Town of NormalNORMAL – Before the regular meeting of the Normal Town Council began Monday in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, the Town’s police department received an honor for attempting to curb distracting driving. NPD was one of 10 departments statewide to receive the honor, and the second one in central Illinois. The Traffic Safety Commission of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police made the presentation to Chief Rick Bleichner and officers who were part of the project. Normal was one of 10 departments awarded the inaugural honor. It was only one of two in central Illinois to receive it, with Pekin Police being the other.

Gov. Bruce Rauner declared April 24-28 “Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week,” according to Scott Kristiansen, law enforcement liaison for Illinois Department of Transportation. Kristiansen said over 300 police agencies spent that week working to inform and educate motorists on the hazards and dangers associated with distracted driving.

NPD members were recognized “for their important efforts during this important campaign. Kristiansen said writing tickets wasn’t the chief goal, but rather using education, public outreach, community involvement, as well as enforcement. He said the public education component of the program on the part of all 300 communities’ police departments that took part carried the most weight with judges.

Bleichner said NPD took a “kind of a balance of a holistic approach between the education outreach to the community and enforcement.” Part of the outreach NPD did involved community groups, using resource officers at the local high schools, as well as assembling distracted driving details with Illinois State University campus police to help make the public aware.

Kristiansen said the problem of distracted driving is going up, with most offenders being members of the millennial generation, ages 18 to 23. As time has gone by now that these devices are so common, he said, it’s no longer just people in that age range who are guilty of distracted driving.

City Manager Peterson To Retire Next March: The Town announced Monday Normal City Manager Mark Peterson will retire in March, concluding a 30-year career. He began his career in Normal as Assistant City Manager, under then City Manager David Anderson in 1988. In 1998, after Anderson retired, Peterson was promoted to the City Manager’s office.

Prior to working in Normal, Peterson held posts in Missouri and Iowa. Normal Town Council members will hold an initial discussion concerning finding Peterson’s successor in a special executive session on Aug. 11.

Council Approves Sewer Rates And Sanitary Master Plan: Council members unanimously approved a plan which will double residents’ sewer usage rates over the next five years. Council members approved the plan by a 5-0 count, as Mayor Chris Koos and Council Member Scott Preston were not present for the session, which lasted nearly two hours.

Currently, residents pay $10.12 for sewer service which with the hike over the five-year period, will increase it to $15.12. Aldrich stressed “the Town will not be increasing water rates.” The sewer cost increases would begin in October and repeat every April, bringing in $1 million this fiscal year and $1.2 million each of the next four years, with the cash going to handle sewer maintenance and to bolster a financial reserve for future maintenance.

The Town’s sewer fee is part baseline fee and part user charge per every 1,000 gallons of water used. The proposed maintenance fee increase would be by 50 cents and the user charge by 75 cents for every 1,000 gallons used.

Council members received a recap of work that has been done to the system in recent years in a presentation by Scott Desplinter, engineer with consultant Crawford, Murphy, and Tilly, and Aldrich.

Aldrich told Council members three pump stations used by the Town are approaching the 20 years of service mark and need replacement. He added the Town has cleaned 19.9 miles of its sewer system and is proposing cleaning another 62.5 miles of the system, while an additional 97 miles would be cleaned by a company the Town contracts to do the job.

But the planned rate increase does have critics. Former Mayoral candidate Marc Tiritilli and former Town Council candidate Ron Ulmer each addressed Council members objecting to the uptick in rates.

“Is there an intermediate point for this?” Tiritilli asked Council members. Following the meeting, he said he “agrees in principle” to the Town’s plan, but added it seemed odd to pay what it will cost in over a five-year span.

Addressing the Council, Ulmer said he had concerns about the cost of sewer service going from $20 to $45 over the next five years.

McCurdy Reappointed To Connect Transit Board: It was announced Mike McCurdy has been reappointed to the Bloomington-Normal Public Transit Board, which oversees the Town’s public bus transportation system, Connect Transit. The reappointment would give McCurdy another four-year term, expiring June 30, 2021. McCurdy was originally appointed to the Board in 2012, filling the seat vacated by Peterson when the City Manager became an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Board through passage of a Town ordinance when the Board was reorganized.

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

• Approval of minutes of the public hearing held July 17, 2017.

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting held July 17, 2017.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Aug. 2, 2017

• A motion authorizing execution of a memorandum of understanding between the Town of Normal and Community Unit School District No. 5 regarding the creation of a joint Town of Normal/Unit Five Liaison Committee.

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

• A resolution authorizing execution of an intergovernmental agreement with Illinois State University for information sharing.

• A resolution to appropriate $118,000 of the Town’s allotment of Motor Fuel Tax funds for communication and traffic signal upgrades on College Avenue and Mulberry St. from Oak St. to Main St.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of a lease agreement with Union Pacific Railroad Co. for the passenger rail platforms at Uptown Station and an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution conditionally and partially approving the final plat of the Summit House Subdivision by expedited process (602 Dry Grove St.).

• An ordinance amending a cell tower lease at 1301 Warriner St. to extend the lease term.

• An ordinance to renew and amend the cable television franchise agreement with Comcast.

By Steve Robinson | July 28, 2017 - 10:09 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

Town of NormalNORMAL – The very first group Carl Teichman ever volunteered for was the local United Way campaign in the mid-1980s at the request of a colleague. From there, his efforts earned him a reputation as someone who could be counted on to aid his community when asked.

At the annual Town of Normal Appreciation Reception on July 27, Teichman, Director of Government and Community Relations at Illinois Wesleyan University who has been there since 1979, was recognized as the Town’s Citizen of the Year. The announcement was made by Mayor Chris Koos when the function was held at the Astroth Community Education Center on the Heartland Community College campus.

From that first time of being asked to volunteer, Teichman said, he has been asked to become involved in other efforts to help benefit the Town. He is the past president of the McLean County Regional Planning Commission, a governing body he has been part of since 2006. He has also served as a member of the Main Street Call For Investment Committee, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, which he has served as Board President since last year.

Born in Chicago, Teichman graduated from high school in Antioch, Ill., but said after attending and graduating from IWU, he liked the Twin Cities so much that he decided to stay.

Teichman also currently serves on the Board that oversees the McLean County Museum of History, telling the gathering, “I certainly would like to see what happens with the Museum, and I’m part of the Board of the Ecology Action Center. Obviously, making the community more sustainable is a good thing.”

Teichman credits his employment at IWU with helping him achieve all that he has done and which allows him to help the community. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the University because they’ve given me the ability to do a lot of things as part of my job.”

Teichman’s wife of 33 years, Laurel Mode Teichman, said she was notified of her husband’s honor a few weeks back. “It was exciting to find out, and I’m very proud of him and for him,” she said.

In his remarks introducing Teichman, Koos said, “He is a humble and modest individual who lives each day asking, ‘What good did I do today?’ He has helped the Town of Normal by creating a vibrant and exciting future.”

After being introduced, Teichman, the father of two children, said, “I certainly thank the Town of Normal, all the people who were part of the decision-making to make me Citizen of the Year.”

“While I do my part, I know all of you in this room do your part,” Teichman said to the 250 invited guests attending. That number included some past Citizen of the Year recipients. “I think that’s one reason Normal is such a great community to live in.”

This function marked the 60th year the Citizen of the Year award has been given by the Town. Past recipients have included: Clarence Ropp (1960); Howard J. Hancock (1976); Hall Riss, Jr. (1982); Stanley R. Ommen (1994); Edward Jelks (2004); and Myra Gordon (2012). The honor has gone to a married couple five times during its history, the last couple to receive the honor being Dan and Kathy Steadman in 2014.

Unit 5NORMAL – In years past, members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board and Normal Town Council members have tried to form a committee which would examine an issue or concern both groups had a need to address for the good of the community.

During those years, such agreements to begin those committees never quite took hold. But following a joint session of the two governmental bodies July 26 in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, Council and Unit 5 Board members have agreed to try again.

Normal Mayor Chris Koos directed City Manager Mark Peterson to draw up a Memorandum of Understanding between the Town and the district. Peterson would negotiate the agreement with Dr. Mark Daniel, Unit 5’s District Superintendent. Peterson and Daniel sat side by side at the speakers’ table across from a nearly-full dais of both Council and Board members who sat at the Council table.

All seven Unit 5 Board members joined five of the seven Normal Town Council members for the session that lasted nearly an hour. Normal Town Council Member Chemberly Cummings was away on business and Council Member Kevin McCarthy was on vacation.

“I think we can pull this committee together and get started pretty quickly,” Koos told Peterson and Daniel. He added the two governmental entities are and have been looking for items where they can collaborate together.

“I’m so appreciative that we are here talking about how to expand our collaborative efforts,” Daniel told the gathering.

Town of Normal“We need to keep the lines of communication open,” Koos responded, explaining that, in the past, such attempts at collaboration had faded. “We don’t want that to happen again.”

Council Member Kathleen Lorenz, a former member of the Normal Planning Commission, said when NPC dealt with a particular issue, she often found herself asking if the school district was aware of the matter being discussed.

Peterson said such collaboration would have been helpful last December when both groups were deciding whether to assist electric car manufacturer Rivian Automotive as it sought to purchase the former Mitsubishi Motors North America plant on the Town’s west end.

Separately, Council and School Board members are expected to approve establishing a permanent committee which would have members from each group. It is anticipated that group will meet quarterly, and that their first meeting could come as early as sometime in August. Each group will choose two members to be part of the committee, with Peterson and Daniel attending. However, Peterson and Daniel would not be voting members.

Unit 5-State Budget Update Presented: Unit 5 Business Manager Marty Hickman presented the gathering with a recap of the district’s financial standing as it waits for money from the State budget to arrive, provided State Senate Bill 1 is either signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner or vetoed by Rauner followed by the veto being overturned by legislators.

If funds do not arrive in a timely manner, Unit 5 schools could close after 60 attendance days, said Hickman. That would put the closing sometime in November. Classes start Aug. 16, but the district’s problems will be compounded should the funding impasse go on past Aug. 3, added Hickman.

By Steve Robinson | July 17, 2017 - 10:37 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

Town of NormalNORMAL – Normal Council members unanimously approved changes that would affect Town employees group insurance costs, and also gave permission for a change in the Town’s wellness provider.

Deputy City Manager Pamela Reece led Council members through the Town’s decision, first guiding Council members through the Town’s considering changes to its group insurance plan.

The Town’s budget had proposed an 8 percent increase in what its employees and retirees would pay for group insurance. But Reece showed Council members that actually, there would be a 9 percent jump in what they paid in premiums.

The Town switched group insurance providers for retirees who would be receiving Medicaid. Using The Horton Group, the Town’s insurance broker, the Town switched so that coverage would be provided by Benistar. For retirees, Reece explained, there would be a network of 66,000 pharmacies at places like Kroger, Jewel, and other groceries that would honor that program.

Under the updated plan, $50 deductibles, which had been a staple of Town health insurance plans for years, are being phased out. Retirees eligible Medicare and their Medicare-eligible spouses will be moved from the Town insurance plan to the Benistar insurance plan once they reach age 65.

Reece told Council members Benistar has improved better coverage in terms of cost. Considering the research the Town did before selecting Benistar, Mike Wojcik, who represented The Horton Group before Council members, told Reece in front of the seven-member panel, “You’ve done a lot of heavy lifting to improve your plan.”

The average annual increase in the Town’s healthcare plan has been 4.2 percent, City Manager Mark Peterson told Council members. At the same time, he said, Normal has “safeguarded coverage for employees.”

Wellness Plan Provider Changed: Council members voted 6-0 changing providers for wellness services, opting to accept service from Schaumburg-based Interactive Health.

The largest difference between Interactive Health and the Town’s previous provider for the service, Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, was employees’ and retirees’ ability to get biometric screenings twice-yearly under the new provider. Such screenings were only allowed annually under Advocate BroMenn. The Town had partnered with Advocate BroMenn for 11 years prior to signing the new agreement.

The vote on the health insurance matter was unanimous, however, Council Member Kevin McCarthy recused himself from voting to avoid a potential conflict of interest concerning business dealings.

Following the meeting, Peterson said the Town has a $6.5 million investment in health and dental plans for its employees and retirees. He said the Town has 420 employees to insure, a number that balloons to 560 people when adding spouses and children, and retirees. The Town has 135 retirees in the group insurance program. Of those, 75 are age 65 or older, making them Medicare-eligible. Once spouses and dependents are added to those numbers, the number participating jumps to 169 people, 91 of whom are Medicare eligible.

Hyatt Place Withdraws Rebate Request: An omnibus item which Council members would have voted on as a group was pulled by its requestor prior to the meeting. Uptown Circle, LLC owners of Hyatt Place Hotel in Uptown, had asked for its request from the Council for a partial rebate of hotel/motel tax money.

Uptown Circle, LLC is refinancing the hotel, and as a condition of the loan, the prospective lender imposed the Town’s assistance through a rebate totaling $88,000. In the past year, a Town Staff report to Council members explained, the 113-room six-story hotel has generated $176,000 in hotel/motel tax dollars. The rebate requested would have amounted to roughly $88,000.

Public Hearing Held: Prior to the start of the meeting, a public hearing was held regarding vacating a portion of Village Court right-of-way. At their July 5 meeting, Council members approved the first part of the final development for the J & M Planned Unit Development. In addition at that meeting, the Council also approved the final plat for this project. As a result, State law requires a public hearing concerning vacating of a right-of-way. No one spoke to this matter at the public hearing.

Liquor Commission Hears Of Violations, Fines: Council members, meeting in their capacity as Normal Local Liquor Commission, were informed of the settling of complaints brought against two establishments.

During a liquor audit conducted March 2, two establishments furnished liquor to persons under 21. As a result, the establishments were fined. The two establishments are: Normal Catering Company, Inc., doing business as Bloomington-Normal Marriott, 201 Broadway; and Destihl, LLC, doing business as Destihl Restaurant & Brew Works, 318 S. Towanda Ave. In each case, the establishments were fined $250. Also in both cases, the violation was the businesses’ third offense in the past three years.

Commissioners unanimously approved minutes from two prior meetings held this year – a regular meeting held March 20, and a special meeting held May 15.

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

• Approval of minutes of the Regular Council meeting held July 6, 2017.

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

• A motion rejecting bids for the Uptown Normal water feature cistern rehabilitation project and authorizing Town Staff to investigate alternative methods for rehabilitation.

• A resolution to award the bid approve a contract for Well #20 Division A to Aurora, Ill.-based Layne Christensen, Inc., and Division B to Bloomington-based Mid-Illinois Mechanical, Inc.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the purchase of furniture from Bloomington-based Widmer Interiors through the U. S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance in the amount of $420,853.49. The purchases are for the new Main Street fire station and offices at One Uptown Circle which will house the Town’s Inspections, Planning, Engineering, and Facilities Management departments.

• A resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute a software licensing agreement with Lakeville, Minn.-based ImageTrend, Inc. for fire/EMS products and services and approving a budget adjustment in the amount of $12,333.33 for the purchase.

• A resolution approving executive session minutes from meetings held June 19 and July 5, both 2017, and considering the public release of those minutes.

• A resolution authorizing the filing of the Town’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) 2017-2018 annual action plan.

• A resolution authorizing an amendment to the redevelopment agreement between the Town and Uptown Circle Development Inc. pertaining to the Hyatt Place Hotel regarding a partial hotel/motel tax rebate.

• An ordinance accepting creek land dedication from McLean County Land Trust Number 1547, now known as Trust Number 1321547.

• An ordinance vacating a portion of the Village Court right-of-way in accordance with the approved J & M PUD final development plan.

• An ordinance amending the FY 2016-17 operations and capital investment budget.

Town of NormalNORMAL – Normal Council members unanimously approved a resolution allowing for the purchase of an electric utility vehicle from Anaheim, Calif.-based Taylor-Dunn Manufacturing which will be used by Amtrak during its operation of the new south passenger platform at Uptown Station. The Town will spend $26,221.99 for the vehicle, and the purchase required a budget adjustment.

The vehicle has three rows of seating, a metal roof, and a luggage rack. The total cost of the vehicle includes shipping which would be $2,000.

But before the vote took place, Council members had questions concerning the need for the vehicle. Council Member R. C. McBride asked City Manager Mark Peterson if there was an urgency in play that the vehicle needed to be purchased now. Peterson said the vehicle will get use beginning “sometime this fall” because the new south boarding platform would be operational by then. Peterson said the vehicle would get year-round use, as well.

Peterson said the vehicle would use the Linden St. crossing to go between the north and the south platforms. That location also affords the vehicle ample space for turning around, he said. Peterson explained Amtrak did not have the funds to purchase the vehicle.

Former Parks & Rec Director Ron Blemler Remembered: Before the session began, Mayor Chris Koos paused to ask that there be a moment of silence to remember Ron Blemler, the former Director of the Parks and Recreation Department for 33 years, until his retirement in 2002. Blemler passed away July 4. Koos said Blemler “left a legacy that will endure for many, many years into the future.

Koos added, “On behalf of the Council, staff, and the community, I would like to extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to his wife of 54 years, Sandy, and to his children and grandchildren who Ron truly adored.”

Prior to the meeting ending, Council Member Jeff Fritzen pointed out that WJBC Radio offered a tribute to Blemler prior to their participation in airing patriotic music that accompanied local fireworks displays. Fritzen recalled how, when the Town only had a two-field facility, Blemler was able to arrange and successfully run a softball tournament.

Friends Forever Group Attends Meeting: Koos took the opportunity to welcome 10 teen visitors – five Israeli and five Arab – to the meeting who are participating in the Friends Forever Program. :Participants in the program, ages 15 and 16, will be involved in a variety of intercultural exchange and team building activities while visiting our area over a two-week period while they are in the Twin Cities. Both the Town of Normal and the City of Bloomington will serve as sponsors of this exchange program along and various civic groups throughout the community. Normal has been associated with Friends Forever since 2013.

Development For Cottage Ave. & Village Ct. Approved: Council members unanimously approved a final development plan related to the first phase of a planned unit development, which would add 74 living units, to J & M Developers. Council also unanimously approved a resolution conditionally approving the final plat for this project, as well.

Work To Begin Cell Tower Move Approved: Council members also unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing the City Manager to negotiate and arrange an agreement with Global Signal Acquisitions IV for the relocation of a cell tower currently located near Normal Fire Station #2.

New Town Clerk Works Her First Council Meeting: Koos also took an opportunity as the meeting closed to welcome new Town Clerk, Angie Huonker, to her first Normal Town Council meeting.

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

• Approval of minutes of the Regular Council meeting held June 19, 2017.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of June 28, 2017

• A resolution authorizing the execution of a contract with McLean County Asphalt Co. in the amount of 472,675 for the various asphalt resurfacing 2017 project.

• A resolution authorizing a four-year well rehabilitation and repair services agreement with Aurora, Ill.-based Layne Christensen Co.

• A resolution authorizing the extension of a license agreement with OhmFit Activewear, LLC for the retail space at 102 W. North St. in Uptown Normal.

• A resolution approving an intergovernmental agreement for legal representation by the law firm of Ancel Glink concerning fire apparatus warranties.

• A resolution conditionally approving the College Ave. subdivision by expedited process (East College Ave.).

• An ordinance accepting water main and storm sewer easements from Bloomington Normal Water Reclamation District (BNWRD).

• An ordinance accepting a water main and storm sewer easement from Advocate Health and Hospitals Corporation, doing business as Advocate BroMenn Medical Center.