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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.

Policy Will Benefit City Coffers

Mar 9, 2012

Interest rates of under one percent convinced Monmouth's city council to adopt a formal investment policy.

City Administrator Eric Hanson said the did not have a formal investment policy and put all its money into CDs.

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.

Some residents of the Argyle Sanitation District will be receiving a bill for past due sewer services.

The county says 22 properties are behind in their payments to Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS).

The Mount Pleasant-based organization owns and operates Argyle’s sanitary sewer system.

Lee County has been covering the late fees for months, which has prompted the Board of Supervisors to approve the mailing of bills to delinquent customers.

The supervisors have that authority because they are also serving as the trustees for the sewer district.

Illini West High School students have seen computers on the school's wireless network freeze up with annoying regularity. The episodes often cause students to lose some of their work.

Superintendent Kim Schilson said the latest attempt won't involve a commercial firm.

She said, “We're working with Carl Sandburg College and their technology department. And they're coming and installing some new equipment and new wires. And hopefully, that's going to solve the problems.”

The Director of the Office of Public Safety at Western Illinois University will soon have more time to spend with his family and on his motorcycle.

Robert Fitzgerald will retire from his position as OPS director on March 31. He said there comes an age and a time when things must be turned over to the younger people.

“After 40 years in law enforcement … I have no regrets,” Fitzgerald said. “It was a good time for me financially and in my career for me to leave.”

Fitzgerald was charge of public safety at WIU for 15 years. 

Bus Ride Times Might Sway Voters

Mar 8, 2012

Parents of school-age children will take a long look at the potential for long bus rides as they decide whether three school districts will consolidate.

Avon, Abingdon and Bushnell-Prairie City would form a new district if voters approve the measure March 20th.

Dan Mahr is vice-chair for the transportation subcommittee of the Committee of 10. He said the goal of the bus routes is to minimize the number of students with long rides.

Some students in the three districts currently face 90 minute bus rides.

A southeast Iowa lawmaker says the state needs to put more money into economic development efforts.

The Iowa House has passed the Economic Development Budget bill.

The legislation not only funds statewide economic development efforts, but also agencies like the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Board of Regents, and the Iowa Finance Authority.

State Representative Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk) voted against the bill.

The West Burlington School District has agreed to sell its former middle school to the city for just $1.

Superintendent Dave Schmitt says this is the best option for the entire community.

“We could have gotten $5,000-$10,000 for the building,” says Schmitt, “but then there could have been that risk that it become dilapidated or an eyesore for our community.”

The city plans to tear down the former school at 211 Ramsey Street so several new homes can be built, one of which would be targeted to low-income families.

The McDonough County courthouse will take the first step toward becoming a “secure courthouse.” Sheriff Rick VanBrooker said the county is a bit behind the times when it comes to security. He said a new video monitoring system will close the gap.

The county is advertising for bids. VanBrooker would like to have a battery of 18 cameras to monitor entrances, hallways, stairwells and the courtrooms.

Cost is a consideration but not the only one.

Lee County could be forced to expand its jail earlier than anticipated.

A major expansion and renovation of the Lee County Correctional Center wrapped up in mid-2010.

The roughly $6-million dollar project pushed the current capacity of the facility to 92 inmates.

It also improved security and made it easier for correctional officers to oversee more inmates.

Another aspect of the expansion/renovation put the infrastructure (water, electric) in place to allow the jail to eventually be expanded to hold up to 144 inmates.

Macomb aldermen unanimously approved four new ordinances designed to control large outdoor parties.

City leaders said the ordinances do not ban large gatherings such as the Wheeler Street block party. In fact, Sixth Ward Alderman Timn Lobdell said the city encourages social gatherings. He said the ordinances are about common sense.

"You're responsible for those who are at your property," Lobdell said. "Whether you rent the property or own the property, you are the legal, responsible party for that property and everything that happens on it."

Hospital Will Add New Specialty

Mar 6, 2012

McDonough District Hospital's biennial surveys have shown district residents would like to see an ear, nose and throat specialist on staff.

Director of Public Relations and Funding John Maguire said the hospital will meet that need next year with the arrival of Dr. Jeff Sparks. He will join the hospital in the summer of 2013 after the completion of his residency.

Maguire said Sparks will bring an excellent mix of experience and the latest medical expertise.

He said, "The fact is (he) has a great deal of training and we're delighted that Dr. Sparks will join us."

The Keokuk School Board is weighing future goals versus current needs as it considers cutting next year’s budget.

The panel met for nearly two hours, Monday night, to review the administration’s plan for closing a $1.3-million shortfall.

It calls for the use of @$580,000 in cash reserves and $700,000 in cuts.

The cash reserves are being looked at as a one-time revenue source, so the same amount would likely be needed through cuts next year.

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.

Hog Farm Permit will be Delayed

Mar 5, 2012

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is holding up a proposed large-scale hog farm in northeast Hancock County.

Junction Acres would be home to up to 18,000 pigs a year. It would be built near LaCrosse.

The deadline for the permit was March 3rd. The department instead requested the construction plans and the animal waste-handling plan.

Walter Goetsch is the Ag Department's Bureau Chief of Environmental Programs. He said the information is often not part of the original notice of intent to construct.

The Illinois Green Party's state convention drew the party faithful to Macomb March 3-4. But the Greens will need to attract many more true believers if they hope to make an impact.

Around 40 people took part in the convention in the Sandburg Theater at Western Illinois University. The empty seats far outnumbered the party members.

Nonetheless, Illinois Green Party Chair Phil Huckelberry believes most Americans have a lot more in common with the party than they might realize. He called the Greens the “majoritarian” party in the US.

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.

Warsaw is Still Waiting for FEMA Money from 2008

Mar 5, 2012

The Mississippi River flood of 2008 heavily damaged the water treatment plant in Warsaw.  At the time, FEMA told the city it would cover the the entire cost of getting the plant back online.

Hancock County Board Chairman David Walker said FEMA did not fulfill the promise.  Instead, it paid 75% of the cost.  That left the city to come up with $265,000 to get the plant running again.

Walker said that was a hardship.

He said, “They had to take it out of their own funds.  Every city, every county, every municipality is hurting on the amount of money that they have.”

Around The Region

Mar 5, 2012


Warsaw could be forced to borrow money to get by while it waits for reimbursements from the state of Illinois.

Mayor Gary Treatch says the state owes the city $52,000.  That represents five months worth of late payments.

He says Warsaw’s general fund is down to @$22,000, which would not cover March payroll.

Treatch says the city could be forced to borrow money against its future property tax revenue to get by until the state catches up.

He says the maximum Warsaw could borrow would be roughly $125,000.



The Macomb Community Garden is looking forward to growing this year -- growing crops and growing membership.

An informational meeting will be held Wednesday, March 7 at 7:00 pm in the Community Room at Macomb City Hall.

Chairman John Miller said the garden provides an opportunity for those who want to garden but cannot do so at home because of poor soil, too much shade, or some other issue.

Employees Air Insurance Concerns

Mar 2, 2012

Bushnell switched health insurance plans last year to lower costs. Instead, it raised the hackles of employees.

The two sides this week. Fifteen employees submitted their complaints and questions in writing.

Their biggest complaint was the deductible. It increased $400 from the old plan to $1,900.

The Illinois Department of Revenue said it is prepared to move swiftly on decisions about which not-for-profit hospitals deserve tax breaks.                                            

The state had held off making any decisions since fall while it, hospitals and consumer health advocates negotiated to determine how much charity not-for-profit hospitals must provide in order to get out of paying property taxes.

But they failed to reach an agreement by Governor Pat Quinn's March 1 deadline so the department will resume issuing rulings.

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.

City leaders in Warsaw say two new taxes will result in better streets.

The city council voted, this week, to establish a pair of utility taxes.

One of the taxes would be on the electricity delivered by Ameren Illinois.

The ordinance establishes a sliding scale for residential or business use within the city.

The other tax would be on natural gas and its delivery from Nicor.

Instead of a sliding scale, residents and businesses would be charged a 5% tax.

The Keokuk School Board must make some serious cuts to next year’s budget.

Superintendent Lora Wolff says the district will actually lose roughly $550,000 in state aid because of its declining enrollment.

She says dwindling revenues and increasing expenditures mean balancing the spending plan for the 2012/2013 school year will require a reduction of $1.3-million.

The district plans to use cash reserves and unspent balances to cover nearly $600,000.

The rest of the shortfall ($700,000) will have to come from budget modifications.

Monmouth wants to spur economic development in the downtown. Public meetings have shown residents would like to see a vigorous arts community develop downtown.

Community Development Director Paul Schuytema said the city will rehabilitate a building downtown into an art studio and gallery. The new project will create foot traffic and new business opportunities. He said the original plan was to offer artists studio and gallery space and apartments. A study showed that was not economically feasible.

High school teachers in the Schuyler-Industry School District will soon embark on a year-long assignment.

It's tied to the district's plans to begin a one-to-one program in the Fall of 2013. Every high school student will be provided with either a lap-top or tablet. The district is still deciding which device to use.

Superintendent Mat Plater said before the devices can be used by students, teachers must get comfortable with them and learn how to best use them in the classroom.

Illinois legislators are considering whether to revoke a benefit long enjoyed by state university employees.

Anyone who has worked in the state university system for at least seven years gets 50% off tuition for their children. Universities say tuition waivers help attract and retain quality employees.

Dave Steelman, who lobbies for Western Illinois University, said the majority of WIU employees using tuition waivers are relatively low-paid workers, such as clerks.

Carthage's Patience Pays Off

Feb 29, 2012

The roof at Carthage City Hall began leaking last year. Water ran into the building and around several windows on the upper floor.

Mayor Jim Nightingale contacted the contractor, Five Star Commercial Roofing of Indiana, to get the repairs under warranty.

The contractor promised to send someone to look at the situation last November. No one came.

The recovery process is underway in Harrisburg following Wednesday morning's (February 29) strong storms that resulted in major damage and loss of life.

The Saline County Sheriff's office reports six people are dead and more than 100 injured as a result of the storms.

Storm victims are being transported to hospitals in Williamson County for treatment.  The sheriff's department reports more than 200 homes damaged or destroyed in Harrisburg along with 25 businesses, including the hospital.