Keokuk, IA – The city of Keokuk will soon begin infrastructure work at the site of a future hotel. The city will build an entrance road, add sewer and water lines, and remove trees from the old Joyce Park, which is the future home of a Hampton Inn Hotel. During yesterday's special meeting, the council awarded the construction contract to Keokuk Contractors, who bid more than $350,000. Mayor Dave Gudgel says the city will not spend its own money on this project. The council held off on awarding the contract until adequate work had begun on the hotel site.
Keokuk, IA – The Keokuk City Council will vote next week on whether to make its annual payment to the Lee County Narcotics Task Force. Police Chief RL Dobson says Keokuk's share, about $15,000, is due now. Much of the Task Force's money comes from a federal grant. Keokuk, Fort Madison, and Lee County split the cost of the cash match for that funding. If approved, Keokuk's share will have to be transfered in from the general fund, because the city did not budget for the expense. The council appears to be in favor of paying the bill with the general fund money.
Burlington, IA – Musician Patrick Hazell is well known around the region for playing the blues. But he's also grabbed the spotlight the past couple years for ringing the bells. He's conducted a half-dozen Hawkeye Valley Bell Projects in his hometown of Burlington and has also overseen a bell project in a Russian city. Dozens of volunteers help Hazell with the Burlington ringings. He hopes the performances inspire people to ring the downtown bells more often. The latest version of the Hawkeye Valley Bell Project was held on a warm, humid early autumn evening.
Macomb, IL – Macomb police believe they're responding to more calls about fights than in years past. Chief Mike Galloway says his department has broken up 55 fights on Friday and Saturday nights this school year. He says the department is keeping tabs on the calls this year because it also sensed a rise in fights last school year. Galloway is not sure why there have been so many altercations. The department will meet with the Community-University Partnership Program to seek solutions. Galloway says many of the fights occur outside the town's bars.
Carthage, IL – Three Hancock County agencies are planning a dental clinic that could open next year. A recent survey of health needs showed that dental care for low-income residents was one of the major needs. The health department's Melita Finney says there are no dentists in the county who accept medicare payments. The health department is planning with the hospital and the mental health center for further grants to support the clinic. They are also working with dental schools to find a recent graduate who would establish the clinic.
Keokuk, IA – A state-coordinated disaster drill tested Southeast Iowa's response to an agri-terrorism event. Lee County Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Cirinna says about 10 counties took part in the exercise. Those involved had to react to a fake outbreak of the contagious foot and mouth disease. Cirinna says the exercise required Lee County to open its emergency operations center and test its capability. He says communication between the different agencies, including law enforcement, county government, and public health, was good within the E.O.C.
Keokuk, IA – The Keokuk School District's enrollment is down this year. Business Manager Greg Reynolds says Keokuk's official count is around 2,350 students. He says that is a 45-student decrease compared to last year. Reynolds says the decrease means the district will lose about $220,000 in state aid. School districts receive state dollars based on their enrollments. Reynolds says the school board will have to address the loss in its budget for the next school year.
Keokuk, IA – The Lee County Board of Supervisors may look at cross training county employees to try to save money. The board voted against hiring a real estate clerk for the Recorder's office to replace an employee who is leaving. Supervisor Joe Kowzan says with the county facing a difficult budget process next year, the board must save money wherever it can. The board plans to discuss the cross training opportunities during next week's scheduled department head meeting.
Macomb, IL – McDonough County's deputy assessor hopes to switch offices. 30-year old Susie Brown of Bushnell says she will seek the Republican nomination for county clerk. Brown has never worked in the clerk's office but believes she can adapt to it. She wants to protect property rights, provide educational resources, and establish an all-inclusive county website. But Brown says she will need to get into the office before she can determine the biggest challenge facing it. Brown says Florine Miller, who is retiring as clerk, provided strong leadership.