NORMAL – Normal Town Council members were observed at their regularly-scheduled meeting Monday, not just by community members wanting to witness government in action, but also by 10 members of the local branch of the international group known as Friends Forever. Local Rotary Clubs helped facilitate Normal becoming one of the American communities where five Israeli high school students and five Arab students meet to work on joint community projects in communities throughout the United States. This was the seventh visit made to the Twin Cities by students from Friends Forever. the group sent students here on their first visit to the Twin Cities in 2013.

At Monday’s session, Council members heard from two Israeli citizens – an Israeli young woman and an Arab young man – as they informed Council members about the experiences they have been having in the program. The teens will be in this country, and the community for two weeks, observing and becoming involved in community projects.

Council members heard from a teenage Israeli young woman named Hod Malka and a teenage Arab young man named Sari Okal. The pair spoke of their lifestyles in their homeland to the gathering among other subjects.

Council members also heard from a young man who is an alumni of the program, identified as Yoav. “I am here tonight to help out the program,” Yoav said. “I am helping draw up the schedule for this year’s group.” He said since his involvement a few years ago as a participant, “I decided to step up and take a big role in this moment and decided to be a leader.” He added being in the program gave him the confidence to decide to become a leader. He said he has been working with 10th graders helping them “understand their place and help them work out their differences.”

Operating And Capital Investment Budget Approved: Council members unanimously approved the Town’s Operating and Capital Investment Budget for fiscal year 2018-2019. The Town adjusted its budget upward by over $3.3 million over the previous fiscal year. The Operating and Capital Investment Budget for the current fiscal year stands at $128,996,652. The upward change in the total of the budget relates to a change in spending for vehicle and equipment needs, and refinancing some of the Town’s debt to a lower interest rate, according to a report submitted to the Council by Town Finance Director Andrew Huhn.

Amended Final Development Plan For One Normal Plaza PUD Approved: Council members unanimously approved a resolution approving an amended final development plan for the Planned Unit Development at One Normal Plaza, located at 613 Oglesby. According to the report given Council members by Town Planner Mercy Davison, a potential new owner for the property seeks to open an event rental business at that address. To complete the process, it was required the development plan for One Normal Plaza be amended. The proposed business would rent tents, tables, and chairs, among other items, and either make deliveries as needed or have customers pick up goods at the location.

Normal Planning Commission held a hearing on the request to amend the development plan at their July 3 meeting. The applicant’s attorney was the only person who spoke at the hearing, where commissioners voted 4-0 in favor of amending the plan for it to be returned to the Council.

Resolution Supporting Connect Transit Working Group Approved: Council members unanimously passed a resolution which showed the Council to be in support of the mission of a working group being established by Connect Transit, the in-town public transportation provider.

The working group is examining transit in the community and the future of transit here, but part of the evening included criticism from a former Mayoral candidate concerning one of Connect Transit recent actions – to seat the son of a transit board member onto the working group panel. Former Normal Mayoral Candidate Marc Tiritilli criticized Connect Transit for placing the son of Connect Board Member Julie Hile on the working group. Hile’s son is disabled and relies on Connect Transit’s service.

Tiritilli also criticized Connect Transit’s decision to employ a facilitator for the working group at a cost of over $53,000. Tiritilli argued that cash could have put to better use by every full-fare Connect Mobility rider free rides for a year. Connect Transit’s website indicates the cost for using the mobility service ranges from $2 to $4 each way depending on the length of the trip.

Luis Figueroa Appointed To Normal’x Human Relations Commission: Luis Figueroa was introduced as being recently appointed to the Town’s Human Relations Commission. An employee of Country Financial, Figueroa is a graduate of Illinois State University currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling at Lincoln Christian University. He will be filling an open seat on the Commission which is set to expire March 31. After that, Figueroa will be eligible for reappointment to a full four year term on the Commission. Figueroa’s wife, Amanda, teaches at Colene Hoose Elementary School. The Figueroas are expecting their first child.

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

• Approval of minutes of regular meeting held July 1, 2019.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of July 10, 2019.

• A resolution authorizing a contract with Peoria-based Hoerr Construction, Inc. for the 2019 sanitary and storm sewer cleaning and televising contract in the amount of $354,070.80.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing a project change order from Bloomington-based George Gildner, Inc. in the amount of $31,112.67 for the Ridgemont Area Water Main Replacement Project, add three additional days to time of contract and authorize an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the Children’s Discovery Museum Executive Director to execute an agreement with Lincolnwood, Ill.-based Luci Creative, LLC to design/build the new “Healthy Me!” exhibit in an amount not to exceed $350,000.

• A resolution conditionally approving the final plat of the Fiala Brothers Subdivision (119, 121, 123, and 127 E. Beaufort).

• Supplemental resolution for Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) project closeout in the amount of $506,062 for the Raab Rd. – NCHS to Towanda Barnes Rd. Project and final Town payment.

• A resolution retaining confidentiality of executive session minutes from June 19, 2017, and Feb. 18 and Apr. 15, both 2019.

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