Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation

Input sought on plans for Sangamon River preserve

MAHOMET – As part of a grant-application process, the Champaign County Forest Preserve District is seeking public comment about proposed improvements to the Sangamon River Forest Preserve.

The district is applying for an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant. If approved, the money would be used for picnic facilities, hiking trails and interpretive signs, accessibility modifications including sidewalk and lighting improvements, and restoration of natural areas, including prairie and savanna.

In-ground or above, backyard pools are easy to create, enjoy

CHAMPAIGN – Members of the Law family point out that an in-ground pool costs no more than a nice automobile – $30,000 to $60,000.

An above-ground pool – a big seller this year – starts at $2,900.

"It's like putting Legos together, you can do it yourself," said Amy Law. She married into the Law family and pool business 10 years ago. "I think that's why they call it 'The Big Easy.'"

Ex-Champaign man a step closer to DNR confirmation

SPRINGFIELD – Former Champaign resident Marc Miller, who in February was appointed head of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, was confirmed Thursday by the Senate Executive Appointments Committee. His appointment now moves to the full Senate.

Miller's nomination was approved 8-0.

Filmmaker on microbudget uses persistence, help of friends

Ed Glaser takes a winding-road approach to filmmaking.

He didn't pack all his belongings in his back seat and head to Hollywood. Instead, the "Press Start" director made his own luck, becoming a maven of movies on a microbudget – something he says anyone with a passion for a movie project can do.

We like to hike: Four lesser-known trails in East Central Illinois

Whenever the flat farmland of Champaign County has me longing for a visual respite, I head east. Not to the well-used Kickapoo State Park but to less-traveled places that are rich in natural habitats.

Those destinations, Kennekuk Cove County Park and Forest Glen Nature Preserve, are part of the Vermilion River system in the easternmost part of the state, on the edge of what was once the Grand Prairie to the west.

It's Your Business: Frogs & Fairies jumping into kids' clothing market

Frogs & Fairies, a "new and nearly new" children's clothing store, is expected to open this September in Urbana.

The shop will sell infant through children's size 12 clothing, plus maternity clothes, in a storefront within The Pines shopping center at the southeast corner of Windsor and Philo roads.

Checks and Balances: How to save on your cell phone bill

How long has it been since you've had a checkup – a cell phone plan checkup?

In this installment of Checks and Balances, a News-Gazette series on taking control of your finances, we ask if it's possible to trim the monthly cell phone bill.

Lynyrd Skynyrd among myriad acts to play state fair in August

Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, "American Idol's" Kelly Clarkson, the legendary Heart, Bangles, country's hot duo Montgomery Gentry and country solo artist Josh Turner are among scheduled the scheduled performers at the 2009 Illinois State Fair's Grandstand.

New Vermilion County campground taking reservations

DANVILLE – The Vermilion County Conservation District will begin taking reservations for its new Tipi Campground today.

The campground, which will be open through Sept. 7, will have three full-size authentic Native American tipis available to campers. The campsite is on the south end of Lake Mingo in an existing picnic area.

Danville Young Athlete participants show off their skills

DANVILLE – Lillian Gentry couldn't stop smiling as she watched her son, Mikel Kirby-Prater, on East Park Elementary's schoolyard on Thursday, throwing and catching rubber balls and kicking others into a net.

Nine months ago, she recalled, Mikel could barely catch a ball.

"He'd try to, but the hand-eye coordination wasn't there," she said. "He's really improved. I'm so proud of him."

Gentry credits the Special Olympics Illinois' Young Athlete program, piloted this year in preschool classrooms at East Park, Southwest and Garfield elementary schools.