McLean County news briefs

Those interested in becoming a junior zookeeper at Miller Park Zoo must attend an informational meeting on March 2, 3, or 5 from 7 to 8:15 p.m. with a parent or guardian. (Photo courtesy of Miller Park Zoo)


 Incoming junior zookeeper meetings at Miller Park Zoo

Students who are currently in fifth  grade or higher are eligible to begin participation in Miller Park Zoo’s Junior Zookeeper (JZK) program this summer.

The JZK program is great for students who are looking for experience working with people, learning leadership and time management skills, and spending some quality time with animals. Beginner JZKs attend a one-week summer camp; camp sessions are held throughout the summer.

In order to receive an application, students and at least one of their parents/guardians must attend an informational meeting on March 2, 3, or 5 from 7 to 8:15 p.m. at Miller Park Zoo. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m. and close at 7:05 p.m. Reservations are not needed. There is a fee for the Junior Zookeeper program. Miller Park Zoo is located at 1020 S. Morris Ave., Bloomington.

Visit for more program information.  Contact Shannon Reedy at  309-434-2256 or with questions.

 City manager announces new Public Works director

City Manager Tim Gleason announced  that Kevin Kothe, P.E. will become the city’s public works director, effective Sunday, Feb. 2. Kothe currently serves as Bloomington’s city engineer, a position he has held since 2009. He joined the city in 1988.

“I am very pleased to announce Kevin Kothe as the City’s Public Works Director,” says Gleason. “Kevin is the perfect fit for this role and will provide the leadership needed to address existing and future challenges and opportunities. He’s well respected in the organization and industry, with an impressive foundation of integrity, expertise, and commitment to service. This is a big win for the City.”

“I look forward to this role and all of the opportunities it will bring,” says Kothe. “It has been an honor to serve my hometown of Bloomington for 32 years already, and certainly an honor to have been selected for this new role going forward.”

Current Public Works Director Jim Karch will become the city’s special projects manager, also effective Feb. 2. The special projects manager is a new and important role within the organization; however, it will not add to the city’s overall headcount. The special projects manager will report directly to Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus.

Kothe will be officially recognized as Public Works Director at the City Council meeting on Monday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Parks department holding summer jobs fair

The Bloomington Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department is hosting a summer jobs fair on Thursday, Feb. 6  from 5 to 7 p.m. at the PR&CA main office at 115 E. Washington in the Government Center Building (located in Downtown Bloomington).

Applicants aged 15 and above will have the opportunity to meet program directors, discuss job responsibilities for multiple Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts positions.

Positions available include lifeguards, swim instructors, golf course seasonal laborers, soccer instructors, cashiers, van drivers, guest services, art instructors, day camp counselors, and many more.

For a complete list of positions or to apply early go online to the City of Bloomington’s website at

Feel free to contact the PR&CA main office with any questions at 309-434-2260.

The city of Bloomington has hired a new director of public works. (Photo courtesy of city of Bloomington)


Two schools get state grants for habitats

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF) announced 27 Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grants have been awarded from the fall 2019 application period. A total of $22,477.78 will be distributed.

“The Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program provides children and educators with an opportunity to increase the use of native plants in Illinois landscapes while benefitting wildlife species,” said IDNR Director Colleen Callahan. “By participating in these projects, students learn their efforts can make a positive difference in the world, and they gain experience in problem-based learning by planning, developing and maintaining the habitat.”

The Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program supports the development or enhancement of wildlife habitat on the school grounds or other public places. Funding for the program is provided through donations to the ICF. The Jadel Youth Fund and the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation are the major sponsors for the program. More than $294,000 in Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant funding has been distributed since the program’s inception.

“We want school children to learn about nature through hands-on experiences,” Callahan said. “It is our goal to have Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program projects developed in every county of the state, and eventually at every school. So far, we have supported projects in 85 of Illinois’ counties.”

Lexington Junior High School, Lexington. Grades: 7-8. Project: pollinator garden. Grant Award: $179.09
Mulberry School, Normal. Grades: preschool-3. Project: pollinator garden and outdoor classroom. Grant Award: $447.44

Applications will be accepted soon for the next round of the Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant Program, with an application deadline of Nov. 30.  See for the application form and related information, call 217-524-4126 or email



Preliminary totals released for deer hunting season

Hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 153,048 deer during all 2019-20 archery and firearm seasons, which concluded Jan. 19, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The total preliminary deer harvest for all seasons compares with a total harvest for all seasons of 151,709 deer in 2018-19.

During the 2019-20 deer seasons, hunters took 45 percent does and 55 percent males.

Archery Archery deer hunters in Illinois took a preliminary total of 67,696 deer during the season which began Oct. 1, 2019 and concluded Jan. 19, 2020.

Youth Youth deer hunters harvested a preliminary total of 3,775 deer during the three-day Illinois Youth Deer Season Oct. 12-14, 2019.

Traditional Firearm Season:  Hunters took a preliminary total of 75,349 deer during the Illinois Firearm Deer Season Nov. 22-24, 2019 and Dec. 5-8, 2019.

Muzzleloader:  Hunters using muzzleloading rifles harvested a preliminary total of 3,061 deer during the Muzzleloader-Only Deer Season Dec. 13-15, 2019.

Late-Winter Seasons:  The 2019-20 Late-Winter Antlerless-Only and Special CWD deer seasons concluded Jan. 19, with a combined preliminary harvest total for both seasons of 3,167 deer.

There were 15 northern Illinois counties open to the Special CWD Season, which is used to assist in slowing the spread of chronic wasting disease in the Illinois deer herd.

There were 20 counties open for the Late-Winter Antlerless Season in 2019-20. Counties that are at or below their individual deer population goal for two consecutive years may be removed from the late-winter season.