LaHarpe, IL – All of the school districts in Hancock County are now participating in the state's "Clean School Bus Program." Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott says the program pays to retrofit school buses so they can run on cleaner burning fuels. The state says most of the funding comes from an enforcement case settlement. The program was launched about two years ago and now includes 65 school districts. The latest to join are the LaHarpe and Nauvoo-Colusa Districts, which made Hancock County the first county in the state to have all of its school districts in the program.
Havana, IL – More than $246,000 in state grants will help the Havana Park District improve its Riverfront Park. Director Jill Hills says the money will pay for a walkway to a floating dock, along with a new nature center. The center will include rest room facilities and a snack bar. She says it's designed for observation of riverfront wildlife. Future plans for the district include better parking areas and improvements to the district's boat launching ramps.
Fort Madison, IA – The Fort Madison Chamber of Commerce wants to improve the appearance of the city by cleaning up several properties. Executive Director Tracy Vance says the Chamber's beautification and image program was started, last fall, to help clean up dilapidated properties around Fort Madison. Vance says the Chamber is working with the city to do something about these properties through the current building codes pertaining to run-down structures. He says that once the owner of a property is identified, they will have the opportunity to work with the city to clean up the site.
Beardstown, IL – Beardstown's city council is urging the Senate to pass the Water Quality Bill of 2005. Mayor Bob Walters sayss the bill contains a provision that would require the Corps of Engineers to keep a channel dredged to the town's silted-in marina. When the Corps moved the mouth of the Sangamon River eight miles closer to town, cropland silt has filled in the bay that was a wildlife habitat. it also is silting in the town's riverfront. Walters says the economic impact on the town has been devastating.
Augusta, IL – The removal of an eyesore is about to begin in downtown Augusta. State money will allow the village demolish and clean-up the former Weinberg building site at Main and Center. The building began to cave-in more than four years ago, but the town could not afford to do anything about it. Now the state is giving Augusta more than $131,000 on top of an earlier grant of $70,000 to take care of the site, which is considered a brownfield. Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott visited Augusta on Thursday to present a ceremonial check to Village President Sean Eifert.
McDonough County – McDonough County's assessments office must clear up a backlog of land transfer records if the county tax bills will go out on time. Supervisor of Assessments Tammy Camp has been without a technician to update and make changes in the county's computerized land records. Camp is interviewing applicants, but she says when a new person is hired, they will have at least two months of work to catch up with. Camp says unless the records are up to date soon, the state could prevent the county from sending out its property tax bills.