Keokuk Depot Restoration Continues

Nov 26, 2012

The upcoming winter months will not stop the ongoing work at the former Keokuk Union Depot.

A Keokuk man faces up to 25-years in prison for his role in a fatal hit-and-run late last week.

The former Eagles building in downtown Keokuk will be open for business in January.

Crews started renovating the building at the corner of 4th and Blondeau Streets in March.

The two-story structure will feature both commercial and residential space.

Joyce Glasscock is the Executive Director of Main Street Keokuk, Inc.  A subsidiary of MSK, Keokuk Downtown Properties, owns the building.

The Keokuk City Council has received multiple complaints about outdoor concerts at L-Treyn’s Bar and Grill over the last few years.

The panel’s only response, though, occurred in May 2011 when it required outdoor concerts end at 1:00 A.M. at all establishments where alcohol is sold.

The issue resurfaced during Thursday night’s workshop.

The result was 3rd Ward Alderman Ron Payne proposing the concerts end by either 10:00 P.M. or 11:00 P.M., depending on the night.

Keokuk’s new police chief says his first two months on the job have been pretty busy.

It appears Keokuk is ready to move ahead with a large-scale street reconstruction project.

Several years ago, the city borrowed about $3-million to rebuild Grand Avenue, from 4th Street to Rand Park.

The bids came in much higher than that, though, so the city had to repay the loan, with interest, and put the project on the shelf.

Talk of rebuilding Grand Avenue has resurfaced in recent weeks, culminating in last night’s Keokuk City Council workshop.

Keokuk will no longer need outside help to settle a new contract with some employees.

Mayor Tom Marion says that’s because the city and the general unit have reached a tentative agreement.

The employees in the general unit come from multiple departments, including streets and parks.  They have been working under their previous contract since July 1.

Marion says the tentative agreement allowed the two sides to cancel an arbitration hearing scheduled for this week.

Keokuk is looking for some help as it gets ready for "company."

The city will host the 26th annual Iowa Downtown Summit on August 21 and 22.  The event is expected to bring more than 350 individuals from across the state and the country to Keokuk.

They will hear presentations on a variety of topics: development, preservation, retail and social media.

Mayor Tom Marion says organizers want to put a "bright, shiny face" on the city for the event., so a special downtown clean-up event is scheduled for Saturday morning.

The Keokuk School Board voted unanimously, Thursday night, to offer its superintendent job to Tim Hood.

Hood served as superintendent of the Creston Community School District for about 13 years.  Creston is about 200 miles west of Keokuk.

He also served as superintendent at the Earlham Community School District (Iowa).

Keokuk School Board President Tyler McGhghy says Hood is a perfect fit for the district.  He mentioned his work ethic, his devotion to technology and his handling of open enrollment.

The Keokuk School Board could announce the district’s new superintendent as early as Thursday night during a special board meeting.

The panel met behind closed doors for about one hour Tuesday night.

President Tyler McGhghy says the board used the meeting to talk about the details of a potential contract with the firm helping the district, Cedar Rapids-based Ray & Associates.

He says at this point, the maximum starting salary in a potential deal is $155,000.

McGhghy says the meeting was also used to discuss the six interviews conducted over the weekend.

One member of the Keokuk City Council wants residents to address a growing nuisance.

City code requires residents to trim their trees so they do not block sidewalks or extend out over city streets.  The excessive limbs can damage larger vehicles like fire engines and garbage trucks.

1st Ward Alderman Mike O’Connor says there are too many properties, throughout Keokuk, where the trees are out of control.

He wants to put the entire city “on notice” to deal with these overgrown trees.

The Keokuk School Board could hire a new superintendent as early as this weekend.

The panel will interview six candidates during special meetings on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

The school district will not identify the finalists.  The meetings will also be off-limits to the public per agreements between the candidates and the firm handling the search process.

The district received more than 40 applications. 

Keokuk is putting more money into tourism efforts as the city council has agreed to boost funding for the Convention and Tourism Bureau by $7,000.

The increase would bring the total for the current fiscal year to $140,000.

Tourism Director Kirk Brandenberger requested the increase based on Keokuk’s last fiscal year being its best ever when it comes to hotel-motel tax revenue.

He says the tax generated $276,000, which is up from the projected total of $260,000.

A development project in downtown Keokuk is facing a financial penalty from the city.

The former Eagles building, which is located at the corner of 4th and Blondeau Streets, is being renovated for commercial and residential use.

The project requires the replacement of an older, 1 ½” water line with a new 2” line, with the connection being made beneath Blondeau Street.

That is an issue as city code allows Keokuk to impose a penalty of up to $1,000 because crews will be cutting into a street that is less than 5-years old.

Keokuk residents and businesses will pay more for sewer services as the city council has finalized a vote to increase the monthly rate effective August 1.

The commercial rate will increase by 3% while the residential rate will go up 5%.

Mayor Tom Marion says the commercial rate increase is smaller because Keokuk wants to remain competitive for businesses and industries.

The city says the minimum monthly charge for a residence will now be $24.25.