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.

NORMAL – Prior to the regularly-scheduled Normal Town Council session Monday night, Council members, meeting in their capacity as Normal Local Liquor Commission, unanimously approved licenses for two establishments who, under previous owners, found themselves facing penalties imposed by Commissioners.

A Class C (Beer and Wine) liquor license for two Marie’s Place locations. One, located at 115 Susan Dr., Suite H, where a license was issued for 35 YEARS, LLC PATRIOT CENTER, doing business as Marie’s Place. Liquor Commissioners also approved a Class C license for 35 YEARS, LLC LANDMARK, doing business as Marie’s Place, 1520 E. College Ave. The licenses were necessary because both establishments are now under new ownership.

Because both establishments have the same owner, approval of the licenses was done with a single vote by Commissioners. Commissioners also approved for each establishment to possess a video gaming license. Each establishment has video terminals. In January, Commissioners were informed by Liquor Commissioner Chris Koos the prior owners of the establishments have paid all fees and all settlement costs to the Town, and new owners of the businesses were seeking liquor licenses for the establishments. He also said the prior owners “no longer have any interest in this business.”

Besides those two “Marie’s” locations, Commissioners approved issuance of video gaming licenses to a dozen other establishments.

In addition, Commissioners approved liquor licenses for 73 establishments ranging from hotels to liquor stores to restaurants and bars; Four establishments which carry Class F Catering licenses; 11 businesses which carry Class H Outdoor Gardens and Sidewalk Cafes; 11 businesses which carry Class I Annual Tasting; and 1 Class L Pari-mutuel Betting Parlor. In addition to businesses fitting in those classes, and a total of 12 businesses were issued Business Permits.

Koos reminded that businesses “which actually serve or pour liquor in their establishments this year have had their license fees waived as a result of the impact of COVID on them.” He added that applied to businesses which “upheld the Governor’s guidelines” for businesses since the pandemic began a year ago.

Commission members also approved minutes of a special meeting held Feb. 1.

Reappointments To Three Town Commissions Announced: Four people were recommended by Koos for reappointment to three Town commissions. David Burnison and Dennis French both were reappointed to the Uptown Design Review Commission. Nancy Armstrong was reappointed to the Town’s Historic Preservation Commission. R. C. McBride was reappointed to Normal Planning Commission. Each person’s term on their respective Commission was due to expire at the end of this month but will now expire March 31, 2024.

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

• Approval of minutes of the public hearing held March 1, 2021.

• Approval of minutes of the regular Council meeting held March 1, 2021.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of March 10, 2021.

• An ordinance authorizing publication of a zoning map.

• A resolution to accept bids and award a contract to Bloomington-based George Gildner Inc. for the 2021 sump pump discharge and storm sewer improvement project in the amount of $356,662.

• A resolution authorizing execution of an agreement with Mr. Craig Onsrud for the operation of Ironwood Golf Course Pro Shop and private golf lessons.

By Steve Robinson | March 2, 2021 - 10:37 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members unanimously approved a plan for replacing lead water-service lines throughout the town during their regularly-scheduled meeting, held remotely Monday, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Town’s budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22 has roughly $50,000 earmarked for the project with $350,000 available to continue the job in FY 2022-23.

Normal has more than 170,000 water lines, and less than 75 of them are lead pipes, according to a report prepared for Council members by Town Water Director John Burkhart. Water main replacements will be paid for by the Town will pay for replacements from the water main to the property shut-off valve, but homeowners will be responsible for paying for the stretch to their houses.

Roughly 65 homeowners will be affected by the line replacement, with each homeowner needing to spend between $3,000 and $7,000 on those replacements. To help homeowners affected by this, Normal is creating a 0 percent interest loan program to help finance the updates.

Operating And Capital Investment Budget Approved: Council members unanimously approved an ordinance adopting the Operating and Capital Investment Budget for the Town for Fiscal Year 2021-22. According to figures provided by Town Finance Director Andrew Huhn, the Town anticipates starting the new fiscal year with $ 129,643,410. It anticipates its incoming revenue and transfers to be around $136,735,277, leaving the Town with a deficit around $1.4 million.

But in his report, Huhn explained the $1.4 million deficit for FY ’21-’22 relates to not spending as much of money carried over from prior year’s capital funds. He adds it’s not the result of an operating deficit.

No members of the public spoke at a public hearing concerning the proposed budget which took place prior to the Council session starting.

Contract Extension With Auditing Firm Approved: By a 6-1 count, Council members voted to approve a two-year extension for auditing services with Lauterbach & Amen, LLP which allows the firm to conduct audits for the Town through fiscal year 2022-23. The total cost of the firm’s services to the Town would come at a cost of $48,460 for the first extended year, increasing to $$49,670 by the end of the second year.

Council Member Stan Nord, citing an article in an Illinois Municipal League magazine, said the article recommended “changing auditors regularly so a fresh set of eyes looks at the books.” “If that’s the best practice, it seems like we should have another auditor look,” Nord said. Nord then made a motion to table approving the extension and set about preparing a Request For Proposal for other audit firms who might be interested in the job to submit them. His motion failed when no other Council member seconded it.

Council members originally approved entering into a contract with the Naperville-based firm in 2016.

Bid, Contract For Maxwell Park Ball Fields Upgrade Approved: By a 6-1 count, with Nord opposing, Council members approved a resolution accepting a bid and approved a contract with Northern Illinois Fence Co. in the amount of $245,066 for the Maxwell Park Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant project fencing. The Town availed itself of an advantage to apply for an Illinois state grant program in 2019 through Illinois Department of Natural Resources to provide a $400,000 match towards the project. With the Town matching that amount, $800,000 is available for the project. The project will replace baseball/softball fields first built in Maxwell Park in 1978 and provides other improved recreational amenities.

Explaining he had walked in the ballpark section of Maxwell Park, Nord informed Council members “the fences don’t appear to need to be replaced, this is more for cosmetic reasons.” He said the cost of the project also concerned him because of COVID-19’s effect on Town budget and steel costs.

In addition to the fencing concerns, Parks and Recreation Director Doug Damery explained the location of the dugouts need moving for a more modern look, as well as removal of the backstops.

Use Of Federal Funds Approved For Work On Rivian Motorway: Also by a 6-1 count with Nord voting against, Council members approved a resolution authorizing execution of a local public agency agreement with Federal participation with Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to use $1,080,000 in Federal Urban Surface Transportation (STU) program funds for Phase I and II design services for W. College Ave. from Rivian Motorway to White Oak Rd.

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

• Approval of minutes of the regular meeting held Feb. 15, 2021.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Feb. 24, 2021.

• A resolution approving an amendment to the Community Development Block Grant Program’s 2020-2024 Consolidated Plan & 2020-21 Action Plan.

• A resolution to accept bids and award a contract to J. G. Stewart Contractors, Inc. for 2021 miscellaeneous sidewalk improvements – 50/50 sidewalk and ADA ramps project in the amount of $523,338.90.

• A resolution to award a bid for water main and service line materials to Bloomington-based Water Products, Co.

NORMAL – An update on the Mental Health Initiative McLean County officials spearheaded in 2015 joined by the Town and City of Bloomington was the focus of an update Normal Town Council members received to begin their regularly-scheduled meeting March 1, held remotely via Zoom.

County Board Chairman John McIntyre and County Administrator Camille Rodriguez presented the update to Council members regarding the Board’s continuing efforts to aid those with challenges who seek help. McIntyre said issues including overcrowding in the jail was among the issues then-County Sheriff Mike Emery reported and needed aid with.

McIntyre said the county sought a visit by a review committee from National Institute of Corrections to see what could be done to solve problems. Mental health needs became a key focus of the committee, as well as finding needs sought in the community as result of those visits, he said. A committee was formed which wrote a “Mental Health Action Plan” for the county in 2015.

Since then, McIntyre told Council members, the county has worked with PATH crisis center and first responders to help train first responders to recognize people experiencing certain levels of distress. The training was paid for with a Crisis Intervention Training Grant from Utah-based Crisis Intervention Training Institute. The training, McIntyre said, would help law enforcement in the event they came upon someone displaying signs of mental illness and how to respond.

“I think that training has paid off for these last few years,” McIntyre told Council members. “In our emergency action plan, we did identify housing as a need, so we continue to work for housing for the homeless.”

The program also helps to identify county jail inmates who are in need of mental health services, McIntyre added. He explained such inmates can now be observed in a “pod-like” atmosphere which would not require jail staff to be pulled away from duties in order to observe those inmates.

McIntyre also mentioned the county formed a triage center for patients whose conditions did not require emergency room visits. He said that when county deputies would take someone to a hospital emergency room, it would often result in that officer needing to stay at the hospital while the person they picked up was being treated. Sometimes, he said, that included being at the hospital for a number of hours. He said the triage center would alleviate that issue for deputies while someone was being treated.

McIntyre said a youth program the county wanted to get up and running roughly a year ago was stalled by shutdowns caused by COVID-19. But he explained that through the Regional Education Superintendent’s Office and McLean County Health Department those two offices have been able establish a program to embed counselors in area schools for students deemed at-risk and in need of one-on-one guidance.

Council Member Karyn Smith asked McIntyre if placing additional counselors were assigned in schools meant using counselors to replace school resource officers. The counselors referred to, McIntyre said, refers to those who take part in sessions on an individual basis with a student. He added school resource officers don’t have the training for that type of counseling.

“I can tell you we have a definite need for counselors who can target at-risk students,” McIntyre said.

McIntyre clarified for Council Member Kathleen Lorenz that of the county’s one-cent sales tax, one-quarter of it is applied toward operation and maintenance of McLean County Jail. One-quarter of the tax gets applied for jail construction. The remaining half, McIntyre explained, is divided with one-quarter applied to case management and one-quarter applied for inmate behavior health services.

Council Member Kevin McCarthy added that the County has been seeking matching grants to help pay for the services to help those afflicted by mental health issues.

Smith, Lorenz, and McCarthy said they would like to have Council members receive an annual update from McIntyre and Rodriguez concerning