McLean County News Briefs

Chronicle Media

Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington will be getting a loan from the city for facilities-related improvements. (Photo courtesy of Miller Park Zoo)

McLean County

New health department director now on the job

Camille Rodriguez, who last month was named director of the McLean County Health Department, officially began her oversight of the local public health agency Wednesday, Jan. 3.

Of her new role, Rodriguez, in a statement, said, “I am equally committed to building new partnerships and collaboratives that position us to meet the changing health needs and priorities of McLean County so that all residents have a chance of living a healthy life.”

Rodriguez most recently served in a leadership role with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Earlier in her career, she worked in the Illinois Department of Children Family Services’ child protection division. Rodriguez succeeds Cathy Coverston Anderson, who had been leading the health department on an interim basis for nearly a year.   

Officials begin reviews of possible wind farm

The first of multiple steps involved in reviewing a proposed alternative energy wind farm occurred this past week.

The McLean County Zoning Board on Thursday, Jan. 4, held a public hearing in an overture aimed at gathering feedback on the wind farm, which Chicago-based firm Invenergy is proposing on 13,000 acres across multiple townships.

If Invenergy gets the go-ahead to construct the turbines, it will be the third wind farm within the county. Officials will continue reviewing Invenergy’s proposal in the months ahead.

County nearing decision on new waste plan

The McLean County Board is expected to render a decision this month on a new 20-year solid waste disposal and recycling plan.

One element of the revised plan that has been the subject of scrutiny is a possible amendment that would require landlords to offer their renters recycling options. Environmental advocates have lauded the proposal, but several county officials have spoken in favor of leaving the stipulation out of the plan and instead letting market forces decide.

Once adopted, the board’s long-range waste and recycling plan will be forwarded on to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.


City offers Coliseum $375,000 cash infusion

The Bloomington City Council recently voted to allocate $375,000 to keep the Grossinger Motors Arena operating with a balanced ledger as the new year gets underway. VenuWorks, the Iowa-based company contracted to operate the arena, had requested the funds to carry through the end of the fiscal year in late April.

Council members have defended the decision, pointing out the coliseum is a city amenity and is operated by an outside firm through a contractual arrangement.

City to lend zoo funds for future improvements

The Bloomington City Council recently backed a plan to allocate up to $900,000, in the form of a loan, to the Miller Park Zoo for an assortment of facilities-related improvements.

As part of its long-range plans, zoo officials have announced a series of changes, including a new roof and concession stand, in addition to parking upgrades. Plans call for Jay Tetzloff, director of the zoo, to come back later this month with more specific details on each of the specific projects.


Hobby Lobby to relocate, filling Gordmans’ vacancy

Hobby Lobby is staying put in Normal, but is relocating its business to a storefront across the street. Company officials recently announced the crafts retailer will fill the 60,000-square-foot space previously occupied by Gordmans at 306 S. Towanda Ave. Gordmans closed its Normal location in early 2017 after declaring bankruptcy.

Specifics related to the transition have not been set, but Hobby Lobby officials indicated they desired less space than their current facility within the Shoppes at College Hills development at 301 S. Veterans Parkway.

Officials eye additional high-rise on Uptown Circle

A new high-rise could come to the northeast portion of Uptown Circle, town officials announced last week.

The parcel of the proposed addition is located at 104 E. Beaufort St. and carries a projected value in the range of $21 million and $30 million.

City Manager Mark Peterson said three developers have submitted requests for proposals for the site. An internal review is underway, and a recommendation is expected to go before the Town Council on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

ISU student found dead on New Year’s Day

Madison Finch, a 19-year-student attending Illinois State University, died of a gunshot wound in the city of La Harpe in the far western portion of the state. Finch, a freshman, was studying biology.

Officials in Hancock County, where La Harpe is located, have announced a 17-year-old boy is in custody on suspicion of the shooting. ISU officials last week issued a statement expressing sadness over Finch’s death and indicated counseling services would be available.  


–McLean County News Briefs–