McLean County news briefs

Rachel Barton Pine


Illinois Symphony Orchestra’s season finale at CPA

Rachel Barton Pine, recognized as a Great Performer of Illinois, joins the Illinois Symphony Orchestra led by acclaimed Music Director Ken Lam at their season finale to perform Bruch’s tuneful “Scottish Fantasy” and Vaughan-Williams “Lark Ascending”.

Audiences will experience the full force of nature in Lili Boulanger’s impressionistic depiction “Of a Spring Morning”, and Respighi’s triumphant masterpiece “Pines of Rome.”

Listen live to the Illinois Symphony Orchestra on Friday, May 3, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts and Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. at Sangamon Auditorium, University of Illinois-Sangamon.

Both concerts will be followed by a special post-concert reception hosted by the Illinois Symphony Guild of Bloomington-Normal in Bloomington and the Illinois Symphony Guild of Springfield in Springfield.

Tickets are $21, $42, and $63. Student tickets available for $6 (Age 6-26) with valid Student ID, children 5 and under are free with a paying adult. Senior and group discounts are also available. Tickets may be purchased in Bloomington through the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts at 309-434-2777 or in Springfield through the UIS Performing Arts Center for Sangamon Auditorium at 217-206-6160.

Tickets may be purchased online, by phone, or through the ticket office. Senior, group, or student priced tickets are not available online.

Pine has appeared as soloist with many of the world’s most prestigious ensembles, including the Chicago and Vienna Symphonies, Philadelphia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Camerata Salzburg.

Miller Park Zoo welcomes Pallas cat kittens

Miller Park Zoo welcomes five Pallas’ cat kittens. This is the first birth of Pallas’ cats at Miller Park Zoo. The male was imported from the Czech Republic meaning these genetics are new and significant.

Miller Park Zoo has never had a breeding pair of Pallas’ cats until this pair was introduced in December. Breeding programs are an important part of the Miller Park Zoo mission, and play a vital part in the conservation goal of Species Survival Plan (SSP).

: Five Pallas’ cat kittens were recently born at Miller Park Zoo. This is the first birth of Pallas’ cats at the zoo.

One of the primary challenges facing captive breeding programs is maintaining genetic diversity. Breeding is carefully managed to ensure as much genetic variation as possible. Importing animals gives the population a new line of genetics.

“Being able to announce the birth on International Pallas’ Cat days is extra special. Births, like this one, are so important for our conservation mission and vital for the Pallas’ cat to have long term success.” said Jay Tetzloff, Miller Park Zoo.

The Pallas’ cat, also called manul, is a small cat located in the grasslands and montane steppes of Central Asia, where it inhabits elevations over three miles in the Tibeatan Plateau. It has been affected by habitat destruction, loss of natural prey and hunting. It has been listed as Near Threatened since 2002.

The Pallas’ Cat exhibit is located across from the North American River Otter exhibit. The best viewing and picture opportunity will be at 11 am.

For more information contact Jay Tetzloff at Miller Park Zoo, 309-434-2250.


 Town seeks applications for the Harmon Arts Grant

The Town of Normal is seeking applications for arts-related projects, programs or events to be funded through the 2019 Harmon Arts Grant Program.

Applications will be accepted through Friday, May 10. The grant application form is available on the Town of Normal website,

Harmon Arts Grants awarded in 2019 are available to art organizations for programs or events taking place between July 1, and June 30, 2020.  Priority will be given to programs within the Town of Normal and proposals that make a program or event more accessible to the public, particularly seniors, students and low income residents.

The Harmon Arts Grant Program, named to honor former mayor Paul Harmon, was created in 1993 to help promote the arts in the community. In 2018, Normal awarded 19 grants to support local art programs and events.

A full list of 2018 Harmon Art Grant recipients is available on the Town’s website.

The maximum grant award is $5,000.  Grant applications will be reviewed by Harmon Arts Grant Committee members who will make recommendations to the Normal Town Council.

The council will select awardees on June 3, and awards will be presented on June 17.

Harmon Arts Grant:

2018 Grant Recipients:

Heartland offers juried student art exhibition

Artwork created by Heartland Community College students will be on display during the

15th annual Student Juried Art Exhibition running through May 4 in the Heartland Community College Library on the Normal campus.

Heartland art students submit up to three pieces made in a Heartland class for consideration for this annual exhibition.

Bloomington-Normal painter Jeff Little will serve as juror for the show. Little will select the student artwork displayed and the winners of the first, second, third place and Best of Show awards.

Awards are sponsored by the Heartland Faculty Association. Both the exhibit and the reception are free and open to the public.


Illinois schools receiving 5,000 trees from IDOT

The Illinois Department of Transportation once again distributed 5,000 seedlings to schools throughout the state  in cooperation with Living Lands & Waters in honor of Earth Day on April 22.

The “Trees to Schools” initiative helps offset the loss of trees removed or otherwise affected by construction and maintenance activities. Each of the nine IDOT highway districts received 550 trees to distribute to local schools.

Participating schools use the trees on their grounds or distribute them to students as a learning opportunity about the importance of trees to the environment.

One tree can produce as much oxygen in a single season as 10 humans consume in one year. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide and release oxygen in return. Trees also reduce erosion, filter chemicals, produce shade and provide habitat and food for birds and other animals.

The trees were provided for free to IDOT as part of Living Lands & Waters Million Trees Project. Varieties included red oak, swamp white oak, bur oak and redbud.

Since 2009, IDOT has distributed approximately 50,000 seedlings through Living Lands & Waters program.

Gov. Pritzker announces safe routes to school grants

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation awarded more than $5.5 million to local communities for projects that encourage students to walk or bike to school. The 39 projects, made possible through IDOT’s Safe Routes to School program, were selected from 160 applications received from across the state.

“I’m proud to announce that dozens of Safe Routes to School projects will be carried out across the state at no cost to Illinois,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “Using federal funds, we will be making sidewalk improvements, increasing signage, making crosswalks safer, and providing equipment to crossing guards and parent patrol programs. These projects will allow more of our students to safely walk or bike to school and will make our communities safer and healthier places to live.”

Administered by IDOT using federal funds, Safe Routes to School supports projects and activities that improve safety and reduce traffic in areas around elementary and middle schools. Improvements can include new sidewalks, efforts to reduce speeding and other traffic offenses, public education and outreach programs.

“Safe Routes to School empowers communities to make decisions about where funding can do the most good,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “But it also exemplifies how IDOT takes a multimodal approach to our transportation network and strives to give people safe, reliable options about where and how they choose to travel.”

The next application period for Safe Routes to School is anticipated in the fall of 2020. Visit or email for more information.