By Steve Robinson | April 23, 2017 - 10:59 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

Steve RobinsonFor Caitlyn Hayes and SophiaRose Brown, being part of Teen Relay For Life’s leadership team was important to each of them of different reasons.

For Hayes, a senior at Normal Community West High School, her father was diagnosed with colon cancer when she was five years old. It took his life five years later. She said her sister got the family involved in the annual Relay event held in late June by Relay For Life of McLean County as a result. “But once I got to high school, I really wanted to take control of things and that led me to the leadership team” of the teen event, she explained.

A total of 24 students from four high schools will help put on the 7th Teen Relay For Life from 6p.m. Friday, May 6 until 6a.m. Saturday, May 7 at Tri-Valley High School in Downs. Students from local schools participating include those from NCHS, Normal West, and Tri-Valley. Students from Stanford Olympia High School are also taking part, as well.

University High, Bloomington High School, and Bloomington Central Catholic High School do not have any participation in this year’s event.

There is no doubt NCHS’ Brown has a drive to raise funds for the cause and she and her fellow organizing committee members are always looking for young people to help bring in other kids who may or may not have shared an experience such as hers. For Brown, seeing her maternal grandmother battle the disease three times gave her impetus to become involved with Teen Relay For Life.

“Having to watch my mother go through watching what my grandmother went through led me to get involved,” Brown said. “I hate seeing my mom go through any kind of struggle. It was really hard to watch her watch something so tough. I don’t want another daughter to have to watch their mother go through something so tough. That’s why I’m involved with this.”

“Cancer doesn’t discriminate,” Brown said. To her and the organizing team’s way of thinking, she explained, cancer doesn’t care where you live. She said a large group of kids from Tri-Valley High School have thrown themselves into being involved with the Teen Relay. The goal of these students is for this year’s event to raise $25,000. If that amount is the final total of the event, or whatever the final total turns out to be, will be added to the total money raised at the annual Relay For Life of McLean County event to help give the area its grand total. The annual Relay For Life of McLean County event will be held at NCHS on June 23-24.

“We have a lot of really good bands coming this year,” Brown said. Paper Planes is the name of one of the bands scheduled to appear (it’s a local band, and no, like many of you who follow this column, I’ve never heard of them, either). The National Guard will bring their rock climbing wall, and there will also be basketball and volleyball as a couple of the activities which will keep the kids busy – and active – during the event.

Hayes and Brown explained part of the event will take place in the school in addition to being out on the school track. There will be teams of up to 12 students circling the track for the Relay.

In addition to the activities, there will be ceremonies honoring cancer survivors and caregivers, and a luminaria ceremony. A luminaria ceremony involves bags with the names of survivors or those who have lost their battle to cancer being remembered by the students. The bags have a small light in them to honor the person being remembered.

“The leadership being displayed by this group of young people is unparalleled,” said Kimberly Wright, community manager for American Cancer Society’s Peoria Office. Wright oversees not only the Teen Relay, but the Relay held on Illinois State University’s campus in the spring and the McLean County event.

“Because I see them work on this, I have the privilege of seeing their leadership skills flourish,” Wright said. “All of them are Relaying for a different reason. They are doing it for a personal reason or a higher purpose, and they are all committed to our mission – to end the pain and suffering of cancer.”

Wright said it’s the kids who do all the planning to get this event assembled and ready. She serves as the support person the kids’ use to get materials from ACS to accomplish their task.

Considering the cause and the dedication and determination shown by what I observed at the meeting I attended and from what I learned from Hayes and Brown and Wright, this year’s event should be a success.

By Steve Robinson | April 17, 2017 - 10:03 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

Town of NormalNORMAL – Opting not to run for a seventh term on Normal Town Council in favor of running for the post of Normal Township Supervisor, Cheryl Gaines knew her final Council meeting was coming. A giant vase filled with flowers sat at her spot on the Council dais when she arrived. A sheet cake wishing her good luck and punch were set on a table just outside Council Chambers.

Once the business of the evening’s meeting was completed, there were tributes from Council members she had both long served with and just gotten to know as a result of their holding first terms.

Her fellow Council members had praise for Gaines’ work during her time on the Council. Council Member Jeff Fritzen told Gaines the Council “has been strengthened on the issue of mental health” through her efforts. Gaines is President and Chief Executive Officer at Collaborative Solutions Institute, as well as a counselor there.

“It’s been a privilege to serve with you and take in your store of knowledge on mental health,” Fritzen said.

“What unifies us is our dedication to the community,” Mayor Chris Koos told Gaines. “You have had more passion for this community.”

Council member R. C. McBride told Gaines, “I can never repay you for your mentorship and friendship.” Council Member Scott Preston said he was impressed by Gaines’ “ability to ask good questions and make good decisions that help the people of Normal.”

Council Member Kevin McCarthy said Gaines’ need to ask “why?” on certain matters “has been part of how you’ve operated on this Council.” McCarthy added, “You took a stand to show us why we took votes.”

“You would always bring me back to why we were pushing for certain policies or decisions,” Council Member Kathleen Lorenz told Gaines. “We’ve always continued to be great friends and great colleagues. That translates to having a deeper friendship.”

“I thank everyone at this table,” Gaines said beginning her last speech as a Council member. “We’ve had a great run. I’ve had a great run. Our staff is exemplary.” She thanked the Town’s citizens for electing her.

As a parting gesture, Koos exited the Mayor’s chair early and asked Gaines, the Town’s Mayor Pro Tem, to adjourn the meeting one last time.

Chemberly Cummings is filling Gaines’ seat, having won in the election against challenger Ron Ulmer, and will be sworn in next month. Gaines opted not to run for another Council term, instead deciding to run a campaign to become Normal Township Supervisor in the April election. Sarah Grammer, a Democrat, narrowly edged out Republican Gaines in the election earlier this month. Monday’s session was Gaines’ last meeting as a Council member.

Water Rate Increase Leads To Split Vote: One omnibus agenda item, a proposed 2 percent increase in Town water bills was pulled by Lorenz and led to discussion and revealed a divide as to when such an increase should be put into effect – in May as Town Staff is recommending or a couple years from now, as was argued by Lorenz.

When the vote was taken, it was Koos who cast the decisive ballot, sending the measure to a 4-3 vote in favor of the increase which would push the fee for water from $6.19 per 1,000 gallons to $6.31 per 1,000 gallons. The monthly fee for upkeep of system maintenance would also go up from $5.65 to $5.75. The Town is not recommending any fee increases for fire line use. The Town estimates the increase will bring in an additional $160,000 for the Town water fund with an average household seeing an increase of 82 cents in their monthly tab, or an additional $9.84 tacked to their bill annually.

Lorenz and Council Members Preston and McCarthy cast opposing votes on the measure while Gaines, Fritzen, and McBride voted in favor of the measure. That left Koos to break the tie, siding with those favoring the increase.

“I wanted to have a discussion about the merits of increasing the water cost,” Lorenz said afterward. “But in the end, I voted no because if the need to raise the rate isn’t very pressing at this point, we could take the opportunity to keep the rates where they are.”

Voting for the increase “comes down to what your policy preference is,” said Fritzen, who voted in favor of the price hike. “It was either increase it a little now, or look at a larger increase a year from now or two years from now. I’d rather get a small increase now than wait down the road and get a bigger increase later.”

The rate the Town charges for sewer service will also go up 2 percent. As a result, residents will see that charge go up by $2.88.

Behavior Health Forum Set For May 18: McLean County Board Chairman John McIntyre and County Administrator Bill Wasson addressed Council members regarding an update on how the County is progressing to help people with mental health issues. They announced a public forum on the subject will be held on Thursday, May 18 at the Bloomington Center For The Performing Arts from 1p.m.-6:30p.m. The event will include panel discussions on varying topic and a keynote speaker. McIntyre said details will be released once finalized.

Construction For Town Offices At One Uptown Circle Approved: Council members, approved by a unanimous vote, a resolution which would waive the formal bidding process and authorize a contract to Core Construction Services of Illinois, Inc. for work which would begin the buildout of second floor office space on the second floor in the One Uptown Circle Project. When the work is completed, the space would be used to accommodate various departments operated by the Town.

Under the agreement, the developer, Chicago-based Uptown Circle Development is obligated to pay $413,400 toward the buildout project, while the Town will contribute $850,000 toward the buildout and spending for furnishings and equipment.

Road Improvement Project Bids Accepted: Council members voted unanimously to approve a resolution to accept bids and award a contract to Bloomington-based Stark Excavating, Inc. worth $2,290,406.66 for an extension of Greenbriar Drive and improvements from Hershey Rd. Also involved in the project are matters related to the water main and sanitary sewer in the area. The water main matters will cost the Town $141,456 through this contract, and the sewer matters cost is $100,251. That brings the total cost of the contract to $2,532,113.66.

In addition, Council members unanimously approved a resolution related to the Greenbriar Dr. extension project. The resolution authorized execution of an agreement with Bloomington-based Country Acres Land Corporation (CALC). Under the agreement, CALC is required to pay the Town $321,838.47 no later than 10 days before the construction project starts. The money repays the Town for the water main, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer.

Official Vote Result Declares Koos Wins 4th Term: The McLean County Clerk’s Office held a sample recount on Tuesday after which it was determined Koos had won the April 4 election by 11 votes over challenger Marc Tiritilli.

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

• Approval of minutes of regular meeting held April 3, 2017.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of April 12, 2017.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the purchase of bleachers for the athletic fields at Champion Fields from Charlotte, N. C.-based Cunningham Recreation vis U. S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance for an amount not to exceed $59,860.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the purchase of shade structures for the athletic fields at Champion Fields from Cunningham Recreation via U. S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance for an amount not to exceed $111,029.40.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the purchase of a Toro Groundsmaster Mower from Berkeley, Mo.-based MTI Distributing via the National Cooperative Contract Solutions Program of the National Intergovernmental Purchasing Alliance (National IPA).

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the purchase of a Jacobsen HR9016 mower from Joliet-based Burris Equipment via the National Joint Purchasing Association (NJPA), Jacobsen Contract #070313-JCS.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the purchase of several pieces of golf course maintenance equipment via the National Cooperative Contract Solutions program of the National Intergovernmental Purchasing Alliance (National IPA) in the net amount of $54,979.21.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing a contract with Normal-based J. Spencer Construction, LLC in the amount of $49,385 for carpentry work associated with the 305 E. Pine St. Gift Shop renovation project.

• A resolution authorizing the award of a contract for the construction of an electronics recycling collection building to Bloomington-based Evergreen FS, Inc. in the amount of $56,800.

• A resolution to award the bid for the Shelbourne Drive and University Court water main improvement project to Stark Excavating, Inc. at a total cost of $638,492 plus the potential for a maximum $15,000 bonus for early completion.

• A resolution waiving the formal bid process and authorizing the City Manager to enter into construction and service agreements with CIRBN, LLC to construct, install, and replace the Town’s wireless network in Uptown Normal.

• A resolution to authorize the renewal of the Town’s participation in the Municipal Insurance Cooperative Agency (MICA) insurance program for plan year 2017-18 beginning on May 1, 2017 and approve a budget adjustment of $25,110.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an interlocal agreement between the Town of Normal, City of Bloomington, and County of McLean for the 2016 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant.

• A resolution supporting the railbanking of Norfolk Southern Railroad right-of-way from Mansfield, Ill. To Bloomington.

• A resolution approving waivers from the Uptown Design Review Code, Chapter 15, Division 17, for 112 E. Beaufort St. (Whimsy store sign).

• A resolution approving an amended final development plan for One Normal Plaza PUD (Baby Fold, 612-614 Oglesby).

• A resolution conditionally and partially approving the final plat of The Lodge On Willow II Subdivision by expedited process (northwest corner of School and Fell Sts.).

• An ordinance conditionally approving an easement vacation on a part of Lot 1 at The Lodge On Willow (214 W. Willow).

• An ordinance amending Section 7.21-1 of the Town Municipal Code – sewer rates.

By Steve Robinson | April 16, 2017 - 10:08 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

portillos logoNORMAL – While construction workers continued prepping its foundation on recently rain-dampened soil, a nearby tent and nine ready shovels sticking up in a pre-arranged section of soil signaled Normal was one more step closer toward Portillo’s arrival to its local home on Veterans Parkway. The restaurant, which will sit on the site of the former three-story Motel 6, will be Portillo’s 51st restaurant.

The formal groundbreaking for the local location of the Oak Brook-based eatery took place April 14, attended by roughly 40-50 people, including the restaurant’s Chief Executive Officer Keith Kinsey, Normal Mayor Chris Koos, Normal Town Council members, and Charlie Moore, CEO of McLean County Chamber of Commerce.

The nearly 10,000 sq. ft. restaurant is scheduled to open in mid-August, and will have a 1920s-1930s era theme. It is one of two inside Illinois outside Chicago, the other located in Champaign.

“The thing that’s so nice about the Bloomington-Normal area is you’ve got the universities, you’ve got a very welcoming community for business,” Kinsey said prior to the ceremony. “We have had a lot of people we had orders from and that we’ve shipped food down to down here asking us when we were going to build down here.”

“We only open so many restaurants in a year and it’s finally gotten us to a place we’ve always wanted to come to,” Kinsey said. In addition to the Champaign location, they recently opened one in Wisconsin and one in Minnesota.

Town of NormalDuring the ceremony before the groundbreaking, Koos told the gathering, “We’re more than ready for Portillo’s. So many people know it and love it. It’s legendary. And now, it’s in our community. Our best wishes to everybody involved with this. We know Portillo’s is going to knock this one out of the park.”

“We couldn’t do this without your support or your belief in us as an organization,” Kinsey told the gathering. “To be part of Bloomington-Normal is really special for Portillo’s and myself.”

In addition, Kinsey said the restaurant will employ about 200 people overseen by a management team of 7 or 8.

In the agreement the Town of Normal signed with the project’s developer, Bloomington Landmark Development, Inc., the Town will give the developer $1.875 million in tax receipts brought in by the restaurant, which would help with costs related to the motel’s demolition and restaurant construction. That dollar amount could increase to around $2.5 million when interest is figured in.

Portillo’s will lease the property the restaurant will sit on. The land will be owned by Chicago-based Tartan Realty Group, headed by its president, Doug Reichl. Portillo’s lease cost paid to Tartan Realty Group will be $220,000. Construction of the restaurant will be the responsibility of Chicago-based Novak Construction.

The groundbreaking session ended with Portillo’s staff serving a lunch of beef sandwiches and chocolate cake to those who stayed afterward.

Unit 5NORMAL – Come the end of June, the State of Illinois will have gone two full fiscal years without having put forth a budget for the next fiscal year. In his comments to members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board at the governing body’s regular meeting April 12, Dr. Mark Daniel, district superintendent employed a sense of urgency for district constituents to write their State lawmakers to keep the situation from moving into a third consecutive fiscal year.

For the situation to get that far along without a State budget could produce unwanted consequences for district students, Daniel explained. The budget situation is one that “is going to continue to drive our lack of being able to provide services,” Daniel said.

As a result of the State’s budget troubles, Daniel said, “Unit 5 isn’t receiving payments from Springfield for transportation services related to students with special needs, and for schools being able to serve some students breakfast and lunches. The tab for those items is $10.8 million owed Unit 5 by the State.

At the meeting held in the cafeteria of Normal Community West High School, Daniel said his time has been spent talking to State legislators, and he encouraged the roughly 30 people at the meeting “to contact State legislators giving them the message that we need a State budget.”

Daniel added, “If we don’t have a State budget, it is only a matter of time before we will have to say ‘we cannot open doors’ in regard to public schools.” For Unit 5 to find itself in that position, Daniel said, “would be disastrous for us as a community, as a State.”

“It is time to begin to write our legislators and tell them we need a State budget,” Daniel said, adding, “Please begin writing and please continue writing until we have a State budget.”

School Programs In Daytime, Bullying Mentioned In Public Comments: A request for a time change for school programs, and bullying were the primary topics three parents brought to the attention of Board members during the meeting’s public comments section. Fox Creek Elementary School Parents Devin and Julie Hagler each addressed Board members expressing their desire that certain school music programs could have their start times moved from afternoons to evenings for the benefit of parents who could not get time off work to see their children perform. Devin Hagler said evening school concerts “used to be social events” for families. He added not every parent has the means by which they can easily get to a school program in the daytime. A third parent reported to Board members her son, who is Autistic, has been harassed and been fought with by other students.

May 25 Is Last Day Of School: As part of approving its omnibus agenda, Board members unanimously voted the last day of the 2016-17 school year will be Thursday, May 25, which will include a three-hour session beginning at the usual school start times. As a result, breakfast will be the only meal served at the schools.

Reception For Outgoing Board Members Briggs, Puzauskas On May 20: A reception will be held to honor outgoing Board members Gail Ann Briggs and John Puzauskas on Saturday, May 20 in the cafeteria of Normal Community West High School, from 1p.m.-3p.m.

Bus Purchase Package Approved: Board members unanimously approved spending up to $3.5 million to buy new school buses and transit vans. For their money, Unit 5 will receive 54 buses and six transit vans, all scheduled to arrive at Unit 5 in about 13 weeks.

Board members said they are looking to see a vast improvement in services provided by Cincinnati, Ohio-based First Student Bus Co., their busing provider, when school begins for the fall in August, as opposed to what parents and students experienced at the beginning of this school year. Last August during the opening days of the school year, route confusion, and late or overcrowded buses left parents, and district and First Student administrators wrestling with the situation. The situation led First Student’s location manager, Jim Stonecipher, to resign five days after school started.

Unit 5 mapChiddix Junior High School’s “Good News”: We hear the word “three-peat” and certain sports teams leap to mind almost immediately: Baseball’s Oakland A’s from 1972-74; and basketball’s Chicago Bulls who managed to do it during two separate three year spans, from 1991-1993, and then again from 1996-1998. Locally, a junior high chess team has managed to join those who have accomplished such a lofty achievement.

Chiddix Junior High School Principal Dave Phillips introduced members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board members to the students making up the Chiddix Chess Team, triumphant having won first place in both the 6th grade and 8th grade divisions of the Illinois Elementary School Association State Chess Tournament. The Chiddix Chess Club has placed 8 times in the last three years at State including six total 1st place finishes.

CJHS’ 8th Grade members won 1st Place and in the process of doing so officially achieved a three-peat for the school. That means these students managed to finish in first place as 6th graders, 7th graders, and again as 8th graders.

The 8th grade team members included: Suhas Nelaturi; Denzel Namadurai; Rahul Darbhakul; and Harshith Gorla (Alternate). Among the members winning individual honors, Ryan Alfeo won an individual bronze medal; Lineeth Sarredy won an individual bronze medal; Joseph Suh won an individual bronze medal; and Jason Daniels won an individual gold medal for going undefeated in the tournament.

CJHS’ 7th Grade players placed 5th out of over 40 teams that took part at this year’s event. The members of the 7th grade squad included: Sumanth Kota; Rick Sun; Dhruv Rebba; Josh Gantert; Kyra Rivera; and Shrideep Gaddad (Alternate). Among the members winning individual honors, Arjun Kale won an individual bronze medal; and Tejas Katam won an individual silver medal.

CJHS’ 6th Grade players came away with a 1st Place win, as well, locking in their victory before the last of the seven rounds began. The team led the second place team by six points and only five points may be scored in a round. Four of the top six players in the 6th grade division were Chiddix players. Members of CJHS’ 6th grade team are: Simon Anari; Abhay Hiredesai; and Revanth Poondru. Among the members winning individual honors, Ved Kommalapati won an individual silver medal; Ayush Banerjee won an individual silver medal;

Adithya Sathyamurthy won an individual gold medal winning 6.5/7 and is a co-champion; and Sreeansh Vakiti won an individual gold medal winning 6.5/7 and is co-champion.

Sugar Creek Elementary’s “Good News”: Fifth grade students at Sugar Creek Elementary School recently found out what an oceanographer, a business manager, and an education specialist have in common when the students participated in a teleconference with staffers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Among the NASA staffers who spoke via satellite hook-up with the kids were Robert O. Green and Lyle Tavernier.

The NASA professionals shared with students their experiences working with the Mars Rover known as Curiosity, and answered questions from students for nearly a full hour.

In addition to those “good news” items, the Board recognized a group of students who are learning job skills by working in the district office with the help of job coaches.

Four New Principals Announced: When students return to school for the fall at four Unit 5 elementary schools, they will be introduced to new principals. Tina Fogal has been named principal at Pepper Ridge Elementary School, replacing Sarah Edwards. Fogal, currently principal at Grove Elementary School, has been at the school for five years. Edwards is going to become principal at Grove Elementary School. Fogal has been at her current position for five years. Previous to her Unit 5 experience, Fogal was a principal at two Bloomington District #87 elementary schools for a total of eight years.

Edwards will replace Fogal in Grove Elementary’s front office. She has been an educator for 25 years and has been at Pepper Ridge Elementary since 2009.

Maureen “Moe” Backe has been named principal of Glenn Elementary School, replacing Julia Schoonover. Schoonover is set to become principal at Fox Creek Elementary School. Backe has been an educator for 24 years, her most current assignment has been as principal of Carlock Elementary for the past year.

By Steve Robinson | April 9, 2017 - 10:20 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

Steve RobinsonIf you’ve had a chance to attend a high school baseball game this season, a few rule changes and additions were put into effect that weren’t present last year. Some of the changes take place behind the scenes, between innings. Some of them affect how many innings pitchers can pitch and how long they must go between games.

Beginning this season, Illinois High School Association (IHSA) put into effect for its games rules established by National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS). IHSA pondered the changes last summer, and formally approved them in December for use beginning this season.

NFHS has guidelines which indicate how many days of rest pitchers must have after throwing a certain number of pitches. For instance, if a pitcher throws between 1-30 pitches, NFHS said the pitcher can pitch the next day. With up to every 30 pitches after that, a mandatory rest period is required. For example, a day of rest if up to 60 pitches are thrown. A pitcher needs two days rest if he threw up to 90 pitches in a game.

This scale requires up to four days’ rest if up to 105 pitches were thrown.

Also new this year, at the end of the game, “opposing coaches will get together and verify throwing numbers until they get the same numbers,” explained Sam Knox, assistant executive director for baseball for IHSA. That means coaches will be checking their pitch counts for each team every two innings.

Knox said once the game is over, coaches will then enter pitching numbers into IHSA’s computer system. As a result of that, Knox said, coaches will receive a “five-day forecast,” indicating to players what they would be allowed to do over the next five days in terms of participation.

Before such charting took place, Knox said, it was at a coach’s decision regarding how frequently a player pitched, or how many days’ rest he got.

“Many, many coaches were very good about taking care of a kid’s health,” Knox said. He added that a coach telling his player to rest the right amount of days after hurling 88 pitches was the norm, but “there was no structured system” for the coaches to follow. IHSA adopting NFHS’ rules put a structured system in place, Knox added.

The new rules keep coaches from arbitrarily deciding the number of rest days for a player, Knox explained. Before the rules were put into place, coaches could make their own determination on needed rest days. Now the rest days needed are cut and dried based on the number of pitches thrown.

Knox said by rule, the teams playing a game have one minute to change sides at the end of every half-inning. He said IHSA believes coaches can double-check their pitch counts at the end of every even-numbered inning in the time it takes for the teams to change sides.

Knox said IHSA anticipates “it won’t take longer than a minute” for coaches to double-check pitch counts. “I don’t think fans will notice anything about the pace of the game,” he added.

“Preventing arm injuries is the goal of this policy,” Knox said, adding that kids pitch more because, in addition to being on their high school team, they participate in summer travel leagues, too.

I tried contacting local coaches from large and small schools and got a couple of responses. I did not hear from University High head coach Steve Paxson, however.

“I think it’s good that the National Federation and IHSA had adapted pitch count and rest requirements this year,” Normal Community High School head coach Ryan Short wrote me in an email. “At a big school, we are fortunate to have a lot of players who can pitch and many who spend time in the offseason preparing for the spring and summer baseball seasons. I sympathize with coaches at schools who have to navigate the rules with fewer pitchers.

“I think it will be interesting to see how the required in-game communication transpires between teams about pitch count,” Short added. “We have been planning how we will carefully keep track so there is not a long delay while teams compare pitch counts.” He wrote that part of that preparation may mean an assistant coach may take the reins at counting pitches beginning this season, a job that in the past had been some players’ regular duty during games.

“I don’t feel the new rules will affect Normal West too often because of how we’ve done things,” said Wildcats head coach Chris Hawkins. “But the pitch count check will be a strange dynamic to see with coaches together during the game. The rules are trying to protect kids. That’s a good thing.”

I have yet to get to a baseball game at the high school level this year, and will curious to see how this works under the new IHSA rules. I will be even more curious to see if, after this year, IHSA does any tweaking of the rules based on how things go this season. I am also still curious as to how small school coaches feel they are affected by the new rules or felt they would be affected before the season began. If I get any additional feedback on this subject, I will bring readers an update