By Steve Robinson | July 19, 2007 - 12:48 pm
Posted in Category: Pekin Daily Times, Sports

BaseballBLOOMINGTON – Although the Pekin Lettes played with just nine players, they did give it their all in both of the five-inning games they played against the Bloomington Hearts at the Illinois Wesleyan Softball Complex Wednesday night.

But Bloomington eased past the Lettes in game one, 3-0, but Pekin showed some fight in game two, only to lose in the last inning, 3-2.

Hearts pitcher for game one, Kate Newman, struck out three and held Pekin (17-13) to three hits while the host offense scored all three of their runs in the third inning.

A single by Hearts left fielder Molly Coers helped catcher Shane Wesley to score Bloomington’s first run of the first game, 1-0. That was followed by a sacrifice fly by Hearts right fielder Brie Ford allowing Coers to score, increasing the Hearts’ lead, 2-0.

A double by Bloomington’s Allison Ward scored second baseman Lindsay Longfellow from first capping the first game’s scoring.

In game two, the third inning proved pivotal again for Pekin, and started to look positive as Lettes center fielder Stephanie Ramsey singled with two on base, scoring second baseman Lauren Snopek from third, giving Pekin a 1-0 edge.

Lettes left fielder Rachel Sinks also advanced home from second on a single by first baseman Sarah Loede. A wild pitch by Hearts pitcher Kalli Walzack pushed Ramsey and Sinks closer to home prior to Loede’s hit.

A single in the bottom of the third inning by second baseman Colleen McLaughlin helped Bloomington (15-8) cut Pekin’s lead to 2-1.

Pekin LettesPekin pitching helped load the bases for Bloomington, as center fielder Kate Thoennes and catcher Shane Wesley scored the tying and winning runs, respectfully, in the last half of the fifth inning. A wild pitch and an error advanced the runners to second and third before a walk to Coers, and singles by McLaughlin and Longfellow helped bring across the winning runs.

Lettes coach Chuck Harris said his team’s allowing “too many walks” gave Bloomington the opportunity to snatch game two away from Pekin.

“Walking the leadoff hitter means you have to have better pitches,” Harris said, explaining the beginning of the defeat process in the second game.

Newman got the win for the Hearts in the first contest, while T. J. Matheny was the losing pitcher for the Lettes. In game two, Hearts pitcher Rachel Smith got the win with a strong four-inning performance and assist from closer Kalli Walzack in game one. Laurie Pankratz was the losing pitcher for the Lettes.

Pekin played with just nine players all evening, but Harris is hoping his team will be at full strength when they return to Pekin to host the ASA Pekin Tournament at the Dragon’s Dome beginning on Friday. The Lettes open the tourney with a 7p.m. game against the Decatur Misfits.

By Steve Robinson | July 14, 2007 - 11:09 am
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

Unit 5NORMAL – Citing that progress has been made on the subject of diversity in Normal’s Unit 5 School District, the committee assigned to oversee that diversity continues in and out of the classroom presented an update to the Board at the group’s last regular meeting at district headquarter on July 11.

The board voted unanimously to approve the changes submitted.

Mary Jefferson, member of the Diversity Advisory Committee, and Meghan Leiseberg, the district’s community relations specialist, addressed the board.

The pair presented an update on the district’s proposed Diversity Plan and discussed with board small revisions, mostly in the report’s language.

“Generally speaking, the Unit 5 Diversity Plan has served the district well,” Jefferson said.

Leiseberg thanked “the entire Unit 5 community for (its efforts) related to the survey, as well as the board for its support.”

According to the summary of the report that was circulated with the full report at the meeting, “proposed revisions to the 2007-2008 Unit 5 Diversity Plan acknowledge the progress that has been made towards attainment of district-wide diversity goals while simultaneously recognizing the need for continual emphasis upon respecting individual differences…”

The 2006-2007 school year was spent conducting diversity training with staffers, the report summary indicated.

The district currently has a diversity resource guide for use by district personnel, which Jefferson said is being updated for the current upcoming school year.

“Communication remains at the forefront of the DAC’s list of important goals,” Leiseberg told the board. “We continue to work hard to communicate the existence of the diversity plan and the content of that plan to the staff.”

In addition, she said, a copy of the diversity plan goes into all registration packets going to parents who will be registering their children in the district for the upcoming school year.

“Members of the community should feel comfortable coming to the committee with any concerns,” Jefferson said. “We will address those concerns and we will follow up (on them).”

Unit 5 mapWorkshops Concerning New Schools: Fully aware the district needs to construct a new middle school and more elementary schools, board member John Puzauskas told board members he is on a committee studying the issue. He said that, in the coming months, the district will offer information-gathering workshops on the subject.

“What we have done the last couple of months is find what buildings we will need and how they will serve our students,” Puzauskas said.

The workshops will, most likely, be held in August and September, Puzauskas said.

District Superintendent Gary Niehaus, attending his first board meeting since becoming superintendent July 1, said he has had meetings with officials from both the Town of Normal and the City of Bloomington concerning school expansion.

Breakfast Program Expansion OK’d: The board, after hearing from Pat Powers, the district’s food services director, unanimously approved expanding the district’s “grab and go” breakfast program to five more schools beginning this fall.

Students at Sugar Creek and Carlock elementary schools and Normal Community and Normal Community West high schools will be able to have a morning “grab and go” meal as a result of the district’s unanimous vote.

Powers said students’ complaints to the school nurses prompted the decision to expand the program, which Powers said is regulated by the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Softball Champs Congratulated: The “good news” report for this meeting came from Normal Community High School, as the board recognized NCHS’ softball team, who won the Illinois High School Association Class AA Championship, playing games at the Eastside Centre in East Peoria.

Coach Bob Grimes’ team defeated Barrington High School, 1-0, ending their season with a 32-7 record. The team was honored with an awards ceremony at NCHS the next day.

Kingsley’s New Assistant Principal: Matt Harr was introduced to the board as the new assistant principal at Kingsley Junior High School. A 13-year teaching veteran, having taught in Germantown Hills and Oblong, as well as coaching positions at Gridley, Harr has been part of the Unit 5 system since 2003, teaching driver’s education and physical education at NCHS.

New CFO On The Job: Niehaus was not the only new face among the administrators at the meeting. Jim Gillmeister, the new Chief Financial Officer for Unit 5 attended his first board meeting, as well.

By Steve Robinson | July 2, 2007 - 8:00 am
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

Town of NormalNORMAL – Five years ago, the Normal Town Council discussed making sure a revitalized Uptown district included “green” buildings – structures that were considered environmentally positive.

At Monday night’s regular session of the council, the group voted unanimously to spend $13,000 on the project, including applying for a grant to help the town go from discussion to reality.

As a result of a 6-0 council vote, the town will apply for a grant “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” program, sponsored by the United States Green Building Council.

Specifically, the town will apply for a grant with LEED’s Neighborhood Design project (LEED-ND).

The council unanimously voted to apply to the LEED-ND program, which would begin with submitting a non-refundable $8,000 application fee.

The area of Uptown Normal the grant money would be applied to would be the area surrounding the proposed round-about on Beaufort St. and five of the buildings surrounding it.

Those buildings include the Children’s Discovery Museum and the proposed Transportation Center, along with three other buildings.

In addition to the application fee, town staff recommended to the council that an additional $5,000 be budgeted to help offset the cost of paying for the assistance of an intern who may be needed to help with the project.

In a related note, Mayor Chris Koos told council members about his attendance at the meeting of the National Conference of Mayors in Los Angeles last week.

Koos said he was struck by how the mayors of cities like Miami, San Francisco, and Seattle have become concerned with how environmental factors affect their cities.

“(The mayors in those cities) realize…that they have a responsibility and a stewardship to the country, to oversee environmental action,” Koos said.

Middleton Building Demolition OK’d: Demolition of the Middleton Building, 101 E. College Ave., cleared a final hurdle with the council unanimously approving a bid in the amount of $47,000 from Kirk C&D Recycling. The company will conduct asbestos removal, demolition, and site clearance. Once that takes place, the town will have a new parking lot on the site.

It will be July 14 before any demolition can begin, City Manager Mark Peterson told the council.

Omnibus Agenda Approved: Among the omnibus agenda items the council approved were:

• To accept a bid in the amount of $37,412.50 from Orland Park-based American Asphalt Surface Recycling, Inc. for a contract with the town for street surfacing and rejuvenation. The bid comes in at under what the town engineering department had previously estimated the project would cost — $42,000.

• To approve a motion authorizing the Illinois Department of Transportation to award a contract worth $691,159.25 to Bloomington-based Stark Excavating for the College Ave./Towanda Ave. intersection improvement project. At its April 4 meeting, the council authorized the agreement between the town and IDOT to use Federal Hazard Elimination Safety Funds for improvement of the intersection.

• To approve a motion to waive the formal bidding process and authorize the purchase of a paramedic chase vehicle from Bloomington-based Lifeline Mobile Paramedics, Inc., and approved a standard an associated budget adjustment for the vehicle and two-way radio, at a cost of $30,000.

• To approve a resolution authorizing town staff to submit a grant to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, certifying the funding for the Greenbriar Park Development Project. Town staff proposes asking for a grant in the amount of $40,000 from IDNR for the project.

• To approve a resolution authorizing the execution of a real estate contract for the purchase of 401 and 401½ Broadway from Mr. Don Franke in the amount of $190,000.

• To approve a resolution authorizing the execution of an agreement with CORE Construction for the G-block parking deck, in the amount of $11,122,847. This is the land upon which the recently-demolished Bank of Illinois Building sat.

• Authorizing the release of executive session minutes from the following dates’ meetings: April 16, 2006; Jan. 16, March 5, March 19, and April 16, 2007.

Sugar Creek On ISU Quad: City Manager Peterson reminded the council

that, as a result of the construction going on in Uptown Normal, the annual Sugar Creek Arts Festival, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, has been relocated to the quad area of the Illinois State University campus.

Peterson said that, with some modifications, the town’s annual CornFest, held in August, will be held up and down North St. in Uptown Normal.

Liquor Commission Approves Licenses: Prior to the council session, the Normal Liquor Commission met to approve licenses for two businesses – one well-established store changing hands, and a new restaurant which is also part micro-brewery.

Commissioners unanimously approved the license application of V. S. Enterprises, doing business as University Liquors, 706 W. Beaufort St.

Commissioners also unanimously approved the license application of Destihl, LLC, doing business as Destihl Restaurant and Brew Works, located at 318 S. Towanda Ave.

Destihl LLC required four licenses for the new venture. That is because, in addition to a regular license, they also were required to obtain a license to operate a brewery-pub; a catering license, a license to operate an outdoor café, and a license for wine tasting.

The building, which sits on the edge of the Shoppes at College Hills, is under construction. Peterson told the council it was anticipated the new restaurant would open in September or October.