Illinois

Monmouth wants to spur economic development in the downtown. Public meetings have shown residents would like to see a vigorous arts community develop downtown.

Community Development Director Paul Schuytema said the city will rehabilitate a building downtown into an art studio and gallery. The new project will create foot traffic and new business opportunities. He said the original plan was to offer artists studio and gallery space and apartments. A study showed that was not economically feasible.

Carthage's Patience Pays Off

Feb 29, 2012

The roof at Carthage City Hall began leaking last year. Water ran into the building and around several windows on the upper floor.

Mayor Jim Nightingale contacted the contractor, Five Star Commercial Roofing of Indiana, to get the repairs under warranty.

The contractor promised to send someone to look at the situation last November. No one came.

Colchester Cited for Water Quality Violations

Feb 28, 2012

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has cited Colchester for 28 violations of water quality regulations.  The violations occurred from January through August of last year. The EPA gave the city 90 days to comply.

The city has been working to solve its water woes. It has completed one phase of the project.. The next two phases will take up to 2 1/2 years and cost up to $4 million.

Board and Agency Disagree on Recycling Cost

Feb 27, 2012
TSPR'S Rich Egger

The Hancock County Board and the Western Illinois Regional Council have come up with different numbers for the cost of recycling collection in the county.

The board found a bill for $4,000 a surprise. It budgeted $3,500 for the service.

The board briefly considered just paying the money it budgeted. Ultimately, the board tabled the bill until the finance committee has a chance to contact the WIRC.

Chairman David Walker thought the bill might have gone up.

Carthage Fire Fees Might Go Up

Feb 27, 2012

Carthage might have to raise what it charges for fire calls outside the city limits.

Fire Chief Gary Smith said the department doesn't cover a fire district. It is a city department that provides a service within a designated area. Since people in the area don't pay a tax for fire protection, they get a bill when the fire department responds to a call.

He said, ”With the rising fuel costs, diesel costs a lot. Equipment costs a lot. We take around a half-million dollars worth of equipment and between that and the fuel cost we can spend more than we bring in.”

Bushnell Responds to Employees Complaints

Feb 23, 2012

Bushnell city employees are saying the city did not tell them how much this year's health insurance coverage would cost them.

This year's plan provides a $500 deductible. The city pays 80% of the next $7,000 is costs. Employees can pay up to $1,900 in health care. That's about $400 more than under the current plan.
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Mayor Steve Russell said the city is asking employees to submit their questions-and complaints-to city hall in writing. The deadline is February 29th.    

Warren County's AFSCME employees have a contract for the first time since November 30th 2010.

The county and the union did not hold regular negotiations for nearly two years.

The chairman of the county's finance committee, Mike Pearson, said the delay means it will be a while before employees realize their raises.

He said, “There will be some retroactive pay there so that'll take a few days or weeks to get distributed on a normal payday.”

Good Hope Discusses Water Rate Hike

Feb 17, 2012

The Good Hope village board is talking about raising rates, but not right away.

Board President Todd Danner has started the discussion. He said there is no immediate need for a rate hike but costs are rising. Water rates in Good Hope have not gone up since 2007.

He said, “It's just something we're slowly beginning the ball rolling on this idea. And whether it happens six months from now or next year, we really don't have a set time.”

Danner said the board will have the water system audited to provide a basis for setting future rates.

Bushnell Makes Settlement Offer to ICC

Feb 16, 2012

Bushnell is willing to pay $40,000 to settle a case with the Illinois Commerce Commission over a gas leak that led to a house explosion at 519 N. Washington in November 2009.

The ICC investigation determined a  contractor damaged a gas line and a sewer line. That allowed natural gas to flow into the sewer and into the house. The resident reported the odor to the city. The natural gas ignited. No one was injured.

The ICC alleges the city did not respond properly. The commission cited the city for nine violations.

IEPA Continues Scrutiny of Colchester

Feb 14, 2012

The latest demand from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will require Colchester to cap the wells that used to provide the city's drinking water. Since 2005 the city has been buying its water from Macomb.

Mayor Danny Bice said the five wells are in Troublesome Bottom.

He said, “Those wells are just sitting there, you know. We're not ever going to fire them back up. So the EPA came in two weeks ago and did an investigation and we've got to cap them permanent to be in compliance.”

Tower Deal Appeals to City and Verizon

Feb 9, 2012

Monmouth and Verizon have agreed, in principle, on a lease for an antenna on top of the city's water tower.

City Administrator Eric Hanson said Verizon will get more than just the antenna space.

He said, “We were able to negotiate an above-market rate for that space on the tower because they wanted to put in the ancillary building.”

Hanson said the building will house equipment.  It will be built on city property nearby.

Monmouth Hires New Chief

Feb 7, 2012
Courtesy WNIJ

Monmouth has hired a new police chief. He is Bill Feithen. Feithen has been with the DeKalb Police Department for 37 years. He served as the city's police chief for the last 11 years.

City Administrator Eric Hanson said Feithen distinguished himself during the evauations.

He said, “We had three chiefs of police that did an assessment of all the top candidates and provided a recommendation to us. And Chief Feithen was the unanimous recommendation by his peers as the right person to move our department forward.”

The Hancock County Economic Development Committee will host a county economic summit March 29th.  It hopes the summit will be the first step to reduce decades-long trends of job, business and population losses.

Committee Chairman Jerry Bartell said the county was home to about 30,000 people at the beginning of the 20th century.  He said the county population is down to about 19,000 people.

He said,  “But another alarming figure that got my attention was the fact that we lost 20% of our sales tax-paying businesses since 2000.”

Colchester Faces Expensive Sewer Repairs

Jan 31, 2012

Colchester will have to make repairs to sanitary sewer lines in the southwest part of the city and repairs at storage lagoons to make sure it meets IEPA regulations.

Leaky sewer lines allow an influx of storm water and ground water into the sewer system. The extra water and waste overloads the system.

Engineer John Calise, of Benton and Associates, said, “Not only do we have some problems locally with basement back ups and some of the transportation of the wastewater out to the lagoons. But the lagoons themselves are also overloaded with regards to too much wastewater.”

Carthage is working with the Western Illinois Regional Council to secure a grant for home rehabilitation. The city hopes to secure at least a $250,000 grant.

Mayor Jim Nightingale said the city has successfully applied for federal Community Development Block Grants on three occasions. He said the program does more than spruce up a home.

He said, “It seems like it gives people a little bit more pride and they tend to keep their homes up after they get these improvements. So I think it's a big plus for our community.”

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