BLOOMINGTON – One McLean County youngster encourages others to join 4-H because it is an enjoyable experience.
Nicole Sheppleman of the Blazing Saddles 4-H Club was working with her sheep during the opening day of the McLean County Fair on Wednesday. The animal, named Lilly, is six months old and she will show her on Saturday.
Sheppleman urges anyone considering 4-H to get involved with a local club because it is a good time.
“Our club went out to the University of Illinois vet clinic and we do things like that and every year, it’s different and it’s really fun. You have fun meeting new people.”
She admits some of the things city people say when experiencing farm animals for the first time can be rather amusing.
“Some lady was wearing flip-flops and she was like is that cow going to eat me? It was the smallest breed of dairy cow. It was really funny,” said Sheppleman.
Another young 4-H’er, Austin Russow, was enjoying his time at the fair on Wednesday. This is his first year of participation and so far, he likes being in the cow barn the best.
The 2014 McLean County Fair runs through Sunday at the fairgrounds on the west side of Bloomington near the Interstate Center.
PONTIAC - Pontiac Police report that the Mobil station at 602 Ewing Drive reported an expensive theft on July 26, as three 8-foot aluminum fuel tank probes and monitors were stolen.
Each item had an estimated value of $1500. A service company which repairs the tanks reported similar crimes in Flanagan, El Paso, Bloomington, Morris and East Peoria. Authorities believe the items are being taken for scrap value or resale. A white service truck with running lights on the cab was observed in the area immediately preceding the thefts. A security camera was also ripped from the building shortly after the pickup went by. Pontiac Police continue to investigate with other agencies.
Vehicle burglaries reported
Pontiac Police also reported vehicle burglaries in the 500 block of North Vermillion where change was stolen; the 900 block of West Custer involving a Samsung phone and a recovered stolen vehicle; and on July 24, unknown persons took a red Dodge van and crashed it at the old railroad bed near 601 E. Prairie into a utility pole tension wire. The thief fled prior to arrival and the case is still under investigation.
Notify authorities if you have any information
Anyone with information regarding any of the Pontiac incidents is asked to contact the detective section at 815-844-5148. You can leave anonymous information at the same telephone number after 4:30 p.m.
On Thursday July 24, 2014 the Normal Police Department honored Officer Brad Underwood with the Meritorious Service Award.
On June 19, 2014 around 4 am Officer Underwood received a dispatch of a female sitting on the Rabb Road and I-55 overpass, possibly attempting to jump. Officer Underwood was able to respond and approach the overpass without alerting the individual to his presence. As he approached he overheard the individual talking on the phone and it was clear that she was intent on ending her life. Officer Underwood took immediate and decisive action by physically restraining the distraught female who was now trying to jump from the overpass to the interstate many feet below. His quick action to take her into protective custody and pull her to safety, while risking his own physical wellbeing was above and beyond the call of duty. His response exemplifies the departments Core Values and is worthy of special recognition.
BLOOMINGTON - Organizers of the McLean County Fair hope you'll take a "fair-cation" to this week's event, which runs Wednesday through Sunday at the fairgrounds on the west side of Bloomington.
The McLean County Fair starts Wednesday with the judging of general 4-H projects, the Linco Precision Big Smoker tractor pull and unlimited carnival rides for one price. Thursday is "young at heart day" with more tractor pulling and on Friday, country singer Phil Vassar performs along with the Modern Cowboyz.
The Nationwide Demolition Derby and chainsaw carving auction is planned for Saturday and the fair wraps-up Sunday with the last blast ride special, free admission after 3 p.m. and the 4-H projects on the grounds until 4 p.m.
There are 4-H activites each day and admission tickets are currently on sale at the extension office and fair office. Children 6-12 are $4 and adults over 13 are $7. Children five and under get in free. The fair will be open until at least 11 p.m. each evening but the gates close at 9 p.m. Free entertainment includes live pig racing, a petting zoo, live music, magicians, balloon artists and the food and farm fun zone.
BLOOMINGTON - Two judges in McLean County are facing disciplinary action after having an alleged affair that created a conflict of interest.
A complaint filed with the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board reveals Judges Scott Drazewski and Rebecca Foley started seeing each other in December of 2010. Drazewski presided over several cases that involved Foley's husband, who's an attorney, during the course of the affair, but recused himself once the man found out.
If the accusations are true, the two judges could be reprimanded, suspended, or even removed from the bench.
7-26-14 (taken from a news release issued by the Better Government Association this week)
CHICAGO—The Illinois High School Association once claimed in a court case it is a “local public entity” and “fits squarely within the definition of a local public entity.”
The IHSA, whose governing board includes public school officials, also claimed it was “organized for the purpose of conducting public business.”
But when the Better Government Association tried to obtain documents from the IHSA earlier this year, looking for records relating to sponsorship deals, among other things, the IHSA refused to turn over anything, claiming it’s not a governmental body and therefore not subject to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA.
FOIA is the state law that says records from public bodies must be made available to the public, upon request. It’s a transparency statute crucial to ensuring open and honest government.
The BGA, a nonprofit that keeps watch over government in Illinois and promotes public access to public institutions, decided then to sue the IHSA on Wednesday to force the Bloomington-based agency to submit to FOIA and turn over records.
“IHSA has the audacity to claim it’s not subject to FOIA even though it previously tried to claim the benefit of governmental protections,” said BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw. “They can’t have it both ways.”
“IHSA is responsible for overseeing interscholastic high school competition – that’s about as governmental as it gets. And its top employees earn big salaries off the backs of public schools and public school students. We ought to be able to see if those salaries are deserved.”
The IHSA, which regulates athletic competitions throughout the state, has faced scrutiny as of late from state legislators and the Chicago Sun-Times.
“When government contracts out governmental functions to purportedly private entities, FOIA still applies to those records,” said Matt Topic, an attorney with Loevy & Loevy, who is representing the BGA. “The public has a right to see whether that function is being performed in the public interest.”
For more on the BGA’s legal actions, please see:
PONTIAC – Apparently, the tourism efforts in Pontiac during recent years has paid off.
The “bucket list” recently released by USA Today includes Pontiac and Route 66 in Illinois. On the newspaper’s website, you can scroll down the 10 best bucket list road trips page and see Route 66 – Illinois to California.
The following is stated about Pontiac:
“Road trip tip: While the Southwest offers the most famous scenery, don't neglect the start of the route in Illinois. Jensen recommends the town of Pontiac, home to two great stops, the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum and the Pontiac Oakland Auto Museum, a memorable tribute to the car brands”
BLOOMINGTON – A Lincoln woman was the victim of a car fire early Saturday morning in the unoccupied parking lot of State Farm Insurance in Bloomington.
McLean County Coroner Beth Kimmerling says Christy L. Stone, 48, died as a result of thermal injuries from the fire. Forensic toxicology tests have been ordered and video evidence suggests Stone did not leave her vehicle after arriving in the lot.
Kimmerling also reports that Stone was never an employee of State Farm Insurance and preliminary evidence suggests the location of the incident was random. Stone was the mother of an adult son and enjoyed volunteering in her community, according to officials.
The Prairie Central Board of Education talked technology, food, transportation and finances on Thursday night.
Technology director Phil Tetley outlined several district-wide technology initiatives, including the replacement of Windows XP machines with Windows 7 in the stationary labs. Also, most of the inside work is done for the district wi-fi connection and several Chrome Book computers will be purchased.
“This implementation will have, we hope, wireless access everywhere in each building,” said Tetley.
Upgrades are planned to Smart Boards, as some of the earliest projectors purchased for the Upper Elementary had to be replaced. Some of the technology money will come from a title grant from the State Board and sales tax revenue will be used for the infrastructure side of things.
Food service director Joni BesGrove presented the annual food services report to the board. As of June 30, they ended up with $90,668.27. According to BesGrove, reimbursements were up from a year ago and the food and non-food items were down in price. This was likely due to the district joining the LaSalle County food co-op.
“Our reimbursements were substantial,” BesGrove told board members.
The food salaries and benefits were down as they did some cutting and moving of staff members where they could. Effective this month, food and beverages must meet general standards and specific nutrient standards. This applies to all grade levels, ala carte items in the cafeteria and all venues in a school building.
If the district would drop out of the National School Lunch Program, Illinois requires all public schools to provide a free meal to students who are eligible based on federal income guidelines. If the district wishes to claim meals for state and/or federal reimbursement, it must abide by the federal meal component requirements.
Transportation director Pam Weeks presented her annual report which covered July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. Miles driven using district vehicles totaled 473,035 during 2013-2014. This compares to 500,349 the year before. A total of 66,416 gallons of fuel was used and the district purchased a Dodge Caravan last September and traded in a Dodge van which would not pass the IDOT test lane.
Weeks and Superintendent Dr. John Capasso noted the aging school bus fleet.
“The next discussion might be about leasing buses just like leasing technology,” said Capasso.
The district also approved the tentative budget. The new fiscal year has begun and Prairie Central just received a sales tax payment. In order to make positive balances, the district will have to move working cash. Capasso pointed to a bleak budget picture.
“We’re tapping in pretty seriously to working cash, which is just like a sophisticated savings fund.”
He said P.C. has a quality school system, has spent its money wisely and is ready to finance a little differently over the next several years. Kevin Heid of Stifel Nicolaus talked to the board about issuing some working cash bonds which can be used in the principal operating funds in order to compensate for losses.
Capasso said now is the perfect time to issue the bonds since some bonds are being retired from old building projects back in the late 1990s. The bonds are being paid off in the next year or two and the district has an opportunity to keep some of the rate and support its operating funds.
“The downside is that the payoff of the bonds will treat two different groups of people differently. It’ll treat old Prairie Central one way and treat old Chenoa another way, because the bonds they kept in their compounds were structured differently,” Capasso explained.
The upside to the plan is the fact that the district will get some operating money and will be able to pay it off in three years.
Heid acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the state’s funding of education.
“It is a good short-term fix.”
Capasso reported that Senate Bill 16 could be favorable to Prairie Central and he plans to meet with State Representative Dan Brady on the matter next week in Lexington. When it comes to categorical payments, the district did get the money it was promised. This was considerably better than last year.
Capasso also said summer maintenance work is going well, as the gym floors have been finished. The Upper Elementary floor is now painted in the proper school colors. Boiler burners are being switched out and interior lock latches are being installed to make classrooms safer for the start of the school year.
It is almost Fairbury Fair time so that means it is also time to lace up your shoes for the Fairbury Fair 5K Run/2 Mile Walk/Kid’s Fun Run! The event will be held at the Fairbury Fairgrounds during Fair week on Saturday, August 16th.
This year’s event will benefit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Many families in the Fairbury area have been affected by childhood cancer and many have benefited from the great services offered by St. Jude. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food because all a family should worry about is helping their child live! Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent and they are striving to increase that to 90% in the next decade. St. Jude founder, the late entertainer Danny Thomas, believed that “No child should die in the dawn of life.” And so do we!
New this year is bib timing provided by It’s Race Time, Inc. and on-line registration at https://register.itsracetime.com/Register/?event=28451. Registration forms can also be picked up at Turning Point Therapies, Inc. at 215 W. Locust in Fairbury or from the Fairbury Fair web page at www.fairburyfair.com. Day-of-race registration will be at the Fairgrounds from 6:45 to 7:45AM with the race starting at 8AM.
If you cannot participate then consider coming out to watch and cheer the participants on! Or, if you are interested in volunteering for this event, please contact Delmar at 309-747-3090 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Also mark your calendars for 8AM on September 6th for the Red Cross 5K/2 Mile Walk!
BLOOMINGTON - At the regular meeting of the McLean County Board on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, the McLean County Board approved an engineering agreement with Hanson Professional Services for the Phase II design of the Historic Route 66 Bike Trail project. The section goes from County Highway 29 in Towanda to 2.51 miles north of Towanda where the existing Route 66 pavement ends. Construction of this part of the trail is planned for summer of 2015.
The County Board approved an Intergovernmental Agreement between McLean County, the City of Lexington, and the McLean County Sheriff’s Department. Due to the resignation of the Lexington Police Chief, the Sheriff’s Department will provide police protection for the City of Lexington until a new Police Chief is appointed.
The Board approved the list of Judges of Election.
PONTIAC – Members of the Pontiac Rotary Club experienced life through the eyes of a 4-H’er Tuesday afternoon at the Livingston County Ag Fair.
The organization held its weekly meeting under the pizza tent at 4-H Park and heard from a number of area youths about their involvement with 4-H. Samantha Johns showed her cookie decorating entry while Jacob Raber proudly displayed his insect collection with 30 bugs.
This year’s fair queen, Jordan Johns, spoke highly of the Livingston County Ag Fair.
“It’s a great bunch to be with – the Livingston County bunch – at the State Fair,” she said.
University of Illinois Extension’s Nancy Flessner asked several questions to the 4-H members about their projects. She asked one young lady if there was anything about the 4-H Fair she didn’t like and the girl replied, “No.”
“We bring them out of the barn and they’re not used to public speaking,” Flessner joked after someone appeared to be a little nervous standing before the crowd of local Rotarians.
Those attending the informative lunch meeting were treated to ice cream, compliments of the Livingston County Dairy Farmers and Prairie Farms.
“It’s a good opportunity to spend some time at the fair to see what the kids are doing,” said Pontiac Rotary President Mark Hovren.
The Pontiac Rotary Club is preparing for an August bag lunch fundraiser in the Bank of Pontiac parking lot, although an exact date has not been set. Also, a coat and hat drive for kids is planned for the fall.
Hovren began the lunch meeting by announcing the Pontiac Rotary Club has 47 members and they always meet during the fair each year. Rotary is an international service club which not only does work in Livingston County but other parts of the world, as well.
Cathy Blunier and Bobbie Lewis-Sibley of University of Illinois Extension were also on hand for Tuesday’s meeting.