McLean County news briefs

Through Aug. 6, the McLean County Museum of History will be participating in the Back 2 School Alliance School Supply Drive. (Courtesy of School District 87)


City applies for BUILD Grant for Hamilton Road

The City of Bloomington has applied for $5.3 million of federal BUILD grant funding to construct the final portion of the Hamilton Road corridor, a priority east-west link in south Bloomington, including a part of Constitution Trail and pedestrian gates at a new grade crossing in the area. The total construction cost is estimated at just under $7.8 million.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program, formerly known as the TIGER grant program, has provided a combined $7.1B to 554 projects since 2009.

“There has been strong community support for this project for years, and we’re excited to apply for this funding as a means to finally complete it. We believe we’ve put together a very strong application, and I want to express my sincere appreciation to City staff as well as our Transportation Policy Consultant, Ann Schneider, for their hard work on this” says City Manager Tim Gleason. “We look forward to the federal government’s awards announcement later this year.”

The Department of Transportation must make awards by Nov. 12.

The City has made extensive project information available, including the entire grant application, online at


 Meetings set for housing and community needs

The City of Bloomington and Town of Normal are working to improve housing and neighborhoods, with approximately $1 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funding received each year to drive that work forward.

In partnership with the McLean County Regional Planning Commission, the City and Town are working on a five-year plan to allocate those scarce resources to best meet the needs of the communities.

Residents are encouraged to attend the Bloomington or Normal public meeting to learn more and share their thoughts.

For Bloomington residents, a meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Monday, July 29 in the

Bloomington Public Library Community Room, 205 E Olive St.

In Normal, a meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 25 at the Normal Public Library Café, 206 W College Ave.

Contact the following representatives from the McLean County Regional Planning Commission, Town of Normal and City of Bloomington for more information:

  • Lauren Gibson, community planner, McLean County Regional Planning Commission, at 309-434-6836 or ;
  • Taylor Long, associate planner. Town of Normal, at 309-454-9642 or;
  • Jennifer Toney, grants coordinator, city of Bloomington, at 309-434-2342 or

Learn plant propagation at gardening workshop

Are you a gardener interested in learning how to create more plants?

McLean County Master Gardeners and community volunteers that care for Sarah’s Garden will demonstrate plant propagation techniques and answer your gardening questions on Saturday, July 27 from 9 a.m. to noon at Sarah’s Garden at the David Davis Mansion, 1000 Monroe Drive, in Bloomington.

Learn how to create more perennials using proven propagation techniques and learn to harvest and save seed to grow new perennials and annuals.

In addition, enjoy an exclusive tour of the historic Sarah’s Garden and take home heirloom plants, seeds and bulbs from Sarah’s Garden.

Cost is $10 per person

Register online at or call 309-663-8306.

Free admission to museum with school donations

Through Aug. 6, the McLean County Museum of History will be participating in the Back 2 School Alliance School Supply Drive to help collect school supplies for local students in need for the 2019-20 school year.

Supplies collected will be distributed to students who participate in the Back 2 School Party on Aug.  13 at Grossinger Motors Arena and throughout District 87 and Unit 5 to those who cannot attend the party.

Bring in any new school supply from the list below and receive free admission to the museum on the day you visit.

The donation bin to drop off your items will be located on the first floor of the museum. For a list of needed items, go to

For more information, contact the Education Department at or 309-827-0428 of visit the Back 2 School Alliance’s website at

Every pen, pencil, binder and notebook you donate helps the museum support our local teachers by getting students the tools they need for the new school year.

McLean County Master Gardeners and volunteers will demonstrate plant propagation techniques at the David Davis Mansion on Saturday, July 27. (Photo courtesy of


Get information on highway construction careers

Illinois Central College, Peoria Campus will hold a Highway Construction Careers Training informational program at 9 a.m. on Monday, July 29 at  Hickory Hall.

The course is an intensive 12-week program to learn the skills necessary for acceptance in the trades and the opportunity for a career with high wage-earning potential.

The Highway Construction Careers Training Program (HCCTP) at Illinois Central College is a grant-funded program sponsored by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The goal of the Highway Construction Careers Training Program is to increase the number of minorities, women and disadvantaged individuals working in the construction trades.

The program is a 12-week free training course that focuses on preparing individuals for a successful building trade application process by increasing math skills, job readiness, and technical skills.

Training also includes OSHA 10-hour certification, Forklift, and Aerial Lift certification, and First Aid/CPR certification. Upon successful completion of the program, students will have the skills necessary to seek careers as laborers, cement masons, operating engineers, electricians, ironworkers, sheet metal workers, carpenters, bricklayers, and other union construction trades.

Registration is appreciated but not required.


July is the peak month for grill fires

The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) wants to remind all Illinoisans to practice safe grilling techniques this summer. More and more people entertain outdoors during the summer months, leading to the increase of fires caused by grills. July is the peak month for grilling fires.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), reports over 70 percent of U.S. households own at least one outdoor BBQ, grill or smoker. Gas grills contribute to a higher number of fires than charcoal grills. NFPA reports 64 percent of households own a gas grill. On average, 10,200 home fires are started by a grill yearly. Each year 19,000 patients visit the Emergency room with injuries caused from grilling. Thermal burns are the most common injury with over 9,000 reported.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal advises everyone to take these steps to help ensure a safe summer filled with everyone’s favorite grilled foods.

  • Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors
  • The grill should be placed away from the home or deck railings, and out from under eaves of your home and overhanging tree branches
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grilling area
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill
  • Never leave your grill unattended
  • Always make sure gas grill lid is open before lighting it
  • Check the gas tank on your propane grills and hoses for leaks each time before using
  • If you smell gas while grilling, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department
  • Make sure charcoal grill coals are cool before disposing on them in a metal container

Bonfires, pit fires and campfires can also create fire safety dangers during the summer months. Campfires need to be built at least 25 feet way from tents, shrubs and anything that can burn. Make sure fires are allowed in the area that you are camping. Use of chimineas, outdoor fireplaces and fire pits need to be at least 10 feet away from your home or anything that can burn.

For more information about grilling, visit the National Fire Protection Association’s website at: