"More than 160 schools in Illinois, including South Side Elementary in Effingham, will participate in a multi-state earthquake drill next February.
During the "Great Central U.S. ShakeOut," residents of nine states - Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Oklahoma - will practice the recommended "Drop, Cover and Hold On" protective actions. Participants will drop to the floor, take cover under sturdy furniture and hold on to it until the hypothetical shaking stops.
South Side Elementary's first- and second-grade students participate in earthquake drill once or twice a year, said Principal Amy Niebrugge.
"We present it as: We practice, just like, to become a better reader, we practice; to become better as a sport, we practice," she said. "So, for a drill, we're just practicing, so we know what to do."
Plus, students get to be a part of an event that has attracted nearly 640 schools from the region.
"I think it will be neat for the students to be involved in something that will be on the news," she said.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is encouraging residents to sign up for the drill and read about disaster relief."
The hurt caused by Friday’s horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut goes beyond the victims killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Across the country, children are learning about the shooting, and they’re also being affected.
The mayor of Indianapolis announced Wednesday that the city is taking a major step toward energy independence. It plans to replace its entire non-police fleet with electric or hybrid vehicles by 2025, the first major U.S. city to do so.
The city will buy about 30 to 50 energy efficient cars each year to replace its 470 sedans. It estimates it will save $12,000 per vehicle.
City spokesman Marc Lotter said the mayor, a retired Marine and Gulf War veteran, wants to change the national discussion on energy and foreign policy.
"Our dependence on foreign oil is putting our troops' lives in harm's way, it's costing our taxpayers billions of dollars each year in military expenditures, and it's something we no longer have to do because the technology is there," Lotter said.
The city hopes to replace its heavy trucks, like trash collectors and fire engines, to run on Compressed Natural Gas, Lotter said. It also wants to work with car manufacturers to develop plug-in hybrid police cars.
The devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy not only meant federal agencies and groups like the Red Cross took immediate action, but other expertise was needed in a number of areas, including utility workers.
A mental health agency in Champaign is working to reduce the stigma around mental illness, which it says affects about a quarter of American adults every year.
Community Elements Social Worker Linda Culton said the agency will hold a two-day Mental Health First Aid training course next week, where people will learn how to help someone going through a mental health crisis.
"It's a way to debunk so many myths that are out there and to, dare I say, normalize," she said. "You know, we don't always think of normalizing mental illness, but depression and anxiety are mental illnesses, and who hasn't experienced - or who doesn't know someone having problems with - those issues."
Culton said the organization's first workshop in September received encouraging feedback from participants.
"They loved it,"" she added. ""People used it in conjunction with their work, in conjunction with some of their other community activities. They used it in conjunction with their family members.""
The program includes discussions, film clips, and hands-on activities. It is open to anyone, and especially to those who might know or work with individuals with mental illness - such as friends and family, police officers, or faith leaders.
The 12-hour certification course costs $90 and includes lunch both days. It will be held Dec. 13 and 14 at 1801 Fox Drive in Champaign.