Illinois

Monmouth and Firefighters Ratify Contract

May 24, 2012

Monmouth's city council and the firefighters union each ratified the three-year contract by a unanimous vote.

Firefighters will receive a 2.5% pay raise each year of the deal.

The city and the union each wanted similar changes in the time-off policies. The city wanted to reduce overtime. The union wanted to reduce the likelihood firefighters would be called in on their days off.

City Administrator Eric Hanson said the major change was to vacation policy.

Hancock County Might Hire Ambulance Consultant

May 23, 2012

The Hancock County Board is looking at options including hiring a consultant to solve problems with ambulance service.

The county is under a “Plan of Correction” to fix a number of deficiencies. The county could be fined by the Illinois Department of Public Health if they are not corrected soon.

One of the biggest problems is that some crews are not doing a “rig check” to make sure their ambulances have all the supplies and gear they might need on a call.

Rally Protests Potential Pension Changes

May 16, 2012

A rally in Macomb's Chandler Park united public school teachers, professors and other union members. They oppose Governor Pat Quinn's proposal to change their pension plans.

Chanting “Protect Our Pensions” about 400 participants signed petitions and listened to several speakers.

John Miller, president of the University Professionals of Illinois chapter at Western Illinois University, helped organize the local rally.

Bushnell Recycling Schedule to Change

May 15, 2012

Bushnell has been gung-ho about recycling. The sheer volume will be reflected in a schedule change later this month.

Currently, Waste Management picks up all the city's recycling at curbside every other week.

Mayor Steve Russell said the company has asked to expand its schedule.

He said, “They said that they would have to make the change because the recycling was going so much better in Bushnell than it had been.”

Carthage Water Pressure Will Increase

May 15, 2012

Carthage residents will see a significant increase in water pressure by October. It's the result of a number of upgrades to the water system. They cost about $1 million.

Second-ward Alderman Gary Smith is recommending residents who are concerned about their pipes and water heaters to have them checked.

He said, “It'd give you a little time to save a couple of bucks. Maybe have a plumber come check things out if you're worried.”

Schock Says Provision Prevents Medicaid Reform

May 14, 2012

Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock (R-18) says a provision of the Affordable Care Act prevents Illinois from enacting serious Medicaid reform. That provision prevents states from reducing benefits or tightening requirements to qualify for Medicaid.

The House has passed a measure to repeal that provision.

Schock says, “They (federal government) have Illinois trapped right now in a situation where they can't reduce their budget deficit, reduce their spending.”

The oak tree planted in Macomb's Chandler Park this year has a plaque at its base. The plaque honors the late Bob Swanson.

Swanson was a nurseryman who grew his beyond his profession into volunteering to  plant trees in Macomb.

He was one of the original members of the city's Tree Board 20 years ago.

Former Mayor Tom Carper appointed him at that time.

Developer Plans $2 Million Project in Monmouth

May 9, 2012

Six buildings on the southeast corner of Monmouth's town square will receive a $2 million facelift.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa developer Frantz-Hobart will turn the buildings into condominiums and retail space.

City Administrator Eric Hanson calls it “the biggest development project” in the downtown area in decades. He says it advances the city's vision for the downtown area.

Colchester will have to find $100,000 to pay for the design of a large-scale sewer upgrade. It's hoping to get some help to prevent dipping into its reserves.

The city's new budget does not have enough revenue to pay for the project.

The state turned down the city's application for a grant last year. The grant would have covered the design cost.

Mayor Danny Bice hopes the EPA will change its mind.

Another rejection would leave the city few options.

McDonough County Residents Health Ranks High

May 7, 2012

McDonough County residents rank among the healthiest in West-Central Illinois.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has ranked counties on the health of their residents in each state for the last three years.

McDonough County has improved its ranking in life expectancy and quality of life. The county moved up from seventh to sixth in Illinois this year. The county also moved up in the ranking for factors that contribute to a healthy life from 32nd to 28th in the state. They include the obesity rate, economic conditions and alcohol and tobacco use.

McDonough County Residents Health Ranks High

May 7, 2012

McDonough County residents rank among the healthiest in West-Central Illinois.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has ranked counties on the health of their residents in each state for the last three years.

McDonough County has improved its ranking in life expectancy and quality of life. The county moved up from seventh to sixth in Illinois this year. The county also moved up in the ranking for factors that contribute to a healthy life from 32nd to 28th in the state. They  include the obesity rate, economic conditions and alcohol and tobacco use.

Water Rate Hikes Are Becoming a “Hardship”

May 2, 2012

The mayor of Colchester says the rise in water rates from the city's supplier, Macomb, is becoming a “hardship” for residents.

Macomb will raise the water rates for Colchester 5% effective August 1.

Mayor Danny Bice says water rates have skyrocketed since the city started receiving its water from Macomb about nine years ago.

He says, “Sooner or later there has to be a stopping point on the water increase. Because it's (gone) up 150% since we hooked on (to Macomb service).”

Enterprise Zones in Illinois Near End

May 1, 2012

The legislation that established Enterprise Zones in Illinois was passed in the mid-1980s. Many are nearly at the end of their 30 year lifespan.

Enterprise zones abate the property taxes on improvements for up to 10 years. The zones also offer a state sales tax exemption on building materials that are purchased in the state and are used in an enterprise zone.

Carthage Will Rehabilitate Six Homes

Apr 30, 2012

Carthage will receive a $252,000 federal Community Development Block Grant to rehabilitate up to six homes.

Mayor Jim Nightingale said, ”It's a good program if the house is not in too bad a shape. You
just can't take a really old run-down house. There's not enough funds to fix those up.”  

The repairs can be fairly extensive. They can include electrical upgrades, plumbing, and weatherization.

The homes have not been selected.

The Western Illinois Regional Council will supervise the process.

The homes have not been selected.

Carthage Hopes to find Landfill Solution

Apr 25, 2012

Carthage is hopeful a switch of contractors will lead to the end of its responsibility for the old municipal landfill.

Indianapolis-based American Environment will take over monitoring the site. The company was the low bidder at $43,000 per year. It will also try to find a way to bring groundwater pollution levels into compliance with federal EPA regulations

Mayor Jim Nightingale hopes the firm brings " some new ideas out there that down the road we can present them to the EPA and get us out of the landfill business.”

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