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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.

Jurors in Illinois could soon take a more active role in certain types of cases.

The Illinois Supreme Court adopted a rule that said jurors can ask questions of witnesses in civil trials.

Warren Wolfson, who teaches at the DePaul Law School in Chicago and previously served 34 years as a judge, said he allowed questions in more than two dozen cases, but had little success convincing other judges to give it a try.

Colchester Considers Adding Sewer Surcharge

Apr 3, 2012

Colchester residents might soon see a new charge on their sewer bills. It could be just the first of several.

The city council has given first reading to proposed ordinance to add the $4 monthly fee. The city needs the money because the Illinois EPA is requiring the city to update its sewer and water treatment systems.

Mayor Danny Bice said the city has little choice but to raise more money. The city is looking for financing from federal and state agencies.

Rich Egger

Macomb City Council members approved a 2.25% pay raise for many city workers but not without some debate over the city's matrix pay system.

The raises go into effect May 1 for all non-union employees, firefighters union personnel, and Teamsters union personnel.

City Administrator Dean Torreson said the matrix must be adjusted as part of the raises. Alderman At Large Dennis Moon disagreed.

A current series of US Postal Service stamps encourages people to think green. Meanwhile, Western Illinois University is using stamps to encourage people to think purple.

The university has printed sheets of stamps for first class letters and for postcards.  You can see the designs in the photo that accompanies this story.

Brad Bainter, WIU Vice President of Advancement and Public Services, said the stamps are a marketing tool, not a fundraiser.

A public policy group at the University of Illinois says the State University Retirement System (SURS) needs to be stabilized but not reformed.

The Institute for Government and Public Affairs proposal includes contributions from universities to the fund for the first time. The plan calls for universities to phase-in their contributions until they reach 3% in the third year.

It's been said the devil is in the details, and that's certainly the case as Western Illinois University prepares to tear down an old dorm.

The lowest bidder for the demolition of Wetzel Hall -- Dore & Associates Contracting, Inc of Bay City, MI -- is registered with the state of Illinois. But instead of filing a copy of that certificate as required by the bidding process, the company filed a copy of the cover letter that came with the certificate.

There will be just two contested races for county office during the June 5th Primary in Lee and Des Moines Counties.

One of the contests is in the 5th Supervisor District in Lee County. 

Chairperson Janet Fife-LaFrenz is being challenged by former Supervisor Matt Pflug in the Democratic Primary.  Keokuk Alderman Mike O’Connor will likely face the winner as he was the lone Republican to file in District 5.

The Warsaw School Board accepted Superintendent Doug DeSchepper’s resignation earlier this week.  He has been with the school district since July 1, 2010.

DeSchepper says he is stepping down so he can assume the same role with the Orangeville School District on July 1, 2012.  Orangeville is located just a few miles south of the Wisconsin border, near Rockford, IL.

DeSchepper says he is stepping down for family reasons.  He says Orangeville is about 15 miles from the home where his family lives.

The Keokuk School District is currently serving thirty 4-year-olds as part of its state-funded preschool program at Hawthorne Elementary. 

Superintendent Lora Wolff says demand was even higher as applicants had to be turned away during registration last year.

That fact prompted the administration to propose the idea of adding a second classroom for the 2012/2013 school year.  The extra classroom would expand capacity from 30 students to 80 students.

The Fort Madison City Council could soon make a decision as to how it will fill an unexpected vacancy.  The vote could come as early as Tuesday night.

City Manager Byron Smith says Fort Madison has two options.  It could appoint someone to replace former Mayor Steve Ireland or to hold a special election.

Ireland died on March 20 at the age of 53 in Fort Madison Community Hospital.  He had entered hospice care just prior to his death.

Western Illinois University is known for Sherman Tower and its climbing tower. It might soon be known for a water tower. Talks between WIU and Macomb are ongoing.

Mayor Mike Inman said, “We're hoping to partner with the university on branding the water tower with the university's mascot and logo  That, obviously, will be an agreement between us and them but their intention is to underwrite that.”

The project is part of routine maintenance to repaint the tower inside and out this year.

Fire Fees will Go Up May 1st

Mar 28, 2012

Carthage will raise the fees it charges for fire response calls outside the city limits.

The city currently charges $450 per hour for the first hour and $400 for each additional hour.

The new fee will be a straight $600 per hour.

Mayor Jim Nightingale calls the increase “justifiable” and will help the city pay for upkeep on the fire department's vehicles.

He said, “The problem is they (trucks) set. They don't run them a lot and we have to keep them up.” He called that cost “unbelievable.”

The city will spend $58,000 to refurbish one truck.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors says it needs more information before signing off on an expansion of the Lee County Correctional Center.

The panel hopes to obtain that information from Midwest Construction Consultants.

The Houghton-based firm oversaw the renovation and expansion of the jail that was completed just a couple years ago.

The board has agreed to pay MCC up to $2,500 to study the need for additional cells and to develop a proposal that includes usage, costs, and timeline.

Around The Region

Mar 28, 2012

WEST BURLINGTON, IA

West Burlington residents can now better protect themselves from a disaster that is all too familiar to this region.

The city joined the more than 600 communities in Iowa participating in the National Flood Insurance Program a couple weeks ago.

City Manager Dan Gifford says there is some farmland next to a stream that is considered at risk of flooding within the city, which could hamper future development.

City Council Questions Property Owner

Mar 27, 2012

The owner of the Pineapple Inn did not come away with support from the Macomb City Council in his effort to change the bed and breakfast into a lodging house.

Gil Johnson, who lives in Peoria, is seeking a special use permit for the change. The council has given the ordinance its first reading. It's scheduled to give the ordinance a second reading at next week's meeting.

At this week's committee of the whole meeting, aldermen voted to recommend denial of the permit on a voice vote. The vote came after fifth-ward alderman Dave Dorsett questioned Johnson.

The Illinois House approved a measure that would allow the Department of Natural Resources to charge an annual fee for admission to state parks.

Representative JoAnn Osmond (R-Antioch) said the legislation does not spell out how much should be charged, but she expected the annual fee will be about $25.

Storm Spotters Are Needed

Mar 26, 2012

Storm spotters provide a crucial link in tracking severe storms. A team of meteorologists from the National Weather Service will provide free training in Macomb.

County Board member Tony Coniglio chairs the Emergency Service Disaster Agency committee for the board. Although radar and computers track severe storms to a degree, he said there is still a need to have human eyes follow storms.  He coordinates the spotters during severe weather.

Adam Pitman of Keokuk is trying to block several pieces of evidence from being considered in his murder trial, which is scheduled for May 22. 

Pitman is accused of killing his mother, Rosa Pitman, at her home at 1602 Concert Street in Keokuk on August 30, 2011.  The state medical examiner ruled that Rosa Pitman was strangled.

Adam Pitman was pulled over by Fort Madison police at about 5:45 AM that morning for having no working tail-lights.  Authorities say he admitted to killing his mother at that time.

Tyler Hobbs, 26, of Saint Francisville, MO will spend the rest of his life in an Iowa prison.  He was found guilty of 1st Degree Murder in late February in the Nov. 6, 2010 death of Shawn Wright, 40, of Kahoka, MO.

District Judge Mary Ann Brown handed down the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole on March 23.

A report from a watchdog group said the campaign committee for Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) reimbursed him for stays at a hotel in Greece and a luxury resort in Miami.

Schock's campaign committee reportedly paid him more than $100,000 for such expenses during the 2010 election.

The study was issued by “Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics." Director Melanie Sloan said “What Aaron Schock did crossed the line.”

The group also found 248 of 435  House  members used campaign funds to benefit themselves and family  members.

Improvements to the Dudley Street skateboard park in Macomb could be ready to roll this spring.

Macomb Park District Commissioners this week agreed to accept the low bid of $181,692.17 for the project. The new skate park will include ramps, rails, and more for beginning and intermediate skill level skate boarders.

Half-a-dozen skaters attended the meeting and applauded after commissioners vote 4-to-0 to proceed with the project. However, there will be no gain without a little pain.

Carthage is Planning a Big Birthday Bash

Mar 23, 2012

Carthage will celebrate its 175th birthday in conjunction with the annual Fourth of July celebration. The celebration will last the entire week.

Community Development Director Bob Livingston said the community has enthusiastically embraced the celebration. Dozens of volunteer committees are shaping the event. The committees are looking to the past to find a symbol for the celebration.

Macomb School District Seeks Public Input

Mar 23, 2012

District residents will have two opportunities to weigh in on the district's strategic plan and how it is meeting its goals.

Superintendent Alene Reuschel said the district established a number of goals six years ago.

She said, “We're going to get some input as it relates to finance, as it relates to facilities, as it relates to curriculum. And so here's an opportunity for our constituents to be a part and to share some ideas and help us as we look forward for the next five or six years.”

After months of study, the Spurgeons building on South Main Street in Monmouth was selected to house artist studios and a retail shop to sell their work.

The choice was made by city representatives and members of ArtSpace, which is a non-profit arts development and consulting organization from Minneapolis.

The Spurgeons building has a limestone front and was built in 1940.

FEMA Comes up with Money for Warsaw

Mar 22, 2012

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to compensate Warsaw for some of the money it paid to repair its  water treatment plant after it was badly damaged by the 2008 flood.

At the time, the city expected to be reimbursed 100% for the repairs. FEMA later decided the city was due 75% of the repair costs because the county didn't meet its poverty guidelines.

City finances were strained to come up with the $285,000. The city has tried to recoup that money ever since.

County Board Chairman said FEMA has agreed to pay two-thirds of the city's share.

Photo from The Zephyr

Galesburg city council members approved a resolution in support of naming facilities, parks and streets in honor of notable women.

More than 50 women are listed in a document provided to aldermen. They are community organizers, athletes, artists, educators, and more from throughout Galesburg's 175 year history.

The document will be used when the city considers naming and renaming things.

Mayor Sal Garza said too few women have been recognized by the city.

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics conducted national adult literacy assessments in both 1992 and 2003. 

They were designed to judge literacy proficiency for the nation and for large sub-groups.

The results showed that 14 percent of the adults did not have more than the most simple of literacy skills.

Paula Faulkner says she is seeing examples of this in her role as volunteer literacy coordinator for Southeastern Community College.

Fort Madison Mayor Steve Ireland, 53, died Tuesday, March 20 at 1:54 P.M. at Fort Madison Community Hospital.

Ireland's family will receive friends on Friday, March 23 from 4:30 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at the King-Lynk Funeral Home and Crematory in Fort Madison.

The funeral service will be held Saturday, March 24 at 10:00 A.M. at the First Baptist Church in Fort Madison.  Burial will be held at the Claypoole Cemetery in Wever, IA.

“Green” Roof will Save Money

Mar 21, 2012

The Macomb School District will save nearly $125,000 on a roof repair project on the oldest section of Lincoln School. The savings comes from re-using some of the roofing material, which is also good for the environment.

The estimated cost was nearly $420,000. The bid was based on a “green” option that will re-install much of the same material.

Superintendent Alene Reuschel said the district can set an example.

Turnout was fairly light across west-central Illinois. The biggest snafu in the region happened in McDonough County, where Clerk Gretchen DeJaynes ran hair dryers out to a few polling places that had damp ballots. It's not known what caused the dampness. DeJaynes said she planned to speak to the vendor about the issue.

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