Fort Madison, IA – A proposed Southeast Iowa training center for first responders is in line for several hundred thousand dollars. Southeastern Community College and Indian Hills Community College will use $550,000, from the state, to develop a Regional Emergency Response Training Center. SCC president, Beverly Simone, says $350,000 will be used to construct a skills-training building on 10 acres of ground along Fort Madison's Ortho Road. The rest of the state money will be used to develop a burn building in Ottumwa.
Macomb, IL – A special McDonough County Board committee found only 11 out of 186 applicants qualified for the owner-occupied tax exemption for last year. The exemption can be worth up to $500 against a tax bill. Committee member John Lawson says those who qualified will receive a certificate of error, which will get them their overpayments. He says many were not informed that they could apply, others were already getting the tax break, and one person was living in rental property. Lawson says the county will try to clarify and better-publish the procedure for getting the exemption.
Keokuk, IA – The investigation into who intentionally started a fire in downtown Keokuk, last week, is still underway. Detective Dustin Briscoe says the fire at the Southeast Iowa Redemption Center is being called arson. He would not release information as to how the fire was started or if any accelerant was used. Briscoe says the Keokuk Police Department is following up on a number of leads. Owner Brian Boyd says the building, along South 7th Street, was uninsured. The Keokuk Police Department and the State Fire Marshall's office are conducting the investigation.
Fort Madison, IA – The unions, representing dozens of Lee County employees, are asking for significant pay increases for the upcoming fiscal year. The Board of Supervisors has accepted the initial contract proposals from the unions representing employees in the Sheriff's Department, the Secondary Roads Department, and the Administrative Unit. The Sheriff's department is asking for a 7.0% pay hike and additional time off for funeral leave. The proposal from the secondary roads department calls for a 10% pay hike and more money for safety glasses.
Macomb, IL – Macomb is getting ready to make some changes to Oakwood Cemetary. The entryway gates along LaFayette and Randolph Streets will be torn down as soon as possible. The city says the brick structures are already crumbling and pose a safety concern. The concrete caps will be saved and could be incorporated into new entrances. It's also possible the current entrance on LaFayette will not be reopened. Another change coming to Oakwood is construction of a columbarium. It would contain the ashes from cremations.
Carthage, IL – Carthage community leaders want more bids on a senior citizen housing project to be built near the downtown square. Community Developer Brenda Piatt says the community has a $1.2 million HUD grant, but the bid from the selected contractor came in at almost double that. She says the grant writer suggested getting more bids. Piatt says they'll be submitted later this month. She hopes construction on the 10-unit, single-story housing project can still begin this fall. Carthage is working with the West Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging to get the project built.
Keokuk, IA – Keokuk is looking ahead to year 2 of its multi-year, multi-million dollar residential street repair program. The streets sub-committee will recommend a pair of projects to the full city council. Chairman Gary Stepp says South 14th Street, from Charles Street to South 16th Street, is in desperate need of repair. Stepp says the other project would be Timberline Drive. He says that road, which was built by a private contractor, was not constructed to city specifications Stepp says it is now falling apart.