Puppies seized from farm in rural Arthur

ARTHUR – Douglas and Macon County animal control officials seized 55 dogs and puppies being raised at an alleged puppy mill at a rural Arthur farm on Friday morning.

At least three of the 55 dogs were pregnant.

Local farmer touts benefits of adding miscanthus to list of crops

CHAMPAIGN – An area farmer who has been growing miscanthus for three years said the crop isn't quite as profitable as corn, but it can be significantly more profitable than soybeans.

But, in order for miscanthus to become a viable crop, ethanol plants that burn the product need to build locally to establish a market for it.

Groups announce formation of Renewable Energy Alliance

URBANA – A group of more than 120 organizations, schools, local governments and businesses are banding together to increase public and private use of renewable energy sources in Illinois.

Leaders of the movement announced the formation of the 25x'25 Illinois Renewable Energy Alliance on Thursday during the University of Illinois Agronomy Day at the South Farms.

Ameren begins signups for second year of 'hardship grants'

CHAMPAIGN – Imagine getting this power bill in the mail: "Past due amount: $26,000."

Heating and cooling a 200-room shelter and food pantry isn't cheap. Just ask Restoration Urban Ministries, which has struggled to meet its monthly bill ever since electric rates shot up in early 2007.

The nonprofit received a special "hardship grant" through a rate-relief program negotiated last year, and it will be among the first to apply again this fall.

Report: Contamination found off site of coal gasification plant

CHAMPAIGN – A neighborhood-rights campaign continues to put pressure on AmerenIP to clean up a contaminated former manufactured-gas plant site at Fifth and Hill streets, contending the site poses a greater health risk than is being presented to the public.

Meanwhile, AmerenIP officials say that a nearly completed site-investigation report, already presented to the state in draft form, shows that contamination of soil and groundwater has spread off-site to the north, east and west, with off-site groundwater contamination to the south.

WILL radio plans Digital Information Fair, open house Sunday

URBANA – WILL radio will have a Digital Information Fair and Open House from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Campbell Hall for Public Telecommunication, 300 N. Goodwin Ave., U.

The free event will allow listeners to talk to the experts on the WILL technical team: News-Gazette columnist Rich Warren and David Harris of Harris TV and Appliances in Farmer City.

Delays force Champaign high-rises to postpone move-ins

CHAMPAIGN – First, Brian Davidson signed a lease for an apartment in a new luxury campus high-rise on Green Street known as the "Whopper."

Then, last April, two of his roommates backed out. So Roland Realty let Davidson transfer his lease to a smaller apartment building under construction at 54 E. Chalmers St.

As it turned out, neither building will be ready Friday, the original occupancy date. The Whopper, in fact, has a giant crane sitting on top of it.

DACC trustees OK $1 million loan for campus upgrades

DANVILLE – Danville Area Community College trustees on Tuesday took another step toward issuing $1 million in bonds to make much-needed improvements to technology across campus.

Trustees authorized the college to enter into a $1 million debt certificate, or installment loan, with First Financial Bank in Ridge Farm, which is offering an annual interest rate of 2.6 percent. By law, the college must show debt before it can proceed with a bond sale.

Rantoul Chamber of Commerce selects its new director

RANTOUL – Lifelong Rantoul resident Chris Kaler has been named to succeed Joe Bolser as executive director of the Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce.

Kaler was selected from among five applicants, said Jeff Banister, president of the chamber of commerce board of directors. "It came down to two. We felt Chris was the right person for the job."

Police ramping up safe-driving campaign in run-up to Labor Day

Illinois officials warn drivers that extra patrols will be watching for drunken driving and other unsafe practices during the upcoming holiday period.

More than 200 agencies, including state and local police, will participate in a crackdown on impaired driving through a $1.8 million program funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation.