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Jason Parrott / TSPR

Lee County Wants to be Reimbursed by Pipeline Company

The members of the Lee County Board want to know why the county is not being reimbursed for all of its expenses related to construction of the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline. They say local tax dollars should not be spent in any way on the project.

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Raritan, IL – On May 13, 1995, an F-4 tornado whipped through parts of western Illinois. The National Weather Service says since the advent of Doppler radar, this has been the most violent tornado to impact its Quad Cities service area, which covers 20,000 square miles in three states. Public Radio's Rich Egger talked to some of the survivors from Raritan, which was the town hardest hit by the storm. He shares their stories during the 6:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. newscasts Friday on Tri States Public Radio.

Macomb, IL – The value of Illinois farmland has dropped about 10 percent yearly for the past three years. Now it's about to fall even more. The Illinois Department of Revenue is issuing a lower productivity index on some farmland. The index rates the potential of the more than 700 soil types in the state. McDonough County Supervisor of Assessments Tammy Clamp says the change might cut the income of taxing bodies with a lot of rural property. Her office is preparing letters to notify landowners of the coming change.

Carthage, IL – Closing procedures for Carthage's landfill might help the expansion of housing in that part of the city. Mayor James Nightingale says original plans called for trucking collected groundwater from near the landfill to the sewer plant for treatment. Now he says aldermen are considering extending a sewer line to the landfill site. He says that could eliminate trucking costs. It could also allow homes near the fill to gain access to the city sewer plant and could allow the extension of other services as well.

Springfield, IL – A group of southern Illinois lawmakers is pushing a package aimed at changing the state's medical malpractice system. The bills would limit damage payouts to $250,000 in suits against physicians and $500,000 in suits against hospitals. Kevin Conway of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association says the bills would curtail the ability of people to seek redress. Supporters believe the measures would cut medical malpractice insurance costs.

Macomb, IL – McDonough County will cut down on the amount of compensatory time for employees that it carries forward. Board Chairman Bob Harwick said some employees had accumulated 1,600 hours, or more than three fourths of a year. He says that's too much of a liability to carry on the books. Harwick says department heads will be asked to set up records to track compensatory time they award and keep the county's payroll office informed. He says if the amount of comp time gets too large, the county will buy it out from the employee.

Keokuk, IA – Students in the Keokuk school district might have to pay more money to get their drivers licenses. The school board discussed the creation of a drivers ed fee. Principal Dave Keane suggested $100, with reduced levels for lower-income students. He says the idea is to bring more money into the classrooms. Drivers education now takes up to one-fourth of the school's education budget. Keane says Keokuk is the only Iowa school district in the area not charging a fee. The board will discuss the proposal at its next meeting.

Macomb, IL – Macomb aldermen are not ready to jump on board yet with plans to close some rail crossings. City staff and Burlington Northern Santa Fe have reached a tentative agreement to shut down the crossings at Clay, Campbell, and Madison Streets. BNSF would pay the city $145,000 and make improvements to the remaining crossings. But aldermen say they should have been included in the negotiations and they feel the city is not getting enough out of the deal. They're also concerned about the impact the closings would have on the remaining crossings and other nearby streets.

Rushville, IL – Rushville is having to adjust its current budget because of the state's decision not to open the newly-built juvenile prison. Mayor Ron Shepherd says the main gap in the budget is the $125,000 per year the city is spending in payments on the cost of preparing the site. He says Rushville is seeking a state grant to help cover what it spent to attract the prison. He says the city council's Finance Committee has been asked to trim from three to five percent from the budget's line items to help bring the document into balance.

Iowa City, IA – An advocate for open government in Iowa says everyone has the responsibility of ensuring public information is made available. Herb Strentz says the future of open government comes down to how much the news media and the general public are willing to fight for it. Strentz says reporters can do their part by communicating with elected leaders on a daily basis. He says the public must keep an eye on both the government and the media to make sure openness continues in Iowa. Strentz is the former executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council.

Keokuk, IA – Keokuk residents could see an increase in their monthly bills in the near future. The city council approved the first readings of two separate ordinances. One measure would increase sewer rates by ten percent during the coming fical year. That would raise the minimum monthly rate by about 98 cents to $10.75 per month. The other proposal would incease the garbage rate by $1.50 to $13.50 per year. Aldermen say both increases are needed to help departments that are operating in the red right now. The increases must be approved two more times to take effect.

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Celebration Concerts

Don Stiernberg Trio, 7:00pm March 4, Vallillo/Holtz Performance Studio

While still in his teens, Don Stiernberg learned to play the mandolin from the innovative and influential virtuoso Jethro Burns. Jethro referred to Don as his "graduate student", hired him to play in his band, and guided him to a career as a professional musician which has already lasted for decades.

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Harvest Public Media

File: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

After court documents unsealed Tuesday raised questions about its research methods, chemical giant Monsanto said it did not ghostwrite a 2000 study on the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in its flagship pesticide Roundup.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

Rural voters overwhelmingly chose President Donald Trump in the presidential election. But when it comes to the central campaign promise to get tough on trade, rural voters are not necessarily in sync with the administration.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Farmers in the U.S. like to point out that their products feed people all over the world. And while this is a diverse country, the people working on farms and elsewhere in agriculture often don't reflect the nation's demographics. Changing that is becoming a priority, in hopes new people will bring fresh ideas to meet some of our food system's greatest challenges.

Joe Wertz/StateImpact Oklahoma

On a brisk and busy January morning at the Oklahoma National Stockyards, cattle arrive for auction in trailers pulled by pickup trucks — and leave in double-decker cars towed by semis.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

The bell signals the start of second period. A trio of young women take seats in English class, their attention quickly drifting outside the walls of the high school in Fort Morgan, Colorado, eager to talk about what they're working toward.

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The Forgottonia Files

Tri States Public Radio introduces you to the people, the places, the rich history, and the ongoing struggles that make the Forgottonia region remarkable.