Committee begins to forecast effects of water usage

RANTOUL – For those who are concerned about all the water used to create ethanol from corn, a consultant said Monday, consider how much more water might be used to make even more corn for ethanol.

Jack Wittman is the president of Wittman Hydro Planning Associates of Bloomington, Ind., the consultant firm hired by the East Central Illinois Regional Water Supply Planning Committee to work up supply projections for the area. The planners and residents of Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties met at the Rantoul Public Library on Monday afternoon.

Lock and dam system getting attention

PEORIA – Rick Granados describes the river he tends as a "one-lane highway," carrying Illinois resources to the world.

Granados, a navigation manager for the Army Corps of Engineers based at Rock Island, said his corps office is in charge of maintenance of locks and dams on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers to make barge traffic possible, an infrastructure he said is in need of attention.

Rain garden makes lovely solution to costly problem

Faced with a $15,000 storm sewer fee, planners of the new Land of Lincoln building came up with an alternative:

Build a new "rain garden" in what was a drainage ditch, saving rainwater for plants instead of the sewer.

Piatt County Board clears way for corn-processing plant

MONTICELLO – A group of Sangamon Township homeowners in Piatt County say they will not stop protesting plans for the Clarkson Grain/El Milagro corn-processing plant at White Heath.

The Piatt County Board granted a special-use permit to Clarkson Grain on Tuesday that greenlights the $20 million plant.

12 rescued horses being treated; final fate unknown

CHARLESTON – Twelve horses are being individually treated after being found on a farm with 14 decomposing horse carcasses and as many as 60 horses without access to water.

The horses, owned by Ernest Rose of Charleston, are in safe houses, said Coles County Animal Rescue and Education Center manager Julie Deters.

Hog farm considered for site in Lodge

LODGE – While a grass-roots organization helped prevent construction of the El Milagro/Clarkson Grain corn processing plant in Lodge, an alternative – a hog farm – might make the odor from the plant's proposed wastewater lagoon seem palatable.

"There will be a smell, with the wind coming from the southwest, and (Lodge citizens) will be right next to it," said Tenna Knox. "This is agriculturally zoned, so we don't have to (apply for a special-use permit) as long as we do not exceed the number of hogs per acre."

51st Agronomy Day looks to the future

URBANA – In 1991, Ellery Knake donned an Uncle Sam hat and brandished a fake firearm to dramatize the "shotgun marriage" between farmers and the government.

In another classic Agronomy Day performance at the University of Illinois' South Farm, Marshall McGlamery wore a badge and stood on his head to get across his message – police your fields or lawless weeds will steal your profits.

Farmers differ on bill, but all want safety net

PESOTUM – Not even farmers agree on the legislation that governs their industry. But as Congress considers revamping the farm bill, many agree that one thing that should remain is help in bad times.

Eric Rund said he's disappointed in the House proposal for a new farm bill because it's more of the same.

UI's demolition clock ticks for old barn, home

CHAMPAIGN – Don Maxwell's old barn and home still stand near the corner of South First Street and Old Church Road, but the clock's ticking.

"They're tearing down the machine shed and the corn crib," said Maxwell, who lost his farmland in 2003 when he finally struck a deal with the University of Illinois, which used eminent domain powers to get it.

Researchers monitor cardinals' activity by listening to songs

Dave Enstrom can tell when sex is going on in the neighborhood by the sounds picked up from the tiny microphones he's planted on his randy subjects.

When they're doing "it," they invariably sing, whether it's really, really good or not.