NORMAL – It was a piece of news Normal Town Council Member Chemberly Cummings saved for comments and announcements toward the end of Monday’s Normal Town Council session Monday in Council Chambers. But it is a prestigious first for Normal.

Cummings announced she has been selected as one of 41 local and State officials to be part of the eighth annual Edgar Fellows Program.Those community officials selected will gather in Champaign August 4-8.

The Edgar Fellows Program is an initiative designed by former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar to inspire respectful and collaborative leadership to address the state’s major challenges. Forty-One participants selected this year were chosen from a field of 169 nominees and reflect Illinois’ political, racial, ethnic and geographic diversity. They include elected and appointed officials from all levels of government, leaders of non-profit organizations and individuals who are making their mark in the business world.

The 2019 class will bring the number of fellows who have completed the program to 313. After completing the initial program, fellows continue to meet at least twice annually at alumni gatherings designed to increase their knowledge and help build their professional networks.

Street Resurfacing Project Prompts Questions: Other than approval of minutes of the Council’s Aug. 5 meeting and approving payment of expenditures, the only other omnibus item which would be looked at and approved had to do with the accepting of bids and awarding of a contract to Bloomington-based Rowe Construction Co., a division of United Contractors Midwest, Inc., of $792,662.17 for the base bid and alternative #1 for the 2019 General Street Resurfacing Project.

Council Member Karyn Smith, while motioning that the measure be approved, questioned why there ever only seems to be one company – Rowe – who ever applies for the assignments. Town Chief Engineer Ryan Otto explained the Town has tried to make other potential contractors aware of such assignments but that when bids come in for the jobs, Rowe turns out to be the only company submitting bids for them.

Final Plat For Grieder II Subdivision Conditionally Approved: Council members unanimously approved the final plat of the Grieder II Subdivision expanding property which currently sits at 2242 W. Raab Rd. That expansion would expand eastward as a result. The subdivision takes up 2.54 acres of land and the owner of the proposed subdivision owns the surrounding 75 acres. Such a subdivision request would require a preliminary plan for the Town to review but, in this case, the applicant is requesting the requirement for the preliminary plan be waived.

When this project came before Normal Planning Commission on Aug. 8, no members of the public testified and the measure passed unanimously, 5-0.

Sarah Sturgill Appointed To Children’s Discovery Museum Board: Sarah Sturgill, an optometrist with Bloomington-based Gailey Eye Clinic, has been appointed to the Children’s Discovery Museum Board. Ms. Sturgill serves patients at both locations of the clinic, in Bloomington and Danville. She will be filling an open seat which has an initial term which expires on June 30, 2022.

New Economic Development Council CEO Introduced: Council members were formally introduced by City Manager Pam Reece to Patrick Hoban as the new chief executive officer of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council. He has held similar positions prior to coming to the Twin Cities, most recently in Tinley Park.

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

• Approval of minutes of regular meeting held Aug. 5, 2019.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Aug.19, 2019.

BLOOMINGTON – Graduating from LeRoy High School in 2016, Bryce Dooley opted not to play sports after being part of the Panthers’ football team for four years. He chose the University of Illinois to attend college and dove into his general studies. But with time, he realized he did miss being on a team and decided to transfer to IWU to resume playing football.

By the end of this coming academic year, Dooley, now a senior, will finish his education – both having learned more about the intricacies of college football and the ability to start a career having earned a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting.

I’m really excited about the season,” Dooley said. He said he’s really looking forward to playing his last season. One thing that has never slowed is that he knew the local fans and friends and family who came to see him play in junior high and high school didn’t trail off when he got to IWU. He said he looks forward to seeing the folks from LeRoy come out to see his final season.

What he said he’ll remember is “the great culture here,” Dooley said. “It’s just a great group of guys. It’s really no better place to be if you want to be an athlete and go to a great school academically.”

“When he went to the University of Illinois, he did well, he’s a very bright young man,” IWU head coach Norm Eash said. “He’s a great student and he just missed football.” Feeling as Dooley did, he called Eash looking to transfer schools, wanting to play again. He did have to adjust to a new position though, once he got to IWU, switching to running back from having played quarterback at LHS.

Eash noticed once Dooley began playing for the Titans that he, perhaps, had some additional skills, thanks to his speed, the Titans could use. Eash turned out to be right: Dooley not only maintained his position as a back, but came in handy as a slot receiver, too.

“He’s a playmaker,” Eash added. “He’s a great young man. He’s a team captain this year. Our players really look up to him, so, we look forward to him having a tremendous year for us.”

First Home Game A Month Away: The way the Collegiate Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin football schedule came together this year, it will be a month before Fightin’ Titans fans will get a first glimpse of the team at Tucci Stadium. That will happen on Saturday, Sept. 28 when Augustana visits for a 1p.m. game. Eash, entering his 33rd season, said he believes his squad is up to the task of pushing for a conference crown this year. IWU starts the season with a bye week on Sept. 7 followed by two straight road games – a non-conference tilt at University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse Sept. 14, and Sept. 21 at their first CCIW opponent of the season, Wheaton College.

With Dooley and 13 other seniors and a battery of returning starters led by senior quarterback Brandon Bauer, Eash said he sees a lot of confidence in returning players as training camp opened up. Bauer is one of the few four-year starting quarterbacks IWU has ever had. “Brandon is like another coach out there,” Eash said. “He understands the offensive system that we run, and we put a lot of responsibility on him during the game, making reads on every play.”

Eash said there “has always been a sense of urgency” inside his players at this time of year. “And that sense of urgency is a little higher this year,” he said, adding that the experience level in his players is showing itself at this point so far, too.

He said that mindset “is going to benefit our whole football team because the freshmen learn much faster with the seniors showing them the way and how things are done.”

Final Media Day For Sports Information Director Stew Salowitz: For 31 years, Stew Salowitz has helped local media stay up-to-date on teams, scores, statistics, and other related items pertaining to IWU teams. Monday’s Football Media Day was Salowitz’s last event for IWU, as he is retiring on Aug. 30. “I’ve had a great run at Illinois Wesleyan. I’ve been blessed with winning teams and so many great people to work with.” He added the athletes he has written about over the years in the job have gone on to become people he has become great friends with.

This event also marked the first Media Day for Salowitz’s successor in the SID post, Katie Gonzales. She shadowed Salowitz on this day but will be fully at the controls when Basketball Media Day rolls around in October. Gonzales graduated from Loras College in 2014 with a double major in sport management and mathematics and received her master’s degree with honors in sport management from Eastern Michigan in 2017.

Circle Your Calendars: Carroll University will be IWU’s Homecoming opponent Saturday, Oct. 5 for a 1p.m. game. North Park University will be the opponent for Senior Day on Saturday, Nov. 16’s 1p.m. game.

By Steve Robinson | August 16, 2019 - 10:51 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – On Aug. 14, two days before the 2019-20 school year opened for Normal-based Unit 5 School District, child safety was the topic of concern presented by one parent at the public comments portion of the regularly-scheduled meeting of Unit 5 School Board. The cause for the parents to bring it to Board members attention was the arrest of Glenn Elementary School first grade teacher Jonathon Hovey. Normal Police arrested Hovey and charged him with molesting two of his students.

At the meeting held at district headquarters, Glenn Parent Claire Hedden recounted for Board members, first of all that her child is not one of Hovey’s alleged victims. She added that while she was volunteering in Hovey’s classroom one day in April, the school’s Principal, Cari Oester, escorted Hovey from the room.

Hedden said neither she nor any of the other parents in Hovey’s class received communication of any kind from the school regarding Hovey’s removal. She said weeks went by before the school told parents Hovey’s removal was for “personal reasons.” Allegations concerning Hovey surfaced in 2005.

Hedden wants to know how complaints are passed on when there’s a change in school administration. She added that she was curious as to why parents of all kids who were in Hovey’s class were never notified concerning the situation. She also questioned Board members as to why no public meeting was held with parents or Normal Police concerning the matter, adding she wondered why Illinois Department of Children and Family Services did not receive word from the district concerning Hovey. Neither Board members, nor Dr. Mark Daniel, district superintendent, gave replies directly to Hedden’s comments.

In April, the district placed Hovey on paid administrative leave. Hovey had a scheduled hearing date in a McLean County Law And Justice Center courtroom Aug. 16. At that hearing, media reports indicated Hovey pleaded not guilty to two counts of predatory sexual assault, and four counts of aggravated sexual assault abuse. Predatory sexual assault is a Class X felony while aggravated sexual assault is a Class 2 felony.

Change Related To Final Exams Approved: Board members voted unanimously to approve a change concerning which students can be exempted from taking a final exam at the end of a semester. The change approved will allow any junior or senior with an “A” grade average in a class on the last day of the semester to be exempt from taking a class’ final exam.

Dan Lamboley, director of secondary education for the district, in a memo to Daniel and Board members, reminded that before the policy change, students carrying an A or a B average were permitted to be exempt from finals provided they had no more than six absences from the class over the period of the semester. “It has been realized that final exams should be used to not only assess students learning but the exam itself as a learning opportunity,” Lamboley wrote in his memo.

Lamboley added, “If students who have consistently shown that they have met the standards are exempt from the final assessment, the teacher can better focus on those students that have not met the standard yet.” He said he be checking with principals at Normal Community High School and Normal Community West High School by the end of the new school year to see how effective the change was at each location.

Board member Alan Kalitzky told Lamboley he would like to hear an update at the end of school year on how the change affected the high schools. Board Member Mike Trask told Lamboley he would like to know what school staff thought of how the change worked as opposed to the previous policy’s use. Board Member Amy Roser added she would like to know how the change impacted students who had “B” grades going into their finals.

One Final Transportation Update Before Buses Rolled Out: With two days until school opened Aug. 16, Board members got a last update on how the district’s transportation provider, Cincinnati, Ohio-based First Student Bus Co., was finalizing preparations to get students from home to school and back again. Four representatives from First Student, including Robert Pawlik, location manager, and Chris Coyle, area general manager, informed Board members on progress with just one day before classes by the time of the meeting.

To add to what is already a stressful time trying to get routes ironed out before picking up students, First Student drivers were going through their dress rehearsal while students attending Illinois State University and their families were trying to maneuver around in the community as well, according to Joe Adelman, operations director for Unit 5, addressing Board members.

By Steve Robinson | August 6, 2019 - 10:41 pm
Posted in Category: ISU Redbirds, The Normalite

NORMAL – Considering how training camp has gotten off to a positive start for the Redbirds of Illinois State University, ISU head coach told reporters he believes opponents will see how his team plays and make note of how improved they are in 2019.

The Redbirds’ last three seasons have seen a team slide downhill: Tying for 4th with a 6-6 overall and 4-4 Missouri Valley Football Conference record and losing a first round FCS contest in 2016, followed by repeating 4-4 in 2017 in Conference and going 6-5 overall but not qualifying for playoffs, tying for 6th. Last season ended with ISU finishing with the worst Conference record a Spack Redbird-coached team had experienced to that point – 3-5. Understandably, Spack said he wants to reverse course.

“You always hope you are further off in the game than you were last year,” head coach Brock Spack told reporters on Media Day at Hancock Stadium on Aug. 6. “The team has prepared and they are farther ahead of where they were this time last year, which is good.”

But that being said, Spack added, “There are still some questions and those won’t be answered until we play an opponent.” He said it appeared his players had worked a little more on conditioning during the off-season than, perhaps in past years. “This team seems to hold itself accountable, which is very nice,” explained Spack, who is entering his 11th year at the Redbirds’ helm having tallied an overall record of 74-45. That includes a MVFC record of 48-32 which counts among the games played one FCS Championship Game loss in 2014 and three other playoff appearances – quarterfinal appearances in 2012 and 2015, and a loss in the first round in 2016.

This past off-season, Spack issued a challenge to his players to pay attention to their weight and workout habits. He divided his players into eight squads, the winners getting dinner at the coach’s house. “It made it kind of pleasurable because the guys were kind of governing themselves, which is what you want,” Spack said.

In terms of academics, the team has achieved a combined grade point average of 3.0, Spack added. “That’s a huge, huge indicator for where our team is at from an attitude standpoint. They are taking pride in everything they do and in what they have to do to be a champion.”

Seven Local Players Look To Contribute: A total of seven Redbirds players are local guys – three each from Normal and Bloomington, and one who calls Towanda home. Of this group, all three who hail from Normal are Redshirt freshmen. That includes wide receiver Nick Hesse, a Normal Community High School alum. His turn on the field is on hold for the time being as he is recovering from a sprained ankle. “We’ll see what happens after I talk to the doctor,” he said. He optimistically said he would like to be out battling with his teammates by week two of the season – the home opener against non-conference foe Morehead State. Once the ankle is totally healed, “I definitely want to see some action this year,” he said.

Junior offensive lineman Garrett Hirsch attributed the team’s poor finish last year to what he saw was “a lot of negativity” he thought was present last year, especially when, he added, “we thought we were better than we were. So this year, we’re trying to keep that negativity out of here. As a group, that is what we decided we were going to do this season. That’s why I think we’re going to much more successful than we have been in the past.”

Having sat out as required last year, Peter Bussone will be a redshirt freshman this year ready to keep opposing defenders at bay as an offensive lineman. The 6 foot-2, 305 pound Bussone said he has learned plenty about the mental toughness needed to go from the high school game where he played at Normal Community High School to the college game. A former nose guard, he said he realizes the game from that position switch is different than he had experienced previously. “I’m just ready, for when an opportunity strikes, to get onto the field this year,” he said.

Like Bussone, redshirt freshman Dalton Tevis sat out last year but is looking forward to seeing action this season playing outside linebacker trying to open holes to get through to quarterbacks and running backs. A Normal Community High School grad, Tevis said he wants to have a depth of knowledge of the playbook, “so that I don’t make any mistakes mentally.” He adds though that, “We practice so much that I know I will be in the right spot at the right time.” For Tevis, being on the team is a dream come true, having gone to football youth camps set up by ISU since he was in grade school. Being a player now on the team “is a dream come true,” he said.

Having transferred from Division II South Dakota-based Augustana University to ISU, freshman defensive back Franky West, a Normal Community West High School alum, said he is looking forward to playing, once again, for the home crowd. To comply with NCAA rules, the 5 foot-10, 170 pound defensive back will sit out this season and be ready to play for the Redbirds next season. His father, Frank Sr., played for ISU in the 1980s and played in two and won one Canadian Football League Grey Cup Championship game with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Until he gets to play next season, the younger West is on the Redbirds’ scout team helping play the role of the upcoming Redbirds opponent, and said he is looking forward to competing on behalf of ISU.

Sophomore defensive lineman and Bloomington High alum John Ridgeway saw action last season – “about 50 snaps a game” by his count – and the experience last season “gave me a chance to show my talents.” He said the biggest change playing at this level versus in high school is “I’m usually surrounded by dudes who are my size if not bigger.” But since Ridgeway is listed at 6 foot-6 and 325 pounds, being around opponents of similar strength wasn’t intimidating, he said.

A redshirt freshman last year, long snapper Joey Malinowski said he is looking forward to getting in some action on the turf this season. The 6 foot-1, 250 pound Central Catholic product is spending training camp trying “to work myself into the standard rotation for points after touchdown and punting situations. Right now, in training camp, I’m just trying to perfect the craft I’m working on and be as prepared when that time comes.”

Circle Your Calendars: ISU opens the season on the road at Northern Illinois Saturday, Aug. 31. Spack’s Redbirds play before a home crowd at Hancock Stadium Sept. 7 in a non-conference contest against Morehead State, starting with a 6:30p.m. kickoff. The Redbirds’ first Missouri Valley Football Conference opponent will be Saturday, Oct. 5 when North Dakota State visits Hancock Stadium for a 12 Noon game. Indiana State visits for Homecoming 2p.m. game on Oct. 26, and Missouri State closes out the home schedule for the Redbirds on Senior Day for a 12 Noon kickoff.

By Steve Robinson | August 5, 2019 - 10:39 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Time was, when you wanted to get a six-pack of your favorite beer or another sort of liquor, it required you to get in your car, drive to the store, you’re your car, go into the store, find the aisle or designated cooler with your favorite beverage, choose said beverage, pay for it at checkout, and then go back to your car.

Monday night, at their regularly-scheduled session in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, Normal Town Council members voted unanimously to shorten that journey to getting your favorite brew or flavor of liquor. With two Council members absent, the five remaining members of the governing body unanimously approved an ordinance amending the Town’s Liquor Code regarding delivering of alcohol, service locations, and movie theater licensing.

As the ordinance was drafted by Town Staff, the amendment would permit both curbside and delivery of alcohol provided the retailer holds a Class A (All Liquor – Off-Premises Consumption) license, and the facility seeking the Class A license must be 10,000 sq. ft. or greater.

In addition, licensees must meet a number of requirements, including: Must register their curbside/pick-up service with the Town Clerk, and have their employees attend basset training – something that employees will be required to do if the employees are making deliveries of alcoholic liquor.

The new Town amendment to the liquor code would prohibit delivery if the customer receiving the delivery is intoxicated. The employee making the delivery must confirm the recipient of the delivery is 21-years-old or older.

The ordinance amendment states curbside deliveries may not occur outside the hours relating to the Class A license, which would be from 7a.m.-1a.m. on Sundays through Thursdays, and from 7a.m. through 1:45a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The ordinance contains reciprocal language so Bloomington liquor holders with a facility of 10,000 sq. ft. or greater may make deliveries within the Town of Normal.

Nord Defends “Lone Wolf” Status: During final comments by Council members before the meeting adjourned, Council Member Stan Nord responded to comments Mayor Chris Koos made in a letter to Bloomington officials in which he referred to Nord as a “lone wolf” for Nord meeting with Bloomington Fire Department officials on his own concerning trying to merge Twin Cities’ fire departments. Nord is also accused by Koos of attempting to lure a Bloomington business to occupy space in Uptown Normal.

During closing comments before the meeting adjourned, Nord responded to Koos’ criticism, stating he’s proud to be a lone wolf when it comes to protecting taxpayers from wasteful spending. Nord added he would not ask Koos to apologize or to take back the false statements which were sent to the City of Bloomington and then then became public knowledge through the media.

Council Member Kevin McCarthy added to the discussion objecting to Nord’s claims of Town government not watching its spending habits when taxpayer dollars are being used, going so far as to remind Nord the Council cut jobs to reduce spending.

When the meeting began with a vote on the omnibus agenda, Nord asked to discuss seven of the eight items on that agenda. Items on the omnibus agenda are approved on a single vote. Two of the items Nord pulled for discussion from the omnibus agenda were items he said fellow new Council Member Karyn Smith had asked him to ask about, although Smith was not present for the session.

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

• Approval of minutes of the Regular Council meeting held July 15, 2019.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of July 31, 2019.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and executing a three-year agreement with Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based All City Management Services, Inc. for school crossing guard management services.

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

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the execution of a contract with Lombard, Ill.-based Just In Time Pool & Spa Service in the amount of $132,460 for the Fairview Family Aquatic Center zero depth entry pool resurfacing project.

• A resolution to accept bids and award a contract to Bloomington-based Stark Excavating, Inc. for the 2019 sump pump discharge and storm sewer improvement project in the amount of $575,000.

• An ordinance establishing parking restrictions along both sides of Shelbourne Drive from School St. to Charlotte Drive for the implementation of bike lanes.

• An ordinance repealing the adoption of the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code, Town Municipal Code Section 11.4-1G.