Middle Fork River OK for boaters, state says

DANVILLE – People once again can launch their boats on the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources lifted its ban on recreational boating on the river after officials with the department and the Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency determined that conditions were safe.

New Parkland program, logo promote environmentalism

CHAMPAIGN – You might soon be spotting a lot of monkeys when you look at the ads in your paper.

Parkland College has a new green education program called GreenMunckie, using the West African green monkey as a symbol. And part of the project is persuading advertisers to post the new symbol in a corner of each panel as an endorsement of environmentalism.

Agency closes part of Middle Fork River to boaters

DANVILLE – State officials have temporarily banned recreational boating on a portion of the Middle Fork River in Vermilion County.

No boaters are allowed on the river from the north boundary of the Middle Fork Fish and Wildlife Area to the southern boundary of Kickapoo State Park until further notice, according to a news release issued Wednesday afternoon.

AmerenIP buys 2nd house near ex-gas plant site

CHAMPAIGN – AmerenIP has bought a second home near the Fifth and Hill streets gas plant site, with the intention of demolishing the house and using chemical treatments to clean up contaminated soil there.

AmerenIP bought 507 E. Washington St. on Friday from owner James Harden III for $66,000, about 50 percent higher than the property's market value based on its assessment.

Volunteers needed for cleanup in forest preserves

MAHOMET – Volunteers are sought for cleanup at any of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District areas.

To launch National Volunteer Week, the Champaign County Forest Preserve District is inviting groups to volunteer for a day of service.

Ameren buys house near cleanup site for twice its value

CHAMPAIGN – AmerenIP bought a house across the street from the site of an old contaminated manufactured gas plant site in north Champaign for twice its assessed value.

AmerenIP spokesman Leigh Morris said the property at 412 E. Hill St. – an older house in poor condition – was bought for $100,000 and will be used as a parking and equipment staging area during the upcoming cleanup of the former coal-gasification plant site. That cleanup is expected to begin in mid-April and take up to a year to complete.

North Ridge club helps students learn to cut waste

DANVILLE – Orchestra and guitar teacher Brian Klett is passionate about sharing his love of music with his North Ridge Middle School students and teaching them how to express themselves through it.

He's just as passionate about teaching them about the environment and how they can conserve it.

Danville native seeks new zoning for planned orchard

DANVILLE – A Danville native plans to retire soon and return to the area and start an apple orchard on several acres along West Lake Boulevard in the northern part of the city.

Lindsay and Marie Varner currently run a horticulture business in Florida but have bought several acres at 136 W. Lake Boulevard and are requesting from the city a zoning change, from R-2 single-family residential to agriculture, so they can operate an apple orchard.

Grant to link produce, nutrition education

SPRINGFIELD – Urbana has received a $7,500 grant through the Illinois Department of Agriculture to help promote its farmers market, which will open at Lincoln Square Village on May 2, a week earlier than in the past.

The grant money, which originates with a federal specialty crops promotion program, will be used to promote "Sprouts at the Market" at the Urbana farmers market, according to Lisa Bralts, an economic development specialist in Urbana and director of Market at the Square.

Area volunteers off helping to fight North Dakota flooding

A Tolono man is among 300 Red Cross volunteers from across the country who have traveled to North Dakota to help people affected by the flooding of the Red River.

Lou Fuentes of Tolono arrived at Fargo, N.D., at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.