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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.

An Illinois legislator has introduced a proposal that would ban drivers from using their cell phones. 

It's already illegal to text when you're behind the wheel, and some local ordinances only allow drivers to use hands-free devices for their phones.

Representative John D'Amico (D-Chicago) wants to go beyond those limitations.  He introduced a measure that would ban motorists from using mobile devices at all.

D'Amico acknowledged the idea might be unpopular with drivers who have become accustomed to making calls from the road, but he is standing by the proposal.

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.

Monmouth and Ameren Finalize Franchise Agreement

Jan 20, 2012

The old franchise agreement was signed in 1962 with Illinois Power. The 50 year agreement expired this month.

City Administrator Eric Hanson said the utility provided the city with free electricity to operate traffic signals and with free natural gas. In return, the utility used the city's rights-of-way for its natural gas lines and power lines.

Hanson said changes to the utility industry in Illinois mean Ameren is no longer a supplier of energy. It is a distributor. The city will no longer receive free electricity and natural gas.

The McDonough County Historical Society now has some backing for its plans to clean up a cemetery that has been neglected for years.

Macomb aldermen approved a resolution of support for the rehab of the Old Macomb Cemetery on Wigwam Hollow Rd. The property is owned by the city.

The Historical Society is working to receive a grant from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The city's support could help with that endeavor.

Fifth Ward Alderman Dave Dorsett said the city might be willing to do more if the grant comes through.

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 Iowa GOP has released the certified results from the January 3rd Caucus.

They show the race between former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was too close to call.

Romney was leading by nearly 10 votes on caucus night, but Santorum is now ahead by about 35 votes.

There will be no official winner, though, because the final vote totals were not available for eight precincts in Iowa, including four in Lee County.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn confirmed he plans to close the  Jacksonville  Developmental Center and Tinley Park Mental Health  Center. 

Quinn's  office is calling the closures a "rebalancing."

The  Governor plans to move institutionalized patients with developmental  disabilities and mental illness to community-based settings.

In  a statement, Quinn said it will improve their quality of life.

Schock Says Repeal of CLASS Act is Likely

Jan 19, 2012

Congressman Aaron Schock (R-18) of Illinois said a bill he has co-sponsored has cleared the House Ways and Means Committee.

The bill would repeal a part of the health care reform act called the CLASS Act.. The act would offer insurance that would pay for long-term care such as assisted living. The Department of Health and Human Services said in October the program is not viable for the long term. The deparment canceled the program.

Wikipedia

The  Illinois Supreme Court heard arguments this week in a case challenging  Cook County's ban on assault weapons.

Three gun owners say  they're law-abiding citizens and only use their firearms for recreation  and self-defense.

Edward  Ronkowski represents the men.  He told the justices the law was too  broad, and gave an example  of someone buying a rifle. The owner could  make sure he was in  compliance with the ordinance by verifying the gun  would accept  only a four-round clip.

Monmouth Narrows Search for New Chief

Jan 19, 2012

The finalists for the Monmouth police chief will be put through their paces this weekend.

City administrator Eric Hanson said the field of over 30 original applicants has been reduced to five. The Illinois Chiefs of Police will conduct assessments of the five.

He said, “Everything from how they would manage personnel to media to specific police incidents that they might have to handle. So it's a gamut of exercises that they put them through to gauge their knowledge and skill set.”

The assessment will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in Monmouth.

WVIK Augustana Public Radio

Moline, IL – Western Illinois University pulled out all the stops to celebrate the opening of the first building for its riverfront campus in the Quad Cities. The ribbon cutting ceremony featured Governor Pat Quinn, a balloon drop with confetti, more money for the QC campus, an honor for a past president, and a new ice cream flavor.

The Ceremony

Governor Quinn said 1,400 students currently attend Western in the Quad Cities. But now with more space the university plans to increase enrollment to 3,000. The governor said that will boost the local economy.

Fort Madison is moving ahead with a proposed rental inspection program.  City Manager Byron Smith says the idea is to make sure apartments, duplexes and rental homes are safe.

He says inspectors could look for smoke detectors, malfunctioning doors and windows and overloaded electrical outlets, among other items.

Smith says the program would also address a key need for cities like Fort Madison.

The Burlington School District believes it has a permanent home for one of its programs.  The district’s alternative high school serves about 100 non-traditional students.

These are students who are not able to attend regular classes for a variety of reasons (arrest, behavior, having a baby, etc.)

Superintendent Jane Evans says they are required to complete a similar course-load as students at Burlington High School.

Keokuk Mayor Tom Marion says the city council needs to reach a decision, soon, on whether to rebuild about 12 blocks of Grand Avenue.

He says the design work is complete so the next step is to put the project out for bid so work could begin this year.

Marion says moving ahead with Grand Avenue will not impact the surfacing of several streets around Wells-Carey Elementary School.

These streets have been gravel for more than a year to allow some subterranean sewer work to settle.

Keokuk borrowed about $3-million to rebuild Grand Avenue several years ago.

Two Southeast Iowa lawmakers believe the state’s fuel tax will eventually increase.

State Senator Gene Fraise (D-Lee County) and State Representative Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk) do not foresee an increase during an election year.

The two recently spoke to members of the Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce during a legislative luncheon.

Fraise says a proposal gaining support in Des Moines would increase the fuel tax by four cents/year for two years.

It would take effect next year.

West Prairie Will Implement New Technology

Jan 13, 2012

The West Prairie School District will use “one-on-one”technology starting next year.

The district has been preparing for the next advance in classroom technology by building a high-capacity wireless network.

Superintendent Jonathan Heerboth said new technology will take advantage of the wireless network by connecting students to resources through tablet devices.

Illinois Republicans are amping up their push to repeal Illinois' income tax hike, which increased from 3% to 5% one year ago.

Republican legislative leaders marked the one-year anniversary of the increase by stacking $1,000 worth of groceries. They said that's the average amount Illinois families are paying in additional taxes since the increase.

"It's real money out of people's pockets, and we can't forget that," said Senate Minority leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont).

The Southeastern Community College Board of Trustees has released a statement in response to the SCC Higher Education Association's vote of no confidence in President Beverly Simone.

Illinois regulators have  given Ameren Illinois permission to raise natural gas rates by about $32 million.

The Illinois Commerce  Commission said it will allow rates to rise by 1.2%  to 5.4%, depending where customers live. The rates would go up starting this month.

The Citizens Utility Board said it will appeal the decision.  Board executive director David Kolata pointed out the decision comes just  as Illinois faces the first real cold weather of winter.

CUB complained the rate increase is $2 million more than an administrative  law judge recommended last fall.

Hancock County Board Chairman David Walker has ”mixed feelings” about a proposal to reduce the size of the board.

District Two Republican Delbert Kreps has suggested reducing the size of the board from 15 to nine members. He said the change would save the district money. He also said the change would reduce the power of the board chairman since the whole board would take the place of the individual committees that conduct county business. Kreps believes the chairman doesn't keep the board informed on financial matters.

Carthage's Dollar General store will move to a new location. The site is at the intersection of Highway 136 and 1st Street. It's zoned P-1.

Mayor Jim Nightingale said, ”P-1's a very flexible zoning. But it wasn't covered under retail so they had to amend the P-1 to include retail.”

The city council chose to amend the zoning ordinance rather than re-zone the property. The change will give the council greater flexibility in the future.

The new site currently belongs to Prairieland Investment Group. The property is part of the former Robert Morris College campus.

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

The City of Macomb and its workers are preparing to pay more for a key employee benefit.

The plan calls for the city and workers to each contribute an added 6.5% to the Health Insurance Trust Fund beginning February 1.

City Administrator Dean Torreson said the increase is necessary to prevent the fund from being vulnerable in the event costly claims need to be paid out.

“Our goal here is to keep a good cash balance in our Trust Fund,” Torreson said.

An organization known as Residents for a Better Richmond has filed a class-action lawsuit in the Iowa District Court for Washington County.

B-PC Schools Announcement

Dec 15, 2011

Bushnell Prairie City school district will be dismissing school early all this week at 2:00pm.<\p>

Oak Brook, IL – The Tri States Public Radio news department picked up a half-dozen awards during an annual awards banquet and ceremony.

Morning Edition host Alex Degman received First Place in the "Best Hard News Feature" category of the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association contest. He was honored for the story Wet Fields, Busy Businesses. It explains how last fall's wet conditions impacted agriculture-related businesses.

Galesburg, IL – Galesburg's mayor is worried about new state legislation moving its way through the Illinois House. Under State Rep. LaShawn Ford's (D-Chicago) proposal, prison inmates would be counted in their home towns instead of where they're incarcerated.

Macomb, IL – Waste Management reports the collection of municipal solid waste, or MSW, increased by 2.5 percent in 2009 compared with 2008 levels.

WM's Municipal Marketing Manager, Dave Schaab, says that's a good sign.

He says a trash collection report is one of the strongest economic indicators. When more waste is collected in an area, in this case western Illinois, that means more people are staying home. But at the same time, they're buying things close to home.

Macomb, IL – Robert F. Kennedy Jr says the Bush administration's environmental policies are causing direct harm to Illinois residents. Kennedy made his comments at WIU, where he spoke to a full house at Western Hall.

Kennedy says the president and his cronies rolled back environmental protections for rivers. He feels fish populations in Illinois have been contaminated as a result of this.

Kennedy says the mercury in Illinois' waters would be eliminated if utility companies spent just 1% of their plant revenue on pollution control.

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