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Archive for March 15th, 2011

Wine Festival Comes Under Fire

Posted by wlpo on March 15, 2011

Vendor agreements for the Ottawa Two Rivers Wine and Jazz Festival have been put on hold after Finance Commissioner Dan Aussem said the city “shouldn’t be in the business of planning festivals”.

Aussem is concerned that the June 4th and 5th event could be washed out or fail to make a profit saying he doesn’t want to risk 70 thousand dollars in taxpayer money.  He and Commissioner Dale Baxter both said they wished the city was just host of the festival and not the prime funding source.

Mayor Bob Eschbach says he’s confident the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association will put on a successful event and that barring bad weather, the festival will at least break even.  The estimated cost of the festival is 72 thousand dollars with the winery association giving the city nearly 12 thousand dollars up front.  Revenue will also come from ticket sales and registration fees for vendors.  Eschbach expects 24 wineries.

Aussem was also concerned that two pieces of the festival contract aren’t in the agreement yet.  Eschbach says the missing exhibits are simply maps of how the festival will be set up.

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City Of Ottawa Wants To Buy Condemned School

Posted by wlpo on March 15, 2011

The flooded out Central School property in Ottawa has a buyer.

The city of Ottawa has agreed to buy the school and property around it for 3.9 million dollars.  The sale is dependent on the city getting a 5.5 million dollar federal grant.  The grant is part of a property buyout program following flooding in the late summer of 2008.

If the grant is approved and the sale goes through, the city will also have money to demolish the school, remove asbestos and begin planning for what to do with the property.  Mayor Bob Eschbach sees it becoming a park.

For their part, the Ottawa Elementary District will use the 3.9 million dollars to help pay for the new Central Intermediate School being built on the south side of town.

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LC refinancing $6.4 million worth of bonds to pay for self-insurance program

Posted by wlpo on March 15, 2011

La Salle County is staying self-insured through 2024.

The county board is refinancing $6.4 million worth of bonds to pay for its self-insurance program.  The money will be paid back thru an insurance levy that generates around $1 million a year.

The new bonds will start in 2015 with an interest rate of 2.3%.  The interest rate will go up a little each year before reaching 4.5% when the bonds end in 2024.

Since the county went self-insured in 2004, they’ve saved an estimated $250,000 a year.

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Streator man arrested for cannabis

Posted by wlpo on March 15, 2011

Marijuana packaged and ready to be sold is what investigators say they found while searching a home in Streator.

Police officers and members of the drug team TRIDENT went through Wade Gingery’s home on Walnut Street Monday.

He was arrested for unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, a class two felony.  He was taken to the La Salle County Jail.

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Red Cross and Salvation Army accepting donations for earthquake and tsunami victims

Posted by wlpo on March 15, 2011

You’ve heard about the devastation in Japan following last week’s earthquake and tsunami.  You can help by donating money.  The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army have funds for the relief effort.

You can donate to the Salvation Army by texting the words “JAPAN” or “QUAKE” to 80888 to make a $10 donation.  You could also call 1-800-SAL-ARMY.  Donations are also being accepted online at  They’re also accepting donations at the Salvation Army office in Ottawa.

To donate to the Red Cross, go to and donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami.  You could also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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Peru Mall reopens after being closed due to carbon monoxide

Posted by wlpo on March 15, 2011

The heating system inside of J.C. Penny was the source of the carbon monoxide problem that closed the Peru Mall for a couple of hours Tuesday.

Initially, employees called Ameren thinking it was a gas leak, but soon it was realized the problem was CO, a dangerous gas.  The Peru Fire Department was called and the mall evacuated.

13 employees of J.C. Penny were taken by ambulance to Illinois Valley Community Hospital after complaining of headaches.

CO levels were checked throughout the mall before employees and shoppers were allowed back inside at about 2:30pm.

Peru Fire Captain Rick Abbott says they weren’t aware of any CO detectors in the mall.

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Petition Drive Against Appointment of Former Area Lawmaker

Posted by wlpo on March 15, 2011

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – The Illinois Republican Party wants to block the appointment of a former legislator who during the last legislative session changed her stance on a state income tax increase.

Gov. Pat Quinn has nominated former state Rep. Careen Gordon to the state’s prisoner review board. Republicans oppose the nod because Gordon voted in favor of a 67 percent income tax increase during a winter lame duck session after denouncing the Democratic governor’s tax hike ambitions during her failed re-election campaign.

The tax increase passed by one vote in the House. It also passed by one vote in the Senate.

Republicans urge people to sign an online petition opposing the nomination. They claim Gordon getting the nomination is tantamount to “corruption at the expense of Illinois taxpayers.”

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