Beardstown, IL – Cass County taxing districts will try to reach a different agreement with Cargill Meat Solutions about the value of the packing plant. Last week the county board chairman signed a document that would lower the value of the plant from $26 million to $13 million over a five-year period. Other taxing bodies objected to the harm this would cause them. They drafted an agreement that would provide them more than $1 million in payments in lieu of taxes. The county board chairman is expected to take this pact back to Cargill for discussion.
Lee County, IA – Property taxes could be on the decline in Lee County. The Board of Supervisors has wrapped up its budget talks and is projecting a 40 cent drop in the county wide property tax rate. Chairman Larry Kruse says this decrease was accomplished, in part, by the tough decisions made in recent years. This would be the second consecutive budget where the county's property tax rate dropped. It would also be the first time in several years that the rate is below $11.00.
Lee County, IA – It could be a few more weeks before efforts get underway to hire a new economic development director in Lee County. The Lee County Economic Development Group is crafting a plan that would address the organization's goals and efforts to become a public-private venture. Until the group can present the long-term agreement to the county, LCEDG wants the supervisors to hold off on starting the process of replacing Lowell Junkins. Junkins says it is important for LCEDG and the county to not rush the process.
Keokuk, IA – The teenagers accused of bringing a gun to Keokuk High School have had their charges reduced. Dillon Howell, 14, and Derrick Huston, 14, now face just one felony county of carrying a weapon on school grounds. The teens have each denied the charge against them and have waived their rights to a speedy trial. The original charges against Howell and Huston included felony unauthorized possession of an offensive weapon. Authorities say a 22-caliber handgun that was found in Huston's backpack, last month, was brought to school by Howell.
Fort Madison, IA – It could be a few more weeks before a plan to lower Iowa's commercial property tax rate emerges in Des Moines. Commercial properties are taxed at 100% of their assessed value while residential properties are taxed at just under 50%. Agricultural land is subject to a seperate formula. Democratic Representative, Phil Wise, says he is forming a bi-partisan panel that will create a plan to reduce the commercial tax burden this year. While says the legislature has two primary options: find money in the general fund or cut the dollars going to local governements.
Lee County, IA – Lee County is exploring the benefits of a Reverse 911 system. When someone dials 911, the telephone number and land-line address are made available to emergency dispatchers. Emergency Management Coordinator, Steve Cirinna, says the Reverse 911 system can be used to quickly get the word out during a dangerous incident. He says every phone number, within a set area, can be called by the system. Cirinna says it can be used during hazardous material spills, natural disasters, or amber alerts. He says cell phone numbers can be added to the Reverse 911 database.
Bushnell, IL – Bushnell leaders are to meet in a mediation session with representatives of its Federation of Police bargaining unit. The two sides want to replace a contract that expired last May. Mayor Steve Russell says the last mediation session was a couple of weeks ago. He says they purposely waited to schedule anothr session to allow both sides to re-think their demands and consider a middle ground. They are trying for a two or three-year contract. It will cover four officers. Three are serving while one is away on mlitary duty.
Springfield, IL – US Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) says he will seek his party's nomination for president. He made the announcement in front of a large crowd in Springfield after being introduced by fellow US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). You can listen to Obama's speech by clicking on the audio button above and/or you can read the text below.
Let me begin by saying thanks to all you who've traveled, from far and wide, to brave the cold today.
Macomb, IL – When we think of competitions between schools, we often conjure images of gridiron glory or hardcourt heroes. But a competition held in Macomb over the weekend placed the emphasis on brains over brawn. The 20th Annual Western Illinois Regional Science Olympiad attracted teams from junior and senior high schools from throughout the region. The contest featured about 40 categories such as Robot Ramble, Don't Bug Me, and Science Crime Busters. The schools with the top scores from throughout the day's activities advanced to the state contest in Champaign in April.