Strong market for crops helps raise area real estate values

URBANA – Illinois farmland is more valuable than ever before, according to a University of Illinois Extension study released Monday.

The average value of farm real estate in Illinois rose from $4,330 an acre in 2007 to $5,000 in 2008, according to Dale Lattz, a UI Extension farm management specialist who prepared the report based on data from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Champaign arborist says insect could cause $1.7 million in damage to ash trees

CHAMPAIGN – The emerald ash borer is getting closer to Champaign County and, if it makes its way here, fully 10 percent of the urban tree canopy in Champaign is at risk, according to Champaign city arborist Bill Vander Weit.

Vander Weit, in a short presentation to the city council Tuesday night, said that ash trees make up 10.5 percent of all the trees in Champaign and number about 2,200.

Land near Allerton Park to remain untouched after state buys it

MONTICELLO – The state has bought 151 acres of forest near Allerton Park and intends to do essentially nothing with it – to the benefit of hunters, canoeists and wildlife.

The University of Illinois hadn't been doing anything with it, either, keeping one of the few woodland remnants in Piatt County in much the same condition as longtime owner Robert Allerton did. (Six acres of it have been farmed).

Danville seeks more collection sites for recyclable refuse

DANVILLE – Joyce Guymon has been recycling for years and drives from her home in northeast Danville to drop off newspapers, glass and magazines on her way to the post office or other errands in downtown Danville, as she did Thursday afternoon.

She was one of more than a dozen people who dropped off materials at the Vermilion County recycling site on East Main Street during the span of one hour Thursday.

Public Works Director Doug Ahrens said the plan is to get at least two more sites operational during the winter months.

FAA delays drainage project at former Chanute Air Force Base

RANTOUL – The Air Force's plan to excavate dirt on the former Chanute Air Force Base to improve drainage in south Rantoul and to backfill an excavation area may be delayed because it doesn't have permission from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Chanute Redevelopment Commission member Denny Long told the commission Wednesday that the FAA has put a hold on a proposal to remove 50,000 yards of dirt on the south side of the airport.

Record attendance seen at migrant school in Rantoul

RANTOUL – School officials reported record attendance at this Rantoul Township High School's migrant school.

More than 200 young people attended classes this summer, according to Migrant Elementary School Principal Todd Wilson and Migrant Middle School and High School Principal Scott Amerio. It's by far the highest enrollment for the program.

It's Your Business: Discount Gas plans to expand, remodel

Discount Gas, 102 S. Mattis Ave., C, is planning to start a remodeling project toward the end of this month.

The Chicago-based owner, Salim Patel, said his plans include removing the old repair service bays and expanding the convenience store. A new liquor license courtesy of the city will allow him to begin package sales.

UI advisers helping African entrepreneurs test natural products

URBANA – For generations, African elders have taken careful note of plants that seemed to have health benefits.

Now, with the help of advisers from the University of Illinois and Rutgers, African entrepreneurs hope to bring those beneficial properties to the global marketplace – perhaps including them in pharmaceuticals or nutritional supplements.

Ethanol plant in Gibson City ahead of schedule

GIBSON CITY – Work is moving along ahead of schedule on the ethanol plant being built here, according to its chief executive officer.

Grain companies plan merger

LUDLOW – The Ludlow Cooperative Elevator Co. and Danforth-Gilman Grain Co., Danforth, will officially combine operations on Friday, and operate as Ludlow Cooperative Elevator Co., according to a press release issued Monday.

"Both companies have served their area farmers/owners' grain handling needs for more than 100 years, and we look forward to building on our historical success as we work together to build an even more successful future," said Bruce Bastert, general manager, in the release.