Illinois

The McDonough County courthouse will take the first step toward becoming a “secure courthouse.” Sheriff Rick VanBrooker said the county is a bit behind the times when it comes to security. He said a new video monitoring system will close the gap.

The county is advertising for bids. VanBrooker would like to have a battery of 18 cameras to monitor entrances, hallways, stairwells and the courtrooms.

Cost is a consideration but not the only one.

Hog Farm Permit will be Delayed

Mar 5, 2012

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is holding up a proposed large-scale hog farm in northeast Hancock County.

Junction Acres would be home to up to 18,000 pigs a year. It would be built near LaCrosse.

The deadline for the permit was March 3rd. The department instead requested the construction plans and the animal waste-handling plan.

Walter Goetsch is the Ag Department's Bureau Chief of Environmental Programs. He said the information is often not part of the original notice of intent to construct.

Warsaw is Still Waiting for FEMA Money from 2008

Mar 5, 2012

The Mississippi River flood of 2008 heavily damaged the water treatment plant in Warsaw.  At the time, FEMA told the city it would cover the the entire cost of getting the plant back online.

Hancock County Board Chairman David Walker said FEMA did not fulfill the promise.  Instead, it paid 75% of the cost.  That left the city to come up with $265,000 to get the plant running again.

Walker said that was a hardship.

He said, “They had to take it out of their own funds.  Every city, every county, every municipality is hurting on the amount of money that they have.”

Employees Air Insurance Concerns

Mar 2, 2012

Bushnell switched health insurance plans last year to lower costs. Instead, it raised the hackles of employees.

The two sides this week. Fifteen employees submitted their complaints and questions in writing.

Their biggest complaint was the deductible. It increased $400 from the old plan to $1,900.

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.

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