Lee County, IA – The rising cost of fuel is having a major impact on school district's across Lee County. A significant challenge for school districts is estimating how much it will cost to keep school buses full of fuel. The most recent AAA fuel gauge report shows the average cost of diesel fuel, nationwide, is $2.65. That is up about $0.21 compared to last month and about $0.75 compared to a year ago. Business manager Greg Reynolds says the Keokuk School District has looked for ways to cut down on travel time by buses.
Monmouth, IL – A tour of wind farms has some western Illinois economic developers planning ahead. The Western Illinois Economic Development Partnership chartered a bus for a tour of two Bureau County wind turbine sites. Executive Director Jolene Willis says the landowners they visited were happy with the wind farm operators. However, she says they all recommended that counties develop their wind ordinances before a wind power operation tries to set up in their location.
Macomb, IL – McDonough County's Budget Committee has finished going over requests from officeholders. Now chairman Glen Foster says the group is waiting for estimates of projected income. He says those are expected from the county's auditor in September. Then the committee will balance the figures and see if more needs to be trimmed from projected spending. The main spending increases expected this year are for health insurance and for salaries.
Macomb, IL – One of the challenges Western Illinois University will face during the new school year is to successfully implement its new "First Year Experience" program. President Al Goldfarb says the university has guaranteed freshmen that there will not be more than 15-20 students in general education classes. The school is also requiring freshmen to attend three events outside the classroom each semester. Goldfarb says another challenge facing Western concerns finances.
Springfield, IL – While the Bush administration wants to virtually eliminate funding for Amtrak, the passenger rail service continues to be popular in Illinois. Amtrak says all four of the state-sponsored trains posted record levels of ridership during the fiscal year that ended June 30. Those trains include the Illinois Zephyr, which connects Chicago with western Illinois cities such as Macomb, Quincy and Galesburg. The Illinois Zephyr had 113,086 riders, which was an increase of 7.6%.