Hunters earn right to use Allerton; park gets much-needed help

MONTICELLO – Allerton Park has a new crew of volunteers.

They've yanked out weeds and invasive plants from the gardens, filled bins with cucumbers and tomatoes and removed trees that fell down during storms and blocked hiking trails.

Continuous system appears to help trials move along promptly

"Might as well take your belts off. Make sure you have everything out of your pockets. Put it in the bowls. Put the bowl on the conveyor." – Champaign County court security officer Ashlee Vercler

Middlefork bridge work will alter Kickapoo activities

DANVILLE – Hikers and trail runners should be warned that the Out and Back Trail at Kickapoo State Park won't be quite as far "out" or "back" anymore.

Next week, an Illinois Department of Natural Resources crew plans to remove the Johnson Hill Bridge spanning the Middlefork River. The footbridge, which once was a road bridge over the Middlefork River, is part of the 7.6-mile Out and Back Trail at the state park. The trail begins at the main road through the park, winds through the woods and eventually heads west over the Middlefork River before circling around and leading back out the same way.

Officers will be out in force over Labor Day weekend

State police and other agencies will be out in force to crack down on drunken driving over the Labor Day weekend.

"Labor Day has become one of the deadliest holidays nationwide for alcohol-related fatalities," said John Pastuovic, spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Great Lakes regional office in Chicago.

Forest tribute keeps growing at River Bend

MAHOMET – New life from seed will be Champaign County's tribute to the 2,996 dead of Sept. 11, 2001.

The fifth anniversary will be marked here at 2 p.m. Sept. 11 at the "9-11 Memorial Woodland" at River Bend, the new forest preserve just south of Mahomet.

District plans to boost biodiesel use in bus fleet

URBANA – Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District buses now run on a gasoline blend that includes 5 percent soy-based biodiesel.

But officials there hope to increase the blend soon to 20 percent.

Invasive species cause headaches for area parks

HOMER LAKE – Autumn olive is a good thing to plant if you want to fix nutrients in your soil. But, as often is the case with good things, you can quickly get too much of autumn olive.

Once you've had autumn olive pointed out to you at the Salt Fork River Forest Preserve near Homer, you'll see it everywhere. Before Homer Lake was a park, it was a state tree nursery, and state officials encouraged planting it between rows to fix nitrogen in the soil.

Cities taking tougher stance on utility issues

CHAMPAIGN – Firefighter Todd Anderson recalls trying to open a fire hydrant on North Market Street on Oct. 28, 2005, as flames soared from the nearby Stark Excavating Inc. maintenance building.

Efforts to operate a hydrant closer to the building, in the 2000 block of North Market, had failed. Anderson frantically worked on a second hydrant about 400 feet away, trying to get the cap off.

Mayor calls in feds to round up turkeys

URBANA – The city is making a federal case out of its rampaging wild turkeys.

It's the mayor who took out the contract.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing said Tuesday that after city and county officers couldn't nab the turkeys that some have claimed terrorize the southern edge of the city, it will be an Agriculture Department biologist who brings the birds to ground.

It's your business

Driving to work one day last winter, Richard Minick Jr. spotted the Cozy's frozen custard shop standing closed for the season. And it gave him an idea.

Why waste the building for part of the year, he figured, when it could become a second location for the Campustown restaurant called Junior's that he operates with his father, Rick Minick?