Public invited to take part in cleanup of two parks

DANVILLE – Keep Vermilion County Beautiful is calling all park lovers and spring cleaners to join forces to clean up two area parks, Kennekuk County Park and Carver Park in Danville.

The all-volunteer organization, KVCB, is recruiting volunteers for both events, which will be held about a month apart.

Last year, hundreds of volunteers descended on Kickapoo State Park for the annual KVCB Great American Clean Up, and organizers hope the same happens this year on April 24 at Kennekuk and May 22 at Carver Park.

Champaign, Piatt tops in state for soybean yield

The state's biggest soybean yields of the 2009 crop were in Champaign and Piatt counties, according to recent data released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybean yields last year averaged 56 bushels per acre in both Champaign and Piatt counties. Their average yield was 10 bushels higher than the state average.

Danville worker seeking trees to add to heritage tour

DANVILLE – Cucumbers don't grow on it, but the cucumbertree magnolia at the Vermilion County Museum is still unique enough to make the cut for the first-ever "Danville Heritage Tree Tour."

That species of magnolia tree is not common in central Illinois, and the tree at the museum is a fairly tall one for its type, according to city special services Superintendent Steve Lane.

Grant to allow for 'green job' training at Parkland College

CHAMPAIGN – More than 1,000 area residents could get trained for "green jobs" as the result of a $375,000 grant to Parkland College.

Some of the money will be used to prepare unemployed and dislocated workers for careers as weatherization installers and technicians.

The rest will be used to train workers with construction, building or contracting experience to do wind, solar and geothermal retrofitting of homes and businesses.

Pheasants Forever lends support to education, conservation efforts

DANVILLE – Does hearing Pheasants Forever immediately bring thoughts of guys and guns?

"I think the general public has a preconceived notion of what we're all about," member Tim Busby said. "They may not realize that we raise money for education and conservation projects, that we reinvest 100 percent of our fundraising money in Vermilion County."

Public hearing set on cleanup of former base

RANTOUL – Public hearings will be held in Rantoul sometime in May so that citizens can review and comment on proposed cleanup projects at the old Chanute Air Force Base.

Raffle to put winner in the green, at wheel

DANVILLE – With the snow piling up outside, it's difficult to imagine planting flowers or landscaping a yard, but the members of Keep Vermilion County Beautiful are working now to raise money for their annual grants awarded each year to help individuals and groups beautify the county with flowers, plants and other landscaping projects.

This is the fourth year that the volunteer organization will be selling raffle tickets for a chance at various "green" prizes.

Group promotes talks on sustainability issues

CHAMPAIGN – The University of Illinois is joining with business and community leaders to explore how "green" practices – like energy efficiency, conservation and pollution reduction – can help build Champaign County's economic future.

Starting this month, an organization called CCNet will sponsor discussion groups and will spotlight speeches on sustainability and how it can bring jobs to the region.

Electronics recycling event set for Feb. 27

The first Champaign County-wide residential electronics collection event for the year will be held at the end of February.

The collection will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at The News Gazette Distribution Center, 3202 Apollo Drive, C.

Grant awarded for Sangamon River Forest Preserve work

CHICAGO – The Champaign County Forest Preserve District has received a $126,000 state grant for the initial development of the Sangamon River Forest Preserve near Fisher.

The grant award was one of 49 park development and land acquisition projects announced Friday by the state Department of Natural Resources at the annual meeting of the Illinois Association of Park Districts in Chicago. The Champaign County Forest Preserve District's grant is the only one in East Central Illinois.