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                                         Applications for the funds are due May 1

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) now is accepting proposals for federal specialty crop grants.

The agency has been notified Illinois will receive a share of the funds and instructed to begin the proposal selection process. The exact amount of its award, however, has not been determined.

"Expanding access to nutritious, homegrown Illinois food is one of the department's top priorities," Agriculture Director Bob Flider said. "If we could increase local food purchases to just 10 percent of our grocery bill, it would generate more than 20 billion dollars in new economic activity every year, create thousands of jobs in the farming and food industries and revitalize both rural and urban communities."

The funds will come from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program in the new Farm Bill. Most recently, Illinois has been receiving about $600,000 a year and using the funds to open new markets for fresh, Illinois-grown produce.

The IDOA will accept grant proposals until May 1, 2014, at 4 p.m. Request for Proposal packets and additional information about the program, including a list of past grant recipients and their projects, can be found online by clicking the specialty crops logo on the homepage of the department's website at www.agr.state.il.us or by contacting Delayne Reeves. She can be reached by phone at (217) 524-9129 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Parent Category: News

Deere expanding University of Illinois research center

By The Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN - Deere & Company plans to almost double the size of its on-campus research center at the University of Illinois.

The Moline-based company said Friday it is increasing the size of its John Deere Technology Innovation Center to 13,500 square feet. The company plans to be able to accommodate 50 interns as well as its staff.

The center is located in the university's research park.
Deere said in a news release that its presence at the university gives it access to experts in engineering, computer science and other areas.

Klaus Hoehn is a Deere vice president. He said the Research Park location also helps Deere attract top graduates.

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Ford-Iroquois agency's actions inappropriate: audit reveals

A forensic auditor's report is confirming the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department's management committed several inappropriate acts using taxpayers' money.

Iroquois County Board Chairman Rod Copas calls it "criminal."

Findings revealed in the eight-page report prepared by Bellevue, Wash.-based CliftonLarsonAllen LLP were policy revisions made without the board's approval. Other finds revealed included inaccurate budgeting, violation of bid procurement laws, and the misuse of grant money.

Copas, who also serves on the health department board, directed the audit investigation with accusations, including fraud. Copas called for a forensic audit of 2012 actions. The audit was reported to cost an estimated $50,000.

The audit's authors also stated they were steered toward alleged wrong-doings and that, other inappropriate actions within the organization may not be revealed in their findings only because the accusers hand-picked issues of concern.

Media reports had revealed that the health department disregarded its own procurement rules when it awarded a $127,000 contract to a company owned by the husband of a health department employee. That award was allegedly without a proper bid.

The audit also pointed to the questionable legality of former health department administrator Doug Corbett's plan to pursue a home-health care office serving two neighboring counties in Indiana.

A Watchdog Group alleged grant money was obtained to cover a portion of employees' salaries when the said employees never did work related to the grant.
The report reveals forensic auditors saying all of the actions were improper, adding that they violated state law and/or the agency's by-laws.

An earlier investigation by the Illinois Attorney General's Office returned a ruling that "board action may have been questionable, but not intentional, and did not meet the criteria worth pursuing."

94.1 WGFA

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Buckeye Oil Company says pipelines fixed, Route 113 to re-open next week

The Houston-based Buckeye Partners oil company says Illinois Route 113 in Bourbonnais will re-open next week. Repairs have been made to the 8-inch pipelines that broke underneath the route. The roadway is now being repaired for traffic to flow again.

Buckeye Partners announced Thursday evening that it completed permanent repairs to about 125 feet of two pipelines that spilled at least 1,500 gallons of gasoline in Limestone.

Environmental testing is continuing, including core soil sampling and air quality. There have been no environmental problems reported over the last week as a result of the gasoline release. Buckeye said it expects to reopen Route 113 "in the middle part of next week."

In a press release, company spokesman David Boone says the pipelines, which transport gas to and from Kankakee and Indiana, can carry up to 20,000 barrels of gas a day. That means up to 280,000 barrels didn't make their way to the two terminals in the seven days they were shut off.

Boone says "There's really no impact to the market."

94.1 WGFA

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RTA files suit again, more towns named in sales tax agreements

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is naming three more Illinois communities, claiming the towns are using phony sales offices which divert sales tax revenue away from Chicago's taxing districts.

The RTA is naming Morris, Savanna, and Genoa. The suit is similar to what was filed against Kankakee in 1999. The RTA seeks to end the agreements the three communities have in place.

The litigation against Kankakee has cost local officials more than $2.4 in sales tax revenues. Now, Kankakee officials are dealing with severe budget cuts and tax hiles to make up for the lost revenue.

94.1 WGFA