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Local News Coverage:

  • Morning Edition: Mon.- Fri. 4:00am- 9:00am with Morning Edition Host and Reporter Emily Boyer.
  • Afternoon Edition: Mon.- Fri. 4:00- 4:30pm with News Director Rich Egger.

Local New Updates also at 5:35pm and 6:35pm Monday- Friday.

Superintendent John Henriksen says the Central Lee School District’s budget for the 2012/2013 school year is quite comparable to the district’s current budget.

The school board certified the roughly $14-million dollar spending plan Monday night. 

Henriksen says the spending plan is just a couple hundred thousand dollars larger than the current budget.  He says the budget’s general fund sits at around $10-million, though he believes the final expenditures will come in at around $9-million.

Galesburg Mayor Sal Garza is forming a 14-member task force to develop funding options for the city's pension funds.

“If it goes unchecked and unaddressed, we may find ourselves in the same kind of condition that the state of Illinois' overall pension system is in,” Garza said.

City leaders said the funding ratio has dropped over the past decade for the three pension funds in which the city participates. Garza said Galesburg will need to dip into its general revenues to pay pension obligations if something is not done.

A person who graduated from Spoon River College and later worked at the school will serve as its eighth president.

Curtis Oldfield was introduced to the public during news conferences at the Canton, Macomb, and Rushville campuses. He will take office July 1.

"He brings (to SRC) experience in working to serve a diverse range of students seeking college transfer preparation, workforce training, and career enhancement," said Gayle Strode Blodgett, Chair of the SRC Board of Trustees.

Former Teacher Faces Additional Charges

Apr 10, 2012
Courtesy Macomb School District

Daniel Watson, a former teacher and boys basketball coach at Macomb High School, faces two more charges stemming from an alleged relationship with a female student who was 17 years old at the time.

He was arrested last August on a charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He has been charged with another count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and a count of official misconduct.

Southeastern Community College President Beverly Simone used last night’s Board of Trustees meeting to announce her retirement after 6 1/2 years with the college.

She emailed a copy of her statement from the meeting to college employees Monday night.

In it, Simone, who turns 66 this summer, says with many of her close friends retired and her family out of the area,she will retire this summer.  She says she will work with the Board of Trustees to determine a mutually agreeable date.

Simone will serve as President until her retirement takes effect.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors has decided against increasing the county’s contribution to a proposed sports complex in western Fort Madison.

The panel had previously agreed to provide a letter of support for the project along with all of the county’s hotel/motel tax revenue for the project. 

That sounds much better than it looks on paper, though, as Lee County generates less than $1,000 a year from that tax.

The Illinois commission charged with reviewing the operation of the state's regional offices of education says the governor is wrong to try to shift funding to local government.

The Streamlining Illinois' Regional Offices of Education Commission has concluded its study. It wants funding for the offices to come from the state's general revenue fund.

Governor Pat Quinn wants to pay for the offices out of the Corporate Personal Replacement Property Tax which the state collects then passes along to local governmental bodies.

Manufacturer Finds Success in Niche Markets

Apr 9, 2012

The Macomb Pella Windows plant has kept production lines humming even through the recession.

Pella manufactures windows and doors with an eye toward new home construction. Information Technology Coordinator John Swanson said the company weathered the downturn by turning to new opportunities in construction of rental properties.

District Will Remodel Website

Apr 9, 2012

Monmouth-Roseville School Superintendent Paul Woehlke said many people form their first impression of the district from its website. He said it serves as the online ”front porch” for the district. It needs a facelift.

He said, “We just have not kept up with the times in terms of having a website that's modern and user-friendly and informative and up-to-date.”

Woehlke said the website is a vital link between the district and parents and students. He said people interested in the community, especially businesses, frequently visit the website as do job-seekers.

The ball is in Lee County’s court when it comes to the future of a proposed sports complex in western Fort Madison.

The $3.4-million project calls for the construction of three soccer/football fields and three baseball/softball diamonds near Fort Madison Community Hospital.  Some of the land is being donated for the complex while the rest is being leased.

Public and private donations have crossed the $2.4-million mark.  That includes $500,000 over the next two years from the city of Fort Madison.

Burlington is exploring the world of hydroelectric power.

The city, its renewable energy committee and Klingner and Associates have been working on a proposal to build a hydroelectric power plant on Lock & Dam 18.  The plan calls for about two-dozen low-head turbines to be constructed.

NTN Bower will continue to operate out of it current factory in Macomb while also expanding into a new $100 million facility to be built directly east of it.

“The new plant will be about 200,000 square feet and create 80 permanent fulltime jobs,” said Kunio Kamo, President, NTN Bower.

The company makes tapered and cylindrical roller bearings. Kamo said additional production lines will be installed in the new factory.

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.”

Bushnell hoped to avoid spending the $650,000 for catalytic converters on the engines at its power plant. Mayor Steve Russell said the city keeps the plant as a back-up and doesn't run it regularly.

However, maintaining the power plant brings in $25,000 monthly payments.

Russell said the city buys electricity from a consortium, the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency. The agency makes those payments for the city's generating capacity. One condition is that the power plant meets EPA regulations. New regulations  require the installation.

The new mayor of Fort Madison could be in place before the end of the month. 

The Fort Madison City Council has decided to appoint someone to replace former Mayor Steve Ireland, as opposed to holding a special election.

Steve Ireland, 53, passed away at Fort Madison Community Hospital last month.

City Manager Byron Smith says the appointment is expected to be made during the city council’s April 17 meeting.  He says the details of the appointment process have not be laid out, but he says interested residents are encouraged to contact City Hall.

The Illinois Firearm Owners Identification program has a heap of problems.

The findings are in a report released by the Illinois Auditor General, who said some of those problems put public safety at risk.

The report said Illinois State Police sometimes don't know if the applicant has a disqualifying mental health condition.

In addition, the state is supposed to retrieve the gun licenses once they're expired, but the audit found 70% of revoked registration cards never get back to the police.

Dr. Peter Schwartzman shared his optimistic view of a future without fossil fueled energy as the keynote speaker at Western Illinois University's 9th annual Environmental Summit.

He said local activism is contributing to the popularity of renewable energy alternatives.

He said, “There are opportunities all around us. We have roofs that don't have solar panels. We have fields of growing food that could easily take on a wind turbine with marginal loss of production.”

Residents of Mooar/Powdertown agreed to work with Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) several years ago. 

RUSS helps rural communities in ten southeast Iowa counties secure state and/or federal funding for sanitary sewer systems.

The sewer project was put on hold, last year, during the engineering phase because of personnel and funding issues with RUSS.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors wanted to see if residents of Mooar/Powdertown were still interested in working with RUSS, so it held a public meeting Tuesday night.

The Avon School District has been looking for a partner. Last month, voters turned down a three-district consolidation measure the would have combined Avon, Abingdon and Bushnell-Prairie City.

Avon Superintendent Dan Oakley had been in discussions with his counterparts in Abingdon and B-PC on two-district consolidation.

He said the Avon School Board weighed proposals from each of the other districts.

Oakley said the board preferred Abingdon's  proposal because it would house the junior high in Avon.

CLARK COUNTY ELECTION RESULTS

1/5% Sales Tax – Road Improvements

Yes – 77%

No – 23%

 

Clark County Ambulance District #1

Steve Howell – 70%

Jerry Redding – 30%

 

Clark County Nursing Home District #2

Mike Frazier – 67%

Mark Boley – 33%

 

Clark County R-1 School Board

William Schutte – 39%

Jason Acklie – 39%

Penny Boulware – 22%

 

Lee County is showing support for Keokuk Area Hospital as the Board of Supervisors has pledged $100,000 to the financially-strapped hospital.

There is one condition with the contribution.  It must be matched or even exceeded by the Keokuk City Council.

Keokuk Area Hospital CEO Wally Winkler says the city and county are being asked for support the hospital in the hopes of receiving additional state funding.  He says there is money available to help hospitals, like Keokuk, that receive inadequate reimbursements for services.

Around The Region

Apr 4, 2012

KEOKUK, IA

Keokuk’s City Planning Commission has signed off on a plan to rezone about two acres of land at 2,600 South 7th Street for heavy industrial use.

The site, which features several metal buildings, is currently owned by State Central Bank, but there is a potential buyer if the rezoning is approved.

Community Development Director Pam Broomhall says the commission would also like to see the neighboring building rezoned for heavy industrial use.

The recommendation now goes to the Keokuk City Council for approval.

The Keokuk School Board has signed off on the district’s roughly $32-million spending plan for the upcoming school year.

One of the highlights is the fact that the property tax rate will drop by 73-cents, or nearly 4%.  The district’s share of property tax bills are not expected to fall by 4%, though, because of the residential rollback.

The budget also includes an expansion of Keokuk’s preschool program for 4-year-olds.  The addition of a second classroom will allow an increase in enrollment from 30 to as many as 80 preschoolers starting in the fall.

Jurors in Illinois could soon take a more active role in certain types of cases.

The Illinois Supreme Court adopted a rule that said jurors can ask questions of witnesses in civil trials.

Warren Wolfson, who teaches at the DePaul Law School in Chicago and previously served 34 years as a judge, said he allowed questions in more than two dozen cases, but had little success convincing other judges to give it a try.

Colchester Considers Adding Sewer Surcharge

Apr 3, 2012

Colchester residents might soon see a new charge on their sewer bills. It could be just the first of several.

The city council has given first reading to proposed ordinance to add the $4 monthly fee. The city needs the money because the Illinois EPA is requiring the city to update its sewer and water treatment systems.

Mayor Danny Bice said the city has little choice but to raise more money. The city is looking for financing from federal and state agencies.

Rich Egger

Macomb City Council members approved a 2.25% pay raise for many city workers but not without some debate over the city's matrix pay system.

The raises go into effect May 1 for all non-union employees, firefighters union personnel, and Teamsters union personnel.

City Administrator Dean Torreson said the matrix must be adjusted as part of the raises. Alderman At Large Dennis Moon disagreed.

A current series of US Postal Service stamps encourages people to think green. Meanwhile, Western Illinois University is using stamps to encourage people to think purple.

The university has printed sheets of stamps for first class letters and for postcards.  You can see the designs in the photo that accompanies this story.

Brad Bainter, WIU Vice President of Advancement and Public Services, said the stamps are a marketing tool, not a fundraiser.

A public policy group at the University of Illinois says the State University Retirement System (SURS) needs to be stabilized but not reformed.

The Institute for Government and Public Affairs proposal includes contributions from universities to the fund for the first time. The plan calls for universities to phase-in their contributions until they reach 3% in the third year.

It's been said the devil is in the details, and that's certainly the case as Western Illinois University prepares to tear down an old dorm.

The lowest bidder for the demolition of Wetzel Hall -- Dore & Associates Contracting, Inc of Bay City, MI -- is registered with the state of Illinois. But instead of filing a copy of that certificate as required by the bidding process, the company filed a copy of the cover letter that came with the certificate.

There will be just two contested races for county office during the June 5th Primary in Lee and Des Moines Counties.

One of the contests is in the 5th Supervisor District in Lee County. 

Chairperson Janet Fife-LaFrenz is being challenged by former Supervisor Matt Pflug in the Democratic Primary.  Keokuk Alderman Mike O’Connor will likely face the winner as he was the lone Republican to file in District 5.

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