McLean County news briefs

“Green Autonomous Recycling Initiative” (GARI), a robot invented by Illinois Weslyan University students, uses an array of sensors to navigate an area and locate trash that is identified by a top-mounted camera and classified into material categories. (Photo courtesy of IWU)


Astrophysics expert to speak at Eureka College

The Eureka College Science and Mathematics Division is welcoming Dr. Nathalie Haurberg to speak at the 66th annual William Thomas Jackson Day Lecture on Thursday, March 19.

The event, which was established to honor the late EC alumnus and longtime chemistry professor, will take place in Becker Auditorium of the Donald B. Cerf Center at 7 p.m.

The Jackson Day Lecture is free to attend and open to the public.

Haurberg’s presentation is titled “Finding Galaxies with Hydrogen Gas,” and will feature an exploration into her research on dwarf galaxies in the local Universe. Haurberg works with the SHEILD project to determine the chemical abundances of star-forming regions in these galaxies.

She is the associate professor of physics at Knox College in Galesburg and a noted scholar of astrophysics.

After graduating from Knox in 2006 with a bachelor’s in physics and a minor in comparative politics, Hauerberg attended Indiana University for graduate school, receiving her master’s in astronomy in 2008 and Ph.D. in astronomy and physics in 2013.


 IWU students develop recycling robot

A team of Illinois Wesleyan University students developed a rash recycling robot named GARI — Green Autonomous Recycling Initiative —  during MakeHarvard, a 24-hour engineering make-a-thon hosted by Harvard University.

Nico Lopez, class of 2021, Minzhao (Henryken) Liu, class of 2020, Bhavin (Bobby) Koirala, class of 2022, Yossif Elmadny, class of 2022, Richa Sapkota, class of 2022, and Evan Quist, class of 2023, created what they see as an easily scalable and affordable solution to a growing waste management crisis as trash continues to pile up on beaches across the globe.

The team of physics, math, computer science and finance majors built GARI, which uses an array of sensors to navigate an area and locate trash that is identified by a top-mounted camera and classified into material categories.

Once identified as recyclable, GARI is equipped with a claw to capture and transport the soon-to-be repurposed material back to where it can be recycled.

“Our team feels that we were actually able to make an impact with GARI,” Quist said. “Completing a project is definitely something to be proud of, however, we are even more proud that GARI can make a real impact in the world by cleaning up the environment and promoting recycling.”

The team hopes to continue making an impact on Illinois Wesleyan’s campus by helping clean up stray trash and contributing to the University’s recycling program. Quist said the team plans to improve different aspects of the system to create even more types of recycling and operations.

University choir to perform at Wesley UMC

The Collegiate Choir from Illinois Wesleyan University will present three freewill concerts in Illinois before and after a week-long concert tour to the Cape Town and Stellenbosch areas in South Africa.

Concert dates in the U.S. include Friday, March 20 at 8 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, 502 E. Front St., Bloomington.

In South Africa, the choir will present a joint concert with the University of Stellenbosch Chamber Choir at the renowned Woordfees cultural arts festival in Stellenbosch. This festival is the largest of its kind in the country and includes music, visual arts, theatre, writers’ and film festivals, among other offerings. The Collegiate Choir is the first American choir to be invited to perform at Woordfees.

The choir will present additional concerts in the Cape Town and Stellenbosch areas, including a performance at a rural township school.


Health Department reports ISU mumps cases

The McLean County Health Department has confirmed three unrelated mumps cases at Illinois State University as of Feb. 25.

Because the cases are unrelated, this is not considered an outbreak; however, Illinois State and the McLean County Health Department will continue to monitor the progression of the mumps virus and will keep the campus community updated.

Mumps is a contagious, viral illness that is spread from person-to-person through droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person—usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks.

It also can be spread when someone with mumps touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and then someone else touches the same surface and touches their nose or mouth.

Students at ISU with questions should contact Student Health Services Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. by calling 309-438-7676 or your preferred healthcare provider.



Exploring Contemporary Art in the Community

The Children’s Discovery Museum is presenting an afternoon of art with the Art Around You: Exploring Contemporary Art in the Community on Saturday, March 7 from 1 to 4 p.m.

The Children’s Discovery Museum has been awarded The Mirza Arts and Culture grant from the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation, Inc. (IPCF) which helps fund this program.

Visit University Galleries and participate in a scavenger hunt to help you discover the style and media used to create works of art.

Then participants can return to the museum where they will explore these styles and media as they create your own art. Free with pre-registration. Go to


 Town opens community garden registration and renewals

Normal Parks and Recreation will open registration for two organic community gardens to the public on Tuesday, March 10 at 8:30 am for Normal residents, and nonresidents on Thursday, March 12 at 8:30 a.m.

Open garden plots will be assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis and registration will take place at the Normal Parks and Recreation office,100 East Phoenix Ave.

The community gardens are places where people come together to cultivate and harvest their own fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Gardens are located at One Normal Plaza, 1110 Douglas Street, and at Ironwood Park, 1900 North Linden St.

A variety of plot sizes are available at both sites:10-foot by 10-foot’ plots for $15, 10-foot by 20-foot plots for $25, and 20-foot by 20-foot plots for $35. Garden plots are limited to only one per family.

Gardeners from 2019 will have the opportunity to renew their plot from last season. Renewals are limited to one per family.

The gardens will be tilled and prepared prior to the start of the 2020 gardening season. Participants may begin gardening in their assigned plots no earlier than April 10. All soil amendments and plant applications must meet organic standards. Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are strictly prohibited. Water is available at both sites. All plots must be cleared no later than Nov. 2.

Participants must maintain their plots as weed free as possible. Review the Gardening Rules and Regulations carefully which can be found on the Normal Parks and Recreation website: