Charlie Schlenker | WGLT

Charlie Schlenker

News Director

GLT News Director Charlie Schlenker grew up in Rock Island, Illinois and graduated from Augustana College. He has spent more than three decades in radio and has won numerous state and national awards for journalism. He lives in Normal with his family.

A Bloomington Normal swimmer has won female swimmer of the year in Illinois. Grace Ariola also won best female performance of the year, a 100 meter backstroke time of one minute and 62 hundredths of a second. In the last five years, Ariola has reduced her time in that event by more than 12 seconds. The teenager has also qualified for next year's Olympic Trials. Ariola swims for the WAVES team at the Bloomington YMCA.

Ariola and her WAVES team mate Melissa Pish were on the U.S. National Junior team that competed in Singapore.

Illinois State University

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The information age has opened new possibilities of both establishing relationships with other people and abusing them. The Virtual Enemy is a new book co-authored by Shelly Clevenger of Illinois State University. It focuses on the relationships of intimate partners and cyber-crime.

Lincoln College in Normal is losing several certificate and bachelors programs as the institution reorganizes with more programs moving to the Lincoln campus. It's part of what President David Gerlach calls a $7.6 million reinvestment campaign for the 150 year old school.

Lincoln College will stop offering Esthetics, Cosmetology, teacher training, and massage therapy certifications in Normal. Degree programs in Criminal Justice, Business, and Sports Management will move from Normal to Lincoln. Four jobs will also move and the college has eliminated 13 jobs.

After scrapping a planned strike authorization vote, leaders of the union covering workers at the Mitsubishi plant in Normal have set an informational meeting on Sunday for members. The meeting will run from two to four p.m. on Sunday at Parkside Junior High in Normal.

The company earlier this year announced plans to end production of the Outlander Sport and close the plant next May if it cannot find a buyer.

The Sierra Club is blasting the Illinois Pollution Control Board for what it calls permissive emissions standards for a Tazewell County coal fired power plant. The environmental group says the U.S. EPA has designated the air in parts of Tazewell and Peoria Counties as unsafe to breathe because of high levels of sulfur dioxide pollution. The major source in the non-attainment area is the Powerton plant near Pekin.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says the standoff over a state budget "could go on for a while" but his administration is prepared to continue managing state finances without one. The Republican spoke Friday following a manufacturing expo in Effingham.  

He says he remains committed to getting Democrats to approve some of his pro-business agenda. He repeated that if Democrats don't want to work with him they can balance the budget _ by passing a tax increase _ without his support.  

There was an unprecedented sustained level of growth in the Town of Normal between 1967 and 1993. As part of the Normal 1-5-0 celebration, GLT's Charlie Schlenker talks with two of the leaders who oversaw that era, retired City Manager Dave Anderson and former Mayor Paul Harmon about the several causes of that boom.

The panel discussion about the boom years of Normal will be Sunday afternoon at Uptown Station (2p)
 

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

If the early look at Bloomington Aldermen is a guide, outsourcing golf courses and recovering costs from the downtown police hireback program for high volume nights in the bar district will be priority items as the city cuts its budget. Whether or how to fund the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts also came up as a potential cut during an informal discussion of prioritizing budget task force recommendations. Alderman Scott Black says it's important to look at the BCPA early in process even it it makes it more likely to be cut.

Mitsubishi Workers have scheduled a strike authorization vote tomorrow. This is in spite of plans to end production in the plant in late November and to close the facility next May. The UAW Local 2488 Facebook page posted the vote announcement this morning. The company and union have extended the existing contract twice, once for more than a month and more recently for a couple days. The pact sunsets tomorrow night. A strike authorization does not guarantee a walkout.

After nearly four decades entertaining people with dinner theater, the Barn II near Goodfield has closed. The facility had been open since Halloween of 1975. Owner Mary Simon says an insurance company has denied a storm damage claim after wind went through the facility in August. A structural engineer says the former cattle barn is not repairable. And without insurance money, Simon says the Barn productions cannot afford to relocate to Morton.

The search for Illinois' next Auditor General has been narrowed to a field of four. That includes a pair of state lawmakers --- both Democratic members of the Illinois House: Frank Mautino of Spring Valley and Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook. A legislative commission will endorse one of the finalists ... and forward that name to the full General Assembly ... which gets to vote on the final choice. The current state auditor is retiring at the end of the year.
 

Illinois Symphony Orchestra

The new season of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra kicks off this weekend with a focus on Russians. And it will be the last one with Music Director Alastair Willis. Audiences and board members have said they are happy with the work. Willis, though, asked to be let out of the final year of his five year contract. Although no one expected the ISO to be Willis's last stop GLT's Charlie Schlenker asked him why he wanted to move on.

445 GLT News

Sep 30, 2015

WGLT newscast 445 pm September 30, 2015

EIU President David Glassman says layoffs and furloughs have helped the school cut its budget deficit from $13 million to $1 million. Glassman said during his state of the university address that the cost-cutting isn't over but any additional layoffs would be small. EIU doesn't have a state appropriation because GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic leaders in the Illinois Legislature haven't settled on a state budget for the current fiscal year.

Mitsubishi Motors North America

Mitsubishi Motors and the UAW Local at the plant in Normal have extended their collective bargaining agreement another couple days. The contract had been set to expire at Midnight on the 29th, but will now run through October 1st. The two sides are negotiating even as Mitsubishi prepares to end production at the plant in November. It is the second extension. The original contract expired at the end of August. The company is seeking a buyer for the facility in hopes of salvaging about 1,200 jobs there.

MacArthur Foundation

An Illinois Wesleyan University graduate is among this year's MacArthur "genius" award recipients. One of the $625,000 fellowships goes to Juan Salgado. He's a community organizer in Chicago who runs the Instituto del Progreso Latino. That group tries to boost English language skills for Latinos to make upward mobility easier, particularly in healthcare and manufacturing. Salgado says urban development to him means growing human talent, not bricks and mortar.

A McLean County Jury has convicted a 19-year old Bloomington man of murder in the kicking and beating death of a homeless man. Anthony Davis-Dickson will be sentenced to up to life in prison for the death of Ronald Smith in White Oak Park on Bloomington's west side. State's Attorney Jason Chambers says the extended term is possible because of the wanton cruelty and callous nature of the crime.

Excitement is still building as the visit of Pope Francis to the U.S. continues with a mass in Philadelphia tomorrow. GLT's Judy Valente is on the way to Philadelphia with a group of Catholics from Central Illinois. The trip began with the rising of the moon over Roanoke, Illinois. Valente tells us they are tired and excited after traveling all night. There are ten in a van for twelve and she says they saw the sun rise in Pennsylvania this morning.

Experimental fiction is emerging from the thickets of post modernism. ISU English Professor Chris Breu has a new book out addressing this shift, Insistence of the Material. In this conversation with GLT's Charlie Schlenker, Breu argues for the value of attending to the material world and how that physical world sets limits on social and individual life.

As the Normal Sesquicentennial celebration kicks off, GLT begins a series of interviews with the people who are offering lectures as part of Normal 150 events. Today, the topic is the early years of Normal. GLT's Charlie Schlenker talks with retired ISU Historian Paul Holsinger and asks why Normal was a good place for settlement in the first place. Holsinger says the answer was not obvious.

John Alltop / Wikimedia Commons

The Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Children's Home was a fixture in Normal for 110 years. As the community celebrates its 150th anniversary, Ruthie Cobb chats with Charlie Schlenker about the orphanage. She's says the home had a singular statewide impact as well as a local one.

GLT aired Charlie's feature on a book put out by the ISSCS Historical Society in 2007.

 

William Wesen / Wikimedia Commons

In  the development of Normal, transportation has been a key theme. WGLT's Charlie Schlenker is interviewing all of the lecturers for the "Normal 150" celebration.  Terry Ryburn and Mike Matejka share their thoughts on why Normal developed the way it did.

Esther Bubley / Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

As the Town of Normal observes its sesquicentennial, there are things in its history that should be recognized but not celebrated. In our continuing series of "Normal 150" interviews, GLT's Charlie Schlenker talks with a retired ISU historian about racial segregation. Mark Wyman says the division of whites and blacks in Normal was similar to other cities in Illinois.

 

The head of the effort to rescue use of the Mitsubishi Plant says there have been some nibbles on a buyer. Kyle Ham heads both the Economic Development Council for Bloomington Normal and the Mitsubishi Task Force.

"I am personally aware of automakers that are looking at the facility and have begun to do the due diligence process."

Ham says the plant has not been on the market that long and possible buyers have a lot of work to do.

Some have argued the Bloomington Budget Task Force process was a charade to give Aldermen political cover to make unpleasant choices in higher taxes and budget cuts. But, Task Force Chair David Sage says there are two valuable things the task force provided, first an honest assessment from established leaders about the choices before the city.

Police in Normal say they have arrested a Bloomington man for selling cocaine. 50 year old Troy Randle Senior was taken into custody. Detectives say they also seized more than $2,700 in cash, 46 grams of crack cocaine, three grams of powder cocaine, and a Lexus four door vehicle.
 

Walt Willey web site

Western legend Wild Bill Hickock was born in Troy Grove, Illinois about an hour and twenty minutes north of Bloomington-Normal. Actor Walt Willey grew up in nearby Ottawa, Illinois before making his career on the soap opera All My Children. Willey learned of the central Illinois connection to Hickok only later in life, and was entranced by James Butler Hickok when he was looking for a one man show to do.

The head of the Bloomington Library Board says the library will create six new bookmobile stops west of Veterans Parkway. The move partly addresses a flap caused by a lack of west side bookmobile service.

"The staff is concerned about any population feeling that they are not being given the services they are entitled to."

Carol Koos says to start they will be using locations of several discontinued stops that were shut down for lack of use.   

A resolution asking the Public Building Commission to proceed with McLean County jail renovation and expansion served as a skirmishing point for the mental health service debate. Board member Chuck Erickson voted for measure, but expressed reservations, saying mental illness is not a legitimate reason to expand the jail, protecting the public is.

Erickson, who is also the chair of the County Republican Party, says he fears some are trying to hijack the initiative into more than it really ought to be.

The proposed new budget for McLean County government is 4% higher than last year. County Administrator Bill Wasson says the increase of 3.7 million dollars will go to several areas including the jail renovation and expansion, the Towanda Barnes road widening effort, new phones for the ETSB, and courtroom audio system replacement.

The budget includes a 1.5% pay increase. Four jobs will be cut including one sheriff's deputy, and staff in the state's attorneys and child protection service offices because of state grant cuts.

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