Low-cost spay, neuter clinic for pets to be held Saturday

URBANA – The Central Illinois Animal Welfare Coalition will hold its second low-cost feline spay/neuter clinic of the year Saturday.

The one-day clinic is being held by appointment at two locations: the Champaign County Humane Society, 1911 E. Main St., U, and the nearby Champaign County Animal Services Facility, 10 S. Art Bartell Road.

Records show Rantoul's White Hall now on its fifth owner

RANTOUL – The largest building on the former Chanute Air Force Base has a new owner.

According to records at the Champaign County Assessor's office, White Hall has been bought by a company listed as Future Planning Credit Services, 1 Eves Drive, Suite 111, Marlton, N.J.

Residents begin campaigns to save Kickapoo State Park

DANVILLE – The governor's plan to close Kickapoo State Park this year has sparked a groundswell of protests among area residents and visitors alike – including one from an 11-year-old girl.

Ryce Tuggle, a sixth-grade student at Oakwood Elementary School, is one of several hundred people fighting to keep the state park open and has planned an informational picket and walk for Saturday to raise support.

Tuscola begins growing biocrops to lure biofuel industry

TUSCOLA – There's more than grass growing by the Tuscola sewer plant.

If city officials are successful, that grass could someday sprout into the foundation for a new energy-fueled economy.

Topflight Grain lowers area's corn-yield projections for 2008

BEMENT – After two consecutive years of proclaiming "monstrous" corn yields for the area, officials at Topflight Grain are projecting slightly lower yields for 2008.

Teams of crop scouts sampling the corn population at random fields throughout Piatt, Champaign, Macon, Moultrie and Douglas counties between Friday and Tuesday for the 25th annual Topflight Grain Crop Tour found corn yields down a little from last year.

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.