AmerenIP audit program helps reduce energy usage

CHAMPAIGN – David Tcheng was skeptical when he received a letter from AmerenIP offering an energy audit of his home in Champaign.

He thought it was a scam.

He discovered it wasn't.

Christmas tree collections set for January

Urbana and Champaign, the Champaign County Forest Preserve District and Lake Shelbyville will be collecting Christmas trees after the holidays.

In Urbana and Champaign, Christmas tree collections will be done Jan. 4-8 and Jan. 11-15.

Danville to begin its tree pickup Jan. 4

DANVILLE – Christmas may be over, but you may want to keep your live tree up until after New Year's Day, because the city's public works department will begin picking up trees and other holiday greenery on Jan. 4.

City workers will complete the special pickup Jan. 4 through 15, and any remaining yard waste can also be placed out for pickup during that period. No yard waste will be picked up after Jan. 15 until the yard waste program resumes again in the spring.

Illinois American water plant's certified green

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois American Water's new plant in rural Champaign has become the first water treatment facility in the state to become certified by the U.S. Green Building Council for leadership in energy and environmental design of green buildings.

Two area tractors to get exposure on 2010 calendar

Machines from Mahomet, St. Joseph showcased

Meet Ms. (or Mr.) May.

The bright orange, 1960 Chamberlain Canelander hails from Welshpool, Australia, and now resides on the farm of Darius Harms of St. Joseph.

A collector of antique and classic tractors, many of them International Harvesters, Harms said the Chamberlain is one of his favorites.

Registration deadline set for Jan. 16 Herb Day event

URBANA – The registration deadline is Jan. 8 for Herb Day 2010, which will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center, 1001 Killarney St., U.

Registrations will be allotted on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the available 270 spaces are filled, any additional registrations will be returned. On-site registration will only be available if all 270 seats are not filled by pre-registration. On-site registration does not include lunch.

Arborists ponder how to deal with emerald ash borer

CHAMPAIGN – Arborists and foresters across East Central Illinois are brainstorming how to prepare for a beetle that has already killed millions of ash trees in the Midwest.

Meadowbrook has 2 beavers, and they've been busy

URBANA – Along the Wandell Sculpture Garden trail at Meadowbrook Park is a special attraction, installed by nature's architect, the beaver.

The beaver dams on McCullough Creek are small but impressive. The first (upstream) is 35 feet across and about 6 feet wide. The water now, after all the rain, is 4 feet lower below the dam. The second, smaller dam is about 50 yards downstream. It is about 9 feet across and creates a 2-foot water level difference. Recent rains have left a good deal of standing and streaming water where it had been dry land two weeks ago.

One-time hoops expert indicted in bank robberies

PEORIA – A once-popular basketball talent analyst with a history of robbery and theft has been indicted by a federal grand jury for bank robbery again.

Stephen D. Wacaser, 57, no address available, was indicted Wednesday for the Oct. 19 robbery of the Regions Bank in Decatur and the Oct. 20 robbery of the Illini Bank in Sherman.

Soil cleanup proposed at 7 Chanute sites

RANTOUL – The Air Force has proposed removing 6 inches or more of soil from seven separate sites on the old Chanute Air Force Base property as a way of cleaning up the property and making it available for redevelopment.

The proposal is part of a plan to remove environmental hazards on the 2,174-acre former military base by 2016. It was made public Thursday at a quarterly meeting of the base's restoration advisory board.