Monmouth, IL – The Western Illinois Economic Development Partnership is joining forces with the University of Illinois Extension. The partnership has been a combination of Warren and Henderson county economic development workers. Board Chairman Robin Johnson says working with the University of Illinois will add both funding and expertise. The partnership board will continue to govern efforts. Extension will take over day-to-day supervision. The partnership offices will move to the Patton Block Center in Monmouth.
West Point, IA – One Southeast Iowa community believes increasing its housing market will increase its population. West Point Mayor Paul Walker says the population of his community, about 980, is gradually decreasing as younger families move away. In response, the town has purchased about 12 acres of land that it plans to develop into at least 24 affordably priced homes. Before construction can begin, Walker says a developer must be contacted and the property must be annexed into West Point. The city borrowed the money to buy the property on the southern end of town.
Macomb, IL – Students have returned to Western Illinois University after a summer of working jobs or internships, or simply enjoying some time off. But for one student, the summer months were spent in a much different part of the world. Thom Koschwanez went to Niger and Benin to report on daily life in those African nations. He spent some time there on his own a year ago and decided he wanted to return for a closer look. Koschwanez proposed going as a summer class and ended up receiving some money from the university to write features about what he saw.
Macomb, IL – An installation piece now on display at Western's art gallery focuses on contaminated water and how it affects children. The piece is called "All About Water." It was created specifically for the W.I.U. Art Gallery by New York artist Mary Giehl. She wants to motivate her audience to think about the 4,000 children who die each day because of unclean water. Giehl says the installation ties into Western's campus theme for the new school year, which is "Global Challenges and Personal Responsibility." The piece will remain on display until September 22.
Macomb, IL – McDonough County's new five-year health plan will look for ways to provide greater access to health care. Plan coordinator Marci Roberts says future meetings will determine how that might be done. Roberts also says the previous plan called for a focus on obesity and heart disease and those will continue to be concerns in the new plan. Roberts says the new plan will also look for ways to assist the county's aging population. The department plans to expand some of its educational and health screening activities.
Biggsville, IL – Highway 34 is a four-lane road from Interstate 74 to Monmouth, and it will soon be a four-lane highway from Burlington to Des Moines. That leaves a 22-mile stretch in the middle still in need of an upgrade. Supporters know the project won't get done overnight but they remain optimistic. Highway 34 Coalition Chairman Kurt McChesney says safety is the biggest concern. He also believes Henderson County's economy will be helped once the stretch becomes a four-lane highway. McChesney says the nation's new transportation bill includes more than $8 million for the road.
Hamilton, IL – Hamilton teachers were in the classroom for the first day of school after approving a new contract with the district early Friday morning. Teachers had threatened to begin the school year on the picket line if a deal was not in place. Details of the contract are not being released until the Board of Education ratifies it. The board is expected to hold a special meeting Monday night to vote on the contract. The deal was reached after a nine hour bargaining session that included a federal mediator.
Keokuk, IA – Residents within the Southeastern Community College District recently had the chance to share their thoughts on what they want in SCC's next president. The process to replace former President Jim Richardson is underway. Search consultant and Iowa State University Professor, Larry Ebbers, says more than 100 people attended four recent public forums. He says people want SCC's next president to have many positive qualities. A forum was held on each of SCC's four campuses. Applications are due September 2nd.
Keokuk, IA – The Keokuk City Council still has some questions about a proposal to sell part of a city park. The council has voted to sell more than 3 acres of Tolmie Park for about $400,000 dollars to a St. Louis-based development firm. One provision of the deal is that the council must approve the final agreement because aldermen have not seen that document. City Attorney Tom Marion says he is still reviewing the development group's response to the city's original proposal. You can hear Jason Parrott's entire report by clicking on the audio link above
Macomb, IL – The head of Macomb's Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee believes it's time to raise the Illinois gas tax. Bruce Biagini says the additional money will be needed to cover matching funds for road projects in the new federal transportation bill. He says the gas tax is higher in Iowa, but gasoline is generally cheaper in that state. He says that shows distributors set a pump price that bears no relationship to tax levels. Biagini says Illinois must come up with at least a 20 percent match on more than $1.2 billion in road projects each year.