Student Reporter Melissa Schoper | WGLT

Student Reporter Melissa Schoper

News Reporter
Melissa Schoper / WGLT

The Unit 5 School Board last night heard parent concerns about new bus routes. More students are riding fewer buses due to a change in school start times, and budget cuts.

Some routes have children spending two hours on a bus when they only live ten minutes away. Parents and First Student bus drivers said buses are overcrowded and routes are confusing.

Staff / WGLT

The Bloomington City Council has agreed to move forward with an October 10 public hearing for a Tax Increment Financing district in downtown. 

Judith Valente / WGLT

The Bloomington city council  unanimously agreed to drill water supply wells around Lake Bloomington and Lake Evergreen. At a cost of $170,000, engineering firm Baxter and Woodman Inc. will drill into the St. Peter Aquifer

Melissa Schoper / WGLT

Construction on the One Uptown  Circle project in Normal should begin in August. The three story building will house a restaurant on the first floor, office space on the second, and high-end apartments on the top floor.  The Normal Town Council approved nearly $70,000 in design work from Eckenhoff Saunders Architects for its offices which will occupy the second floor.

Melissa Schoper / WGLT

After 25 years of growth, Heartland Community College is pausing to rethink its mission. Academic Vice President Sarah Deil-Hunt said Heartland has begun what it calls a Continuous Improvement Initiative.

Video gaming fees won't be coming to Bloomington businesses anytime soon- if ever. The Bloomington Council chose to table the discussion for at least a year. Details such as an exact cost of the fee were not finalized before the council chose to table the issue. Alderman David Sage said he doesn't see the issue resurfacing in the future.

  "If we can, more legitimately and more credibly say here are costs associated with the video gaming terminals, and therefore we have to recover additional money to address that, I mean I suppose that could be a scenario that would prompt a follow up conversation but, at this point I don't think there's much interest in bringing it back up" said Alderman Sage.

brownpau / Flickr

The Bloomington City Council chose to put off a vote on video gaming machine fees for one week. 

Melissa Schoper

The Unit 5 School board has agreed to an amended budget for the 2015-2016 school year.  The board made some tough choices over the past school year due to the lack of a state budget, including changing school start times beginning this fall. 

Town of Normal

Two properties in a historic Normal neighborhood are being converted back to single family homes. The houses were previously rented by university students, and there were numerous noise complaints from surrounding neighbors.

Ralph Weisheit

The Unit 5 School Board has agreed to borrow 3.5 million dollars to buy school buses instead of rent them. Unit 5 Business Manager Marty Hickman says Unit 5 is currently running 154 buses. 61 of those are rented. 

Melissa Schoper / WGLT

  The majority of Bloomington Fire Department calls are for emergency medical services. Fire Chief Brian Mohr told aldermen in his annual report that when they are called for a fire, they arrive in six minutes 72 percent of the time. 

The cost of a school lunch in Unit 5 is going up 5 cents beginning this fall. Lunches will increase from $2.00  to $2.05 for students. The instructional supply fee is also being hiked. Unit 5 Business Manager Marty Hickman said rising costs are to blame.

"All the increases, the causes, is increased costs. So for school lunches, for the instructional supply fees, we're increasing those this year because of increased costs in those areas. We haven;t raised fees actually for two years" said Hickman.

City of Bloomington

The Bloomington City Council approved a partnership with the The Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal, Western-Avenue Community Center, Lawrence Irvin Neighborhood Center, and Town of Normal. This partnership helps at risk youth find the resources they need to stay on the right track.

Mike Maehr / Creative Commons

The Miller Park Zoo has broken its attendance record. Annual attendance for Fiscal Year 2016 was 114,311 guests. Zoo Direcor Jay Tetzloff says they are happy to have so many people enjoying all the zoo has to offer.

Melissa Schoper

The Normal Town Council approved design revisions to the proposed One Uptown Circle structure Monday night. The new mixed use development will be located next to the Hyatt Place in Uptown Normal. 

Melissa Schoper

  The Unit 5 school board has approved new safety and fire protection technology to be put in Unit 5 schools. Nine schools will receive additional security cameras. Three schools plan to repair broken equipment. 

    The Normal Town Council has approved the Destihl Brewery expansion site plan Monday night. The 6 acre expansion will be located on the East Side of Greenbriar Drive, North of Shepard Road, and will include a 47,000 square foot building with brewing, distribution, and event space. The new facility has the potential to more than double the current brewing capacity of Destihl. Councilman Jeff Fritzen was excited to see Destihl keep their business in the community.

Staff

The Bloomington City Council has adopted a $207 million dollar proposed balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2017. Aldermen Kevin Lower and Jim Fruin voted no. Lower said his opposition came because of a lack of reductions in “socialized entertainment venues.” Lower said he believed the venues should be paid for by the people actually using those services, not the city.

Staff / WGLT

Illinois State University students complaining of long lines at the polls last month have a sympathetic ear in a McLean County Board member. During a Finance committee meeting, Erik Rankin echoed Illinois State University students’ frustrations after waiting hours in some cases to vote at the Bone Student Center in last month’s primary.

A Catholic priest, a legal services advocate, an agriculture specialist and a women's basketball hall of fame member are the recipients of this year's History Makers Awards from the McLean County Museum of History.

The awards will be presented at a gala on June 16.

This year's honorees are Jill Hutchison, John R. "Jack" Porter, Gordon Ropp and Father Ric Schneider.

Ralph Weisheit

The Bloomington city council proposed a balanced budget for the next fiscal year Monday night. City Manager David Hales said if it wasn't for the anticipated sales tax revenue for FY 2017, the council wouldn't have been able to collaborate with Connect Transit, and enter into a revenue sharing agreement with McLean County for mental health. Hales said the council has to make a continued effort for long-term financial planning.

Ralph Weisheit

With the contract to manage U-S Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington winding down to an April 1 deadline, the city has announced a new manager for its venue.

Mike Miletich / WGLT

The McLean County Unit 5 Board of Education has approved changes to start and end times for the 2016-17 school year.

This change from a three-tier to a two-tier system means elementary students will be starting the school day at 7:45. High schools will start at 8:30 and middle schools start latest at 8:45.

Staff / WGLT

Bloomington Alderman Scott Black says “engaging the public is key” in moving forward with economic development projects. The City Council passed a resolution approving a contract to purchase the former Mennonite Hospital for $1.4 million, which formerly housed Electrolux on Main Street north of downtown.

Black said he’d love to see a development go into the Electrolux property that will benefit the tax payers in the long term.

Michael Hill / WGLT

Students, parents and teachers are voicing their concerns about possible changes to school bus routes and start times. More than fifteen people spoke during a regular board meeting. Unit 5 Superintendent Mark Daniel says the budget situation is forcing them to make changes.