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CLINTON – A native patch of woods containing huge bur oak, white oak and shagbark hickory trees near Clinton is the first land gift received by a local foundation set up to restore and preserve the last bits of woods and prairie in east central Illinois.
The 87.6-acre tract of large canopy trees is two miles west of Clinton on Illinois 54. The land was given to the local Land Conservation Foundation by the Nature Conservancy. The Mettler family donated it to the Nature Conservancy in 1981.
CHAMPAIGN – The calendar says summer ended Thursday.
Weather experts say true summer is June, July and August.
RANTOUL – Susan Norris says she would love to see the day when there are no more homeless stray cats in Champaign County.
Norris, a 27-year-old University of Illinois librarian from Champaign, and her friends have formed a rescue organization dedicated to finding loving homes for cats and kittens, and to spaying and neutering felines in an effort to reduce the population of strays.
ROYAL – Students in the Prairieview Elementary School in Royal have written down their memories of Brandon Siuts, 8, who was struck and killed by a car while he was skateboarding on a visit to friends in Champaign over the weekend.
Brandon's third-grade classmates wrote good-bye letters to him on Tuesday and asked Principal Victor White for permission to release balloons after his funeral with notes to Brandon attached.
MONTICELLO – A caravan of four vehicles filled with building supplies, canned goods, waterproof tarps and school supplies arrived in Monticello, Miss., on Monday, delivered by residents of Monticello, Ill., who have adopted the southern Mississippi community in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
"We share more than simply a name," said Monticello, Ill., Mayor Bill Mitze on Friday. "We also share concern for the welfare of our fellow men, women and children."
In an age of $3 per gallon gas, how does this sound: Attach a device to your car, say a magnet on the fuel line, and voila.
Your gas mileage increases by 20 percent.
CHAMPAIGN – A Champaign City Council member thinks maybe it's time that bars and restaurants are treated the same when it comes to smoking.
Council member Ken Pirok sent an e-mail to fellow council members last week suggesting that bars should be treated the same as restaurants, which are required to be nonsmoking but are allowed to have a smoking section.
RANTOUL – The village is taking the first step toward removing some eyesores on the former Chanute Air Force Base and making land available for new business development.
Rantoul Village Administrator David Johnston said he has sent two letters to the Air Force requesting permission to demolish three substandard buildings near the intersection of Century Boulevard and Chandler Road.
CHAMPAIGN – Empty combat boots will mark the human cost of war in Iraq in exhibits here this weekend.
"Eyes Wide Open" includes 77 pairs of empty combat boots tagged with the names of Illinois soldiers who have died in the Iraq war, as well as a memorial to Iraqi civilians who have been killed.
MONTICELLO– For more than a century, people have used the Sangamon River near Monticello as a dumping ground.
Kim Erndt, watershed organizer for the Prairie Rivers Network, says the rolling river is littered with debris.
"Up and down the Sangamon River you'll see larger items, such as appliances, refrigerators, stoves, microwaves and televisions," said Erndt. "You'll find tires, furniture, trash and all sorts of stuff. A long time ago, a river was a place people went to dump stuff. People didn't take their stuff to the dump 20, 30 years ago; they took it to the river."
Some area residents intend to take the first step toward converting the Sangamon River once more into a clean waterway.