WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Keokuk

There is some apprehension among members of the Keokuk City Council when it comes to supporting the local hospital.

Keokuk Area Hospital continues to face an uncertain future due to its financial instability. 

The hospital says it is reimbursed about 75% of the money spent on care and services.  That is due to a number of factors, including a large number of low income clients and the formula for state and/or federal reimbursements.

The Keokuk City Council has agreed to sell roughly 4,000 square feet of space behind City Hall to a group affiliated with Main Street Keokuk for $750.

The land will allow for the construction of private garages for the high-end apartments proposed for the former Eagles building.

Mayor Tom Marion says the city will maintain control of a small portion of the land.

“We are still keeping, basically it says trading, but we are keeping three spaces,” says Marion, “at the end near 4th Street.  We want to maintain what they do not need for city parking spaces.”

Adam Pitman of Keokuk is trying to block several pieces of evidence from being considered in his murder trial, which is scheduled for May 22. 

Pitman is accused of killing his mother, Rosa Pitman, at her home at 1602 Concert Street in Keokuk on August 30, 2011.  The state medical examiner ruled that Rosa Pitman was strangled.

Adam Pitman was pulled over by Fort Madison police at about 5:45 AM that morning for having no working tail-lights.  Authorities say he admitted to killing his mother at that time.

The Keokuk School Board approved more than $600,000 in cuts to next year’s budget during last night’s meeting.  There was one exception, though, which earned the board plenty of applause.

The board met for about 2 ½ hours last night, in front of roughly 30 students, parents, and teachers at the former Torrence Elementary.

About a half-dozen of them spoke during the meeting, including three current students, with most calling for the board to not eliminate a half-time high school science position.

Lexington Square wants to join a lawsuit filed over its planned expansion in Keokuk.

The nursing home has filed a motion in District Court to intervene in a lawsuit against the Keokuk Board of Adjustment.

The commission is being sued by 17 individuals living on Greenbrier Court, which abuts Lexington Square.

They object to the fact that the Board of Adjustment issued a special use permit to the nursing home so it can expand its facility. 

Lexington Square would is looking to add private rooms without adding additional beds.

The Keokuk City Council is ready to do some spring cleaning.

Susan Dunek represents the city’s 7th ward.  She says the month of March is a good time to start sprucing up Keokuk’s appearance.

Dunek says a drive around the city will reveal areas the city can quickly address, such as lining up concrete strips in parking lots and straightening street signs and markers.

Keokuk’s budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2012 attempts to get the city back on track when it comes to equipment and infrastructure.

The city council has approved the roughly $29-million spending plan after working on it for several months and holding multiple Saturday workshops.

The numbers show that most departmental budgets will be at or just slightly above their level in the current city budget.

Mayor Tom Marion says holding down spending was one goal for the new budget.

There is a significant gap between Keokuk and some of its union employees as contract negotiations get underway.

The city has exchanged initial offers with representatives of the Teamsters Local #238, which represents employees in the police department, the wastewater treatment plant and the general unit.

The city is seeking a one-year contract with each group of employees.  Each offer calls for a wage freeze for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2012.

The Keokuk City Council is proceeding with a multi-million dollar infrastructure project.

The Keokuk Municipal airport has two runways.  The length of one is 5,500 feet while the other is 3,800 feet.

The city is looking to resurface the longer runway as early as this summer. 

Airport Manager Greg Gobble says the work would be done in shifts to allow the airport to remain open.

The Federal Aviation Administration must review the plans because the height of the runway increasing by 6” could impact the agency’s equipment.

Keokuk’s mayor delivered his 3rd “State of the City” address during this week’s Recognition, Appreciation, and Participation Breakfast.

Job creation and finances were prominent topics during the nearly 30-minute speech.

Mayor Tom Marion decided to get the bad news out of the way early in his speech to about 75 people at the Keokuk Country Club.

He started off by looking at the city’s revenue situation, breaking down how much money comes in through property taxes, TIF districts and state and federal aid.

The Keokuk City Council needs more information before acting on a rezoning request for a local business.

Saint Louis Gear Company would like to move its operations from Royal Road to the Faith Family Church along Main Street.

President Dan Hodges says his company has outgrown its current plant and he does not want to have to move outside of the city.

“Keokuk is my hometown and I want to continue to try to build jobs in Keokuk,” says Hodges.

The move would require about 5.5 acres of land be rezoned for industrial use.

Special events including alcohol can now be held at any public location in Keokuk.

An application for such events is now being developed.

The proposed application would be fairly simple.

It requires the name of the organization holding the special event, contact information, date, time and location.

Mayor Tom Marion says the idea is to help city staff keep track of event requests.

“(It would) give us advance notice so everything can be considered prior to the event itself,” says Marion, “because it would give us at least 60 days before the event.”

Wednesday night’s Keokuk Board of Adjustment meeting centered on two concepts: neighborhood integrity vs. business growth.

The board ended up signing off on an proposed expansion for Lexington Square, but the issue appears far from settled.

Julie Totten says her family bought its home at 17 Greenbrier Court in March of 2009.

Keokuk’s Planning and Zoning Commission opposes a proposed business expansion.

Lexington Square needs a special use permit from the city to add a roughly 10,000 square foot addition to its complex.

The goal is to provide more private rooms for residents of the nursing home on Keokuk’s north side.

Many residents who live near the complex oppose the expansion because proposed increases in water drainage, traffic, noise, and overhead lights.

The planning commission is recommending the city’s Board of Adjustment NOT issue the special use permit.

Organizers hope the recent temperature dip will make it easier for people to watch the bald eagles soar above Keokuk’s riverfront this weekend.

Lee County Conservation Director Tom Buckley says the warmer weather this winter has provided more hunting locations for the eagles.

He says they have been able to travel up and down the Mississippi River because of the open water.

Buckley says as the river starts to freeze, the eagles will start to congregate below Keokuk’s Lock & Dam because the moving water keeps that area open for hunting.

Plant Manager Dennis Clark says testing at the biodiesel plant in downtown Keokuk could get underway in a couple of weeks.

He says that process will continue until the equipment is up to speed, as it sat idle for several years.

The same company (W2 Fuel that owns the former Tri-City Energy plant in Keokuk has a similar facility in Crawfordsville, Iowa.

Clark says the hiring process is underway at both locations.

The relatively warm weather in recent weeks has benefited Keokuk's new water tower.

Pages