highlights Wednesday evening.

"Because 'Metropolis' was just recently restored to its full length, some missing footage was found in Argentina..." said Kohn. "We thought it was signifcant enough to move it to the opening night film."

'Metropolis' is among those listed in Ebert's 1998 'Great Movies' essay. Meanwhile, free panel discussions will be held at the University of Illinois' Illini Union beginning at 9 Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning.

Kohn admits the traffic presents a challenge with the Illinois Marathon going on at the same time Saturday. But he says coordinators worked with Champaign police so transportation could flow as smoothly as possible.


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