McLean County news briefs

Jazz UpFront in Bloomington will host a benefit for the McLean County Museum of History on Wednesday, May 22 from 5:30 pm – 8:30 p.m. The museum’s very own Joe McDonnell and Brando Maloney (above) will be your bartenders for the evening. For more information, go to (Photo courtesy of McLean County Museum of History)


Learn to can your foods safely this summer

To ensure safety in the home canning process, pressure canner dial gauges should be tested annually. This canning season, University of Illinois Extension will provide free gauge testing at your local Extension office to ensure you are on track to can safely this summer.

University of Illinois Extension recommends annual testing because, over time, a dial gauge’s calibration can become inaccurate. If the pressure is lower than recommended, the internal temperature of the food will not be high enough to kill harmful bacteria.

At your convenience, you may drop off your lid or lids at your local Extension office. Once the lids are checked, you will be contacted again for pickup.

Offices are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Offices can be found at:

  •         McLean County Extension Office, 1615 Commerce Pkwy., Bloomington – closed from 11:30 – 12:30 p.m. For questions, contact at 309-663-8306.
  •         Woodford County Extension Office, 109 East Eureka Ave., Eureka – closed from 12 – 1 p.m. For questions, contact 309-467-3789.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, call 309-663-8306.

Students can sign up for summer history camp

Registration for Futures in History Camp is open to any area students entering fourth, fifth, and sixth grades who are keen on exploring the many futures a career in history can hold. From law to archaeology to architecture to museum studies and environmental science, there is a future for everyone at Futures in History Camp.

This five-day summer camp is presented in partnership with the David Davis Mansion State Historic Site and Sugar Grove Nature Center. Our camper to staff/volunteer ratio averages 4:1. Two separate sessions of 20 campers each are open for registration for summer.

For more information and to register, go to


Car show festival for British auto enthusiasts

The Champagne British Car Festival Show will be held Sunday June 2 on the grounds of the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, but there will be a full weekend of British car activities.  This will be the 28th anniversary of the festival.

The Champagne British Car Festival Show will be held Sunday June 2 on the grounds of the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington. (Photo courtesy of the Champagne British Car Festival)

The featured marque for 2019 is Lotus but there will be great examples of just about any British car.  Last year, there were more than 100 cars and motorcycles at the event and the organizers expect even more this year. The Premier Class, by invitation, is open to any of the 2018 class winners or other exceptional cars.

Weekend festivities kickoff with a Friday evening gathering at the host hotel.

On Saturday, the mansion will host a drive, lunch and visit to a collection of impressive cars.

The poplar banquet and entertainment will return on Saturday night.

Are you an early riser? The “Dawn Patrollers” will once again be doing a pre-show Rally on Sunday for Natter ‘n Noggin.

Check the website,, occasionally to get updates with more details about the weekend.

Program for those thinking of going solar

Are you thinking about going solar? McLean County residents can attend any of these sessions at the Bloomington Public Library, 205 E. Olive St., to learn more with Grow Solar Bloomington-Normal, a grassroots program aimed at making solar more accessible and affordable:

  • Wed, May 29; 6:30 p.m.
  • Sun, Jun 2; 3 p.m.
  • Mon, Jun 10; 6:30 p.m.

The same information will be presented at each session.

These sessions will be facilitated the Ecology Action Center and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

Attendees will learn about the basics of solar, its financial implications for a household, and how the solar-group-buy program works.

After the session, attendees will have an opportunity to schedule a free, no-obligation site assessment.

Learn more at

City gets funding for homeowner rehabilitation

The City of Bloomington has received a grant for $378,000 from the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s Single Family Rehabilitation program to assist eight income-qualified households over the next two years.

The program offers up to $45,000 in home rehabilitation assistance to residents through a 0% interest, five-year forgivable mortgage. Properties must be located within the corporate limits of the City of Bloomington.  Manufactured housing is eligible only when secured to a permanent foundation.

The city will create a waiting list for this program beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, May 20.  The waiting list will be closed at 20 households or at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22, whichever comes first.

Households will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. To submit a pre-application, contact Jennifer Toney, Grants Coordinator, at 309-434-2342, or in-person at the Government Center, Community Development Department, 115 E. Washington St., 2nd Floor, Bloomington.

Visit for more information on the program including current income guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions.

 Miller Park Zoo brings back Animal Crackers for the summer

Animal Crackers is a Miller Park Zoo classic. Children ages 3 to 5 with an adult can come by the zoo once each month for a story, animal encounter, craft, and snack.

The topic is always a surprise and you can enjoy guessing which animal will visit. One adult accompanies each child to class but does not pay an additional registration fee. The registration fee includes admission to the zoo for the participating child & one adult on the day of class.

Register at

Unregistered siblings of any age may not attend.

Classes are identical in each session, so register for only one class each month.

$13 per child per class

$8 per child per class for MPZS members


Heart of Illinois Chorus at ICC seeks new members

The Heart of Illinois Chorus, in residence at Illinois Central College, will host a free open house for three consecutive Tuesdays starting May 21 at 6 p.m. in the ICC Performing Arts Center, located on the East Peoria Campus.

The event is being offered to area females interested in singing and learning more about the four-part barbershop style of harmony. The other sessions will take place May 28 and June 4. All begin at 6 p.m. and last until 9 p.m. Advance registration is not required. Interested females are encouraged to attend all three sessions but can attend fewer, if only able to do so.

The Heart of Illinois Chorus was founded in 1982 and is a member of Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide non-profit organization dedicated to women’s a cappella four-part harmony arranged in a barbershop style.

The group has won regional championships four times, earning the right to compete internationally those four years.

For more information about this event or the organization, contact the Heart of Illinois Chorus through its web site, or by email at