• On May 15 at 10:13 p.m., the Scott County Sheriff's Department was notified by concerned citizens that they saw flashlights and what they believed to be people in distress in the middle of the Mississippi River in the Princeton area. With this information, EMS was activated, and the Army Corps of Engineers and the fire departments of Princeton, LeClaire, and Bettendorf were all notified. Most launched boats to look for people in the water waving flashlights. Med Force Helicopter also assisted by flying over the river from Bettendorf to Princeton. Instead of people in distress, they found the Great Mississippi River Race for Rett Syndrome - a group of kayakers from Cincinnati - trying to break a world record for traveling the length of the river. The Coast Guard had given the kayakers permission to run the race on the Mississippi, which is closed to all traffic due to flooding, but had not notified the Scott County Sheriff's Department. Deputies escorted the kayakers to the LeClaire levee area until the Coast Guard confirmed permission. They were grounded until the next morning, when plans for the race could be worked out. By the way, you can find more information about the race and the organization on the Web at (http://www.dreamkeeper.org).

• WQPT-TV will host "Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town" on Thursday, June 7, at 9 p.m. (Channel 10 for most cable users in the Quad Cities, but check your listings; open air is Channel 24 in Illinois and Channel 36 in Iowa.) The documentary follows the one-year conflict that polarized Ashland, Virginia, when Wal-Mart decided to build a mega store on the edge of town. The debate that divided a community included arguments for increased tax revenues, low prices for shoppers, new jobs versus increased traffic destroying small-town quality of life, closing down of local merchants who can't compete, and low-end minimum-wage jobs.

• John Waddell, a life-long resident of Davenport, announces his candidacy for mayor because he believes Davenport needs a business-style partnership for a responsive city government. He celebrated 30 years of marriage this year, and has three children and five grandchildren. Meet and talk with John at a party scheduled for Wednesday, May 23, in the 4H Building at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, where he will make his formal announcement at 6 p.m.

• The Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest, now in its 28th year, has announced its newest winners. June Owens, of Zephry Hills, Florida, won Grand Prize in the 2001 contest. Second Grand Prize was awarded to Moline poet Tom Clow - current president of the Quint Cities Poets Society. This year's show judge was Professor Rebecca Wee of Augustana College in Rock Island. The contest has a new host, the Midwest Writing Center, based in the Quad Cites. It has always been a not-for-profit contest and relies on grants and other donations.

• AT&T Broadband will increase monthly rates for most high-speed Internet access by $6 starting June 1. The rate increases will affect customers who use AT&T @Home and AT&T Roadrunner services. The monthly rates of customers who lease modems from AT&T will rise to $45.95, while customers who have their own modems will pay $35.95. The $49.95 monthly fee for customers who choose not to have AT&T's Broadband's cable-television services bundled with their Internet access won't change.

• The Director of the Davenport Museum of Art, William Steven Bradley, has announced his resignation effective August 10. Bradley was involved in the completion of a 1995 master plan for the current museum as well as planning and fundraising efforts for the Figge Arts Center in downtown Davenport. The Davenport Museum of Art Board of Trustees, in concert with the City of Davenport, will initiate a formal search process to select a new director. The process is expected to take from four to eight months. An acting director will be appointed before Bradley's departure to handle daily operations during the interim.

• Illinois House Bill 2258, sponsored by Representative Mike Boland and recently passed by the Illinois House, requires the State Board of Education to implement a voting system that gives students in Illinois the opportunity to vote on the design for the new Illinois Commemorative Quarter. This legislation requires the governor to submit five design concepts to the United States Mint to decorate the back of the Illinois quarter. The bill also provides that after the Mint creates the designs and returns them to the state for the final selection process, the State Board of Education will allow students in kindergarten through 12th grade the chance to vote on the designs. The U.S. Mint is set to issue the quarter in 2003.

• Alliant Energy is considering building a new power plant to serve its customers in Iowa, but the company might have to build it in Illinois. The problem, Alliant says, lies in Iowa regulatory laws that would require two to three years to seek the permits to build a plant. Alliant had fought unsuccessfully for a bill in the Iowa legislature that would have dropped requirements that utilities seek to buy power from the lowest-cost supplier. Alliant also wants to cut in half the depreciation time for any new plant from about 40 years to 20 years. (Customers pay depreciation costs.) A bill favorable to the utility could be debated again - maybe even later this summer.

• Quackwatch is an Internet guide to health fraud and contains thousands of articles in a searchable database on topics ranging from questionable products, services, theories, and advertisements to consumer protection to education. It also contains links, research projects needing volunteers, places to ask health-related questions, a link to make your story public if you have been seriously harmed by a health-care scam, and much more. While not very pretty, the Web site contains a huge amount of information. Take a look at (http://www.quackwatch.com).

• Property-tax relief might be available to owners of buildings damaged by Mississippi River flooding. Owners seeking tax relief will be required to deduct money from insurance settlements or emergency aid, such as that from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The county also would apply a deductible amount. If the tax relief is approved, it would be applied to property-tax payments due in September 2002. Lost income and damage to personal property will not be eligible.

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