Fort Madison, IA – The Fort Madison City Council is still searching for ways to fill a more than $300,000 general fund deficit. After 4 workshops, City Manager Bill Kelly has given the council members a lengthy list of budget cutting options to consider. He says the council must balance the budget through cuts that will benefit the financial future of Fort Madison. No firm committments have been made at this point. Kelly says the council hopes to adopt a preliminary budget in one month.
Carthage, IL – Carthage's Assistant Police Chief is on administrative leave while the Illinois State Police finish an investigation. Mayor James Nightingale says the council granted the paid leave through next month if necessary. He says the investigation concerns a DARE pickkup truck Floyd sold the city after it had been rejuvenated, partly with donations. It also involves some guns Floyd acquired from a family that did not want them in the home of their elderly father. Nightingale says the investigation could be completed within a few weeks.
Keokuk, IA – The Keokuk School Board has approved several changes to the early retirement incentive offered by the school district. District employees can retire early if they meet certain age and employment requirements. The current incentive requires the district to cover the cost of an employee's health insurance, and to provide them with an additional monetary stipend. The school board has now reduced and capped what the district will pay for the health insurance and for the stipends. The board can adjust the caps at any time.
Fort Madison, IA – The timeline to close a factory in Southeast Iowa has been extended. BIC USA announced, last year, that the Sheaffer Pen facility in Fort Madison would close in May of this year. The company now says several departments will remain open beyond that deadline. Spokesperson Jill Klimack says about 40 union and non-union workers will need to stay on the job. Lee County Economic Development Director, Lowell Junkins, says the goal is to make these 40 jobs a permanent fixture in Fort Madison. Klimack says BIC must keep the departments open to meet the needs of customers.
Rushville, IL – A gift from a former Schuyler County resident has more than doubled the size of Culbertson Memorial Hospital's foundation. Marketing Direcator Luan Phillips says the foundation board will meet this week to decide how it will apportion a $1 million gift. She says the gift came from Elmer Taylor, who now lives in California. She says he grew up in Schuyler County and has not forgotten his roots. Phillips says the foundation will probably invest most of the gift as principal, but could consider some special projects. She says these might include health career scholarships.
Macomb, IL – Macomb residents and businesses might soon have to pay a higher telecommunications tax. Aldermen appear ready to hike the tax from 2% to 4%. The increased revenue could help offset some increasing expenses, such as for salaries, health insurance, and fuel. City Administrator Mike Hays recommended an increase to 6%, but at this week's committee meeting aldermen indicated they are not prepared to approve that large of an increase. Aldermen did not have power to approve the change at the committee meeting.
Western Illinois – Firefighters in Monmouth and Galesburg were kept busy battling a pair of significant fires Monday. No injuries are reported from either fire. One of the blazes happened at a house owned by Monmouth College. The school says five students lived in the "Science House," but none of them were home when the fire broke out late in the morning. The college says it appears the house is a total loss. The displaced students will be relocated to another college-owned home. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
Macomb, IL – A Macomb bar is being given another chance to clean up its act. The Last Chance Saloon is being fined $1,000 for three violations, including have a non-Macomb resident manage the tavern and refusing to cooperate with police. Mayor Mick Wisslead says the saloon's next violations could lead to a suspension of its liquor license or perhaps even a revocation of the license.
Macomb, IL – A part of the Illinois governor's State of the State address could be a benefit to the western Illinois economy. Gov. Rod Blagojevich suggested a $500 sales tax credit for anyone who buys a new fuel-efficient car. Chris Merrett of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs says the move could increase the market for ethanol. He says this would bring better prices for corn growers. It would also help the farmers who have invested in ethanol production plants. In addition, it could increase the market for the American-made cars that run on fuel that's 85 percent ethanol.