Vermilion County committee focuses on plan for wind farms

DANVILLE – Vermilion County officials forged ahead Monday with their first discussion on how to regulate the potential construction of wind-turbine farms in the absence of a countywide zoning system.

Several wind-turbine companies are seriously considering the county for development of alternative-energy farms, but the county is different from other counties where wind farms already exist because Vermilion has no zoning.

Chanute agency told Air Force pulling out of project

RANTOUL – The Air Force is likely pulling out of a proposed joint project with the village to improve drainage in south Rantoul and to backfill an excavation area.

As a result, the cost of developing land by the Rantoul airport for new industries has gone up – by as much as $600,000.

Ford County Board gives final clearance for wind farm

PAXTON – Ford County's first wind farm project has gained final approval for construction of 96 wind turbines in Rogers Township, the county's northernmost township.

Ford County Board members approved an application by K4 Wind Farm LLC for a special-use permit on Monday. The company, which has spent more than two years in the planning stages, previously gained approval from both the county's zoning and plan commissions.

UI agricultural economist says prices reflect possible recession

CHAMPAIGN – Just as the rise of ethanol prices helped to fuel increased income for farmers over the past two years, a University of Illinois economist said the recent drop in ethanol prices may be leading to an agricultural recession that has already cut the prices of crops in half.

UI Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics Scott Irwin said his studies indicate that the fortunes of farmers are now more closely connected to the prices paid at the gas pumps than to changes in prices paid at the grocery stores.

Feeling the Pinch: Backyard bounty can lower grocery bills

CHAMPAIGN – In tough economic times, a garden harvest can help a family get through the winter.

On the east side of Champaign, 79-year-old homemaker Nina Sibley estimates she saves more than $300 a year by freezing vegetables grown in her gardens.

Season of hope: Retail consultant thinks holiday sales will increase

Despite some predictions that holiday sales will drop this year, a Chicago retail consultant predicts they'll rise 1.7 percent.

That's less than last year's 2.2 percent increase or the long-term average of 4 percent, said John Melaniphy III, executive vice president of Melaniphy & Associates.

Five businesses looking to grow

Panelists outlined expansion plans for five companies at an International Council of Shopping Centers program last week.

Here's what Jimmy John's, CVS, Busey Bank, Aldi and Verizon Wireless are planning.

Students learn about geothermal energy project

CHAMPAIGN – The problem: Explain geothermal heating and cooling so elementary school students can understand it.

The solution: Start with a cartoon.

Tank mishap temporarily closes U.S. 150

MAHOMET – An anhydrous ammonia tank on a truck turned on its side Friday afternoon, temporarily halting traffic on U.S. 150.

Mahomet police blocked the east-west lanes of U.S. 150 between Prairieview and Barker roads about 3 p.m. Friday after the tank turned on its side. The truck was westbound on U.S. 150 and hauling two small farm anhydrous tanks and made a U-turn in the roadway, said Mahomet Officer Ike Beers.

Rantoul woman earns agency's Employee of the Year honor

Georgia Womble's boss says she is the type of person you would want by your side in troubled times.

"She's just very compassionate and a very gentle person," said Rosalie Adkins, area administrator for Community Care Systems, where Womble works as a caregiver for elderly clients.

Womble was recently recognized as an Employee of the Year by the Illinois Department on Aging. There were nine statewide recipients of the award honoring older workers who continue to play a very important role in the workforce.