McLean County news briefs

Normal Public Library is hosting an evening of traditional contra dancing on June. 20. The event is part of the library’s new programs aimed to be autism-friendly. (Photo courtesy of


City employs Smart trucks for Solid Waste Collection

Solid waste collection crews in the city of Bloomington Public Works Department are using new technology on their trucks to more easily track pickup and routing for garbage and recycle collection.

The city contracted with Routeware, Inc., to work with staff to install the software, on-board computers, cameras, and sensors to convert current solid waste trucks into “smart trucks.”

These pieces of technology take photos and videos of each stop to determine whether a pickup occurred, show any issues with a stop, show each truck’s position and exact route, and find ways to optimize routes.

The technology improves the customer experience, and it helps crews and management, according to the city.

Although program users are required to set out their trash or recycling by 6 a.m. on their collection day, drivers will run routes in the same order every week for garbage and every other week for recycle, to keep a consistent schedule.

Staff will be able to send work orders and messages directly to drivers, and management will be able to make sure the routes have enough crew members.

Routeware software and hardware will also increase route and billing efficiency and effectiveness, leading to savings within the Solid Waste Fund, according to the city.


Rare breed of goat born at Miller Park Zoo

A rare breed of goat at the Miller Park Zoo is the latest animal to give birth at the facility. “Storm,” one of the Zoo’s San Clemente Goats who is a first-time mom, recently gave birth to two kids, both males.

They were born on June 7. The other mother Valencia gave birth to one boy and one girl on June 10.

“These four kids are significant because they are a critically rare breed. The Miller Park Zoo is invested in the long-term success of San Clemente Island Goats.” said Zoo Director Jay Tetzloff.

The goats are native to San Clemente Island, one of the Channel Islands off the coast of California. The goats are listed as a critically rare heritage breed. The global population of San Clemente Island goats is around 700.

Miller Park Zoo is home to eight adult San Clemente Island Goats; five females – Storm, Valencia, Natasha, Marvel and Breeze, and three males – Malcolm, who is the father of the kids, Nathan and Sean. The ages range from less than one year to 8 years old.

The Miller Park Zoo was the first Zoo to have a San Clemente Island Goat born in the state of Illinois. The breed is relatively small, but larger than dwarf breeds. They are typically red or tan with black markings.

The goat kids can be seen on exhibit in the Children’s Zoo area.

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


Dancing program at library is autism-friendly

Everyone is invited to attend an evening of contra dancing at the Normal Public Library

206 W. College Ave. on Thursday, June 20 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m

.Contra dancing has been around since the 1700s. It is like square dancing but with long lines of dancers. A caller first explains the movements and then prompts you during the dance.
Contra dancing is a wonderful opportunity to socialize with others. It is easily accommodated for people with ASD or other social/sensory issues. You can participate without needing to talk, touch or make eye contact, unless you want to.

The dance is a repetition of various patterns that are walked. No fancy moves are required. You dance with a partner, but that can be anybody in the dance. Most people attending are new to the dancing, so no worries about looking silly. Professional caller Martha Tyner will help us.

The Normal Public Library is sponsoring monthly get-togethers for people on the autism spectrum, their family, mentors and friends a chance to have fun together in an Autism Sponsored by the Normal Public Library Foundation. Contact John Fischer at, or at 309-452-1757.

Miller Park Zoo welcomes the birth of four San Clemente Goats, a rare breed found on San Clemente Island, one of the Channel Islands off the coast of California. (Photo courtesy of Miller Park Zoo)


Poetry art exhibit extended, expanded at Heartland

The Joe McCauley Art Gallery at Heartland Community College presents “Summer Typo(etry)”, an interactive exhibit of art, graphic design, poetry, and typewriters, through Thursday, July 25.

The gallery is located on the second floor of the Instructional Commons Building (ICB) in room 2507 on Heartland’s Normal campus, 1500 W. Raab Road

“Summer Typo(etry)” is an expansion of the gallery’s spring exhibit, redesigned with additional graphics, poetry, manual typewriters, vintage ads and ephemera, and an expanded typewriter station. Visitors are invited to type on manual typewriters, and post their poems, drawings, designs and thoughts on the community response wall.

The exhibit includes:

  • Artworks by Matt Erickson and Lisa Lofgren
  • Blackout poetry by students
  • Community wall responses by spring contributors
  • Ekphrastic poems by Cathy Gilbert paired with source photographs
  • Graphics by marketing and design interns Quinnie Calvert and Bree Evans
  • Typewriters, ephemera, and reproductions of vintage typewriter ads and manuals
  • Typewritten poems by faculty, staff, and students, selected by Cathy Gilbert and Jennifer Pauken

The Joe McCauley Gallery’s summer hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on days the college is open. Exhibits, events, and parking are free.

For more information about this exhibit, contact Danell Dvorak, gallery coordinator, at, or call Heartland’s Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Department at 309-268-8620.


 ICC has openings in select apprenticeships

Illinois Central College is seeking interested individuals to fill select career and technical programs with openings for summer and fall enrollment.

Programs with openings for additional students include the Industrial Maintenance and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machining apprenticeship programs, as well as a Pre-Apprenticeship/Workforce Ready Program.

Potential students who are currently unemployed or under-employed are encouraged to apply.

ICC’s apprenticeship programs provide a mix of 300 to 450 hours of coursework per year, in addition to on-the-job training with local companies, to train for a specific career.

The partnering companies hire the apprentices and pay their tuition/fees and books plus a salary while they learn.

Successful students can complete the apprenticeship program with an associate degree debt-free and commit to work an additional two years for the sponsoring company.  Candidates first apply to ICC and then are screened and pre-qualified prior to company interviews.

Openings also are available for the Pre-Apprenticeship/Workforce Ready Program, which helps prepare students with the Math, English and other essential skills to become college-ready apprentices.

All participants are paid while attending training. This eight-week program has immediate openings for June/July and August/September.

ICC is aligning its programs and partnering with businesses to fill regional skills gaps reported in the areas of manufacturing, information technology and health care, while providing individuals a credential leading to jobs with a living wage.

To apply or for more information, contact the ICC Workforce Development Division at 309-690-6863 or visit



Officials caution of blue-green algae on waterways

As temperatures begin to rise, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Public Health are reminding residents to be cautious if they are planning activities on Illinois lakes and rivers, now and throughout the summer.

Water conditions are ideal for blue-green algae growth. Blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria) are microscopic organisms that naturally occur in lakes and streams. Rapid growth of algae is referred to as a “bloom.”

While most blue-green algae are harmless, some can produce toxic chemicals that cause sickness or other health effects in people and pets, depending on the amount and type of exposure.

Sensitive individuals, including young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk to adverse health effects attributable to algal toxins. Individuals are most often exposed to algal toxins while swimming or participating in other recreational activities in and on the water.

The most common routes of exposure are direct skin contact, accidental ingestion of contaminated water, or accidental inhalation of water droplets in the air.

Symptoms of exposure to algal toxins include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, or wheezing. More severe symptoms may result from longer or greater amounts of exposure.

People who plan to recreate in or on Illinois lakes or rivers this summer are advised to avoid contact with water that:

  • looks like spilled, green or blue-green paint;
  • has surface scums, mats, or films;
  • is discolored or has green-colored streaks; or
  • has greenish globs suspended in the water below the surface.

People are also advised to keep children and pets out of the water. Do not allow pets to drink from the water and do not allow them to lick their fur after swimming in water containing a blue-green algae bloom. If you or your pet has contact with water you suspect may have a blue-green algae bloom, rinse off with clean, fresh water as soon as possible.