It's been a long minute, SJO outlasts Unity for Week 2 road win

Garrett Denhart
TOLONO - St. Joseph-Ogden defensive back Garrett Denhart holds up the pigskin after recovering a fumble halting a Unity march down the field in the fourth quarter. With less than two and half minutes left in the game, the Spartans, nursing a three-point lead, successfully managed the game clock to on to win the regular season Illini Prairie Conference game over state ranked Rockets, 35-38. The last time SJO left Hicks Field with a win was after a postseason matchup on November 8, 2014.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

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Champaign Park District fall tennis workout schedule released

O.J. Watkins focuses on hitting a server during his mixed-doubles match while playing outdoors at Atkins Tennis Center earlier this month. When the daily tempertures start to plummit as winter approaches, area tennis players can enjoy the sport indoors at the Champaign Park District's indoor facility located in the Interstate Research Park in north Champaign.
Photo: PhotoNews Media
CHAMPAIGN - Champaign-Urbana tennis players looking to stay in shape and hone their skills don't have to miss a point as the weather turns cooler this fall. The Champaign Park District offers affordable clinics and workouts throughout the week starting the second week of September. For more the more competitive spirit, four leagues available based on skill level.

Clinics and classes are held at park district's indoor facility at 2802 Farber Drive in Champaign.

Follow this link for a complete list of tennis programs available at Dodds Tennis Center.

Fall Workout dates are:
Ladies Day
Ages 18+ & All Levels
9:30-11am Wednesdays 9/13-12/27
Member Fee: $13/visit
Guest Fee: $16/visit

Saturday Morning Workout
Level: Players 3.0 & Up
9-11am Saturdays 9/16-12/30
Member Fee: $17/visit
Guest Fee: $20/visit

Sunday Morning Workout
Level: Players 3.0 & Up
9-11am Sundays 9/17-12/17
Member Fee: $17/visit
Guest Fee: $20/visit

Intermediate Workout
Level: Players 2.5 & Up
5:30-7pm Thursdays 10/26-12/28(no workout 11/23)
Member Fee: $13/visit
Guest Fee: $16/visit

Late Night Workout
Level: Players 3.5 & Up
7-9pm Thursdays 10/26-12/28(no workout 11/23)
Member Fee: $17/visit
Guest Fee: $20/visit

Lunch Club Workout
Level: Players 3.5 & Up
12-1:30pm Mondays 10/30-12/18
Member Fee: $13/visit
Guest Fee: $16/visit

Fall 1 Singles Leagues:
(consultation with the head pro is necessary before registration)
Adult 1:30-3pm Sunday Singles League
Generally Men’s 2.5-3.0/Women’s 3.0-3.5
Member Fee: $125
Guest Fee: $140

Bronze Flex Singles League
Generally Men’s 3.0-3.5/Women’s 3.5-4.0
Member Fee: $125
Guest Fee: $140

Shumaker Silver Flex Singles League
Generally Men’s 3.5-4.0/Women’s 4.0-4.5
Member Fee: $125
Guest Fee: $140

Gold Flex Singles League
Generally Men’s 4.0-4.5/Women’s 4.5-5.0
Member Fee: $125
Guest Fee: $140

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More men than women die from melanoma; tips for men to stay alive longer

by Paul Arco
OSF Healthcare

Let’s face it, fellas. We’re not always the best when it comes to taking care of ourselves.

That includes protecting one of our most vital and largest organs – our skin.

It’s that time of the year when people are outdoors for several reasons – sporting activities, vacations, and working outside jobs.

But under the brilliant sun rays lurks a potential danger especially to men – skin cancer, more specifically melanoma.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 97,000 new melanomas will be diagnosed this year (58,120 in men and 39,490 in women). Nearly 8,000 people will die from melanoma, the majority – nearly 5,500 of them – will be men.

“Men are more likely to develop skin cancer, in fact twice as likely, to develop melanoma over time because of several different reasons, whether that's related to the type of job that they do because men tend to work outdoors more often," says Ben Guth, a nurse practitioner for OSF HealthCare. "It can be education related where they aren't taught what to look for when it comes to signs and symptoms of skin cancer. And finally, they just don't use sunscreen when they go outside, which is very protective when it comes to sunburns and developing skin cancer in the future.”

There are other factors. Some research suggests that women’s sun-damaged skin seems to heal better than men. And men tend to have thicker skin, which makes it more susceptible to UV damage which can lead to melanoma.

The good news is that if caught early, melanoma and most skin cancers are highly curable. The problem, however, is most skin cancers don’t have symptoms until it reaches the later stages. So that makes it even more important to take care of our skin and know what to look for.

It starts with education.

“I think you need to have a well-rounded approach when it comes to protecting yourself from the sun and that education comes, one, from primary care providers and dermatologists," says Guth. "We educate on the importance of sunscreen, applying it every two hours, especially when outside. The American Academy of Dermatologists recommend using at least an SPF of 30 and that being a broad spectrum and even water-resistant, depending on the type of work or activity you’re doing outside.”

When applying sunscreen, don’t forget to lotion up around the ears, behind the neck and on top of the scalp, especially men who are balding. Ask your partner for a hand to get to those hard-to-reach spots.

While not everyone is a fan of using sunscreen lotion, don’t despair. There are other ways to help keep your skin protected this summer.

“There several other options if you don't like sunscreen or the greasy feel on your skin – wearing long sleeve shirts and pants, especially those that block sun, wearing a big hat, whether that's a baseball cap or a wide-brimmed hat with sunglasses," says Guth. "And you can also find areas of shade or protection from the sun especially during those high times where the sun is most strong, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.”

Guth strongly recommends men make a standing appointment for a skin checkup.

“If you have a dermatologist, it's good to have annual skin checks especially if you've had lesions in the past or had skin cancer in the past and had them removed," says Guth. "Outside of that men should just be talking with their provider about their concerns.”

Guth adds that if something doesn’t look or feel right, talk to your primary care provider or dermatologist. Don’t wait. And remember to always pack your sunscreen, even on those cloudy days.

Like smoking, it’s never too late to stop ignoring the dangers to our skin.

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Therapeutic dental treatment can reverse the effects of gum disease

by Tim Ditman
OSF Healthcare

Kent Splaingard, DMD, recalls decades ago when he learned his mother had stage three gum disease. Her dental providers told her that dentures were likely in a few years.

But after thirty years of treating his mother, Dr. Splaingard says she lost just one tooth.

“I always point it out here,” Dr. Splaingard says, gesturing to where the tooth was. “I remember taking that tooth out thinking, ‘What a failure.’ But I really look back at it and say, ‘What a success.’ Mom had her teeth all her life.”

The mouth is like a picture window into the body’s health.

It’s a prime example of how therapeutic dental treatment can reverse the effects of gum disease. And it’s something he sees weekly with patients at OSF HealthCare in Alton, Illinois. Dr. Splaingard is a retired private practice dentist and an instructor at Lewis and Clark Community College in nearby Godfrey. He and his students regularly see OSF patients who need extra dental attention.

It’s important work, Dr. Splaingard says, because our body functions as a whole. Advanced gum disease will likely make other medical conditions worse.

“The mouth is like a picture window into the body’s health,” he says.

Gum disease basics

Dr. Splaingard says gum disease is a bacterial infection caused by poor oral hygiene. The bacteria embed into the gum tissue, and that typically results in a low-grade chronic infection (in other words, a problem over a longer period). Left untreated, your gums will constantly be red (not the normal pink), swollen and sore. Bleeding is possible, too.

tooth under attack
“You see a lot of debris on the teeth. You may see a film of bacteria. You also see a white-ish coating on the soft tissue,” Dr. Splaingard adds.

“You also see the social and economic problems with the people who can’t chew properly. The poor nutrition they may be getting,” he adds.

Treatment for gum disease is a combination of thorough cleaning by a dental professional, treatments that stop bacteria from reproducing and antibiotic medication. In severe cases, a dental specialist may perform surgery. That could involve pulling some or all of a person’s teeth.


Dr. Splaingard says gum disease can be passed down genetically, but general prevention goes back to what dentists have told you since you were a kid.

  • Brush and floss regularly. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice per day and flossing once per day. If you have questions about frequency, talk to your dentist.
  • See a dentist regularly. Twice per year is a good starting point, but some people who need extra attention could go four times per year.
  • In between those appointments, watch your teeth and gums and let your dentist know if something doesn’t seem right.
  • “It’s education, motivation and self-treatment,” Dr. Splaingard says.

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    Fatal heart attack risks may be higher during days with extreme heat & air pollution

    by The American Heart Association

    Our findings provide evidence that reducing exposure to both extreme temperatures and fine particulate pollution may be useful to prevent premature deaths from heart attack, especially for women and older adults

    DALLAS — The combination of soaring heat and smothering fine particulate pollution may double the risk of heart attack death, according to a new study of more than 202,000 heart attack deaths in China. The study published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

    "Extreme temperature events are becoming more frequent, longer and more intense, and their adverse health effects have drawn growing concern. Another environmental issue worldwide is the presence of fine particulate matter in the air, which may interact synergistically with extreme temperatures to adversely affect cardiovascular health," said senior author Yuewei Liu, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China. "However, it remains unknown if and how co-exposure to extreme temperatures and fine particulate pollution might interact to trigger a greater risk of death from heart attack, which is an acute response potentially brought on by an acute scenario and a great public health challenge due to its substantial disease burden worldwide."

    AHA Logo To examine the impact of extreme temperatures with and without high levels of fine particulate pollution, the researchers analyzed 202,678 heart attack deaths between 2015-2020 that occurred in Jiangsu province, a region with four distinct seasons and a wide range of temperatures and fine particulate pollution levels. The deaths were among older adults with an average age of 77.6 years; 52% were older than age 80; and 52% were male. Particulate exposure on the day of each death and one day before death were included in the analysis.

    Extreme temperatures were gauged according to the daily heat index (also referred to as apparent temperature) for an area, which captures the combined effect of both heat and humidity. Both the length and extremeness of heat waves and cold snaps were evaluated. Heart attack deaths, or case days, during these periods were compared with control days on the same day of the week in the same month — meaning that if a death occurred on a Wednesday, all other Wednesdays in the same month would be considered control days. Particulate levels were considered high on any day with an average level of fine particulate matter above 37.5 micrograms per cubic meter.

    "Our findings provide evidence that reducing exposure to both extreme temperatures and fine particulate pollution may be useful to prevent premature deaths from heart attack, especially for women and older adults," Liu said.

    Compared with control days, the risk of a fatal heart attack was observed at the following levels:

  • 18% higher during 2-day heat waves with heat indexes at or above the 90th percentile (ranging from 82.6 to 97.9 degrees Fahrenheit), increasing with temperature and duration, and was 74% higher during 4-day heat waves with heat indexes at or above the 97.5th percentile (ranging from 94.8 to 109.4 degrees Fahrenheit). For context, 6,417 (3.2%) of the 202,678 observed deaths from heart attack happened during heat waves with heat indexes at or above the 95th percentile (ranging from 91.2 to 104.7 degrees Fahrenheit) for three or more days.
  • 4% higher during 2-day cold snaps with temperatures at or below the 10th percentile (ranging from 33.3 to 40.5 degrees Fahrenheit), increasing with lower temperatures and duration, and was 12% higher during 3-day cold snaps with temperatures at or below the 2.5th percentile (ranging from 27.0 to 37.2 degrees Fahrenheit). For context, 6,331 (3.1%) of the 202,678 observed deaths from heart attack happened during cold spells with temperatures at or below the 5th percentile (ranging from 30.0 to 38.5 degrees Fahrenheit) for 3 or more days.
  • Twice as high during 4-day heat waves that had fine particulate pollution above 37.5 micrograms per cubic meter. Days with high levels of fine particulate pollution during cold snaps did not have an equivalent increase in the risk of heart attack death.
  • Generally higher among women than men during heat waves.
  • Higher among people ages 80 and older than in younger adults during heat waves, cold snaps or days with high levels of fine particulate pollution.
  • The mean age of all individuals who died from a heart attack in Jiangsu from 2015-2020, including during non-extreme temperature events, was 77.6 years old; 52.1% of these individuals were over 80 years old.

    The researchers estimated that up to 2.8% of heart attack deaths may be attributed to the combination of extreme temperatures and high levels of fine particulate pollution (> 37.5 micrograms per cubic meter), according to WHO targets.

    Reducing exposure to air pollution and reversing the negative impact of poor air quality on cardiovascular health, including heart disease and stroke, is essential to reducing health inequities in Black and Hispanic communities.

    "Strategies for individuals to avoid negative health effects from extreme temperatures include following weather forecasts, staying inside when temperatures are extreme, using fans and air conditioners during hot weather, dressing appropriately for the weather, proper hydration and installing window blinds to reduce indoor temperatures," said Liu. "Using an air purifier in the house, wearing a mask outdoors, staying clear of busy highways when walking and choosing less-strenuous outdoor activities may also help to reduce exposure to air pollution on days with high levels of fine particulate pollution. To improve public health, it is important to take fine particulate pollution into consideration when providing extreme temperature warnings to the public."

    In a 2020 scientific statement and a 2020 policy statement, the American Heart Association details the latest science about air pollution exposure and the individual, industrial and policy measures to reduce the negative impact of poor air quality on cardiovascular health. Reducing exposure to air pollution and reversing the negative impact of poor air quality on cardiovascular health, including heart disease and stroke, is essential to reducing health inequities in Black and Hispanic communities, those that have been historically marginalized and under-resourced, and communities that have the highest levels of exposure to air pollution.

    The investigators recommended additional research about the possible interactive effects of extreme weather events and fine particulate pollution on heart attack deaths in areas with different temperature and pollution ranges to confirm their findings. The study did not include adjustments for any adaptive behaviors taken by individuals, such as using air conditioning and staying indoors, when temperatures are extreme or pollution levels are high, which could cause misclassification of individuals’ exposure to weather and alter their risk patterns. These results also may not be generalizable to other regions in China or other countries due to potential variations of adaption capacity and temperature distribution.

  • Photo Gallery | SJO defeats Monticello in Week 1 at Dick Duval Field

    St. Joseph-Ogden quarterback Logan Smith dives into the end zone to score the first touchdown on Dick Duval Field's newly installed turf surface on Friday. Smith scored five times and three a 31-yard TD in the Spartans 40-14 win over visiting Monticello.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    SJO's Tim Blackburn-Kelley hauls in a short pass during the first quarter of play against the Sages. The explosive sophomore running back finished the night with 38 yards on seven carries and hauled in three passes for 31 yards. Blackburn-Kelley and the Spartans travel to Hicks Field this Friday to face Illini Prairie Conference favorite Unity. The Rockets also won their season opener defeating Prairie Central at home, 27-12.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Monticello quarterback Luke Teschke, a senior, prepares throw the ball deep into SJO territory during the first quarter of their conference game. Teschke threw for 248 yards against the Spartans and ran collected 128 of the Sages' 177 yards rushing.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    SJO student fans cheer after another Spartan first down during first quarter action.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Monticello's Jeremiah Wenke and Brandon Peters celebrate as teammate Raiden Colbert completes his 32-yard run through the St. Joseph-Ogden defense for a touchdown. The Sages would score their only other score in the third quarter on a 27-yard pass play.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    St. Joseph-Ogden English teacher Ashton Harwood (center) works with student-journalists Maya Botts (left) and Grace Getty (right) on the sidelines during first half. In just one year's time, the high school's journalism program grew from 12 students during the previous academic year to nearly 50 students. Harwood said that after a long hiatus SJO's school newspaper resume publishing again this school year.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    A trio of St. Joseph-Ogden football fans share a laugh during a lull in second half action at Dick Duval Field.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Student fans cheer for the Spartans during the first half of the Illini Prairie Conference game.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Spartan quarterback Logan Smith rolls out of the pocket in the second quarter. Smith led SJO's offense with 102 yards rushing and threw for another 163 yards. With the speed and mobility of a seasoned tailback, four of the five senior's touchdowns on Friday came inside the red zone.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    A flag girl waits for the command to begin her routine during the SJO Marching Band's halftime show.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    A member of the SJO Marching Band plays rototoms during halftime.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Ray Gutierrez, Braxton Waller, Kodey McKinney, and Corbin Wells celebrate a recovered Monticello fumble.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Lightning illuminates the sky to the west of St. Joseph forcing officials to suspend the game until a small storm system passes through the area.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Kicker Joe Frasca kicks off to resume the game after a lightning delay in the third quarter.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Die-hard SJO fans watch the game from under their umbrella after a nearly hour and half lightning delay.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Spartan fans endure a light rain during third quarter action.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    With his team up on the scoreboard, Spartan linebacker James Barron is all smiles in the fourth quarter.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Sophomore running back Wyatt Wertz takes the ball in a handoff from SJO quarterback Kodey McKinney for a short gain during fourth quarter action. Wertz had four touches to finish with 26 yards rushing.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Following tradition, the entire Spartan football team sings the school song after their first victory on Dick Duval Field's new turf.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Stat girls from the St.Joseph-Ogden football team sing the school song after the game with the team and fans.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    Unity suffers heartbreaking loss at home to visiting Central Maroons

    Unity volleyball players dig
    McKayla Schendel and Lauren Shaw try to make a defensive play during Unity's home volleyball match against Champaign Central. The Rockets won the first set 25-19 and then dropped the next two, 25-14, 25-19, to the Maroons Tuesday evening at the Rocket Center. All four matches the Unity program has played this season were settled with a third set. UHS hopes to pick up their second win this season in an abbreviated match this Thursday at Tuscola. More photos and Sentinel game story on the way.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

    coffee ad

    Navigating solar leases for farmers and ranchers, a guide to working with developers

    Leasing valuable farmland to solar energy firms can generate a reliable revenue stream. Landowners should carefully consider the current and future impact of long-term land leases.
    Photo: American Public Power Association/Unsplash

    by Cari Rincker
    Attorney at Law
    Solar energy projects present an attractive opportunity for landowners to diversify their income streams. When a solar energy developer approaches a farmer or rancher with a seemingly lucrative lease agreement, the landowner must carefully consider whether the lease adequately protects his or her best interests before rushing into the deal. In this article, I discuss the essential aspects of solar lease agreements, as well as any potential landfalls that farmers and ranchers should avoid when navigating and negotiating a solar lease agreement.

    1. Understanding the Structure of the Agreement
    Agreements between solar developers and landowners come in many shapes and forms. In broad strokes, there are two main approaches. On the one hand, a developer may present a farmer or rancher with an option agreement, which will give the developer a period of time to assess the viability of a solar project on the land, and the unilateral right to exercise an option to enter into a solar lease agreement if and when the developer determines that the project will be profitable.

    The lease agreement should be fully negotiated at the time that the option agreement is executed. Alternatively, the developer may skip the option agreement and instead present the farmer or rancher with a lease agreement to be executed at the onset. Such a lease agreement usually commences with a development phase wherein the developer assesses the viability of the project. The developer is then granted the right to unilaterally terminate the lease at the conclusion of the development phase.

    Regardless of whether there is a separate option agreement or a development phase incorporated into the lease, solar leases generally are structured pursuant to the same format: There is a construction period which may last roughly one year, followed by an operation period which may last decades, a renewal period which may extend the lease even longer, and ultimately, a cleanup period. As discussed further below, each distinct phase comes with specific rights, obligations, and compensation structures.

    2. The Length of the Lease
    To understand the extent to which a lease will tie up their land, a farmer or rancher should be sure to calculate the total timeframe of the encumbrance, from the beginning of the option or development phase, to the end of the cleanup period.

    It is not uncommon for the life of a solar lease agreement to span more than half a century. For this reason, multi-generational family farms and ranches should carefully consider potential uses or plans for their land over the course of the near- and not-so-near-future. Such considerations may include the needs of future generations. The farmer or rancher should further keep in mind that such lease agreements typically run with the land, which means that they will bind any subsequent sale or estate succession of the land.

    Given the length of the agreement, agriculture producers should also carefully assess the impact of a solar lease on their property, including a thorough evaluation of the potential environmental impact, the effect on overall farming or ranching productivity and economies of scale, and their eligibility for government programs.

    3. Due Diligence on the Developer
    If a farmer or rancher plans to enter a long-term relationship with a solar developer, they should perform due diligence on the developer to ensure that the developer is legitimate and has a good record with other landowners in the area. Due diligence may include: (i) checking the developer’s online presence, including reviews and BBB complaints, (ii) confirming the developer is a registered entity with the secretary of state for the state that they claim to be organized under, and (iii) paneling neighbors and the community to see if anyone else has negative experiences with the developer.

    Solar panels producing electricity
    Braeson Holland/PEXELS
    4. Authority to Enter into the Lease
    Before executing an option or lease agreement, a farmer or rancher must confirm that he or she has the legal authority to enter into such an agreement. In the first instance, the landowner will likely have to warrant in the agreement that he or she is the fee simple owner of the farm or ranch. If there are multiple parties with an interest in the land, all co-owners must approve and be a party to the lease.

    If the land is owned by a business entity or trust, then the governing documents of such entity or trust must be reviewed to confirm that they permit the execution of such a lease. Finally, if the property is subject to mortgages, pre-existing leases, easements, or other encumbrances on the property, those may need to be addressed before proceeding with a solar lease.

    5. Compensation under the Lease
    A farmer or rancher should carefully review the compensation he or she will receive under the option and/or lease agreement(s). At both the option/development phase and the construction phase, the landowner may receive either lump-sum payments or periodic per-acre payments. It is advisable to avoid lump-sum arrangements if the timeframe of either phase is highly variable. Construction phase payments should be higher than option or development phase payments.

    The compensation received during the operation phase should be significantly higher than the earlier phases. It is most often structured as an annual or semi-annual payment tied to the number of acres subject to the lease. If receiving per acre payments, the farmer or rancher must clarify whether all acres will receive the same compensation level, or whether certain unused acres will be compensated at a lower rate (or not at all). Given the length of the operation phase, any lease should also include an escalation factor (typically between 1.5 and 3%) by which payments should rise on an annual basis to compensate for inflationary risk.

    The farmer or rancher is also encouraged to negotiate other forms of compensation or reimbursement in the lease. For example, a landowner may ask for the reimbursement of professional expenses, such as attorneys’ fees, incurred in reviewing the lease. The farmer or rancher should confirm that the developer will be responsible for any tax increase caused by transforming farmland into a solar energy facility. They may also wish to explore whether the developer will compensate the landowner for any loss of eligibility for government farming programs. Finally, the farmer or rancher should ensure that the lease clearly delineates a compensation structure for damages incurred to crops and the underlying drainage system on or adjacent to the property.

    6. The Rights and Obligations of Each Party
    The option and lease agreements should clearly lay out the rights granted to the solar developer on the landowner’s land. The farmer or rancher must pay careful attention to how the lease will affect their rights on the land subject to the lease and ensure that any rights or easements granted are carefully tailored for reasonableness. They should also understand whether the lease will interfere with rights on adjacent land owned by them.

    Photo: Tornike Jibladze/Pixabay
    For example, a solar lease will grant the developer an easement for solar access, which may permit the developer to remove trees or other improvements on adjacent land if they obstruct access to sunlight. Because leases cannot possibly address all uses of the land, I always advise that a farmer or rancher ask for the inclusion of a catch-all reservation of rights clause, wherein the lease specifies that any rights not explicitly granted to the developer are reserved by the landowner.

    7. Termination and Cleanup Obligations
    It is common for leases to have asymmetrical termination provisions, meaning that a developer can often terminate the lease at any time and for any reason, while a landowner can only do so in the event of a breach of a monetary obligation. A farmer or rancher may nevertheless seek to ensure that they may still request damages or specific performance of certain provisions of the lease where they are not permitted to terminate the lease.

    A lease should contain robust cleanup obligations for the developer, including cleanup of any debris post-construction, as well as restoring the property to its original condition at the end of the lease agreement. Local or state regulations may be of use in this regard. For example, in Illinois, the Department of Agriculture requires that any developer with a solar lease agreement with a landowner must also enter into an Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement with the Bureau of Land and Water Resources, which contains standardized construction and cleanup obligations for the project.

    8. Disputes
    On a final note, farmers and ranchers should always plan for the worst-case scenario. This involves ensuring that any dispute arrangements or requirements contained in the lease favor the landowner. In particular, a farmer or rancher should request that any waiver of a right to a jury trial be removed from a lease. Moreover, if a lease contains provisions waiving any right to appeal an arbitration or other dispute award, that language should also be struck from the agreement.

    In closing, solar lease agreements are binding contracts of long duration, with potentially significant consequences for the landowner and his or her heirs or assigns. Given the variable and complexities addressed in this article, it is advisable that the landowner hire an attorney to help ensure that the solar lease agreement is carefully tailored to the unique concerns and needs of a farmer or rancher.

    Whether an attorney is employed, or whether the landowner takes it upon him- or herself to review the agreement, the reviewing party should ensure that they have adequately considered each of the issues discussed herein.

    About the author
    Cari Rincker is the owner of Rincker Law, PLLC, a national general practice law firm concentrating in food and agriculture law with offices in New York and Illinois. She has her boots planted firmly in agriculture – she presently own a small farm in Shelbyville, Illinois, and enjoys judging livestock shows around the country.

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