McLean County news briefs

Town of Normal Public Works, 1301 Warriner St., Normal. (Photo courtesy of Town of Normal)


A Community in Conversation is county wide program

In an age of underemployment and ever-increasing wage disparity, who has the power to choose their work?

Inspired by the McLean County Museum of History’s newest exhibit, Challenges, Choices, and Change: A Community in Conflict, the Museum in partnership with Not In Our Town (NIOT), Heartland Community College, YWCA McLean County, and other local organizations (Bloomington & Normal Trades & Labor Assembly, Dreams Are Possible, Illinois Partners for Human Service, Laborers International Union of North America Local 362, and more) will present the dialogue-based program series, A Community in Conversation, from January to April 2020.

The first one will take place from 6:45 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28 in the Governor Fifer Courtroom at the McLean County Museum of History, 200 N. Main St., Bloomington.

These monthly opportunities for community conversation will highlight the historic and modern significance of four questions featured in the exhibit—asking always, who has the power?

Each program will include a brief introduction to relevant local stories featured in the new exhibit, followed by small group discussion exploring the chosen theme. All ages are encouraged to participate in any or all of the planned discussions.

Light refreshments will be provided.

Online registration is encouraged, but not required.

Participants can register at:

 Arts Center to feature exhibit by local fiber artist
The McLean County Arts Center, 601 N. East St. in downtown Bloomington, presents Kathryn Leslie’s exhibition A Stitch in Time in the Sales Gallery from Jan. 10 through Feb.  14.. The free and public Artist Reception will be on Friday, Jan. 17, 5 – 7 PM.

Kathryn Leslie is a fiber artist based in Bloomington. She started making art as a teenager, mostly painting and sketching, then taught herself hand embroidery and cross stitch in the mid 2000s as an alternative creative outlet.

It was a more portable medium than painting, which was difficult with two small children, and learning the technique renewed her interest in making art.

Leslie has always loved history and pop culture, and this is obvious in her art. With just a piece of fabric, a hoop, a needle and thread, it’s possible to take a very old skill, and turn it into something new and exciting.

Most finished pieces are left in the embroidery hoop to further accentuate a blend of traditional and modern.

The McLean County Arts Center hours are Tuesday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Wednesday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; and Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call 309-829-0011, like us on Facebook and Instagram, or visit our website: MCAC is supported in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council.

 Chamber hosts program on Employee Handbook Essentials

This program will be presented by from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21 at the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, 2203 E. Empire St., Bloomington.

George Wood of Hartweg, Turner, Wood & DeVary, P.C will lead the program.

Wood advises clients involving employment claims and labor issues, which includes employer issues at the local, state and federal levels. He also assists clients with personal injury matters, represents clients in business and commercial litigation, and represents businesses in their transactional concerns, including formation of business entities and maintenance of corporate entity status. He also represents clients in both commercial and residential real estate transactions and litigation matters.

In addition, he has expertise in the area of landlord/tenant law and represents landlords in their business concerns including drafting of leases, evictions and collections.

For tickets and registration, go to

Wood was born in Winona, Minnesota. He received his bachelor of arts in 1986 from Illinois State University. He attended Southern Illinois University School of Law and received his Juris Doctorate (J.D.) in 1989 and was admitted to the bar the same year.

He has been admitted to the U.S. District Court, the Central and Northern Districts of Illinois, and the U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit.

Wood was with the McLean County State’s Attorney’s office before entering private practice.

Bloomington fiber artist Kathleen Leslie mixes contemporary themes with traditional embroidery skills in her latest exhibit. (Photo courtesy of McLean County Arts Center)


 Plays selected for new theater festival at BCPA 

Coalescence Theatre Project #ShePERSISTED New Play Festival curators, Rachel Hettrick and Ann Haugo have made their final selections for the festival to be held at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2.

Out of 256 scripts submitted from across the country, the plays chosen to be presented will be “Perfectly Normal” by Karen Cecilia a playwright based out of Brooklyn, New York; “Black Like Us” by Rachel Atkins who lives in Seattle, Washington; and “Parts & Pieces” by Amy Tofte a playwright out of Los Angeles, California.

The plays selected will present the Bloomington-Normal audience with three different points of view on what it means to be a family. The #ShePERSISTED Festival allows the audience an opportunity to not only experience these exceptional plays but also provide feedback to the playwrights in a talk back after each performance.

The Coalescence Theatre Project’s 2020 #ShePERSISTED New Play Festival of Staged Readings will be presented at the BCPA, 600 N. East St in Bloomington on Jan.31 and Feb. 2. Tickets for each production will be available at the BCPA box office 309-434-2777, shop online at or before the performance. Ticket price is $10 for each performance or one can buy the #ShePERSISTED Three Show Package for $25.

Ameren acknowledges errors in some customer’s bills

Ameren Illinois notified us today that some Bloomington residents may have recently received an insert in their Ameren Illinois bill statement indicating that Bloomington was increasing the municipal utility tax rate. This notice was sent in error.

The affected customers will receive a letter from Ameren Illinois informing them of the error. In the meantime, know that:

  • Due to a programming error, some Ameren Illinois customers were incorrectly notified via printed bill insert that an ordinance was passed to increase the Municipal Utility Tax.
  • To be clear, no such increase in the Municipal Utility Tax has been passed.
  • Ameren Illinois is sending a letter to all impacted customers to notify them of the error.
  • The error has been corrected and Ameren Illinois is taking measures to prevent it from occurring again.
  • Ameren Illinois apologizes for any concern this may have caused.

 Children can become explorers at Miller Park Zoo

Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington offers Explorers program. Children can participate in two-hour adventures that includes animal encounters, classroom learning, and hands-on experiences at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20

Sign up for only one class each day; curriculum will be the same both morning and afternoon. The fee is $14 per child per class or $10 per child for Miller Park Zoo members. Maximum class size is 15.

Registration is required at



Self-service electronics recycling open once a month

Self-service electronics recycling drop off for McLean County residents is available on the first Saturday morning of each month from 8 a.m. to noon at the Town of Normal Public Works, 1301 Warriner St., Normal.

This is in addition to the regular self-service electronics recycling drop off available Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Utilize our new Electronics Recycling Building. Signage indicates where each type of electronics should be placed in the building.

Drop-offs may include computers, monitors, electronic keyboards, televisions, scanners, fax machines, copiers, cell phones, video recorders, cameras and more. The items do not need to be in working order to be recycled. Items containing Freon, such as mini refrigerators and dehumidifiers are not accepted.  An up to date list of acceptable items can be found on our website at  Do not drop off equipment outside of our published open hours.

Drop off is not available for:

  • Businesses
  • Residents outside of McLean County

For more information on the Town of Normal’s electronics’ recycling program visit our website at or contact the Public Works office at 309-454-9571, Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.