McLean County News Briefs

Judge Robert Freitag has now been assigned to oversee felony cases against five persons associated with the former management company overseeing the U.S. Cellular Arena

McLean County

Sheriff to begin overseeing liquor inspections

Hoping to clear up a backlog, police within the McLean County Sheriff’s Department will begin conducting inspections of 141 liquor establishments. Sheriff Jon Sandage last week announced his department his reached an agreement with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission to handle inspections in all but one municipality.

Bloomington will continue conducting its own inspections. The state, which had been handling the task, passed it off to the sheriff because of a lack of state inspectors. As part of the new agreement, the state will reimburse the county $75 for each inspection. 

Former ISU president named as director of ISBE

Al Bowman, who served as president of Illinois State University from 2003-12, has been named executive director of Illinois Board of Higher Education. The organization addresses issues pertaining to public institutions across the state.

Bowman, 64, started the job last week after board members appointed him to the position.

Although the Bloomington resident retired from ISU five years ago, he has remained active in public education by teaching classes and developing training programs. In his new role, Bowman is succeeding James Applegate, who held the position for three years before resigning in January. 


New judge to oversee U.S. Cellular Arena indictment cases

Judge Robert Freitag has now been assigned to oversee felony cases against five persons associated with the former management company overseeing the U.S. Cellular Arena. State’s Attorney Adam Ghrist granted a motion to make the change.

The defendants, free on bond, have been accused of taking more than $1.1 million in city funds over a nearly six-year period of time. John Butler, president of Central Illinois Arena Management, has been charged, as have four staffers within his company, including Paul Grazer, Kelly Klein, Jay Laesch and Bart Rogers. Freitag will begin overseeing hearings related to the cases in December. The U.S. Cellular Arena has since been renamed the Grossinger Motors Arena.   

Woman struck by car while crossing Market Street

A 63-year-old Chicago woman was struck by a car while crossing a major thoroughfare in the early morning hours of Friday, Nov. 3. According to Bloomington Police, the incident occurred in the 1700 block of West Market Street.

When officers and medical personnel arrived, the woman was found conscious and breathing near the intersection of Market and Caroline streets. She was transported to Advocate BroMenn Medical Center. Police interviewed the driver involved in the accident, who refused medical treatment. The incident remains under investigation at press deadline.

District 87 projects tax rate could drop 2 cents

Residents living within the boundaries of Bloomington School District 87 could see a 2-cent drop in the overall tax rate for the 2017 tax year, based on the assumption of growth within the tax base. According to numbers the district crunched, the owner of a home assessed at $150,000 would see their tax bill reduced by about $10, from $2,570 to $2,560, based on projections. The School Board will vote on District 87’s property tax levy, expected to total $44.48 million, at a meeting Wednesday, Dec. 13.


Ross Dress for Less eyed for former Dick’s space in Normal

Discount fashion retailer Ross Dress for Less could assume an empty storefront at 200 N. Greenbriar Drive that most recently was occupied by Dick’s Sporting Goods, though neither the town of Normal nor the retailer itself have confirmed or denied the plans. Phillips Edison and Company, owner of the property, has received an $800,000 sales tax rebate in exchange for making $1 million in improvements to the site. Ross has retail locations across Illinois — the closest location being in Peoria — but the clothier has yet to open a store in the Twin Cities. Dick’s vacated its Greenbriar Drive store a year ago when it relocated to the Empire Crossing development in Bloomington. Dick’s assumed a space that previously housed a Kmart. 

Citing long-term savings, ISU trustees to take out $24 million in bonds

Illinois State University’s board of trustees has authorized a new set of bonds in an overture aimed at saving nearly $24 million in the next 25 years. The bonds were tied to the trustees’ vote on a 2018 operating budget of nearly $427 million. The new bonds, which have lower interest rates, will replace previous ones taken out for student housing on Cardinal Court and the university’s fitness center.

Police investigating use of counterfeit money at local grocery store 

Normal Police are investigating an incident involving a man using counterfeit $100 bills at Schnucks, 1750 N. Bradford Lane. According to store security footage, the man is described as standing between 5 feet, 2 inches and 5 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing about 100 pounds and having short hair. At the time of the incident, he wore a dark jacket and jeans. Police are asking anyone with information to contact Detective Brad Park at (309) 454-9527 or


–McLean County News Briefs–