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Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Farm, Food, Forestry, and More on the Table in the Next Federal Farm Bill

In the coming months, Congress will map out how it will spend upwards of $500 billion on food and farm programs over the next five years. The massive piece of legislation known as the farm bill affects all taxpayers -- whether they know it or not.

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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.

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.

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Celebration Concerts

Amy Andrews, 7:00pm February 3, 2018 - Vallillo/Holtz Performance Studio

Amy Andrews has received numerous awards and honors for her songwriting and what one audience member has deemed her ability to "transport" listeners with her performances, and befriend them with her unassuming wit, charm, and candor. In the last year, Andrews has gone solo, received national press, chatted with the good folks of National Public Radio, and completed an international tour.

She has had the honor to share stages and open for artists from Glen Phillips, of Toad the...

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Illinois Issues

Harvest Public Media

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

In the coming months, Congress will map out how it will spend upwards of $500 billion on food and farm programs over the next five years.  The massive piece of legislation known as the farm bill affects all taxpayers -- whether they know it or not.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The federal government wants to revamp hog slaughter inspections, proposing changes that were more than 15 years in the works and are being touted as ways to improve food safety. Critics argue they hand too much responsibility to meatpackers and might put workers' safety at risk.

File/Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

The recent frigid weather across the Midwest has slowed river barges carrying grain to shipment ports, especially those destined for the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi, Ohio, and Illinois rivers.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

In places where the unemployment rate is well below the national average — states such as Iowa, Nebraska, and Colorado — one would think it would be easier for communities to recruit new residents to fill open jobs.  But that's not always the case.

File photo/Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

As President Donald Trump and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made the rounds this week to reiterate their commitment to rural communities and farmers and ranchers, the federal agency that President Abraham Lincoln established still lacks top appointments.

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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.