Category: Quote

The GEO has a contract

After 11 days of striking, the GEO has a contract agreement with the U of I administration, per their announcement last night on Facebook. The text below comes from the GEO's website (linked above), and from what we can gather, the GEO got much of what they wanted. More details will be released soon, so for now, check out the information.

Read our Editorial Board piece about the strike.

Dear GEO Members,

We have a contract! All of the ballots have been tallied and 98% of GEO members voted to approve the contract. This means the strike is over and that we can all return to work.

Once the new contract has been properly formatted we will send out the full document and post it on the GEO website.

As part of the new contract, the bargaining team created a plan for how to make up hours lost due to striking. Please contact your immediate supervisor to create a plan for making up lost hours. If your work was scabbed, you may not be able to make up lost hours. Make up hours must be completed before March 30, 2018. Please contact the GEO if you have any questions or concerns!

Congratulations on a successful strike, everyone! Thank you for all of your hard work.

In Solidarity,
Graduate Employees’ Organization
809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room
Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: 217-344-8283

Top photo by Megan Flowers.

Can you guess how many people have ridden the MTD since 1971? Hint: it’s a lot

CUMTD tweeted out a pretty crazy statistic yesterday.

Take a look:

That's a lot of people using mass transit in CU. They have kept track of annual ridership dating back to 1938. Here are the stats they provided:



Champaign Surplus closing Downtown location; will open new location this Spring

303 S. Neil Street has been home to Champaign Surplus for the last 35 years, and the store has announced that they will be leaving that location for a new home this Spring. You can see all the information below from their press release, but they're holding a liquidation sale that will begin February 1st.

From the press release:

Champaign Surplus Begins New Era, Closing Downtown Doors After 70 Years

CHAMPAIGN, IL — Champaign Surplus, Champaign-Urbana’s largest locally owned and operated outdoor store, announced yesterday that it will be closing the downtown Champaign location they have occupied for the past 35 years, and will be opening a new Champaign location later this Spring. The closing will be preceded by an “End of an Era” Liquidation Sale set to begin on Thursday, February 1.

In 2017, Champaign Surplus was awarded “Most Innovative Retailer” by the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance — the nation’s premiere organization of independent outdoor stores and partner industry vendors. This honor came after the launch and rapid year-over-year growth of a successful e-commerce site,, and the implementation of an automatic price matching program in the brick-and-mortar store.

Champaign Surplus made the decision to innovate further by announcing plans to open a new retail concept. Details of this move are still being finalized, and an announcement about the store’s reopening is expected soon.

In a letter to their customers, Dan & Shira said: 

“We are in a unique position to once again transform our business to meet the needs of the current retail environment and best serve our customers and community… Rest assured our new store will be true to our heritage while evolving the concept of what an outdoor store can be.”

The End of an Era Liquidation Sale will start on February 1st at 9am with the entire store marked down 20, 30, 40 and 50% off. The doors will close for good at the 303 S. Neil St. location once the inventory is gone and the sale has concluded. Current gift cards and customer store credits will be honored during the sale, and in the new location.

Shira Epstein commented: 

“We did not make this decision lightly. It been especially emotional for me. I grew up in this business, and that meant being a part of downtown Champaign — even when we were one of only a handful of businesses to remain downtown prior to its resurgence. Our current building has been my home away from home since I was 10 years old. But, I also know that our current plan is going to be a great new era for our business and Champaign-Urbana; and for providing our special brand of the ­­personalized, quality shopping experience. Our customers and local lovers of the outdoors can look forward to a cool new space, similar product mix, and some innovative uses of technology to enhance our specialty outdoor products and customer service.”

Dan Epstein said: 

“The ownership of our business is not changing, and we are certainly not going out of business. We are still the locally owned and operated family business our community has loved and supported over the decades. We are committed to Champaign, and while the decision to leave our current location was not easy, we are excited that our plans will better suit how people like to shop today. While there are many negative headlines swirling around retail of late, our specific market for outdoor and travel gear, fashion apparel, outerwear and footwear is very strong. We are making this move to further highlight our business and connect with more people in our community.”

Founded in 1947 by Leo & Anne Weisel after the end of World War II, Champaign Surplus began as an appliance and Army-Navy Surplus store at 115 S. Neil St. in downtown Champaign. With the addition of camping equipment, workwear and outdoor apparel, the store moved around the corner to 40 E. University Ave. in 1966.

In 1981, Leo & Anne’s daughter and son-in-law, Lynn and Ira Wachtel, purchased the business and became 2nd generation owners. While surplus merchandise remained the store’s roots and important part of the business model, the outdoor side of the business became the store’s passion. By 1983, Champaign Surplus had outgrown its second location, and needed to move to its current, 20,000 square foot location at 303 S. Neil St. in downtown Champaign. The larger building provided much needed space for wide-ranging products that were rising in popularity during that decade.

In 2010, Ira & Lynn’s daughter and son-in-law, Shira and Dan Epstein, took over the business and became the 3rd generation family owners of the enterprise. Dan, whose career had been in finance and accounting, and Shira, whose career had been in graphic design and marketing, revamped the branding of the store, made adjustments to the shopping environment and product mix, and launched an e-commerce site. Over the last 8 years, the store has evolved to focus on outerwear, footwear, travel necessities, and quality fashion and outdoor gear. Champaign Surplus continues to be a pinnacle dealer for top-tier outdoor brands. 

The Champaign Surplus End of an Era Liquidation Sale begins February 1st at 9am, with every item in their stock marked down up to 50%. The sale will conclude once the inventory is gone, and announcements about the new location and reopening will be forthcoming.

Top photo from Champaign Surplus' Facebook page.


Polyvinyl Records has signed Pedro the Lion

Yesterday, Polyvinyl Records posted a mysterious teaser video across their social media platforms. I was curious, like other humans.

They've announced that they've signed Pedro the Lion to the label — David Bazan's longtime project that is performing and touring in 2018. Pedro the Lion is managed by Bob Andrews of Undertow, which is based here in Champaign-Urbana as well.

Pedro the Lion's last record came out in 2004, Achilles Heel. Bazan's solo career has been ongoing, and he's performed a handful of times in C-U over the years. Pedro the Lion has a pretty extensive tour lined up in 2018, so all of this is good news for our pals at Polyvinyl and Undertow.

Here's the press release from PV:

Pedro the Lion signs to Polyvinyl Record Co.

The band begins recording their new album today and catch them on tour throughout North America in the coming months!

Today is the first day back in the studio as Pedro the Lion. After writing and arranging a handful of new songs, then rehearsing and arranging them further with the band, we're ready to record a couple of them for a new album. I didn’t realize what calling my music Pedro the Lion again would mean to me, but it’s re-connected me to parts of myself and my history (both sonic and personal) that I had lost touch with. This re-awakening is making the process so much more enjoyable and I’m grateful for the chance to do this again.

As a music fan I’ve watched Polyvinyl thrive in a brutal marketplace and grow their seminal roster to include even more bands that I’m downright obsessed with. As a cog in the music business I’ve gotten to know and appreciate their inner workings gradually through mutual friends and colleagues over many years of visiting their offices in Champaign, Illinois. So when looking for a record label for Pedro the Lion I realized pretty quickly that Polyvinyl was a fantastic fit. I am so thrilled to be working with them.

- David Bazan


Jon Seydl named as new Director of Krannert Art Museum

From the press release:

Jon Seydl Named as New Director of Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Jon Seydl, an art historian specializing in Italian Renaissance art, has been named the new director of Krannert Art Museum.

Jon Seydl is currently the senior director of collections and programs and curator of European art at Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. His appointment at Krannert Art Museum will be effective in February, pending approval of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

“I've known about KAM's work for a long time, and I'm very proud to join such a great institution,” Seydl said. “KAM's commitment to research, its outstanding curators and nationally recognized exhibition program, the museum’s wonderful team and fine collection are what drew me to this role. As a European specialist, I have long admired its works of international importance – paintings by Murillo and Lancret, for example, and its African collections are particularly renowned.”

“As a curator, Jon Seydl brings a deep knowledge about artwork that forms a large portion of the collection. That knowledge, and his excitement about curation, education, collection management and public engagement will make him an excellent director,” said Julia Nucci Kelly, the museum’s communications and marketing coordinator.

Seydl began work in 2014 at the Worcester Art Museum, where he was the lead curator for several exhibitions. He was responsible for the acquisition of Otto Dix’s “Pregnant Woman” and Miguel Cabrera’s “The Virgin of Guadalupe.”

Seydl coordinated a revamped exhibition program at Worcester Art Museum; launched an initiative to present the museum’s entire collection online, adding more than 25,000 records in two years; and developed a systematic approach to curatorial collecting. He also served as liaison for academic programs to 12 colleges and universities.

“Seydl expressed an eagerness to continue developing a range of exhibition and educational programs that forge connections between the campus, the museum, and its diverse publics. He sees that the museum has a key civic role to play as a bridge between the university and the community at large,” said Allyson Purpura, the senior curator and curator of Global African Art at Krannert Art Museum.

Prior to joining Worcester Art Museum, Seydl served as the curator of European painting and sculpture at the Cleveland Museum of Art from 2007-2013. He was lead curator of “The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection,” for which he was awarded the Outstanding Catalogue Essay Prize in 2013 from the Association of Art Museum Curators.

Seydl held positions as associate curator and assistant curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. His experience also includes work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and at the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was also a 2014 fellow of the Center for Curatorial Leadership.

Seydl earned his Ph.D. in art history in 2003 from the University of Pennsylvania, with Italian art from 1585-1815 as his field of study. He holds a master’s degree in art history from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in art history from Yale University.

He has taught at Case Western Reserve University, the University of Southern California and the University of Pennsylvania.

Seydl will be the ninth director of the museum. He succeeds Kathleen Harleman, who was the museum’s director from 2004 to 2017, as well as acting dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts from September 2015 until her retirement in August 2017.

Especially committed to issues of equity and inclusion, Harleman promoted the acquisition of works from underrepresented groups, including women artists and artists of color. Among her many achievements, Harleman led the museum on a redesign of its African Gallery, an award-winning installation that informed the aesthetic signature for subsequent gallery renovations. She also oversaw multi-year initiatives to develop educational outreach to area public schools, provide online access to the art collection, and create interdisciplinary collaborations across campus.

Top photo courtesy of Krannert Art Museum.


Suburban Express issues apology for being assholes

Suburban Express is trying to save any sort of skin they have in the game after the recent extremely racist promotional email they sent out a handful of days ago. The story has gone far beyond this community, making headlines in places they shouldn't be for these reasons.

Apparently, they are very sorry for being racists and xenophobes, and have issued a statement, which if I had to guess, was not written by Dennis Toeppen, but someone trained to help save face while receiving legal action against the company.

Here's the post embedded:

Though, they still seem to believe that anyone that is arguing or commenting against what they believe to be true to be wrong, thus deleting commments on their Facebook page. I am thoroughly enjoying this post, which has a lovely title of: "Cheaters":


Broadway Food Hall reveals first five food vendors... to the News-Gazette?

Between all the mugshots and bad news, the News-Gazette seems like a perfect place to learn about where you can finally get poké in C-U.

Broadway Food Hall is coming to Downtown Urbana soon, which we posted about after seeing a few posts on Facebook — that info didn't come from a scoop or anything.

Posting about restaurant openings, new menus and additions, expansions (food trucks transitioning or moving to include brick-and-mortars), new locations, and announcements is a pretty fun part of putting the magazine together. Readers get pretty excited about these sorts of developments.

Anyway, they're hosting their first public open house this Friday, December 1st, and in today's column in The News-Gazette's non-existent Food + Drink section, they revealed the names and concepts of the first five food vendors that will be serving there. Broadway opens sometime after the 1st's open house, though, this is just second hand reporting:

— King Kuma, run by Shai Mauth, features Hawaiian poke and sushi.

— La Royale, run by Rick Lun, sells breakfast items, typical diner fare and California-style hamburgers.

— Nation, also run by Mauth, is a modern deli counter that sells a variety of sandwiches.

— Muchacho, another Mauth product, offers Korean rice bowls.

— Sunny's, run by Jenny Chen, is a counter restaurant that sells salads.

No menus or photos about the food or the vendors seem to be available, just some basic text on a webpage without much elaboration.

We'll see how things shape up, and what that review looks like coming from The News-Gazette.


Broadway Food Hall hosting first public open house December 1st

Here's your chance to check out Broadway Food Hall in Urbana, which was announced to open this fall, at their initial open house on December 1st. 

Here's the information from the Facebook event:

We are opening our doors to the public for the very first time! Come join us on Friday evening for a sneak peek of the space. Grab a drink or two on us and meet the team behind Champaign-Urbana's first food hall!


Visit Champaign County announces Restaurant Week 2018: January 26th-February 3rd

Visit Champaign County has announced the 2018 installment of Restaurant Week, which will take place January 26th-February 3rd, 2018.

Last year we dove in with coverage, and be sure to follow along as we'll post updates in the coming months about menus and participating restaurants, as well as our recaps throughout the week here on the site and on Instagram

Follow along at their Facebook event.

Here's the press release:

Visit Champaign County Spotlights Local Cuisine During Second Annual Restaurant Week

Champaign, IL – Fresh off Champaign-Urbana’s win as Midwest Living’s Greatest Midwest Food Town, Visit Champaign County will once again be showcasing the rich culinary scene in the greater Champaign County area with the return of Restaurant Week.

The second annual Champaign County Area Restaurant Week, held January 26–February 3, 2018, encourages residents and visitors to discover new restaurants, flavors, and dishes during this week-long celebration.

“The food scene in this community continues to amaze residents and visitors alike,” states Terri Reifsteck, Vice President of Marketing from Visit Champaign County. “We saw the community’s passion for our area restaurants on full display when we were campaigning for the Greatest Midwest Food Town. Now that we have that designation, we’ll have thousands more discovering what makes us a delicious destination, and Restaurant Week is the ideal time to try those establishments that are doing amazing things with local flavors.”

After a successful first year with eighteen participating restaurants, Visit Champaign County hopes to expand the number of participants. In 2017, thousands enjoyed dishes ranging from fine, Italian cuisine to freshly made pie in Amish country.

The 2018 Champaign County Area Restaurant Week will offer lunch and dinner specials at participating restaurants within the communities served by Visit Champaign County, including all of Champaign County, Monticello and Arthur. Diners will be able to select from prix-fixe lunch menus starting at $9, or dinner menus at $19, $29 or $39 per person. Restaurants may feature a special menu for the week or offer their discounts on existing menu items. Diners can also participate in an Instagram contest, sharing their pictures and experiences with #CCRestaurantWeek for a chance to win a $100 gift card to their Champaign County area restaurant of choice.

Visit Champaign County is in the process of recruiting area restaurants to participate in the event. As restaurants become available, diners can find information at Restaurants looking for information should contact Terri Reifsteck at 217-351-4133 or


Urbana’s Landmark Hotel is going up for auction December 11th

Back in June, Urbana’s Landmark Hotel renovation project was deemed “not feasible” — which while upsetting to some, would've placed a massive financial burden on the City of Urbana. This morning, the City issued this press release which announces the hotel will go up for auction on December 11th.

While someone related, check out Andrew's look at Lincoln Square that recently published in Culture.

From the press release:

For Immediate Release – October 30, 2017

Hotel up for Auction in December

The City of Urbana has been notified by real estate broker Amber Hotel Company that the Urbana Landmark Hotel will be put up for auction beginning December 11, 2017.

Mayor Diane Marlin said that now is the time for those with transformative ideas for this area to step forward.

“The location is outstanding and could be put to many vibrant uses—especially with the upcoming MCORE reconstruction of Green Street that will lead people directly from campus to the doorstep of the hotel property in the heart of downtown Urbana,” Marlin said.  “It’s time to re-envision the entire nine square blocks that’s the site of Lincoln Square, the Landmark Hotel, and several public parking lots.  We need to be imaginative and bold and develop this site in a way that will serve us for the next 50 years.” 

The fifth and final phase of the estimated $31.2 million $46.9 million Multimodal Corridor Enhancement (MCORE) project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019 completed in 2020 and will reconstruct Green Street from the edge of the University of Illinois campus to Race Street in Downtown Urbana.

California-based Amber Hotel Company listed the hotel property for auction on the real estate website Ten-X Commercial. The listing page shows a minimum bid of $350,000 and a refundable participation deposit of $10,000.

The Urbana Landmark Hotel, 201 S Race St, is currently closed. Hotel owner Xiao Jin Yuan purchased the property in 2010 for $600,000. After making improvements and reopening most of the hotel rooms, Yuan returned over $1 million in incentives to the City after failing to also reopen the hotel’s restaurant and conference center as part of a development agreement.  Yuan closed the hotel in April 2016.


Diane Marlin

Mayor, City of Urbana


Brandon Boys

Economic Development Manager, City of Urbana


Top photo by Justine Bursoni.


Here’s the lineup for Hogchute Opry Harvest, taking place October 14th

Hogchute Opry (the summer edition, and their fall edition called Hogchute Harvest) is one of the best series to take place all year in the area, hands down. They're announcing Hogchute Opry Harvest will take place Saturday, October 14th at Kalyx Center in Monticello. As someone who has attended both of these events — I highly recommend checking it out.

This year's lineup includes ZXO, Tractor Kings, Walt Falbo & the Falbonauts, and many more listed below.

Just make a quick search to see our coverage in the past.

Here's all the information about the event from their Facebook event:

Hogchute Opry Harvest

October 14, 2017

Kalyx Center for Sustainability

Monticello, IL

Hogchute Opry Harvest is back for it's 2nd year, and we couldn't be more excited to get back to the Kalyx Center barn out in the woods! We're proud to be welcoming a whole slew of newcomers to this year's bill (keep your eyes on this bunch!) as well as some of our faithful and wisened Hogchute alums. Dont miss out on one of the area's most unique and intimate music events: music, bonfires, camping, and more for the "unreasonably low" price of $15.
Featuring the music of:
Colonel James Presents
The Dry Look
Fiona Kimble Music
Jack Anthony Johnston
Lonely Trailer
Patriot Patrol
Rebekah Songer
Tractor Kings
Walt Falbo & the Falbonauts
... and a special edition of our open-jam styled Singer/Songwriter Snakepit in the barn before the show. Bring an instrument and show us what you've got!
Of course it wouldn't be the Hogchute Opry without special performances by these guys:
Hogchute's Poet Laureate and MC, Sean Lamkin
Central Illinois' hottest DJ, Horsecorn Cole & His Country '45s
More details and extras to be announced soon!
---> LOCATION <---
The Opry will be held at the Kalyx Center for Sustainability, near Monticello, IL. The Kalyx Center is located just outside of Allerton Park, but is set back from the road in the woods, so it may be difficult to find for the uninitiated. There will be signs pointing the way, but we suggest you follow these directions from Bill to find the place:
From Champaign - Urbana, take Church St, in Champaign westbound onto I-72. (not I-74) Exit 166..It's the first exit for Monticello (marked "Market St. - IL 105")
Take Market St./IL 105 through two stop LIGHTS to the first stop SIGN. (corner of the ugly County Market)
Turn right onto Marion St., and go to the end (a "T" intersection by a golf course)
Turn left onto Allerton Road, and go about 3 miles, then past
Allerton Park, to another "T"
Turn right onto 1300 North Rd. and look for the Kalyx Center sign
after about 3/4 mile on the right side of the road.
---> CAMPING, FOOD, ETC. <----
The backwoods roads of Piatt County can be perilous at night even to seasoned veterans, so we encourage you all to bring a tent and camp out. There's no additional cost, and the fun usually continues around the bonfire after hours. Our friend Fusilli Tony's Italian Food will be out there to serve up some food, but you're also welcome to bring your own to grill or throw on the fire. If you're musically inclined, feel free to bring out an instrument to pick on. Get there early and stake out your claims, pioneers!