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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.

One local mayor says Lee County would be better off making his community the home of county government.

The Park Ridge Workshop complex in Montrose features more than 30,000 square feet of space.

The price tag for the three steel buildings has been reduced to $385,000.

Mayor Bob Reid says they could house the Lee County Conservation and Health Departments as opposed to a brand new building along Highway 61.

In fact, he says the buildings are large enough to handle all of county government, especially with expansion capabilities.

Photo by Sean Powers

Pending  approval by the Illinois State Senate, Bob Flider has been appointed as Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Flider served in  the Illinois House from 2003 until he lost his re-election bid in 2010. He served as mayor of Mt Zion from 1995 to 2003.

As a state legislator, the Democrat was a member of the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee.

Flider said he will work closely with agriculture  and agribusiness leaders to meet Governor Pat Quinn’s goal of  doubling Illinois' exports by 2014.

McDonough County Children Need Adult Advocates

Feb 15, 2012

The Court Appointed Special Advocate program  in McDonough County is looking for volunteers to look out for kids as they navigate through the juvenile court system.

Clarice Hetzler is the executive director of the Advocacy Network for Children. The organization runs the CASA programs in McDonough and Adams counties.

Hetzler said the program is less than a year old in the county. She said the program needs at least a dozen volunteers to go along with the seven volunteers who serve currently.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is indicating he wants the state to help more needy college students.  

Quinn will deliver his budget message on February 22. He is not releasing details yet, but said the state has to pay for priorities -- and he places higher education near  the top of his list.   

After a meeting with college and university  presidents, Quinn called for more money to go toward financial  aid. 

 "I think the Governor has to work with these leaders on investing in higher education, particularly scholarships for deserving  students,” Quinn said.

Lee County is looking into whether a construction project is damaging county roads.

Crews are working to raise the levee surrounding the Green Bay Drainage District.

Several residents told the Lee County Board of Supervisors, during this week’s meeting, that some gravel roads are being severely damaged by the heavy equipment needed for the project.

They say the contractor is using a shortcut instead of utilizing off-road opportunities.

Fort Madison residents can weigh in on the city’s spending plan next week.

A public hearing and the initial city council vote on the $25-million spending plan are scheduled for Tuesday, February 21.

City Manager Byron Smith says the budget could be considered status quo.

“I would not say bare-bone, but it is kind of basic for what we are doing,” says Smith.  “We did not propose any major staffing increases or decreases.”

Smith says money is available for employee raises and to expand nuisance enforcement.

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.”

The Western Illinois Museum's first new exhibit of the year demonstrates how day-to-day life continued in this region during one of the nation's greatest challenges.

“Home Front: Life During the Civil War” will remain in display through May 26.

Curator Sue Scott and historian Bob Welch conducted the research for the exhibit, which is divided into four sections: agriculture of the period, home life, commemorating the war's soldiers, and the underground railroad.

Groups Air Pros and Cons of Consolidation

Feb 13, 2012

Two public meetings Sunday gave voters the chance to evaluate the pros and cons of a proposed consolidation of the Abingdon, Avon and Bushnell-Prairie City school districts.

The Committee of 10, which supports the consolidation, held its meeting Sunday afternoon at Avon High School.

Rushville will be required to spend little of its own money to replace more than 500 traffic control signs.

Mayor Scott Thompson said the county engineer has worked with the city on a grant application for nearly two years and the effort has finally paid off. The grant will cover 90% of the cost of replacing the signs and sign posts.

“It would have been virtually impossible for us to come up with the funds to do this on our own,” Thompson said. “Now we have the opportunity to do this, be compliant, and really for the cost of labor we're getting free signage.”

Joplin Tornado Tested Hospital's Staff

Feb 13, 2012

The tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri last year killed 161 people, injured nearly one-thousand and destroyed a quarter of the city.

A nurse who helped care for the injured says frequent drills and revisions to response plans saved lives.

Marilyn Welling works at St. John's Hospital. She said the city was preparing for a disaster drill when the tornado struck in May.

She said, “If you do drill and you have your command center, you have a plan in place that tries to be as comprehensive as possible, you can prepare. It will make a difference.”

Lee County is being asked to help enhance rural recycling opportunities.

The Great River Regional Waste Authority has about a dozen community trailers located throughout the county, including two in Donnellson.

That city is looking to switch to a curbside recycling program, which would prevent rural residents from dropping off their recyclables.

General Manager Wade Hamm says the authority is asking the county to hire a hauler to transport all of its trailers to the Fort Madison facility.

Around The Region

Feb 12, 2012

West Burlington

The Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission is working on a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for its region: Des Moines, Henry, Lee & Louisa Counties.

Executive Director Mike Norris says the goal is to create a single plan for housing, economic development, transportation and infrastructure.

He says the commission received more than 300 online surveys and conducted another 60 interviews as part of the public input phase.

The Des Moines County Board of Supervisors appears willing to help one of the county’s largest employers.

Representatives of Great River Medical Center have approached the county about issuing $60-million in bonds on the hospital’s behalf.

The money being borrowed would be split between the construction of a new building and to refinance some of the hospital’s previous debt.

The Klein Center nursing facility will have about 160 bed, which is an increase compared to the current structure.

Western Hall on the Western Illinois University campus was filled over the weekend with farm machinery, toy tractors, and row after row of display booths. 

The occasion was the largest student-run farm expo in the nation. The Agriculture-Mechanization Show is organized by members of WIU's Ag-Mech Club.

President Mike Hoener said the businesses represented at the expo came from as close by as Illinois, Iowa and Missouri and from as far away as Ohio, Nebraska and the Dakotas.

“Pretty Girl” is the name for a playful cat at the McDonough County Animal Shelter. She has called the shelter home since November. Like too many other cats there, she hasn't had a “bite” for adoption.

The Humane Society of McDonough County is hoping a March promotion will encourage more adoptions of cats.

Society board member Kathy Chambers said the group hopes to team up with the county to offer discounted adoption fees on cats for the month.

Lee County must wait a little longer to put its proposed budget for next year on display.

The Board of Supervisors was ready to set a public hearing on the roughly $26-million spending for Tuesday, Feb. 21.

That plan changed, though, after the county received an email from the state that said its proposed property tax rate must be changed.

CPC Administrator Ryanne Wood says Lee County brings in tax revenue to help pay for day-to-day services for those with mental health or other developmental disabilities.

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.

Expenses will exceed revenues for the Macomb Park District this year, but its executive director said the loss can be absorbed.

The district projects it will spend around $1 million in its operating budget while taking in approximately $900,000. The operating budget covers just about everything the district does with the exception of capital projects.

Executive Director Ray Peterson said the district will rely on cash reserves to make up the difference.

A proposal that would allow people to make recordings of police passed out of an Illinois House committee.

Under current law it's legal to make a video of police. But if the recording captures sound, it's a felony that can land someone in jail for years.

Legislators approved the measure (HB 3944) despite objections from law enforcement.

Colchester City Council is back to Full Strength

Feb 9, 2012

The Colchester City Council unanimously approved the appointment of Jason Orris as the new first ward alderman.

Orris said his business experience will help advance two big projects facing the city.

He said, ”One of the things that I particularly think, as a residential lender full-time, one of the projects the council was (considering) was improving properties.”

The city will cooperate with the Western Illinois Regional Council to apply for a Community Development Block Grant for home rehabilitation.

Around The Region

Feb 8, 2012

Keokuk

A 6th person has been arrested as part of a meth-making investigation in Keokuk.

Lindsay Riddle, 26, of 1813 Bank Street has been charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine near a city park and in the presence of a minor.

The Lee County Narcotics Task Force says she faces up to 35 years in prison.

Authorities discovered items used in the “shake-and-bake” method of meth production while executing a search warrant at Riddle’s residence last month.

 

Fort Madison

The Keokuk City Council will play “catch-up” when it comes to some capital projects.

Mayor Tom Marion says the city could not afford to purchase new vehicles or replace some heavy equipment in the current budget.

He says that will not be repeated in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Marion says the age and condition of Keokuk’s vehicle fleet dictate spending nearly $2-million.

He says the city will try to obtain credit from local banks to pay for the capital expenses.

Plans for a large-scale hog farm in southeast McDonough County are still up in the air.

Shamrock Acres LLC applied for a permit from the Illinois Department of Agriculture nearly 10 months ago.

Last fall's deadline for the department to decide on the permit came and went.  The department decided it needed more information from the owner,  Larry O'Hern

Photo from the City of Galesburg's website

Caterpillar has ruled Illinois  out of plans  to relocate a factory and 1,400 jobs from  Japan.

The  Peoria-based  heavy-equipment maker cited both logistical  problems  and ongoing concerns about the state's business climate.

Caterpillar laid out its decision in an e-mail to leaders in Galesburg and in Peoria County.   Those were among fewer than a dozen Illinois locations trying  to win the new plant.

Des Moines County’s proposed budget for next year requires another round of cuts.

Chairman Tom Broeker says the Board of Supervisors requested departmental budgets that covered needs but did not include frivolous spending.

He says that is what the panel received, but cuts were still needed.

The Board of Supervisors trimmed the initial departmental requests by more than $500,000.

That includes about $400,000 in the maintenance department and about $110,000 in conservation.

The Galesburg City Council needed a tie-breaking vote from Mayor Sal Garza to complete the sale of two lots on West First St.

Aldermen deadlocked over whether to sell the adjacent properties at 569 and 593 West First to the neighbors - Edgreal and Oletha Wallace of 597 West First -  or to St Mary's Square Living Center.

The Wallaces bid $200 for the first lot and $1,000 for the second.  St Mary's bid $325 for each with the bid contingent upon receiving both parcels.

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.”

photo from US Forest Service

Macomb aldermen agreed to take steps designed to prevent an unwanted guest from making itself at home in the community.

The city will not allow campers to bring firewood in to Spring Lake Park unless it in shrink-wrapped bundles and certified by the USDA to be free of the Emerald Ash Borer.

Firewood that is not USDA certified would be confiscated and immediately burned.

City Forester Tim Howe said the EAB lays its eggs in firewood, and campers then help the destructive insect get around.

The organization representing Southeastern Community College’s faculty says it is worried that President Beverly Simone is jeopardizing the college’s accreditation.

The SCC Higher Education Association has sent a letter to the college’s Board of Trustees outlining its latest concerns and some possible solutions.

The SCC HEA expressed no confidence in Dr. Simone last year.

The college’s Board of Trustees said, after several months, that it remains confident in her and her commitment to the college.

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