Springfield, IL – Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed a bill that will give people more access to information about out-patient medical care. It calls for the state's Department of Public Health to put on the web the average cost of 30 out-patient procedures, along with how often a particular hospital or surgical center performs them. Blagojevich says more than 900,000 outpatient surgical operations were performed in 2003.
Fort Madison, IA – The Lee County Board of Supervisors agreed to wait at least another week before making any changes to the county's work week or to the salaries of the county's workforce. Shortening the work week by one hour would essentially negate a 3% pay hike union workers will receive next month. The supervisors are also considering whether to eliminate a potential pay hike for non-union workers and cut the hours worked by the information technology director.
Macomb, IL – A group of volunteers is being assenbled to plan a hiking or biking trail in McDonough County. The group is likely to work with the county's new Greenways and Trails Plan. Dave King of Prairie Hills Resource Conservation and Development is seeking people who can pick which of many possibilities should be the first to be attempted. King says construction will depend on funding. However, he says the Illinois Department of Transportation could have $50 million or more in two or three years. He says having a trail selected will be a key to gaining funding.
Keokuk, IA – The Keokuk school board has approved several cost-cutting measures. The board approved eliminating a kindergarten teaching position and adding a fee for driver's education. The district is working to make up a $175,000 shortfall in the coming year's budget. The deficit is due in part to increased utility costs and to a decision not to increase the property tax levy. The district also hopes to save money through retiring teachers and by cutting some assistant coaches.
Colchester, IL – With federal money drying up, the fledgling West Prairie Rural Water Cooperative will try to secure some state funds. It's asked the Western Illinois Regional Council to do an income survey in parts of McDonough County to see if the co-op might qualify for Community Development Assistance Program funds. Project engineer Brad Lanier says applications for federal Rural Development money were accepted, but no funds will be available until at least late this year. The co-op has about 220 members signed up.