Monmouth, IL – The Western Stoneware pottery factory in Monmouth will close in a few weeks. The move will put about 40 employees out of their jobs. Owner Jim Hutchins says most pottery comes into this country from overseas. He says labor costs are part of the reason. In addition, he says where are fewer small stores which will sell his wares. He says fewer bulk purchasers are already used to going overseas for shoes or apparel or other items. Thke firm was formed in 1906 with the consolidation of seven smaller pottery makers.
Macomb, IL – Macomb aldermen are reviewing another request to add lighting in the area of the bridge on Wigwam Hollow Road. Ari Briskman of WIU's Student Government Association says the issue is a matter of safety. He says it's a heavily populated and traversed area. Briskman told the city council that the SGA measured the distance between street lights near the bridge and found they were 652 feet apart. He says municipal code allows for a distance of no more than 450 feet. Briskman says another street light is needed to provide sufficient illumination on the bridge itself.
Colchester, IL – Colchester aldermen are putting the final touches on a survey to see if residents would support starting a park district for the town. When he took office last fall, Mayor Joe Wetzel said he wanted to do something for the children. He says a park district could have its own levy, and could get state grants for maintenance and upkeep. The survey results should be in by the end of March. Wetzel says if sentiment is against forming the district, the idea will be dropped.
Bushnell, IL – Bushnell's city council is preparing two buildings to handle emergency power so they can be used as shelters. A powerful portable generator has been ordered. Mayor Steve Russell says the buildings will be re-wired to accept a sub-panel of the electrical system that will be powered by the generator. Bushnell says the buildings were chosen because both have kitchens. Each also has a gymnasium or multi-purpose rom which could be used for sleeping or other shelter activities.
West Burlington, IA – Elite athletes from across the midwest could soon be training in Southeast Iowa. West Burlington's Great River Medical Center has been named USA Triathlon's first regional training center. The triathlon is an olympic event that combines a one mile swim, 25 mile bike ride, and 6 mile run. Hospital spokesperson Craig Borchard says GRMC has been working for nearly 20 years for this distinction. He says 9 staff members are USA Triathlon-certified coaches. Athletes from across the Midwest will be able to train at the hospital's rehabilitation center.
Fort Madison, IA – The Fort Madison city council must decide how to divide a portion of the money generated by the city's hotel/motel tax. City leaders crafted Fort Madison's current budget with the hope that the city's bed tax would generate about $116,000. City Manager Bill Kelly says early projects show that number appears to be low. Kelly says the city could end up receiving as much as $150,000 during the fiscal year that ends in June.
Canton, IL – Spoon River College students will pay about seven percent more for in- or out-of-district tuition this fall. SRC President Robert Ritschel says the move will partially compensate for falling state support. In addition, he says full employment in the region will keep college enrollment from increasing. He says this means a fairly level budget for the coming year. Ritschel says the board also approved a $2 per credit hour fee increase that will go to broadening and improving the range of activities at the college. He says students asked that the activity fee be increased.
Macomb, IL – It's no secret that Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream is popular, but the company's co-founders say they're interested in more than just the bottom line. Jerry Greenfield visited Western this week, where he said he and co-founder Ben Cohen want to know why business does not do more to help people. Greenfield said business is probably the most powerful force in our society. Greenfield said Ben & Jerry's workers have responded on an emotional level to certain efforts, such as the firm's work with the Children's Defense Fund.
Bushnell, IL – Bushnell city authorities will try a short and a long-term solution to the problem of a reddish color in the city's water. Mayor Steve Russell says it began showing after the city switched to a reverse osmosis treatment system. He says the different chemistry of the water is cleaning out the 66 blocks of cast iron water mains. The city is trying to get EPA permission to change the way it treats the water. It's also investigating a state grant that could help it replace the cast iron mains.