McLean County News Briefs

Chronicle Media

The city of Bloomington has a new interim community development director.

McLean County

Flu claims lives in McLean County last week

Two persons on opposite ends of the age spectrum died of influenza-related conditions the week before Christmas, according to a report from Coroner Kathy Davis’ office.

The victims, Davis said, were a 25-year-old and a person in an assisted living facility. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year’s flu outbreak could have an early onset and be more severe than prior years.  

County won’t participate in property tax prepayment

McLean County will not be taking part in a new federal program giving residents the opportunity to pay 2018 property taxes before the end of the year so they can be used as a deduction.

The announcement, made out of the treasurer’s office Thursday, Dec. 21, came on the heels of the passage of the new Republican tax law.

In a statement, Treasurer Rebecca McNeil said her office is not capable of tracking prepayments and, at the time, is focused on closing out the county’s 2017 fiscal year. Other nearby counties — including Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford — are giving residents the opportunity to pay their property taxes now so they can take advantage of the new federal deduction.   


Proposed ‘welcoming city’ ordinance on hold for now

After hearing from scores of residents, advocate groups and other interested persons, the Bloomington City Council on Monday, Dec. 18, opted to hold off on implementing a so-called welcoming city ordinance aimed at offering certain protections to the local immigrant community. If enacted as proposed, the policy would prohibit Bloomington Police from cooperating with federal authorities in instances of deportation.

Proponents of the ordinance point out its absence could deter people from reporting crimes, while opponents say the letter of the law needs to be followed on immigration-related issues.

During proceedings, the council agreed to solicit more feedback from the police chief and legal counsel. Elected officials also expressed interest in adopting a wait-and-see approach, opting to see whether Normal or McLean County takes the issue up.

City hires interim community development director

As a long-term search continues, city of Bloomington officials last week announced the hiring of Robert Mahrt as interim community development director.

His first day on the job was Thursday, Dec. 21. “I am pleased to welcome Mr. Mahrt to the city of Bloomington,” Interim City Manager Steve Rasmussen said in a statement. “He brings with him experience and passion that I believe will help the department greatly during this time of transition.”

Mahrt’s professional resume includes stints as interim city administrator in Lincoln, city administrator in Monticello and Aledo and community development director in Mahomet, and Macomb.  

Snowbird Open golf tournament on New Year’s Day

Highland Golf Course, 1613 S. Main St., is hosting its 45th annual Snowbird Open golf tournament, beginning at 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 1.

The event will be played as a 9-hole individual stroke play. All golfers need to begin teeing off by noon. The entry fee is $2 per person. Carts will be available, weather permitting. Players are not obligated to keep score and can make their own foursome or groups. For information, call Jason Wingate at the Bloomington parks and recreation department at (309) 434-2300.


Railroad crossing quiet zone goes into effect Jan. 8

The town of Normal has established a railroad quiet zone that goes into effect Monday, Jan. 8. The announcement comes after collaboration with a number of agencies, including the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, Illinois Commerce Commission, Illinois Department of Transportation, Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak.

The quiet zone, which impacts a number of railroad crossings in the town, does not mean horns never will sound. But the change does mean train crews will not be blowing horns as often. The town has posted more details on the upcoming change at  

Council member named to serve on national organization

Chemberly Cummings, a member of the Normal Town Council, has been appointed to serve on the National League of Cities’ 2018 community and economic development federal advocacy committee.

Panelists play a role in developing NLC’s federal policy positions issues related to housing, community and economic development, land use, parks and recreation, historic preservation and international competitiveness.

“Serving on an NLC committee is one of the most effective ways for a local official to advocate for their community in Washington,” NLC President Mark Stodola said in a statement. “I am thrilled to have Chemberly Cummings join a team of local leaders from around the country working to craft our policy platform and to solve the most pressing challenges facing our communities.”

Beth Whisman, new director of the Children’s Discovery Museum

Town names new head of children’s museum

Beth Whisman has been named the new director of the Children’s Discovery Museum and Cultural Arts Department for the town of Normal. She will begin her new stint in February.

“We are extremely pleased to have Ms. Whisman join the Children’s Discovery and the town of Normal in this leadership role,” City Manager Mark Peterson said in a statement. “We are extremely fortunate to have attracted someone with her experience and community connections, who cannot only step right into the management role of the museum, but who can bring her vision and expertise to our entire cultural arts portfolio, including the historic Normal Theater.” Whisman has held a number of roles in the community, including her current one as executive director of the McLean County Museum of History.


–McLean County News Briefs–