River region mayors submit infrastructure plan to White House
East St. Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson Hicks was among 75 mayors of Mississippi River communities submitting a $3 billion infrastructure improvement proposal to Congress and the White House, March 2, during the fifth annual Capitol Meeting of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI).
The plan generally calls on President Donald Trump and lawmakers to improve the navigation infrastructure and ecosystem along the Mississippi River, and specifically to maintain or increase funding to the federal:
- Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program ($100 million)
- Section 319 Water Pollution Control Grants ($200 million)
- Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds ($2.35 billion combined)
- U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Program ($238 million)
- Land & Water Conservation Fund
- Marine Highway Grant Program ($10 million)
To pay for improvements along the nation’s largest waterway, the mayors propose allowing U.S. companies to repatriate overseas funds through municipal bonds for river infrastructure.
They also propose a new “Resilience Revolving Loan Fund” to augment the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program and strengthening of financing programs authorized under the federal Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) and Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA).
The MRCTI’s press release on the proposal does not list specific projects in Metro East or elsewhere. However, it comes just as the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council nears completion of a decade-long, multi-million-dollar upgrade of the Metro East Sanitary District Levee System to provide projections against major flooding events expected to occur on average every 100 years.
The council is now seeking funds to further upgrade the levee system to provide protection against even-more severe floods, anticipated to occur on average every 500 years.
Without specifically mentioning Melvin Price Lock & Dam 26 at Alton, the MRCTI statement calls for funding to provide improvements to lock & dam facilities along the river.
The MRCTI is an organization of mayors representing from cities and towns in all 10 states bordering the Mississippi River.
Mayor Jackson-Hicks as one of a dozen mayors making featured presentations during the organization’s Washington, D.C. meeting last month.
More information can be found on at www.MRCTI.org.
Alton Memorial earns top safety rating
Alton Memorial Hospital is the only Metro East healthcare institution to earn a top rating in the Leapfrog Group’s 2017 hospital safety grades.
The influential healthcare think tank annually rates hospitals on their success in protecting patients from errors, injuries, accidents and infections.
Alton Memorial is among only 38 Illinois hospitals earned an ‘A’ ranking in this year’s ratings. It is one of only 11 in the St. Louis region. Medical errors are now widely recognized as a major cause of death and injury in America, accounting for more than 1,000 deaths per day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service.
The Washington D.C.-based Leapfrog Group announced its 2017 rankings April 12. Task Force offers Public Corruption Tip Line
Task force launches corruption tip line
Donald S. Boyce, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, and Brendan F. Kelly, State’s Attorney for St. Clair County, on April 10, jointly announced the new Southern Illinois Public Corruption Task Force Tip Line: (618) 589-7353.
Anyone with information concerning public corruption occurring within the 38 counties that make up the U.S. Attorney’s Southern District of Illinois is encouraged to call the tip line, according to a U.S. Department of Justice statement.
The FBI, IRS Criminal Investigations section, and Illinois State Police will swiftly investigate any information provided, according to the statement.
“Concerned citizens are the government’s biggest asset when it comes to exposing people who are abusing the public’s trust and misusing taxpayer money to line their own pockets. This initiative is designed to solicit the public’s help in identifying and targeting public corruption,” U.S. Attorney Boyce said.
The new corruption telephone tip line is not unlike those already established to accept reports of consumer fraud, elder abuse or child abuse, officials note.
“Over the past five years, we have greatly increased prosecution of public corruption. With trust in our public institutions at an all-time low, we must do everything we can to protect it from those who would violate it,” St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said.
A billboard advertising campaign is planned to promote awareness of the new tip line.
Ameren upgrading East St. Louis facility
Ameren Illinois has announced plans for a $9 million upgrade of its operating center at 500 E. Broadway in East St. Louis. The updated facility will “solidify the community as a key hub in our efforts to build a smarter, more reliable grid.” said Richard Mark, president of Ameren Illinois.
The 25,000-square-foot facility, opened in 1959, houses the company’s regional electric and gas distribution operations. When completed, the renovated facility will house 50 Ameren Illinois employees and allow room for expansion, according to Mark.
Construction will begin in May and be completed by the end of 2017, according to the company.
–Metro-East Area News Briefs–