Ameren pleased with gas plant site investigation

CHAMPAIGN – Contamination from a former manufactured gas plant at Fifth and Hill streets has spread off site in all four directions, but generally by less than 100 feet and only 150 feet at its furthest point, according to AmerenIP.

Ameren officials said they were pleased with the findings of their latest site investigation report, which came after they drilled 45 new soil borings around and on the 3.5-acre site this past April and May. Results showed that the contamination has not spread far and most of it is at least three feet underground, where the public is less likely to be exposed through inhalation of dust or direct contact with soil, said Brian Martin, an Ameren consulting environmental scientist.

Ecology will come first at couple's planned Champaign store

CHAMPAIGN – Wendi and Bart Lindsay started their own eco-lifestyle at home.

Now they plan to open a store in downtown Champaign that will help other people find products – from baby diapers to housewares – that are earth-friendly.

The new store, to be called B. Lime, is set to open in November in a redeveloped building – which itself is undergoing a green construction makeover – at the northwest corner of Hickory and Washington streets.

Internships made summer a learning experience for teens

James Clifton and Karolina Kalbarczyk could have spent more time at the pool this summer. They could have watched more TV or spent the daylight hours hanging out with friends.

Instead, they spent their summer among scientists, playing a part – albeit a small one – in helping cure cancer.

Low-cost spay, neuter clinic for pets to be held Saturday

URBANA – The Central Illinois Animal Welfare Coalition will hold its second low-cost feline spay/neuter clinic of the year Saturday.

The one-day clinic is being held by appointment at two locations: the Champaign County Humane Society, 1911 E. Main St., U, and the nearby Champaign County Animal Services Facility, 10 S. Art Bartell Road.

Records show Rantoul's White Hall now on its fifth owner

RANTOUL – The largest building on the former Chanute Air Force Base has a new owner.

According to records at the Champaign County Assessor's office, White Hall has been bought by a company listed as Future Planning Credit Services, 1 Eves Drive, Suite 111, Marlton, N.J.

Residents begin campaigns to save Kickapoo State Park

DANVILLE – The governor's plan to close Kickapoo State Park this year has sparked a groundswell of protests among area residents and visitors alike – including one from an 11-year-old girl.

Ryce Tuggle, a sixth-grade student at Oakwood Elementary School, is one of several hundred people fighting to keep the state park open and has planned an informational picket and walk for Saturday to raise support.

Tuscola begins growing biocrops to lure biofuel industry

TUSCOLA – There's more than grass growing by the Tuscola sewer plant.

If city officials are successful, that grass could someday sprout into the foundation for a new energy-fueled economy.

Topflight Grain lowers area's corn-yield projections for 2008

BEMENT – After two consecutive years of proclaiming "monstrous" corn yields for the area, officials at Topflight Grain are projecting slightly lower yields for 2008.

Teams of crop scouts sampling the corn population at random fields throughout Piatt, Champaign, Macon, Moultrie and Douglas counties between Friday and Tuesday for the 25th annual Topflight Grain Crop Tour found corn yields down a little from last year.

Strong market for crops helps raise area real estate values

URBANA – Illinois farmland is more valuable than ever before, according to a University of Illinois Extension study released Monday.

The average value of farm real estate in Illinois rose from $4,330 an acre in 2007 to $5,000 in 2008, according to Dale Lattz, a UI Extension farm management specialist who prepared the report based on data from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Champaign arborist says insect could cause $1.7 million in damage to ash trees

CHAMPAIGN – The emerald ash borer is getting closer to Champaign County and, if it makes its way here, fully 10 percent of the urban tree canopy in Champaign is at risk, according to Champaign city arborist Bill Vander Weit.

Vander Weit, in a short presentation to the city council Tuesday night, said that ash trees make up 10.5 percent of all the trees in Champaign and number about 2,200.