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Brian Mackey

Appellate Court Hears Arguments on State Employee Pay Dispute

A case with the potential to upend Illinois' budget impasse was argued Tuesday before the Fifth District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon.

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University of Michigan School of Environment and Sustainability / Flickr

The "Growing Threat" Of Agricultural Espionage

Macomb, IL – East Moline State Representative Mike Boland wants to keep medical volunteers from being fired for their service. The East Moline Democrat's bill has passed the house and is now being considered by the state senate. Boland says the bill would protect workers who are late to work or who miss a shift because of their involvement with ambulance services. Boland says they could be docked or disciplined, but they could not be fired. He says volunteer ambulance services cover 80 percent of the state, and measures are needed to maintain coverage.

Fort Madison, IA – Sewer rates could be on the rise in Fort Madison. The city council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would increase sewer rates by about 15 percent. The measure, which would take effect July 1, must still be voted on two more times. City Manager Bill Kelly says the revenue will be used to upgrade the city's westerly pump station. Kelly says that will bring the facility up to code. Keokuk Contractors won the contract with a bid of about $1.3 million. Construction is expected to begin this summer.

Macomb, IL – A judge heard attorneys' motions regarding a suit to overturn the Industry-Schuyler County schools merger. Defense attorneys said the suit should be dismissed because it's too late for the Industry school board to operate for another year. It will have no superintendent, board members, teachers or money. Speaking for the plaintiffs, Scott Jones says his group just wants a fair consideration of possible merger partners. He says opponents were denied a fair chance to oppose the merger with Schuyler County.

La Harpe, IL – A business group in LaHarpe is beginning a campaign to attract tourists and shoppers. Jennie Miller says the merchants' group "The Golden Rule Club" is working with the economic development association on a booklet listing all the businesses. The booklet will be distributed to hotels and motels throughout western Illinois. Miller says future versions will include tourism activities, including the town's major car show and collections at the town's museum.

Keokuk, IA – A Lee County employee might have to give back vacation time. The Board of Supervisors might soon act on a recommendation from two of its members that an employee in the recorder's office give back more than 129 hours of vacation time. A report from Supervisors Larry Kruse and George Morgan says the employee was earning too much vacation time after switching from part to full-time status. Kruse says this was the lone case where an error like this took place after employees switched job status.

Springfield, IL – Illinois might soon have a ban on the so-called "Yo-Yo Water Balls." The toy is like a water-filled marble on a rubber string. Consumer groups says the toy has caused more than 300 injuries. They say it is a choking hazard and can cause eye injuries. The bill would provide a $1,000 fine for those who sell the toys. The bill has been sent to the Governor for action.

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.

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Celebration Concerts

The Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, 7:00pm, October 7, Vallillo/Holtz Performance Studio, Macomb

The Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers perform original songs and fiddle tunes inspired by the classic hillbilly, western-swing, and old-time fiddling traditions—and they also mine this same repertoire for forgotten gems that deserve to be heard again. The duo performs frequent concerts at a variety of venues and events and are known for engaging their audiences and putting them at ease with their light-hearted stage presence. They also regularly perform as a dance band for square and contra dances....

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Harvest Public Media

The "Growing Threat" Of Agricultural Espionage

5 hours ago
University of Michigan School of Environment and Sustainability / Flickr

As a group of visiting scientists prepared to board a plane in Hawaii that would take them back home to China, U.S. customs agents found rice seeds in their luggage. Those seeds are likely to land at least one scientist in federal prison.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

A leading research center focused on local farmers and environmental conservation is hanging on by a thread, even as the movement to diversify agriculture -- which it helped launch -- continues to thrive.

File: Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

As the Trump administration takes the initial steps toward renegotiating one of the country's most influential and controversial trade deals, groups that represent farmers and ranchers are already waving a caution sign.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

This summer in cornfields in Iowa and Nebraska, about a thousand small point-and-shoot digital cameras will be enclosed in waterproof cases, mounted on poles, and attached to solar-powered battery chargers. They will take pictures every ten minutes as plants grow; all part of a plan to create better seeds.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Farmers and ranchers, with their livelihoods intimately tied to weather and the environment, might not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump Administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate.

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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.