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Japan House has a website dedicated to its 20th anniversary

Japan House is gearing up to celebrate its 20th anniversary next month, and now they have a website specifically focused on just that. It's a great place to stay up to date on the special events happening, including the annual Matsuri festival, and there are some great photos, stories, and history to dive into. 

Here are a couple of cool photos from the site-

The original Japan House:

When it opened on its current site:

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MTD has launched a new website

This week begins the new service year for MTD, which means the new maps and schedules for 2018-2019 are up, there are new boards up at the bus shelters, and they have a new website.

Here's the info:

Urbana, IL—The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) has launched their all new website on the first day of their 2018-19 service year. With an improved Trip Planner and school trip planning capabilities, mtd.org will make accessing all that our communities have to offer that much easier. MTD encourages District residents to try out the new site and provide feedback.

Former MyRide subscribers on MTD's former website will need to log-in to create an MTD Account on mtd.org, and resubscribe for alerts and favorites. Those with questions can call 217.384.8188 for assistance or reach out on Facebook and Twitter to @rideMTD.

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Champaign Outdoors is now open

As promised, Champaign Outdoors (formerly known as Champaign Surplus) has opened their new location at 2017A South Neil Street in Champaign. They posted this tweet about their doors being open:

Top photo from Champaign Outdoors' tweet

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Pavlov Media has purchased former Fluid Events Center building

Leadbelly's and Fluid Events Center shuttered last June, and now the building has been purchased by Pavlov Media. The facility will serve as the company's new corporate headquarters.

h/t to Champaign County Economic Development Corporation for pointing this out on Twitter:

Photo from Google Street View.

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KAM’s has been sold to new ownership

Eric Meyer, longtime owner of KAM's, has sold the longtime campustown staple. Located at 618 E. Daniel Street C, the incoming owners say that they will continue to run KAM's as usual.

Here's Meyer's statement from The Gazoo:

I have sold my interest in Kam's after 27 years. The buyers plan on running Kam's as normal and will reopen for the school year," Meyer said in an email Wednesday evening. "I want to thank my great staff, our students, alumni and the great university community."

There are plenty of rumblings about what will happen where KAM's exists. We saw what happened with the Illini Inn — the property bought up, demolished, and rebuilt with the Illini Inn existing at the same place, all brand new. So we shall see what happens with KAM's and this block of Daniel Street.

I have a feeling it will continue to be the invasion we've seen happen in Campustown.

Top photo by Scott Wells.

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You can now request a mail-in ballot for the November election

Though I prefer to walk into my polling place and fill out my ballot and put it in the machine (and get my sticker of course), vote by mail is a great option if you have not so much time during the day, if transportation is a difficulty, or if you know you will be out of town on election day. Or if you just don't want to have another errand or interact with people. Here is the link to request your ballot (if you live in Champaign County), and here is the full press release from the County Clerk's office:

URBANA, IL – Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten announced that the period to request a ballot to vote by mail for the November 6, 2018 General Election begins today, Wednesday, August 8.

“Voting by mail is now available in Illinois with no excuse necessary,” said Hulten. “Voters can begin requesting vote by mail ballots today, online through our website, by phone, mail or in person, for any reason, and take advantage of the convenience of voting by mail.”

Registered voters can request to vote by mail by visiting www.champaigncountyclerk.com/vbm and filling out the secure online request form, by calling the County Clerk’s office at 217-384-3724 or by emailing mail@champaigncountyclerk.com. Ballot requests will be fulfilled beginning September 27, 2018, as required by statute.

Voters with questions may contact Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten at 217-384-3724, or by email at mail@champaigncountyclerk.com.

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Did you know The Land Connection has a podcast?

Well they do! They feature local growers that you see week to week at the market giving a bit of background on themselves and sharing information about what they grow. The episodes are short, just about 10 minutes, but quite informative. The latest installment features Ben and Molly Oberg of Meyer Produce.

If you'd like to learn more about the produce you're buying at the Champaign Farmers' Market each week, check out their Specialty Crop Cards. You can find them online or at The Land Connection tent at the market, and they give you nutritional information and tips for preparing what you've just purchased. 

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U of I grad, NASA Astronaut Mike Hopkins piloting SpaceX’s Crew Dragon

A couple of days ago, NASA announced the first human piloted trips to space from the US since 2011 — one of which includes a U of I alum Mike Hopkins. Read all about the mission here, or read the information from the post below:

Today, NASA announced the astronauts who will launch aboard new American-made spacecraft and rocket systems, the first human launches from the United States since 2011. Nine U.S. astronauts, eight NASA and one from Boeing, were assigned to the first test flights and operational missions for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The astronaut assignments are:

This public-private partnership marks the beginning of a new era of human spaceflight. NASA has worked closely with Boeing and SpaceX as the companies design, develop, and test their systems to ensure safe, reliable and cost-effective commercial transportation for astronauts to low-Earth orbit. This will be an unprecedented achievement for the commercial space industry, and will allow NASA to focus on deep space exploration with NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System, as we return humans to the Moon and on to Mars.

Hopkins tweeted this news as well:

Top photo from Hopkins' Facebook page.

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The Summer 2018 Web Edition of Ninth Letter is available

Go check out the poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction offerings in this summer's web edition of Ninth Letter, a collaborative arts and literary project produced by the Creative Writing Program and School of Art & Design at the University of Illinois. All use "Climate" as the overarching theme. From editor Zacariah McVicker:

"From the unaided perspective of the individual, climate might be a mere collection of weather data sourced across some amount of time in a centralized place in space—on this planet, in this corner of the world, on this coast or up in that mountain range or over here in this flyover midland. But we’ve all felt the climates of our internal landscapes, the cerebral and the bodily spheres, and how they acclimate or resist the external. Or we’ve mourned or spurned changes in tradition and culture, from lost family practices in efficient laundering to experimentation with sustainable cuisine. And though we’d probably use a whole slew of different words in politics—depending on where we stand, maybe even depending on our exact places in space, at exact places in time—I’ve certainly felt a pressure change in the air."

If you haven't yet purchased their Spring/Summer 2018 journal, you can still do that here.

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Lodgic Everyday Community now has memberships available

Last year it was announced that Lodgic Everyday Community, a conceptual workplace that would cater to independent professionals, would be opening in C-U in 2018. They are planning for a September opening, and memberships are now available on their website

You can dig more into the specific plans on the site, but basically there are three different levels of membership, depending on how much you need out of your workspace: from pay-as-you-go rates with not as many amenities, to an all-access, this is going to be the place where I work every day type plan. 

They are also offering Kids Camp options for those that will need childcare while they are working, and the rates are pretty comparable to what you might pay a babysitter in your home.  

Editor's note: This SPlog was updated on August 9th to unclude the following press release.

Photo from Facebook

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Merry Ann’s Diner’s Downtown Champaign location has closed

The end of an era: Merry Ann's Diner in Downtown Champaign has closed after 14 years of business. They're located at 1 E. Main Street in Champaign — their other locations (one on Neil Street, and one at Gregory Place near Krannert Center) will remain open.

This now marks the fourth One Main tenant in recent memory to close: Snow Meets Coffee closed last October, Ratio is moving out of M2 (moving into the old C.V. Lloyde space on Neil and University), and a couple of weeks ago, Dub's Pub.

Top photo by Sean O'Connor.