Residents voice fears about runoff from coal mine

SIDELL — Keith Rohl farms near the proposed site of the Bulldog coal mine in southwest Vermilion County. He has concerns with the company's plan to use existing field tiles in its underground coal mine operation.

"I want to make sure everything is done properly," he said. "My neighbors and I depend on that tile to drain our land."

Citizens have opportunity to speak on proposed mine tonight

SIDELL — Less than three weeks after 175 workers were laid off at Sunrise Coal mines in Indiana, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency officials will hear concerns tonight from local citizens about plans for a mine in Vermilion County that could bring 300 new jobs to the area.

Rob Kanter: Take time to identify other fluttering things

Everybody loves monarch butterflies, don't they? And for good reason. Monarchs are gorgeous to look at, they live a fascinating life and they're super easy to identify.

Park projects to launch with money from 2002 fish kill

URBANA — Urbana park board members Tuesday approved an agreement that calls for the construction of rain gardens in a parking lot at Crystal Lake Park as compensation for a 2002 ammonia release and fish kill in the Saline Branch of the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River.

An even larger project — installing in-stream riffles in the Saline within Crystal Lake Park — is on deck.

West Nile surfaces in Champaign County

CHAMPAIGN — The hot, drier weather has created a buzz, but not the kind anyone wants.

For the first time this summer, a mosquito batch in Champaign County has tested positive for West Nile virus, according to the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

Rob Kanter: A tale of two ponds, and the Salt Fork

I had occasion to be around two ponds last Saturday.

The first is on a friend's property in Vermilion County, south of Oakwood. It's deep and cool and clear, surrounded by woods except the edge formed by the dam that forms it. Wooden docks provide access to the water for people who have cabins there and it's a pond people do access, especially for fishing but also to swim.

Solar farm construction begins on UI campus

CHAMPAIGN — After several years of design and delay, construction has finally begun on a new "solar farm" at the University of Illinois.

The 20.8-acre installation, a field of solar panels that will connect to the UI's power grid, is considered a key step in the campus's transition to renewable energy.

Weekend planner: Butterflies at the Virginia

We've all heard of the sad decline in the monarch-butterfly population. It's one reason the Champaign Park District wanted to focus on butterflies this summer. So the district, with Mitch Marlow, front-of-house coordinator at the Virginia Theater, came up with the family-friendly "Flight of the Butterflies" event starting at 2 p.m. today at the Virginia.

Rob Kanter: Amphibian survey can indicate environmental health

If you were to base a movie character on Dave Stone, you'd probably have to tone down his enthusiasm for science and teaching — and that's saying something, given that he'll begin his 32nd year in the classroom at Uni High this fall.

Hauler to stop using stickers in Monticello

MONTICELLO — Area Disposal Co. has announced it will discontinue its sticker-based garbage hauling program in Monticello. Stickers will be sold through the end of the July via the company's Clinton office, and pickup of garbage bags with stickers will cease Oct. 1.