NORMAL – Plans for a new five-story building which would stretch from Beaufort Ave. to College Ave. which would have mixed usage received passage from Normal Town Council members at the governing body’s regular meeting in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station Monday night. Council members unanimously passed an ordinance authorizing a redevelopment agreement between the Town and Miami, Fla.-based Bush Development LLC for construction of the structure.

The Town would like to construct a five-story, 220,000 sq. ft. building on the site where currently properties at 104 and 108 E. Beaufort St. currently stand. 104 E. Beaufort St. has been vacant for months, and is the location of a mural which was begun on the building in 2011. The building in-between, 106 E. Beaufort St. – is occupied by Windy City Wieners restaurant.

The total cost of the project is $29.2 million but the project would receive a Tax Increment Financing contribution of not more than $8 million over the life of the TIF which was recently extended thanks to State approval to 2026. The Town has had a Tax Increment Finance plan in progress since 2003.

The Town will incur expenses associated with the project related to electric utility relocation and electric connections for certain East Beaufort St. businesses. Funds for the project are part of the Town’s 2019-20 budget.

The proposed plan for the site consists of one building all along Constitution Blvd. from Uptown Circle on the south to College Ave. on the north. A private parking lot would be located to the east of the building.

The plan would require demolition of 104 and 108 E. Beaufort.

But passage didn’t take place until after Council members heard from citizens who addressed Council prior to the vote. Mike Kerber questioned tearing down the older building citing in his opinion that, one of the newer additions to Uptown, CVS Pharmacy, which began operations in 2009, “is as ugly as sin.” He added he wants to see the older buildings in Uptown saved from a wrecking ball.

Mentioning the One Uptown Building On The Circle still has no business tenants, Joel Studebaker, a Normal Public Library Trustee, told Council members said One Uptown was built “to improve this market and it hasn’t.”

Mike Matejka told Council members he was in favor of the plan and hoped Bush Construction would employ local laborers to participate in the construction of the new building.

“I’m in favor of development, but not this,” stated Former Normal Mayoral candidate Marc Tiritilli to Council members. He stated one-third of the cost of the project is too expensive, adding, “We’re tired of having school district monies taken from us” for such projects. To that point, both Mayor Chris Koos and Council Member R. C. McBride objected to a suggestion that such a project takes money from Normal-based Unit 5 School District in an effort to complete any project.

“Unit 5 does great work and this body is a partner in that,” McBride responded during the discussion prior to voting on the measure. “I get a little upset when we’re told we’re diverting funds from public schools.”

A piece of art is likely to be sacrificed when 104 E. Beaufort St. is torn down. A mural which was painted by numerous artists on the west wall of the building will be lost when the building is demolished. The mural was begun in 2011 when The Pod art studio opened at the location. The Pod closed in January. Numerous artists each had a section of the mural in which to express themselves.

“It was a beautiful piece of art and it’s sad it can’t be saved,” commented Council Member Chemberly Cummings during the discussion prior to the vote.

Council Approves Measures Related To Ameren Power Station: Council members passed a quartet of measures relating to a power station located at 807-809 Pine St . , operated by Ameren Illinois . Council members first passed a site plan for the property, upon which the utility sought to expand the station. They next unanimously passed an ordinance vacating an easement located on the Marquerite Subdivision at Lot #3, located at 807 Pine St .

Council members next voted unanimously to rezone the property to S-2 Public Lands and Institutions. Previous to this change, 807 Pine St. was zoned M-1 Restricted Manufacturing and 809 Pine St. was zoned M-2 General Manufacturing. The final measure Council members unanimously passed concerning this property was to approve a resolution approving the final plat of Normal Route 66 subdivision which covered the entire property.

Council Certifies, Acknowledges Support For Maxwell Park Project: Council members unanimously approved a resolution which certified and acknowledged the Town’s support of an application with Illinois Department of Natural Resources through the Open Space Land and Acquisition (OSLAD) grant. OSLAD is a matching program which provides up to 50 percent of the grant agreement shortly after the grant agreement is executed. Communities applying for the grant, which can be used for development projects solely, the community applying for the grant must demonstrate the ability the remaining cost of the project prior to receiving the funds.

Normal Parks and Recreation Department set aside $20,000 for development for fiscal year 2018-19 as part of its master plan to upgrade Maxwell Park, according to the report submitted to Council members by Doug Damery, director of parks and recreation for the Town. Hitchcock Design Group, which has offices in Chicago and the Chicago suburb of Naperville , has been working with the Town on a plan for the park, according to Damery.

Council Approves License Agreement With ISU: Council members unanimously approved a license agreement with Illinois State University for the use of the College Ave. right of way between Main and Kingsley Streets

Liquor Commission Approves Gaming License Applications: Town Council members serving in their capacity as Normal Local Liquor Commission, unanimously approved two video gaming license applications for a pair of local restaurants. Commissioners approved a gaming license for Bradford Lane Italian Foods, LLC doing business as Rosati’s Pizza of Normal, 1720 Bradford Lane . They also granted a gaming license for Min Zhou, Inc., doing business as Kochi Sushi, 1540 E. College Ave.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting of Oct. 1, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Oct. 10, 2018.

• A resolution partially and conditionally approving the final development plan for The Park at Constitution Trail Centre.

• A resolution partially and conditionally approving the final plat for The Park at Constitution Trail Centre Planned Unit Development.

By Steve Robinson | October 13, 2018 - 10:55 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, U-High

NORMAL – University High’s difficult season took another blow Friday, Oct. 12 at Hancock Stadium. The Pioneers, who have struggled with losses and adversity this season, sustained another blow due to a shutout orchestrated by Central State Eight Conference visitor Springfield High. The Senators blanked the Pioneers, 42-0, before roughly 140 fans. The rain which came earlier in the day stayed, leading to damp conditions throughout the contest.

Three Springfield players – senior wide receiver Cameron Jones, senior running back Justin Bivins II, and junior running back Taryn Wallace – each scored two touchdowns while Springfield’s defense rushed the Pioneers offense to the point of tossing three interceptions during the first half.

Springfield (5-3 overall and conference) ended U-High’s second series of downs of the game when junior safety Xavier Cooper intercepted a Pioneers pass helping put the ball on the Pioneers 42. Four plays later, Senators senior quarterback Rashad Rochelle connected with Jones for the game’s first score from 9 yards out at the 5:13 mark in the first quarter, followed by junior kicker Dae-Cheon Pippin’s extra point. That put Springfield up, 7-0.

Rochelle connected with Wallace on an 8 yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds left in the quarter followed by Pippin’s extra point to close out the first quarter with the Senators in front, 14-0.

Rochelle and Wallace connected again for a second time on a 37 yard touchdown followed by Pippin’s extra point, putting Springfield up, 21-0, with 6:36 left in the half. But on the ensuing kickoff, U-High special teams fumbled the ball and Springfield was able to land on it at the Pioneers’ 35 yard line. On the next play, Bivins dodged defenders for another score followed by Pippin’s extra point. That increased Springfield’s lead, 28-0

Four plays into the Pioneers’ next drive, Senators senior middle linebacker Caleb Small intercepted a pass giving Springfield the ball at their own 45. Two plays later, Rochelle passed to Jones who ran 60 yards for another score followed by Pippin’s extra point. That sent Springfield into the locker room at half up, 35-0.

In the third quarter, Bivins scored on a 24-yard run followed by Pippin’s extra point, increasing their lead over the Pioneers, 42-0. The loss moved U-High’s record to 1-7 both overall and in Conference play.

At that point, game officials employed Illinois High School Association’s “Mercy Rule” — as a result of the 40-point difference in the game score, game officials used a continuously running clock, stopping it only for team timeouts or injury timeouts.

By Steve Robinson | October 11, 2018 - 10:59 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – Members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board unanimously a resolution authorizing district Business Manager Marty Hickman to seek bids for and later award contracts to companies for diesel fuel and gasoline.

Once the bids are announced they are subject to a future Board vote. Among the parameters bidders must meet are that diesel fuel must be at a cost of $2.60 or lower per gallon and that gasoline must be at a cost of $2.20 or lower per gallon.

But although the amounts are set in this instance, one district official would like to see legislation introduced which would change bidding requirements on such commodities. Curt Richardson, attorney for the school district, explained he has reached out to both State Rep. Dan Brady (R-105th) and State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-53rd) to see if they would be willing to look into sponsoring legislation which would support such a measure once crafted.

Having such legislation would allow the district to react more quickly to changes in market prices for such commodities. As the process is now, between the times the district advertises for bids, receives them, opens them, and then has a measure for approval for paying a vendor for such goods, the market price of those goods risks going one direction or another which could not sit well with vendors when Board members approve the measure.

Hickman said currently, once the district posts it’s taking bids for such commodities, the bid has to remain advertised for 10 days by law. Once those bids are opened and a company and their price have been accepted, that process needs to be timed to have a Board meeting at which Board members would vote to accept the proposed bid.

“With diesel fuel prices, for example, you never know what can happen overnight,” Hickman said. Richardson submitted a draft of legislation which would try to reduce the time involved in the process from posting to a school board approving how much they would pay for such commodities.

Were such legislation to pass, Hickman said, “if there’s a drop in fuel prices, we could move in more quickly to lock in a contract at a low price” Under current rules, he added, “it takes so long to go through the process, we don’t want to lock into a contract at a price the vendor won’t take.”

“In the end, doing this would help us get the lowest price for taxpayers,” Hickman said.

Superintendent Issues Caution Concerning Teacher Shortage: In his superintendent comments at the meeting Dr. Mark Daniel told the gathering concerns about a teacher shortage are well-founded and that it may be not just on the horizon but in progress. He said heading off such a shortage was something it had in mind when the district increased pay for starting teachers.

But he said evidence of the shortage was recently cited during a conference conducted by the Large Unit District Association which indicated numbers of education certification and licensure tests for teachers saw a 74 percent decline from the 2012-13 school year and the 2016-17 school year.

Oakdale Elementary Says ‘Thank You” Twice Publicly: Elizabeth Holtz, principal at Oakdale Elementary School had twice the “good news” report to present to Board members, which included twice the “thank you”s for work that had been done around the school during the summer. First, she thanked members of Eastview Christian Church for their members’ donation of time and effort in terms of improvements around the school.

Eastview members came out and re-surfaced the playground blacktop, provided a new roof for the school’s tool shed, and completed numerous landscape projects needing finishing at the school.

Holtz explained in a memo to district superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel and Board members that each year, Eastview members partner with local community members to provide various services at no cost through The Serve Project, a continuous program of serving to help others the church established. Holtz explained Eastview contacted Unit 5 with interest in providing services to Oakdale Elementary, as they had previously partnered with the school through other charitable causes. In the same way the Dollar Donation provided transportation for

Church members also helped as they re-surfaced the school blacktop included adding painted lines which provide students with game opportunities during both recess and lunch. Also painted onto the blacktop were Basketball court lines a kickball field, as well as four square, and hopscotch squares, all ready for action.

“Every single day, there are kids out there playing and it has been a huge blessing,” Holtz told Board members.

In addition, the basketball hoops were repainted, and rims and nets were added. Volunteers also saw to it the shed’s roof was redone.

In addition, Mulch was provided around the base of all the trees on the property, as well as laid around the school sign and front garden area.

Holtz also introduced Board members to Normal Community High School student Ben Brown, who along with various community members helped to continue with the improvements at the school. But for Brown, his efforts toward the community were part of duties he performed as he sought the goal of becoming an Eagle Scout.

Brown created and planned out a garden space at the school for his project, enlisting assistance from community businesses and volunteers. Brown’s garden includes providing garden boxes, seeds and plants, grass, dirt, benches, food donations, and monetary donations to help make the garden become a reality. The garden also has a library thanks to a local organization called A Little Free Library. In this library, students are provided with free books to take home to read and bring them back in exchange for a new book.

The efforts have provided the school with an outdoor learning space which, Holtz explained, has already seen plenty of use.

Gina Tenuta Named New Principal At Fairview Elementary: Dr. James Harden, executive director of human resources and student services, introduced Gina Tenuta as the new principal at Fairview Elementary School. Tenuta assumes her new duties Jan. 1. She is currently associate principal and athletic director at George L. Evans Junior High School. Tenuta will take over from retired Bloomington School District #87 Principal Jim Cooper who has been serving as interim principal. Cooper stepped in on a temporary basis after Lori Harrison, the school’s principal last year, left the district over the summer.

PBIS Presentation Made: Board members heard from Nancy Braun, who serves as a coach for district schools concerning its Positive Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program. Braun reported to Board members all 23 of the district’s schools – elementary, junior highs, and high schools – have achieved varying levels of success in implementing PBIS in their schools. PBIS originated from language used in a 1997 amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This portion of IDEA was very specific in pinpointing methods of identification and support of positive behaviors in the classroom.

Since the 2014-15 school year, the number of district schools receiving recognition for their efforts for PBIS has grown. Also since that school year, Braun told Board members, only one school – Pepper Ridge Elementary – has been every year since 2014-15.

PBIS schools are rated with awards ranging from Platinum to Gold to Silver to Bronze. District schools receiving Platinum ranking were: Benjamin Elementary, Cedar Ridge Elementary, Colene Hoose Elementary, and Northpoint Elementary, Chiddix Junior High School, and George L. Evans Junior High School.

Unit 5 Schools receiving a Gold ranking were: Fox Creek Elementary, Glenn Elementary, Grove Elementary, and Sugar Creek Elementary.

District Schools receiving a Silver ranking were: Brigham Elementary, Carlock Elementary, Fairview Elementary, Oakdale Elementary, Parkside Elementary, Pepper Ridge Elementary, Prairieland Elementary, Towanda Elementary, Kingsley Junior High School, and Normal Community High School. Hudson Elementary and Normal Community West High School received Bronze designations.

Normal Community West High School added three more distinguished honorees to its Wall Of Fame Sunday evening at a gala held at Lakeside Country Club. Current Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brock Stewart, Now retired agriculture teacher Dr. Kevin Enderlin, and retired science teacher MaryJo Douglas are 15th, 16th, and 17th persons to be added to a select group of Normal West graduates and educators whose career paths have contributed to their communities and beyond.

Brock Stewart, Class Of 2010: In 2010, Brock Stewart graduated from Normal West after earning all-conference recognition in baseball as a sophomore, junior, and senior. Stewart set the single season batting average record as a junior (.506) and was named one of the nation’s Top 10 middle infield prospects at the East Coast Professional Showcase. He led his Wildcat teams to Big 12 Conference Championships in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Stewart was eventually drafted out of Normal West as a shortstop by the New York Mets in 2010, but chose to continue his baseball career at Illinois State University instead. In June 2014, he was drafted in the 5th round as a pitcher by the Los Angeles Dodgers. In Stewart’s 3rd year of professional baseball, he experienced a dramatic rise from Class A, AA, AAA, and into his big league debut against the Milwaukee Brewers on June 29, 2016. In 2016, Stewart was also honored at Dodger Stadium as their Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Stewart participated in the 2017 World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers and remembers his hometown and high school by annually donating to the Wildcat baseball program. When he has returned home, he has spoken to Normal West classes about his training regimen and nutrition routines during the off-season and while the season was in progress.

Stewart’s parents, Jeff and Amy Stewart, stood in for their son at the gathering. Brock sent his parents a text which his father read to the gathering. “This is an honor to be recognized as an influential person to have gone through Normal West, as there have been many,” Brock wrote. “I’d like to thank my parents for what they’ve done for me in supporting me and my dream of playing professional baseball and making it to the big leagues. I can’t begin to fathom the amount of games they both have traveled to. Thanks to Coach Hawkins for teaching me the game and instilling the discipline necessary to succeed across all levels of baseball. I had some of the best times playing the game with my teammates at Normal West. Also, I’d like to thank all the teachers and faculty at Normal West. You made it a great place to come into every day.

“I wish I could be there in person to accept this honor but I will be back around Normal West for years to come and I will always be supportive,” he added. “As a teen at Normal West, I always had dreams of furthering my baseball career and I still have those same dreams, the same hunger to get better.”

Dr. Kevin “Doc” Enderlin: Dr. Kevin “Doc” Enderlin retired from Normal West in 2017. Part of the legacy in Agricultural Education he left Unit 5 came early in his career when he was named the Regional Outstanding Vocational Teacher. In 2008, he volunteered to travel to Normal Community High School during the school day to reestablish their agriculture program. He would teach five classes at Normal West, then travel to teach a section of agriculture at NCHS. Student enthusiasm for the subject had had Enderlin teaching two sections of the class at both schools.

Enderlin’s passion led to being an inspiration to students who studied the subject and became further involved in Agriculture education, as well as joining Future Farmers of America. Some of his students even entered careers in Agriculture. He established and maintained fundraisers, field trips opportunities, and curricular programs for students.

“Probably the two years I’ll hold dearest are the two years my daughter and I taught at the same time” while at Normal West, Enderlin told the gathering of roughly 80 people. “Over the years I was there, I saw the outstanding things the teachers did with the kids at Normal West,” adding he believed his two kids “couldn’t have gotten a better education anywhere in the country than they did at Normal West.”

MaryJo Douglas: MaryJo Douglass spent 20 years teaching at Normal West, one of the original staff members when the school opened. During her tenure, Douglas taught a number of subjects including Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Demonstrating lifelong learning, she learned Calculus prior to her retirement to better serve students in her Advanced Placement, or AP class on the subject.

Though now retired from teaching, Douglas continues to serve West by regularly returning to help her former colleagues repair and help make effective use of laboratory equipment. She also continues to work with struggling students and mentor current staff members.

“Many teachers from all departments have come and gone, and each has taught me a lesson,” Douglas told the gathering. “They have taught me the importance of honesty, loyalty, hard work, and integrity, staying strong through adversity, and having a sense of humor.”

There Have Been 14 Previous Honorees: There have been 14 people named to the Wall Of Fame in the previous four years Normal West has started recognized faculty, staff, and students from its past. They join previous honorees Dr. Jerry Crabtree, West’s first principal from 1995-2003: Tom Eder, who followed Crabtree as principal from 2003-2012; Taylor Kirby, a 2011 West graduate who starred in Track, becoming both a two-time Intercity Pole Vault champion; U. S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a 1996 West graduate; former Houston Texans offensive guard Cody White, a 2007 grad; Linda Bawulski, who served in the post of administrative assistant to the school principal from 1995 to 2010; Gary Woods served as the school’s first Athletic Director from 1995- 2001; Tyler Ross, Class of 2013, currently the school’s most decorated speech team member; Steve Mintus, Normal West faculty member from 1995-2005; Berny Chiaro, Teacher & FMP Coordinator; Nathan Stark, Class of 2008, currently an actor; Kathy Smalley, who served as a student counselor from when the school opened in 1995 through 2006; former broadcaster Kim Kaufman; and West Baseball enthusiast Jared O’Brien.

By Steve Robinson | October 6, 2018 - 10:57 pm
Posted in Category: NCHS, The Normalite

NORMAL – Although Danville played a tough defensive scheme against Normal Community High, holding the Ironmen to just a single score in the first quarter, the Vikings could not keep that defensive pace going for a full contest while the home crowd at Ironmen Field relished their team’s defense keeping the visiting team scoreless for three quarters. That plot line resulted in NCHS defeating Danville , 36-8 in front of a homecoming crowd of nearly 2,500 fans Friday night.

Having the ball first from the opening kickoff of the Big 12 Conference contest, NCHS (6-1 Big 12, 6-0 overall) junior running back Jake Hileman ran for a 2 yard touchdown, topping a 9 play, 75 yard drive, giving the Ironmen a touchdown. But a bad snap from center forced junior backup quarterback Aidan Oliver, who served as holder for the extra point to improvise and run in for a 2-point conversion, giving NCHS an 8-0 lead at 8:37 in the quarter.

Danville (3-4 overall, 2-4 Big 12) saw their opening drive come to an end after five plays on an interception by Ironmen junior defensive back Michael Showers which put the ball at Normal ’s own 41 yard line. Nine plays later, senior quarterback Daylen Boddie ran in for a 4 yard touchdown with 1:47 left in the quarter followed by senior kicker Camron Hinman’s extra point, advancing NCHS’ lead going into the second quarter, 15-0.

An NCHS fumble recovered by Danville senior defensive end Cauis Coon put the ball in the Vikings’ hands at their own 47 yard line, and four plays later, senior running back Josiah Payne rambled in for a what would be his team’s only score on the night followed by a two-point conversion pass from junior quarterback Delrey Crowder to sophomore Devaughn Bright cut NCHS’ lead, 15-8.

On the ensuing possession, senior quarterback Daylen Boddie would score from 5 yards out to top an 8 play, 72 yard drive, followed by Hinman’s extra point to push NCHS further in front, 22-8 at the half.

Danville received the ball to start the third quarter, but NCHS defenders stopped them at the Vikings’ 35 forcing a punt. Five plays later, Hinman showed off his running skills scoring from 2 yards out, increasing the score, 29-8, after his next extra point. The drive was enhanced by a 73 yard dash from senior tight end Max Lowery who breezed by defenders as he got into Vikings territory.

Danville punted to end their next possession, giving NCHS the ball at Danville ’s 45. From Boddie connected with Lowery scored the last touchdown of the night, followed by Hinman’s kick for the final score.

NCHS head coach Jason Drengwitz said Danville ’s physical defense contributed to his team’s not being able to score more once the game began. He said Danville played a tighter game which “took away our running game a little bit.” He said penalties and turnovers were the reason for his team not appearing to have their normal flow during the game.

“They made us earn the win because they’re sound, they’re disciplined, they’re well coached,” Drengwitz added.

“We were able to play right with them in the first half,” Danville head coach Marcus Forrest said, but he quickly added, “If you don’t match their intensity and the aggression that they play with, then you’re going to have some problems. When we came out in the second half, we didn’t match them in those areas.”