The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Letters to Editor

Dear Editor,

My name is Alaina Ray and I am currently a Junior at Nauvoo-Colusa Jr./Sr. High School.

I live in Dallas City, and currently Dallas City students attend grades K-8 at Dallas City Elementary School.

The high school students attend Nauvoo-Colusa High. As of the next school year of 2007-2008 all of the Dallas City High School students will attend the new Illini West High School located in Carthage.

This school will be a convergence of Dallas City, La Harpe, and Carthage High School students. My class will graduate in 2008.

We have co-oped with Nauvoo for sports since we were in 6th grade so we have known the Nauvoo students for a long time.

Our class as a whole feels that we, as Seniors next year, should get the option to stay at Nauvoo-Colusa High School for our last year of high school.

Yes, the new Illini West School is going to be a great school but for the first year we feel we will not be benefited greatly from attending this school.

We are not against the new school at all. It will be a great improvement for the future.

La Harpe's High School will be closed and the new school will temporarily be at the current Carthage High School building.

La Harpe's Senior Class of '08 will all attend this new school together and so will Carthages Class of '08 but it is our class that will be affected most because our school is not closing and our class will be split.

Nauvoo students will still attend Nauvoo-Colusa High and the Dallas City students will attend the Illini West High School.

A board meeting for this new school was held on February 14th. We had several students and parents in attendance and we stated our case that we feel that the Illini West School Board should negotiate with the Nauvoo-Colusa School Superintendent to see about paying tuition for the Dallas City Senior Class of '08.

The Illini West School Board went into discussion and it was brought up if there would be a problem with talking to the Nauvoo-Colusa Superintendent. The response was that there would not be a problem.

Yet, when the matter was coming to a close the school board failed the motion to allow this to even happen. The talk was about money and how much tuition would have to be paid.

I dont see how they could make a decision without even talking to the Nauvoo-Colusa Superintendent or the Nauvoo-Colusa School Board and getting the correct figures for the tuition.

It was brought up by a board member that if they dont close the door now then maybe La Harpe would try to do the same thing with their neighboring school West Prairie.

The difference is that the La Harpe School and West Prairie did not attend classes together they only co-oped in sports.

Our class has attended the past three years with Nauvoo students and we have formed unique friendships with the staff and students at Nauvoo-Colusa and I feel it is not fair to the seniors to be split like this.

The question I have been pondering in my mind is when did the school boards focus become about money and not about the students.

Alaina Ray
Dallas City

Dear Editor,

As your electric bill arrives in the mail this month you may be surprised by the rate increase that has taken effect.

Because the 10-year freeze on utility rates has expired, some households will see a staggering increase in electricity costs.

This hike is a huge strain on family budgets. Residents should not be forced to decide between heat and groceries.

In 1997, the Illinois General Assembly enacted a rate freeze as part of a plan to deregulate the utility industry.

At the time, the law was designed to hold down prices and foster competition in electricity utilities so that consumers would have more choices. It was very successful to the extent that our electric rates were held frozen for 10 years.

Unfortunately, competition between utility companies here in Illinois that was supposed to keep rates low has not happened.

Utility companies must now buy electricity from generating companies and must pay much more that they currently can recover from consumers.

Without a rate increase, they are threatening job lay-offs and disruptions in electrical service or even bankruptcy.

Ameren Corporation, the parent company, has made large profits in the last year. But by federal law, Ameren Corporation is prohibited from subsidizing its subsidiary companies such as Ameren CIPS, Ameren Cilco, and Ameren IP. Ameren CIPS, Ameren Cilco, and Ameren IP would incur deficit operating statements if rates were frozen, and would soon be forced into bankruptcy.

While some legislators dispute this, the financial markets believe it.

Bond ratings for these two companies have been lowered to almost junk bond status.

The 94th General Assembly adjourned on Tuesday, January 9, 2007 without agreeing on a specific action to address the increase in electricity rates to consumers.

The General Assembly had a chance to negotiate a resolution that would both help consumers and encourage true competition to develop in the utility market.

But the leaders in Springfield refused to budge, and now Illinois consumers are, literally, forced to pay the price.

The issue has become a political hot potato, with Speaker of the House (Michael) Madigan and Senate President (Emil) Jones each advocating different solutions: with Madigan favoring a three-year extension of the freeze on electric rates and Jones preferring a phase-in approach that may have resulted in consumers paying an additional cost.

With Speaker Madigan and President Jones each deeply entrenched on opposite sides of this issue, it was up to Gov. Blagojevich to step in and negotiate a solution that would put consumers first. But his inaction and silence doomed the issue to failure.

Gov. Blagojevich proclaimed he would fire any ICC Commissioner who allowed the rates to sky rocket. He never took the promised action.

Recently, the Illinois Commerce Commission voted to institute a phase-in plan which would allow consumers to gradually increase their utility rates over a three year period, but customers would be charged interest during that time.

I believe the ICC is the appropriate body for making a decision on this issue, however I do not believe Illinois residents should be charged interest on their electricity.

A huge increase in utility rates is not the way to start a new year.

That is why I resolve to work hard for a more common sense compromise to the rate hike to ensure reliable and affordable power for consumers.

Richard P. Myers
State Representative
94th District