In her final vote in Congress Friday, Dec. 23, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline) helped secure $49.3 million to update and rebuild Locks & Dams in the Quad Cities, and $4 million for Skip-A-Long’s Rock Island campus, among several projects.

Friday was the last vote for Bustos as a member of Congress, ending her five terms representing the Illinois 17th District.

U.S. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, left, speaks at a press conference at Rock Island Arsenal June 6, 2022, with U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (photo by Bryan Bobb).

“I was able to secure $66 million for projects throughout our Congressional district,” she said. “During the last 10 years, I have always made delivering for the people and the communities that I serve my guiding light.”

Bustos said her boss is not the U.S. president or the Speaker of the House, but the residents of the district.

“I worked hard to make sure that I always listened to them, that I took their needs and concerns out to Washington, D.C.,” she said. “Over the course of my decade in Congress, I’ve brought home hundreds of millions of federal dollars to help our communities. And I’m so, so proud that with my final vote today in Congress, I can bring home an additional $66 million, directly to the people that I represent and I had the honor to serve over the last 10 years.”

Bustos secured an additional $49.3 million in Community Project Funding for the Upper Mississippi River Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), which continues to support a program critical to farmers and producers.

The package continues to build on funding provided through last year’s $829-million Appropriations package, as well as support provided in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Bustos helped win approval for over $49 million more to rebuild and improve locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River.

This will enable longer barges, up to twice the size as currently go through locks and dams, Bustos said Friday. “Those who operates the tows and the barges, they will not have to decouple those every time they lock through – which in some cases can take hours to do that.

“This is upgrading our lock and dam systems,” she said. “This one of the most efficient ways to move our commodities — things like our corn and soybeans – to the worldwide market. This will make them even more efficient.”

As these improvements are made, the approved package ensures that the environmental impacts are minimized, to protect fish and wildlife, Bustos said.

An “incredible investment”

Marcy Mendenhall, executive director of Skip-A-Long Child Development Services, on Friday thanked Bustos for this “incredible investment in early care and education.”

Marcy Mendenhall

The Skip-A-Long facility at 1609 4th St., in Rock Island is 50 years old and needs an upgrade. They’ve been working with the city of Rock Island to find a new location, which she didn’t announce yet.

It will be a state-of-the-art building, investing in high-quality classrooms, Mendenhall said, to expand the number of children they serve from 150 to about 200.

“This is also an investment in our economy, because our parents are able to go to work and we’re going to have this new, beautiful facility to help our families who are maybe under-resourced and multi-stressed,” she said. “We really need to provide a home-like environment for those families.”

Skip-A-Long child care in Rock Island is getting $4 million in federal funds for a new facility.

They are looking at community partners for the center as well, Mendenhall said, noting the federal funding will be a real catalyst for the project.

“Child care is incredibly important in the wake of the pandemic, as far as parents being able to go back to work,” Bustos said. “Child care is just central to the success of our community, and I couldn’t be prouder of you, Marcy, and Skip-A-Long, and how you dream big and think big.”

Mendenhall there are no specific numbers yet for the size or the cost of the new Rock Island building.

“Early childhood education has really been impacted by the pandemic,” she said. “We know that more children are needing spots in Rock Island County. We are expanding spots so we make sure we have for children to go into high-quality early care and education.”

Other federal projects Bustos supported Friday include:

  • $1.1 million for Martin Park upgrades in East Galesburg
  • $1 million for Black Hawk College’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy in Kewanee
  • $750,000 for rural education initiatives at Monmouth College
  • $517,783 to open the Eagle View Community Health Monmouth Clinic
  • $438,000 for Mt. Carroll STEA²M Hub
  • $225,000 for Mercer County Better Together’s Business Retention and Expansion Program