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Archive for August 4th, 2010

School District Gets Planning Commission Approval

Posted by wlpo on August 4, 2010

After holding up a permit for a new elementary school in Ottawa because of traffic concerns, the Ottawa Planning Commission got the answers they were looking for.

The Ottawa Planning Commission accepted a conditional use permit for the new Central Intermediate School after the school district engineer added a second main entrance to the school and extended a bus entrance to the back of Central School so that emergency vehicles can get to all the property.  Planning Commission Chairman Tom Gainiere said the new plan was a “great improvement”.

With two schools on the same south side property, Superintendent Craig Doster says they’re hoping to further limit the amount of car traffic by having safety guards to helps students ride bikes to school.  Right now, students can’t ride to Shepherd Middle School.

The Ottawa City Council will now vote on the conditional use permit and annexation agreement August 17th.  The school district wants to go out for bids on the new school later next month and start moving dirt next month.

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I & M Canal search at Ottawa

Posted by wlpo on August 4, 2010

Emergency personnel searching for a missing person have to be ready for anything.   The results of a search for an Ottawa woman on the I & M canal Wednesday evening were good.  Ottawa Fire Chief Jim Dubach said the woman was found unharmed, but her name and her location were not released.   Ottawa Police and Fire,  joined by a network of  area emergency personnel including Utica Fire commenced a search along  the I & M canal wednesday  near Boyce Memorial Drive.   LaSalle County Sheriff’s Police also join in.  More details as they are made available.

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IVAC Hosting Q&A With Lawmakers

Posted by wlpo on August 4, 2010

A who’s who of area politicians will be at Starved Rock Lodge next week.

The Illinois Valley Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a Legislative Luncheon at the lodge next Thursday from 11:30 until 1:15.  Speakers will include Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, Congressman Aaron Shock, State Senator Gary Dahl and State Representative Frank Mautino.  Lawmakers will each speak briefly before taking questions from the audience.

The luncheon costs 20 dollars per person.  You’re asked to register with IVAC by Monday at noon.

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Vermilion River Agreement Awaits Governor’s Signature

Posted by wlpo on August 4, 2010

Getting the Vermilion River back open for recreation is awaiting the governor’s signature.

State Representative Frank Mautino says an agreement to lease Buzzi Unicem’s stretch of the river to the state has been signed by the cement company.  The governor’s lawyers are now looking at the agreement to make sure they aren’t exposed to extensive liability.

Although it may sound like a broken record, Mautino’s still hopeful the river opens up this summer.  He says the DNR has money available to do improvements on the river, especially with the low head dam that’s been blamed for past drownings.

Buzzi Unicem closed off its stretch of the Vermilion after a couple drownings last summer.

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Business owner and city officials dispute parking

Posted by wlpo on August 4, 2010

Bianchi’s Pizza is a staple of Ottawa, but the restaurant’s owner is at odds with some city officials.

Bianchi’s owner Al Ruhland sparred with Mayor Bob Eschbach and City Commissioner Dale Baxter at times Tuesday night after both came out against Ruhland wanting to put a parking lot in just to the north of his business.  Eschbach and Baxter accused Ruhland of not wanting to compromise with them.  Ruhland fired back saying “nobody is against the parking lot but you folks”.

The council tabled a decision on the parking lot after Ruhland said he would talk to them about a compromise.  If the council would’ve accepted the planning commission’s suggestion to deny the conditional use permit, Ruhland would have to wait another year to apply for a permit.

Ruhland has waited around six years to turn the vacant, gravel lot into parking.  However as Eschbach and Baxter point out, the zoning ordinance doesn’t allow parking lots up against the downtown blocks of La Salle Street.  They say if Ruhland agrees to lose a parking spot and put in landscaping or a patio as a buffer to La Salle Street, they would approve his plan.

Commissioner Ed Whitney sided with Ruhland accusing the council of working against merchants after referring again to the city cracking down on what signs businesses can have downtown.

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Power restored after strong storm

Posted by wlpo on August 4, 2010

Service has been restored to most of the customers who lost power during an early morning storm Wednesday.  At one time, Ottawa had 350 customers without power, but that has since been restored.  The storm packed strong winds and brought heavy rain but did cause major damage.

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Nearly 400 students enrolled at new IVCC Ottawa campus

Posted by wlpo on August 4, 2010

Less than two weeks before the start of classes, Illinois Valley Community College President Jerry Corcoran says enrollment at the new Ottawa Center is approaching 400.

Corcoran thanked the Ottawa City Council at their meeting Tuesday night and was in turn presented with a symbolic key to the new college building by Mayor Bob Eschbach.  Corcoran says of the 383 students enrolled in Ottawa, nearly a third have never taken classes at IVCC.  He plans to survey these students to see if having an Ottawa campus is the reason they’re enrolled.

A grand opening of the new IVCC satellite campus is 9am Monday.  There is a public open house next Thursday from 4 until 7pm.

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