NORMAL – Kathleen Lorenz shared a concern with fellow Normal Council members during the governing body’s regular session on July 20, done remotely, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her concern centered on what she said she has observed as what she saw as “troubling behaviors” during Council sessions. She said what she was about to present to Council members has been bothering her for about the past 15 months.

She said her criticism was not being levied at any fellow Council members’ behavior, but that is was being levied how she believed the Council comprised of 4 men and 3 women could work better together.

Her first concern was levied at Council Member Stan Nord related to how she has observed Nord seeming to challenge how work done by Town staff gets done. She said how Nord phrases questions he puts to fellow Council members during Council meetings is what she found concerning. Nord is one of two first-time Council members elected in April of 2019. Karyn Smith is the other newcomer to the Council.

In Nord’s questions, Lorenz said she hears “a basic mistrust of Town staff that makes up our local government.” She cited that when Nord makes an inquiry about an issue, his question checking to see if there might be a policy on what he is referring to comes with what she identified as an “us versus them mentality.” She explained to Nord that such attitudes “breeds a sense of mistrust. That includes a mistrust in government, a mistrust in all of us, a mistrust in the staff.”

She cited Nord will ask, depending on a particular subject, “Don’t we have a policy on this?” She pivoted by reminding the Council as a whole “we are all on the same team. We all have the word Normal in our title somewhere – Normal City Manager, Normal Town Council person, Normal Police Chief, Normal Water Department. We’re all on the same team.”

Directly, to Nord, she explained that when he asks if there is not a policy related to a certain matter, it comes across as though he doubts what the Town Staff are doing concerning certain matters.

“We should challenge each other to do better, but we should do it with a level of respect,” she said. “Tearing one person down tears all of us down, and it also tears the whole team down.”

She added she felt the Council has “begun to vacillate between some form of flight or fight,” explaining that on some issues, when there are disagreements among Council members, others, she said, stay away and “wait for it to get over, and sit idly by and don’t say anything.” But she added, there will be Council members who will respond to such moments and either defend or refute what has been said. If they aren’t doing one of the other, she said, Council members become observers during those moments.

Lorenz did list four things she said she would like to see the Council work on to improve relations within the group. The four items are: “To hold ourselves to a standard of trust in each other and in Town Staff,” she said; Work to find common ground, which would include working toward 7-0 votes on issues; Not vote in dissention just to be disagreeable; and Avoid casting abstention votes.

On the latter item, Lorenz said sometimes a vote comes down “to being between bad and awful because there is no easy answer, but to abstain shirks that responsibility.”

The fourth item Lorenz recommended was for Council members to be held accountable for watching conduct – to call out tones of mistrust; and calling out points of order when needed.

Trying to meet those challenges, Lorenz said, “will make every first and third Monday a whole lot more productive and a whole lot more valuable. It’s what our taxpayers expect and deserve.”

Reached Sunday for comment, Nord said, “My position and role is to oversee government, which by default means you have to question government.” He cited Dixon, Illinois where a lack of council oversight led to that community’s comptroller being able to embezzle nearly $53 million eight years ago.

“This is the way the whole system was built, with checks and balances,” Nord said.

Concerning what Lorenz sees as mistrust in Town staff on Nord’s part, Nord said, “She may interpret it that way, but I see it as my asking a question, and if I don’t get answers to the question, then, I keep asking ‘til I get the answers.”

Nord said when he has questions, the only person he asks questions of is City Manager Pam Reece, who is, in effect, the only employee the Council has reporting to them.

Lorenz has been bothered by the fact Nord has been asking Town Staff since the national pandemic started how many at-home movies have been sold, allowing residents to watch films at home they would otherwise go see at the Normal Theater were it possible. The Town is selling viewings of films for $12 each. Nord said the Town spent slightly over $5,000 to advertise the films, and he has inquired of Town staff how many have been purchased, and how much money has the Town taken in as a result.

Nord said he last received an update on how much the Town has taken in from that program about a month and a half ago but no further updates since. “When I find that out, I can determine whether that’s a good value,” Nord said. “Without that information, I don’t know if what was spent was a good value.”

Of Lorenz’s four suggestions she said would improve how the Council gets along, Nord said he want to see Council negotiate to arrive at 7-0 votes. “If it’s just an ultimatum, take it or leave it, then that’s going to be a challenge.” He cited an omnibus item from that meeting’s agenda approving a billing service agreement between the Town and Michigan-based AccuMed Billing, Inc. for ambulance billing services for the Town.

Council members voted 6-1 in favor of the resolution with Nord opposing. He said he would have preferred to have had additional information before deciding. “Otherwise, on votes like that, I’m being asked to take it or leave it,” Nord said. He said he wished another company had put it a competitive bid in this case.

“Normal is a diverse community,” Nord said. “We’re not always going to have everybody on the same page for everything. So, I don’t necessary think it’s bad that you’ve got someone presenting an opposing view. Seven and 0 looks like rubber stamp voting, or there’s some party not being represented.”

NORMAL – As the pandemic which the country has dealt with since earlier this year continues, a plan formulated by Normal-based Unit 5 School District to reopen schools in August was unanimously approved by School Board members. The plan received unanimous approval of Board members with the condition that the district’s new superintendent will have latitude to revise the plan as situations develop.

But the plan was met with concern from parents and some district teachers who addressed the Board’s first in-person session since mid-March, held at Normal Community West High School.

The Board meeting was the first one held in person since the district closed school buildings by order of the State and had students engage in remote learning in March. About 125 people social distanced in and around the school cafeteria.

Two Board members – Taunia Leffler and Barry Hitchins – participated by phone, making use of a Board policy which allows for it. This was also the first Board meeting for new superintendent Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle since being introduced in January and starting officially on July 1.

Spectators numbering around 125 spread out to be socially distant in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Some sat in the cafeteria and kitchen area while others sat in rows distancing from one another in corridors near the cafeteria, listening intently to Board members and citizens who made public comments.

Among the mandated precautions the plan devised by the district are: Students must wear masks at all times unless eating or outside; Schools will perform social distancing to the greatest extent possible; Physical education classes will take place while adhering to social distancing guidelines as much as possible and without the use of locker rooms, except for swimming classes.

The district will continue providing breakfast and lunch under the plan, with students only allowed to remove masks for eating. Under the plan, only 50 students at a time will be allowed in cafeterias to allow for social distancing.

Pre-Kindergarten students will attend half-day, either morning or afternoon; Kindergarten through fifth grade will attend in person five days a week, and sixth graders through high school seniors will attend in person Mondays and Tuesdays. On Wednesdays, teachers will lead remote discussions, followed on Thursdays and Fridays by students engaged in learning and working on assignments at their own pace.

Before the vote, during public comments, 13 people spoke, all in opposition to the plan. A few were district employees. Michelle Kraft, a Benjamin Elementary School second grade teacher, told Board members those who teach in the district are aware in-person learning “is best whenever possible.” She said the district plan for social distancing aren’t realistic when it comes to working it at younger grade levels. “The plan says to do social distancing the best that you can, but how can you in a busy second grade classroom?,” she asked.

Lyndsey Dickinson, president of Unit Five Education Association, the union that represents nearly 1,000 district teachers, told Board members. “When the pandemic hit, our members immediately adjusted and adapted, working remotely to support the growth and learning of our students. She called remote learning “an immense challenge for our students, their parents and caregivers.”

She stated UFEA did not “directly participate in the development of this plan,” established by the district’s pandemic advisory committee. “We would have liked to work collaboratively with the district on the development of the plan.”

Following the meeting, Dr. Kendrick-Weikle countered Dickinson’s claim concerning whether UFEA members were included as part of the advisory committee for input. “They were included in the pandemic advisory committee,” she said. “They were provided opportunities to speak up.” The superintendent specified Dickinson was present for a meeting held on July 17 in the district office when the district’s initial plan was reviewed prior to the plan being publicly announced.

“I am concerned the plan does not do enough to address the number of bodies in class each day,” added teacher George Van Winkle in his public comments, pointing out there are as many as 25 students or more in an average elementary school classroom, a number that jumps to around 30 or more once kids enter junior high and high school. He asked how, one aspect of the plan, splitting class sizes alphabetically, would assure class numbers would keep kids safe from potential exposure to the virus.

Tyler McWhorter, a teacher at Normal Community High School, asked Board members to vote in favor of the plan if they felt it was good enough to use in order to send their own children back to class, a request which received a smattering of applause from attendees. He also issued a challenge to Normal Town leaders and officials from the City of Bloomington, McLean County, and local State leaders to “come spend a full day in one of our schools under this new plan because we are past the point of merely discussing it in terms of public education.”

Prefacing her comments with the number of people who have lost lives as a result of the pandemic, Aditi Sharma, who will be an NCHS senior this fall, added, “There is one thing we should never be forced to compromise, and that is the safety of our families. Opening schools now is irresponsible and dangerous. People are tired, frustrated, and misinformed. As a result, they are not social distancing and wearing masks, especially teenagers.”

“Can you fully assure that students are social distancing in school of over 2,000 kids, who are being divided into three groups only for attendance?’ Sharma asked Board members, reminding that “teenagers are impulsive and don’t always listen to authority. Take it from me, a teenager.”

Contract With Laborers’ Union Approved: Board members also approved a contract with staff members who belong to Local 362 of Laborers’ International Union of North America, which represents full-time and part-time custodians.

By Steve Robinson | July 20, 2020 - 10:26 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – At their regularly-scheduled meeting Monday night, done remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Normal Town Council members received a financial snapshot as to how the Town is holding up through the event’s first quarter. The result appears to be Normal is holding its own and may even be doing better than most communities in the area.

Town Financial Director Andrew Huhn provided a recap of what expenses the Town has seen increase while others have been untouched as a result of the pandemic which saw businesses either limit hours or close entirely until given approval through a State-directed reopening plan.

Huhn stated Normal financially found itself, in general, either at or above expected numbers in terms of incoming revenue during the first quarter of the year. In addition, he added, the Town saw savings in the form of fewer expenses related to cultural arts and parks and recreation programs and activities which were postponed or cancelled as a result of the shutdown

He added a number of factors played a role in the Town being able to remain in good financial shape at the early stages of the crisis. Those factors ranged from the Town being able to hang onto savings from cuts in programs and salary to local electric car manufacturer Rivian Automotive’s opting to not accept a $1 million payment from the Town.

Mayor Chris Koos credited City Manager Pam Reece and Huhn for their efforts regarding the Town budget during the crisis, and in addition, asked residents to continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing as a means to keep the Town from having to experience any future shutdowns.

At a Council session in May, Reece and Huhn provided Council members a report concerning how they thought the pandemic could affect the Town’s general fund. Estimates made by Town officials predicted COVID would impact the Town to the tune of $10.4 million. But at Monday’s session, Huhn and Reece explained the Town has seen a drop in revenue of around $7.8 million in revenue to be expected in several tax categories.

Residents were able to see the session either online via Zoom streaming service, or broadcast live on YouTube.

Council Unanimously Approves Amending 2019-20 Operating & Capital Investment Budgets: Council members unanimously approved an ordinance amending both the Town Operating Budget and Investment Budget for fiscal year 2019-20. The Town sought Council approval to amendment to increase revenue for FY2019-20 in the amount of $6,993,298 and a budget amendment which would increase authorized expenditures in the amount of $5,536,177.

Normal’s Town-wide revenue budget saw a net increase in the 2019-20 fiscal year of $6,993,298 boosting that revenue to $137,099,109. Among the reasons for the boost included the Town transferring surplus from the general fund to the Roadway Fund and better than expected revenue results in the General Fund.

The State of Illinois contributed to the Town’s financial health, too, according to Huhn’s report. Also part of his report was that the Town also received an additional $258,000 in Motor Fuel Tax funds from the State’s 19-cent gas tax increase. In terms of other funds from the State, the Town reported there were no significant decreases in monies received.

The Town-wide expenditure budget also saw an increase of $5,536,177, to $134,475,579.

Council Unanimously Approves Expansion Plan Sought By Rivian Automotive: Without discussion, Council members unanimously approved an amended site plan for Rivian Automotive, located at 100 N. Rivian Motorway on Normal’s west side. Among the items counted as part of the electric vehicle manufacturer’s plan were plans to expand the current building with additions which would range in size from 39,000 sq. ft. to 262,000 sq. ft. for a total of 576,000 sq. ft. The company would add landscaping as required by Town code.

Normal Planning Commission held a public hearing for the Rivian project on July 9. No members of the public testified. The Planning Commission voted 6-0 in favor of the plan as submitted.

Council Unanimously Approves Preliminary Plan For Pheasant Run Subdivision: Council members unanimously approved a preliminary subdivision plan for a 102.6-acre subdivision located north and east of the intersection of Raab Road and Linden Street. The majority of the subdivision is zoned R-1B Medium Density Residence District, with a couple of areas zoned R-2 Mixed Residence, known as Pheasant Run subdivision.

The Preliminary Subdivision Plan for the Pheasant Ridge Subdivision was approved by the Town Council in September, 1994 and shows a future roadway connection to the currently undeveloped property northwest of Pheasant Ridge. A preliminary subdivision plan provided to the Town lays out the lots, streets and outlots.

In order for this neighborhood to expand, Normal Planning Commission members needed to reapprove the preliminary plan proposed for it. Normal Planning Commission members did just that during a public hearing for the reapproval on July 9. Two members of the Pheasant Ridge Homeowners’ Association spoke, after which NPC members unanimously approved the plan to send it on to Council members.

Pair Of Nussbaum Trucking Requests Approved: In a single unanimous vote, Council members approved a resolution reapproving the final plat of Nussbaum Transportation’s second subdivision and Nussbaum’s Third Subdivision, located at 19336 North 1425 East Road. In a report to Council members submitted by Town Planner Mercy Davison, it was explained that approving the final plats was conditional, in part, on the developer filing various certificates with the

Town within 90 days. But, one of the required certificates – the drainage certificate – was recently submitted.

Because the original 90-day period for filing for plats has expired, the Town Council needed to reapprove the final plats prior to the Town Clerk recording both with the County.

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

• Approval of the minutes of the public hearing of July 6, 2020 pertaining to the proposed amendment of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Citizen Participation Plan.

• Approval of the minutes of the public hearing of July 6, 2020 pertaining to the proposed revision of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program’s 2020-2024 consolidated plan and program year 2020-2021 action plan.

• Approval of the minutes of the regular Council meeting of July 6, 2020.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of July 15, 2020.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an agreement with the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program Environmental Reviews.

• A resolution to award the bid for the Oak Street water main replacement project to Bloomington-based George Gildner Inc. at a total cost of $545,600, plus up to a potential $15,000 bonus for early completion.

• A resolution to award the bid for the replacement of a standby emergency generator for the West Booster Station to Wilcox Electric at a total cost of $119,900 and authorizing an associated budget adjustment of $19,900.

• A resolution authorizing a contract with Peoria-based Hoerr Construction Inc. for the 2020 sanitary and storm sewer cleaning and televising contract in the amount of $411,664.40.

• A resolution approving three year continuing service agreements and hourly rates and direct costs for professional engineering and architectural services for 2020-2023 for various Town departments.

• A resolution Authorizing a first addendum to the billing service agreement with AccuMed Billing Inc. for ambulance billing.

• A resolution considering release of executive session minutes from June 19, 2017; And Feb. 18, April 15, and December 16, all 2019.

By Steve Robinson | July 17, 2020 - 6:13 am
Posted in Category: Normal Cornbelters, The Normalite

It would be a safe bet to say that we were all thrown a curve ball courtesy of the pandemic we are currently in the midst of. Among the biggest casualties from it was our various means of escape from what we find ourselves facing when we watch the news: The ability to turn on another station to check out a ball game – any ball game, be it basketball, baseball, even arena football (if it is still around).

We were further deprived of sports when local high school softball and baseball teams had their seasons nixed as a result of the circumstances we are facing. And when May came around, if you were like me, potentially losing the ability to spend some summer nights watching the Normal CornBelters at The Corn Crib looked to be in jeopardy.

But the CornBelters were also throwing fans a curve of their own when they parted ways with the Prospect League after just one season which showcased strictly college players using a shortened season. We were just getting acquainted when team management tossed another curve by creating its own league and used players mainly from the immediate area and vicinity founding the Kernels Collegiate League, or KCL. In the years I have written about sports, I have seen teams exit from one league to the next before and this was one of the quickest.

And normally, during the summer, thanks to the ol’ editor, Mr. Pyne, I got to spend my summer covering games and interviewing local players. I had been looking forward to it starting in May and keeping me busy all summer.

But the pandemic abbreviated KCL’s schedule. So, to make up for that, using the rosters provided by the league, and with their thanks, I will list all of the local players from each team and the high school and college attended. Players who attend or attended local schools will be listed first.

There are only four teams in this league, and primarily being identified by their mascots, no communities mentioned. KCL teams are the CornBelters, Bobcats, Gems, and Hoots. I am presenting the teams in the order they are seen in current KCL standings.

CornBelters: Peyton Dillingham, outfielder, Normal Community West High School, Morehead State University; McCade Brown, pitcher, Normal West, Indiana University; Parker Mathieson, outfielder, University High, Parkland College; Nick Sharp, catcher, Bloomington High School, Odessa (TX) Community College; and Jack Gilmore, pitcher, Bloomington Central Catholic, Heartland Community College.

Gems: Brandon Roth, outfielder, Normal West, Black Hawk College; Billy Mote, infielder, U-High, Southeastern University (Fla.); Jacob Mote, infielder, U-High, Marshall Univ.; Jackson Bronke, pitcher, NCHS, ISU; Garrett Swingler, pitcher, Normal West, IWU; Drew Ziebarth, pitcher, U-High, University of Central Missouri; and Reid Rector, infielder, BHS, Rend Lake College.

Hoots: Austin Collinson, infielder, Normal West, Carl Sandburg College; Brendan Short, pitcher, NCHS, Central College (Iowa); Brendan Tupper, outfielder, U-High, Parkland College; Mason Burns, pitcher, NCHS, ISU; Will Dowell, pitcher, NCHS, Iowa Lakes Community College; C. J. Lewis, pitcher, Normal West, Parkland College; Nathan Hardman, pitcher, U-High, Lincoln Land Community College; Evan Hutson, infielder, Normal West, IWU; Alex Zogg, infielder, Normal West, Millikin Univ.; Sam Heaton, infielder, BCC, John Carroll University; and Jonathan Naour, pitcher, BCC, IWU.

Bobcats: Alec McGinnis, infielder, Normal West, Augustana College; Tyler Thierry, Normal Community High School, Heartland Community College; Nick Gilhaus, infielder, NCHS, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Jake McCaw, infielder, NCHS, Illinois State University; Jake Marti, outfielder, Normal West, University of Michigan; J. D. Theile, pitcher, NCHS, Eureka College; Christian Badorek, pitcher, NCHS, Millikin University; Will Kafer, outfielder, Normal West, Illinois Wesleyan University; Griffin McClusky, pitcher, NCHS, Valparaiso University; Jacob Gilmore, pitcher, BCC, ISU; Jake Jacek, pitcher, NCHS, Cisco Community College; and Jimmy Butler, infielder, Tri-Valley High School, IWU.

We can all hope to see these players in action before KCL ends its season on Sunday, Aug. 9. Here is hoping these young men will be able to make the best of their KCL season before starting what we all hope are their very successful college careers.

NORMAL – Sometimes it has to do with one’s skills. Sometimes it might have to do with one’s ability to reach out within the community. Whatever reason a person is given an appointment to a Board or Commission related to the community, in Normal, there rarely is debate over an appointee. But as their session, conducted remotely, drew to a close on July 6, Normal Town Council members pondered how future appointees should be selected.

The post seeking to be filled was a vacant seat on the Connect Transit Board, overseeing group of the Town’s public transit system, and which had been vacant for the last couple years. As a result of a Mayoral appointment, the post was filled as Mayor Chris Koos named Timothy McCue, a Normal resident currently serving Area Coordinator for Illinois State University’s Housing Services. McCue has spent more than 20 years as advocate, educator and public speaker on issues of accessibility, mobility and disability experience in multiple states.

The post McCue has filled has become one which no one seemed to want given what appeared to be the perceived political climate inside Connect Transit, some observers noted.

McCue was among four appointees for Boards and Commissions and 15 people reappointed for six Boards or Commissions.

“This has been quite the volatile topic for quite a number of months,” Council Member Karyn Smith said in leading off the discussion. “It would have been appreciated to be able to speak to this individual and found out their thoughts on certain policies of the Connect Transit Board.” She said she has been contacted by residents who wanted Council members to provide guidance to Connect’s Board.

Koos admitted one of the reason the Board seat has been “so empty so long is because it has been so heavily politicized…that frankly, people I reached out to have told me because of that, there was no way they would consider the appointment.”

He pointed out that over the course of “50 years or better, these appointments have been Mayoral appointments.” He said who he appoints to that body has shown he has appointed who he thought was best. “I have never been challenged in 18 years concerning appointments,” Koos added. “Tonight, I am being challenged.”

He singled out directly Smith and Council Member Stan Nord, both of whom have disagreed at times with Council decisions, for questioning the appointment. Concerning Connect, Koos said, “I have had to go up and find people” to serve on this Board, citing the transit company’s internal political structure.

Koos said if Council members aren’t comfortable with his appointments, the subject of how they should be handled can be put on the Council’s Retreat agenda, a function which normally takes place in mid-winter or early spring.

To Smith, he added, “I do take it personally that you do feel I am not able to make an appropriate appointment to the Board,” adding he had invested time talking to McCue and those who know him to make sure he was the person Koos wanted to put in place on the Connect Board. Before there was discussion concerning the process, Koos cautioned Council members he would not entertain any comments directly associated with McCue’s appointment.

“The ultimate ‘buck stops here’ for 50 years has been with the mayor,” a process Council Member Kathleen Lorenz said she supports, partly because of efficiency.

Before the appointees were announced Smith said she had no doubt in Koos’ being able to choose qualified candidates. She added there is a public perception issue needing to be addressed when the Mayor and Council members hold their retreat.

Two Resolutions Related To Community Development Block Grants Approved: Council members unanimously approved two resolutions both related to Community Development Block Grants. The filings were of CDBG Program’s revised 2020-2024 Consolidated Plan, and the second filing was of the Program Year 2020-2021 Action Plan. As a result, the Town will receive $246,067 in new CDBG funds for expenses related to dealing with Coronavirus funds, and $15,000 in fiscal year 2020-2021 CDBG funds which needed to be reallocated from program administration for in-home education assistance to low- to moderate-income households during the summer months

Amended Policy Prohibiting Sexual Harassment Approved: Council members unanimously approved a resolution approving an amended policy prohibiting sexual harassment. In 2017, the Illinois General Assembly enacted Public Act 100-556, establishing sexual harassment policies with respect to State government. That statute also required local governments to pass a resolution or ordinance establishing a policy prohibiting sexual harassment.

At that time, the Town Council voted to adopt an ordinance establishing a policy that retains the provisions of the Town’s long-standing prohibitions of sexual harassment while including additional information required by the new State law.

Public Act 101-0221, issued August 2019, amended the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act and requires the establishment of a mechanism specifically for reporting and independent review of allegations of sexual harassment made against an elected official of the governmental unit by another elected official of a governmental unit.” The updated version of the law retains parts of the 2017 law with required additional provisions.

Sugar Creek Bank Updating Project Approved: Council members unanimously approved a resolution awarding a contract to Bloomington-based Stark Excavating, Inc. in the amount of $630,505 to furnish and install roughly 2,300 lineal feet of channel bank grading to build a stabilized channel cross section along the North Branch of Sugar Creek from Blair Drive to College Avenue.

The proposed project includes removing over-growth trees, brush, and debris along the creek, reshaping of the creek embankments to improve hydraulic flow, and repairs needed to pipe culverts. Areas of erosion and sedimentation will also be addressed along with access improvements for future maintenance. Construction on this project is slated for later this month with completion slated for some time in the fall.

Illinois Fire Juniors Soccer Club Updates Council On Proposed Land Purchase: In the last few years, youth soccer players and their fans have been looking to relocate since being asked to vacate land used by Central Illinois Regional Airport because the airport’s governing body, Central Illinois Airport Authority, wanted to use the land for other uses.

That left the Illinois Fire Juniors Soccer Club to seek another location for games. At this session, Tim Kock, president of Illinois Fire Soccer Club, joined by Jeremy Kelley, the Club’s secretary and chair of their capital campaign, announced they had found land which would be large enough for what they want to do – a multi-sport complex. The land borders North Towanda Ave., East Raab Rd., and Shelbourne Dr. Kock said the announcement to Council members was “the first step in coming to an agreement with the landowner and the Town and allow us a chance to invest more money in this project.

The Club envisions putting 10 soccer full-size fields and seven smaller fields within the complex, Kock explained.

The Club had been in talks with Normal City Manager Pam Reece, Bloomington City Manager Tim Gleeson, and were preparing to make a presentation to the McLean County Planning Commission.

Connect Transit Updates Council: Council members received an update concerning from Isaac Thorne, general manager of Connect Transit, the in-town bus service for the Twin Cities, and Julie Hile, a Connect Transit Board member. Thorne updated Council members on steps the busing provider had put into place since mid-March in light of Covid-19. Those included cleaning and disinfecting buses every four hours. In addition, the company suspended collecting fares when the pandemic began in mid-March. Thorne said fare collection recently resumed.

Hile said the transportation provider is looking to receive what the company described as “sustainable funding” from the Town of Normal in the amount of $100,000 this year and the same amount in 2021.

Resolution Supporting Small Development Center Approved: Council members unanimously approved a resolution authorizing annual support by the Council for the Small Business Development Center.

Small Business Development Center supports small businesses and entrepreneurs in McLean County. As a result of the vote, the Town will contribute funds to the SBDC in the following amounts: In Fiscal Year 2020-21: $44,854; in fiscal year 2021-22, $44,854; and in fiscal year 2022-23, $44,854.

Special Use Signage Permit With Variation Declined: Council members voted 6-1 to decline an ordinance for a special use permit for signage requested by 1320 E. College Ave. for a second freestanding sign. Mayor Chris Koos, joined by Council Members Kevin McCarthy, Kathleen Lorenz, Scott Preston, Chemberly Cummings, and Karyn Smith voted in favor of the measure while Council Member Stan Nord cast the lone opposing vote.

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

• Approval of minutes of the regular Council meeting of June 15, 2020.

• Approval of minutes of the public hearing of June 22, 2020.

• Approval of the minutes of the special meeting of June 22, 2020.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of July 1, 2020.