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September 26, 2014
LED Lights Improve Stargazing
Two-thirds of the world’s population, including basically everyone in America and continental Europe, no longer experience starry nights. It’s not that the star population is dropping—it’s just obscured by light pollution, namely, the 60 million streetlights in the U.S. alone. Millions are installed each year, projects for which cities are paying out the nose: 40 percent of a city’s electric bill goes to streetlights, and half that light is wasted, shining brightly onto empty pavement. But there could be hope: LED streetlight retrofits are a solution that could bring in savings and be better for the skies, too. Los Angeles is in the midst of a $100 million, 215,000-lamppost retrofit, Forbes reports, which is projected to cut the city’s energy bill by 63 percent per year. New York is also replacing 250,000 lights by 2017, which should save $14 million in annual energy and maintenance. It’s not just that LED lights are more efficient than sodium- or mercury-vapor lights (though they are). It’s also that they can be easily controlled from a central location. Los Angeles, Forbes says, can “dim or brighten any individual pole, controlling the lighting network like a digital army  … The city likes the idea of using flashing light paths to guide its police and firefighters toward and away from emergencies, and it may put that practice in place later.”
Managing the Emerald Ash Borer
On October 2, University of Illinois Extension is offering a free program for local officials, municipalities, park districts, arborists, and others impacted by the recent Emerald Ash Borer findings. The program will be from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Festival Building in East Peoria. Topics include how to create a community action plan to manage ash trees on city-owned and private property, how to inventory ash trees within your community, and budget for tree removal as necessary. Speakers include Scott Schirmer, Bureau of Environmental Programs, Illinois Department of Agriculture; Reinee Hildebrandt, State Urban Forester, IDNR; and Aaron Schulz, ISA Certified Arborist IL-9078A, King Tree Specialists, Inc.
'Seedling Miles' Grow Lincoln Highway
By building one short stretch of concrete highway in rural Illinois, backers of the struggling Lincoln Highway project relaunched the national effort to create the nation’s first hard-top transcontinental highway. This week, Malta, Illinois, celebrates the centennial of its seedling mile.

The DeKalb County village, 70 miles west of Chicago, was the site of the first “seedling mile” of concrete pavement for the transcontinental Lincoln Highway in 1914. This short stretch of road was one of a number of such seedling miles built to demonstrate construction techniques and generate support for the highway. The centennial of this mile is a significant but obscure event in nation building.


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