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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.

Supporters and opponents of a three-district consolidation proposal agree kids should have access to a broader curriculum.

The measure would combine the Avon, Abingdon and Bushnell-Prairie City districts into one.

Shannon Price opposes the consolidation. She loves the proposed curriculum for the new district. She says the B-PC district should investigate other options, including use of the Internet to provide those classes.

Macomb City Administrator Dean Torreson this week gave aldermen an overview of the city's proposed new budget, which will go into effect May 1.

He said the budget includes money for fixing several streets. The money comes from a one-cent sales tax. Voters agreed in February 2011 to increase that tax from half-a-cent to a full cent.

"Our sales tax revenue has been coming it at the projected rate," Torreson said. "It did double so we're right on target there."

Judge Sets Deadline in Watson Case

Mar 13, 2012

A McDonough County Judge has set a deadline for the pre-trial discovery process in the case of Daniel Watson.

Watson is a former Macomb High School teacher and former boys basketball coach. He is charged with one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for an alleged relationship with a female student.

The Keokuk School Board approved more than $600,000 in cuts to next year’s budget during last night’s meeting.  There was one exception, though, which earned the board plenty of applause.

The board met for about 2 ½ hours last night, in front of roughly 30 students, parents, and teachers at the former Torrence Elementary.

About a half-dozen of them spoke during the meeting, including three current students, with most calling for the board to not eliminate a half-time high school science position.

Lexington Square wants to join a lawsuit filed over its planned expansion in Keokuk.

The nursing home has filed a motion in District Court to intervene in a lawsuit against the Keokuk Board of Adjustment.

The commission is being sued by 17 individuals living on Greenbrier Court, which abuts Lexington Square.

They object to the fact that the Board of Adjustment issued a special use permit to the nursing home so it can expand its facility. 

Lexington Square would is looking to add private rooms without adding additional beds.

McDonough County won't have a web site right away. However, the board's Human Resources and Planning Committee is laying the groundwork for the project.

Chair Linda Jani said the current budget does not have any money for the project. She said the committee is looking at a number of issues and sees the website as a long-term goal.

She said, “We're trying to get some information together because then if we do get a website  there are legal requirements for what has to be on there.”

Survey Goal is to Boost Economic Activity

Mar 12, 2012

Monmouth is a partner in a new survey that will provide a snapshot of the job skills of the workforce in western Illinois-and the the skills they might need.

Community Development Director Paul Schuytema said the survey has two goals. One is to provide a detailed picture of the area in light of the 2010 census data. He said any large firm looking at locating in the area will be concerned with the regional workforce instead of just that in one city. He said the second goal is to discover skill sets that are lacking in the region.

Photo from the University of Nebraska

Insect scientists say federal regulators need to take action against a growing pest problem in biotech corn.

They say corn rootworm has started to become resistant to Monsanto’s Bt corn, which is genetically engineered to resist the damaging and costly pest.

The 22 scientists expressed their concerns in a letter sent to EPA last week.

End-of-life decisions can be the most difficult someone will make.

The need for hospice care and the people who provide it continues to increase, thanks to the “Baby Boomer” generation.

Jeri Welch with the Lee County Health Department describes hospice as comfort care provided at the end of someone’s life.

She says the service can be provided in the home, a nursing home, or a hospital.

Welch says eligibility is based on a doctor declaring a patient has six-months-or-less to live and the patient choosing to allow nature to take its course.

Burlington is trying to determine if Cascade Bridge can be restored.

The city council closed the bridge on South Main Street, several years ago, to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.  The pedestrian ban was eventually rescinded.

The city was in the process of moving ahead with plans to tear down the roughly 115-year-old structure and build a new bridge.

The four-million dollar project was put on hold, though, after the State Historic Preservation Office stepped in.

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, IL

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.

 

FORT MADISON, IA

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.

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