Official: Tuscola ethanol plant a go

TUSCOLA – Cargill officials confirmed they have purchased land west of Tuscola and plan to start construction of an ethanol plant by fall.

The purchase from Betty Bell Hill, Robert D. Hill and Susanna Hill was made by Cargill and its spinoff subsidiary, Emerald Renewable Resources. Emerald is the company charged with building up to five ethanol plants across the Midwest.

Lodge residents receive info on new plant

LODGE – Groans and raised eyebrows greeted representatives from Clarkson Grain during a public meeting to discuss bringing a corn-processing plant to a 40-acre site in Lodge.

The plant would be used to process corn to make tortillas and corn chips.

Fishing OK again on Heritage Lake

RANTOUL – Uncle Sam says it's OK to bring your fishing pole back to Heritage Lake.

Air Force Real Property Agency Environmental Coordinator Paul Carroll announced Thursday that the Air Force has removed restrictions on fishing at the manmade lake, located on the southeast side of the former Chanute Air Force Base.

Having a hot time with horseradish

URBANA – Emily Cox drafted adventurous friends and classmates to help her finish her pungent second-semester project.

"It makes your scalp tingle," said Caitlin Ramsey, a graduating University of Illinois physics major who stopped by Cox's recent horseradish taste test on the UI Quad. Participants sampled horseradish Cox made from five different cultivars grown by doctoral candidate Mark Uchanski, who has discovered a way to cure a devastating horseradish disease.

EPA: Chanute cleanup funding diverted to Iraq war

RANTOUL – The war in Iraq has affected the Air Force's ability to clean up Chanute Air Force Base, according to a state environmental leader responsible for remediation of federal sites in Illinois.

Clarence L. Smith, federal site remediation manager for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, told the Chanute Redevelopment Commission on Wednesday that Department of Defense money that otherwise would have gone toward the base's cleanup has been diverted toward the war effort.

Stuck valve causes ammonia leak in southwest Champaign

CHAMPAIGN – Valves frozen open on an anhydrous ammonia tank in a farm field west of town created a cloud over a portion of southwest Champaign this morning.

Lt. Ed Ogle of the Champaign County sheriff's office said authorities learned about 7:40 a.m. that a cloud was over a farm field near the construction site of the Interstate 57 interchange with Curtis Road. The location was not far from the First Christian Church, 3601 S. Staley Road, C.

State officials sorting assets of defunct business

ROSSVILLE – Starting today, Illinois Department of Agriculture officials are meeting individually with farmers and creditors affected by Kaufman Grain Co. going out of business.

On April 26, the Department of Agriculture assumed control of Kaufman Grain's elevators in Rossville, Rankin and East Lynn. The company voluntarily surrendered its Illinois Grain Dealer's and Illinois Grain Warehouse licenses.

Area experts to speak about Salt Fork River project

CHAMPAIGN – University of Illinois Professors Clark Bullard and Bruce Rhoads will talk at 7 p.m. Wednesday about the effects of work on the Salt Fork River in Champaign County.

The talk takes place at Champaign County Democrats Headquarters, 14 E. Washington St., downtown Champaign. The function is the Democrats' May Meet-Up.

Bees dying in big numbers across nation, but not here

URBANA – Honeybees are dying off in massive numbers all over the nation, threatening crop production – but Illinois is a notable exception.

"We've escaped so far," said May Berenbaum, head of the Entomology Department at the University of Illinois, as well as author of several insect books.

Work begun to eliminate non-native trees at Weldon Springs

MONTICELLO – The Weldon Springs Recreational Area, which sits next to Allerton Park in Monticello, is in the midst of some cosmetic work.

Hunters and hikers may notice rings carved around hundreds, possibly thousands, of non-native trees. The process, known as girdling, prevents the spread of nutrients from the roots. Girdled trees gradually rot out, sometimes taking more than a decade to fall.