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Metro East Levee Project Gets Green Light for Construction Metro East Levee Project Gets Green Light for First Phase of Construction
EDWARDSVILLE, IL, (SWI-News.com), May 2, 2012 - The Metro East Levee System consists of five levee projects located in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe Counties in Illinois which reduce flood risk to approximately 260,000 residents and $4.6 billion in industrial, commercial, and residential property.

Modifications of the levee system are being pursued by the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council in their pursuit of FEMA accreditation. Proposed modifications by the Council will bring the levees to the 100-year level of protection, which is required for FEMA accreditation.

Currently, the Metro East levees do not meet their authorized level of protection of 54' on the St. Louis gage, roughly a 0.2% (500-year) level of flood protection. A separate Federal effort is addressing the restoration of the levees to their original authorized level of protection.

Members of the St. Louis Metro East Levee Issues Alliance, who represent the residents and businesses in the American Bottom whose lives and livelihoods depend on the timely completion of the Metro East levee improvements, met at America's Central Port to mark an important milestone in the project.

With the design and funding in place, they released the official construction schedule that has been developed by the Flood Prevention District Council (FPD Council), along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), for the planned levee improvements, which are set to get underway starting on June 6th.

As the $161 million project heads into this critical phase, the Levee Issues Alliance, which is administered by the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, is calling on its members and other area citizens to join in taking an active role in charting the progress of the FPD Council, celebrating each new milestone reached, and reinforcing that timely completion of the project remains the top priority for the region.

To help keep the project and its schedule top of mind, and to reinforce the importance of receiving timely permits and approvals in order to keep the project on track and within budget, the Alliance has activated a Countdown to Completion Clock on its website at www.stlmetroeastlevees.org

As the clock counts down from May 1, 2012 to December 31, 2014, the target date for all phases of the project to be completed, the public will be able to see, at anytime, if the project is on schedule or if any issues are resulting in delays that threaten the project timeline.

"We trust the Flood Prevention District Council will do everything necessary to move this project forward and we're pleased to hear the Corps' public commitment that this is the District's number one priority and that they will work to expedite their review and approval process to keep us on track," noted Rich Conner, president of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois.


St. Louis Downtown Airport Holds Grand Re-Opening Following Renovation
CAHOKIA, IL, (SWI-News.com), May 2, 2012 - Ideal Aviation, one of the largest tenants at the St. Louis Downtown Airport, recently completed a comprehensive renovation at its facility and is joining with other tenants at the airport to host an open house to mark the occasion.

Ideal Aviation is a well-known, full-service fixed-base operator, catering to the needs of both private aircraft owners and corporate flight departments. The company provides refueling services for general aviation aircraft and flights to the public.

The Ideal Aviation facility has been located at the St. Louis Downtown Airport, just 5 minutes from downtown St. Louis, since 1983. The company was acquired in December 2011 by Bill Macon, a St. Louis native whose career included 10 years with Emerson Electric and 15 years as head of Macon Electric Coil, a company he sold in 2008. Macon acquired Ideal Aviation with the intent of doing a major overhaul, and ultimately invested an additional $250,000 in renovations to the public areas and offices. "The renovations are designed to provide the very best amenities for aircraft owners, pilots and passengers," Macon said. "I wanted to emphasize the great customer experience we offer here at Ideal Aviation from the moment customers walk in the door."

As part of the renovation project, improvements were made to the pilot's lounge, conference room, weather facility and flight-training room, and new restroom facilities were added.

Airport Director Bob McDaniel stated that the new renovations at Ideal Aviation represent much more than a facility facelift. "Bill Macon has built new relationships and partnerships here at the airport and has put together a great team of experts," McDaniel said. "Not only has he taken the quality of service up to higher levels, he has expanded his services with a larger aircraft rental fleet and new maintenance services. We are proud to have him and his team as members of our airport family."

In addition to Ideal Aviation, St. Louis Downtown Airport and business park is home to an additional 25 business tenants employing a total of 1,900 people. Owned and operated by Metro, the airport has grown to be a $300 million economic engine for the region.


Metro is the operator of the Metro public transportation system for the St. Louis region, which includes the 87 vehicle, 46-mile MetroLink light rail system; 365 MetroBus vehicle fleet that operates on 75 MetroBus routes; and Metro Call-A-Ride, a paratransit fleet of 120 vans.

Metro also owns and operates St. Louis Downtown Airport and its surrounding industrial business park, as well as operates the Gateway Arch Revenue Collections Center, the Gateway Arch Transportation System, the Gateway Arch Riverboats, and the Gateway Arch Parking Facility.


Gateway Geyser Adds to Riverfront Attractions
EAST ST. LOUIS, IL, (SWI-News.com), April 19, 2012 - The Gateway Geyser has resumed its daily eruption schedule for the 2012 season. Each day at noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., individuals on both sides of the river can enjoy the views as the East St. Louis icon, located in Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park, shoots water 600 feet in the air, reaching the same height as the Gateway Arch.

"It is the tallest fountain in the United States, powered by three 800-horsepower pumps that blast 8,000 gallons of water a minute," said Mike Buehlhorn, executive director of the Metro East Park and Recreation District. Four smaller fountains surround the main geyser, symbolizing the Mississippi, Missouri, Meramec and Illinois rivers. Each of the fountains collectively erupts three times per day for 10 minutes."

The Gateway Geyser began operation on May 27, 1995, helping to fulfill Malcolm W. Martin's vision of creating a landmark in East St. Louis that would complement the Gateway Arch. It was established with the help of the Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis, a non-profit group founded by Martin whose members raised $4 million in private donations to fully fund the geyser's development.

Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park is located directly across from the Gateway Arch on the banks of the East St. Louis Riverfront, just south of the Casino Queen at 185 West Trendley Avenue. The park has quickly become a regional hotspot since the opening of its 43-foot-tall, tiered Mississippi River Overlook in June 2009.

See related story: Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park to Fulfill Eero Saarinen's Dream

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