Macomb, IL – Two Macomb fire fighters have returned from volunteering during the Hurricane Katrina cleanup. Dan Myers and Ryan Hotz spent 30 days working with FEMA. Most of the time was spent setting up disaster relief centers which were then staffed by others. Hotz's strongest memory of the damage was seeing the barge for the President Casino blown a mile and a half from its moorings. For Myers, it was the miles of devastated coastline with leafless trees. The pair spent most of their time in Southern Mississippi.
Keokuk, IA – A new chief of police has been named in the city of Keokuk. The Keokuk City Council voted unanimously, Thursday night, to elevate Assistant Chief Tom Crew to the post. Mayor Pro-Tem Susan Dunek says Crew was the best choice for the job. The Keokuk Police Department's website shows that Crew has been on the force for nearly 20 years. He served for several years as the unit commander of the Lee County Narcotics Task Force and is a 2005 graduate of the FBI National Academy.
Macomb, IL – McDonough County will install electronic, thumbprint activated locks on the doors leading to the judges' chambers. Board Chairman Bob Harwick says the circuit judges had asked for increased security for the courthouse. He says an incident in which a courthouse visitor was stopped while trying to gain access to the chambers during the evening helped convince county board members of the need. Harwick says the move is a start, and further measures will be discussed later. The set of four locks will cost $1,000.
Beardstown, IL – Volunteers trying to restore the Beardstown opera house are starting a weekend drama program for children. Dr. Harold Fisher says the Historic Preservation Foundation has worked with the park district on youth programs in the past. Now he says the group has about 20 Kindergarteners through fourth-graders registered for Saturday workshops. Fisher says the youth drama program will keep the name of the opera house before the public ... while the foundation prepares for a major fund-raising effort.
Macomb, IL – The City of Macomb is hiring the regional council to provide a single manager for the four public transit systems. Macomb Mayor Mick Wisslead says the state demanded a manager as a condition of continuing to receive grants. Gary Zeigler of the Western Illinois Regional Council will coordinate the taxi service, along with Red Cross, Go West and Bridgeway services. The city will pay about $103,000 for the first year's contract. Wisslead says benefits could include better use of vehicles, centralized maintenance and an extended service area.
Canton, IL – Those trying to build an ethanol plant in Canton hope the spikes in oil and gas prices help them complete their financing. General Manager Mike Smith says Central Illinois Energy hopes to complete negotiations for a bank loan within 45 days. He says some people had questioned the construction of a coal-burning power station to provide heat and steam for ethanol production. But Smith says the extra cost of building the power station will be more than offset by lower energy costs. Smith says CIE has a 19-year contract for coal fines at a fixed cost.
Keokuk, IA – Lee County residents might get the chance to weigh in on the future consolidation of county government. Supervisor Joe Kowzan says he wants a question on the November 2006 ballot that asks residents if Lee County should have just one county seat. Lee County is the only county in Iowa with two official seats (Fort Madison and Keokuk). Kowzan says creating one seat might be the best way to help deal with Lee County's budget problems. He says the question would ask voters to give the Board of Supervisors the authority to determine the location of the county seat.
Macomb, IL – Republican Andrea Zinga will make a second try to unseat Congressman Lane Evans (D-IL). Zinga says Evans has been too focused on Washington and has ignored his district in central and western Illinois. Zinga says she will focus on securing jobs and federal projects for the 17th District. Zinga challenged Evans in last year's election. She is one of three announced candidates for the March GOP primary for Congress.
Keokuk, IA – Keokuk has signed off on a proposal by one of its industries to extend the city floodwall. The city council authorized Keokuk's public works director to jointly sign an application with Roquette America for an Army Corps of Engineers permit. Mayor Dave Gudgel says the permit is needed so the floodwall can be extended to the south. He says the city will have to pay nothing for the extension, and will be liable for nothing.