Wines of Illinois vie for medals in state fair competition

URBANA – The judges lift their glasses to the light. They swirl, smell and swish their wine, testing it with their eyes, noses and taste buds.

Then they spit.

Ameren, residents hold dueling open houses about cleanup

CHAMPAIGN – M.D. Pelmore of Champaign fears his frequent headaches and congestion are a result of contamination from a nearby former manufactured-gas plant site.

"I've lived in this neighborhood for 29 years, and, when it rains, I get a strange, terrible smell that comes out of the ground," said Pelmore, 72. "Other people in the neighborhood are getting the same headaches and congestion I've been experiencing."

AmerenIP to answer questions about gas plant cleanup

CHAMPAIGN – AmerenIP will be holding an open house Monday evening at the Fifth and Hill site of a former manufactured gas plant, which is slated for a multimillion-dollar cleanup.

The open house at 308 N. Fifth St. will be from 4 to 7 p.m.

It's not your imagination; this spring was fifth-wettest

CHAMPAIGN – If you're beginning to think an ark is the best choice for transportation, you're not far off.

Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey reports Champaign-Urbana is in the midst of its fifth-wettest spring on record.

Veteran ACES dean named interim provost at UI

URBANA – A veteran dean who continues to teach and do research was designated interim provost at the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois on Tuesday.

Robert A. Easter, the dean of the UI College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, has the job, pending approval by the board of trustees at its July 22 meeting in Chicago.

Input sought on plans for Sangamon River preserve

MAHOMET – As part of a grant-application process, the Champaign County Forest Preserve District is seeking public comment about proposed improvements to the Sangamon River Forest Preserve.

The district is applying for an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant. If approved, the money would be used for picnic facilities, hiking trails and interpretive signs, accessibility modifications including sidewalk and lighting improvements, and restoration of natural areas, including prairie and savanna.

Urbana's battery recycling program requires a charge

URBANA – The city's battery recycling program, not quite 2 years old, won't continue beyond July 1 unless the city council adds $10,000 to the proposed city budget.

Interstate Battery System of Champaign-Urbana, 2504 N. Mattis Ave., C, had been recycling alkaline and rechargeable batteries for Urbana for free since November 2007. But the company notified the city last week that it would no longer continue to accept batteries from the city, said Rod Fletcher, Urbana's environmental manager.

Ex-Champaign man a step closer to DNR confirmation

SPRINGFIELD – Former Champaign resident Marc Miller, who in February was appointed head of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, was confirmed Thursday by the Senate Executive Appointments Committee. His appointment now moves to the full Senate.

Miller's nomination was approved 8-0.

Danville mayor seeks members for 'green' committee

DANVILLE – The city is looking for a few green men, and women, who believe in making Danville a more energy-efficient community.

"I just feel like now is really the time," said Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, who is actively recruiting community members to serve on a committee that will research ways the city can be more green.

East Central Illinois planting under way in earnest


Planters are being filled with seed, the tractors are rolling and area farmers are putting in long hours.

"We've had six days in a row without any precipitation," Illinois state climatologist Jim Angel said Friday. And that's "about as good as it's gotten for this growing season," he said.