Department of Energy formally ends FutureGen participation

The U.S. Energy Department finally fulfilled its word on FutureGen – by formally stating Friday that it won't help build the clean coal-burning power plant in Mattoon.

The word came to FutureGen Alliance CEO Michael Mudd in a letter from Energy Department contracting officer Keith R. Miles. It was obtained by The News-Gazette.

City reviewer finds no health threat at site

CHAMPAIGN – An independent report commissioned by the city of Champaign concludes there's no immediate health threat at the site of a former gas manufacturing plant.

Environmental consultant Nicholas Schneider based his findings on data collected so far from the 3.5-acre site at Fifth and Hill streets, AmerenIP's site investigation report and the utility's cleanup plan.

Leases secured on 2,400 acres for wind farm

PAXTON – One of the two wind-energy companies interested in bringing 180 turbines to Ford County has secured long-term leases with landowners for about 2,400 acres of farmland east of Paxton.

"We have signed over 2,400 acres and expect another 2,000 in the next two or three weeks," said Joe Borkowski, development manager for E.On Climate & Renewables, which is targeting the east side of Paxton for the development of 100 wind turbines.

Gathering for the green

CHAMPAIGN – "Green" is in, for everything from home remodeling to Earth-friendly cleaning products.

Hoping to capitalize on a surge of environmental consciousness, Greenpeace launched a local campaign Sunday to fight global warming and pressure Congress to take the lead.

Greenpeace supporters gathered in West Side Park to record 10-second video petitions for Rep. Timothy Johnson, R-Urbana, and paint panels for a tapestry they will present to Johnson at a meeting next month.

Urbana man has created his own nature preserve

URBANA – Nearly 200 years ago, a land surveyor and his crew walked along the south edge of Big Grove and recorded oaks, hickories, American hazel, spicebush and loads of wildflowers.

Today, visitors can see pretty much the same thing as they walk around the home of Robert and Judy Vaiden, which sits on a 1-acre lot in east Urbana.

Recycling offered for flower containers

DANVILLE – Vermilion County gardeners will have a new, Earth-friendly way to get rid of some plastic pots and pot trays that stack up in spring as flowers and vegetables are planted.

On designated Saturdays and Sundays in June, gardeners can turn in their plastic pots and trays for recycling. Only those with the No. 2, 5 or 6 stamped on the bottom will be accepted, according to Vermilion County Recycling Coordinator Lynn Wolgamot.

Students appreciate Parkland prof for sheer artistry of instruction

Like many former students of Don Lake, Judy Ikenberry believes he had a profound influence on her life and art.

She saw her skills and confidence improve considerably after she began studying with Lake at Parkland College – and that was after she had taken courses at a museum-affiliated school in a big city.

Parkland students offer their mentor a lasting gift

Besides having a scholarship established in his name, retiring Parkland College art Professor Don Lake received a special gift from some of his students.

It was a collection of 35 watercolor paintings, all done in the same size by them and organized in a box specially made for the "Don Box Project' by Lincoln Bookbindery in Urbana. The chief organizer of the project was Margaret De Cardy, a perennial student of Lake's and a retired K-12 art teacher.

Concerns aired at ethanol plant forum

CHAMPAIGN – Concern about the impact of a proposed ethanol plant in northwest Champaign on the waters of the Upper Kaskasia drew more than 90 people Monday night to a public hearing.

The hearing was sponsored by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to hear public comment about its tentative decision to issue a permit to The Andersons Ethanol Champaign LLC, to allow the firm to be able to discharge 720,000 gallons per day of wastewater into the Kaskaskia Ditch from its proposed ethanol plant.

Morning shake latest in wave of aftershocks

CHAMPAIGN – Aftershocks have continued from Friday's earthquake.

At 12:38 a.m. today, a temblor of magnitude 4.5 was recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey near Mount Carmel. It was one of more than 20 aftershocks since Friday.