Macomb, IL – A part of the Illinois governor's State of the State address could be a benefit to the western Illinois economy. Gov. Rod Blagojevich suggested a $500 sales tax credit for anyone who buys a new fuel-efficient car. Chris Merrett of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs says the move could increase the market for ethanol. He says this would bring better prices for corn growers. It would also help the farmers who have invested in ethanol production plants. In addition, it could increase the market for the American-made cars that run on fuel that's 85 percent ethanol.
Macomb, IL – McDonough County's interim ESDA Director has found he will not be able to keep both the position and his pension. Dave Nissen has been serving as interim director since October. He has since found he cannot work more than 600 hours per year for the county without jeopardizing his sheriff's department pension. Nissen says he cannot effectively do the job in 600 hours, especially with the amount of equipment recently purchased with homeland security grants. County Board Chairman Bob Harwick hopes to advertise the position soon and have a director chosen by the end of March.
Keokuk, IA – Keokuk's chief of police says a lack of manpower is affecting the service provided by the police department. At this point, there are 22 sworn officers with the Keokuk Police Department. That is down from 26 just a couple years ago. Police Chief Tom Crew says the reduction in manpower has led to fewer officers patrolling the streets, calls for service being prioritized, and overtime costs rising. He says adding 4 new officers would reduce overtime and increase service. With salaries and benefits, 4 new officers would cost the city well over $150,000.
Burlington, IA – The country's leading poet returned to his home state for a reading over the weekend. Ted Kooser was named Poet Laureate of the United States in 2004. His collection of poetry, "Delights and Shadows" received the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Kooser says his responsibility as Poet Laureate is to introduce and promote poetry throughout the country. Kooser was born in Ames and currently resides in rural Eastern Nebraska. He writes a weekly column, American Life in Poetry, which runs in newspapers across the country.