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About the community
Places of Interest
News from State Rep. Dan Brady
Capitol Commentary from Sen. Bill
1. The state of Illinois owes vendors $3,015,342,465.80, according to the August 22 Ledger maintained by the state comptroller’s office.
2. The state of Illinois has 47,132 backlogged vouchers that have yet to be paid, according to the August 22 Ledger maintained by the state comptroller’s office.
3. The Illinois Department of Employment Security says Bloomington-Normal’s unemployment rate fell 1.5 percent, from eight percent in July 2013 to 6.5 percent in July 2014.
4. Though the unemployment rate has fallen, the Bloomington-Normal area is realizing a loss of 600 available jobs compared to last year.
5. Illinois’ unemployment rate is at 7 percent. The national rate is currently at 6.5 percent.
Fire department grants available
Senator Brady is reminding local communities of a Sept. 30 deadline to apply for grants for firefighting equipment through the State Fire Marshal’s Small Equipment Grant Program.
The program offers grants to local fire departments and fire protection districts of up to $26,000. Information and an application form is available on the State Fire Marshal’s Web site.
Audubon Society to present Programs about the Environment
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Tim McGraw Concert set Sept. 12 at the Corn Crib
The Normal CornBelters, presented by Illinois Corn Farmers, have announced that Tim McGraw’s Sundown Heaven Town Tour will stop at the Corn Crib on Friday, September 12. The CornBelters will play their first regular season home game of the 2014 season (“CEFCU Opening Night”) at The Corn Crib on Friday, May 16 at 7 p.m. versus the Evansville Otters.
Corn Crib Alum Jana Kramer and newcomer Dakota Bradley will be the opening acts for the concert, which will be produced once again by S.A.W. Events. The gates will open at 5:30 with the show getting under way at 7 p.m. Tickets will be $60 for reserved seats and general admission field tickets. VIP pit tickets will be $105. Parking is available at the Corn Crib and will be $20 per car.
CornBelters corporate partners, package ticket holders and host families will have a pre-sale opportunity to purchase tickets from Wednesday, March 5 - Tuesday, March 11 by phone and in-person only.
E-mail newsletter subscribers will have a pre-sale opportunity to purchase tickets online only beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 13. The promo code will be sent out to all the newsletter subscribers on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 12 and the promo code will be valid from 8 a.m. Thursday, March 13 until 9 a.m. on Friday, March 14.
Tickets to the general public will go on sale Friday, March 14th at 10 a.m. To purchase tickets stop by the Mid-Illini Credit Union Box Office or call 309-454-BALL during normal business hours. Tickets can also be purchased anytime online at www.normalbaseball.com.
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Sugar Grove Nature Center Happenings
Sugar Grove Nature Center is located in beautiful, historic Funks Grove, just south of Bloomington-Normal. For a map and directions to the Nature Center, membership and program information visit us on-line at
Hummingbird Festival & Pollination Celebration
Saturday, August 30; 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Free admission.
Plan to attend our 8th Annual Hummingbird Festival & Pollination Celebration! Celebrate hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies – the vital pollinators for countless varieties of plant life in Funks Grove. Enjoy entertainment, education, food, and fun at this FREE event!
What is pollination and why are pollinators important? Join us to find out! All ages are encouraged to learn about pollination and pollinator migration from experts during seminars, classroom programs, guided hikes, and garden tours. Children will especially enjoy watching puppet shows, making crafts, and overcoming obstacles in a life-sized game of migration.
We are excited to welcome back Vern Kleen of Springfield, Illinois, to the Festival again this year. Vern is one of the few licensed hummingbird banders in the United States. During the day he will demonstrate trapping, banding, and releasing hummingbirds. Celebration participants will have the chance to “adopt” a bird to receive updates if it is recaptured.
Attend hummingbird seminars led by Deanna Frautschi and Jeanine Morse to learn more about attracting these winged wonders to your yard and garden. Browse an assortment of products from Wild Birds Unlimited of Normal, tour our Monarch Waystation, visit with Wild Ones members to learn about native landscaping, explore our honey bee hives and sample some Sugar Grove honey!
New this year…meet Kirby and Cindy Pringle, creators of “Plight of the Monarch,” a 22 minute documentary that looks at the causes behind the rapidly declining population of the monarch, the lifecycle of the butterfly and what people can do to help increase the number of monarchs. Multiple showings of the film will take place throughout the festival.
Follow us on Facebook or visit our website at www.sugargrovenaturecenter.org to find a complete listing of events, updated information, and previews of the days’ activities as the festival approaches.
Please Note: Guests will not be permitted on the grounds before 10:00 a.m. on the day of the festival.
For more information about this or other Nature Center programs, phone 309.874.2174 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information phone 309.874.2174 or email email@example.com. Sugar Grove Nature Center is located in beautiful, historic Funks Grove, just south of Bloomington-Normal. For a map and directions to the Nature Center, membership and program information visit us on-line at www.sugargrovenaturecenter.org.
Local Schools Pay ‘Corruption Tax” for Chicagofrom State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington)
A scathing report on the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has raised concerns that area school districts are paying a “corruption tax” that subsidizes waste, mismanagement and fraud and shortchanges schools in the 53rd District and across Illinois, State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) says.
Barickman joined other downstate and suburban lawmakers on Thursday, in a renewed push to prioritize education funding and eliminate a special block grant which allows CPS to end-run the school aid formula.
“Schools in my area are owed more than $16 million in backlogged payments, while circumventing the state’s allocation formulas allows Chicago schools to get at least $230 million in ‘extra’ funding from the state,” State Senator Barickman said. “At the same time, a recent report from the Chicago Board of Education Inspector General exposed a disturbing pattern of waste, abuse and even outright fraud.
Barickman said the unequal treatment between Chicago and other schools districts “amounts to a corruption tax, because local school districts get shortchanged while the Chicago schools are allowed to go around the allocation formula and that helps offset the money the school district wastes through abuse and fraud.”
Barickman explained that the Chicago Board of Education Inspector General’s Annual Report for 2013 came to light recently during the Senate’s state budget review process.
That report found cases of school administrators faking data and even creating ‘ghost students’ to pad enrollment and secure more funding.
The waste and fraud identified by the Inspector General was particularly disturbing, Barickman said, because many school districts in the 53rd District and surrounding areas are still owed money by the state, primarily for “mandated categorical” programs such as transportation, special education and free lunch programs for poor children.
According to figures supplied by the Illinois State Board of Education, school districts in the 53rd District, including McLean County District 5, El Paso-Gridley, Prairie Central, Lexington and others are owed just over $8 million, while other area school districts, including Bloomington, Kankakee and Danville are also owed more than $8 million.
“School districts that are owed thousands of dollars in back payment should be justifiably outraged that they aren’t getting the payments they deserve, while the kinds of abuse outlined in the Inspector General’s report are occurring,” Barickman said.
Earlier this year, a special bipartisan Education Funding Advisory Committee, which Barickman served on, recommended eliminating the Chicago schools block grant.
Barickman said as the committee studied school funding, they found that the special Chicago block grant serves as a separate funding stream granted to Chicago Public Schools that allows the school district to bypass funding formulas used for every other school district in the state.
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