McLean County News Briefs

Chronicle Media

The creations of 48,000 lights shaped into the form of the Starship Enterprise will be one of the highlights of the 34th annual Parade of Lights, 5:45 p.m. Nov. 17, and will be the official start of the annual East Peoria Festival of Lights. The parade will start at the intersection of East Washington Street and Dolans Lane in East Peoria.

McLean County

Bloomington-Normal NAACP celebrates centennial anniversary        

The Bloomington-Normal chapter of the NAACP is in the midst of recognizing its 100-year milestone. Organization officials recently marked the commemoration with a screening of “Marshall.” The film chronicles the life of Thurgood Marshall, who became the first black U.S. Supreme Court justice. The local NAACP chapter meets the third Thursday of the month at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, 801 W. Market St., Bloomington.

Expert to speak on LGBTQ inclusion at Eureka College on Nov. 27      

Ryan Sallans, a renowned speaker on the topic of being transgender, will deliver a talk, “Scouting the Unknown,” at 7 p.m. Nov. 27, in Becker Auditorium at Eureka College, 300 E. College Ave., Eureka. Sallans’ past writings have focused on health care, campus inclusion and workplace issues impacting the LGBTQ community. The Eureka College Arts and Lectures Board is hosting Sallans’ upcoming talk.

McLean County universities, college receive funding for STEM programs    

The National Science Foundation has awarded $4.6 million to McLean County’s three higher-education institutions for an initiative touted as helping advance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum. The pool of funding is being allocated to Heartland Community College, Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University. The infusion of grant dollars is being earmarked for NexSTEM, a program aimed at fostering the next generation of leaders in STEM-related fields. The funding will go toward community-based research projects and classroom activities.   

Event details unveiled for January’s MLK Jr. awards ceremony          

The Bloomington and Normal human relations commissions will jointly host the 43rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. awards luncheon from 1-3 p.m. Jan. 12, at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, 201 Broadway, Normal. Garry Moore, who recently retired from his anchor duties at WEEK-TV, has been named the keynote speaker of the 2019 program. As in past years, an adult and youth community member will be honored at the ceremony, and nominations are currently being sought. Application information for the nominees is available online at 


Former arena manager pleads guilty, is charged in court for offenses         

Jay Laesch, one of five Central Illinois Arena Management employees suspecting of engaging in fraudulent activity at the former U.S. Cellular Arena, has pleaded guilty to filing a fraudulent sales tax return and money laundering. Laesch and the other four CIAM defendants face a combined 111 indictments. Laesch, whose sentence includes 30 months probation, was a concessions finance director during CIAM’s oversight of the city of Bloomington-owned amenity. It has since been renamed the Grossinger Motors Arena. 

Bloomington Election Commission remains autonomous entity         

Bloomington residents will continue to have an election commission independent of the McLean County Clerk’s office, following the failure of a question on last week’s midterm ballot that would have disbanded the venerable entity. Fifty-six percent of Bloomington’s residents voted against disbanding the commission. Proponents cited cost savings and efficiency as reasons to bring Bloomington voting functions under the clerk’s office. Opponents, however, said greater accountability would be needed under the single-source proposal.   

City’s parks department unveils new Woodbury Place green space         

Representatives with Bloomington’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department have taken the wraps off the city’s newest green space, Woodbury Park. It is located at 1214 Woodbury Place. According to department officials, a federal grant financed the creation of the new park. Staffers within the department designed the various features of the new recreational site, which opened to the public Nov. 9.


Proposed land purchase for new Normal fire station moves forward    

Plans of allocating a vacant 2-acre parcel of land at Hershey and Shepard roads to a new station for the Normal Fire Department are moving forward, following a pivotal vote. The Town Council on Nov. 5, approved allocating $450,000 in municipal funds toward the land purchase. Normal officials have been looking to relocate the existing College Avenue station to a new site, citing a desire to improve response times. Last week’s vote sets in motion a timeline for the next phase of the project, which includes a building design being completed by 2020.



–McLean County News Briefs–