Board votes to join effort to protect Mahomet aquifer

URBANA — Without discussion, the Champaign County Board approved spending up to $14,000 to join a consortium of governments and groups that is petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to designate the Mahomet Aquifer as a sole-source aquifer.

The motion yielded yes votes from 13 of the 18 board members at Thursday night's meeting.

The county thus joins the cities of Champaign, Urbana, Delavan and Gilman, the town of Normal, the University of Illinois, and the villages of Savoy, Mansfield and Mahomet in asking for the EPA designation that, according to promoters, would provide added protections for the aquifer that lies beneath a large section of central Illinois. It would require analysis of any proposed federally funded projects and any potential negative impacts on the aquifer.

Also Thursday, board Chairman Alan Kurtz completed appointments to various leadership positions on the board: Ralph Langenheim as assistant deputy chairman for justice and social services, James Quisenberry as vice chairman of the county facilities committee and Lloyd Carter as vice chairman of highway and transportation. All three are Urbana Democrats and will replace three other Democrats who turned down appointments two weeks ago.

Board members also approved re-establishing a county community justice task force that will meet between Jan. 15 and June 30 and work with the county's jail-needs assessment consultant on a jail and criminal justice study.

All members who previously served on the task force are eligible to return, and new members will be appointed by Jan. 15. Completed applications, which are available at the county board office at the Brookens Center in Urbana and online, are due by Jan. 4.

The board approved the appointments of Deborah Townsend and Julian Rappaport to the county mental health board and Don Uchtman to the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District board.

Also Thursday, board members gave final approval to a plan to consolidate nine polling places near the University of Illinois campus into a single voting station at the Illini Union for the municipal elections on Feb. 26 and April 3.

The plan is expected to save the county between $8,000 and $10,000 and make it easier for officials to publicize voting among UI students. Municipal elections traditionally draw minimal participation from student voters.

The affected precincts are City of Champaign 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8, and Cunningham 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Four of the board's 22 members were absent: Republicans Stan Harper, Jon Schroeder and Gary Maxwell, and Democrat James Quisenberry.

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