Wednesday, Aug. 10


Lincoln Christian College and Seminary and taxi businesses ask for city support

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[AUG. 10, 2005]  Lincoln city officials put in a full night in chambers Tuesday. There were several visitors to address the council and new business to discuss.

First to speak was Lincoln Christian College and Seminary President Keith Ray. Dr. Ray wished to apprise the council of the expansion plans the college has developed and to ask that the city would once again support issuing municipal bonds for the college. The request is in the amount of $7.9 million in tax-exempt municipal bonds.

Ray had project manager Ed Plumier and bond counsel Sam Witzig of Springfield with him. They said that the bank has already approved the bonds and there is no liability to the city.

The colleges are at an all-time high enrollment of 1,300, and that figure is expected to go to 1,500 in the next two to three years, Ray said. The expansion primarily addresses dormitory and classroom needs to meet the increases.

The new expansion plan, titled "Rebuild, retool, rewire," includes building a new $6.2 million, state-of-the-art, 300-capacity women's dormitory. Other dormitories will be upgraded with air conditioning and made to meet ADA requirements, at a cost of $600,000.

A 20,000-square-foot addition will be made to the Laughlin Athletic Center. It can be used for soccer and other field sports and will cost $400,000.

The plan also includes increasing cafeteria space and the renovation of the old Henderson Hall dining area.

In addition to the expansion work, the college has other renovation work scheduled that is not part of the bond request. Those plans include work in the chapel.

Alderman Wanda Lee Rohlfs asked if the college expects any change in philosophy.

Ray said there would not be a change in philosophy, but there are some possible course offerings under consideration that could lead to other degrees. They are in communications, computer science, marketing and accounting.

A doctoral program is slated to begin in the graduate school in 2007.

Mayor Beth Davis and finance chairman Verl Prather both expressed support to issue the bonds. Davis said, "You've done great things out there and we appreciate what you do." Prather said that it is like what has been done with them before, and it has gone all right.

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Taxis going broke

The owners of both Lincoln taxi companies came before the council to request a rate increase, and they wanted it to become effective Sept 1.

Michelle Squaire of American Cab and Brian Rankin of Lincoln Land Taxi said that the fares are not keeping up with the costs of operation.

Squaire excused her delay in coming to the council in that she has just had a baby and that has taken her time. She came prepared with statistics and other information on what taxis in other communities are charging. She made a recommendation for what she thought could be reasonable and in line with other communities' rates and a recommendation to simplify the fee structure.

She proposed a two-tier rate, rather than four zones, with rates of $6 in town and $7 beyond the Business 55 loop. She would also like to see $1.50 additions for every five minutes of waiting and $1 for each additional child. If you've ridden in a vehicle full of children, you can appreciate paying drivers for that, she said.

City attorney Bill Bates said that the changes they are requesting would take months to complete.

Squaire asked what they could do quickly. Rankin added that if it takes that long, you won't have any taxis available for the community.

Alderman Marty Neitzel said that the committee would call a meeting to work on it and get back to them as soon as possible.

Mayor Davis assured the cab company owners that the council will do all they can to help them as soon as possible.

[Jan Youngquist]

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