UI Foundation takes next step in selling land that hosts orchards

URBANA – The University of Illinois Foundation is one step closer to the eventual sale of the Pell Farm, a 160-acre property in southeast Urbana currently home to university orchards.

The foundation has hired Champaign-based Devonshire Group to conduct a market study to determine, among other things, how the foundation should best proceed with the land sale, such as hire a broker or put the farm on the auction block.

Economic downturn yields decrease in area crop prices

URBANA – Uncertainties caused by the nation's recent economic downturn have begun to cause corn and soybean prices to fall in the United States, according to a University of Illinois marketing specialist.

Darrel Good said the current meltdown of the U.S. credit markets, combined with a sharp decline in stock prices, falling housing prices and increased unemployment rates have hurt ag commodity prices.

Champaign council to review recycling practices

CHAMPAIGN – Ugar Uygur is a Champaign apartment dweller who recycles. But he would like to feel less guilty about it.

Champaign currently doesn't require that apartment owners provide recycling if an apartment building has more than four units. Uygur, who lives at 405 N. State St., gets around that hurdle by taking his recyclables to a neighbor who does get recycling service from his hauler.

Students creating prairie garden on plot near Urbana High

URBANA – On the corner of Race and Iowa streets, one little green space is starting to get an extreme makeover.

The space is owned by the Urbana school district, and ever so slowly, it will become a community learning space: the Urbana High School Prairie Garden.

Settlement with UI over '02 fish kill finalized

URBANA – Six years after an ammonia spill killed 100,000 fish in the Salt Fork, the final piece of a legal settlement is in place.

The University of Illinois, its cleaning contractor CEDA Inc. and the Urbana and Champaign Sanitary District will pay the state a total of $65,000, and agreed to change procedures for disposing of wastewater, to resolve a water pollution complaint filed by the Illinois attorney general's office in 2002.

Study: Ethanol supporting rise in grain prices

CHAMPAIGN – A study released Monday by two University of Illinois farm economists shows that grain prices are likely to remain high as a result of ethanol, marking the first sustained increase in corn and soybean prices in Illinois in more than 30 years.

Lawmakers trying to restore cuts, save state parks

DANVILLE – Legislators have responded to Gov. Rod Blagjevich's $1.4 billion in budget cuts with bills that could stop the closure of 13 historic sites and 11 state parks, a backup plan if the recently passed funds sweep bill doesn't get final approval.

Meanwhile, supporters of the state parks and historic sites plan to continue their efforts as well.

UI freshman numbers in; it's a bigger, brighter class

The University of Illinois freshman class this fall is bigger and brighter.

The university welcomed 7,299 freshmen to campus at the start of the semester. That's 350 more freshmen than last fall.

UI trustees approve budget requests through 2010

University of Illinois trustees on Thursday approved the university's budgets through 2010, increasing money for faculty and staff raises as well as for utilities and other areas.

The university's 2010 budget asks for $113 million more for the year ending June 30, 2010. The bulk of the increase is for strengthening the UI's academic quality, including salary raises that would average 3 percent for faculty and staff and boosting the amount of money available for recruitment, retention and filling in the salary gaps between pay for new hires and longer-term employees.

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.