Wetlands wild

Not far from the Middle Fork River, Lake Vermilion and Lake Mingo, you'll find places where the ground is underwater too.

Area update: Villa Grove residents bring water concerns to council

VILLA GROVE — About 20 residents addressed the city council with concerns about the quality of their water and the possibility of contracting with an outside company to provide water for the city.

"I can assure you that the first thing on our mind is your health and safety," said Mayor Pro Tem Ron Hunt.

PechaKucha: Slices of life

Since the first PechaKucha Night Champaign-Urbana in 2009, the presentations have moved from the professional to the more personal.

Love in the air

Summer's the perfect time to spend a magical moment with a significant other at a romantic spot. Though surrounded by corn and soybeans, this area has plenty of them. Our five recommendations, courtesy of staff writer Melissa Merli:

Lake effect

Heron County Park


Sandra Mason: Cultivate curiosity

Every spring, I yearn for their return. And my worry builds every time I stare at my unattended hummingbird feeders.

Then one day, a flash of red and green appears, and my friends the hummers have once more successfully traveled thousands of miles from central America across land and water to make it back to my house.

Spraying for mosquitoes bugging some

TUSCOLA — Spraying in the summertime to keep mosquitoes under control is something his hometown has done for as far back as Tuscola City Administrator Drew Hoel can remember.

The spray truck of yesteryear would leave a billowing fog in its wake.

"I remember being out on my bicycle, and you would give it a wide berth," Hoel recalled.

Exelon sends NRC notice of intent to close Clinton, Quad Cities plants

CLINTON — Exelon Corp. has formally notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it has decided to close the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear stations in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

In its "Certification of Permanent Cessation" letter sent to the NRC, Exelon said that it plans to close the 29-year-old Clinton plant "due to deteriorating economics" by June 1, 2017.

At war with the beavers

LODA — Wearing rubber boots and armed with a hand-held cultivator tool, Jon Boone ventures out into a heavily forested area just south of the township road that the locals call the Loda Slab.

The 63-year-old, tall, gray-bearded man leads the way through 6-foot-high prairie grass, using his tool to create a path for a trailing reporter.

Dynegy awaits OK to stabilize river bank near coal ash ponds

NEWTOWN — Dynegy Inc. officials are awaiting governmental permission to stabilize an eroding bank where the Middle Fork River is carving away at the earth that holds back ponds full of coal ash left over from the company's now-shuttered Vermilion Power Station.

Area update: Piatt, DeWitt counties may share tax assessor position

MONTICELLO — Piatt County may share an assessor with neighboring DeWitt County if the latter's board approves the action at Thursday's meeting.

Paula Bates, Piatt's supervisor of assessments, resigned her position in March to become the assessor for Champaign County.