Gov’t Watch: City of Urbana program works to fund housing opportunities

Lyanne Alfaro/For — Two more low-income Champaign-Urbana families will soon each have new homes. The new housing is a result of one of the many programs overseen by the City of Urbana Community Development Services. This year, the department reapproved Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County as a Community Housing Development Organization. As a housing development organization, Habitat can use federal funds to build affordable homes for the families. The department approved Habitat for $70,000 last spring.

Gov’t Watch: Urbana entices new business with incentives

After owning multiple shops in California, Laura Young moved to the Champaign-Urbana area where she met Milea Hayes. Also a store owner, Hayes found she shared an interest with Young: vintage retail. Together, the co-owners opened Bohemia, a boutique on 135 W. Main St., which offers vintage furniture, artwork and clothes. The shop debuted in November 2013. “I feel like this downtown area is growing, and we felt we fit the style of what we are doing,” Hayes said.

Gov’t Watch: Rough winter tough on area roadways and city budgets

Sari Lesk/For — After about twice the average snowfall hit Central Illinois this winter, local government bodies are increasing their budgets to address needs for road repairs. How to report potholes
City of Champaign

Email the department of public works at Use the mobile app SeeClickFix to report and send a photo of the pothole. The app allows the issue to be logged in the database. The photo helps the department decide which equipment or personnel to deploy, as well as prioritize the reported issues.

Gov’t Watch: Lack of pre-trial release program halts progress at county jails

By Klaudia Dukala/For — When consultant Alan Kalmanoff was conducting his assessment on the Champaign County jails, he noticed inmates with mental health problems were “decomposing” because of the lack of medications available to them. Now, Kalmanoff, executive director of the Institute for Law & Policy Planning, based in Berkeley, Calif., said first steps have been taken to combat the problem. Kalmanoff, a consultant hired by Champaign County to assess the county’s criminal justice system, presented a 272-page report to County Board members in September 2013. In his report, Kalmanoff criticized the county for its treatment of mental health inmates at both the downtown jail, at 204 E. Main St., and the satellite jail, at 502 S. Lierman Ave., in Urbana. The report stated the jails didn’t have the proper “… resources to house, and sometimes segregate, [the mental health] population as necessary to provide for their care.”

Gov’t Watch: Champaign County voters prepare to head to the polls

By Sari Lesk/For — Voters in Champaign County are about to decide who should hold power over their tax dollars. They will have their first of two opportunities in 2014 to cast votes and select county leadership by participating in the March 18 primary election, when they can make choices for Champaign County Board members. The general election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 4. When voters cast their ballots this year, they will be electing officials to govern the unincorporated areas within the county and hold responsibility for the county’s public facilities, as well as who will maintain certain local highways.