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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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Mississippi River Overlook
"Best View of St. Louis" - St. Louis skyline as seen at 43' 6" in the air from a lift simulating the approximate height of the Overlook Platform which will be built at the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis. Once wire and poles are removed, the site will become the best view of the St. Louis skyline and the Gateway Arch.

Mississippi River Overlook
Model of 43-foot tall Overlook Platform to be built at the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park.

Mississippi River Overlook
Representatives of Metro East Park and Recreation District (MEPRD), Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis, state, county and local officials gathered for a press conference at the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park to unveil model of new Mississippi River Overlook project.
Illinois Officials Unveil Model of New Mississippi River Overlook
by Bob Moore
Southwest Illinois News

EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (, September 18, 2006 - The latest milestone in revitalizing the East St. Louis riverfront was reached Saturday, September 16, with a special ground breaking and unveiling of a model featuring the new Mississippi River Overlook platform.

Representatives of Metro East Park and Recreation District (MEPRD), Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis, state, county and local officials gathered for a press conference at the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park, which includes the Gateway Geyser.

"When you think of St. Louis from "A" to "Z", "V" is for this. The best view of St. Louis is going to be from the east side," stated Alan J. Dunstan, chairman, Madison County Board. "Once this is built, everyone is going to see that. I'm looking forward to it being accomplished."

The development plan for the park is designed to further Gateway Arch Architect Eero Saarinen's vision of creating a memorial encompassing both sides of the Mississippi River.

"We hope to get everyone from St. Louis to come over to East St. Louis to see the wonderful view of downtown," said Harold Byers, president of Metro East Park and Recreation District (MEPRD). "We have much to look forward to as this site becomes the "Forest Park" of the Metro East."

Local county and state officials see it as an opportunity for new economic development and tourism.

"The real estate here in this part of the country is some of the most valuable in the world because of the view and the proximity to downtown St. Louis," said Mark Kern, St. Clair County Board Chairman. "This park is going to offer plenty for people to come here and see and enjoy in East St. Louis, the entire St. Clair County and the entire Metropolitan area."

The Mississippi River Overlook Platform will be a handicap accessible, poured-in-place concrete structure made up of five, tiered observation deck areas, each at eight foot intervals. The structure will be 195' 6" long, by 24' wide, by 43' 6" tall and highlighted by an illuminated stainless steel railing system.

Funding for the project is being provided by Gateway Center, at no cost to the City of East St. Lous or the MEPRD. See archived story:
Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park to Fulfill Eero Saarinen's Dream

Ameren Illinois Utilities Announce Impact of Future Power Supply Costs on Residential Customers
SPRINGFIELD, IL (, September 17, 2006 - Ameren's Illinois utilities -- AmerenCILCO, AmerenCIPS and AmerenIP -- have announced estimates for per month increases for residential electric customers beginning in January 2007.

These estimates include the increased cost of power to be purchased on behalf of Ameren Illinois utilities' customers and potential increases resulting from delivery service cases that are currently pending before the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC).

For residential customers the estimated impact breaks down as follows: For AmerenIP, AmerenCIPS, and AmerenCILCO, the average residential customer would pay approximately $92 per month in 2007. This would mean a monthly increase of about $26 for AmerenIP and AmerenCIPS customers, approximately 40 percent higher than present rates. For AmerenCILCO customers, it would mean an increase of approximately $33, or 55 percent over present rates.

These electric rates will apply beginning Jan. 2, 2007. They represent the first rate increase for Ameren Illinois residential customers in 15 to 25 years. Since 1997, rates have been reduced between 5 and 20 percent. With these increases, Ameren Illinois utilities' residential rates are now expected to be more in line with the national average.

"We are concerned about the price increases on our customers," said Scott A. Cisel, president of Ameren's Illinois utilities. "Since Ameren's Illinois utilities own no generation, we must purchase power from the competitive market to provide our customers' energy needs. We will pass these costs along to our customers -- dollar-for-dollar with no mark-up. Working with a number of stakeholders, we are searching for an approach to soften the impact of these increases, while allowing us to safely and reliably deliver electricity and recover costs in a timely manner."

The ICC yesterday determined that it would not investigate the results of the auction to procure power for fixed price customers of the Ameren Illinois utilities and Commonwealth Edison Company, calling the auction "very competitive" and adding that the rules and safeguards designed to protect the integrity of the auction worked well. More than 20 suppliers participated in the process. The bidding lasted several days.

Lewis and Clark Music Festival Celebrates Final National Signature Event
HARTFORD, IL (, September 17, 2006 - The Lewis and Clark State Historic Site in Hartford, Illinois will participate in 'The Currents of Change,' the final national Lewis and Clark Bicentennial signature event, with a Music Festival scheduled for September 22 - 24.

Early American trades and items will be displayed and demonstrated all weekend, including military weapons and gunsmithing, 18th century medical equipment, coopering, herbs, broom making, sawyering, woodworking, carving and leather working. The Music Festival is free and open to the public, and runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day

Illinois Terrorism Task Force Unveiled
CHICAGO, IL (, September 10, 2006 - As the nation prepares to observe the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich has announced the state is creating a mutual aid program that will train 911 operators to handle the huge volume of emergency calls that come in during natural disasters and terrorism events, and then deploy those operators to areas in Illinois when they are needed.

The Illinois Telecommunicator Emergency Response Taskforce (IL-TERT) program is expected to be operational by January 1, 2007.

"In times of disaster, communication is critical - not just for the people trying to respond to the emergency, but also for the people caught in the devastation. One of the many lessons learned from September 11 and Hurricane Katrina is that emergency operators can be overwhelmed during an emergency. We need to do everything we can to make sure that if a disaster hits here, people who need help can get through to someone when they call 9-1-1. Through these new teams of emergency operators, we'll be able to quickly dispatch backup support wherever it's needed," Gov. Blagojevich said in an announcement.

A total of 30 local agencies will initially be involved in IL-TERT, providing 911 operators who will complete a nationally recognized training program paid for by a $300,000 Illinois Terrorism Task Force grant. The grant will also cover equipment for the system. The operators will be instructed how to handle the surge of calls during an emergency that may overwhelm local agencies. They will also be taught to operate from the mobile emergency communication vehicles that the Illinois Emergency Management Agency can send anywhere in the state. In addition, IL-TERT personnel will be able to assist other agencies who want to develop local emergency communication teams.

When an emergency occurs, a community can request assistance and specially trained IL-TERT operators will be dispatched to the area to answer 911 calls, dispatch emergency personnel, and provide any other communications service that local personnel need to handle the emergency. Eight IL-TERT teams will be organized and respond by region to reduce response time. Illinois may also provide IL-TERT assistance to other states in times of crisis.

"The Illinois Terrorism Task Force has acquired an impressive array of interoperable communications equipment, and the IL-TERT program will provide the mechanism to effectively operate the equipment on a sustained basis," said Doug Edmonds, state coordinator for the program. "I'm grateful to the task force for providing the grant funds to launch this program."

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