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CHAMPAIGN – Upset with Illinois Power's quality of service and reliability, top city officials with Champaign and Urbana have met several times with University of Illinois officials to explore what options they have, including the possibility of creating a municipal electric system.
Champaign City Manager Steve Carter said four or five such meetings have taken place in recent weeks and that, while the talks have not centered exclusively on the municipal power issue, that topic has been discussed extensively.
This month's massive electrical blackout was a wake-up call heralding the need for improvements, including federal oversight, in the nation's power transmission system, a University of Illinois professor says.
The good news: Transmission is a relatively small part of electricity bills, about 10 percent, said UI Professor George Gross. Capacity – new power-generating facilities – is the big cost and there was a healthy 25 percent margin left in the Northeast region hit by the blackout.
SPRINGFIELD – Attorney General Lisa Madigan has advised the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court to stay out of the debate over the University of Illinois' proposed sale of farmland near Allerton Park.
But the effect of the opinion on the potential sale depends on whom you ask. Proponents of the sale say Madigan's advice means it can go forward; opponents say they think the opinion would prevent the sale.
RANTOUL – The man who has been in charge of environmental cleanup efforts on the former Chanute Air Force Base has left for a different job.
Tim Brecheen, environmental coordinator for the Chanute Air Force Real Property Agency, left Rantoul last week to take another position within the federal government in the Northeast, according to Carl Sahre, public affairs spokesman for the agency.
DANVILLE – Liya Hussmann Rogers gets excited when someone from another community calls with questions about Vermilion County's Peer Court program.
"That means they're considering a program in their area," said Hussmann Rogers, executive director of the youth court program. "I think that the program can benefit kids everywhere, not just here."
MATTOON – An Iraqi explosive blew off his fingers and tore a hole in his shoulder, but Mattoon native Todd Rauch remains optimistic, his grandfather says.
Spc. Rauch, 20 years old and assigned to the 527th Military Police Company, was wounded early Aug. 21 while serving in Baghdad.
URBANA – Teachers at Urbana Middle School who looked forward to coming back to a completely remodeled school are trying to be cool about the current climate situation.
Some teachers and students are sweating in the new air-conditioned classrooms and school administrators are wearing jackets to keep warm in their offices, both conditions linked to the collapse of the climate control installer's business in the middle of the job.
CHAMPAIGN – JC Penney will reopen its store at Market Place Mall in Champaign next spring, according to the Plano, Texas, retailer.
The store will reopen in March, JC Penney spokesman Quinton Crenshaw said.
Thousands of years in the past, changes in the climate and weather may have had as much to do with outbreaks of large wildfires as the presence of ample fuel.
That means a Bush administration push to open protected lands to logging in the West wouldn't necessarily solve the fire problems plaguing the region in recent years, studies by University of Illinois researchers indicate.
DANVILLE – David Wiegand finds himself getting down to the wire on the "Touching Leaves" International Sculpture Show and Sale, which opens Saturday in downtown Danville.
Wiegand, owner of Sculptureworks, works with the artists to place their work in public libraries and shows across America.