By Steve Robinson | August 20, 2018 - 10:52 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members only had a couple omnibus items to attend to at the governing body’s regularly scheduled meeting in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station Monday night and Town employees benefited from one of the items on the agenda because it was a resolution to authorize the renewal of group health, dental, and life/accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) program

But the Town received a positive surprise when the bill came due for that insurance, according to City Manager Pam Reece. She explained the Town had budgeted for an 8 percent raise in the cost of the group insurance only to discover that the increase they were presented was just 2 percent above the Town’s previous payment.

As a result, the Town was able to put $55,000 back into the Town’s general fund, Reece said. “Looking at our medical insurance programs, we thought our premiums, likely, would go up 8 percent,” Reece said following the meeting. Accordingly, Reece said, the Town planned for just that much of an increase when the bill came due.

General fund dollars are spent on items relating to the Town’s operations and maintenance needs, Reece reminded.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the regular Council meeting of Aug. 6, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Aug. 14, 2018.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the City Manager to enter into a solutions agreement with Superion, LLC to provide a hosted solution for general governmental software.

By Steve Robinson | August 6, 2018 - 10:56 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – In just over the last year, two Normal Fire Department hook and ladder trucks have sustained damage which pushed the Town into opting to replace the pair now rather than to do at a later scheduled fiscal year. At their regularly scheduled meeting Monday night, Normal Town Council members unanimously approved the expenditure.

Council members unanimously approved a resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorized purchase of two replacement fire engine trucks from Spartan ERV through Houston-Galveston Area Council in the amount of $1,141,170, and approved a necessary budget adjustment. There was no Council discussion prior to the vote.

The Town needs to replace two fire engines, Engine 11 and Engine 15. Engine 11 first went into service in 2000, according to a memo written by Assistant Fire Chief Doug Barnett to Fire Chief Mick Humer, City Manager Pam Reece, and Interim Assistant City Manager Teri Legner. His memo indicated Engine 11 was to be replaced by Fiscal Year 2021-22.

But due to structural damage, NFD was forced to pull Engine 11 from service in May. But when Engine 15 was declared a total loss after catching fire following structural repairs, Engine 11 found itself back to work. Engine 15 was scheduled to be replaced in fiscal year 2025-26.

The report indicates the Town’s purchasing the two new engines now will save the Town money allowing to take advantage of price discounts and allow the Town to dodge a 3 percent jump in manufacturing costs slated to take effect in October. The Town’s total saving by purchasing in this way will be 6.3 percent, the report said. The new engines should arrive here next June. Such engines take roughly 300 days to make and deliver.

Trio Appointed To Children’s Discovery Museum Board: Council members unanimously approved three new members to the Children’s Discovery Museum Board: Paul Scharnett, Carla Barnes, and Terry Ogunleye. Scharnett is an architect with Bloomington-based Francois Associates Architects, and currently sits on both the Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission and Normal Building Board of Appeals. He also acts as director of College and Careers at Victory Christian Church. He resides in Hudson.

Barnes works in the McLean County Public Defender’s Office and has been a volunteer at Boys and Girls Club, and has been a supporter of Western Ave. Community Center. She volunteers to speak at local high schools, Youth Build, Illinois State University, and Heartland Community College. She lives in Bloomington.

Ogunleye works at Advanced Women’s Healthcare and serves on Advocate BroMenn Medical Center’s Service Auxiliary Board. She also volunteers at Kingsley Junior High School, University High School, and First Baptist Church. She and husband Dr. Dele Ogunleye live in Bloomington. Scharnett, Barnes, and Ogunleye will serve three-year terms which will expire June 30, 2021.

Special Olympics Illinois Honors, Thanks Town: Prior to the start of the meeting, Mayor Chris Koos was among those honored by Special Olympics Illinois with the presentation of medals and ribbons encased in a frame. Each of the medals and ribbons are given to participants at State Special Olympics Illinois events. In each of three cases were first, second, and third place gold medals on red, white, and blue lanyards. Also in each case were ribbons athletes receive for fourth through eighth place finishers and a participant ribbon. The other two framed cases went to Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner and Humer.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the special meeting of Normal Local Liquor Commission of July 16, 2018.

• Approval of the minutes of the regular Council meeting of July 16, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of July 11, 2018.

• A resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute Amendment 1 to the Vending Services Contract with Compass Group USA, Inc. through Canteen Vending to provide vending services to various Town facilities.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the purchase of refuse containers from Charlotte, N.C.-based Schaefer Systems International, Inc. in the amount of $25,503.10 and approval of an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution authorizing an intergovernmental agreement for cost-sharing of labor and equipment costs for electronic waste recycling with the City of Bloomington and County of McLean.

• A resolution approving a salary schedule adjustment for classified employees to reflect a cost of living adjustment and an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution authorizing execution of an intergovernmental agreement with Illinois State University pertaining to fire protection service.

By Steve Robinson | July 19, 2018 - 10:03 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Almost three years ago, in the summer of 2015, when an increase in the amount of Home Rule Tax dollars coming to Normal the next year was brought up, Normal Town Council members sought suggestions for how the cash ought to be spent. With soccer being the latest sports rage in the community, there was a push for a multi-field facility to be constructed with a share of those dollars. Doing that, soccer proponents said, would be a draw into the community.

Kicking around the notion of such a facility turned into Normal Town Council, Bloomington City Council, and the Bloomington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau pooling resources to spend $47,000 on a three-month study conducted by Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA), to see what the company which acts as a research group, recommended for this community.

A Clearwater, Fla.-based company, SFA researches and manages similar projects, and whose presentation was given to the group by Evan Eleff, that company’s chief operating officer. SFA had representatives visiting the Twin Cities in April. “In the end, we want to answer the question of why – why a facility in this community,” Eleff told the gathering, which took place prior to the scheduled Normal Town Council session.

SFA, during the presentation which was unveiled at the Astroth Community Education Center on Heartland Community College ’s campus in northwest Normal , indicated a facility which would need to be multifaceted catering to more than one sport, and would come with a total price tag of just over $43.5 million. The bulk of that amount, he said, would be for the fields and sports equipment, carrying a price tag of an estimated $14.4 million. He added the county, too, would see some benefit from such a facility.

Such a facility, if being considered, Eleff said, “must have an economic impact. It must become a regional destination, and must add to an area’s quality of life.”

SFA looked at all sites for all different sports, Eleff said. He stressed if a facility is to be built, “It must not support a single sport.” To that end, he explained, SFA looked at 675 regional events of varying sports at what he called 250 “tourney capable” facilities which would compete with the Twin Cities to hold events. He said a number of those facilities could be within anywhere between an hour to four hours from where those who want to participate live.

He said to create a facility that has a dome is something to consider because, as he explained, a dome “is flexible and costs less operationally.” He said if a dome is not preferred, an outdoor structure which incorporates synthetic turf would be preferred. But he said, if the facility were to have 16 fields, a mix of synthetic and natural grass ought to be considered. The property sought for such as facility, he added, should be 130,000 sq. ft.

An additional benefit Eleff threw in was that even after the kids who use this potential facility grow older, they would be healthier and years later would have the potential for earning more at a future job.

No site for this proposed facility has been mentioned. And just after the 75-minute meeting started, public comment by resident Karl Sila led off the session. He said he would like to see officials concentrate on other matters other than this. He cited any facility could wind up being another one which gets taxpayer funding – something he said he doesn’t want to see – and referenced Downtown Bloomington’s Grossinger Arena as an example of such a location getting such funding.

But according to a local radio report, there is talk that a second unnamed developer has interest in financing such a facility as was discussed at the meeting. Up until that point, developer Katie Kim and landowner Dave Stark had been talking to stakeholders for more than a year concerning such a project.

By Steve Robinson | July 16, 2018 - 10:19 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – It took a quorum of four Normal Town Council members to vote unanimously to split the proposed area which would be a restaurant at the Uptown Circle development into space for two restaurants, or at least one restaurant and another type of establishment. Council members voted unanimously to pass an ordinance amending the development agreement concerning the ground floor of the building during the governing body’s regular session Monday night on the fourth floor of Uptown Station.

The developer, Uptown Circle Development, Inc., requested the amendment, according to a report to Council members prepared by City Manager Pam Reece.

Council Members Kevin McCarthy, Chemberly Cummings, and Jeff Fritzen were not present for the meeting.

In recent weeks, as Reece explained in her memo, Uptown Circle Development had altered its strategy for attracting a ground floor eatery for the building, deciding upon putting in two restaurants. As a result, the 6,700 sq. ft. which would have been meant all for one tenant will now be arranged for two separate eateries, one of which will have 3,700 sq. ft. and the other 3,000 sq. ft.

The developer had hoped to find a restaurant for the larger space and a non-restaurant tenant for the smaller unit, Reece’s report explained, if no second restaurant owner shows interest. Under the developer’s agreement with the Town, if the developer is unable to secure a dining establishment for the larger space, the developer must get prior permission from the Town before signing any agreement with a business that wants to occupy the space.

Friends Forever Students Visit Meeting: Five students each from Israel and Arab states visited Normal for the sixth year and as part of their visit which lasts a couple weeks in Town, one of the places they visited was Monday’s meeting. And as has taken place in the past when these students have been here, one student from each side addressed Council members. Yogev Elnaton and Rania Hieb, both 16-years-old, each addressed Council members. Elnaton said as part of the group’s work, “We think about all the bad things that have been done and how to fix it,” she said about one of the goals to help produce unity. Hieb said it was hoped that even with their different backgrounds, it “is hoped we will always find we will have something in common.”

Liquor Commission Approves Meeting Minutes: Prior to the start of the Council session, Council members, meeting as the Normal Local Liquor Commission, met in a regularly scheduled session and unanimously voted to approve meeting minutes of two prior meetings – a regularly scheduled meeting on March 19 and a special meeting held April 16.

Joint Councils Meet To Discuss Soccer Complex Study: Prior to the Council session, both Normal Town Council, Bloomington City Council members, were joined by members of the Bloomington-Normal Area Sports Commission to hear the results of a three-month study conducted by Clearwater, Fla.-based Sports Facilities Advisory concerning whether a multi-million dollar facility which would include soccer fields would be something the Twin Cities should pursue. The joint meeting was held at the Astroth Community Education Center on Heartland Community College’s campus.

Last Meeting For Communications Director Irvin: Monday’s meeting was the last one for Dan Irvin, Town Communications Director, who is retiring. Irvin has been in the position for three years. Among his duties was to respond to inquiries from media.

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

•Approval of the minutes of the regular Council meeting of July 2, 2018.

•Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of July 11, 2018.

•A resolution to award the bid for a service truck with utility body for the Water Department to Bloomington-based Leman Chevy City at a net cost of $30,396 including trade-in.

•A resolution approving waivers from the Uptown Design Review Code, Chapter 15, Division 17, for 202 W. College Ave. (Ecology Action Center sign).

•A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the purchase of a Bobcat S650 Skid-Steer Loader from Bobcat of Bloomington via the Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing Program, Contract #042815-CEC.

•A resolution authorizing a contract with Watseka, Ill.-based Freehill Asphalt Co. for the 2018 concrete pavement crack and joint sealing in the amount of $29,135.34.

•A resolution authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Bloomington, the County of McLean, and the McLean County Soil and Water Conservation District for the administration and implementation of watershed management programs.

•A resolution to appropriate $926,654 of Motor Fuel Tax funds for the bituminous resurfacing of various streets for the 2018 Motor Fuel Tax street resurfacing project.

•A resolution to appropriate $1.38 million of Motor Fuel Tax funds for the 2018-19 Glenn Ave. bridge reconstruction project.

•A resolution authorizing a contract with Insituform Technologies, Inc. for the 2018 sanitary sewer lining contract in the amount of $310,717.70.

•A resolution considering the release of executive session minutes from June 19, July 5, July 17, Aug. 11, Aug. 21, and Oct. 2, all 2017; and Jan. 2, 2018.

•An ordinance approving a parking license agreement between Normal Public Library, Rutherford Suites, LLC, and the Town of Normal.

•An ordinance amending the FY 2017-18 operating and capital investment budget.

•An ordinance adding Division 9 to Chapter 8 of the Town Municipal Code concerning the regulation of small wireless facilities.

By Steve Robinson | July 12, 2018 - 10:41 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – At what will be the only meeting scheduled this month for members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board, two new Board members were sworn in to replace two who had resigned in the last couple months, and a third who will leave the Board at the end of this month said his public goodbye.

Amy Roser and Alan J. Kalitzky were sworn in at the start of the 45-minute session to fill vacancies created by the resignations of Jim Hayek Jr. and David W. Fortner, respectfully. They were both appointed to fill the seats and will need to run for election to full terms in next spring’s primary elections in April. Fortner’s unexpired term ends in April 2021, and Hayek’s term remaining will be for four years.

Both Hayek and Fortner have both experienced job transfers – Hayek to Arizona, Fortner to Chicago – which prompted their need to step down. Hayek’s resignation became effective at the end of May after announcing his intentions three months earlier, while Fortner’s became effective June 22.

Roser is employed at Illinois State University as an Associate Director for University College. University College supports students as they adjust to university life, providing programs and services to make a successful transition. She and her husband, Randy, have two daughters who will be going into 3rd and 5th grade this fall, respectfully.

Kalitzky is employed by State Farm Insurance as a Relationship Manager in the company’s Technology Vendor Management Office. He and his wife, Alexis, have four children – three girls and a boy — who are in schools in the district.

A press release from the district indicated a total of six applications for the two positions were received. Board members received six applications for the position. Both appointees have been involved with Unit 5’s Citizens Advisory Council (CAC), which serves as a liaison between the district and its community. Kalitzky, held the title of CAC president when he applied for the Board post He resigned from CAC as a result of his appointment to the Board.

Cleary Departs: Cleary made a public announcement concerning his intention to step down at the Board’s June 13 session. His resignation becomes effective July 31. Under State law, Unit 5 will have 45 days from that date to appoint a successor. That person, after taking office, like Roser and Kalitzky, will have to formally run for the seat in the primary elections next spring.

“It’s been a pleasure,” Cleary said, adding he hoped Roser and Kalitzky would improve it while they serve so that they leave the district “in better shape” when their time to exit the Board comes. “We’ve made a lot of progress in the last couple years, and we had financial challenges though we’re financially stable.” Board President Jim Hitchins presented Cleary with a gift from Board members of a small glass vase. Each of the remaining Board members thanked Cleary for his service and wished him well in his new position. Cleary was appointed to a Board seat in late April 2016, replacing Denise Schuster, a State Farm employee, who moved to Texas as a result of a job transfer for her husband. He was elected to the seat outright in spring elections in 2017.

New Sugar Creek Elementary Principal Introduced: Kristina Peifer was introduced by Deputy Superintendent Ray Epperson to Board members as the new principal at Sugar Creek Elementary School, effective July 31. She last worked in Morton School District 709, starting as a special education teacher and worked her way up to a principal’s position in that district. She earned an undergraduate degree at Illinois State University and her master’s degree at Olivet Nazarene University. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity and honored to be part of this community and looking forward to bring my experiences to working with staff and students in the community,” Peifer told Board members.

New Clerk For The Board: Kim Stewart began her new job as administrative assistant to district superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel. Her duties will also include serving as clerk to the Board. She replaces LaNell Greenberg who took a job as assistant to Normal Community High School Associate Principal Nikki Maurer.

Two-Year Contracts Approved With Custodians, Support Personnel: Board members approved two-year contracts for custodians and maintenance personnel represented by Laborers Local 362, and with members of Unit Five Support Professionals Association which represents district office staff and paraprofessionals.

Construction For Hoose BEST Program Gets Approval: Prior to their May 11 meeting, Board members were given a tour of rooms which house the Behavioral Emotion Support Team, or BEST, at Colene Hoose Elementary School on Vernon Ave. in Normal. BEST provides intensive behavioral and emotional support for students who have such difficulties. During that tour, Hoose Principal Dr. Adam Zbrozek explained Hoose has become Unit 5’s hub for dealing with students who deal with this issue.

The program began over 30 years ago and needs the space it occupies to be reconfigured to better serve students. That would include construction of a 5.200 sq. ft. addition to the building at its east side which would be used primarily by the BEST Program. During the Board meeting this month, Board members gave unanimous approval to awarding a bid of $959,000 for the project to Peoria-based Bishop Brothers, Inc. In addition, the contract calls for Florida-based Marathon Engineering Corp. to serve as a subcontractor under Bishop Brothers for installation of padded walls at a cost of $49,180. That would bring the total bid presented by Bishop Brothers, Inc. for the project to $1,009,180. Bishop Brothers, Inc.’s bid was lowest among six firms who placed bids for the project.

But the project’s funding will also be paid for in part by school land dedication fees collected from developers. The additional space will have a common area and four classrooms. The current space will be redesigned into a large calming room. There will also be a conference area and a sensory room. An additional bus lane closest to the entrance to the room will be constructed.

Construction on the project will start immediately and is expected to be completed by around Thanksgiving.