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December 7, 2018



Following the state’s veto session, University of Illinois Extension’s Community and Economic Development team will host a free webinar, Illinois State Legislative Update, on Thursday, January 17, 2019 at Noon (Central Standard Time). Illinois Association of County Board Members’ local government legislative experts, Kelly Murray and Taylor Anderson, will discuss recent and potential changes in legislation that will have a direct impact on Illinois local governments. With a Q&A session following the presentation, participants will have an opportunity to discuss impact and better understand mandated and expected actions. Visit the registration site for more information about the program and presenters.



Water is the world’s most vital resource. Beyond its basic functions of sustaining life, it’s also a precious commodity – one that billions of people in the world have trouble accessing. This infographic from Raconteur puts the global issue of water access into staggering perspective. It’s a two-fold problem: safe drinking water is hard to come by, while basic access to sanitation is less common than you’d expect. It’s easy to take water for granted when it comes out of every tap in developed economies, but the stark reality is that 2.1 billion people worldwide can’t get safe water this way. Many people in the world spend hours waiting in long lines, often multiple times a day, for community-shared water, or, they have to travel to distant sources to collect it. The invention of the toilet in 1875 is credited with saving one billion lives to date. Yet, poor water hygiene and its associated diseases claim the lives of roughly one million people annually. This is because roughly 4.5 billion people still don’t have access to a toilet, with the problem being particularly acute on the African continent. More than half of the population in Eritrea (76%), Niger (71%), Chad (68%) and South Sudan (61%), for example, do not have any access to even basic sanitation.



Vacants to Value, a program the City of Baltimore has created to get people back into some of its many thousands of abandoned homes, offers city-owned residential properties to qualified buyers. Targeting streets and neighborhoods that seem to offer the best chance of recovery, the program offers vacant homes at low prices to developers and individuals. Buyers must prove they can afford to purchase a property. They also have to secure funding to rehabilitate it, which costs much more than buying it. And they must do this within a prescribed amount of time, usually one year. Help is available in submitting bids and applying for an array of financial incentives and tax credits offered by the city and the state of Maryland. If a property lacks a roof -- a common occurrence -- the city will often install a new one at no cost to the buyer. The program is designed to spur growth and reinvestment in Baltimore.



The Middle Fork River Forest Preserve in Champaign County has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park, the state’s first such designation. The result caps a two-year effort to achieve the status in a collaboration between the Champaign County Forest Preserve District and the Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society. “As the first International Dark-Sky Park in Illinois, Middle Fork River Forest Preserve’s protected dark-skies are truly a fantastic resource for Midwestern stargazers,” said IDA International Dark Sky Places Program Manager Adam Dalton. “Located immediately adjacent to the Champaign-Urbana metro area and only two hours from Chicago, the park’s dark-skies allow urban and rural residents alike to experience the wonders of the cosmos in a setting close to home.” In recognition of its newly dedicated International Dark Sky Park status, Middle Fork River Forest Preserve will celebrate with the public during International Dark Sky week, March 31-April 6, 2019, by throwing a star party. The Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society will join the District in ramping up night-sky related programming at Middle Fork, while visitors who camp in the preserve’s campground will continue to have nightly access to the park’s dark skies.



December 17 - 2018 Illinois Farm Economics Summit

January 17 (Webinar) - Illinois State Legislative Update

January 24 (Webinar) - Federal Legislative Update