SPRINGFIELD – Ever the strong, silent type, it was difficult to get comments from Mike Glines about his experience participating in the National High School Rodeo Championships.
Oh yeah, it's a hoot when a demolition or a renovation job uncovers a time capsule somebody stuck in the cornerstone of a building a century or so ago. Those vintage newspapers, fading pictures, antique coins and the like inside are interesting. Things sure have changed.
But nothing like the changes you see when you open a 20,000-year-old time capsule.
HOMER LAKE – Coming soon to a forest preserve near you – a wetlands.
The Champaign County Forest Preserve District is the only Midwestern agency to win a Five Star Restoration Challenge Grant from the National Association of Counties.
FISHER – They're scooping Japanese beetles up by the bucketsful in the Fisher area.
In pockets all over the state, the voracious iridescent beetles – the subject of environmental landmark publication "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson – are driving homeowners and farmers crazy. They're stripping trees and flowers, they're clipping corn silks and they're doing significant economic damage to gardeners' food crops too.
When Allerton Park Foreman Larry Corum was growing up in Urbana in the 1950s, he remembers a long archway of elm trees that were planted through the University of Illinois campus.
When Dutch elm disease invaded East Central Illinois during that decade, Corum said, the disease killed most of the trees and destroyed the archway.
MAHOMET – Jim Gallivan looked across the larger of two lakes at the River Bend Forest Preserve on Saturday and could see the piles of sand and gravel that were his livelihood for decades.
"It's really a good day," said the 81-year-old Champaign man, who along with the family of his late business partner, Harold O'Neil of Danville, donated the land for the first forest preserve to be opened in Champaign County in more than 20 years.
CHAMPAIGN – Seed companies have become a hot commodity as biotechnology giants seek more ways to get their crop-genetics technology to market.
During the last decade, Monsanto Co. acquired Asgrow and DeKalb Genetics. DuPont absorbed Pioneer Hi-Bred. And Syngenta acquired NK, Garst and Golden Harvest seeds.
MAHOMET – Rick Kumler splits his days between fishing in a clear blue lake and getting physical therapy for injuries from a motorcycle accident.
He prefers the fishing at River Bend Forest Preserve, which gets its formal opening Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. River Bend is due south of Mahomet, just off Illinois 47.
ST. JOSEPH – A former corn and beans field on the west edge of St. Joseph is being turned into a restored wetlands area that may some day attract marsh-loving creatures like blue-winged teal and great blue herons.
Bruce Stikkers, a resource conservationist at the Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District, has been leading workers in the transformation that he predicts will become a natural attraction and living laboratory for local students.
Some roads were flooded in Douglas County this morning after storms brought tornadoes, high winds and heavy rains on Wednesday.
But the storms throughout East Central Illinois – including at least seven confirmed tornadoes – caused no injuries and little damage, officials said.