McLean County news briefs


Local artists’ journeys displayed at Eaton Gallery


“Taking a Walk … both near and far” is the theme of the exhibit featuring two local artists at the Eaton Gallery, 411 N. Center, now through April 20.

Local artists Lisa Lofgren and Herb Eaton exhibit work from their journey and experiences of places that have informed their days.

The exhibit is of Lisa’s monotypes and woodcuts and Herb’s paintings, sculptures, and drawings.

Artist’s reception Friday, April 5, 5-9. Gallery Hours: Sat. 10-2

or by appointment or ring bell 309-828-1575

An Artist’s reception will be held on Friday, April 5 from 5 to 9 p.m.  Gallery hours are Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment by calling 309-828-1575.



 Local teachers named Golden Apple finalists

Each year, the Illinois Golden Apple Foundation celebrates excellence in teaching and leadership.

John Bierbaum

This year, the organization honored 32 high school teachers as finalists for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching and eight pre-K through 12th grade school leaders as finalists for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership — generously sponsored by the Stanley C. Golder Family.

The awards and conference will be held on May 18.

One of the teachers nominated is Robert Fitzgerald, a social studies teacher and head basketball coach at University High School in Normal. He is also a past recipient of the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching grant for the 2017 year.

Also nominated is John Bierbaum, a social studies teacher at Normal West High School in McLean County District 5.



Advocate BroMenn’s class teaches life-saving skills

Advocate BroMenn Medical Center will offer a Heartsaver® CPR/AED/First Aid class Wednesday, April 10, from 6 to 9:15 p.m. at the Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center, 1111 Trinity Lane, Bloomington.

Robert Fitzgerald

Heartsaver CPR/AED/First Aid is a “first responders” course for anyone who wants to learn basic CPR and First Aid skills, as well as proper AED use.  It is approved by DCFS for day care providers.

It covers how to recognize and treat life-threatening emergencies, including cardiac arrest and choking for adults, children and infants; how to recognize the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke in adults and breathing difficulties for children.  Certification is valid for two years.

This class is not intended for health care professionals. A CPR certification card will be emailed after successful completion of the hands-on first aid skills and manikin practice.

Class fee is $65, and registration is required. Please visit to register.

Heartland names head coach for soccer programs

Heartland Community College has named a head coach to direct the men’s and women’s soccer programs.

Jovany Macias has accepted the head coach position for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams.

Macias comes to Heartland from Western Texas College, where he served as Head Men’s Soccer Coach since 2016. His playing experience includes time with MLS Sporting Kansas City and the Laredo Heat of the Premier Development League.

“Jovany is the total package. He has had success as a professional player, has turned around programs and has coached both men and women successfully,” said Athletics Director Ryan Knox. “We very much look forward to Coach Macias taking our soccer programs to national prominence.”


SUBHED: Energy assistance still available for low-income households

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced that winter heating assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is still available.

Heating assistance and Reconnection Assistance (RA) applications will be processed through May 31, or until funding is exhausted.  Even if your household has already applied for and received LIHEAP (bill payment assistance, but not the full RA benefit) since Oct. 1, 2018, you may be eligible for the RA benefit.

Reconnection Assistance is available for eligible households who are disconnected from their energy source needed for heating or are under imminent threat of disconnection (are within seven days of being disconnected or have less than 25 percent in their propane tank).

The RA benefit may also be approved to help adults who are trying to establish heat-related energy services.  RA is provided to eligible households if a) it will ensure reconnection and b) if the household has made a good faith effort to maintain energy services and/or can pay a portion of the balance due to the energy vendor, when applicable.

“We understand we’re coming out of an extremely cold winter and Illinois residents’ heating bills are probably higher than they anticipated,” said Erin Guthrie, acting DCEO Director. “This program was created to help our most vulnerable residents remain healthy, safe and warm during the winter months.”

A single-person household can qualify with a monthly gross income of up to $1,518; a two-person household up to $2,058; a family of three can earn up to $2,598; and a family of four can earn up to $3,138.

Benefits are paid directly to energy vendors on behalf of eligible households. The exception is households whose heating costs are included in their rent.

Customers must bring all required documentation when applying for assistance, including:

  • Proof of gross income from all household members for the previous 30-day income period, beginning with the date of the application.
  • A copy of their current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days (if they pay for their energy directly).
  • A copy of their rental agreement (if they are renting) showing that utilities are included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information.
  • Proof of Social Security numbers for all household members.
  • Proof that their household received TANF or other benefits, such as Medical Eligibility or SNAP, if receiving assistance from the Illinois Department of Human Services.

LIHEAP heating assistance applications, including Reconnection Assistance, will continue to be accepted through May 31, or until funding is exhausted.  Applications are taken on a first-come, first-served basis.

LIHEAP is a state and federally funded energy assistance program for low-income families in which heating bill payments are made on behalf of households. LIHEAP applications are processed through a network of 35 local administering agencies around the state.

For a complete listing of LIHEAP’s local administering agencies and additional information about the program, go to, or call the LIHEAP toll-free hotline at 1 877 411-WARM (9276).

Illinois kicks off major tourism promotional effort

In an effort to increase Illinois’ $40 billion travel and tourism industry, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has enlisted the services of one of the nation’s top marketing and advertising agencies located in Chicago.

O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul (OKRP) was hired to promote the state’s many historic and popular tourism destinations to both domestic and international travelers as well as a top choice for national conventions and meetings.

“By bringing aboard OKRP, we are looking to expand Illinois’ brand around the world,” said Erin Guthrie, DCEO acting director. “We want to encourage visitors to experience Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, be inspired while walking in Lincoln’s footsteps, and embrace the beauty of our many state parks.”

Guthrie said the initial term of the contract with OKRP will run through June 2022 and will help improve on the more than $3 billion already brought in as state and local tax revenue from visitor expenditures.

More than 114 million people visited Illinois in 2018 and pumped in $40 billion to the state’s economy, proof that a thriving tourism industry is vital to the state’s economic vitality.

“We cannot rest on thinking people are already aware of the many great things to see and experience in the state. We need to let people know what Illinois has to offer,” Guthrie said.

The Illinois Office of Tourism is 100 percent funded by the state’s hotel motel tax revenue and is a strong revenue generator for Illinois’ economy.

Unemployment rate up in most metros

Unemployment rates increased over-the-year in February in 10 of Illinois’s metropolitan areas, decreased in two, and was unchanged in two, according to preliminary data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Data also show nonfarm jobs increased in eight of the metropolitan areas.

Illinois businesses added jobs in eight metro areas, with the largest percentage increases in: Peoria (+2.4 percent, +4,000), Carbondale-Marion (+2.1 percent, +1,200), Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights (+1.4 percent, +51,600), and Lake-Kenosha (+1.4 percent, +5,600). The metro areas showing an over-the-year decrease in total nonfarm jobs were Danville (-2.2 v, -600), Bloomington (-1.4 percent, -1,300), St. Louis-IL Section (-0.4 percent, -1,000), and Champaign-Urbana (-0.4 percent, -400).

The industry sectors recording job growth in the majority of metro areas included Manufacturing (10 of 14), Professional and Business Services (9 of 14), Mining and Construction (8 of 14), and Government (8 of 14).

Not seasonally adjusted data compares February 2019 with February 2018. The not seasonally adjusted Illinois rate was 4.7 percent in February 2019.

Nationally, the not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in February 2019.

The unemployment rate identifies those who are out of work and looking for work and is not tied to collecting unemployment insurance benefits.