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Southwest Illinois News is a weekly news publication spotlighting attractions, events, entertainment, tourism, jobs and business developments in Southwestern Illinois
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IN THE NEWS -
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Bald Eagle Festival at Pere Marquette Lodge
GRAFTON, IL (SWI-News.com), January 8, 2017 - Every year, when the ground turns frosty and the river carries chunks of broken ice southward, the Bald Eagle comes to Grafton, IL to make its' winter home. It's eagle season again and spectators are celebrating the return of the bird by exploring local eagle hot spots, capturing the birds on film and participating in dozens of eagle-themed programs throughout the region. One of the largest and most popular of these events is the Bald Eagle Festival at Pere Marquette Lodge.

The Bald Eagle Festival is celebrating its 7th year at the Lodge and is consistently a crowd favorite drawing attention from all over the St. Louis Metro area. The festival will take place on January 29th from 11am to 3pm at Pere Marquette Lodge in Grafton, IL. The historic Lodge is located within Pere Marquette State Park which is known for its scenic outlooks, hiking trails, educational programs and of course, bald eagles.

Live music will be provided by Misty Ridge as the World Bird Sanctuary showcases the Bald Eagle and several other raptor species during their Masters of the Sky Show at 11am, 1pm and again at 3pm. Festival goers can also enjoy unique vendor booths, live music, face painting, children's crafts, restaurant favorites and wine tasting.

The festival will be held indoors and entry is free. Tickets to the "Masters of the Sky Show" are $3 per person and will be sold at the Pere Marquette Lodge Front Desk starting at 10am the day of the festival. Tickets can also be purchased in advance at www.pmlodge.net. Tickets cannot be used for a different show time than they are purchased for. For more information about Pere Marquette State Park and Lodge or call 618-786-2331.


U.S. Steel to Restart Granite City Works Hot Strip Mill
U.S. Steel Plans to reopen Granite City Works Hot Strip Mill in mid-February 2017.

U.S. Steel to Restart Granite City Works Hot Strip Mill
GRANITE CITY, IL (SWI-News.com), December 14, 2016 - United States Steel Corporation has announced that it will adjust its hot strip mill operating configuration to support a previously announced asset revitalization process.

According to a release, the company will begin processing slabs on the currently idled hot strip mill at Granite City Works in Granite City, Ill., in mid-February 2017. U. S. Steel intends to source slabs from its own domestic facilities.

U. S. Steel is making this adjustment to its hot strip mill operating configuration to provide better alignment with customer needs and improve service while increasing the pace of its asset revitalization plan. The company plans to take periodic outages at Gary Works (Gary, Ind.), Great Lakes Works (Detroit, Mich.), and Mon Valley Works (Pittsburgh, Pa.) to improve the capabilities and reliability of the hot strip mills.

The Granite City Works blast furnaces and steelmaking facilities were idled in December 2015 and the hot strip mill was idled in January 2016 in response to challenging global market conditions. The blast furnaces and steelmaking facilities will remain idled. The pickle line, cold mill and finishing lines at Granite City Works will continue to operate.


Drones to Offer New View on Illinois Transportation
SPRINGFIELD, IL (SWI-News.com), December 14, 2016 - The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has begun testing drone technology to potentially help improve the safety of workers and the public, reduce costs and introduce new strategies on everything from bridge inspections to determining the appropriate responses to emergency incidents.

"One of our main priorities has been to encourage staff to find opportunities to innovate and seek out new ways to use the latest technology that supports the important work we do," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. "While we are still in the experimental stage, we know that drones can gather valuable data to support a wide variety of applications. We are excited to launch this initiative that puts us on the path to becoming the most innovative department of transportation in the country."

Recently, IDOT purchased two drones to explore ways to enhance mapping practices and regular inspections of bridges, as well as documenting progress in work zones. The drones are expected to play an important role in increasing efficiency and improving employee safety by reducing the need to have workers in the field in high-risk situations.

Testing of live-streaming video also is underway on how to manage and respond to disasters or emergency situations by providing real-time footage to key decision-makers on the ground.

The department envisions the new technology to eventually assist in 3-D design on projects, geological studies and technical exhibits. The drones also will be looked at as a resource to prepare materials that educate and inform the public about impacts of construction and future projects.

Use of the drones will follow strict adherence of Federal Aviation Administration guidelines and be overseen and deployed by experienced personnel in IDOT's Division of Aeronautics.


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Archived Southwest Illinois News:
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Construction Begins on $8.1 Million River Bridge Project
New $675 Million Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge Is a Bridge to Jobs
Casino Queen Sold to Newly Formed Employee Stock Ownership Plan
Mississippi River Level Falls to Near Historic Levels Threatening a $180 Billion River Commerce
Metro East Levee Project Gets Green Light for First Phase of Construction