McLean County News Briefs

Chronicle Media

State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, leads local high school students in a mock committee hearing in Springfield on March 8. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Barickman’s Office)

McLean County

State Farm layoffs looming, but smaller than projected

Although it is still moving forward with plans to lay off corporate-level employees, State Farm Insurance last week indicated the number of impacted employees will be smaller than initially announced.

The company in February issued a state-mandated notice of layoffs and had the number pegged at 54 persons working out of the Corporate South office in Bloomington. Last week, the company revised its projections and set the number at 35 persons. The layoffs are to take effect in April.

Barickman meets with local high schoolers in Springfield

State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, recently gave local high school government students a birds-eye view into what goes into passing legislation in Springfield. Barickman on Wednesday, March 8, met with more than 70 students from across the 53rd Senate District he represents.

The students, who are members of Barickman’s Youth Advisory Council, took part in a mock committee under his guidance.

“Everyone worries that the younger generations might not be engaged in how their government works,” Barickman said in a statement. “This is a chance for students to see and interact with their elected officials and actually take part in the lawmaking process.” 

Bloomington-Normal SOAR manager heading to Austria

Maggie Rutenbeck, program manager with the Bloomington-Normal chapter of the Skill-Building Opportunities for Academic Resiliency, or SOAR, program, has been invited to head to Austria this month. Rutenbeck will serve as the head coach for Special Olympics USA in the category of snowshoeing.

While in Austria, Rutenbeck will coach 26 athletes from across the country for snowshoeing events, ranging from the 25 meter to 800 meter. Rutenbeck has been coaching Special Olympics events in Illinois since 1998.

Former Mexican president to give lecture at IWU

Felipe Calderon, former president of Mexico, will give a lecture, “Better Growth or Better Climate: Do We Need to Choose?” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, at the Westbrook Auditorium at Illinois Wesleyan University, 1312 Park St., Bloomington.

Calderon’s talk, part of IWU’s Adlai E. Stevenson Memorial Lecture Series, is free and open to the public. Calderon, who served as Mexican president from 2006 to 2012, was recognized throughout his tenure for aiding in the country’s economic recovery amid the global economic crisis.


Despite higher budget, no tax or fee increases

Mayor Tari Renner recently took the wraps off a spending plan for Bloomington’s next budget cycle. The $213.8 million budget represents a 3 percent increase from this year’s budget, but Renner has publicly stated tax and fee increases are not part of the budget. Renner said part of the added spending will be covered by tapping into fund reserves within the overall municipal budget, particularly for a planned infusion of funds for street resurfacing work.

Renner said the city’s controversial decision to terminate the Metro Zone agreement with Normal has also yielded cost savings that took strain off the budget. The city’s next budget cycle begins May 1. Renner and other city officials are currently combing through some of the proposed budget’s granular details before the document is adopted next month.

Mayor appoints two new city liquor commissioners   

Mayor Tari Renner recently named two new liquor commissioners, according to a news release. Under state statutes, mayors have the authority to appoint liquor commissioners on an as-needed basis. Jack Bataoel, one of the two appointees, is a 20-year entrepreneurial veteran within the Twin City.

He is an active realtor and spent 16 years in the bar and restaurant business. Local resident Lindsey Powell also has been named to the commission. She currently serves as a marketing communications manager with Growmark and is an active member of the Sunrise Rotary. Additionally, Powell is a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and is a member of the Baby Fold’s Festival of Trees steering committee.


Town Council members to meet with constituents

Kathleen Lorenz and R.C. McBride, members of the Normal Town Council, will meet with residents from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 18, for an event dubbed, “coffee and conversation.” The gathering will be held at the town’s Community Activity Center, 1110 Douglas St.

Residents can stop in any time during the hour-and-a-half session and share questions, concerns and compliments about issues concerning town governance. For information, visit the town’s website,

St. Patrick’s Day parade postponed to this weekend

After facing the threat of possible inclement weather and frigid temperatures this past weekend, organizers of the seventh annual Sharin’ of the Green St. Patrick’s Day Parade have announced the event will be held at 1 p.m. this Saturday, March 18.

The event initially was slated for this past Saturday, March 11, but was postponed because of the unfavorable weather conditions. For full parade details, visit Uptown Normal’s website at    

–McLean County News Briefs–