Local News

Some Lanes Being Reopened for Holiday Weekend

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced today the reopening of lanes where possible for the busy Memorial Day weekend to minimize travel disruption. Non-emergency roadwork will be suspended from 3 p.m. Friday, May 25, through 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, May 29.

 

Work zone speed limits will remain in effect where posted. Motorists should be alert, as lane closures in the following locations will remain in place during the holiday weekend:

 

District 5

Champaign County

• I-74 westbound between mileposts 188 and 186; lane reductions continue.

 

District 7

Macon County

• U.S. 36 over U.S. 51 at the U.S. 36/U.S.51 interchange west of Decatur; closed, detour posted.
• Cantrell Road over U.S. 51 west of Decatur; lane reductions continue, controlled by traffic signals.


New Report Shows Many Illinoisans at Risk from Exposure to Nitrates in Drinking Water

A new report indicates the issue of nitrates in Illinois drinking water may be larger than previously thought.
 
The Prairie Rivers Network, the Illinois affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation, has issued the report titled Illinois’ Ignored Water Crisis: Preventing Nitrates from Contaminating Illinois Drinking Water.  In it, the organization finds that, since 1980, over 322-thousand people in Illinois have been exposed to nitrate levels in their drinking water that exceed federal standards.  Macon County is the most affected area in the state, where 77.6% of residents on public water systems have been exposed to elevated
nitrate levels exceeding the federal standards at least once.
 
Catie Gregg, Agricultural Programs Specialist with PRN, explains that agriculture is one of the largest contributors to nitrates finding their way into drinking water.  She says despite recent steps in the right direction with the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy there's still a lot of work to do.
 

 

 
According to the report, the instances of communities dealing with elevated nitrate levels are increasing.  Gregg also notes that communities are at times dealing with levels that don't exceed federal standards, but yet those levels are still believed to cause adverse health effects.
 

 

 
Gregg believes farming operations are the first line of defense in the fight against nitrates.  She says local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and other federal programs, offer incentives to bring nutrient management practices onto the farm.  However, Gregg notes those agencies and conservation funding are under attack in the current political climate.
 

 

 
Gregg says edge of field practices, such as filter strips, or in-field practices, such as cover crops, are ways that Illinois' ag sector can help to limit the amount of nitrates finding its way into drinking water.
 

 

 
Increasing numbers of central Illinois communities, like Decatur, Moweaqua and Taylorville, have had to purchase expensive nitrate treatment facilities to reduce nitrate levels in their community water supply.  The Prairie Rivers Network believes conservation is a much less costly way to improve the state's water quality.

DeWitt County Museum Welcomes Lincoln Chairs To Collection

A pair of well-traveled chairs with purported ties to Abraham Lincoln have recently made their way home to DeWitt County.
 
Joey Woolridge, Director of the DeWitt County Museum, explains that a family recently donated a pair of chairs to the C.H. Moore Homestead that have been passed down for generations.  According to family legend, the chairs originated from a now defunct hotel in Clinton that was visited many times by Abraham Lincoln.  Woolridge says from there the chairs have been across the country.
 

 

 
Woolridge admits that it's almost impossible to prove the nation's 16th President actually sat in the chairs, but she says passing on the story of the chairs is crucial.
 

 

 
These "Lincoln Chairs" join several others in the DeWitt County museum.  Woolridge says early details are starting to come together for an event in the near future to show off all of the collection.
 

 

 
In the meantime, the new Lincoln Chairs are being put on display inside the C.H. Moore Homestead.  You can learn more about the DeWitt County Museum at chmooreshomestead.org.
 

Vespasian Warner Public Library Asking Residents to Participate in Survey

 
The Vespasian Warner Public Library is asking residents of the library district to participate in a survey.
 
Janet Ward with the Vespasian Warner Public Library indicates that the survey consists of general questions to help the library better plan for its future.
 

 

 
The survey is available at all of the circulation desks in the library and online at www.vwarner.org.
 

Madigan spokesman weighs in on sports gambling potential

House Speaker Mike Madigan is recusing himself from the discussion on potentially bringing sports wagering to Illinois. His spokesman Steve Brown isn't discussing the reasons for that but he believes the stalled discussion about gambling expansion in Illinois has likely prevented the state from being on the fast track to bring a sports book to Illinois wagering facilities......
 

 

 
 
The Supreme Court recently threw out the nation's ban of sports wagering in most states.

University of Illinois Extension leads tick surveillance program

 
Tick-borne illnesses being tracked in Illinois. A surveillance program is being led by the University of Illinois. It’s called the I-Tick Network and the coordinator is Beth Gilliam.
 

 

 
Participants from around the state are generally those who are outside on a regular basis. They will keep a record for five days during a two-week period about the ticks they find on themselves. The ticks collected are sent to the University of Illinois for evaluation. 
 

U of Illinois board approves $263M in construction projects

The University of Illinois is moving forward with more than $263 million in construction projects at its campuses in Urbana-Champaign and Chicago.
 
The Board of Trustees voted last week to approve funding for 10 projects, including new or renovated residential, research and classroom buildings.
 
The projects are financed without state funding, using donations, borrowing and institutional funds. They are part of 1.2 billion dollars in construction improvements the University of Illinois system has made over the past five years.
 
Eight of the projects are at the Urbana-Champaign campus. They include an addition to expand small animal surgery at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and the replacement of track and field facilities.
 
The Chicago projects include new research facilities at the Medical Sciences Building.

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