Environmental writer will be guest-in-residence

URBANA – Environmental writer, journalist and filmmaker Heather Rogers will be a Unit One/Allen Hall guest-in-residence from Sunday through Thursday. She will speak each night.

All of the programs are open to the public and take place in the South Rec Room of Allen Hall, 1005 W. Gregory St., U.

Chanute's half million-dollar wastewater system going to waste

RANTOUL – The half million dollars in taxpayer money spent to collect wastewater from landfills on the former Chanute Air Force Base may itself go to waste. The systems built with the money were never turned on, and now may never be used.

Air Force contractors spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars building leachate collection systems between 2001 and 2004 to collect contaminated water that filters through three former Chanute landfills.

Kayaker plans trip to raise money for Parkinson's research

CHAMPAIGN – Joe Forrester has an interesting and exhausting summer planned.

He's going to kayak the Missouri and Mississippi rivers – a distance of 3,900 miles – in an effort to raise $20,000 for the National Parkinson's Foundation.

Forrester, 24, is about to begin his fourth year of medical school at the University of Virginia. He's undertaking the trip this June as a tribute to his grandfather, Joseph Forrester, who is afflicted with Parkinson's disease.

Ornamental grasses seminar set at Vermilion UI Extension

DANVILLE – The Vermilion County unit of the University of Illinois Extension Service will host "Catch the Wave of Ornamental Grasses" from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Extension office, 12190 US 150, west of Danville.

The seminar will discuss the benefits of planting ornamental grasses in any landscape to add texture, color, movement and seasonal interest to gardens.

Organization seeks volunteers to help clean up Kickapoo

DANVILLE – Thousands of people throughout East Central Illinois demonstrated their support for Kickapoo State Park last year when it was in danger of being closed by the state.

Now, Keep Vermilion County Beautiful volunteers are calling on those same people to show their support again in April by volunteering one Saturday morning to pick up trash, clear trails and more at the second annual Kickapoo Cleanup. It will be part of Keep America Beautiful's Great American Cleanup, which takes place each year from March through May.

Lincoln's Challenge's dining room closed after 20 sickened

RANTOUL – The Illinois National Guard has closed the dining room at Lincoln's Challenge Academy after 19 students and one staff member got sick after eating food there this weekend.

Major Brad Leighton, a spokesman for the Illinois National Guard, said five of the students were taken to an Urbana hospital for treatment. All five of them had returned to the academy by Sunday night.

Georgetown to apply for $4 million loan for wastewater plant

GEORGETOWN – City officials voted Monday to pursue a loan of up to $4 million to help pay for major renovations at the wastewater treatment plant.

Georgetown City Council members will begin the pre-application process for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's low-interest-loan program. The council is seeking up to $4 million, but may not need all of that.

Urbana City Council to consider permit for recycling center

URBANA – Mervis Industries is seeking a special use permit to build a new recycling center on Cunningham Avenue.

The Urbana City Council will consider approval of the permit Monday.

The proposed center – sited at 3008 N. Cunningham Ave. – would be a user-friendly drop-off site for all types of recyclables, said Tom Falender, the company's marketing director.

Repair of gas leak to close Savoy road

SAVOY – Part of West Church Road in Savoy will be closed Friday so a gas leak can be repaired.

Savoy Public Works Director Brent Maue said AmerenIP discovered the leak at U.S. 45 and West Church Road. A portion of West Church Road near U.S. 45 is expected to close about 3 a.m. Friday so repairs can be made.

Farmers get facts about leasing land to wind-energy firms

DANVILLE – Chrisman-area farmer Joe Glick was contacted about a month ago about putting a wind turbine on his property in southern Vermilion County, and even though Glick believes in the wind-energy concept, he wants more information about the effect of leasing land for the turbines.

"I was looking for an unbiased opinion," Glick said.