McLean County news briefs

The Bloomington Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department and Fleet Feet Bloomington sponsors the annual Ugliest Sweater Run on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 1 Miller Park.


Parks and Rec to host annual Ugliest Sweater Run

The Bloomington Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department and Fleet Feet Bloomington kick off the holiday fun with the annual Ugliest Sweater Run on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 1 Miller Park.

The Ugliest Sweater Run is a non-competitive 1.5 mile or 3-mile run/walk with were awards will be given for men and women in the following categories: Ugliest Sweater, Loudest Sweater, Best Sweatered Couple, and Most Festive.

Register online through Fleet Feet Bloomington at Registration for the race is $10, to register for the race and for an Ugliest Sweater Run shirt is $20. Online registration for the race only closes Thursday, Dec. 5.

Miller Park is located at 1020 S. Morris Ave., Bloomington, Illinois.

For more information on this event, or other programs, contact the Bloomington’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department at 309-434-2260 or visit online at


City chosen for national healthy housing forum

Bloomington has been chosen as one of six cities to join the National League of Cities (NLC) Healthy Housing City Leaders’ Forum.

“With impassioned citizens, concerned organizations, and established community anchors, the City of Bloomington will make excellent use of the opportunities this grant provides,” said Mayor Tari Renner.

In addition to Bloomington, the five other cities making up the NLC Healthy Housing City Leaders’ Forum are Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; Durham, North Carolina; and Jersey City, New Jersey.

In the short term, Bloomington aims to identify and prioritize top housing health issues by understanding the quality of existing housing stock. The city said it hopes to create and implement a targeted, healthy housing strategy in cooperation with community partners that promotes collective impact and preserves the community’s naturally affordable housing.

The city’s long-term goals for healthy housing are to further cooperate and coordinate with local anchor institutions and to learn and employ best practices for engaging developers to improve affordable housing options for residents, according to a news release from the city.

The Healthy Housing City Leaders’ Forum is a platform for city leaders to advance solutions to housing quality challenges in their communities.

The six cities will come together this December in Charlotte, North Carolina to advance their work together, and NLC will broadly disseminate insights and learnings from the convening. Each city team will also participate in the annual HUD National Convening on Housing, Hazards, and Health to engage with a larger group of approximately 20 cities.


LaHood, Davis announce $500,000 to Connect Transit

Congressmen Darin LaHood (IL-18) and Rodney Davis (IL-13) announced Connect Transit was awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Buses and Bus Facilities Grant Program for the Better Bus Stop Campaign.

This funding will allow Connect Transit to continue improving bus stop infrastructure through the Better Bus Stop Campaign. The Connect Transit Board of Trustees approved the Better Bus Stop Campaign in March 2018 and have improved 53 bus stops over the last 18 months

In June, Rep. LaHood wrote a letter on behalf of Connect Transit’s grant application. You can read that letter here.

“I am grateful for Congressman Davis and Congressman LaHood’s continued support of public transit. Congressmen Davis and LaHood have been instrumental in helping Connect Transit secure federal grants to improve the infrastructure in the Bloomington-Normal community. This grant funding will allow Connect to continue our investment in bus stop infrastructure that improves the mobility of our customers who depend on Connect to get to education, work, and medical appointments,” said Isaac Thorne, general manager of Connect Transit.

Mike Matejka’s model railroad train will be available for kids to experience at the McLean County Museum of History’s free Christmas at the Courthouse program this weekend. (Photo courtesy of MCMH)

Museum of History hosts Christmas at Courthouse

On Saturday, Dec. 7, immediately following the Jaycees parade, follow jolly-old St. Nick up the courthouse steps and into the Museum, where visitors can enjoy holiday music, family activities and crafts, and free refreshments throughout the day from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. This is a free, family event.

The old courthouse interior will be decorated in holiday splendor and exhibit galleries on all four levels will be open for viewing. Musical performances this year will feature acoustic guitarist Marcos Mendez, the BHS Quartet, the Sunshine Bells, Loving Missionary Choir, Sound of Illinois Chorus, the Wind Song Woodwind Quintet, Dale Evans.

The Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center on the Museum’s ground level has locally sourced books, food items, art, apparel, collectibles, and plenty of Route 66 and Abraham Lincoln-related items of interest. The gift shop will be open all day.

For more information, go to

Go back to the time of Dickens at Christmas

Crossroads Area Student Theatre brings “A Dickens Christmas Festival” Dec. 6,7 and 10 at the McLean County Museum of History in Bloomington.

Enjoy Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Oliver, Christmas Carolers, and three different plays about the world of Dickens.  Performances are scheduled for Friday, Dec. 6, 2-8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, noon- 5 to p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 10, 5:30-9 p.m.

It’s all free and filled with reminders of the true reason for the season.

Enjoy a step back in time as we present the 2019 edition of “A Dickens Christmas Festival” at the McLean County Museum of History.  For details go to  or go to Facebook at Crossroads Area Student Theatre.


 Deer hunting season gets underway

Hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 50,173 deer during the first weekend of the Illinois Firearm Deer Season on Nov. 22-24.  Hunters took 58,836 deer during the first firearm weekend in 2018.

Hunters in McLean County harvested 347 so far.

Illinois’ seven-day Firearm Deer Season will conclude Dec. 5-8.

Other deer hunting opportunities in the weeks ahead include:

  • Muzzleloader-Only Deer Season on Dec. 13-15;
  • Late-Winter Antlerless-Only and CWD Deer Seasons (in select counties only) on Dec. 26-29, 2019 and Jan. 17-19, 2020;
  • Archery Deer Season continues through Jan. 19, 2020 (archery deer hunting is closed Dec. 5-8 in counties open for Firearm Deer Season)

For more details on deer hunting, open counties, and other information, check the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website at


Red Cross hosting blood drives during holiday season 

The American Red Cross urges eligible donors to be the lifeline for patients in need this holiday season by making an appointment to give blood or platelets.

While helping to save lives is likely motivation enough, those who come out to give now through Dec. 18 will also receive a $5 Gift Card via email, courtesy of Suburban Propane.

Here how to make donating blood easy.

  • It’s quick and easy to find a convenient blood drive. Search for drives by ZIP code and make an appointment to donate using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, online at, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
  • Donors can save time by completing a RapidPass®. The entire donation process only takes about an hour, but donors can save time with RapidPass. Pre-donation reading and health history questions can be completed online to save about 15 minutes.
  • Donors will get important health information. Donors receive a mini-health screening to help determine eligibility that includes blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin readings. First-time donors will also find out their blood type soon after donating.

The Red Cross is thanking those who come to give through Dec. 18 with a $5 Gift Card via email, courtesy of Suburban Propane. (Restrictions apply; see More information and details are available at