Health inspections temporarily close three restaurants

Claire Everett/ — Raw sewage in the kitchen preparation area closed down the Aroma Curry House in Champaign in August for two days. Health inspectors also shut down Mirabelle Fine Pastries in Urbana in August and closed Golden Harbor restaurant in September because of critical violations including improper temperatures for food. The three restaurants were the only ones that failed their inspections in the past two months. However, five restaurants had close calls, passing inspections with a score of 36, just one point away from failing. Food establishments are scored on a 100-point scale and fail with an adjusted score below 36.

Farming among the country’s deadliest jobs

Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers ranked in the top 10 for highest fatality rates by occupation last year.
Additionally, the “agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting” industry category was – again – the country’s deadliest industry, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics findings released on Monday. The findings show that the broad agriculture industry category was nearly seven times deadlier than the typical job.

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District makes health inspection reports available online

By Emma Weissmann/For — After five years of trying to get restaurant inspection reports on their Web site, public health officials finally succeeded this month.

The site — — now delivers a wealth of information on the inspections, including the inspection history and scores for more than 1,000 food establishments.

The health department opened the Web site earlier this month, but did not announce it until Thursday.

County set to debate whether posting placards will harm restaurants

By Claire Everett/ — Whether a restaurant in Champaign County should have to tell customers if it failed its health inspection is still up for debate. As of January, food establishments in the cities of Champaign and Urbana were required to post colored placards that signified whether they passed their inspections. A green placard means it passed, yellow that it failed and must be re-inspected, and red that its inspection was so bad it was closed. However, the County Board initially excluded other food establishments in the county from the new ordinance because of concerns that the placards would hurt profits at smaller, rural establishments. But the board will take up the issue again next week at its Sept.

Government looks to counter SNAP recipient fraud

By Robert Holly/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting — Champaign County has seen a 40 percent increase in the number of households on the federal food stamp program since July 2010 – an increase that has followed national trends. There were just over 13,800 low-income Champaign County households enrolled in the program in July, according to state data. In July 2010, there were 9,850 enrolled households. The nutrition program – better known simply as “SNAP” – serves tens of millions of low-income people by giving them money to buy groceries. A new government report, however, recently found that the program is rife with fraud, as it handed out about $2.6 billion in wrongful payments last year.

Mold in ice machine, flies in drain among dozens of violations in area restaurants

By Claire Everett/ — Meat leaking blood into cases of beer, ice machines with mold and flies in drains  were among the critical violations public health inspectors found in city and county restaurants and grocery stores over the past three months. Champaign County health department inspectors failed 13 businesses and closed one of them briefly. In total, inspectors cited the businesses for more than 110 critical violations. In addition,  inspectors found three food businesses were operating without licenses. Restaurants, food markets and other businesses are scored on a 100-point scale and fail with any adjusted score below 36.  Points are deducted for critical and non-critical violations to get a score.

Touring through central Illinois in a Model A Ford is trip down memory lane

Alison Marcotte/For — In 2012, Steve Holt looked at a 1931 Model A Standard Tudor Sedan that was for sale in Danville, Ill. He already owned a 1950 Buick, but he wanted to experience an older car. After driving around in it, he bought the Ford Model A with a cashier’s check and drove it home. “When I first bought it, I realized I owned an 81-year-old car, and I knew I was getting into quite an adventure,” Holt laughed. Today, Holt drives his 1931 Model A Standard Tudor Sedan along with the other members of the Prairie A’s Antique Ford Club, an east-central Illinois club consisting of about 36 members interested in Ford Model As and Model Ts.

Community Ambassador at Shadow Wood keeps kids engaged throughout the summer

By Giovanna Olea/For – Giovanna Olea works for as a community ambassador in a computer lab at Shadow Wood Mobile Home Park. has opened and operated a computer lab within the park for the community since 2011. Olea writes about her experiences here. The computer lab in Shadow Wood Mobile Home Park has been very busy this summer! Most of this is because the economy has fallen so badly that many families are unable to travel to their original countries or even take a short break.

Safe at Home Part 3: On the Border

By Christine Herman/For — “Anne” and “Kate” are licensed home birth providers in Wisconsin but considered criminals in Illinois. They say home birth would be safer in Illinois if the government licensed certified professional midwives like them by helping people distinguish between trained and untrained midwives and reducing the number of unassisted home births. But opponents, who believe hospitals are the safest place for birth, say they will continue to oppose legislation for licensing them. This story was part of Christine Herman’s journalism master’s project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2014. 

Visit to see more of Herman’s project. 

Listen to the third in a 3 part series

Safe at Home Part 2: Going it Alone

By Christine Herman/For — When Cheryl Gioja went into labor, her husband Joshua got down on his knees to “catch the baby” in the living room of their Illinois home. What he did was not a crime. But if a midwife had been there, she would have been breaking the law. Roughly 800 babies in Illinois are born at home each year. Without access to licensed providers, families resort to hiring “underground” midwives, who may or may not have adequate training.