WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Keokuk

One southeast Iowa mayor knows how Iowa can spend some of its “extra” money.

Cities throughout the Tri-State region are seeing an increase in broken water lines.

Keokuk Trying to Finish Sewer Work

Dec 10, 2012

Keokuk wants to finish some sewer work within the next few weeks.

Keokuk Depot Restoration Continues

Nov 26, 2012

The upcoming winter months will not stop the ongoing work at the former Keokuk Union Depot.

A Keokuk man faces up to 25-years in prison for his role in a fatal hit-and-run late last week.

The former Eagles building in downtown Keokuk will be open for business in January.

Crews started renovating the building at the corner of 4th and Blondeau Streets in March.

The two-story structure will feature both commercial and residential space.

Joyce Glasscock is the Executive Director of Main Street Keokuk, Inc.  A subsidiary of MSK, Keokuk Downtown Properties, owns the building.

The Keokuk City Council has received multiple complaints about outdoor concerts at L-Treyn’s Bar and Grill over the last few years.

The panel’s only response, though, occurred in May 2011 when it required outdoor concerts end at 1:00 A.M. at all establishments where alcohol is sold.

The issue resurfaced during Thursday night’s workshop.

The result was 3rd Ward Alderman Ron Payne proposing the concerts end by either 10:00 P.M. or 11:00 P.M., depending on the night.

Keokuk’s new police chief says his first two months on the job have been pretty busy.

It appears Keokuk is ready to move ahead with a large-scale street reconstruction project.

Several years ago, the city borrowed about $3-million to rebuild Grand Avenue, from 4th Street to Rand Park.

The bids came in much higher than that, though, so the city had to repay the loan, with interest, and put the project on the shelf.

Talk of rebuilding Grand Avenue has resurfaced in recent weeks, culminating in last night’s Keokuk City Council workshop.

Keokuk will no longer need outside help to settle a new contract with some employees.

Mayor Tom Marion says that’s because the city and the general unit have reached a tentative agreement.

The employees in the general unit come from multiple departments, including streets and parks.  They have been working under their previous contract since July 1.

Marion says the tentative agreement allowed the two sides to cancel an arbitration hearing scheduled for this week.

Keokuk is looking for some help as it gets ready for "company."

The city will host the 26th annual Iowa Downtown Summit on August 21 and 22.  The event is expected to bring more than 350 individuals from across the state and the country to Keokuk.

They will hear presentations on a variety of topics: development, preservation, retail and social media.

Mayor Tom Marion says organizers want to put a "bright, shiny face" on the city for the event., so a special downtown clean-up event is scheduled for Saturday morning.

The Keokuk School Board voted unanimously, Thursday night, to offer its superintendent job to Tim Hood.

Hood served as superintendent of the Creston Community School District for about 13 years.  Creston is about 200 miles west of Keokuk.

He also served as superintendent at the Earlham Community School District (Iowa).

Keokuk School Board President Tyler McGhghy says Hood is a perfect fit for the district.  He mentioned his work ethic, his devotion to technology and his handling of open enrollment.

The Keokuk School Board could announce the district’s new superintendent as early as Thursday night during a special board meeting.

The panel met behind closed doors for about one hour Tuesday night.

President Tyler McGhghy says the board used the meeting to talk about the details of a potential contract with the firm helping the district, Cedar Rapids-based Ray & Associates.

He says at this point, the maximum starting salary in a potential deal is $155,000.

McGhghy says the meeting was also used to discuss the six interviews conducted over the weekend.

One member of the Keokuk City Council wants residents to address a growing nuisance.

City code requires residents to trim their trees so they do not block sidewalks or extend out over city streets.  The excessive limbs can damage larger vehicles like fire engines and garbage trucks.

1st Ward Alderman Mike O’Connor says there are too many properties, throughout Keokuk, where the trees are out of control.

He wants to put the entire city “on notice” to deal with these overgrown trees.

The Keokuk School Board could hire a new superintendent as early as this weekend.

The panel will interview six candidates during special meetings on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

The school district will not identify the finalists.  The meetings will also be off-limits to the public per agreements between the candidates and the firm handling the search process.

The district received more than 40 applications. 

Keokuk is putting more money into tourism efforts as the city council has agreed to boost funding for the Convention and Tourism Bureau by $7,000.

The increase would bring the total for the current fiscal year to $140,000.

Tourism Director Kirk Brandenberger requested the increase based on Keokuk’s last fiscal year being its best ever when it comes to hotel-motel tax revenue.

He says the tax generated $276,000, which is up from the projected total of $260,000.

A development project in downtown Keokuk is facing a financial penalty from the city.

The former Eagles building, which is located at the corner of 4th and Blondeau Streets, is being renovated for commercial and residential use.

The project requires the replacement of an older, 1 ½” water line with a new 2” line, with the connection being made beneath Blondeau Street.

That is an issue as city code allows Keokuk to impose a penalty of up to $1,000 because crews will be cutting into a street that is less than 5-years old.

Keokuk residents and businesses will pay more for sewer services as the city council has finalized a vote to increase the monthly rate effective August 1.

The commercial rate will increase by 3% while the residential rate will go up 5%.

Mayor Tom Marion says the commercial rate increase is smaller because Keokuk wants to remain competitive for businesses and industries.

The city says the minimum monthly charge for a residence will now be $24.25.

Keokuk could have a new police chief in place by the end of the week.

Mayor Tom Marion is recommending Administrative Captain Dave Hinton for the post.

Hinton has been with the Keokuk Police Department for more than 20 years.

Marion says Hinton stood out from the other five candidates, who are also members of the department.

A Keokuk landmark opened its doors to the public over the weekend after being off-limits for more than a decade.

Plant Superintendent Larry Weiman says daily tours of Ameren Missouri’s power plant on the Mississippi River were provided for years.

That is until the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, when public access was denied.

That restriction was lifted for Saturday and Sunday.

The idea was to increase interest in the facility in anticipation of next summer’s 100th anniversary of the completion of the power plant and the Keokuk dam.

Jason Parrott’s guest is Keokuk Police Chief Tom Crew.  They talk about Crew’s upcoming retirement and his 25 year career in law enforcement.

Crew describes his time with the Keokuk Police Department as a “great ride” filled with good friends and fond memories.

He says he is grateful that he found a career where it was never a burden to have to go in to work. 

Crew says that will make it more difficult, though, to walk out of his office for that final time.

Safety and liability concerns led the city of Keokuk to replace the original “Rocket Slide” in Kilbourne Park with a newer model several years ago. 

There were aspects of the original slide that no longer met federal standards.

Nels Olson of Wisconsin bought the Rocket Slide in the hopes of restoring it and installing the slide on his own property.

With that, people in Keokuk seemed to lose track of the slide, until it ended up on the reality television show, American Restoration.

The Keokuk School Board could soon see a list of potential superintendent candidates.

Business Manager Greg Reynolds says applications will be accepted through July 9.  He says Ray & Associates (Cedar Rapids, IA) will review the applicants in the hopes of presenting a final list to the board by July 23rd.

“They are then going to interview (candidates) the following week,” says Reynolds.  “I believe the 30th and 31st (of July) is the plan.”

Keokuk hopes to have a new superintendent in place before the start of the school year.

It will soon cost a little more to own a cat or a dog in Keokuk as the city council has agreed to increase the cost of the annual license.

Owners currently pay $5/animal each year. 

The cost of the license will increase to $10 on July 1 if the animal is spayed or neutered. A three-year license would also be available for $25.

Mayor Tom Marion says the license would increase to $25 for one year and $65 for three years if the animal is unaltered.

The Keokuk City Council must decide how the city should pay for some highly-anticipated street work.

Keokuk replaced some sewer lines around Wells-Carey Elementary about two years ago.

The project required crews to tear up several streets to do the work.

Keokuk did not immediately replace them, though, because the sewer needed time to settle.  Gravel was added for the time being, but that has led to plenty of complaints from residents about dust.

Thursday night’s Keokuk City Council meeting had a feeling of Christmas as aldermen opened the boxes containing their new iPads.

The city spent more than $6,000 to purchase the devices for the nine city council members along with the Mayor, City Clerk, Police Chief, Fire Chief, Public Works Director, and Community Development Director.

The iPads are for the specific position or office-holder, not the individuals.  There is a device for the 3rd Ward Alderman, not for Ron Payne, for example.

Keokuk residents have several opportunities to weigh in on the search for a new school superintendent.

The school board has hired Ray & Associates to help the district find a replacement for Doctor Lora Wolff.  She is stepping down to take a teaching position at WIU.

The Cedar Rapids-based firm will hold two public input sessions at the middle school on Tuesday.  The first will get underway at 12:00 P.M. while the second is scheduled for 5:30 P.M.

Those who cannot attend can provide input through a survey on the district’s website.

Keokuk could get some financial help from some of its employees.

The city’s current contract with the firefighter’s union runs out June 30, 2013.  It is the only contract in place for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2012.

Keokuk is currently in negotiations with the unions representing police officers, employees at the wastewater treatment plant, and the general union, which includes parks, streets and cemeteries.

The firefighters are offering to give up the 3% raise its members are in-line for come July 1.

Keokuk Police Chief Tom Crew used Thursday night’s city council meeting to announce his retirement.  His final day on the job will be June 28, but he will officially leave the payroll on July 6.

Crew has been with the Keokuk Police Department for 25 years.  He worked his way through the ranks, serving as patrol officer, captain and assistant chief along the way.

Crew has led the department for the last seven years. 

His time in local law enforcement also included a stint as commander of the Lee County Narcotics Task Force.

Keokuk has started talking about developing its own multi-sport complex.

The discussions began with a request to upgrade Rees Park.  Mayor Tom Marion says the idea is to prepare the park for softball games or practices.

“We will put the fencing back up and we will disc the infield,” says Marion.  “We will also bring some clay sand and put it on the infield and fix the bleachers.”

The city council reached a consensus to proceed with the project, which could cost several thousand dollars.

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