Keokuk, IA – The Keokuk School District's budget for next year contains a significant consolidation of classrooms. The school board is working to certify the spending plan and set the property tax levy for next year. Early numbers show spending will increase by about $1,000,000, compared to the current budget. Much of that total comes from employee salaries and benefits, energy costs, and hiring a school psychologist and several high school teachers. Superintendent Jane Babcock says the district will only receive about $450,000 in new state money, which means cuts are needed.
Carthage, IL – Carthage aldermen will be asked to approve a five-percent hike in water rates. Mayor Jim Nightingale says expenses are increasing and the city plans some maintenance and construction work. He says the cost of water treatment chemicals has doubled in the past three years . In addition, the city plans to spend more than $100,000 to replace old water mains. It also plans to repaint the older water tower inside and out at a cost of more than $40,000. Nightingale says the city is now purchasing 60,000 gallons of water per day from Hamilton because the Carthage Lake level is low.
Macomb, IL – Philosophy, elephants, and art are all part of the latest novel by a writer from western Illinois. Robert Hellenga is a professor of English literature at Knox College. His fourth novel is "Philosophy Made Simple." Hellenga says the elephant in the book was inspired by the circus elephant buried in Oquawka. He says a great deal of research goes into writing a novel - more than he ever expected. But he's learned that other authors also conduct a great deal of research for their novels. A reception for Hellenga will be held Thursday March 30 at 5:30 p.m.
Macomb, IL – Western Illinois University now has a $300,000 endowment to help fund soybean research. The money from the Illinois Soybean Association comes from checkoffs when the beans are marketed. Agriculture Department Chairman William Bailey says research projects will be solicited from all departments in the university. Possible areas include use of soybeans as feed or biodiesel production. Bailey says there may also be studies of the international market for soybeans and how US farmers could use it to best advantage.