McLean County News Briefs

Chronicle Media

The Town of Normal has delayed the demolition of the on Civil War-era building that once housed the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Children’s School. (Photo courtesy of  Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Children)

McLean County

Local first quarter jobless rate decreases

A recently released report on the job market painted an upbeat portrait for McLean County. At the end of the first quarter of 2017, the Bloomington-Normal region’s jobless rate decreased 1.2 percent in year-over-year comparisons, from 5.5 percent at the end of March 2016 to 4.3 percent this year.

According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Bloomington-Normal’s jobless rate was the second lowest in the state, behind Chicago. The IDES in its report said Rockford notched the highest unemployment rate, at 8.3 percent, as of March 31.

subhed: Ground broken on county jail expansion

McLean County’s much-anticipated jail expansion project is officially underway. Local leaders gathered last week to usher in construction of the new facility, which will cost $45 million to complete. The addition to the existing jail facility will place inmate capacity at 400 persons, nearly double what it is at present.

One of the expansion’s major discussion points has been added services and greater accommodations for persons suffering from mental illness. The goal, according to county officials, is to have the bulk of the project finished by October 2018.

ISU trustees OK tuition freeze plan

On the heels of Illinois State University President Larry Dietz’s recommendation, the board of trustees overseeing the higher education institution has voted not to increase tuition for the 2017-18 school year.

The trustee’s vote, made Friday, May 12, means new, undergraduate full-time students will pay $370.25 per credit hour in tuition. The board’s decision comes amid funding shortfalls stemming from the state budget impasse in Springfield.  


Black Lives Matter group gets support for police review

Four community organizations have rallied behind the local Black Lives Matter chapter’s recommendation to create a community board that would independently review complaints filed against Bloomington Police officers.

The organization’s lending support include the Bloomington-Normal chapter of the NAACP, Central Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, YWCA McLean County and Not In Our Town. In various statements last week, the five groups said persons of color have lost confidence in the process involving filed complaints against officers.

For its part, the Bloomington City Council met Monday, May 15, after press deadline, to discuss relations between police and the community.

Bike master plan meetings on tap in weeks ahead

Bloomington residents and other interested persons will have an opportunity to offer feedback on a proposed amendment to the city’s bicycle master plan at a pair of upcoming open house-style meetings. Bloomington’s public works department has proposed incorporating portions of Washington Street, from Lee Street to Joseph Drive, in the plan.

The open house meetings will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 23 at the Washington Elementary School cafeteria, 1201 E. Washington St.; and from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 13 in the Gov. Fifer Courtroom at the McLean County Museum of History, 200 N. Main St.

The Bloomington Planning Commission is slated to take up the recommendations at a meeting slated for 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 14 at city hall, 109 E. Olive St. For information, call Michael Hill at (309) 434-2225.

BCPA announces its summer concert sessions

The Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts has a number of seasonal performances slated for the upcoming warm weather months, beginning with a summer solstice concert on Saturday, June 17.

Other events planned this summer include a free performance of “Once Upon a Mattress” at Miller Park in late July and a performance by George Thorogood and the Destroyers. For a full list of what’s on tap in the months ahead, visit the FCA’s website at


Koos remains victor in mayor discovery recount effort

Recently completed results from a discovery recount of the neck-in-neck Normal mayor’s race last month revealed incumbent Chris Koos remained the victor. Koos ran against opponent Mark Tiritilli this spring and etched a marginal victory. Tiritilli requested the discovery recount, which included a comb-through of seven of the town’s 30 precincts. Tiritilli has until Thursday, May 25 to request a full recount of the results.

Demolition delayed on Civil War-era building in town

A dilapidated building that housed the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Children’s School during the Civil War will have a date with the wrecking ball, though when exactly the maneuver will take place remains a question.

The Normal Town Council last fall gave the property owner until this month to begin razing the building, which is considered damaged beyond repair. Thus far, no demolition equipment has dotted the landscape. The Town Council on Monday, May 1 voted to extend the deadline in lieu of the costlier alternative of pursuing legal action.

–McLean County News Briefs–