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Looking back on 2012

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series focusing on the events in and around Bureau County in 2012.

Aug. 2: There’s more water problems in Spring Valley, as the city’s back-up well is showing signs of bacteria. The area drought may be worsening the situation, according to city engineer Jack Kusek. The well isn’t used on a regular basis, but the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency still requires the water to be bacteria-free, he says. The city will continue to work on getting clean samples from the back-up well.

Aug. 4: The bad news for Bureau County farmers is the drought continues. The good news is at least Bureau County has now joined the ranks of those counties designated eligible for federal drought assistance. Gov. Pat Quinn announces the U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared 98 of 102 Illinois counties, including Bureau, as disaster areas. The designation means federal disaster assistance is now available to help farmers in drought-stricken areas.

Aug. 7: The Bureau/Putnam County Health Department is awarded a $74,388 grant from the “We Choose Health” program sponsored by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The grant money is expected to be used to promote healthy eating and active living programs in area schools, to promote work site wellness through policy developments, and to work to support further policies to limit smoking in outdoor spaces such as parks and campuses.

Aug. 9: The Princeton City Council continues to discuss the best way to market Princeton’s logistic center/commercial park. The Chicago-based firm of Lee & Associates of Illinois is currently handling the marketing of the 133-acre logistics center, which is listed at $40,000 per acre. Commissioner Joel Quiram says the price is too high. City Manager Jeff Clawson says he has formed an economic team to look at marketing and other economic issues.

Aug. 11: Discussion continues on the clean-up of DePue’s Superfund site with DePue Mayor Eric Bryant saying the responsible parties are irresponsible. ExxonMobil and CBS have been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as the two companies responsible for the clean-up.

Aug. 14: By the time the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency got involved with the clean-up of the former New Jersey Zinc smelting site in DePue, many of the previous owners were no longer in existence, according to Russ Cepko with the CBS Corporation. Responsibility for cleaning up the site fell to ExxonMobil and CBS, with both CBS and ExxonMobil understanding their liabilities with the site. But the Superfund process unfortunately takes a long time, he says.

Aug. 16: Community leaders from Princeton, Kewanee, Galesburg, Macomb and Quincy approve the creation of a coalition to boost Amtrak ridership for the five communities. At the invitation of Rep. Don Moffitt and Galesburg Mayor Sal Garza, community leaders and area politicians meet in Galesburg to discuss and form the coalition.

Aug. 18: Hall High School Board members are settling into the idea of tearing down the old school and building a new campus. At Wednesday’s board meeting, architects went over the costs and benefits of a completely new building, saying everything could be done by 2015. The total cost of a new building would be around $36 million, but when compared to other options, board members favor the idea.

Aug. 21: Obesity, substance abuse, access to health care and mental health are four primary health concerns facing residents in Bureau and Putnam counties, according to the findings of the Illinois Project for Local Assessment of Needs (IPLAN) study. Diana Rawlings, administrator of the Bureau/Putnam County Health Department, announces the 2012-16 IPLAN study has been completed, submitted and approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Aug. 23: Perry Memorial Hospital has had a financially strong year, according to CEO/President Rex Conger and Chief Financial Officer Tricia Ellison. The PMH spokespersons tell the Princeton City Council the recent audit for the city-owned hospital shows a net gain of $1,290,863 for Fiscal Year 2012, which ended April 30. PMH experienced gross patient service revenue of $72.5 million, which is a $4 million increase over the previous fiscal year, Ellison says.

Aug. 25: The Spring Valley Elementary School Board is moving into the next phase as it plans for a new addition for John F. Kennedy School building. Board members approve the completed design development drawing phase at a special meeting. The board is now having Springfield-based Allied Design move to drafting construction documents. The board will meet with Allied again in October, when about 50 percent of the construction document phase will be completed.

Aug. 28: Despite almost 2 inches of rain that fell all day Sunday, this year’s Bureau County Fair is still being called a success. Overall, everything went well, according to Bureau County Fair Board member and past President Mark Verstraete. One of the biggest highlights was this year’s country show with Josh Turner, which turned out to be the biggest country show in fair history, with more than 3,300 tickets sold, Verstraete says.

Aug. 30: Decreasing revenue continues to be a problem for the Princeton Elementary School District as it enters the 2013 fiscal year. PES Superintendent Tim Smith says general state aid is down about $600,000 from four years ago, and the district is no longer getting about $100,000 from reading improvement and school safety grants. The corporate personal property replacement tax is down this year $40,000. State revenue for the transportation fund is down 42 percent. Expenses haven’t been the issue for the district, rather it’s been the decreasing revenue, Smith says.

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