By Steve Robinson | December 28, 2007 - 2:22 pm
Posted in Category: Olympia HS, Pekin Daily Times

BasketballBLOOMINGTON – Those Times-area basketball fans looking for a dream matchup at the championship game of the Class 1A-2A Boys bracket at the State Farm Bloomington-Normal Holiday Tourney could have one more shot at the seeing the two sides face off.

But after the team’s third day winds down Thursday, Olympia and Hartem will be looking to conquer fifth place, not first place as hoped, when the tournament began Wednesday.

That’s because both teams lost key matchups Thursday, with sixth seed Olympia falling to third seed Addison Driscoll Catholic, 59-44, at the Shirk Center on the Illinois Wesleyan campus.

The game was close by the end of the first quarter, with Olympia (6-3) owning the only lead it would have at the end of a period, 9-8.

The lead would change hands five times from the beginning of the second quarter, with the pivotal moment coming at 4:10 before halftime when Spartans junior guard Brady Cremeens fouled Highlanders junior guard David Schwabe.

OlympiaOfficials gave Cremeens a technical on top of the original foul, enraging the Spartans’ fans in attendance. The technical gave Schwabe four foul shots. Of those, he made three, giving Addison Driscoll (10-2) an 18-15 lead.

It was an advantage they never surrendered, owning a 25-15 halftime lead. Olympia trailed 39-24 at the end of the third quarter.

During the fourth quarter, the Highlanders’ lead extended as high as 19, leading 49-30, following a trey by senior guard Kevin Bain with 5:01 left in the contest.

Olympia did demonstrate an effort to make the game close, primarily on deuces by sophomore guard Spencer Pratt and senior center Colt Stroud, and a trey by junior forward Matt Frahm.

Senior forward Jake Lindfors led all scorers, contributing 22 points for the Highlanders, followed by junior guard Austin Baker’s 14 points.

Frahm led Olympia’s scoring with 15 points, followed by 13 from Stroud.

“When the ball doesn’t go in (the basket), that’s a tough game,” Oly head coach Gerry Thornton said afterward. “By our count, we had five missed layups in the first half.

statefarmholidayclassic.gif“You know, if the ball doesn’t go in, you get frustrated,” Thornton continued, adding he thought the officials would allow both sides to play in a “really physical” game.

“(Addison Driscoll) didn’t score on our half-court defense,” Thornton reminded. “I thought our half-court defense was sound.

In the final assessment, Thornton said, “We just didn’t make enough shots.”

“(Olympia) played hard and tough and physical, which I thought was just two teams battling,” admitted Addison Driscoll head coach Nick Latorre.

Olympia will meet Downs Tri-Valley on Thursday morning in an 11:30a.m. game to start their path toward a fifth place finish here.

By Steve Robinson | - 11:47 am
Posted in Category: Morton HS, Pekin Daily Times

BasketballNORMAL – Morton High’s girls’ basketball team became acquainted with another version of “Murphy’s Law” Friday at the Class 3A-4A semi-final at the Bloomington-Normal State Farm Holiday Tournament.

In this case, the Murphy in question was Peoria Richwoods sophomore forward Katie Murphy, whose game-high 23 points helped the Lady Knights breeze to a 60-26 victory over the Potters in a contest played in the Normal Community High gym.

Lady Knights junior guard Amber Metzger hit a trey increasing her team’s lead to 11-6 over Morton at 3:30 in the first quarter.

Morton senior forward Jaimie Buckman sank two free throws after that, having been fouled by Richwoods senior forward Janise Dismuke, cutting the Lady Knights’ lead to 11-8 at the 3:09 mark.

From there, Murphy went on a one-woman 9-0 run, aiding her team toward its 20-8 lead going into the second quarter.

And although Richwoods head coach John Gross gave Murphy a rest during most of the second quarter, her teammates continued the barrage, behind free throws by freshman guard Mariah Smith and Metzger, which increased the lead to 24-11.

Morton could only manage to score five points in the second quarter – a trey by junior guard Brooke Bisping and a deuce by Buckman.

statefarmholidayclassic.gifMurphy returned in the last two minutes of the second quarter and contributed one bucket, helping Richwoods achieve a 30-13 halftime lead.

Morton (10-4) was outscored in the third period, 11-6. Only baskets by junior guard Sarah Hendricks and Buckman scored in the quarter in an effort to keep their team as close as they could.

But Murphy would add four more points to her stats, joined by a trey from Smith with 4:09 in the third, helping give Richwoods (15-3) a 41-19 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Morton would only score seven points in the fourth quarter – a deuce from Hendricks early on in the quarter, and back-to-back buckets, including a trey, from senior guard Devan McMenamin with the quarter halfway through.

Morton had no players in double-figures. Hendricks’ team-high 8 points was as close as they came.

The two teams played the last minute of the game using IHSA’s “Mercy Rule” – use of a continuously-running clock once the score has a 30-point difference, which can only be stopped for team time-outs and injury time-outs.

“Richwoods was pretty good today…We were poor,” Morton head coach Bob Becker said. “That combination is like putting gas on a fire. They played pretty well, so give Richwoods a lot of credit.

Morton High School“Obviously,” Becker said, “We’ve got some things to work on.”

“We obviously didn’t defend Murphy very well,” Becker said. “She had a great game. We didn’t come up with an answer (to defend against her) but we’re going to have to in a few weeks because we’re going to play them again.”

Becker called his team “a work in progress. We’re going to get better. We’ve been playing pretty well, and this is a bump in the road.”

He said he hoped that his team will regroup and be ready for one of two teams they will face as they now shoot for third place in the tourney – the winner of the contest between Chicago John Hope High and Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin. Morton will face one of those two teams beginning at 9a.m. at the Shirk Center on the Illinois Wesleyan campus.

By Steve Robinson | December 27, 2007 - 2:11 pm
Posted in Category: Olympia HS, Pekin Daily Times

BasketballNORMAL – Both boys’ basketball squads from Hartsburg-Emden High School and Stanford Olympia High School find themselves in the championship bracket in Class 1A-2A as day one of the State Farm Bloomington-Normal Holiday Tournament concluded Wednesday.

Both teams battled their respective opponents at Normal Community West High School.

Hartsburg-Emden 68, Minonk Fieldcrest 64: Hartem senior forward Dakin Bolen put up near-record numbers against Minonk Fieldcrest in the nightcap of the tourney’s first day, scoring 40 points and retrieving 20 rebounds, as the Stags, seeded 8th entering the tournament, outpaced 9th seed Minonk Fieldcrest, 68-64.

Those stats are not bad for a guy who exited the game halfway through the third quarter due to an ankle sprain that forced him to sit out for four minutes.

And of the 40 points Bolen scored, he only registered one three-point shot – which allowed Hartem to tie the score at 7-all with 3:46 left in the first quarter.

“Dakin was just pretty unbelievable tonight,” said Hartem head coach Josh Nauman. “That’s probably his fifth game he has played (with those kinds of numbers), but we knew Fieldcrest would bring pretty good guard play, and that all the pressure would be on our guards.”

Even two scoreboard malfunctions in the fourth quarter seemed to do the Stags a favor, Nauman said. Each time, the scoreboards on each end of the court shorted, going dark until officials could correct the problem. The were finally able to get one of the devices to work properly and be able to use it to finish the game with roughly two minutes left.

Nauman said the downtime from the problem with the scoreboard served as extra resting periods for his team as they continued to stay in front of the Knights.

“I’ve been scoring at will, but I’ve been missing free throws, time after time,” the modest Bolen said. Bolen said that because he needed to brush up on free throws, Nauman had him working on those before the tournament.

statefarmholidayclassic.gifThe practice must have worked: He was 13-for-17 from the free throw line to complete his night. Bolen’s first free throws, at 6:06 in the first quarter, cut the Knights’ lead to 5-2 after the Knights began the game scoring five unanswered points.

Not even a slight ankle sprain seemed to keep Bolen down. Although he was out of the game in the second half for no more than four minutes, he made the scoring barrage he was on seem painless, not to mention effortless.

Treys by Bolen and junior guard Jordan Folkman helped push the Stags in front, 18-15 at the end of the first quarter.

Coming into the Minonk Fieldcrest game, Bolen has been averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds a game.

The Knights bounced back on three baskets, including one trey by senior forward Jordan Krone. Krone scored seven points in the quarter on his way to his team-high 29. He was followed in double-figures by sophomore guard Nathan Ropp’s 11.

Threes by Krone and Ropp helped Minonk Fieldcrest keep pace with Hartem as they trailed the Stags, 34-32, going into halftime.

The Stags lost their lead with 6:04 left in the third quarter on back-to-back threes by Minonk Fieldcrest from Krone and junior forward Jake Bane, aiding the Knights during a 10-0 run midway through the quarter.

From there, the score would be tied twice in the quarter, including the 48-all tangle going into the fourth quarter.

Bolen would contribute two unanswered baskets early in the fourth quarter to give Hartem a 56-50 lead as part of a 6-0 run, with 4:07 left in the game. Another Bolen basket at 2:48 gave Hartem its widest lead of the quarter, 60-54, on the way to the victory.

Hartem will face off against Bloomington Central Catholic Thursday in a second round game at the Shirk Center on the Illinois Wesleyan campus in Bloomington, with tip-off set for 4:30p.m.

Stanford Olympia 59, St. Joseph Ogden 49: A 14-0 run by 6th seed Stanford Olympia, which ran the last six minutes of the second quarter into the first minute of the third quarter allowed Olympia (6-2) to beat St. Joseph-Ogden in their opening round game.

OlympiaOlympia fell behind 11th seed St. Joseph-Ogden, 19-13 at the end of one quarter, as head coach Gerry Thornton’s team defense could not prevent St. Joseph-Ogden, also nicknamed the Spartans, from going on a 9-0 sprint, highlighted by a trey from senior forward Mike Bialeschki, giving St. Joseph-Ogden an 11-7 lead.

Two deuces by Olympia senior center Colt Stroud kept his team within 6, 19-13, going into the second quarter.

Olympia outscored St. Joseph-Ogden 22-7 in the second quarter, starting with a 6-0 run to open the quarter on baskets by Stroud and junior forward Matt Frahm.

A trey by Stroud at 4:14 lit the fuse that sparked Olympia’s 14-point drive.

With Olympia up 35-26 at the start of the third quarter, St. Joseph-Ogden’s offense pushed back after that, with Olympia outscoring St. Joseph-Ogden by just one point – 15-14 – by the end of the third quarter and hanging onto a 50-40 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Olympia opened the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run, going up 56-40, on baskets by junior forward Trevor Strubhar, Frahm, and junior guard Brady Cremeens.

Stroud led Olympia with 18 points. He was followed in double-figures by Cremeens’ 13 and 12 from Frahm.

Bialeschki was St. Joseph-Ogden’s leading scorer, with 20 points, followed by senior guard Tad Worley’s 11.

“Our goal is to try to get the ball to our big people and we finally did as the game wore on,” Thornton said, in describing the effort his team put into the successful outcome.

As reward for advancing into the championship bracket, the Spartans will get a state-ranked opponent for its 9p.m. game at Shirk Center when they face the tournament’s third seed, Addison Driscoll Catholic.

By Steve Robinson | December 18, 2007 - 2:18 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

Town of NormalNORMAL – The Normal Town Council unanimously approved the purchase and redevelopment of property located at 206 North St. in Uptown Normal. That location is the current site of the University Christian Church.

The church is disbanding and was looking for a buyer for the building. The main sanctuary of the church was built in 1911. An education building was added to the structure in 1962.

The church established a minimum purchase price for the building of $1.25 million. Two developers submitted proposals, and the Town awarded the project to Champaign-based One Main Development.

Don Aldrich, a member of the church who served on a committee reviewing the proposals, addressed the council at Monday’s meeting, saying the church would use the money made from the sale of the church to “start another church in a neighborhood setting.”

Understanding that the building is in an area surrounded by other Normal businesses, One Main Development will consult publicly on its planning process with business leaders and owners, as well as with Illinois State University, the town, and the Normal Public Library.

Unit 5 Referendum Discussed: Dr. Gary Niehaus, superintendent of Normal’s Unit 5 School District and Board President Jay Reece addressed the council, giving council members an update on the referendum ballot initiative which would, if passed, help Unit 5 raise the money needed for the building of a new middle school, two new elementary schools, and help with renovations to eight current elementary schools.

The eight elementary schools which would receive renovations are: Carlock, Hudson, Towanda, Brigham, Fairview, Glenn, Oakdale and Colene Hoose Elementary School.

If the Feb. 5 referendum passes, a property tax increase could be used to raise the $96.7 million needed for the construction and renovations to be completed. Of the $96.7 million to be spent, $82.1 million would be strictly building construction costs. The remaining $14.6 million would be equipment costs.

New Airport Authority Member Announced: Mayor Chris Koos announced the appointment of Alan Sender to the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority Board of Directors.

The Board recently voted to increase its membership from five to seven members. Sender becomes the sixth member of the group. The Bloomington City Council will appoint the seventh member of the group at a future meeting.

Sender was a member of the Town Planning Commission until stepping down last Summer.

Council OKs BroMenn Expansion Plan: Council members approved a plan submitted by BroMenn Regional Medical Center for construction of a new building which would house a critical care facility.

The critical care facility would be built at the corner of Franklin and University Streets, where currently a parking deck is situated. The parking deck would be demolished to make room for the new medical addition.

Main St. Moratorium Extended: Council members voted unanimously to extend a moratorium on development within the Main St. corridor. The City of Bloomington approved a measure specific to Main Street in 2006. The moratorium is now set to expire on March 31, 2008.

Liquor Commission Issues Fines, Suspensions: The Normal Liquor Commission met prior to the Council meeting, handing down fines and license suspensions for liquor code violations to six establishments – two of which will not be allowed to sell liquor for two days as a result of repeated violations of Town code.

Among the establishments fined were:

• Mac’s Convenience Stores, LLC, doing business as Circle K #150, 1606 N. Main St., received a $2,500 fine and will be prohibited from selling liquor on Jan. 3 & 4, 2008.

• Tri-Star Marketing, doing business as Super Pantry #22, 610 W. Raab Rd, received a $2,500 fine and will be prohibited from selling liquor on Jan. 3 & 4, 2008.

• Schnuck’s Markets, Inc., 1750 Bradford Lane, $250 fine for first offense.

• Tri-Star Marketing, doing business as Super Pantry #21, 402 N. Main St., fined $1,000 for second offense.

• Swingers, Inc., doing business as Swingers, 1304 Cross Creek Dr., fined $1,000 for second offense.

• Express Mart, 108 N. Linden, fined $1,000 for second offense.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the Council’s regular meeting of Dec. 3, 2007.

• A motion to award a bid in the amount of $18,686.27 from Camp Point, Ill.- based B & B Livestock Supply, Inc. for a tilting flatbed trailer for the Public Works Street Maintenance Division.

• A motion to waive the formal bidding process and to authorize Staff to negotiate a design/build agreement with The Cleary Group for the renovation of the Ironwood Golf Course Club House.

• A motion accepting a proposal from Carol Stream, Ill.-based Williams Aquatics for architectural and engineering services for the Fairview Family Aquatic Center Slide renovation project and authorization of staff to negotiate a professional services contract.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an Intergovernmental agreement with McLean County for centralizing booking services. The Town of Normal and the City of Bloomington have participated in such an agreement with the county for the past 12 years.

• A resolution authorizing execution of an agreement with Mr. Craig Onsrud for the operation of the Ironwood Pro Shop and Private Golf Lessons.

• A resolution providing for a feasibility study on the designation of a portion of the Town of Normal (Proposed Main/Osage redevelopment project area) as a redevelopment project area and to induce development interest within such area.

• A resolution providing for a feasibility study on the designation of a portion of the Town of Normal (Proposed Crowne Plaza redevelopment project area) as a redevelopment project area and to induce development interest within such area.

• A resolution accepting a warranty deed from Gregory M. Shepard and Tracy M. Shepard for Lot 18 within the Ft. Jesse Road Office Complex and to authorize the name of such lot as “Shepard Park.”

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an Amendment to the Annexation Agreement with Twin City Developers, LLC.

• A resolution accepting a dedication of easement grant for sanitary sewer purposes for the property located at 124 W. North St. owned by Gerald & Deborah Taylor and Russell & Ann Peterson (Solid Gold Jewelers).

• A resolution removing Lot 30 from the One Normal Plaza PUD.

• An ordinance rezoning property in the Town of Normal – One Normal Plaza PUD and Savannah Green PUD.

• An ordinance amending the Town Purchasing Manual to include language encouraging Green purchasing.

• An ordinance amending the Smoking Regulatory Act of 2006 and Section 17.2-1 of the Municipal Code. Exemptions for places like private residences, hotel & motel sleeping rooms, and outdoor patios are spelled out in detail thanks to the changes.

By Steve Robinson | December 13, 2007 - 12:05 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

Unit 5NORMAL – With a referendum on the February calendar to decide if property taxes should be increased to help build a middle school and renovate eight elementary schools, a public hearing needed to be held at Oakdale Elementary School Wednesday.

Public notice was given about the hearing. Media outlets promoted it.

It lasted 60 seconds.

Just long enough to make sure those in attendance at the regularly-scheduled meeting of Normal’s Unit 5 School Board who wanted to have their say about the proposed tax increase, which would pay for construction and renovation at a cost to taxpayers of $96.7 million.

Of that figure, a total of $82.1 million would be strictly building construction costs. He said the remaining $14.6 million would be equipment costs.

But no one stepped forward when Board President Jay Reece made the formal announcement for input when the hearing started.

If the Feb. 5 referendum passes, owners of a $300,000 home would see their real estate taxes increase annually by $285. Owners of a $100,000 home would see a $185 jump in their current tax bill.

The board held this meeting at Oakdale Elementary so that citizens could tour a first grade classroom which had been updated with updated technology, including a SmartBoard, adjustable modular furniture, and new carpet.

The room was a model for how the rooms in the eight elementary schools will look if voters approve the tax increase which will pay for such renovations.

SchoolReach Notification System Gets First Use: Tom Eder, Normal West High’s principal said his staff had received training on the SchoolReach Notification system on Dec. 10, then found themselves having to put it to the test the next day when a Normal West student brought a starting gun-type weapon to school.

The student was arrested by Normal Police, and the parents of the school’s 1,663 students were notified of the incident via SchoolReach.

Eder was at the board meeting, but was not formally on the agenda, but did speak to the board when asked by board members how he thought SchoolReach performed.

“It was a great tool, and the feedback I get is very positive,” Normal West Principal Tom Eder told board members at the meeting. “The product delivered as advertised.”

Some parents, like Unit 5 Board Member John Puzauskas, a Normal West parent himself, said SchoolReach did its job, contacting him simultaneously notifying him at all five of the contact numbers he gave the high school.

In November, the Board voted to purchase the SchoolReach notification system at a cost of roughly $3.50 per student. Using either telephone or e-mail, the SchoolReach system can send messages to up to 6,000 recipients per minute.

Unit 5 map“Good News” Times 6 Schools Equals…: Six Unit 5 schools received honors from the Illinois State Board of Education for having provided what IBHE considered “high quality education” to their students.

Brigham Elementary and Fairview Elementary were mentioned among schools IBHE designates as “Spotlight Schools” for, among other things, having at least 60 percent of students who met or exceeded standards in both reading and math in 2006; and having at least 50 percent of students who met or exceeded standards in both reading and math in 2004 and 2005.

IBHE gave its Academic Improvement Award to four Unit 5 schools – Pepper Ridge Elementary, Fox Creek Elementary, Fairview Elementary, and Chiddix Junior High – for showing an upward trend in state test results.

NCHS Provides Four “Good News” Items: Normal Community High School provided four separate items of “Good News” for the Board at Wednesday’s meeting. First, Dr. Jeanette Nuckolls, principal of Normal Community High School, introduced NCHS senior Brad Kessler, son of Michael and Susan Kessler, to the Board, praising him for a presentation he gave to teachers at a recent Teachers’ Institute session on the subject of how they could integrate technology into their classrooms.

Kessler was asked to speak at the Oct. 25 session because he has been speaking professionally since he was about 10-years-old.

The three other “Good News” items Nuckolls relayed to the Board were:

• Two NCHS juniors, Rachel Kimmerling and Madison Salisbury, traveled to Washington, D. C. to attend a student-led youth summit on Capitol Hill in October which discussed how students and schools could further students’ understanding of driver’s education. NCHS’ driver’s education instructor Chuck Fisher also attended the summit, as did students from Bloomington Central Catholic High School and Bloomington High School.

Students at this summit were encouraged by organizers of the Washington gathering to take what they had learned there about such subjects as licensing laws and solutions for cutting down on distracted driving back to their own communities.

Kimmerling and Salisbury have formed a group called Teens Steering Teens. They plan to distribute posters with driving tips, and to do presentations on driver safety at the local junior high schools.

The two juniors suggested to the Board that they would like to see more speed bumps put in place in the NCHS parking lot as well as another chapter of Students Against Destructive Driving started within Unit 5. The district has one SADD chapter already.

Kimmerling is the daughter of Michael and Beth Kimmerling and Jim and Julie Cooper. Salisbury is the daughter of Meryl Salisbury.

• NCHS teacher Nicole Maurer was recognized for having received a $10,000 grant to fund a teacher excellence program at NCHS. The money will be used for a professional development program for the teachers called, “Building Bridges: The Living Library.”

• Mr. Kelly Keogh, who teaches AP Government, Regional World Studies, and International Relations at NCHS, was recognized by the Board for having recently published an article in a publication published by the National Social Studies Supervisors Association (NSSSA).

Keogh’s article, titled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell…Unless It’s The White Sox,” appeared in NSSSA’s publication called NSSSA Leader. The article dealt with the “advisability of teachers disclosing their own views on controversial topics in the classroom.”

“Good News” For Both High Schools: Nuckolls reported that every student at both her school and Normal Community West High School received a free copy of the “Unit 5 Secondary English Department’s Writing Tools and Rules,” a laminated notebook-sized publication to assist students with their English studies. The book was assembled by NCHS’ Susan Harrington and West’s Lee Ann Thompson.

“Good News” About Newly-Certified Teachers: Eleven Unit 5 teachers were honored by the District for recently receiving certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

The teachers and their schools are: Kathy Berberich, Kingsley Junior High; Mary Douglas, Normal West High; Barbara Fisher, Grove Elementary; Remy Garard, Normal West High; Kary Hennenfent, Kingsley Junior High; David Hirst, Normal Community West; Kathryn Kalina, Prairieland Elementary; Kelly Keogh, NCHS; Jama Lindahl, Normal Community West; Keith Rice, Kingsley Junior High; and David Witzig, NCHS.

Prior to these 11, 33 other Unit 5 teachers have received this same certification.

In 1997, the state legislature passed a law called the Illinois Teaching Excellence Act which mandated that the only way teachers could receive an Illinois Master Teacher Certificate was by achieving National Board Certification.