WIUM Tristates Public Radio

TSPR Local

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.

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.

Employees Air Insurance Concerns

Mar 2, 2012

Bushnell switched health insurance plans last year to lower costs. Instead, it raised the hackles of employees.

The two sides this week. Fifteen employees submitted their complaints and questions in writing.

Their biggest complaint was the deductible. It increased $400 from the old plan to $1,900.

The Illinois Department of Revenue said it is prepared to move swiftly on decisions about which not-for-profit hospitals deserve tax breaks.                                            

The state had held off making any decisions since fall while it, hospitals and consumer health advocates negotiated to determine how much charity not-for-profit hospitals must provide in order to get out of paying property taxes.

But they failed to reach an agreement by Governor Pat Quinn's March 1 deadline so the department will resume issuing rulings.

The Keokuk City Council is proceeding with a multi-million dollar infrastructure project.

The Keokuk Municipal airport has two runways.  The length of one is 5,500 feet while the other is 3,800 feet.

The city is looking to resurface the longer runway as early as this summer. 

Airport Manager Greg Gobble says the work would be done in shifts to allow the airport to remain open.

The Federal Aviation Administration must review the plans because the height of the runway increasing by 6” could impact the agency’s equipment.

City leaders in Warsaw say two new taxes will result in better streets.

The city council voted, this week, to establish a pair of utility taxes.

One of the taxes would be on the electricity delivered by Ameren Illinois.

The ordinance establishes a sliding scale for residential or business use within the city.

The other tax would be on natural gas and its delivery from Nicor.

Instead of a sliding scale, residents and businesses would be charged a 5% tax.

The Keokuk School Board must make some serious cuts to next year’s budget.

Superintendent Lora Wolff says the district will actually lose roughly $550,000 in state aid because of its declining enrollment.

She says dwindling revenues and increasing expenditures mean balancing the spending plan for the 2012/2013 school year will require a reduction of $1.3-million.

The district plans to use cash reserves and unspent balances to cover nearly $600,000.

The rest of the shortfall ($700,000) will have to come from budget modifications.

Monmouth wants to spur economic development in the downtown. Public meetings have shown residents would like to see a vigorous arts community develop downtown.

Community Development Director Paul Schuytema said the city will rehabilitate a building downtown into an art studio and gallery. The new project will create foot traffic and new business opportunities. He said the original plan was to offer artists studio and gallery space and apartments. A study showed that was not economically feasible.

High school teachers in the Schuyler-Industry School District will soon embark on a year-long assignment.

It's tied to the district's plans to begin a one-to-one program in the Fall of 2013. Every high school student will be provided with either a lap-top or tablet. The district is still deciding which device to use.

Superintendent Mat Plater said before the devices can be used by students, teachers must get comfortable with them and learn how to best use them in the classroom.

Illinois legislators are considering whether to revoke a benefit long enjoyed by state university employees.

Anyone who has worked in the state university system for at least seven years gets 50% off tuition for their children. Universities say tuition waivers help attract and retain quality employees.

Dave Steelman, who lobbies for Western Illinois University, said the majority of WIU employees using tuition waivers are relatively low-paid workers, such as clerks.

Carthage's Patience Pays Off

Feb 29, 2012

The roof at Carthage City Hall began leaking last year. Water ran into the building and around several windows on the upper floor.

Mayor Jim Nightingale contacted the contractor, Five Star Commercial Roofing of Indiana, to get the repairs under warranty.

The contractor promised to send someone to look at the situation last November. No one came.

The recovery process is underway in Harrisburg following Wednesday morning's (February 29) strong storms that resulted in major damage and loss of life.

The Saline County Sheriff's office reports six people are dead and more than 100 injured as a result of the storms.

Storm victims are being transported to hospitals in Williamson County for treatment.  The sheriff's department reports more than 200 homes damaged or destroyed in Harrisburg along with 25 businesses, including the hospital.

Health Alliance and Humana have another chance to stay on the books as providers of health insurance for state employees in Illinois.

A  legislative panel paved the way for Illinois to settle a lawsuit with Urbana-based Health Alliance. The company sued last year after losing its state contract. State employees  represent a significant share of its customers.

Julie Hamos, Director of the Department of Healthcare and Family  Services, said as a condition of the settlement, the state is re-opening the  bidding for state employee health insurance providers.

Steve Dunn - Daily Gate City

Tyler Hobbs of St. Francisville, MO has been found guilty of 1st Degree Murder in the death of Shawn Wright of Kahoka, MO.

Wright was killed near a farmhouse in rural Lee County on November 6, 2010.  He was hit in the head with a mallet multiple times.

His body was found on November 9, 2010  after being dumped near a levee in Gregory Landing, MO.

The jury of seven women and five men delivered the unanimous verdict to Judge Mary Ann Brown in Iowa District Court at about 2:15 P.M. this afternoon.

The panel deliberated for just over two hours.

Colchester Cited for Water Quality Violations

Feb 28, 2012

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has cited Colchester for 28 violations of water quality regulations.  The violations occurred from January through August of last year. The EPA gave the city 90 days to comply.

The city has been working to solve its water woes. It has completed one phase of the project.. The next two phases will take up to 2 1/2 years and cost up to $4 million.

Supporters of a proposed sports complex in western Fort Madison have received some good news from the state.

Tim Gobble with Fort Madison Partners says more than $2-million has been pledged or donated to build three baseball/softball diamonds and three football/soccer fields.

That includes $1.25-million from Fort Madison’s branch of the Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission, $500,000 from the city, and $175,000 from Pinnacle Foods.

That’s more than 60% of what is needed for the project to move forward.

By this time next week, Macomb could have some new rules in place to control large and loud parties.

Aldermen reviewed the four ordinances during their February 27 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The one that generated the most discussion concerns nuisance parties. Fifth Ward Alderman Dave Dorsett asked about the section dealing with loud and raucous noise from parties. He wondered who made the determination.

“Is that at the officer's discretion?” Dorsett asked.

Durbin Says New Bills Reflect Budget Realities

Feb 27, 2012

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said a new farm bill will have to cost less and return to its primary goal of helping farmers during tough times.
 
He calls the current payment system ”lopsided.”
 
Durbin said, “The direct payment system is paying many farmers a lot of federal money at a time when prices were very, very high. We're going to have to change that and farmers know it.”

He is confident the new bill will save money and still protect farmers.

The current farm bill expires at the end of this year.

A trial date has been set for a Hamilton man accused of sexual abuse of a minor.

August Dion Gregory, 44, appeared before Judge Richard Gambrell, this morning, for a pre-trial hearing at the Hancock County Courthouse in Carthage.

Gregory’s lawyer, Stephen Morris of Hamilton, used the hearing to request more time to review the evidence in the case.

Hancock County State’s Attorney Jim Drozdz responded by saying the people were ready to proceed to trial.

Board and Agency Disagree on Recycling Cost

Feb 27, 2012
TSPR'S Rich Egger

The Hancock County Board and the Western Illinois Regional Council have come up with different numbers for the cost of recycling collection in the county.

The board found a bill for $4,000 a surprise. It budgeted $3,500 for the service.

The board briefly considered just paying the money it budgeted. Ultimately, the board tabled the bill until the finance committee has a chance to contact the WIRC.

Chairman David Walker thought the bill might have gone up.

The US Department of Agriculture is confirming what gardeners in Illinois already knew: it has become warmer in the state during recent years.  

The change can be seen in the USDA's plant hardiness map that appears on the back of packages for seeds and plants. 

State climatologist Jim Angel said the previous map was based on a much colder period in Illinois history.

“Since then we've had some milder winters in the 1990s and the early 2000s, and that's reflected in the new map,” Angel said.

Carthage Fire Fees Might Go Up

Feb 27, 2012

Carthage might have to raise what it charges for fire calls outside the city limits.

Fire Chief Gary Smith said the department doesn't cover a fire district. It is a city department that provides a service within a designated area. Since people in the area don't pay a tax for fire protection, they get a bill when the fire department responds to a call.

He said, ”With the rising fuel costs, diesel costs a lot. Equipment costs a lot. We take around a half-million dollars worth of equipment and between that and the fuel cost we can spend more than we bring in.”

The latest winners of the Spirit of Keokuk award will be announced during the 22nd Annual Affiliates dinner.

The Affiliates organization includes the Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Keokuk, the Keokuk Area Convention and Tourism Bureau and Keokuk Economic Development Corporation.

Chamber of Commerce Director Chuck Betts says more than 75 people have been honored over the last two decades for their contributions to Keokuk.

“The phrase that has been used ever since they started was without them, it would not have happened,” says Betts.

Pages