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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.

Lee County is pledging its support to an effort to land a new industry.

The Board of Supervisors has agreed to meet, or even exceed, the 20% local match required for Iowa Fertilizer Company to receive state funding.

The company is considering the county for a $1.3-billion fertilizer plant.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board has signed off on tax credits and $1.6-million in loans for the project, half of which would be forgiven if certain requirements are met.

Around The Region

Feb 23, 2012

LEE COUNTY

The Iowa Department of Transportation is selling some of its property in Lee County.

Bids are due by 1:00 P.M. on March 14, 2012 on a nearly 52-acres piece of property located approximately six miles west of West Point.

The agency says the land has been appraised at $124,200.

The sale must be cash only.

 

LEE COUNTY

The Lee County Auditor’s Office is looking for someone to help with Election Day preparations.

The department is seeking bids to pick-up and drop-off about 100 pieces of voting equipment, booths and signs.

Democrats are telling the Illinois Supreme Court that Republican attempts to toss the legislative map are too little, too late.

In documents made public Thursday, February 23, the Democrats said the case was filed too close to next month's primary  election.

There have only been five new maps since 1970 so it's a small sample  size. But most of those cases were filed within two weeks of the new maps becoming law.

Macomb police say they do not suspect foul play in the death of a man who fell from a tombstone.

Police were called to St Paul Catholic  Cemetery Wednesday night, February 22, by friends of 28-year old Michael Farrell of Davenport, IA.

Witnesses told police Farrell climbed on a large tombstone. He then  fell ten feet and landed on his back.

He was pronounced dead a short time later at McDonough District Hospital.

The list of candidates to be Spoon River College's next president is down to five finalists. They come from across the country.

Interviews and public forums will be held during the next few weeks.  The forums will be held at 8:30 am and 2:10 pm at all four SRC campuses via the school's Interactive Video System:

February 29. Mr Curt Oldfield, Vice President of Academic Affairs at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa. He was previously Dean of Instruction at SRC.

March 5. Ms Carol Davis, Vice President of Community Outreach at SRC.

Board Taps Lewis to Fill Vacancy

Feb 23, 2012

The long-time leader of a non-profit agency will soon join the Warren County Board.

Michael Lewis is the CEO of Warren Achievement. It provides services for the developmentally disabled. He will retire from that post in a year.

Board Chairman Bill Reichow said Lewis brings an ideal mix of qualities to the position.

He said, “He (Lewis) ran a very good ship over the years. That's an organization that we're very proud and happy to have here in the county. So he comes to us, I'd say, highly regarded in a lot of areas. He is certain to be an asset to our county board.”

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.    

Photo from Macomb School District website

We now know more about the resignation agreement between Daniel Watson and the Macomb School District.

The Board of Education during its February meeting approved the agreement. It breaks down as follows:

*$32,279.72 as compensation while he was still employed by the district during the current school year;

*$11,562.09 as front pay (minus deductions);

*A lump sum of $1,500.00 as compromise of claims.

State Representative Norine Hammond says Illinois could save about half the Medicaid money the governor targeted in his budget address.

Governor Pat Quinn wants to cut $2.7 billion from Medicaid spending for next fiscal year.

Hammond said Quinn signed a bill into law  about a year ago that tightened Medicaid eligibility requirements. The changes never took effect because the state needed a federal waiver first. The waiver request was denied.

State Faces Hard Choices for Budget Reform

Feb 22, 2012

In his budget address, Governor Pat Quinn, said three-quarters of Illinois'  pension burden is for people who don't work for the state. It covers some of the pension costs for teachers and others who are employees of local government bodies.

State Senator John Sullivan (D-47)  said the state must bring all the stakeholders to the negotiating table to find a long-term solution to funding pensions.

Four ordinances to regulate and control large and loud parties in Macomb are one step closer to being the law.

The proposals received first reading during the City Council's meeting on February 21. They cover issues such as nuisance parties, mass gatherings, and failing to disperse. They also provide new powers to the mayor in his role as liquor commissioner.

The ordinances were written by City Attorney Kristen Petrie. They are based on research she did on ordinances in other university towns in Illinois.

Slow Internet service limits opportunities for business and education in many rural areas.  Broadband Illinois is working to upgrade that service.

Spokesman Clayton Black said the first step is an online survey to provide a picture what is  currently available. The group is inviting residents, business owners, non-profits and schools to take this survey. It asks detailed questions about what current Internet service is available, how it's used and how it could be improved.

Photo from Macomb School District website

The Macomb School District has severed ties with the boy's head basketball coach who is accused of sexual abuse.

The Board of Education on February 20 approved a resignation agreement with Daniel Watson. Under the agreement, his resignation took effect December 19, 2011. He will be paid to cover the time period from mid-August to December 19.

Watson was placed on administrative leave in mid-August, just a few days after Illinois State Police announced his arrest.

Superintendent Alene Reuschel would not say how much money Watson will receive.

The Monmouth-Roseville School District originally planned to rely on a fund-raising campaign to come up with the money for a new building.  It will house a weight room and agriculture classes.

Superintendent Paul Woehlke said the estimated cost of the building is $500,000. He said the district will rely on a mix of donations and sales tax revenue to pay for it.

Woehlke said the Sports Boosters and FFA Alumni raised about $60,000. Another $10,000 came from other donations.  That money was spent on construction materials.

A study by the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs provides some new ideas on what can be done about the state's soaring pension expenses.

Report co-author Jeffrey Brown said it's important to look for savings while at the same time maintaining a retirement package that's competitive.

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.”

Illinois lawmakers hope a report on the future of the Regional Offices of Education can be completed sooner rather than later.

A commission has been formed to complete the study. Its members were originally asked to submit recommendations by August.

But that would be too late for the next state budget because Illinois' fiscal year begins July 1.

It should be common sense that lying to police can get you in trouble. But an Illinois Supreme Court ruling says it can actually be a crime.

The case dates back to April 2007, when a LaSalle County Sheriff's deputy thought he recognized someone driving on a suspended license.

He got in his car and followed the woman home, but by the time he got there she was already going inside.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board is paving the way for a pair of projects in southeast Iowa.

During a meeting on Friday, the board signed off on a $1.6-million dollar award for the development of a large-scale fertilizer plant on 300 acres of land near Wever in northern Lee County.

The funding for Iowa Fertilizer Company will come through a forgivable loan, a loan, and tax benefits.

The company is a subsidiary of Orascom Construction Industries out of Cairo, Egypt.

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.

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.

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.

Illinois is known as the Land of Lincoln but it could just as easily be called the Land of Graft.

Illinois is the second most corrupt  state -- and Chicago is the city with the most public corruption -- according to a report released by researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and  the Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

The report said there have been more than 1,500 corruption convictions in the  federal district dominated by Chicago since 2010.

LEE COUNTY

The Lee County Board of Supervisors and the union representing employees of the Sheriff’s Office have each signed off on a new two year employment contract.

The deal includes a 3%wage increase on July 1and a 1.5%increase on July 1, 2013.

It also changes holiday pay calculations,requires quicker use of vacation time and increases deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums related to health insurance.

The new contract runs through June 30, 2014.

 

FORT MADISON - SCHOOL

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.

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