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Illinois State University students, faculty, and staff will have a new place to remember Ben Allison this spring.

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the naming of a bench at last week's meeting to honor Allison, who was the victim of a hit-and-run incident in January of 2015.

His parents, Tim and Melissa, were acknowledged by President Larry Dietz when he announced the naming of the bench that will be a part of Redbird Plaza.

Mike Miletich / WGLT

Illinois State University's Board of Trustees recognized three outgoing long-term members during their quarterly meeting Friday.

Trustees Jay D. Bergman, Anne Davis, and Betty Kinser will leave the Board when their terms expire on January 16.

CASA of Peoria County

CASA of Peoria County is aiming to help a growing number of neglected children in 2017 with the "I Am For The Child" national campaign.

Court Appointed Special Advocates has been an active organization in the county since 2005. CASA is a not-for-profit, volunteer organization advocating for the best interests of abused children within the Juvenile Abuse and Neglect Court system. 

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

An Illinois State University scholar helped to conduct a study that shows gender doesn't have as big an impact in job performance evaluations.

Mike Miletich / WGLT

The Unit Five School District in McLean County is the latest local taxing body to approve Rivian Automotive's tax incentive package.

Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe spoke to board members Wednesday night about the educational opportunities Unit Five students could have with his company's technology.

Bloomington-Normal Jaycees Christmas Parade

Dec 3, 2016
Emma Shores / WGLT

Early morning on December 3, Jaycees Christmas Parade made its way from Kingsley Jr. High in Normal, to W. Jefferson St. in Bloomington. The parade consisted of many community members supporting businesses, elected officials, non-profits, music and more. The Parade has been a tradition for 85 years and has had Santa ride with a local Bloomington or Normal fire truck as a long held tradition. 

Emma Shores / WGLT

Two not-for-profit organizations are hopeful a new fundraiser will get people on their feet to bid on chairs decorated by area artists. 

The auction on Nov. 4 will benefit Recycling Furniture For Families (RF4F) and the YWCA's Labyrinth Outreach Services for Women. RF4F has provided furniture to 15,000 people since 2003.

Emma Shores / WGLT

Transportation provider First Student has less than a week to fix the multiple busing issues affecting students in Unit 5 schools. The school board voted Wednesday night to give the company until November 1 to reach an agreement with concessions for the problems, including financial compensation.

Superintendent Mark Daniel said there can't be inconsistency on the definition of late buses between Unit 5 and First Student. 

So far, a Bloomington-Normal couple doesn't think there is much they would do differently on their year-long RV trip. However, there have been a couple of bumps in the road. Jeff and Marci Pritts, kids and pets headed out in their RV named "Someday" on June 13. 

Mindfulness, meditation, non-violence, non-attachment. These are all key practices of Buddhism.

In fact, Buddhism has been described as a practice rather than a religion.

In Bloomington- Normal, there are are not Buddhist temples where people can go to practice their faith in community. But individuals manage to practice the principles of the faith on their own, said Illinois State University Professor Pruthikrai Mahatanankoon.

Emma Shores / WGLT

Bus contractor First Student has named a new location manager for McLean County. Mark Bohl was introduced to the Unit 5 School Board during Wednesday night's meeting. 

Eric Avarado

It’s a colonial-style brick church with tall pillars and Georgian windows in downtown Leroy.

Seated on a stool in the church basement, Pastor Emeritus Sharon Bianchi answers questions about the spirit world from visitors and congregation members. Are there guardian angels? Is there such a thing as a bad spirit? And this one, about why a heated room might suddenly feel cold.

Illinois State University

A high school history teacher in Seattle who led a successful revolt against standardized testing under Common Core initiatives says the education system perpetuates racism.

Jesse Hagopian speaks at ISU Friday night, September 30. He says studies show standardized tests themselves fail miserably.

Emma Shores / WGLT

Unit 5 Schools is giving bus contractor First Student one month to prove they are reliable.  The school board voted last night to give the company a November 1 extension to fix transportation problems that have plagued the company since the beginning of the school year.  If First Student declines, Unit 5 will terminate the contract for the 2017-2018 school year. 

Dept. of Education

The Illinois State Board of Education is drafting a plan to implement the federal law that’s replacing No Child Left Behind. Educators have hailed the flexibility in the Every Child Succeeds Act.

But Illinois state superintendent Tony Smith says the federal Department of Education is undermining the law's intent by writing regulations that limit that flexibility.

“The Department is continuing to legislate No Child Left Behind, and take an approach that really deeply distrusts states," Smith said.

Domestic Violence Advocates Seek Greater Community Action

Sep 26, 2016
McLean County YWCA

"Stand Up With Me" is the theme of a new effort in McLean County to help eradicate domestic violence.

Violence prevention groups are asking members of the community to publicly show their support for domestic violence survivors.

Emma Shores / WGLT

Unit 5 school board members say the district's bus contractor needs to increase its supply of drivers as soon as possible. Driver absenteeism has frequently made students up to two hours late to class. 

Superintendent Mark Daniel said he knows contractor First Student is struggling to find drivers, but the company should have been thinking about this since the school year began. 

Wikimedia Commons

Gathering accurate numbers and determining the true scope of homelessness is difficult. The people are transient, sometimes don't identify as homeless, or may be hidden as the person is couch surfing instead of sleeping on the street. Trying to track subsets, like homeless youth or LGBTQ youth homelessness is even more difficult. 

Emma Shores / WGLT

Unit Five Schools officials, parents, and students continue to grapple with bus issues. At least twice in the last week, more than a dozen bus drivers have called in saying they could not show up for work. This has delayed some students' arrival at school by more than two hours.

theempowermentproject.com

The Women to Women Giving Circle of the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation is an organization founded by women for women and children.

In the last six years, it's provided more than $200,000 in grants for local programs and projects.

This year, the focus will be programs that " inspire girls and young women to achieve their  highest potential," according to Kathi Davis, the foundation's program director.

About $40,000 in grants will be available for those programs.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Illinois State University says not only did overall enrollment and freshmen enrollment rise this fall, so did minority student enrollment. African American enrollment and Latino student attendance increased ten and nine percent respectively.

Freshman Kharisma Thomas of Chicago talked about staff efforts to accommodate students.

Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hosptial

Local advocates are raising funds to open a clinic in Bloomington-Normal that will address the health needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

It would be the first such clinic in central Illinois.  

One model might be the Ann and Robert H. Lurie (LURE-ee) Children's Hospital in Chicago. The hospital has what is considered  one of the most comprehensive clinics in the state for treating health issues involving gender and sexuality.

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.

Illinois State University

Early enrollment numbers have Illinois State University leaders smiling.

More than 21,000 students are on campus, an increase of about three hundred, based on first day enrollment numbers.

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

GLT correspondent and producer Judy Valente was recently honored for her journalism by the national Association for Women in Communications.

Valente received a Clarion Award in public affairs reporting for a segment she reported on "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly," a religion news show on national PBS-TV.

The report focused on St. Benedict's Preparatory School for boys in Newark, New Jersey. The school was born out of the strife of the 1967 riots in that city, and is run by a group of Benedictine monks who have gained success with unconventional teaching methods.

Aleteia/Flicker

Lynne Mapes-Riordan has long been active at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in the Chicago suburb of Evanston. She never thought about becoming an ordained deacon, however, until her church began praying to the Virgin Mary to help guide one the men in her parish who was training to become a deacon.

Then Mapes-Riordan had an epiphany.

"I read that prayer because part of it was to help people understand what deacons do. And it occurred to me that Mary herself could not be a deacon," Mapes-Riordan said.

That's because the Catholic diaconate, as it's known, is currently open only to men. That might change.

WGLT Staff / WGLT

Unit 5's new school bus system will be put to the test when classes start next week. Earlier this year, the school board adjusted school start times to reduce the number of buses needed.

Superintendent Mark Daniel said he is ready for the first day, but also aware there will be some trouble spots.

Heartland Community College / WGLT

Heartland Community College is getting ready for a new school year.

But many things are not yet clear.

In this conversation with GLT's Charlie Schlenker, Heartland President Rob Widmer said one of the unknowns, with only a month to go before school, is enrollment.

Illinois State University

Illinois State University is losing its Provost. Janet Krecji is leaving at the end of the year to become Dean of the School of Nursing at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Krejci said she's sorry to go, but she has had changes in her family situation back in Wisconsin over the last couple months.

WGLT

Jeanne Hamilton is a month into her new job as the Director of the Bloomington Public Library. Hamilton replaced Georgia Bouda who retired amid concern over a bookmobile program that did not serve the west side of town. Hamilton says it's going well with a great staff.

She tells GLT's Charlie Schlenker she is getting to know members of the community. Hamilton says there are no fires to put out, but instead goals to work toward.

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