Canton, IL – The Spoon River College Board has approved a budget for the current year that's 3.5 percent above last year's. The $14.5 million spending plan includes two new associate degree programs. College spokeswoman Anna Buehrer says one is in medical record-keeping. She says both physicians and insurance companies have asked for that training to be made available. The other is a business management program which is partially geared toward entrepreneurs. Buehrer says that will give them the skill to capitalize on their innovation.
Macomb, IL – The possibility of pesticide-free food is appealing to a growing number of comsumers. WIU Profefssor of Agriculture Jerry Vigue says soybeans grown using organic methods bring a much higher price per bushel than conventionally-grown soybeans. He says the University's Allison organic farm allows researchers to learn from mistakes, and pass on knowledge to individual farmers who want to try organic farming. Vigue says it's important for farmers to know their market and have a transition plan for the three years it takes to switch from conventional to organic farming.
Rushville, IL – Rushville's waste treatment plant has been named as one of the best-run facilities in Illinois. Just two plants in the state were honored by the U.S. EPA. The recognition praises the plant for removing an average of 95 percent of pollutants from the incoming wastewater. Wastewater Superintendent Drew Seal says efforts to cut the inflow of groundwater in to the old mains helped the plant do so well. In addition, the plant was expanded in preparation for the juvenile correction center northwest of town.
Keokuk, IA – The Keokuk City Council is looking into ways to clean up the "clutter" along its recently renovated Main Street. One proposal would prohibit parking large trailers on commercially-zoned properties if the containers will be used for storage or sale. Another measure being discussed would prohibit the outdoor display of merchandise on city streets or sidewalks. Mayor Dave Gudgel says the two proposals would focus on improving the image of properties along Keokuk's Main Street. He says there is still some work to do on each proposal.
Lee County, IA – The rising cost of fuel is having a major impact on school district's across Lee County. A significant challenge for school districts is estimating how much it will cost to keep school buses full of fuel. The most recent AAA fuel gauge report shows the average cost of diesel fuel, nationwide, is $2.65. That is up about $0.21 compared to last month and about $0.75 compared to a year ago. Business manager Greg Reynolds says the Keokuk School District has looked for ways to cut down on travel time by buses.
Monmouth, IL – A tour of wind farms has some western Illinois economic developers planning ahead. The Western Illinois Economic Development Partnership chartered a bus for a tour of two Bureau County wind turbine sites. Executive Director Jolene Willis says the landowners they visited were happy with the wind farm operators. However, she says they all recommended that counties develop their wind ordinances before a wind power operation tries to set up in their location.
Macomb, IL – McDonough County's Budget Committee has finished going over requests from officeholders. Now chairman Glen Foster says the group is waiting for estimates of projected income. He says those are expected from the county's auditor in September. Then the committee will balance the figures and see if more needs to be trimmed from projected spending. The main spending increases expected this year are for health insurance and for salaries.
Macomb, IL – One of the challenges Western Illinois University will face during the new school year is to successfully implement its new "First Year Experience" program. President Al Goldfarb says the university has guaranteed freshmen that there will not be more than 15-20 students in general education classes. The school is also requiring freshmen to attend three events outside the classroom each semester. Goldfarb says another challenge facing Western concerns finances.
Springfield, IL – While the Bush administration wants to virtually eliminate funding for Amtrak, the passenger rail service continues to be popular in Illinois. Amtrak says all four of the state-sponsored trains posted record levels of ridership during the fiscal year that ended June 30. Those trains include the Illinois Zephyr, which connects Chicago with western Illinois cities such as Macomb, Quincy and Galesburg. The Illinois Zephyr had 113,086 riders, which was an increase of 7.6%.
Donnellson, IA – Construction work did not hamper the start of school for one Southeast Iowa district. The Central Lee School District's classrooms are located along Highway 218, just a couple miles south of Donnellson. Construction work has been underway, this summer, to add right and left turn lanes to the highway where it meets the district's driveway. Superintendent Chuck Reighard says the district was worried about school starting on time after the project was delayed.