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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.

Several members of the Keokuk City Council are looking for some compensation for its generosity in regards to a new ordinance.

The panel has approved the first reading of an ordinance providing a special encroachment for Roquette America.

The company would be able to build its own road on an unused portion of Railroad Street between “F” Street and “H” Street once the ordinance is approved.

Around The Region

Mar 16, 2012

FORT MADISON, IA

The Lee County Narcotics Task Force has arrested six Fort Madison residents in connection with a methamphetamine manufacturing ring in the city.  They range in age from 21 to 55.

They each face one count of felony conspiracy to manufacture more than five grams of meth.  Several have also been charged with maintaining a drug house and a 24-hour pseudoephedrine violation.

If convicted, the six could each be sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.  Three simultaneous search warrants were executed on Tuesday, March 13.

 

BURLINGTON, IA

Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA2) says the United States should consider pulling its military forces out of Afghanistan sooner than currently scheduled. 

He says he does not have a specific date in mind for a withdrawal at this point.

“The President has already moved up his timetable from 2014 to the goal of late 2013,” says Rep. Loebsack, “I think we should move it up even sooner than that.  There is no way around that.”

The Burlington School District wants to balance its elementary school enrollment.

The administration says nearly 200 students attend an elementary school that is outside of their neighborhood.

Superintendent Jane Evans says this is likely the result of families moving within the city but choosing to remain a part of their previous school. 

She says the district wants to balance the enrollment at its five elementary schools: Blackhawk, Corse, Grimes, North Hill and Sunnyside.

Schools Will Increase Network Capacity

Mar 15, 2012

The Macomb School District will spend $204,000 to increase its computer network capacity tenfold in time for next school year.

Superintendent Alene Reuschel said the extra capacity will allow greater use of wireless technology at the junior-senior high school next year.

She said, “We will make sure that every classroom-grades 7-12-will have the equivalent of 30 access points within a room which means you can have 30 units needing wireless service of some kind in a room.”

A watchdog group says Illinois is doing better at making government spending more transparent to the public, but more can be done.

This is the third year the Illinois Public Interest Research Group has studied state's openness to show where money is going.

I-PIRG's Brian Imus said in the Internet age, taxpayers expect increasing access to information. He said other states are doing a better job than Illinois.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is ready to provide additional coverage to Montrose on a temporary basis.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors has signed off on a 28E agreement between the county, sheriff’s office and the city for law enforcement services.

The deal runs from March 14, 2012 to March 13, 2013.

Montrose has been without a police chief since Karl Judd resigned to join the Fort Madison Police Department.  The city’s two reserve officers also resigned around the same time as Judd.

The Illinois State Board of Education is getting feedback on a possible change to the way it calculates reimbursements to districts.

Districts are supposed to be paid the actual costs of busing students to and from school.

Monmouth-Roseville Superintendent Paul Woehlke said that would change if the ISBE has its way.

A federal judge struck down part of Illinois' campaign finance law.

Judge Marvin Aspen said Illinois cannot enforce contribution limits on independent political action committees. Aspen issued his ruling on March 13.

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."

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