WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Macomb

Emphasis - June 15

Jun 15, 2012

Rich Egger's guests are author and historian John Hallwas and former Macomb Mayor Bob Anstine. They talk about the city's annual Heritage Days celebration, which takes place Thursday, June 21 - Sunday, June 24.

Heritage Days began during Anstine's administration. He thinks the first one was held in 1981.

“We were looking for an annual activity. We came up with this concept - the city city council, the Chamber of Commerce, and others - and that's when it started,” Anstine said.

Rich Egger

There are plenty of streets in need of repair in Macomb and the city council is now looking at options to pay for the work.

Aldermen this week discussed whether to issue bonds.  Sixth Ward Alderman Tim Lobdell said he's debated the idea for a while and now believes it's the city's best solution.

“I hope we see the long-term value in this. You're talking capital projects. They're going to be used in the future. Those people should be paying the interest debt on them in the future as well,” Lobdell said.

Rich Egger

The city council voted in favor of a resolution of support for seeking $1.1 million in federal grant funding for the West Adams Street revitalization project.

“This project is the gateway to Western Illinois University,” said Eric Moe of McClure Engineering. “It's often the first impression for newcomers to our community.”

Western Illinois University's new performing arts center should be ready for its scheduled opening in the fall of 2015.

Project Manager Ted Renner says the project should go out for contractor bids in late fall. Construction could begin in January.  Renner is confident the project will receive state funding to stay on schedule.

Rich Egger

The city plans to lay out 100 new camp sites to the south and west of the existing campgrounds at Spring Lake Park.

City Administrator Dean Torreson told aldermen the development can be done in stages.

“Maybe 20 at a time or something like that, 25 at a time as we can afford it and as the market can absorb it,” Torreson said.

A city memo said once the project is completed, the city will rework some existing sites. That project will include installation of new utility lines.

Rich Egger

Macomb aldermen have been asked for several years to take action to improve the safety of the Grant Street and Maple Avenue intersection. They now appear ready to do so.

They will decide at their June 4, 2012 meeting whether the city should buy solar powered pedestrian crossing lights for that intersection and for West Adams Street, just east of Wigwam Hollow Road.

Macomb city council members want more information about a proposal to refund money to those who live outside the city limits who paid for a hook-up to the city's water service.

Macomb estimates it charged an average of $3,000 to the 18 people in question. Aldermen appear willing to lower the fee from this point forward but they're not sold on the idea of giving refunds.

Schock Says Provision Prevents Medicaid Reform

May 14, 2012

Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock (R-18) says a provision of the Affordable Care Act prevents Illinois from enacting serious Medicaid reform. That provision prevents states from reducing benefits or tightening requirements to qualify for Medicaid.

The House has passed a measure to repeal that provision.

Schock says, “They (federal government) have Illinois trapped right now in a situation where they can't reduce their budget deficit, reduce their spending.”

Bridge Replacement to Begin

May 11, 2012

The first of two bridges north of Macomb on U.S. 67 will be replaced this construction season. They're located one mile south of the intersection with Highway 9.

Crews will begin the $4 million project May 14th.

Bill Lewis is the construction field engineer for the project. County Contractors, Inc. of Quincy will do the work.

He says, “The schedule's pretty tight for them to get that first structure done this year. So they'll jump into that right away.”

The oak tree planted in Macomb's Chandler Park this year has a plaque at its base. The plaque honors the late Bob Swanson.

Swanson was a nurseryman who grew his beyond his profession into volunteering to  plant trees in Macomb.

He was one of the original members of the city's Tree Board 20 years ago.

Former Mayor Tom Carper appointed him at that time.

Water Rate Hikes Are Becoming a “Hardship”

May 2, 2012

The mayor of Colchester says the rise in water rates from the city's supplier, Macomb, is becoming a “hardship” for residents.

Macomb will raise the water rates for Colchester 5% effective August 1.

Mayor Danny Bice says water rates have skyrocketed since the city started receiving its water from Macomb about nine years ago.

He says, “Sooner or later there has to be a stopping point on the water increase. Because it's (gone) up 150% since we hooked on (to Macomb service).”

One year ago, an estimated 3,000 partiers gathered on a two block stretch of Wheeler Street in Macomb to celebrate the approaching end of the WIU school year.

Broken glass littered the street, numerous arrests were made, and a crowd control team was needed to break up the gathering.

The scene was much different this past weekend. Police were there to keep an eye on things but there was not much to see. Several smaller parties were held, no arrests were made, and no citations were issued.

Rich Egger

Macomb won't be joining the list of Illinois communities going on the open market to buy electricity in bulk for consumers.

A 2010 Illinois law allows municipalities to engage in electric aggregation and presumably secure cheaper prices for residents and small businesses.

Residents of Ipava, Table Grove, and Canton voted in favor of such plans during the March election.

But Macomb aldermen feel there is no evidence of significant savings.

World Book Night Comes to Macomb

Apr 23, 2012

Devotees of the written word will share their passion and free books April 23rd. It's the first World Book Night in the United States.

Macomb is one of 5,000 U.S. communities chosen to take part. The city's public library and New Copperfield's Book Store were selected as distributors. World Book Night is sponsored by a consortium of book publishers and authors who donate the books.

Linda Cox of New Copperfield's said “book givers” each have 20 books to give away.

World Book Night Comes to Macomb

Apr 23, 2012

Devotees of the written word will share their passion and free books April 23rd. It's the first World Book Night in the United States.

Macomb is one of 5,000 U.S. communities chosen to take part. The city's public library and New Copperfield's Book Store were selected as distributors. World Book Night is sponsored by a consortium of book publishers and authors who donate the books.

Linda Cox of New Copperfield's said “book givers” each have 20 books to give away.

Macomb's Earth Day Celebration will bring the public close to nature with several birds of prey on display.

Veterinarian Drew Kaiser is head of the Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Quincy. He will bring a red-tailed hawk, a kestrel, a barn owl and a screech owl to the event.

People love to watch the magnificent birds.  However, he says we are not their best friends.

He says, “80% of the time the trauma that we see are man-made. Whether that's your posts, telephone poles, fences, automobiles, things like that.”

Districts Will Compare Notes on New Curricula

Apr 18, 2012

Next school year will be a year of transition for Illinois districts. Many will complete the transition to new Common Core standards adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education.

Macomb Superintendent Alene Reuschel said the change makes professional development more urgent for teachers.

She said, “Schools traditionally have their own kickoff meetings but this time we're going to come together as an education community. And because we're all facing many of the same challenges, especially in the Common Core.”

The City of Macomb sent a letter to businesses that sell package liquor to forewarn them an emergency order could be issued the final weekend of April.

The Wheeler Street block party - which has gotten out of control in recent years - has been held during the final weekend of  April.

Mayor Mike Inman said the order would not limit the amount of alcohol the businesses could sell but rather would restrict the sale of liquor in glass containers.

He said it's a matter of public safety.

The short film I Met Her in the Coffee Shop won the “Best of Fest” award at the inaugural Cornfed Film Fest in Macomb.

The plot for movie, by filmmaker Erik Hogan of Las Vegas, NV, is described as “A heartbroken dude gets hit in the face by love ... literally.”

Hogan said this is the first competition in which he entered the film.  He said the award will encourage him to enter it in other competitions.

He had not heard of Macomb before being asked to enter the Cornfed Film Fest.

Macomb Plans to Catch-up on Street Projects

Apr 11, 2012

Macomb hasn't had the money to keep up with needed street work the past few years. Mayor Mike Inman said passage of a half-cent sales tax last year will allow an the city to complete several projects this construction season.

He said,“It'll come out of that, almost without exception, the half-cent sales tax. Folks that voted for that will get to se some of the fruits of their vote come to pass this summer.”

The city will budget $1.25 million for the fiscal year that starts May 1st.

Former Teacher Faces Additional Charges

Apr 10, 2012
Courtesy Macomb School District

Daniel Watson, a former teacher and boys basketball coach at Macomb High School, faces two more charges stemming from an alleged relationship with a female student who was 17 years old at the time.

He was arrested last August on a charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He has been charged with another count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and a count of official misconduct.

Manufacturer Finds Success in Niche Markets

Apr 9, 2012

The Macomb Pella Windows plant has kept production lines humming even through the recession.

Pella manufactures windows and doors with an eye toward new home construction. Information Technology Coordinator John Swanson said the company weathered the downturn by turning to new opportunities in construction of rental properties.

NTN Bower will continue to operate out of it current factory in Macomb while also expanding into a new $100 million facility to be built directly east of it.

“The new plant will be about 200,000 square feet and create 80 permanent fulltime jobs,” said Kunio Kamo, President, NTN Bower.

The company makes tapered and cylindrical roller bearings. Kamo said additional production lines will be installed in the new factory.

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.

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.

Aldermen unanimously agreed to donate $800 to the Cornfed Film Fest, which will take place April 13 - 15, 2012 in Macomb.

Film festival co-founder Sue Scott said $600 of the money will be spent on a "Welcoming Package" that will include a program that lists the movies and the community sponsors.

"We'll use a local printer. Our business partners will have special deals for ticket holders ... so we're really promoting the businesses as well as the festival," Scott said.

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.

In The Tri States

Mar 2, 2012

A look back at the top stories and features from the Tri States Public Radio news department from February 2012. 

During the month, Caterpillar ruled out Galesburg or any other site in Illinois for a plant being relocated from Japan. The company eventually chose to build in Georgia.

Monmouth hired a new police chief, a northeast Missouri man was convicted of murder, and the Macomb School District cut ties with a former teacher accused of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. 

Rich Egger's guests are author and historian John Hallwas and University Television's Roger Kent. They talk about the new series “Macomb's Historic Homes,” which UTV will begin showing on February 6.

Hallwas said they wanted to take a different approach to Macomb's history, and did so by focusing on residential life from through the years.

Macomb's mayor hopes the city can “reinvigorate” its annual Heritage Days celebration.

Heritage Days is held the final weekend of June. It typically begins on Thursday at 5:00pm and concludes on Sunday morning with the fly-in and pancake breakfast at the airport.

Mayor Mike Inman said the Heritage Days committee is considering whether to extend the festival to include more activities on Sunday.

Pages