Virginia, IL – The Cass Rural Water District will receive more than $1.8 million to begin work on a countywide district. Congressman Ray LaHood says the funding shows the role of the federal government in helping infrastructucture projects in areas where local units of government don't have the ability to pay for them. The district will receive $1.33 million in grant money and a loan of l$468,000 from the Department of Agriculture's Rural Development. LaHood says the funding will mesh with a previous $750,000 grant to the City of Virginia for a water treatment plant.
Rushville, IL – County Clerks in western Illinois will receive grants to buy new handicapped-accessible voting machines. However, some are concerned about the on-going costs of running the devices. Hancock County Clerk Kerry Asbridge estimates it could cost up to $1,000 per year per machine for ballot coding, programming and maintenance for the machines. In McDonough County, Clerk Florine Miller says she's not yet figured the cost of running the handicapped-accessible machines. She is, however, weighing whether to continue leasing the ballot-counting machines at $28,000 per year.
Augusta, IL – Fire heavily damaged a Hancock County high school on Friday, but no students or teachers were injured. Augusta Fire Department Public Information Officer Don Arnold says the call from Southeastern High School came into the department shortly before noon. He says the south part of the building was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. At least part of the roof collapsed. Principal Todd Fox says 184 students attended classes at the school. There were nine classrooms in the red brick part of the building where the fire occured. It's believed it was built in 1920.
Colchester, IL – Colchester city leaders met with consultants and an EPA representative to discuss ways to improve the sewage treatment lagoon. Mayor Joe Wetzel says the city has fielded several complaints about odor from the lagoons. In addition, he says the filters are not working as they should. Wetzel says the meeting suggested some short-term, "band-aid" solutions the city will try. In the meantime, the council will begin investigating alternatives and their costs.
Keokuk, IA – An effort to reform high schools across Iowa appears to be on hold at the Iowa Capitol. This week marked the deadline for proposals to move out of committee and onto the floors of either the Iowa House or Senate. An effort to enhance high school curriculums, by creating financial incentives for districts offering advanced placement courses, is not in limbo as it did not move forward. The bill's sponsor, State Representative Phil Wise (D-Keokuk) says the future of the measure does not look good.
Keokuk, IA – The Keokuk City Council has approved the city's budget for next year. The spending plan for the fiscal year that starts in July includes a 40 cent increase in the property tax rate. Despite the hike, a change in the state tax formula will lead to a decrease in some homeowner's property tax bills. The tax bill for a $75,000 home in Keokuk would actually decrease by about $7 next year, compared to the current fiscal year. The city council transferred thousands of dollars and put a 5% cap on increases in departmental budget requests to balance the spending plan.
Macomb, IL – An event this week at WIU celebrated rice and the culture that surrounds it. Students, faculty, and members of the community gathered in the University Union Lamoine Room for "A Culture of Rice: An International Feast." Presentations offered information about the history of rice and the geography of rice. There were also paintings on rice paper, dances, and a presentation on the fashion trends in India.
Macomb, IL – The three new trustees at WIU were on-campus recently for a briefing and meetings with campus constituencies. Steven Nelson is an attorney in Moline. Bob Cook and Bill Griffin are retired professors from the Macomb campus. All three believe much of their focus in coming board meetings will be on developing the Quad Cities campus, where they believe much of the university's growth will occur. Cook says a state grant for planning a performing arts center is a good indication that construction funds will come.