URBANA — Champaign County Board members unanimously approved a 30-turbine wind farm for a rural area in the northeastern part of the county north of Royal.
The 30 turbines are part of a larger development, known as the California Ridge Farm, that also extends into Vermilion County where more than 100 turbines will be built.
Kevin Parzyck, vice president of development for Chicago-based Invenergy LLC, said construction has begun in Vermilion County but likely won't start in Champaign County until next spring. Between 150 and 200 workers could be employed during peak construction season, Parzyck said.
"We're very pleased with the vote tonight," he said. "We appreciate all the hard work of the (zoning board of appeals) and the county board."
The board also unanimously approved a road contract between the county and Invenergy, detailing improvements to be made to roads in northeastern Champaign County.
Also Thursday the board approved three separate proposals to help the cash-strapped nursing home, which owes vendors more than $3 million because of late payments from the state and federal governments. The board voted to issue $850,000 in tax anticipation warrants, to study issuing potentially millions of dollars in revenue anticipation notes and to renew a $333,142 loan made to the nursing home in 2008.
The board also approved a resolution asking U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, to name the federal courthouse in Urbana for the late James R. Burgess, a former Champaign County state's attorney and federal prosecutor. The vote was 18-9, with six of the "no" votes coming from Democrats Pattsi Petrie, Giraldo Rosales, Astrid Berkson, Tom Betz, Lloyd Carter and Ralph Langenheim. The three Republicans voting no were Ron Bensyl, Steve Moser and Diane Michaels.
In other action, the board approved a $31.5 million general corporate fund budget for the year beginning Dec. 1. The budget is 2 percent greater than the current year's spending plan.
Board members also approved by voice vote a four-year contract extension with County Administrator Deb Busey. Under the agreement Busey, now paid $125,000 a year, would get annual raises of 3 percent plus a deferred compensation package.
Two board Democrats, Carol Ammons and Pattsi Petrie, spoke out against the contract extension. Ammons said the county couldn't afford the contract and Petrie said she did not want to commit a future board to an extended contract.
But a number of other board members, Republican and Democrat, praised Busey's work.
Republican Steve Moser said Busey is doing work that two administrators used to do, and that the county is getting a bargain. Democrat Tom Betz said Busey's compensation package is less than many in comparable positions in other counties.