Firm picked for independent audit of Chanute site

RANTOUL – The village of Rantoul has selected an engineering firm to conduct an independent environmental audit of the former Chanute Air Force Base.

Village Administrator David Johnston said a committee of department heads selected Burns & McDonnell, of Downers Grove, to study the conditions of the property since the base closed in 1993.

Meat enhancers might kill dangerous bacteria

You might not know it, but that juicy steak or pork chop you sometimes drool over might have been injected with a solution of salt, water and proprietary flavor enhancers.

To replace some of the taste that disappeared with the fat lost as a result of our modern, health-conscious demand for leaner meat, the meat industry took a page from the book of its poultry peers, who've been using such injections since the self-basting turkey was a new enough innovation to tout in advertising pitches.

McLean County farmers don't mind wind farms

ELLSWORTH – Corn is finally out of the fields on top of the Bloomington moraine, and residents can see how dramatically their horizon is changing.

More farmers choosing economical, environment-friendly path

ROSSVILLE – Brian Andrews parked his moldboard plow in 1978, and he hasn't used it since.

Andrews, who farms near Rossville, was one of the first farmers in Vermilion County to try no-tilling corn and soybeans to help save the soil and money spent on fuel.

UI students spend semester working with poinsettias

URBANA – University of Illinois students who grew 60 different kinds of poinsettias in class this semester say the experience helped them pick favorites.

They invite area residents to visit the Plant Science Laboratory at 1201 S. Dorner Drive, U, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday to vote for favorites among the burgundy, pink, red, orange, white, speckled, curled and painted cultivars.

One year later, her Spirit is stronger, thriving

RANKIN – Sue DeBartoli grinned as she petted her chestnut-colored mustang named Spirit.

The rural Rankin woman brushed down the mare's mane as she led Spirit to the barn door. Spirit whinnied when it slid open. The horse pranced out into the sunshine of a cool November Vermilion County morning. Spirit turned her head toward her new owner.

Gibson City ethanol plant operation seeks area investors

GIBSON CITY – One Earth Energy LLC, a cooperative of five area grain companies that plan to build an ethanol plant near Gibson City, will begin offering individuals a chance to invest in the operation.

The first of several planned informational meetings for potential investors will be Monday at Kruse Center in Gibson City.

Computer donations overwhelm Danville program

DANVILLE – The warehouse at Bud's Express Cellular looked like a computer graveyard Wednesday, as many businesses and individuals took advantage of free computer recycling.

Vermilion County Recycling Coordinator Lynn Wolgamot said Wednesday's collection was supposed to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but they had to cut it off at 12:30 p.m., because the 20 recycling boxes – bigger than washing machines – were already full.

Warning: Mahomet Aquifer water supply has limits

CHAMPAIGN – A proposed ethanol plant in northwest Champaign will take up roughly 10 percent of the remaining local capacity of the Mahomet Aquifer, and Champaign County officials need to start thinking now about future water use, the chief of the Illinois State Water Survey is warning.

Derek Winstanley, chief of the Champaign-based water survey, wrote in an Oct. 27 letter to the city of Champaign that the aquifer can safely support about 16 million or 17 million gallons a day of additional local withdrawal. Current local water usage from the aquifer is 30 million gallons a day.

District works to improve emissions

URBANA – New MTD buses have better pollution control than older vehicles. But MTD keeps buses on the road for up to 16 years, so it needs to do something with its veterans.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Diesel Initiative Project is working with the University of Illinois and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, as well as a manufacturer, Cummins Mid-States Power, to retrofit old diesel buses.