Group criticizes Ameren plan for cleanup at Fifth and Hill

CHAMPAIGN – A neighborhood group is blasting as "outrageous" a state-approved cleanup plan for the Fifth and Hill street site, saying AmerenIP should be required to remove contaminated groundwater from the site.


Tolono, Dewey grain companies to consolidate Aug. 1

TOLONO – Stockholders of two major grain companies in Champaign County have agreed to a merger.

Grand Prairie Co-Op, based in Tolono, and Fisher Farmers Grain and Coal Co., based in Dewey, are scheduled to consolidate Aug. 1 under the new name Premier Cooperative Inc.

Cleanup to begin soon at former coal-gasification plant site

CHAMPAIGN – The cleanup of a former coal-gasification plant site at Fifth and Hill streets should begin early next month and is expected to take about a year to complete.

But a neighborhood group that represents residents who live near the north Champaign site said it doesn't think the cleanup plan goes far enough to deal with contaminated groundwater and vapors leaving the site.

Champaign Equine Adventure set Saturday at Parkland

CHAMPAIGN – Area horse enthusiasts can learn about equine activities and horse care at the Champaign Equine Adventure, set for 9 a.m. Saturday at the Tony Noel Agriculture Center at Parkland College, 2400 W. Bradley Ave., C.

Kirk Builta of the Champaign County Farm Bureau said the event will include speakers on horse nutrition and health care.

Energy secretary indicates that FutureGen has a future

CHAMPAIGN – Local officials were encouraged Thursday by news that the Department of Energy may revive the FutureGen project in Mattoon.

If built, FutureGen would be the world's first clean-coal power plant. The $1.8 billion experimental plant would store its carbon dioxide emissions 7,500 feet below the surface.

Paxton man honored as master farmer by ag magazine

PAXTON – A Paxton man has been named a 2009 Master Farmer by Prairie Farmer magazine.

Rick Nelson of Paxton is one of five Illinois farmers selected as master farmers, said Josh Flint, an editor at the magazine.

One-act play competition welcomes additional entries

NORMAL – The Heartland Theatre Company has expanded its original one-act play competition to welcome entries from beyond Illinois to seven Midwest states.

Now called New Plays from the Heartland, the third annual competition provides Midwestern playwrights a chance to share their original plays with central Illinois residents. The contest includes a residency by a nationally known playwright and staged readings of the three winning plays on May 15 and 16. The three winning playwrights also will receive a $150 honorarium.

Urbana's Carle Park getting extensive tree maintenance

URBANA – In the year of its 100th anniversary, Carle Park's towering forest of 274 trees is getting some much-needed attention.

After a careful inventory and assessment of Carle Park's trees, Urbana Park District officials determined this year that 24 of the trees are either dead or diseased and will need to come down. Another 56 trees need to be pruned to ensure their continued health.

Author: Focus on waste should shift back to manufacturing

CHAMPAIGN – So you recycle your cans, plastic and paper waste. You take your reusable cloth bags to the grocery store, instead of getting plastic bags for your groceries.

It's a good start.

"It matters what we do. It matters that we take our bags to the grocery store. But that's not enough," said Heather Rogers, an author and filmmaker who writes about environmental issues and mass consumption.

Recycling deals with waste after it's been made, she said, but she is calling for deeper changes that start with looking at what is manufactured.

Sleep tight; don't let the (rising numbers of) bed bugs bite

CHAMPAIGN – They sneak into your house and hide until bedtime.

And when you fall asleep, they crawl out for the only dinner they ever want – your blood.

"And they don't wake you up," warns local Terminix owner Bill Fulton, who's been seeing bed-bug cases multiply over the last couple of years.

Public health experts are seeing the increase, too.