READY Program team wins $10,000 in Lexus Eco Challenge

CHAMPAIGN – The environmental measures initiated by students at the READY Program – turning off lights when no one is in the room, laminating hall passes to save paper, recycling whatever they can – are probably saving the school some pennies.

But they've also brought in some real money to the school and the students.

Catlin postpones infrastructure exam to allow for more review

CATLIN – Village officials said Tuesday they want to review drainage-district records prior to having village engineers assess the storm water drainage infrastructure on the village's south side.

Catlin Village Board members recently had a contractor remove overgrowth, dig out silt buildups and clear drainage culverts underneath driveways in the ditches that run near Sandusky, Burgess, Paris, Harrison and Lookout streets.

Vermilion County's Toddling into Nature camps set this week

DANVILLE – The Vermilion County Conservation District will offer Toddling into Nature programs for children ages 3, 4 and 5 at Kennekuk County Park.

The programs will include songs, activities, games and more. Parents, grandparents or guardians will also be participants in the camp designed to connect younger children to the outdoor world.

Vermilion County committee focuses on plan for wind farms

DANVILLE – Vermilion County officials forged ahead Monday with their first discussion on how to regulate the potential construction of wind-turbine farms in the absence of a countywide zoning system.

Several wind-turbine companies are seriously considering the county for development of alternative-energy farms, but the county is different from other counties where wind farms already exist because Vermilion has no zoning.

Chanute agency told Air Force pulling out of project

RANTOUL – The Air Force is likely pulling out of a proposed joint project with the village to improve drainage in south Rantoul and to backfill an excavation area.

As a result, the cost of developing land by the Rantoul airport for new industries has gone up – by as much as $600,000.

Ford County Board gives final clearance for wind farm

PAXTON – Ford County's first wind farm project has gained final approval for construction of 96 wind turbines in Rogers Township, the county's northernmost township.

Ford County Board members approved an application by K4 Wind Farm LLC for a special-use permit on Monday. The company, which has spent more than two years in the planning stages, previously gained approval from both the county's zoning and plan commissions.

UI agricultural economist says prices reflect possible recession

CHAMPAIGN – Just as the rise of ethanol prices helped to fuel increased income for farmers over the past two years, a University of Illinois economist said the recent drop in ethanol prices may be leading to an agricultural recession that has already cut the prices of crops in half.

UI Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics Scott Irwin said his studies indicate that the fortunes of farmers are now more closely connected to the prices paid at the gas pumps than to changes in prices paid at the grocery stores.

Feeling the Pinch: Backyard bounty can lower grocery bills

CHAMPAIGN – In tough economic times, a garden harvest can help a family get through the winter.

On the east side of Champaign, 79-year-old homemaker Nina Sibley estimates she saves more than $300 a year by freezing vegetables grown in her gardens.

Season of hope: Retail consultant thinks holiday sales will increase

Despite some predictions that holiday sales will drop this year, a Chicago retail consultant predicts they'll rise 1.7 percent.

That's less than last year's 2.2 percent increase or the long-term average of 4 percent, said John Melaniphy III, executive vice president of Melaniphy & Associates.

Five businesses looking to grow

Panelists outlined expansion plans for five companies at an International Council of Shopping Centers program last week.

Here's what Jimmy John's, CVS, Busey Bank, Aldi and Verizon Wireless are planning.