Certification helps area educators work to their strengths

Julie Erlinger has no fond memories of the notoriously rigorous process of National Board Certified Teachers preparation. She had to videotape some of her Urbana High School English classes and watch herself teach.

And then watch the videos again – and again and again.

Residents fear fly-ash dump

DANVILLE – Some homeowners near Kickapoo State Park blame a nearby fly-ash dump for tainting their drinking water, and one county board member is pushing for new state laws to better regulate where and how ash is disposed.

"They should have never dumped it here – close around property and wells," JoAnn Osterbur said. She lives near the more than 380,000 tons of fly ash dumped since 1995 in a large ravine on private property in an area known as Grays Siding, just north off U.S. 150, west of the Vermilion County Fairgrounds and Kickapoo State Park.

Champaign's Herges in Mitchell Report

Matt Herges, a former Centennial star whose comeback with the Colorado Rockies was one of the feel-good stories of the postseason, was included in today's Mitchell report.

Roger Clemens, Miguel Tejada and Andy Pettitte were named in the long-awaited report, an All-Star roster linked to steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs that put a question mark — if not an asterisk — next to some of baseball's biggest moments.

Ag economist backs paying to aid environment

URBANA – The time is right for the government and private industry to think about paying farmers to help reduce greenhouse gases, says University of Illinois agricultural economist Gerald Nelson.

Nelson said he expects proposals like that to emerge from sessions with United Nations officials meeting this month in Bali, Indonesia, to talk about international climate agreements after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Minor accidents from freezing rain dot area

Police reported several minor accidents on East Central Illinois highways on Saturday as freezing rain caused roadways to turn slick.

"We've had a lot of weather-related incidents," said Illinois State Police Sgt. Mike Sturgeon of District 10 in Pesotum. "There were some injuries, but they appear to be minor," he said.

One-year tax increase will fund Salt Fork study

URBANA – Environmentalists praised a Champaign County judge's decision to allow a one-year tax increase to fund a study of the Upper Salt Fork that would enable farmers, residents and ecology experts to work together to perform maintenance on the stream's path.

The Upper Salt Fork Drainage District is getting a one-year tax increase to fund a study by Midwest Streams Inc., the district's consultants, of the river's flow.

Area teens head to Washington as Peer Ambassadors

Washington, D.C., prepare to get schooled.

A group of teens is heading to the nation's capital today to change minds and alter the way people think about youths.

Organic farming guru sows hope, insight at meeting

URBANA – Eliot Coleman's midwinter sugar carrots are a huge hit with local schoolchildren.

Chefs sign up early to purchase his "butter" chard, more commonly known as Swiss chard, and his golden frisee, AKA endive, and customers pay $3 a pound for the potatoes he sprouts in winter, plants in March and sells in May.

Widespread cleanup efforts on horizon for Rantoul

RANTOUL – U.S. Air Force site officials have nearly completed the investigation phase of the former Chanute Air Force base, and they're ready to start a widespread cleanup of the most contaminated sites there.

"This is a milestone," said Paul Carroll, an environmental coordinator for the Air Force, at the quarterly Restoration Advisory Board meeting. "But there's a lot of work remaining."

Bridging the gap in recycling

CHAMPAIGN – Coming from Berkeley, Calif., a city that offers not only curbside recycling for residents but also free recycling for businesses, Aaron Pollack was a bit mystified at the recycling, or lack of it, in Champaign.

He remembers walking and driving through town and thinking, "Where are all the recycling bins?"

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