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ILLINOIS NEWS
The State of Illinois News page provides access to the Illinois Government News Network and all state press releases.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 17, 1999

RYAN TOURS STATE TO LAUNCH ILLINOIS FIRST

Governor George H. Ryan today continued a four-day tour of Illinois to launch his landmark $12 billion Illinois FIRST program. Ryan is scheduled to visit 36 communities in every part of Illinois and will discuss projects contained in the program that affect local roads and highways, school construction, environmental protection and preservation, sewer and water treatment, life, public safety, community development and technological enhancement.

The following is a run-down of the fourth day's events:

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO PROVIDE FUNDS FOR RECREATION AROUND LUSK CREEK MARINA

GOLCONDA -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will dedicate $410,000 for the purchase of the Kohlsdorf property creating a residential development with hiking trails and other recreational opportunities adjacent to the Lusk Creek Marina.

"It is our duty to preserve our nautural resources so that our children and grand-children have the opportunity to enjoy Illinois," Ryan said. "This purchase, made possible by Illinois FIRST, will promote development in the region and provide the people of Southern Illinois another great location to enjoy the natural beauty of Illinois."

Through Illinois FIRST, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will purchase the 175 acre Kohlsdorf Estate. IDNR has been interested in the purchase of the property to improve access and to expand development at Rauchfuss Hill. IDNR will develop the land for camping, outdoor activities, water recreation and camping.

Illinois FIRST will also provide up to $10 million for the capping of abandoned oil and gas wells throughout Southern Illinois. Currently, there are more than 5,000 abandoned gas and oil wells in the state. Abandoned wells often disrupt agricultural activities, pose an environmental threat to surface and groundwater or, in some cases, may present a public safety hazard.

The acquisition of the Kohlsdorf property and the capping of abandoned wells are representatvie of the $824 million dollar commitment that Illinois FIRST is making to preserve and protect the environment throughout the state.

As a part of Illinois FIRST's $8.65 billion commitment to transportation, the residents of Pope County will see more than $13 million dollars spent on the repair and resurfacing of more than 40 miles of highways and bridges.

Illinois FIRST will also provide $20,000 to Elizabethtown for a new fire engine. The City of Metropolis will receive $25,000 for needed infrastructure improvements and Eddyville will receive $10,000 for community infrastructure improvements through the program. Golconda will receive $90,000 to to complete a pedestrian foot bridge.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO EXPAND US-45 FROM HARRISBURG TO ELDORADO

MUDDY -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will dedicate $27.2 million for the improvement of US-45 between Harrisburg and Eldorado.

"Last year, during the campaign for governor, I came here to promise that I would make US 45 a safer highway," Ryan said. "Today, I'm here to announce that because of Illinois FIRST, US 45 will be an improved and safer highway. I commend Congressman Glenn Poshard for his efforts at the federal level to help this project move forward."

The US-45 project, a part of Illinois FIRST's $8.65 billion commitment to transportation throughout the State of Illinois, will make the route a four-lane expressway for 7.4 miles between Harrisburg and Eldorado increasing development opportunities and safety along the route. Saline County will see more than $37.9 million for improvements to the highway system and $40,000 for improvements to the Harrisburg-Raleigh Airport from Illinois FIRST.

"The ability to safely transport goods and services in our state is essential to keeping Illinois' economy strong and healthy," Ryan added. "Together, these projects will help to ensure that Saline County is able to grow and prosper into the next century."

As a part of Illinois FIRST's $824 million committment to protecting and cleaning up the environment, the state will provide up to $10 million for the capping of abandoned oil and gas wells throughout Southern Illinois. Currently, there are more than 5,000 abandoned gas and oil wells in the state. Abandoned wells often disrupt agricultural activities, pose an environmental threat to surface and groundwater or, in some cases, may present a public safety hazard.

The Harrisburg area will also receive $20,000 for infrastructure improvements in Carrier Mills and $40,000 to remodel the Carrier Mills fire barn.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO CONSTRUCT A MULTI-PURPOSE EXHIBIT BARN AT THE WHITE COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS

CARMI -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will dedicate $240,000 for the construction of a multi-purpose exhibit barn at the White County Fairgrounds.

"Illinois is a state that was built on agriculture, " Ryan said. "And through Illinois FIRST, we will ensure that the agricultural industry has the necessary infrastructure to continue to thrive throughout the state.

"This new multi purpose facility will give the people White County the ability to showcase their achievements and will help to develop their agriculture infrastructure," Ryan added. "I commend Senator O'Daniel for his work on behalf of this project."

The Illinois FIRST funding provide the White County Agriculture Society with $240,000 to construct a multi purpose barn for county fair use, as well as, exhibits and special events. The project is just a part of the state's $463 million commitment to community development through Illinois FIRST.

In addition, as a part of Illinois FIRST's $824 million committment to protecting and cleaning up the environment, the state will provide up to $10 million for the capping of abandoned oil and gas wells throughout Southern Illinois. Currently, there are more than 5,000 abandoned gas and oil wells in the state. Abandoned wells often disrupt agricultural activities, pose an environmental threat to surface and groundwater or, in some cases, may present a public safety hazard.

The Illinois FIRST program will also provide funding for several local projects including $100,000 to replace sewers in Carmi.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO FUND THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW SCHOOL IN HAMILTON COUNTY

McLEANSBORO -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will dedicate approximately $7.8 million toward the construction of a new school for Hamilton County Community Unit School District 10.

"The Hamilton County schools are going to receive the help they desperately need," Ryan said. "This project, made possible by Illinois FIRST, will increase the number of classrooms, improve their facilities, and most importantly, offer the children of District 10 a better education."

Hamilton County Community School Unit School District 10's new facility will house 78 staff members and 800 students grades seven through twelve. The project will replace the existing high school and include the junior high to relieve over crowding at other District 10 locations. The Hamilton County school project represents a portion of the state's $2.256 billion commitment to education made through Illinois FIRST.

In addition, as a part of Illinois FIRST's $824 million committment to protecting and cleaning up the environment, the state will provide up to $10 million for the capping of abandoned oil and gas wells throughout Southern Illinois. Currently, there are more than 5,000 abandoned gas and oil wells in the state. Abandoned wells often disrupt agricultural activities, pose an environmental threat to surface and groundwater or, in some cases, may present a public safety hazard.

The Illinois FIRST program will also provide funding for several local projects including $104,000 for Wayne City CUSD to install an interactive classroom and upgrade security features in three attendance centers, $150,000 for McLeansboro Township roads water improvements and $100,000 to improve Wayne City's water and transportation infrastructure.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO IMPROVE WATER INFRASTRUCTURE IN FAIRFIELD

FAIRFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan announced more than $1 million in low interest loans to build a new water tower, watermain and sewer system in Fairfield, Illinois.

"Everyone deserves ample clean drinking water," Ryan said. "These projects, made possible, in part, by Illinois FIRST, are important to the people of Fairfield and the State of Illinois because clean, safe drinking water means healthy people and healthy communities."

The low interest loan, at 2.625%, will provide assistance to bring Fairfield's water infrastructure up to state and federal compliance, improves the city's pumping pressure and provides water service to the Jasper Water District. The project will be managed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

The water tower and water main projects are made available through a $990,986 loan which the city has already received. The low interest loan will help to ensure a stable, clean supply of drinking water to the people of Flora. The water tower and water main projects are representative of water projects throughout the state that Illinois FIRST will fund over the next five years.

Illinois FIRST will provide the City of Fairfield a $100,000 grant to rehabilitate the existing sanitary sewer system.

Through Illinois FIRST, the state will also provide up to $10 million for the capping of abandoned oil and gas wells throughout Southern Illinois. Currently, there are more than 5,000 abandoned gas and oil wells in the state. Abandoned wells often disrupt agricultural activities, pose an environmental threat to surface and groundwater or, in some cases, may present a public safety hazard.

The Fairfield watertower, watermain and sewer projects as well as the capping of abandoned wells are representatvie of the $824 million dollar commitment that Illinois FIRST is making to preserve and protect the environment throughout the state.

Locally Illinois FIRST will provide $90,000 for Mt. Erie to repay a water loan, $100,000 for the Orchardville Fire Protection District to expand their coverage area, $75,000 for water improvements in Albion and $100,000 for improvements to the Western Wayne Water District.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO DRINKING WATER IN FLORA

FLORA -- Governor George H. Ryan announced more than $1.4 million for the construction of a waterline from Lake Carlyle and a new water tank for additional storage.

"Everyone should have access to clean drinking water," Ryan said. "These projects, made possible, in part, by Illinois FIRST, are important to the people of Flora and the State of Illinois because clean, safe drinking water means healthy people and healthy communities."

The water tank, designed to provide additional storage of clean, drinking water, is made available through a $823,750 loan which the village has already received. The low interest loan will help to ensure a stable, clean supply of drinking water to the people of Flora. The new facility will replace several smaller water storage tanks that are deteriorated and inadequate. The water tank project is representative of water projects throughout the state that Illinois FIRST will fund over the next five years.

The $600,000 grant for the waterline is made possible through Illinois FIRST. The City of Flora has depended upon the Little Wabash River as its sole source for drinking water since the turn of the century. However, droughts and inclement weather have often threatened the quality and quantity of this source. The new water line, from Lake Carlyle will reduce this dependence and assure the city of access to clean, safe drinking water.

Each state dollar invested into each of these projects leverages five dollars of federal funding.

Illinois FIRST will also provide up to $10 million for the capping of abandoned oil and gas wells throughout Southern Illinois. Currently, there are more than 5,000 abandoned gas and oil wells in the state. Abandoned wells often disrupt agricultural activities, pose an environmental threat to surface and groundwater or, in some cases, may present a public safety hazard.

The Flora water line project and the capping of abandoned wells are representatvie of the $824 million dollar commitment that Illinois FIRST is making to preserve and protect the environment throughout the state.

In addition, Illinois FIRST will ensure the repair and repavement of more than 37 miles of highways and 2 bridges in Clay County as a part of the state's $8.65 billion commitment to transportation.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO PROVIDE $1 MILLION FOR NEW WATER TOWER; $600,000 FOR NEW ROAD TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

OLNEY -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will dedicate $1 million to the City of Olney for a new 500,000 gallon water tower. Low water pressure and significant residential and commercial developments have created the need for the new water tower.

"This new water tower will ensure that Olney will have an adequate supply of water for years to come," Ryan said. "Illinois FIRST is designed to help communities like Olney that need to update their infrastructure to keep up with development and to ensure public health and safety."

In addition, Illinois FIRST will provide $600,000 to the City of Olney for a needed road project. The grant will fund road construction to the new Richland Elementary School. Illinois FIRST will also provide $50,000 to the Olney Fire District for the creation of a dive rescue team.

"I want to thank Sen. William O'Daniel and Rep. Charles Hartke for their support of Illinois FIRST. Without Illinois FIRST, funding for these needed projects would not be available."

Illinois FIRST will also provide up to $10 million for the capping of abandoned oil and gas wells throughout Southern Illinois. Currently, there are more than 5,000 abandoned gas and oil wells in the state. Abandoned wells often disrupt agricultural activities, pose an environmental threat to surface and groundwater or, in some cases, may present a public safety hazard.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO CAP ABANDONED OIL WELLS THROUGHOUT ILLINOIS

ROBINSON -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will dedicate up to $10 million for grants to plug abandoned oil wells.

"Abandoned oil and gas wells pose a safety and envirnomental threat to everyone in southern Illinois," Ryan said. "Capping abandoned wells is just one of the many ways that Illiois FIRST will help to improve the safety and quality of life for all citizens of Illinois."

There are more than 5,000 abandoned gas and oil wells in Illinois. Wells aften become abandoned, or "orphaned," due to oil company bankruptcies. These orphaned wells often distrupt agricultural activites, pose an environmental threat to surface and groundwater or, in some cases, may present a public safety hazard.

In an effort to address the orphan well issue, the Plugging and Restoration Program was created in 1991. Since that time, more than $3 million has been spent on plugging abandoned wells. Current funding levels for the program would require approximately 50 years to plug all 5,000 wells currently listed as "orphaned" in Illinois. This project is representative of the $824 million that state is providing through Illinois FIRST for the protection and clean-up of our environment.

Illinois FIRST will also allocate $170,000 to Paris so the city can purchase a jet vac sewer cleaning truck and $340,000 for the Casey Community Center. Also in the area, Illinois FIRST will provide Shelbyville with $75,000 to purchase rescue equipment and $290,000 to Altamont for street and other infrastructure improvements.

"ILLINOIS FIRST" TO BUILD CRISIS NURSERY IN URBANA

URBANA -- Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program will provide $250,000 for a new Crisis Nursery building in Urbana.

"The Crisis Nursery program provides services for hundreds of people in Champaign and the surrounding communities each year," Ryan said. "Through Illinois FIRST, we have the resources to make sure that this facility and others like it across the state have the ability to meet the growing demand of the people of the state."

The Crisis Nursery prevents child abuse by providing a safety net to children at risk of harm due to parental crisis/emergency situations. The organization utilizes the Family Enhancement Program which focuses on parenting, self-sufficiency, responsibility and positive family growth.

The Crisis Nursery currently has a contract with the Department of Human Services and the Department of Children and Family Services to provide crisis counseling and advocacy, home visiting, parenting support and education for approximately 80 adults and 100 children. The new, 5,000 square foot building, will provide the capacity to double the Crisis Child Care program. The Crisis Nursery's current home will be demolished in 12 to 24 months.

In Champaign, Illinois FIRST will also provide $350,000 to Parkland College for a new agricultural technical center. The Village of Tolono will receive $80,000 for the Tolono Fire Protection District for a new fire truck and $300,000 for needed improvements to the courthouse through the program. The Village of Savoy will receive $140,000 for a new fire truck.

Champaign County can expect to receive more than $62 million dollars for the repair and resurfacing of more than 113 miles of highways and more than 40 bridges. Included in these projects are the repair and replacement of crumbling bridges on Interstate 57 over US 136 west of Rantoul, the resurfacing of US 150 from Bloomington Road to Illinois 10 in Champaign, $75,000 for needed road repairs throughout Mohomet Township and the repair of Interstate 74 from St. Joseph to west of Kickapoo State Park.

Illinois FIRST -- a Fund for Infrastructure, Roads, Schools and Transit, is a five-year, $12 billion public works program designed by Governor Ryan. More than $8 billion will be dedicated to Illinois roads, bridges, highways and mass transit systems and $2 billion for school construction and repair. Of the more than $800 million dedicated to environmental protection and preservation, $60 million will fund brownfield clean up and more than $650 million will upgrade water and sewer systems. The program will commit approximately $460 million for community development projects and $53 million for various public safety initiatives.

An Infrastructure Task Force appointed by Ryan found that 89 percent of Illinois school buildings need repair. Seventy-four percent of the state's interstates have surpassed their 20-year design lifespan. The state hasn't built a new road in nearly a decade, and there is a backlog of 2,400 miles of roads that need repair and 750 bridges that need to be fixed.

Throughout Illinois, mass transit systems need to be updated, and in many cities and towns, drinking water and sewer systems need immediate attention. Urban brownfields throughout the state pose serious environmental threats and must be cleaned-up to protect the environment and to spur economic development. Also, Illinois ranks almost dead last in the amount of public land set aside for conservation.

The main components of Illinois FIRST are:

Transportation: A $4.1 billion supplement to the state's existing surface and air transportation program for roads, rail and air infrastructure.

  • $3.7 billion for highways, roads and bridges that will lead to the repair of an additional 1,000 miles of road and an additional 125 bridges not now included in the state's annual road repair and construction program.
  • A $160 million addition for improvement projects at airports across Illinois, including $75 million dedicated to land acquisition and planning of a new regional airport for Northeastern Illinois at the Peotone site in Will County.
  • A $100 million supplement to continue preparing existing rail lines for the advent of high-speed passenger and freight rail service. And $45 million for railroad grade crossing safety improvements across the state.
  • A $50 million allocation to replace more than nine million license plates.

    Transit: A $4.1 billion allocation for bus, rail and other mass transportation infrastructure needs for established mass transit districts.

  • The Regional Transportation Authority -- Pace, Metra and the Chicago Transit Authority -- will borrow $1.6 billion for improvement projects that will enable the authority capture more than $2 billion in federal funds that have never been available for Illinois projects because of the lack of matching state resources.
  • The RTA can proceed with badly needed rail transit projects into the suburbs and rebuild aging infrastructures on other lines.
  • A $35 million supplemental appropriation will help rehabilitate mass transit systems in downstate cities.

    Schools: A $2.2 billion allocation to the state's existing school construction fund.

  • The expansion of the existing program will include $1 billion in state bonded resources, combined with $1 billion in matching funds from local school districts. Also, $125 million will be available for "pay-as-you-go" projects in districts that can match the state's commitment.

    Fund for Illinois' Future: A $1.6 billion allocation for projects in local communities to bolster the state's economy, promote a clean environment and improve the overall quality of life throughout Illinois. These projects include:

  • Local water and sewer projects.
  • Brownfield and landfill mediation and redevelopment.
  • Local redevelopment projects.
  • Bike trails, parks and local recreation and sports facilities.
  • Resource preservation projects.
  • Non-bondable school or university repairs and improvements.
  • Assistance for local jails or juvenile detention centers.
  • Local railroad grade crossing safety improvements.
  • Historic preservation.
  • Technology infrastructure improvements.

    The Illinois FIRST program, which was approved by the General Assembly in May, is supported by $573 million in new revenues generated by increased fees. An additional $48 million in new revenues will be included by reducing the annual diversion of Road Funds money for non-highway purposes. In this plan, $48 million a year in Road Funds previously used for non-highway purposes will be dedicated for Illinois FIRST projects.

    The fee increases include a change in the vehicle registration fees from $48 annually to $78 annually, with corresponding increases for all vehicle registrations. Large truck and trailer registrations will increase 25 percent. Title transfer fees will increase from $13 to $65. Alcohol taxes will increase slightly above the national average.


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