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Illinois Country Living


Weather radios and smoke alarms are gifts that save lives

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) suggest you consider a list of unique gift ideas designed to keep friends and family safe at home or in a vehicle.

“Basic preparedness presents, like a flashlight, weather radio or a first-aid kit, can be a real life-saver when disaster strikes,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III. “While we never know when the next emergency will happen, you can give your loved ones the peace of mind in knowing they’re better prepared for the unexpected.”

Velasquez said holiday preparedness gift ideas include:

• NOAA Weather Alert radios with extra batteries

• Items for a disaster kit for the home, office or dormitory, such as a first-aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable food, blankets, flashlight and batteries

• Items for a safety kit for the automobile, such as jumper cables, flashlight, blankets, sand and a small shovel

“The best holiday gift is one with the potential to save lives,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal Dave DeFraties. “Smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are great gifts, but for those whose homes are already equipped for safety, you may consider first aid or CPR classes.”

DeFraties said the gifts will also help friends and loved ones comply with Illinois law, which requires that working smoke alarms be placed within 15 feet of every sleeping area and be maintained in working order. Since Jan. 1, 2007, state law also requires all buildings that use fossil fuel and have sleeping rooms or have an attached garage to have an approved, operating carbon monoxide detector installed within 15 feet of any sleeping area.  Homes that have all electric appliances and do not have a fireplace or an attached garage are exempt from the requirements.

Other fire safety and prevention gift ideas include ABC-rated fire extinguishers, foldable ladders for second-story emergency escapes and flameless scented candles.

Most preparedness and gift items can be found in hardware and department stores. For additional information on emergency preparedness, visit the Ready Illinois website at

The OSFM website,, offers more information about fire safety.

How to live with deer

A new website provides Illinois residents with information on how to coexist with white-tailed deer. The website provides information about white-tailed deer natural history, IDNR’s strategy for managing the deer population, damage prevention and abatement techniques, public health and safety information, what to do about injured or orphaned deer, and information about the role you can play in managing Illinois’ deer population. The cooperation of landowners and land managers, as well as cooperation among neighbors, is essential to maintain deer numbers at acceptable levels.

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Coal plant converted to biomass

The E.J. Stoneman Station biomass power plant is delivering power to 28,000 electric co-op members. Dairyland Power Cooperative is purchasing the entire 40 MW output of the renewable energy facility to help serve the energy needs of its member cooperative consumers. Dairyland Power provides wholesale power to the members of Jo-Carroll Energy in northwestern Illinois. Renewable energy at the Stoneman Station is produced through the burning of various types of wood waste, including green wood residue from forestry and tree trimming operations, railroad ties, demolition waste and sawdust.

The Stoneman Station, located in Cassville, Wis., has a unique history. Formerly a coal-fired power plant owned and brought into service by Dairyland in 1951, Dairyland sold it in the 1990s. Current owner DTE Energy Services has now resurrected the Stoneman Station as a biomass facility, selling the renewable energy back to its original owner.

Clean coal technology can create Illinois jobs

Clean coal technology has the potential to rejuvenate the coal industry, boost the use of an important domestic energy source and create thousands of new jobs and other economic benefits, according to a report released in April by the Regional Economics Application Laboratory at the University of Illinois.

In results that may be transferrable to other states, the report analyzes the impact of several ongoing and potential plant projects on employment, labor income and economic growth in Illinois. “Each of the projects, if built, could provide needed energy supply … and significant jobs — both in construction and operations,” the report said. Four of the primary technologies and projects analyzed include:

Pulverized coal: The 1,600-mw Prairie State project in Washington County, Ill., is the largest coal-fired plant under construction in the United States. The state-of-the-art facility could support more than 16,000 direct and indirect jobs during its 5-year construction period and more than 1,700 jobs during its operating period.

Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC): The FutureGen project was going to be 275-mw demonstration project for coal gasification, electricity generation, hydrogen production and carbon capture and sequestration technology. The project fought for and won approval, then was cancelled, and recently approved again but on a smaller scale and not in Mattoon as originally planned. The originally proposed project would have created 12,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction and 450 jobs during operation. The scaled back plan would create 500 construction jobs and add 50 permanent jobs.

Hybrid IGCC: Coal is converted to synthetic gas (syngas), cleaned and converted into substitute natural gas in a process that removes most of the carbon dioxide (CO2), mercury and sulfur. The captured CO2 can be used for enhanced oil recovery or sequestered. A 620-mw hybrid IGCC plant could create up to 19,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction and up to 1,200 operating jobs.

Coal-to-Liquids (CTL): The CTL process converts coal to diesel fuel by first converting coal to gas, then converting the gas to a liquid. The end product is virtually sulfur-free and burns more completely with lower emissions than low-sulfur diesel. A mine and plant sized to produce 48,000 bbl/day could create nearly 12,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction and 4,500 operating jobs.

Tree-killing beetle discovered in Champaign and Grundy Counties

A destructive pest that feasts on ash trees has been confirmed in Champaign and Grundy counties. The emerald ash borer (EAB) was discovered in Champaign County at Prairie Pine Campgrounds in Rantoul and in Grundy County at the Three Rivers Rest Area on I-80 in Morris. “Grundy County is already under our EAB quarantine, which includes all or parts of 23 counties in the northern and central parts of Illinois,” Warren Goetsch, IDOA bureau chief of Environmental Programs, said. “However, Champaign County is not. Therefore, the quarantine boundaries will need to be adjusted.”

The quarantine is intended to prevent the accidental spread of the beetle. It prohibits the intrastate movement of potentially-contaminated wood products, including ash trees, limbs and branches and all types of firewood.

Since the emerald ash borer was first confirmed in the Midwest in the summer of 2002, more than 25 million ash trees have been felled by the beetle.

Champaign and Grundy are the fifteenth and sixteenth Illinois counties with a confirmed EAB infestation. Previous detections were made in Boone, Bureau, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Iroquois, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, McHenry, McLean, Will and Winnebago counties.

Anyone who suspects a tree has been infested is urged to contact either the county Extension office or village forester. For more information, visit

Grand Opening of the Delbert D. Mundt Water Treatment Plant

EJ Water Cooperative, Inc. held a grand opening for its new water treatment plant located in rural Beecher City on October 27. Despite the high winds, approximately 150 people gathered outside the Delbert D. Mundt Water Treatment Plant for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Delbert D. Mundt was honored for his vision of EJ Water, hard work and dedication to the cooperative from its beginning. Mr. Mundt, backed by the current EJ Water Board of Directors, cut the ribbon symbolizing the start of the new water treatment plant, which will supply treated, softened water to about half of EJ Water’s customers.

EJ Water Cooperative, Inc. has developed into a 7 county regional water system, serving members in Effingham, Jasper, Clay, Cumberland, Richland, Fayette, and Shelby counties. It is one of the fastest growing water systems in the State of Illinois and recently became the largest rural water cooperative in Illinois. The system currently has approximately 1,500 miles of water mains and has over 7,500 rural memberships, now serving over 18,000 rural people and also providing water to the towns of Watson, Edgewood, Dieterich, St. Peter, Ste. Marie, Clay City and Louisville. EJ Water also has Interconnect Agreements with Effingham, Hardinville, Newton, and Montrose.


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Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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