Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trump deportation threats to constrict already-tight job market, could cost economy $5 trillion


Trump deportation threats to constrict already-tight job market, could cost economy $5 trillion


Patricia Laya


President Donald Trump's sweeping crackdown on immigrants in the country illegally will strain an already tight U.S. job market, with one study suggesting that removing all of them would cost the economy as much as $5 trillion over 10 years.

That represents the contribution of the millions of unauthorized workers to the world's largest economy, about 3 percent of private-sector gross domestic product, according to a recent paper issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research. At an average of $500 billion in output a year, removing all such immigrants would be like lopping off the equivalent of Massachusetts from the U.S. economy, said study co-author Francesc Ortega.

From Our Partners: Travelers Arrive in the U.S. to Hugs and Tears After the Lifting of Trump's Immigration Ban

"It's a big number," said Ortega, an economics professor at Queens College in New York, who published the study in November with colleague Ryan Edwards. "Undocumented workers are present across the whole economy, even if they are heavily concentrated in sectors such as agriculture, construction and hospitality."

No unauthorized immigrants? Manufacturing, hospitality workforces would struggle

No unauthorized immigrants? Manufacturing, hospitality workforces would struggle

Any immigrant in the U.S. illegally may now be deported, according to a pair of memos issued Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security implementing Trump's executive orders. In the memos, the administration pledged to hire 15,000 more border patrol and immigration agents and begin building a wall on the Mexican border.


There were about 8 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally working or looking for work in 2014, with California, Texas and New York accounting for the largest share of the workforce, according to Pew Research Center estimates. Most of them are likely to be of working age, which makes them about 5 percent of the U.S. labor force and 3.5 percent of the total U.S. population. Immigrants here illegally include those who enter the country without legal permission and those who overstay their visas.

Following through on plans to deport undocumented workers would hit industries that already complain of worker shortages, said Ethan Harris, Bank of America Merrill Lynch's head of global economics in New York.

The jobless rate in the U.S. was 4.8 percent in January, a level some economists consider to be full employment.

"The challenge is particularly high now because the labor market has tightened up not just overall but in areas in which you would think undocumented immigrants would be important, so that means that it's going to be hard to fill these jobs if you deport these employees," Harris said. "You have to think about indirect effects when you disrupt production in industries in which they're a critical part of getting things done. So there's a transition cost, as well as the cost of a reduced labor force."

For migrant workers on Illinois farms, the job is hot, risky

For migrant workers on Illinois farms, the job is hot, risky

Harris estimates that for every 1 million fewer workers in the economy, GDP would be reduced by about 0.5 percent. That's the equivalent of $94 billion, based on the annualized pace of $18.9 trillion in fourth-quarter GDP.

The Edwards-Ortega research was funded by the Center for American Progress, a Democratic-leaning policy group. White House spokesman Michael Short cited the study's funding from CAP in dismissing the report as "bogus" without offering specific challenges to the findings. He referred to a 2013 report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform that estimates the annual "costs of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local level to be about $113 billion."

Trump ran for president on promises to crack down on immigrants in the country illegally, some of whom he has described as competing with lawful U.S. residents for jobs and contributing to rising crime in some cities. He has said that he would focus deportation efforts on immigrants in the country illegally who commit crimes in the U.S., but immigration advocates say that the government has already targeted law-abiding people who are in the country without documentation, including some with children or other family members who are citizens.

Immigrant community on high alert, fearing Trump's 'deportation force'

Immigrant community on high alert, fearing Trump's 'deportation force'

The U.S. "no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement," Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in the memos.

"When we started this study last summer, our interest was to study the economic role of undocumented immigrants," Ortega said. "Little did we know that, a few months later, this could become a serious policy question."

Toluse Olorunnipa contributed.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Boone County resident chosen to lead Growth Dimensions



Boone County resident chosen to lead Growth Dimensions

Posted Feb 17, 2017 at 10:00 AM

By Susan Vela
Staff writer

BELVIDERE — Pamela Lopez-Fettes, an Illinois native and Boone County resident, is the new executive director of Growth Dimensions, a public-private organization trying to ignite economic development throughout the region.

Lopez-Fettes decided to apply for the job after nearly a decade with the Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance.

"We did an extensive search," said Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain, who served on the search committee. "Pam has already demonstrated her abilities. We're going through a boom right now.

"There will be close to 2,200 new jobs created in the next 18 months. Pam's demonstrated abilities to put employers with job training (and) with employees is going to be an essential part of our success in the future."

Lopez-Fettes started her new position on Monday. She replaced Jarid Funderburg, who left Growth Dimensions in late 2016 to become a strategic philanthropy officer for OSF St. Anthony Medical Center and to focus on his new duties as a Rock Valley College trustee.


"It was a great fit, and the timing was right," she said of her decision to apply. "I've worked in the region for nine years. I want everyone to know what a wonderful place it is to live and work. (I'll stay) as long as they'll have me, as long as I feel I'm making an impact."

She wants to bring more health care and transportation logistics jobs to the county. She'll try to do so by building on the work she's already done for the Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance. As business account manager for the alliance, Lopez-Fettes forged partnerships with business, education and economic development groups around the Rock River Valley.

"(For now), I'm getting to know all the players (and) all the partners (and) learning a lot about our internal processes and our external process in order to engage the community members," she said. "We're still learning and we'll identify additional strategies later."

The search committee selected Lopez-Fettes in mid-January, said Sherry Giesecke, a Boone County Board member who led the selection process. Giesecke liked the applicant's diverse background and her attention to details.

"We think she's a keeper," Giesecke said. "She's going to increase our investor pool. She's going to be very successful in building relationships within the county and with our neighbors, which is absolutely imperative."

Lopez-Fettes and her family have lived in Boone County for more than a decade. She serves as a catechist at St. James Catholic Church in Belvidere.

She has an associate's degree the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Loyola University in Chicago. She also has done graduate work in organizational development at Benedictine University in Lisle.

Susan Vela: 815-987-1392;; @susanvela

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Belvidere City/Township Primary and Election


The Republican Primary is Tuesday February 28 and early voting is currently occurring at t he County Clerk’s Office.  The election is on Tuesday , April 4, 2017.




Opponents keeping close eye on Great Lakes Basin rail plan



Opponents keeping close eye on Great Lakes Basin rail plan

February 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm | By AUSTIN MONTGOMERY Staff writer

Opponents keeping close eye  on Great Lakes Basin rail plan

Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News Mirjam Melin of Rock Against the Rail encourages attendees at a listening session regarding the Great Lakes Basin Transportation’s (GLBT) newest proposal rail line route to write to the Surface Transportation Board and legislators about safety issues and concerns over the route. The meeting was held in December at Beloit Turner High School.

BELOIT — Grassroots community groups against the Great Lakes Basin Rail Line have submitted additional information to an official motion in rebuttal to Great Lakes Basin Transportation’s (GLBT) responses to Surface Transportation Board (STB) questions.

The Feb. 13 supplemental motion comes ahead of an anticipated update by GLBT officials over the status of the company’s progress on an official application to the STB by Feb. 28.

In December, the company requested, and was granted, a temporary suspension from the STB over its environmental impact statement review process. This week’s statements from opponents contested the company’s responses, claiming all questions answered were vague and also provided misleading and contradictory information not in line with previously-presented plan specifics.

The proposed rail line would extend from La Porte, Indiana, through Illinois to Milton, Wisconsin. Developers say the privately-funded $8 billion rail line would ease freight train congestion and better manage traffic from Chicago.

The latest plan has the GLBT rail line running west of Beloit and not going through Boone County in Illinois as was originally planned. Instead it is planned to run west of Rockford in Winnebago County.

The company could submit its application as soon as Feb. 28, but the process, along with the environmental impact statement, would take years to be settled before a final STB ruling is made.

Rock Against the Rail co-founder Mirjam Melin urged residents to stay involved throughout the process, and the grassroots leader wanted to dispel any confusion about the current lull in the process.

“We want to make sure that people know the fight isn’t over,” Melin said. “Nothing has changed. People need to understand that the process is still ongoing.”

Since the plan was announced in March of last year, there has been considerable pushback throughout the affected counties in the three states listed in the plan. Landowners and farmers across the proposed 270-mile route said the plan would decrease property values, impact farmland production and disrupt rural life at multiple hearings held in Rock and Winnebago counties.

The recent court filing claims the company’s responses are “unsupported” and that comments need to be accepted as part of the official record to clarify the situation.

The proposed plan would add 184-miles of two-track rails, nearly 73.5 miles of single-track rails and 13 miles of three-track rails. There are a total of 1,718 homes within the proposed rail route and 449 properties are within one mile of the proposed route.

The grassroots group took issue with the discussion of right-of-way widths discussed in the company’s responses. The company claims it would ask for 200-foot right-of-way widths in order to provide 150 feet for tracks, 50 feet for cuts and fills, bridge embankments, roadway vehicle access and placement of utilities, signals and defect detectors to support operation of the railroad.

Opponents claim the detailed list of right-of-way uses was only added to the plan since the STB does not have jurisdiction to authorize acquisition of property for non-rail use. The opposition also took issue with the company’s previous statement saying rail congestion in Chicago had prompted the plan, while stating the average time to send a freight train through the city sat at over 30 hours, Melin said. The claim has been disputed, and community groups pointed to the implementation of the Chicago Integrated Rail Operations Center (CIROC) in 2015. The plan includes direct connections to each carrier and track to assist rail employees in resolving operational issues and identifying congestion points. Recent data showed the time required for a unit train to pass through the Chicago Rail Terminal has declined from 20 hours to less than 15 hours.

Company representatives could not immediately be reached for comment. STB staff said there was no new information regarding the plan currently, and the Feb. 28 deadline set by the STB’s Office of Environmental Analysis still stands.

The current plan would bring the rail line through the Riverside Energy Center developed by Alliant Energy, set for construction in March. The site is being developed as a natural gas and solar energy generating station through a $700 million investment. It is estimated the power station could have a $250 million annual economic impact, according to Alliant.

Melin reassured residents and noted there would be more opportunities for public comment, which was confirmed by the STB. Once an application and environmental statement is submitted, the public will be able to give input on both crucial documents.

“Our stance has not changed,” Melin said. “Behind the scenes we are working. It’s been a full-court press educating ourselves and everyone else. We need to pick it back up again soon.”

For updates over the plan, visit

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State Dept carries out layoffs under Rex Tillerson


CBS News logoCBS News

CBS News

Margaret Brennan1 day ago



CBS News


While Rex Tillerson is on his first overseas trip as Secretary of State, his aides laid off staff at the State Department on Thursday. 

Much of seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told today that their services were no longer needed. 

These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy.

There are clear signals being sent that many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats. 

Not a single State Department official was included in the White House meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner - who has  no regional expertise or diplomatic experience -  had a greater role in the meeting than the Senate-confirmed secretary of State. 

Rex Tillerson was absent Wednesday but did join Kushner and Netanyahu for dinner the night before. Acting Deputy Secretary of State Tom Shannon was on the official schedule to take his place but was then shut out of the White House meeting.

In an emailed statement to CBS News, a State Department official explained that the decision to modify the meeting was made at the White House to “allow for a more personal discussion.” That presumably is a reference to the long-standing friendship between Trump, Kushner, and Netanyahu. 

That particular incident was disheartening to many State Department officials who hope that Mr. Tillerson - who had a long career as Exxon Mobil’s CEO -  will bring his worldly experience and management to a building that has been demoralized by the Trump administration’s antipathy toward multilateralism and cavalier approach to diplomacy.

Two sources also told CBS News that Ambassador Kristie Kenney, the Counselor of the State Department and one of the last remaining senior officials, was informed that she will be let go. She is a career foreign service officer who had served as an ambassador under Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton. Her staff was told that Secretary Tillerson does not intend to fill the counselor’s position anytime soon.

While positions are often reshuffled during transitions and those perceived as politically-oriented are moved aside, the departures leave the positions vacant at a time of global instability. In Thursday’s presser, President Trump referred to “mass instability overseas, no matter where you look.” 

“The middle east is a disaster,” he complained. “North Korea - we’ll take care of it folks; we’re going to take care of it all. I just want to let you know, I inherited a mess.”

“It is irresponsible to let qualified, nonpartisan, experienced people go before you have any idea of their replacement. You can’t do foreign policy by sitting in the White House, just out of your back pocket,” explains Tom Countryman, Former Assistant Secetary for Non-Proliferation who was let go earlier this month. Countryman worries that the White House is displaying an intent not rely on the State Department for foreign policy in that no one will be in place to challenge the edicts drawn up in the Oval Office. 

This may be what President Trump was referring to when he repeatedly said that “our people” are not yet in place at U.S. government agencies. He blamed the leaks of embarrassing White House transcripts of his phone calls with foreign leaders - including difficult conversations he had with Mexico and Australia - on officials who had previously worked for the Obama Administration. 

R.C. Hammond, a State Department spokesman, did not respond to the specific question of what motivated the layoffs but provided the following statement: “As part of the transition from one administration to the next we continue to build out our team. The State Department is supported by a very talented group of individuals, both Republicans and Democrats. We are appreciative to any American who dedicates their talents to public service.‎” 

Hammond previously worked for Newt Gingrich and is a new hire at the State Department.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Trump family’s elaborate lifestyle is a ‘logistical nightmare’ — at taxpayer expense


3 / 23

The Washington Post logoWashington Post - Washington Post

The Washington Post

Drew Harwell, Amy Brittain, Jonathan O'Connell2 hrs ago


Eric Trump and members of his Secret Service detail walk outside La Huella, a beachfront restaurant, during a private business trip in early January to Punta del Este, Uruguay.© Cristian Cordoba/Cristian Cordoba Eric Trump and members of his Secret Service detail walk outside La Huella, a beachfront restaurant, during a private business trip in early January to Punta del Este, Uruguay.

On Friday, President Trump and his entourage will jet for the third straight weekend to a working getaway at his oceanfront Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla.

On Saturday, Trump’s sons Eric and Don Jr., with their Secret Service details in tow, will be nearly 8,000 miles away in the United Arab Emirates, attending the grand opening of a Trump-brand golf resort in the “Beverly Hills of Dubai.”

Meanwhile, New York police will keep watch outside the Trump Tower in Manhattan, the chosen home of first lady Melania Trump and son Barron. And the tiny township of Bedminster, N.J., is preparing for the daunting prospect that the local Trump golf course will serve as a sort of northern White House for as many as 10 weekends a year.

Barely a month into the Trump presidency, the unusually elaborate lifestyle of America’s new first family is straining the Secret Service and security officials, stirring financial and logistical concerns in several local communities, and costing far beyond what has been typical for past presidents — a price tag that, based on past assessments of presidential travel and security costs, could balloon into the hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a four-year term.

Adding to the costs and complications is Trump’s inclination to conduct official business surrounded by crowds of people, such as his decision last weekend to host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a working dinner while Mar-a-Lago members dined nearby.

The handful of government agencies that bear the brunt of the expenses, including the Defense and Homeland Security departments, have not responded to Washington Post requests for data laying out the costs since Trump took office.

But some figures have dribbled out, while others can be gleaned from government documents.

Trump’s three Mar-a-Lago trips since the inauguration have likely cost the federal treasury roughly $10 million, based on figures used in an October government report analyzing White House travel, including money for Coast Guard units to patrol the exposed shoreline and other military, security and staffing expenses associated with moving the apparatus of the presidency.

Palm Beach County officials plan to ask Washington to reimburse tens of thousands of dollars a day in expenses for deputies handling added security and traffic issues around the cramped Florida island whenever Trump is in town.

In New York, the city is paying $500,000 a day to guard Trump Tower, according to police officials’ estimates, an amount that could reach $183 million a year.

This month, The Post reported that Secret Service and U.S. embassy staff paid nearly $100,000 in hotel-room bills to support Eric Trump’s trip to promote a Trump-brand condo tower in Uruguay.

“This is an expensive way to conduct business, and the president should recognize that,” said Tom Fitton, president of the conservative group Judicial Watch, which closely tracked President Barack Obama’s family vacation costs and said it intends to continue the effort for the Trump administration.

“The unique thing about President Trump is that he knows what it costs to run a plane.” Fitton added, noting that Trump should consider using the presidential retreat of Camp David, a short helicopter ride from the White House, or even his golf course in northern Virginia. Of Mar-a-Lago, Fitton said, “Going down there ain’t free.”

For Trump, the costs come with an additional perk: Some of the money flows into his own pocket. While Trump has removed himself from managing his company, he has refused to divest his ownership, meaning that he benefits from corporate successes such as government contracts.

The Defense Department and Secret Service, for instance, have sought to rent space in Trump Tower, where leasing a floor can cost $1.5 million a year — though neither agency has disclosed any details. In addition, Trump’s travel to his signature properties while trailed by a press corps beaming images to the world allows the official business of the presidency to double as marketing opportunities for his brand.

The White House did not address broader concerns of the costs and potential conflicts inherent in Trump’s early travels. But White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told The Post this week that Trump is always working, even when he has left Washington behind.

“He is not vacationing when he goes to Mar-a-Lago,” Grisham said. “The president works nonstop every day of the week, no matter where he is.”

Trump’s frequent travel belies his repeated criticism of Obama as a “habitual vacationer” enjoying taxpayer-funded golf getaways. It also comes after his own promises: He told the Hill newspaper in 2015, “I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done.”

Presidential families have for decades been guaranteed round-the-clock protection, no matter the expense or destination. Every presidency has brought new operational challenges and lifestyle habits, from George W. Bush’s frequent stays at his remote ranch in Texas to Obama’s annual trips to Martha’s Vineyard and his native state of Hawaii. Judicial Watch estimated Obama-related travel expenses totaled nearly $97 million over eight years.

But based on the first four weeks, Trump’s presidency appears on track to cost hundreds of millions of dollars more.

The burden is especially acute for the Secret Service, the presidential protection force that has endured years of budget shortages, low morale and leadership shake-ups, including the announcement this week that its director, Joseph Clancy, is stepping down.

Agents are now tasked with guarding multiple homes and protecting Trump’s four adult children, including the globe-trotting sons running the family business and daughter Ivanka, whose family recently moved into a Northwest Washington neighborhood.

“There was an anticipation of how stressful it was going to be on the agency, but the harsh reality is that the stress is just overwhelming,” said Jonathan Wackrow, a 14-year Secret Service employee who served in Obama’s detail and now works as executive director of the risk-mitigation company RANE.

Even veteran agents, Wackrow said, are feeling the pressure of the “monumental” task, including manning high-security perimeters in Washington, Florida and New York, along with protecting family members’ private-business travel across three continents.

“It’s a logistical nightmare,” Wackrow said. Agents are “at severe risk of burnout, and the very last thing you want is to have your agents burned out.”

A Secret Service spokesman said the agency is equipped to handle the demands of a Trump presidency. “Every administration presents unique challenges to which the Secret Service has effectively adapted,” according to an agency statement. “Regardless of location . . . the Secret Service is confident in our security plan.”

Experts and local officials have pointed to a string of security and logistical concerns surrounding Mar-a-Lago, the lavish estate Trump turned into a club in 1995 and now calls the “Winter White House.”

Club members pay $200,000 to join — a fee that has doubled since his election — and $14,000 a year to belong, giving them access to the beach, tennis courts, a spa and, now, on occasional weekends, to the president.

But Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), who represents Palm Beach, said Mar-a-Lago is a poor choice for a president’s long-term home: an exposed oceanfront club on a narrow, busy island, where traffic problems were already routine.

“Mar-a-Lago is no Camp David,” Frankel said. “It’s not set up with the intention or the forethought of keeping the president safe.”

The challenges for Mar-a-Lago as a presidential home were apparent from pictures posted on social media last weekend by club guests — including close-up images of the presidential limousine and a picture of a military official carrying the nuclear “football.”

In one Instagram video recorded Friday night outside Mar-a-Lago, a woman fawns as men with earpieces inspect under the hood of a line of cars heading into the club, “The Secret Service is so hot.”

The weekend brought the presidential entourage to two other Trump properties, as Trump and Abe golfed 27 holes at the president’s courses in Jupiter and West Palm Beach. The events meant global publicity for the Trump brand — and even more security complications.

The federal and local governments have spent considerable sums to help safeguard the sprawling estate on items big and small.

In advance of Trump’s Super Bowl weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago, the Secret Service paid for a bevy of security costs, including more than $12,000 for tents, portable toilets, light towers and golf carts, purchase orders show.

The bills have racked up outside the club, too. Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said Trump’s 25 days in the county since the election have cost local taxpayers about $60,000 a day in overtime police payments.

Local officials said the U.S. Coast Guard has run round-the-clock shoreline patrols alongside Mar-a-Lago when the president is in town. A Coast Guard spokesman declined to share costs or specifics, citing security concerns.

The Town of Palm Beach recently implemented a “presidential visit seasonal traffic mitigation plan” in hopes of stemming the island’s worsening traffic woes. Running every weekend until May, the plan includes a town order demanding sanitation and public-works crews leave the island every Friday by 3 p.m.

Local officials usually only learn a few days in advance that the president is coming, said Kirk Blouin, the town’s director of public safety. “We plan as if he is going to be here most weekends,” Blouin said, “because otherwise it’s too hard to plan.”

Overseas travel by Trump’s adult sons is adding to the burden on taxpayers.

Eric Trump and his security detail flew this month to the Dominican Republic, during which the president’s son met with developers proposing a Trump-brand luxury resort. Purchase orders showing government expenditures for that trip are not yet available, but records show that Secret Service officials traveled there in advance to scope out the area — staying at the five-star, oceanfront AlSol Del Mar hotel at a cost of $5,470.

After this weekend’s trip to Dubai — during which early Secret Service hotel bills have already surpassed $16,000, records show — the Trump brothers will travel to Vancouver for the Feb. 28 grand opening of another Trump-brand skyscraper.

The State Department has declined to provide details related to its expenditures for Trump family travel around the world, including the participation of embassy staff when Eric Trump and Don Trump Jr. travel on behalf of the family business.

The best public estimate for the full cost of Trump’s presidential getaways may come from a U.S. Government Accountability Office report in October, which estimated that a four-day trip for President Obama cost taxpayers more than $3.6 million.

During that Presidents’ Day weekend trip in 2013, Obama flew to Chicago to give an economic speech, then to Palm City, Fla., to golf with Tiger Woods and the owner of the Houston Astros baseball team.

That money went toward operating aircraft flown in from 10 states — including Air Force One, which costs an estimated $200,000 an hour to fly — as well as assorted watercraft, military working dogs, rental cars, hotel rooms and a Coast Guard rescue helicopter.

The trip drew the ire of many Republicans in Congress, including U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who requested the GAO review Obama’s costs. Asked whether Barrasso would file a similar request for Trump’s trips, his spokeswoman said equating the two presidents’ trips would be “misleading at best.”

“Former President Obama flew to Florida for the express purpose of a golf lesson and a round of golf with Tiger Woods. President Trump was in Florida with the Prime Minister of Japan,” Barrasso’s press secretary Laura M. Mengelkamp said in a statement. “Regardless, every level of the federal government needs to be mindful of the way it spends taxpayer dollars.”

In November, when Trump spent a weekend at his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., the 8,000-resident township received just 48 hours’ notice demanding an all-hours security detail of six police officers from its 16-officer force.

Township officials have begun preparing for the possibility that Trump will make up to 10 visits this year, including a potentially extended summer stay for the first lady. Officials there offered a projection, based on seven Trump trips, that could cost the township more than $300,000.

“Bedminster is a small municipality with a small police force and a small budget,” Mayor Steven E. Parker (R) wrote in a letter asking for federal help in recouping security costs. “We want to welcome President Trump with open arms, but we don’t wish to burden our taxpayers disproportionately for these visits.”

David Fahrenthold and Carol Leonnig contributed to this report.

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Boone County Board approves permit for peaker power plant



Posted Feb 15, 2017 at 10:13 PM Updated Feb 15, 2017 at 11:49 PM

By Susan Vela
Staff writer

BELVIDERE — Boone County Board members approved today a special-use permit so a Missouri company can build a $160 to $180 million power plant in eastern Boone County.

Power Ventures LLC's plans a 450-megawatt, natural-gas-fired "peaker" power plant east of Garden Prairie Road and south of Interstate 90. Peaker power plants are known to prevent blackouts and brownouts.

Officials are proposing three larger turbines, rather than the 12 reciprocating engines that were part of Power Ventures' 2009 permit. That permit expired in 2013.

An unnamed investor plans to begin construction in summer 2018, said Tom Graves, marketing strategist at Burns & McDonnell, which is Power Ventures' parent company. Construction could last for a year.

"Now, it's our job to prove that we'll do what we say we're going to do and demonstrate that, in fact, we will be good neighbors," Graves said after the vote.


Residents have expressed concerns about the power plant's potential noise, lights and pollution to their water source.

Others have talked about the potential 150 construction jobs and up to eight full-time jobs. They've also emphasized it could produce hundreds of thousands of dollars in government tax revenues.

"Factories run on electricity, and all are looking for high-quality electrical current," Belvidere resident Toria Funderburg said. "It will be an asset in drawing industrial manufacturing to our area."

Board members Denny Ellingson and Raymond Larson, both District 1, and Sherry Branson and Brad Stark, both District 3, voted against the special-use permit.

"(But) it's going to be good for Boone County," Board Chairman Karl Johnson said. "It's going to be the right decision."

Susan Vela: 815-987-1392;; @susanvela

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