Illinois Public Media News


AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 11, 2009

Champaign Wants a Bigger Buffer Zone for Outlying Wind Turbines

The Champaign County Board is expected to vote this month on a proposal to allow the development of wind turbine farms on agricultural land. Some Champaign city officials say that's fine with them --- if the county inserts a new rule to keeping the wind farms further away from the city.

Champaign and other communities already have a mile and a half around their borders where they can overrule the county on zoning. It's called 'extra-territorial jurisdiction" or ETJ. For wind farms, Champaign city planners and the city Plan Commission recommend asking the county for an additional mile of ETJ. Land Development Manager Lorrie Pearson says they want to make sure the city can grow without bumping up against a wind farm. "Whereas today if a wind farm is located immediately adjacent to the ETJ, in the future it may actually be within the ETJ or perhaps even within our growth area," Pearson said. "So we want to really look at how our city grows and have that be more consistent with our comprehensive plan rather it be regulated by wind farms that are existing within our county."

The Champaign City Council hasn't discussed the matter yet, but the County Board's Environment and Land Use Committee will look at the ETJ request at their meeting tonight, prior to a county board vote next week. Committee Chair Barb Wysocki isn't commenting on the idea. But she says the current proposals for Champaign County wind farms would be built well away from Champaign.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 08, 2009

Severe Storms in Southern Illinois Cut Power, Cause Injuries, Cancel Commencement

Injuries are being reported in southern Illinois in the wake of thunderstorms that packed 100-mph winds that moved across the area Friday.

Health officials say a truck driver who had to be extricated from an overturned semitrailer was in serious condition at a local hospital.

Rosslynd Rice of Southern Illinois Healthcare says about six other patients with minor injuries were being treated at the Memorial Hospital of Carbondale.

Carbondale Township Fire Captain Mark Black says trees are down and siding from homes is strewn everywhere. He says his firefighters are cutting trees out of the roadway so they can get their trucks out.

The storms forced the cancellation of some commencement ceremonies Friday at Southern Illinois University's Carbondale campus.

University spokesman Rod Sievers says power is out, hundreds of trees are down and many dorm windows are broken. But there were no injuries on .

Sievers says if power returns, commencement ceremonies scheduled for Saturday will go on as planned.

It's finals week at SIU-Carbondale, and many students have left campus because they were finished with tests.

More than 33,000 Ameren customers are without power, mostly around Carbondale, Marion and Herrin.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 05, 2009

Urbana City Council Will Not Protest County Wind Farm Proposal

The Urbana City Council will not join Newcomb Township in trying to block passage of a county zoning ordinance for wind turbine farms. Council members voted unanimously Monday night not to file a protest against the county board zoning proposal.

The proposal would allow the construction of large wind turbine farms on land zoned agricultural, under a special use permit. Mayor Laurel Prussing says council members support wind farms. She says wind turbines can provide an alternative energy source that dovetails with the city's support for conservation and sustainable energy. "The city will do what it can in terms of energy conservation and sustainability,"says Prussing. "But we see the production of energy as a key ingredient in solving this whole problem, and that's why we are in favor of wind energy being used."

The Champaign County Board could vote on the wind farm zoning ordinance at its May 21st meeting. The proposal is currently in committee.

The Newcomb Township Board voted last month to protest the proposal. Their protest means it will take a super-majority --- or 21 votes --- for the measure to pass the Champaign County Board. In Champaign, the city's Plan Commission will discuss the proposal at its meeting on Wednesday.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 20, 2009

An Alternative to Flushing Old Medications

A free prescription-drug dropoff program is taking place this week, a year after the first effort brought in an unexpectedly high number of old drugs.

Carle RX Express locations in Champaign-Urbana, Mahomet and Monticello are collecting old, outdated or unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs all this week.

Greg Puszkiewicz is the director of the pharmacies - he says last year the stores accepted 526 pounds of medications and turned them over to the City of Urbana, which is helping sponsor the dropoff.

"The City of Urbana comes and picks it up and takes it to their facility, then the next day the EPA comes and picks it up and they take it to Texas where it's incinerated," Puszkiewicz said.

Puszkiewicz says last year, the first-ever dropoff happened just as news stories appeared about traces of pharmaceuticals found in drinking water supplies. He says that spurred patients to take action and get rid of their old drugs in a safe way, instead of flushing them down the drain or the toilet - in some cases, participants had been holding onto the medications for more than twenty years.

Categories: Community, Environment, Health

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 14, 2009

Zoning Rules for Wind Farms Pass Champaign County Board Committee

Zoning rules for wind turbine farms in Champaign County won the approval of a county board committee Monday night on a 7 to 2 vote.

The Environmental and Land Use Committee endorsed rules regulating large arrays of wind turbines up to 500 feet tall on agricultural land. Currently, Champaign County rules only cover small individual wind turbines or windmills.

Committee members decided to cut the size of the buffer required between wind farms and the nearest dwelling. The proposal called for at least a 1500-foot buffer. But committee Chair Barb Wysocki says a 1200-foot buffer is more common, and preferred by developers. "The developers who were at the meeting admitted that 1500 feet would not necessarily be a deal-breaker," says Wysocki. "But it would encourage them to rethink the configuration of the wind turbines and their placement in Champaign County.

County Planning and Zoning Director John Hall says he's hoping for quick county board approval next month of the wind turbine rules, so that developers already looking to set up wind farms in Champaign County can take quick action.

In the meantime, the wind farm zoning proposal remains with the Environmental and Land Use Committee for public comment. If a local government in the county decides to protest the rules, that would force a super-majority vote on the county board for the proposal to pass --- 21 votes instead of 14.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 10, 2009

Update on Whooping Crane Surgery

It was a long shot, but veterinarians at the University of Illinois were not able to save a rare whooping crane that had broken a leg. A spokeswoman for the College of Veterinary Medicine says the endangered bird died Wednesday night of complications not directly related to the injury. The college's wildlife clinic had scheduled surgery on the injured leg for Thursday. The crane was found in McLean County, where its flock had stopped on its migration from Florida.

Categories: Education, Environment


AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 08, 2009

Surgery for Injured Whooping Crane Scheduled for Thursday at U of I

There are fewer than 500 whooping cranes in the world. And on Thursday afternoon, a veterinary surgeon at the University of Illinois Urbana campus will operate on one of them.

The young crane was found earlier this month in a field near the central Illinois town of Gridley, with a badly broken leg. It's part of a carefully monitored whooping crane flock based in Wisconsin. Dr. Avery Bennett of the U of I Veterinary Teaching Hospital says the bird's lower left leg bones are broken in "countless" places. But he says chances for recovery are good.

Bennett says he plans to stabilize the broken leg bones with carbonized rods. He says they'll be attached on the outside of the leg with pins connecting to the ends of the broken bones. Bennett says while the bones are mending, the bird's weight will actually be carried by the external rods, allowing it walk around until the broken bones knit.

Such devices are called external skeleton fixation devices. And Bennett says they're essential, because the whooping crane must get on its feet as soon as possible to survive.

The crane's broken leg bones could be healed in about a month. During that time, Bennett says they face another challenge --- how to keep the whooping crane from getting too used to human contact. He says if the crane loses its healthy fear of humans, it may spend the rest of its life in a zoo.

Categories: Education, Environment, Science

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 06, 2009

ADM Begins Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Experiment

Officials at Archer Daniels Midland's massive Decatur ethanol plant are showing off an 84 million dollar project to study a way to keep more carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere.

ADM is the first of seven sites around the nation to begin the process of storing more than a million tons of CO2 deep underground rather than letting it escape into the air. Researchers point to CO2 as a key factor in global warming.

Illinois State Geological Survey director Robert Finley says the experiment is beginning with a test well dug more than a mile into the rock formations under the plant to see how well it can handle the injected gas.

"With a relatively pure source of CO2 coming from ADM's ethanol fermentation facility here in Decatur combined with excellent geology suitable for testing carbon sequestration immediately below the Decatur area and in fact throughout central Illinois, that gives us an opportunity to carry out this test here at Decatur," Finley said.

It'll be another year before ADM will actually inject large amounts of CO2. Finley believes the Illinois Basin can hold many times more carbon dioxide than ADM, the proposed FutureGen coal plant and other industries in central Illinois can produce.


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