North Ridge club helps students learn to cut waste

DANVILLE – Orchestra and guitar teacher Brian Klett is passionate about sharing his love of music with his North Ridge Middle School students and teaching them how to express themselves through it.

He's just as passionate about teaching them about the environment and how they can conserve it.

Danville native seeks new zoning for planned orchard

DANVILLE – A Danville native plans to retire soon and return to the area and start an apple orchard on several acres along West Lake Boulevard in the northern part of the city.

Lindsay and Marie Varner currently run a horticulture business in Florida but have bought several acres at 136 W. Lake Boulevard and are requesting from the city a zoning change, from R-2 single-family residential to agriculture, so they can operate an apple orchard.

Grant to link produce, nutrition education

SPRINGFIELD – Urbana has received a $7,500 grant through the Illinois Department of Agriculture to help promote its farmers market, which will open at Lincoln Square Village on May 2, a week earlier than in the past.

The grant money, which originates with a federal specialty crops promotion program, will be used to promote "Sprouts at the Market" at the Urbana farmers market, according to Lisa Bralts, an economic development specialist in Urbana and director of Market at the Square.

Area volunteers off helping to fight North Dakota flooding

A Tolono man is among 300 Red Cross volunteers from across the country who have traveled to North Dakota to help people affected by the flooding of the Red River.

Lou Fuentes of Tolono arrived at Fargo, N.D., at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Danville officials raising waste fee to increase recycling

DANVILLE – This summer, the city will launch at least two drop-off recycling sites and possibly move to an automated yard-waste program – changes funded by solid-waste fees that will increase again in May.

Beginning May 1, solid-waste fees will increase by 50 cents to $18 per month and stay at that level for three years. That will be the last increase in a series of increases that started in 2006, when monthly solid-waste fees were $10 a month, and the city council approved the increases through 2009 to pay for changes in services.

Visitors' bureau's ag experience attracting global visitors

CHAMPAIGN – For folks who live in central Illinois, a weeklong "agricultural experience" in the Prairie State may not have quite the allure of leisurely days on tropical beaches or the quiet beauty of the mountains.

But it apparently does to some Europeans and South Americans who have streamed to Illinois to enjoy cornfields, casinos and river cruises.

'Quincy Jones of Cuba' back in U.S. with new All Stars

Known as the Quincy Jones of Cuba, Juan de Marcos Gonzalez – who founded the Buena Vista Social Club with American guitarist Ry Cooder – hopes Americans will be able to legally travel to his homeland someday to check out its vibrant music scene.

He admits he's chauvinistic in claiming that it's the best and most important one in the tropics, or Caribbean.

"There's a new wave of writers mixed with poets, street rappers and jazz players," he said, "and they make a kind of combination of everything based on Cuban music.

"And it sounds very good."

Gonzalez will bring his own Grammy-nominated and Grammy-winning Cuban music to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday evening with his latest incarnation of the Afro-Cuban All Stars.

Group criticizes Ameren plan for cleanup at Fifth and Hill

CHAMPAIGN – A neighborhood group is blasting as "outrageous" a state-approved cleanup plan for the Fifth and Hill street site, saying AmerenIP should be required to remove contaminated groundwater from the site.


Tolono, Dewey grain companies to consolidate Aug. 1

TOLONO – Stockholders of two major grain companies in Champaign County have agreed to a merger.

Grand Prairie Co-Op, based in Tolono, and Fisher Farmers Grain and Coal Co., based in Dewey, are scheduled to consolidate Aug. 1 under the new name Premier Cooperative Inc.

Cleanup to begin soon at former coal-gasification plant site

CHAMPAIGN – The cleanup of a former coal-gasification plant site at Fifth and Hill streets should begin early next month and is expected to take about a year to complete.

But a neighborhood group that represents residents who live near the north Champaign site said it doesn't think the cleanup plan goes far enough to deal with contaminated groundwater and vapors leaving the site.

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