NORMAL – A vigorous and sometimes contentious campaign on matters such as use of the State Open Meetings Act at Normal Town Council meetings and continuing work on Town streets ended Tuesday night with Mayor Chris Koos and three incumbent Town Council members retaining their seats for another four-year term.

Normal Mayoral Race: When 100 percent of votes were reported counted by the McLean County Clerk’s office, the numbers showed for a second time that Koos had defeated challenged Marc Tiritilli to earn a fifth term at Normal City Hall. A total of 4,396 ballots, or 52.31 percent, were counted for Koos versus 4,008 ballots, or 43.69 percent for Tiritilli. Four years ago, a recount the day after the election showed Koos had narrowly won his current term by just seven votes.

“We did the right thing, we have done everything we can do, and we ran a very, very good campaign,” Koos said as he waited for the final results.

Tiritilli ran on a platform which included what he saw was further opening of public access to government in the form of using public comment policy during Town Council meetings. He had explained he believed under Koos, that policy had become too restrictive as to what subjects citizens could bring up at Normal Town Council sessions.

Town Council Candidates Race: Three incumbent Normal Town Council candidates – Kevin McCarthy, Chemberly Cummings, and Scott Preston — faced six challengers in order to hold on to their seats in Tuesday’s election, accomplishing that task. McCarthy and Preston will each begin third terms on the Council dais and Cummings was elected to a second term.

McCarthy was the top ballot recipient, with 3,712 votes or 17.07 percent of the vote, while Cummings and Preston earned identical voting numbers, each of them with 2,941 votes, or 13.53 percent. They were followed by David Paul Blumenshine placing third with 2,803 votes or 12.89 percent, Albert Zimmerman, Chair of Normal Planning Commission placing fourth with 2,639 votes or 12.14 percent; Steve Harsh placing fifth with 1,949 votes or 8.97 percent; Karl Sila placing sixth with 1,867 votes or 8.59 percent; Brad McMillan placing seventh with 1,743 votes or 8.02 percent; and Donna M. Toney placing eighth with 1,145 votes or 5.27 percent.

Coleman, DeHaai, Gozur Win Unit 5 School Board Race: Three new faces will join Normal-based Unit 5 School Board later this month as a result of Tuesday’s election. A total of six candidate ran for open seats on the Board with Kentrica Coleman receiving the most ballots, 6,261, or 21.1 percent of the vote. She was followed and will be joined on the Board by Jeremy DeHaai who received 5,370 votes or 18.1 percent of the vote, and Stan E. Gozur who received 5,089 votes or 17.1 percent of the vote.

Of the other three candidates in the race, Ericka Ralston finished fourth with 4,506 votes or 15.2 percent of the vote, Janelle Czapar finished fifth with 4,422 votes or 14.9 percent, and Gavin Cunningham placed sixth with 4,084 votes or 13.7 percent.

Normal Township Supervisor Race: Democrat Sarah Grammer, the current Normal Township Supervisor, faced write-in Republican challenger Amy Conklin in their race. Despite their being 1,392 write-in votes tallied, Conklin didn’t receive any of them.

Normal Township Clerk Race: Democrat Pat Turner won the race to be the next Normal Township Clerk when she defeated Republican challenger Judy Hanks. Turner garnered 4,112 votes or 51.04 percent of the vote to 3,944 votes or 48.96 percent for Hanks.

Normal Township Trustee Race: Democrat Sally Pyne was the top voter winner among seven declared candidates and one write-in candidate when ballots were totaled for serving as Normal Township Trustees. Pyne garnered 4,293 votes or 15.43 percent of the vote. Democrat Arlene Hosea came in second with 3,917 votes or 14.08 percent. Republican Floyd Aper placed third with 3,742 votes or 13.45 percent, and Republican Art Rodriguez placed fourth with 3,736 votes or 13.43 percent. Republican Carl Haney placed fifth with 3,610 votes or 12.98 percent, Democrat Dayna Schickedanz placed sixth with 3,550 votes or 12.76 percent, and Democrat Mary Wuhrmann placed seventh with 3,491 votes or 12.55 percent. A write-in candidate, Ray Ropp, received no votes.

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members unanimously approved a resolution to award the bid for Oakdale, Ruston, Grove, and Margaret Sts. Water main replacement project to Gibson City, Ill.-based SNC Construction, Inc. at a total cost of $610,764.92 plus a potential $7,500 bonus for early completion. The meeting was held Monday and remotely as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

Prior to the Council vote, Normal resident Jerry Logan, saying he was representing the membership of Local 99 of Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, told Council members that specific union had been laying water main in the Town for 74 years, and said he and his fellow union members were concerned about a water main replacement project being awarded to a company not from the area. “What I would ask of the Committee is to consider tabling this until we get more research on this.” He said awarding the project to out-of-town contractor takes dollars away from the local area for such a project.

Amended Special Use Permit Approved For Local Business: Council members unanimously approved an ordinance granting a special use permit giving the owners of Beyond Hello, a medical cannabis sales business at 501 W. Northtown Rd. approval to expand its parking lot from 20 spaces it started with when the business opened to 40 spaces. In their report to Council members, Town staff indicated support for approving the permit because the proposed lot only occupied one-third of the property.

When the request went before the Town Zoning Board of Appeals on March 18, only the applicant addressed the Board, which was followed by unanimous approval vote by Board members.

Uptown Outdoor Dining Is Back: Among miscellaneous items Council members brought up were that Uptown outdoor dining returned on April 1, according to Council Member Scott Preston. He said that will continue through summer into the fall.

Lauren Lurkins Appointed To Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation Board: During the session, it was announced Lauren Lurkins, director for environmental policy for Illinois Farm Bureau, has been appointed to the Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation Board. Lurkins and her family have been Museum members since 2013. Lurkins is a graduate of Saint Louis University and Southern Illinois University School of Law. Lurkins replaces Gina Mandros who had to leave the Board prior to completing her last year serving on it. Lurkins’ term expires June 30, 2022.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the Council’s regular meeting of March 15, 2021.

• Approval of the minutes of the special Council meeting of March 29, 2021

• Report and receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of March 31, 2021.

• A resolution reapproving the third preliminary subdivision plan for The Vineyards subdivision (southeast corner of Airport Rd. and Raab Rd.).

• A resolution authorizing a contract with Peoria-based Hoerr Construction, Inc. for the 2021 sanitary sewer lining contract in the amount of $963,472.80 and authorizing an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution to accept bids and award a contract to Mitchell, Ill.-based Erb Turf Equipment, Inc, for Ironwood Golf Course reel and bedknife grinders in the amount of $40,195.

By Steve Robinson | April 4, 2021 - 10:25 pm
Posted in Category: Bloomington HS, NCHS, The Normalite

BLOOMINGTON – Normal Community High School’s football team has had its way with Big 12 Conference rival Bloomington High School for the last seven years, winning at home and here at Fred Carlton Field. Friday night, however, in a low scoring affair, the Purple Raiders’ scored on both offense and defense while confining the Ironmen to being scoreless for half the contest as BHS defeated NCHS, 12-6, Friday night. The win gave the Purple Raiders their first victory on the abbreviated season.

BHS (1-2) scored first to complete their first series of downs following the opening kickoff with senior running back Ean Haggarty bursting through the Ironmen defense for a 49 yard touchdown drive at 9:50 in the first quarter. That play capped a 6 play 86 yard drive followed by a successful extra point by junior kicker Cameron Anderson, putting the hosts up, 7-0.

Later in the quarter, with NCHS deep in their own territory, Ironmen sophomore kicker Ryan Millmore lost and recovered the ball in the end zone before he could punt and BHS freshman defensive lineman Miguel Espindola tackled Millmore for a safety, increasing the Purple Raiders’ lead, 9-0, going into the second quarter.

From there, defenses for both sides stayed busy through the second and third quarters preventing any scoring. A 26 yard field goal by Anderson ended that drought with 7:04 left in the contest extended BHS’ advantage capping a 65 yard drive, extending the Purple Raiders’ lead to 12-3.

BHS’ defense kept NCHS close to midfield following the ensuing kickoff but the Ironmen managed to get to the BHS 31 as time started winding down. Millmore entered the contest a last time with 5:55 remaining kicking a 41 yard field goal which cut BHS’ lead in half. But NCHS could not gain possession again before the final horn.

Ironmen sophomore backup quarterback Chase Wiese completed 15-of-31 passes for 163 yards in what was his debut under center. Wellman completed 8-of-13 passes garnering 81 yards in the victory.

NCHS was short-handed going into this contest as junior starting quarterback Chase Mackey was continuing to recover from an injury he suffered during NCHS’ opening game against Normal Community West March 20. In addition, contact tracing related to COVID-19 kept NCHS’ all five offensive line players sidelined. In all, a total of seven Ironmen players did not play due to COVID-19 related issues.

BHS head coach Scott Godfrey said he was aware of the medical issues NCHS faced coming into this game and had praise for how his team got back on the winning track against the Ironmen. “It’s been a long time coming,” he said about snapping his team’s losing streak against the Ironmen. “It’s a big win for us.”

“We put the pressure on our guys all week if we wanted into the playoffs,” Godfrey added. “We knew we were going to have to earn it against NCHS and our guys came out and executed.”

“It hurts to get beat, but I’m extremely proud of our guys and how they battled,” NCHS head coach Jason Drengwitz said. “We had the short hand tonight, but the credit goes to Bloomington. They played well offensively. They played well on special teams and they played really well on defense.

“Maybe we’ll get a chance to play them again,” the second season Ironmen head coach said. “I’m disappointed for the loss and I’m disappointed for our seniors. However, I’m really proud of the effort our kids played. They fought hard and they never gave up. They stuck together to the very end.”

Drengwitz was quick to credit Wiese for his effort on the night, saying, “For his first start, he did a really nice job. He battled a lot of adversity and did a lot of difficult things.”

NORMAL – Voters in Normal on Tuesday will have a number of people seeking to retain seats and to do that by either unseating incumbents or trying to retain their seat for another four-year term. Some offices, such as seats on Normal Township board have a mix of Democrat and Republican candidates. There are also candidates who seek seats on governing bodies who want to offer their talents in service to their community.

NORMAL TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR RACE: Incumbent Township Supervisor Sarah Grammer, a Democrat, is seeking a second four-year term, and faces opposition from Republican challenger Amy Conklin, who is mounting a write-in campaign.

Grammer, a Democrat on the ballot, said keep services provided by the Association of Retired Citizens “growing as we come out of the pandemic, as well as going out after more grant money so that we can weather the pandemic.” ARC’s building has been physically closed since the pandemic started in March last year, Grammer said, but ARC has been providing a number of virtual activities for seniors to enjoy including tai chi, yoga, arts and crafts, and book club sessions.

“We took most of our programming and turned it into on-line programming,” Grammer stated about how the Township pivoted to help residents once they were unable to enter the building as a result of the pandemic. She added the Township has been able to not just continue to operate during the crisis, but that with the building void of activity, improvements to the almost 40 year old structure were allowed to be made without interruption.

She added the Township is looking at being able to resume on-site programming in May, abiding by State-mandated guidelines related to COVID.

She said she is most proud of being able to add nearly 3,000 sq. ft. for classes to take place in at the facility. She said the Township refinanced the loan it had on the building at a lower interest rate and without extending the length of the loan. ”We knew older residents are vulnerable to having to move if taxes get too high,” she explained. “We’re really careful that we’re not putting improvements at the senior center that didn’t end up costing people their homes, so to speak.” She said worked with local banks to reduce the interest rate paid, replaced the building’s HVAC system and repurposed 3,000 sq. ft. of storage space for use for activities.

NORMAL TOWNSHIP BOARD OF TRUSTEES CANDIDATES: Eight candidates are seeking four seats on the Normal Township Board of Trustees. All four of the current officeholders – Democrats Sally Pyne, Dayna Schickedanz, and Arlene Hosea have their names on the ballot while Republican Ray Ropp is seeking another term this election as a write-in candidate. Of uppermost importance to those running for Board of Trustee seats this term is getting the Activities and Recreation Center, located at 600 E. Willow St., up and running again for seniors to use in person once the now year-long concludes. ARC was closed in early March 2019 as a result of the pandemic and has been running virtual programs during the past year.

“Getting the ARC reopened safely for all of our 4,000 members” is the priority Democrat incumbent Township Trustee Sally Pyne believes is the Board’s top priority. “We just to follow the rules so people can return in a safe way so we don’t have any COVID spread there.” She said she has heard from ARC users who were grateful for the closure to avoid any virus-spreading issues. She said the closure did allow for a large solar array to be installed on the building’s rooftop. The array was paid for with a grant the Township applied through the State of Illinois Solar for All Program and has a value of $600,000. She added the Township is preparing bids for a company to create greenspace outside on ARC property. The Township has not put the project up for bid as yet, she said.

Appointed three years ago by Grammer to fill a vacancy created by a Trustee who exited the community, Democrat incumbent Township Trustee Dayna Schickedanz is running her first race to be elected to her post for the first time. Schickedanz said the Township has had a moratorium on some issues as a result of COVID, among them area utilities not being able to go collect outstanding debts from residents with past due accounts. As a result, she said, “I think the Township’s general assistance fund is going to be sort of a bigger thing this year as people start to come out of COVID and people start to experience those hardships again.”

She added what she called “an unseen positive” of the community is that “we ward off homelessness. We ward off people who are struggling.”

“The Township does a great job of making sure everybody in our community has an opportunity to remain in their homes and remain with working water and working power,” Schickedanz explained. Among projects she said she has aided as a Trustee was to see the governing body partner with the School Street Food Pantry which helps Illinois State University students who are facing food insecurity.

“Staying the course and making sure our funds are being allocated correctly and that our ARC Center is opened in a smart way so we aren’t putting anyone at risk” are top priorities for the Township from her point of view, she explained. She added continuing to maintain the Township’s 25 miles of roads would rank at the top of her list behind addressing COVID-related matters. She said she also wants to see the Township address upkeep of their East Mulberry St. facility.

Seeking her second term on the Township Board, Democratic Township Trustee Candidate Arlene Hosea, retired from her job as director of Campus Dining Services at Illinois State University, said she agrees the most pressing issue for the Township is getting the ARC opened again. She said restarting that program safely for participants and staff safely has to be a top priority. She called the virtual program which has been running since the pandemic started a year ago “robust,” but said getting ARC up and running for in-person activities is important. “ARC staff did an excellent job building in the midst of a crisis they didn’t expect,” she added. She said the Township has been a good steward with its money. After the Township has gotten past COVID, she said, Hosea said she would like to see newly-renovated ARC spaces utilized. But she wants the building opened safely first before that can happen, she explained.

“Right now, the Township is responsible for assistance programs,” stated Democrat Township Trustee Candidate Mary Wuhrmann, seeking her first term as a Trustee. “In a year with the pandemic, they’ve had more requests because of the repercussions of the pandemic. She said she is impressed with what she has seen the Trustees do over the past year. She added what she saw also encouraged her to run for a seat as a Trustee “to become more involved with the decision making process, and to be part of the progress they’ve made and continue that progress over the last four years.” Wuhrmann said by becoming an elected member of the Township Board, she wants to be able to continue to help the Township to provide the services it provides. Wuhrmann taught for 22 years in Stanford-based Olympia School District as a reading recovery teacher.

Seeking a first term as a Normal Township Trustee, Republican candidate Art Rodriguez stated he is seeking his “first and last term” as a member of the governing body. “If you really come in with the right idea of trying to make a vision smaller than you’ll only need to seek one term,” he explained. Part of his philosophy is that “longevity corrupts the individual.” With that logic in mind, Rodriguez added, “The biggest issue for the Township is the taxation of the properties.” He cited a $500,000 home in California raises the same taxes on a $150,000 home in Normal. “We’re giving a lot away when we don’t have to,” he reasoned. “We can’t be giving away taxpayers’ money to corporations that are making massive dollars.” He said making the ARC more efficient is another priority he would like to see is another concern. Past ARC-related issues, Rodriguez said, he wants to see local property taxes reduced to help residents. He said the area is losing population as a result of increasing cost of living expenses.

Reopening of ARC is also a top priority for Republican Township Trustee Candidate Carl Haney, he said, as he runs for his first term on the Township Board. “I want to see members of that group get back to associate and collaborate and be able to have that ability to get together and to have that community.” A 21-year U.S. Air Force veteran achieving rank of Lt. Colonel, being elected to the Township Board “would give me the chance to serve again,” he explained. “They did a wonderful job with getting virtual activities up and running,” Haney said.

He expressed concern for people who may have participated at ARC up until it shut down but now may feel isolated as a result of not having contact with others there as a result of the pandemic. After COVID, Haney wants to make sure “very good fiscal responsibility is there making sure, ultimately, the Township money that we get from taxpayers assures that it serves the Township.” He added he believes the Township is “doing a great job” with its primary responsibilities which he said included completing real estate assessments, maintenance of rural roads and bridges, and general assistance.

Several items top the concerns list for Republican Candidate Floyd Aper. Aper, seeking his first term, said among them are what amount of money exits Township coffers to pay the Town of Normal for road repair. He said that tab amounts to over $300,000 paid to the Town to maintain roads. Of this practice, Aper said, “I assume that started some years ago as the Town annexed more and more property which was actually in the Township.” He believes the Township’s tax base’s dollars shouldn’t pay for Town of Normal roads. Like other candidates, Aper said he wants to see the ARC open to its constituents as soon as it possible.

He said he also objects to governing bodies at any level – local, State, or Federal – providing money to non-profit organizations when such activity, he said, can be done freely at an individual’s choice. “That’s not a function of the Township’s budget,” Aper reasoned. He cited Township dollars being allocated to be given to non-profits.

“I just don’t think that’s a function of government because each entity is structured to do certain things,” Aper said. He said he believes part of such money goes to pay for after-school activities operated by the Town. He called such financial gestures “very noble, but that’s all tax money. To me, we shouldn’t be supportive of everybody for everything.”

“We’ve been closed for quite a period of time because of the COVID virus and I think people are anxious to get back in the groove and doing things they want us to do and I think we should provide those services that our membership has been waiting for,” explained Ray Ropp, a Republican write-in Township Trustee candidate seeking to keep his incumbent Board seat. He said he believes most folks who want to return to the center either are scheduling or have gotten vaccinations. As for opting to be a write-in candidate, Ropp said he made that decision after Grammer objected to the Township’s financial statement not returned to the Township from the County Clerk’s Office. Ropp said he no problem with the statement not being returned because he “didn’t believe people’s statements ever got looked at after an election period.”

By Steve Robinson | March 27, 2021 - 11:22 am
Posted in Category: The Normalite, U-High

NORMAL – University High School earned its first Central State 8 Conference win Friday night, overtaking Springfield Southeast in a 49-6 victory at Hancock Stadium on Illinois State University’s campus. Pioneers senior running back-defense back Peter Deffenbaugh scored on runs of 4 and 6 yards topping it off with an 82 yard scoring sprint to complete the night.

The sole score by Springfield Southeast (0-2) on the night came courtesy of a 21 yard interception touchdown by senior defense back Jared Harris, picking off a pass from Pioneers senior quarterback Camdyn Barclay converting it into what would be the Spartans’ only score of the night. That was followed by a failed two-point conversion. As a result, the visitors had a quick 6-0 lead going into the second quarter.

But from there, U-High (1-1) owned the evening, starting with taking the lead on a 13 yard rushing touchdown from senior wide receiver Ethan Hunt, followed by a successful extra point by sophomore kicker Declan Duley. That would put the Pioneers up 7-6, with 11 minutes left in the half.

U-High’s next score would come on a 36 yard touchdown pass from Barclay to senior wide receiver Justin “J.J.” Johnson at 6:04 in the second quarter, followed by Duley’s extra point, advancing the Pioneers lead to 14-6. U-High added a second touchdown in the half thanks to Deffenbaugh’s first score on the night, a 4 yard dash into the end zone at 2:46 until halftime followed by Duley’s extra point, increasing the Pioneers lead going into the half, 21-6.

Barclay’s 35 yard touchdown pass to senior Matthew Davenport helped the Pioneers open the second half with a 7 play 69 yard march into the end zone followed by another Duley extra point, giving U-High a 28-6 lead.

Deffenbaugh’s next rushing score from 6 yards out followed by Duley’s extra point helped add to the Pioneers’ lead, 35-6 at the four minute mark in the third quarter.

A Spartans special teams player bobbled and lost the ball after the ensuing kickoff giving Pioneers senior linebacker Harris Carr an opportunity to recover it, putting U-High at the Spartans’ 25 yard line for their next possession. It took the Pioneers three plays in one minute to get to the 1-yard line, highlighted by a 24 yard Barclay pass to junior quarterback-turned-receiver Konnor Bouman to get the Pioneers to the 1-yard line. From there, senior wide receiver Gavin Markert dashed into the end zone for a touchdown, putting the Pioneers up, 42-6.

On the Spartans’ next possession, an interception by Davenport stopped Springfield Southeast in the midst of a 6-play drive at the U-High 20 yard line. One play later, Deffenbaugh rushed for an 80 yard touchdown, followed by Duley’s last extra point on the night resulting in the final score.

“I feel like I stepped up this game and that 82 yard really helped me out,” Deffenbaugh said, adding he had a couple tackles in which Springfield Southeast lost yardage. He said the victory “definitely felt like a team win, for sure. We kept a good mentality throughout the whole game and we made big stops on defense and scored a bunch on offense. That really helped us out.”

Pioneers head coach John Johnson had praise for his six foot, 190 pound senior’s efforts on the night. “He ran the ball well and he blocked well, and he had an interception. He had a great game.”

Once the Pioneers figured out how to get around the Spartans’ secondary unit players, Johnson explained, “We started burning them pretty bad.”

The fourth season head coach added his staff challenged members of the defense all week to prevent Springfield Southeast from scoring as soon as the Pioneers put points on the board themselves. Johnson said that appears to be a pattern when playing other CS8 teams. “The defense answered the bell tonight. They played very hard.”

“We’ve got to execute, stay true to the game plan and just execute right,” Springfield Southeast head coach Matt Lauber said in explaining what his team should have accomplished during Friday’s contest. “U-High didn’t do anything different from what we planned for.” From looking at the Pioneers on film, Lauber added, “We thought we could take advantage of some stuff which would help clog up some of the running game. We did a good job on the run game. It was more the receivers that got us. That’s what hurt.”