McLean County news briefs

The Miller Park Zoo welcomed a baby tamandua on June 18th to the animal collection. This baby represents the first time ever that the Miller Park Zoo had a Southern Tamandua born. Tamanduas, native to Venezuela and Trinidad to northern Argentina, southern Brazil and Uruguay, are nocturnal, and can spend more than half of their time in the treetops. (Photo courtesy of Miller Park Zoo) 


 BCPA and Nitsch Theater Arts offers classes

The Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, 107 E. Chestnut St., Bloomington, is partnering with the Nitsch Theatre Arts program in offering fall programs.

Registration is now open at

Stage Kids production

“Learn by doing” production-based


Aug. 28 – Nov. 20 (No class Oct. 23)

Fall 2019 performance will be “Frozen

Jr. “

Stage Kids offers musical theatre performance opportunities for students in their communities. The Stage Kids philosophy is “learning by doing” so acting, movement, and vocal fundamentals are taught through the production process.

Students participate in a 12-week workshop that results in a musical production celebrating their efforts. Please note: the performances will take place on Sat, Jan 4 at 6:00 PM and Sunday, Jan. 5 at 2:30 p.m. There will be pickup rehearsals scheduled during the winter break prior to the performance, to be determined.

For ages 5-17 from 5 to 5:45 p.m. –

Cost $150

Broadway Dance

Aug. 28 – Nov. 20 (No Class on Oct. 23)

Ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and other Broadway styles are all touched upon in the musical theatre preparation dance class.

Lear fundamentals and how to “wow” the

directors at auditions while having fun trying different dance styles.

Ages-6-16 from 4 to 4:30 p.m. – Cost


Rising Stars Community Group

Aug. 28 – Nov. 20 (No Class on Oct. 23)

NTA’s Rising Stars is a group of talented young people who give back to the community through song and dance performance.

It offers participants a wide variety

of opportunities for continually work on their performance skills and represent

their schools and communities with pride.

Members are required to attend regular

weekly rehearsal class, practice on their own time and have

fun while doing so.

Ages 5-17 from 4:30 to 5 p.m.- Cost $80

Stage Tots Creative Dance, Music and Drama

Aug. 28 – Nov. 20 (No Class on Oct. 23)

Preschoolers will have a blast singing, dancing and acting out stories in this pre-musical theatre program designed just for them.

They will be introduced to the fundamentals, emphasis on fun, of dance (ballet, jazz and tap), vocal singing and acting through sill warm-ups, games and play.

Students will have the opportunity to perform onstage at the end of the program at an area event.

Ages 3-5 from 3:30 to 4 p.m. – Cost $80

Open house set for 800 N. Main development

The City of Bloomington and Illinois Wesleyan University will be hosting a public open house from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15 held in the Hansen Student Center at 300 East Beecher Street on the IWU campus.

The public is invited to provide input on the potential future development of the property jointly owned by the City of Bloomington and IWU in the 800 block of N. Main Street.

The public may attend at any time during the open house as there will be no formal presentation.

The former Mennonite Hospital / Electrolux property at the northeast corner of Main Street and Chestnut Street is being marketed for redevelopment by the city and IWU with the assistance of a commercial real estate broker.

The broker will be present at the open house and will receive input from the public as to how the 4.1-acre site could be developed. The broker will be soliciting developer interest in this site over the coming months.

Written comments may also be submitted to


Dodie Dunson Named Citizen of the Year

Mayor Chris Koos presented the 66th Annual Citizen of the Year honoree in July.

Dodie Dunson was being acknowledged for “going above and beyond to help kids in a variety of ways:  from coaching them in sports and in life, to helping them with school issues or just about any challenge facing teens.”

Dunson was described as a modest, humble, passionate and genuine person.

Dunson is a Bloomington native who resides in Normal.  He graduated from Bloomington High School in 1978 and started working at the Lawrence Irvin Neighborhood Center in 1975.

Dunson serves as the director of Family Engagement at the Boys and Girls Club and has spent a good part of his life mentoring youth.  He is known to so many people as a quiet yet impactful leader, someone who gives his all to make a positive difference in young people’s lives, helping them reach their goals.

Koos mentioned that Dunson’s impact has reached countless lives, positively impacting youth and their families throughout the community.  “I can’t think of any resident who is more deserving of recognition for his influence on this community and guiding young people to become our future leaders,” stated Koos.

He is married to Jaci, and they have two sons, Dodie Jr., 32, and Brandon, 29.


Free family activities highlight Illinois’ outdoors

Visitors to the Illinois State Fair can take an easy hike and sample Illinois’ great outdoors with a stop at Conservation World on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Aug. 9-18 in Springfield.
“There are so many wonderful things for families to do outdoors in Illinois, and we’re providing them with some samples at Conservation World at the Illinois State Fair,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Colleen Callahan.  “From our state parks to great trail hikes, to fishing and hunting opportunities, and improving wildlife habitat in your own backyard, a visit to Conservation World can help your family plan a great outdoors adventure.”
Conservation World is a 30-acre venue on the northwest corner of the Illinois State Fairgrounds with park benches, ponds, grass, and shade trees adjacent to the IDNR headquarters.

Some of the events and attractions:

  • The famous “Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show” has performances every day Aug. 9-18:  Monday – Thursday at 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and Friday – Sunday at 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m.
  • Voyageur canoe rides on the Conservation World pond, Aug. 9-11 and Aug. 16-18 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Kids fishing opportunities include hands-on fishing clinics at the pond inside the Conservation World gate five times each day, with all bait and tackle provided, at 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Kids aged 10 and younger also can sign up at the Fisheries Tent and participate in free bowfishing daily at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.
  • Fly fishing demonstrations for anglers of all ages are scheduled for Aug. 9-11 and Aug. 16-18 at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.  Sporting retrieving dog demonstrations are planned at the Conservation World pond for Aug. 9 at 2:30 p.m. and Aug. 10-11 at 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., courtesy of Green Acres Sportsmen’s Club.
  • Youth Archery and BB Gun hands-on instruction is available daily at the Conservation World youth practice ranges, hosted by shooting sports experts and safety education instructors and volunteers.
  • Fishing opportunities abound in Illinois, and some of the state’s best sport fish will be on display in the Fisheries Tent in a 2,800-gallon aquarium, providing visitors a chance to see some keepers up-close.
  • Smokey Bear is celebrating his 75th birthday and is scheduled to visit Conservation World daily. IDNR Forest Resources specialists will promote forest health, tree care and forest protection at Conservation World. Additionally, IDNR’s Mason State Nursery will be selling native plants and pollinator seed mix.

IDNR wildlife and natural heritage staffs will host displays and answer questions about hunting prospects, wildlife watching, helping threatened and endangered species, and habitat enhancement projects.


Gov. Pritzker signs law improving kennel safety

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a new law today to ensure that dogs or cats that are placed in a kennel are safe at all times.
“This commonsense law will protect pets from senseless tragedies and further our state’s commitment to animal welfare,” said Governor J.B. Pritzker. “We’re putting safety first and making sure the tragedy that West Chicago experienced in January will never happen again.”
The new law, which takes effect immediately, requires kennels to either be staffed at all times or install a fire alarm or sprinkler system in every building where animals are housed that notifies local fire departments. House Bill 3390 was introduced and passed after the tragic death of 31 dogs in a West Chicago kennel fire in January 2019. Fire investigators say there were working smoke detectors but likely no one there to hear them.