Environmentally friendly bucket truck debuted in Champaign

CHAMPAIGN – Of course a city government would think about putting a "green" truck in its forestry division.

A hybrid bucket truck will be assigned to the division, said Elizabeth Hannan, administrative services manager for the city of Champaign.

VeraSun auctioning Tilton land as part of bankruptcy

TILTON – More than a year ago, VeraSun Energy Corp. bought more than 700 acres of farmland southwest of Tilton as part of its plan to expand its production of ethanol, but now that land is being offered at auction as part of the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

Vermilion County plans to drop its recycling program

DANVILLE – A myriad of funding factors have prompted Vermilion County Health Department officials to end the county's recycling program effective Oct. 31.

"It is purely a money issue," said Stephen Laker, administrator of the Vermilion County Health Department.

Lynn Wolgamot, coordinator of the recycling program, said it's just a very sad situation.

Monsanto exec: Ethanol still important energy source

CHAMPAIGN – The economics of corn-based ethanol aren't as bright as they were a few years ago, but the fuel still needs to be part of America's energy portfolio, a Monsanto Co. executive says.

"We were living in a pretty sweet spot a couple years ago," Martha Schlicher told about 70 people attending an "Agri-Energy" conference at Parkland College on Tuesday.

Fithian 18-year-old taking year to lead Illinois FFA

FITHIAN – This year, Amie Burke is getting a start on a career in agricultural education, but she's not heading off to college.

The 18-year-old Fithian resident is spending the year working with local FFA chapters and promoting ag education throughout the state as the 2009-10 Illinois FFA president.

Researchers step up efforts to exterminate ash borers

CHAMPAIGN – Don't give up on America's ash trees yet.

Even though an imported beetle poses grave danger to them, scientists are exploring solutions that, in time, may slow or stop the ravaging of the trees.

Cold snap threatens to set a record low

CHAMPAIGN – This weekend, you'll want to put away the swimsuit and find a sweatshirt.

Local weather records dating back a century or more could be in jeopardy because of an unusual mid-July cold snap.

Champaign may extend recycling to multifamily dwellings

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign apartment dweller Mary Flesher says she wants to recycle but seldom does.

She blames the fact that Champaign does not offer recycling to buildings with five or more apartments. She and her husband, David, live in a 12-unit apartment building at 607 W. Springfield Ave.

UI professor among 3 killed in car-train accident

SOMONAUK – A retired University of Illinois professor, his wife and a granddaughter were killed in a collision between their car and a passenger train in northern LaSalle County on Monday afternoon.

A release from LaSalle County Coroner Jodeen Bernard said Benjamin Rasmusen, 82, and his wife Marilyn Rasmusen, 81, both of Leland, were killed when the car they were in was hit by an Amtrak passenger train about 1½ miles west of Somonauk.

Urbana council explores small-business recycling

URBANA – Tom Bruno, a city councilman in Champaign, also has a law office and four apartments in Urbana.

He puts used paper and an "occasional soda can" from the office in recycle toters for the apartments.