Bill Hammack has been doing a lot of thinking about east-central Illinois' water supply. You may know him as WILL's "Engineer Guy," bringing complex scientific issues closer to home. All this week, Bill is taking a look at how we use water, how much we have and how we manage it for the future. The different ways we use water at home may seem obvious - but in Part 4, Bill finds some ways we may never have suspected.
Illinois Public Media News
In small towns across the country, many people have decided that a cheaper way to get around is to leave the car in the garage and pile into the golf cart. Golf carts and other small slow-speed vehicles are becoming more appealing to people living in areas where traffic is low, but gas prices are high. In Illinois, several small towns are allowing golf carts on their streets --- while others are holding back. AM 580's Jim Meadows reports.
The Mortgage Bankers Association says of all the homes in the country, nearly 2 1/2 percent of them are in foreclosure. Illinois's foreclosure rate is even higher --- the 7th highest in the nation. Home foreclosures also appear to be on the rise in the Champaign-Urbana area. But as AM 580's Jim Meadows reports, it may not have reached the crisis level ... yet.
Eating organic food is not only considered healthy -- some companies believe selling it can be very profitable. Once limited to farmers' markets and small shops, organic food is now sold by some of America's largest companies. Organic milk, meat, fruits and vegetables are earning some retailers millions of dollars, others a lot less. AM 580's Terrell Starr talked with retailers of all sizes to discuss the competitiveness of this growing industry.
With the proposed FutureGen power plant on hiatus, it's unclear which path so-called clean coal research will take next. FutureGen was to turn coal into hydrogen before burning it to generate electricity, and to inject the resulting carbon dioxide deep into the ground - all at one single plant near Mattoon. But as AM 580's Tom Rogers reports, other projects using portions of that technology are already taking root.
US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman has made it official -- he's pulling federal funding from the FutureGen clean-coal plant slated for Mattoon. He favors several smaller projects using the same technology. Meanwhile, members of Illinois' Congressional delegation hope they can convince congress or the President to return to the original plan. AM 580's Jim Meadows reports.
After nearly two years of work, the Coles County city of Mattoon snagged the $1.8 billion FutureGen experimental power plant project. FutureGen promises to revitalize the state's coal industry by using a combination of technologies to nearly eliminate pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. It also promises hundred of jobs for the area, beginning with construction work in 2010. But funding for the project is still uncertain. AM 580 has been covering the announcement.
Fast-growing video game manufacturer Volition, based in Champaign, pays recent college graduates - who are also experienced gamers - to test their games. Testing is a first, full-time job for many of the graduates. They are looking for flaws before the games hit the market. AM 580's Jeff Bossert reports for NPR's Morning Edition.
August 31 was the last day of production at the three Collins and Aikman auto parts plants in Rantoul. If anyone returns to work at the buildings, it will be for a different company that might move in. AM 580's Jeff Bossert spoke to a few of the 500 employees about their final week of work and their prospects for the future.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich says he will veto a portion of the state budget approved by lawmakers, and redirect those funds to universal health care. Former Republican state lawmaker Rick Winkel (left) says he sides with those who question the legality of that move. AM 580's Jeff Bossert spoke with Winkel about what could occur before lawmakers conclude the longest overtime session in state history. Winkel is now a senior fellow with the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs and an adjunct professor in the College of Law.