McLean County news briefs

Two otter pups were born at Bloomington’s Miller Park Zoo on Feb. 25. The zoo will auction off the chance to name them. (Courtesy of Miller Park Zoo)


Otters born at Miller Park Zoo

Miller Park Zoo announced that two otter pups were born on Feb. 25 at the zoo.

Guests can view the new pups with their mom Tallulah, who is doing great, on a monitor in the hospital window.

The birth of the otter pups is the fifth litter for Tallulah, but it will be the first ever offspring for Spencer, the male otter.

North American River Otters rarely reproduce in zoos and aquariums; there have only been eight litters across 113 institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in the last 12 months. A typical litter is three pups but can be anywhere from one to five.

“Otter pups are always great for our guests, and for the river otter population in general,” said Jay Tetzloff, Superintendent of Miller Park Zoo, adding “We’re excited to watch them grow up, and I encourage people to stop by and see them.”

The opportunity to name the pups will be auctioned off at Zoo Do in September.

 City accepting nominations for Heritage Awards

The annual Heritage Awards is an opportunity for the city of Bloomington to honor residents for their commitment to preserving the unique, historic identity of the city.

The city is currently accepting nominations for recipients — those who by their vision, talents, and hard work have made an exemplary contribution to the preservation of the city’s built environment and irreplaceable character.

Nomination applications are available at  Public and privately owned properties are eligible for an award for exterior improvements.

Deadline for submissions will be on March 25.  Winners will be selected by the City of Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission on April 18. Awards will be presented during a joint ceremony with the Old House Society and Town of Normal on May 12.


City plans for fall visit for Vietnam Memorial Wall

Residents and businesses can help sponsor the appearance of The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall when it comes to East Peoria in September.

The wall will be appearing in Levee Park at 401 W. Washington St.

A reminder of the sacrifices made during the Vietnam War, the traveling memorial wall’s purpose is to help heal and rekindle friendships and allow people who may not be able to visit Washington, D.C. the opportunity to see the memorial.

Several public activities are currently being planned to coincide with the wall’s appearance.

While admission to see the 300-foot-long wall will be free, donations are being sought from residents, businesses and organizations to help bring the wall to East Peoria and will benefit the Greater Peoria Honor Flight, which flies veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the national memorial sites. Donations are tax deductible and no amount is too small.

For more information, call East Peoria City Hall at 309-698-4715 or the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce at 309-699-6212.


Teachers invited to environmental education training

Growing up WILD™ (GUW) is an award-winning, multi-disciplinary environmental education activity guide program of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, designed for educators who work with students aged 3-7.

The training program will be held on Monday, March 16 from 9 a.m. to noon at the McLean County Extension, 1615 Commerce Parkway, Bloomington

This is hands-on educator training to bring environmental education into the classroom immediately upon return. The training is hosted by a certified Growing Up WILD™ facilitator and includes content-based background in science, guides, and activity alignment to both NAEYC Standards and Head Start Domains.

The activity guide, Growing Up WILD: Exploring Nature with Young Children:

  • Written especially for early childhood educators.
  • Features 27 field-tested, hands-on, nature-based, ready-made thematic units and over 400 experiences in a full-color 11”x17” activity guide.
  • Includes outdoor explorations, scientific inquiry, art projects, music and movement, conservation activities, reading and math connections and “Healthy Me” dovetailing with the Let’s Move Campaign.
  • Involves social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive domains to help foster learning and development in all areas.
  • Supports developmentally appropriate practice allowing children to learn at levels that are individually, socially, and culturally appropriate.
  • Is correlated to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Standards and the Head Start Domains.
  • The 2012 edition of GUW has updated snacks to the My Plate! food program to ensure healthy snacks in alignment with many Head Start and early childhood center standards.

To review the guide in-depth and learn more about the opportunities for your classroom, visit

Contact Brittnay Haag, horticulture educator, at or 309-663-8306

$15 registration fee (Includes hands-on training activities, activity guide (a $25 value) and snacks.)


Heartland College hosts spring film festival

Heartland Community College will be showcasing student film makers alongside an award-winning documentarian on Thursday, April 9.

The Heartland Community College Film Festival event will debut in Astroth Community Education Center auditorium this spring. This free Festival will be open to the public.

The festival will begin with feature films created and submitted by their own students and alumni. The second half of the event will be dedicated to a screening of 70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green, an eye-opening documentary whose story follows a community displaced by gentrification.

The screening will begin at 6:30 p.m. and to be followed by a Q&A with the film’s writer/editor Catherine Crouch.

Student and alumni film submissions are now being accepted for consideration.

The student/alumni film submission deadline is March 27. Guidelines, criteria and submission instructions can be found at

Doctors in Concert benefits children’s museum

The 16th annual Doctors in Concert, an evening of live music, great food, cash bar, silent auction and more, will be held on Friday, April 3 at 6 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Conference Center, Normal.

This event features the musical talents of local physicians playing classical and contemporary melodies on piano, violin, cello, guitar, or harmonica. Doctors in Concert supports the development of the Healthy Me! Exhibit opening early fall 2020 at the Children’s Discovery Museum, 101 E. Beaufort St., Normal.

The CDM Education Staff will again be joining us at the DoubleTree to provide educational programming for your little ones while you attend the concert. There is no additional charge to your ticket.

Space is limited so reserve your ticket and programming spot early. (Children must be 4- to 11- years-old and potty trained to participate)


March is Severe Weather Preparedness Month

When most people think about dangerous spring weather, tornadoes, thunderstorms and flooding usually come to mind.

In Illinois, roughly 20 percent of tornadoes occur at night. For several reasons, tornadoes that occur at night are twice as likely to result in fatalities. Therefore, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and National Weather Service is underscoring the importance of having more than one way to receive emergency alerts and notifications during Severe Weather Preparedness Month.

The National Weather Service and state and local emergency management officials strongly encourage people to have a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) All Hazards Weather Radio with battery backup.

These radios can be programmed to receive alerts for specified counties to keep you and your family apprised of impending weather and post-event information for all types of hazards including natural (earthquakes), environmental (chemical spills) and public safety hazards (AMBER alerts).

FEMA also offers a free mobile app that provides fast and reliable weather alerts from the National Weather Service (NWS).  The app can be tailored to offer alerts for up to five different locations nationwide.  The mobile app can also help you locate open shelters and disaster resource centers near you in the event of an emergency.

In addition to NOAA weather radios, Wireless Emergency Alerts can provide lifesaving information about impending storms and emergencies. These alerts can be sent to your mobile device without the need to download an app or subscribe to a service.

Not only are critical tools to surviving overnight storms, but they can be extremely beneficial for those who travel.

The NWS will be recognizing Flood Safety Awareness Week during March 9-13.  For more information about what to do before, during and after a storm, visit   There you will find a Severe Weather Preparedness Guide, developed by IEMA and NWS, which provides tips on how to prepare for all weather emergencies.