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by Steve Robinson

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McLean County Board Report
Enterprize Zone expanded in downtown Bloomington
Matt Sorensen, Chairman
Recording Secretary:  Judith A. LaCasse

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Harriet Tubman portrayer at the Normal Theater September 17th

Perhaps the most famous ‘conductor’ of the Underground Railroad will make a public presentation at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 17th at the Normal Theater in uptown Normal. The event is free and open to the public. Doors to the theater will open at 6:30 p.m. The presentation will take about an hour and will be followed by a question-and-answer period where audience members can ask Harriet questions about her life and experiences.
Harriet Tubman, as portrayed by Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Services Director Kathryn Harris, will describe her life experiences of being born a slave, her drive for freedom, and helping many other slaves achieve freedom. Harriet is said to have led at least thirteen expeditions along the Underground Railroad which resulted in the freedom of nearly 300 slaves.
Kathryn Harris has portrayed Harriet Tubman for numerous school and community groups. She portrayed Harriet in 2012 to the Annual Leadership Conference sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C. In 2013, Kathryn appeared as Harriet in the Mentoring Summit organized by the National Alliance of Faith and Justice in Washington, D.C.

ISBE announces Unit 5’s MaryLynn Meredith as Teacher of the Year Finalist
Unit 5 teacher MaryLynn Meredith is a finalist for Illinois Teacher of the Year. Ms. Meredith teaches art at Prairieland and Towanda elementary schools. She has been teaching in Unit for 21 years, and has also worked at Glenn, Sugar Creek, Brigham, Oakdale, Fairview, and Carlock. She is among 12 finalists vying for the award.
This is Unit 5’s third teacher of the year finalist in the past four years.
“This program gives us the opportunity to meet outstanding educators at every level and recognize leadership and achievements in classrooms throughout Illinois,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Their passion, creativity and commitment to students is an inspiration. We are pleased to publicly recognize the individuals who make a difference in students’ lives every day.”
A selection committee comprised of administrators, teachers and representatives from educational service personnel, student support personnel and past Illinois Teacher of the Year winners reviewed approximately 230 nominations this year.
“We are fortunate to have such a talented, hard-working, and dedicated teacher to guide and shape our students,” Sugar Creek Principal Scott Peters wrote in his recommendation letter. “Demonstrating a true knowledge and passion for her craft, she has brought the curriculum to life for the students.”
Peters added, “Extending well beyond her artistic teaching abilities, Marylynn understands the real purpose in her job is to touch the lives of the students. She maintains the highest of expectations for all, while continually recognizing their differences and the true blessings that each child beholds.”
The 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year will be announced during the Those Who Excel banquet Saturday, Oct. 25, at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Normal. The Teacher of the Year will represent Illinois at NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and in the Council of Chief State School Officers’ National Teacher of the Year Program.

Civil War’s Underground Railroad to be subject of free Normal Theatre program September 17
Perhaps the most famous ‘conductor’ of the Underground Railroad will make a public presentation at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 17th at the Normal Theater in uptown Normal. The event is free and open to the public. Doors to the theater will open at 6:30 p.m. The presentation will take about an hour and will be followed by a question-and-answer period where audience members can ask Harriet questions about her life and experiences.
Harriet Tubman, as portrayed by Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Services Director Kathryn Harris, will describe her life experiences of being born a slave, her drive for freedom, and helping many other slaves achieve freedom. Harriet is said to have led at least thirteen expeditions along the Underground Railroad which resulted in the freedom of nearly 300 slaves.
Kathryn Harris has portrayed Harriet Tubman for numerous school and community groups. She portrayed Harriet in 2012 to the Annual Leadership Conference sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C. In 2013, Kathryn appeared as Harriet in the Mentoring Summit organized by the National Alliance of Faith and Justice in Washington, D.C.

Ken Ludwig’s ‘The Fox on the Fairway’ Set to Tee Off at the Barn Theatre
Conklin’s Barn II Dinner Theatre is very excited to announce the Barn debut production of Ken Ludwig’s hysterically comic ode to golf, “The Fox on the Fairway,” starring Bob Lane Jr. and Eddie Urish opening September 18 for a seven week run at the Barn in Goodfield. The show will be performed Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and Sunday brunches through November 2.
“Fox on the Fairway” is a tribute to the classic Marx-Brothers style farce by Ludwig, the author of popular comedies “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Moon Over Buffalo.”  “Fox” is the tale of the rivalry between country clubs Quail Valley and Crouching Squirrel and their heated annual golf tournament, which Quail Valley has lost for five years in a row, much to the chagrin of club manager Henry Bingham. This year, Henry has a sure-fire ringer on his golf roster, which leads him to make an outlandish bet on the outcome of the tournament with his rival, Crouching Squirrel manager Dickie Bell. Unbeknownst to Bingham, his golf ringer has changed camps and is now playing for Crouching Squirrel! All is not lost, however, when Henry discovers his new assistant, Justin, is a golf prodigy. With the assistance of Quail Valley board member Pamela Peabody, who is—coincidentally—Dickie Bell’s bitter ex-wife, Henry forges Justin’s membership to Quail Valley and adds Justin’s name to the roster. Everything will work out perfectly, as long as Justin doesn’t find out his new fiancée (Quail  Valley waitress Louise) has lost her engagement ring, a family heirloom. Add in Henry’s monstrous shrew of a wife, Muriel, and all the pieces are in place for an outrageous romp.
The Barn’s leading funny man, Bob Lane Jr. stars as Bingham, and the Barn welcomes back noted Peoria theatre personality Eddie Urish returning to the Barn after nearly thirty years, as Justin. Urish is the founder of Eastlight Theatre and Haberdasher’s Dinner Theatre in Peoria and has been performing and directing on the East Coast and touring the country, most recently in the national tour of the Broadway musical “Memphis.”  Mary Simon plays Pamela, with Dan Challacombe as Dickie, April Bieschke as Louise and Pat Gaik as Muriel.
The production is directed by Mary Simon with set design by April Bieschke and publicity by Pat Gaik. Conklin’s Barn II is known for its delicious buffet which, on evening performances, includes four main entrees featuring the Barn’s renowned prime rib and fried chicken, with salad, homemade soup and cheese spread, and a choice of four taste-tempting, homemade desserts. Prices for dinner and show are $33.00 on Thursday evening, $35.00 on Friday evening and Sunday brunch, and $37.00 on Saturday evening, including tax. No advance payment is required. For reservations, call 309-965-2545. For more information, visit the Barn on the internet at

Illinois State Has Large Freshman Class, Increased Enrollment

Illinois State University has its largest freshman class since 1989. The fall 2014 freshman class has 3,589 students, a 20 percent increase from last fall.
Total on-campus enrollment is 20,271, a 1.7 percent increase over fall 2013. Including an additional 344 students enrolled in off-campus programs, there are 20,615 students enrolled at the University, which is also a 1.7 percent increase from last fall.
The academic quality of the freshman class remains strong with a high school GPA of 3.4 on a 4.0 scale and an average ACT score of 24. More than 200 freshmen with an ACT score of 30 or higher are enrolled, which is an increase of 54 students or 35 percent from last fall.
“The large freshman class and overall enrollment increase confirm that Illinois State is a first choice institution for academically talented and motivated students,” said Troy Johnson, associate vice president of Enrollment Management. “This is impressive because we were able to substantially increase enrollment while keeping our academic quality strong. That’s quite an accomplishment in today’s highly competitive recruiting environment.”
The number of transfer students for fall 2014 is 1,842, a 2 percent increase over last fall. Graduate enrollment remains strong and stable at 2,259, with the number of new graduate students increasing by 4 percent from fall 2013.
This year’s enrollment allows Illinois State to retain its student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1, meaning the University can meet housing needs and maintain smaller class sizes.

Heartland Theatre Co. auditions September 21 & 23 for ‘Falling’
Auditions for Heartland Theatre Company’s performances of “Falling” will be held Sunday, September 21 from 7 to 9 p.m. Call backs will be held Tuesday, September 23 from 7 to 9 p.m. Performances will be held November 6, 7, 8 and 13, 14, 15, 16 and 20, 21, 22, 23.
“Falling” is the story of a family with an autistic teenage son. When Grammy Sue comes to visit the entire family is thrown out of equilibrium, with everyone trying to balance what is best for the family and what is best for them. The play bravely speaks a truth about love and family and about hopes and dreams. It asks, “How do you love someone who is difficult to love?”
 Director Lori Adams is looking for two actors to play the following roles:
 Lisa – Age 16, Josh’s sister. Wants to be a typical girl in a typical home. Isn’t and is frustrated by that. She and her father take yearly summer vacations to visit his mother (Grammy Sue). She may deal with her stress by overeating.
 Grammy Sue – She has come for a visit to the Martin household. She brings with her the hope that her sincere Christian faith can intervene to help everyone in her son’s family. She is genuinely concerned and confused, but she is not a scold. She is wearing a “boot” because she broke two of her toes a few days prior to this visit.
 If you are unable to attend auditions on September 21 but would like to arrange a time to read for director Lori Adams, email for more information.
Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script; no prepared monologues are necessary.

In The September 11 2014 Printed Normalite:
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Bill Linneman
Michigan Wishingan

Helen J. Leake's Gardeners Tips
Fall Lawn Care Tips

The Spectator by Jim Bennett
He’s Not a Dog, He’s a Soldier

Capitol Facts by Rich Miller
Does anything make sense in Springfield?

They Call me Spence
A Leap into the Great Unknown

Classic Colcalsure
The Generation Gap

Normal Town Council Report
 by Steve Robinson

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Unit 5 School Board Report
 by Steve Robinson
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McLean County Board Report

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Capitol Commentary from Senator Bill Brady
Audit shows more fraud & waste in All Kids insurance program

Subpoenas issued for Neighborhood Recover Initiative investigation

Publisher Ed Pyne - Pyne Needles
Ace Reporter Steve Robinson gets caught in the storm

Chimperscage - by Alan Look

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Unit 5 School Board Report

by Steve Robinson

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Heartland Theatre to present ‘The Language Archive’ Sept. 11-28
Heartland Theatre Company opens “The Language Archive” by Julia Cho, Thursday, September 11th on a Pay-What-You-Can Preview donation basis and runs through September 28.  The play is sponsored by Myra and George Gordon (Donor Advised Fund - Illinois Prairie Community Foundation).
 Kathleen Kirk directs the play which features actors Mark de Veer, Bruce E. Clark, J. Michael Grey, Vanessa Houssin, Michelle Kaiden, Devon Lovell, Nancy Nickerson and Chris Stucky.
About The Play:  George has devoted his life to lost languages, but his wife Mary may leave him because she just can’t find the words to tell him what is in her heart, and two visitors to his archive, the last speakers of a language on the verge of extinction, refuse to speak to each other.  This “wryly beguiling new play” is about language, love and the lapses between the two. [Mature Themes/ Mature Language]
Performances are September 11, 12 and 13; 18, 19, 20 and 21; 25, 26, 27 and 28 – 2014
Sunday, September 21 • Panel Discussion After The Matinee:
If language can unite us, does it also divide? How do we reach each other? Three panelists – Connie de Veer, Professor of Voice/Speech and Acting at ISU and a frequent dialect coach; Susan Ryder, Presbyterian co-pastor at New Covenant Community with a focus on the Tower of Babel; and a representative from Bloomington-Normal’s Friends Forever, a group that brings together children from cultures in conflict to promote understanding – will look at the fragile nature of words. [No charge, open to the public]
 Ticket Prices: General Admission - $15, Senior Discount - $12, Student Discount - $5
Curtain Times: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2:00 p.m. Sunday matinees
The play will be performed at 1110 Douglas St, One Normal Plaza, Community Activity Center.
For reservations call 309 452 8709 or email Reservations recommended for all performances, except Pay-What-You-Can. No reservations taken on that night only for other than season ticket holders. Check out our website

Sept. 20th Tour de Taco to promote bike safety
People who break the rules of the road, whether they’re in a car or on a bike, endanger their own lives and those of others. Local bicycle advocacy group Bike BloNo is working to promote safe cycling with an event next Saturday, September 20. Tour de Taco is a family-friendly social bicycle event geared at increasing visibility of cyclists in our community, while promoting safe and responsible bike-riding practices on the road.
“Several of us in Bike BloNo have done a ride like this for a few years now, and we’ve always had a great time,” said Jacob DeGeal, Bike BloNo Secretary and event organizer. “Every time, more and more people have wanted to join, so we asked the question - why not develop it more fully and open it up to the public?”
The event’s $25 registration fee will support Bike BloNo, which is raising money for a large-scale awareness campaign aimed at making cyclists more aware of rules of the road and safe riding techniques, as well as educating drivers on how to interact with cyclists on the road.
“Just about every time there’s a story in the news about someone getting injured while riding a bike, people blame him or her, assuming the cyclist wasn’t following the rules of the road,” said Caryn Davis, a Bike BloNo board member whose small business, Bloomington Cycle & Fitness, is an event sponsor. “We want to make sure everyone - from people who ride their bike to the grocery store to people who drive their car to their kid’s Karate class - knows the rules of the road and follows them. Tour de Taco is a fun way to encourage people to ride safely, and it’s raising money for a broader awareness campaign that will reach a lot more people across the entire community. Plus - tacos are delicious, and we’re supporting lots of different small businesses in our local community. It’s a win-win-win.”
Anyone interested in learning more or participating in Tour de Taco may sign up on the event website. Tour de Taco is organized by Bike BloNo and sponsored by Bloomington Cycle and Fitness, Eric’s Restaurant, the Hile Group, Oogie’s Food on Wheels, Uptown Partners, Vitesse Cycle Shop, and Wilson’s Cycle.
Other upcoming bike safety events supported by Bike BloNo include Light the Night in Uptown Normal, where 800 pairs of front and rear bike lights were given away, free of charge, and the Bike Rodeo during Worldwide Day of Play, Saturday, September 27, aimed at educating young children on bike safety.

Friends of the Arts Wine Gala at The Fresh Market Sept. 24
Illinois State University’s Friends of the Arts will host an evening of wine tastings and food samplings from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 24 at the The Fresh Market, 200 North Greenbriar Drive, Normal. Tickets are $25 in advance from Friends of the Arts Board members or by calling the Illinois State University Center for Performing Arts box office at (309) 438-2535. Featured will be 40 varieties of international wine, gourmet heavy hors d’oeuvres, and in-store discounts.
The evening will benefit Friends of the Arts, which supports ISU’s College of Fine Arts’ student scholarships, grants, events, and visiting artists. For more information call the College of Fine Arts office at (309) 438-8321.

ISU to present Noel Coward’s ‘Hay Fever’ Sept. 24 through 28
The Illinois State University School of Theatre and Dance will present Noel Coward’s comedy Hay Fever, Wednesday, Sept. 24 through Sunday, Sept. 28, in Westhoff Theatre, located in Centennial East.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24, 25, 26 and 27, and at 2 p.m. Sept. 27 and 28. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for faculty/staff, students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased at the College of Fine Arts Box Office, located in the Center for the Performing Arts, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, by phone at (309) 438-2535, or online at
Hay Fever revolves around the life of retired actress Judith Bliss and her eccentric family. With family melodrama constantly on the rise, there is hardly enough room for the family of four in their pastoral country home. The arrival of each of their amorous guests (unknown to the others) causes chaos, drama and romantic intrigue to ensue, much to the visitors’ horror.
Director Sonja Moser, assistant professor in Illinois State’s School of Theatre and Dance, describes the play as a “cross between farce and comedy of manners and is full of style and fun. Set in the 1920’s, we’ve done everything we can to evoke the era - including adding a live pianist to the production. The cast is a fantastic group of actors, and if the audience has half the fun we’re having in rehearsal, they’ll have spent a very enjoyable evening in the theatre.”

CIDSO 10th annual Buddy Walk set Saturday, Sept. 20
The Central Illinois Down Syndrome Organization (CIDSO) is hosting its 10th annual Buddy Walk to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.  Many groups and organizations in the Bloomington – Normal area have participated in the yearly event that typically draws around 800 in attendance.
For more information or to download  a registration form go to  
The local college communities have been very involved in the one mile walk over the past 10 years.  Attending the event in the past have  been the ISU Football team, Gamma Phi Circus, ISU dance team members, Redbird readers Literacy group, ISU Art Education Association, the CEC (Council for Exceptional Children), SSIDS (Students serving Individuals with disabilities.  Also attending on a regular basis is The IWU basketball players who come out every year to shoot hoops with the kids.  In addition we have had sport teams from Heartland College attend the walk and numerous Sororities and Fraternities from both schools have attended in the past.  
CIDSO has been serving families in and around the Bloomington Normal area for 40 years.  Funds raised in this event stay in the community to support numerous programs and services.  Two of the programs CIDSO funds are housed at ISU.  The Adult Literacy Program at Milner Library and the Speech and Language program housed at the Speech and Hearing Clinic. The Speech and language program was actually started by former President Al Bowman.  CIDSO also funds a grant program to schools, Scholarships to the Halo Program at Heartland Community college and an Enrichment Program for families.  We offer informational workshops, a resource library, newsletter and much more.

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Sat. & Sun. • Sept. 13 & 14
Facing a failed relationship and a struggling restaurant, a woman hits the road for a trip with her grandson. NR/116 minutes

Wednesday, September 17
The public is invited to a free presentation by the most famous ‘conductor’ of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman, as portrayed by Abraham Lincoln Presidential Services Director Kathryn Harris. Harriet is said to have led at least thirteen expeditions along the Underground Railroad which resulted in the freedom of nearly 300 slaves. The presentation will take about an hour and will be followed by a question-and-answer period where audience members can ask Harriet questions about her life and experiences.

Thurs. & Fri. • Sept. 18 & 19
Directed by Nabil Ayouch, this drama is about the men involved in the suicide bombings in Casablanca in 2003. NR/115 minutes

Sat. & Sun. • Sept. 20 & 21
In 1921, unfortunate circumstances drive newly arrived immigrant Ewa into a life of prostitution, and a complex, volatile relationship with two men. R/120 minutes


issue of Best Look Magazine  Available
Best Look Magazine is a quarterly sports and leisure magazine featuring sports, events, and people primarily from McLean County.  Every story has a photo and every photo has a story. The magazine is published by Alan Look Photography.  Please check it out at your convenience at subscriptions and single issues availble.
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Evergreen Cemetery Walk Celebrates 20th Anniversary
This year is the twentieth anniversary of the Evergreen Cemetery Walk. To celebrate the milestone of this award-winning outdoor history theatre program, we are bringing back some of our favorite characters who have been featured over the course of the last twenty years. Two of the characters are “Fan Favorites” and were selected by visitors who have attended the Walk in previous years.
Weekend tours will be held at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on October 4-5 and 11-12. Advanced ticket sales begin Tuesday, September 3 and tickets will be available for purchase at the following locations: the Museum, The Garlic Press in Normal, Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, and Casey’s Garden Shop in Bloomington. Tickets are $17 for the general public, $14 for Museum members, and $5 for children & students w/ID. A special $2.00 pre-sale discount is available for general and Museum member tickets if purchased at least 24 hours before the day of the performance. There is no discount available on children/student tickets.
The Museum is also pleased to announce that this year’s sponsor of the event is Evergreen Memorial Cemetery. The Cemetery’s sponsorship will help bring over 2,000 students and chaperones to performances of the Cemetery Walk free of charge. These school performances take place on weekdays between the two weekends of public performances. Without the Cemetery’s support, many of these students would not be able to attend. Thank you to the Cemetery and its Board of Trustees for their support.                             
2014 Featured Characters
1. Weekend Performances Only Marie Litta (1856-1883) Born Marie von Elsner, Marie Litta (her stage name) was born in Bloomington to a musical family.  As a young woman, she became one of the world’s most acclaimed solo sopranos. Her popularity was her downfall as the frail Litta collapsed after a concert in 1883 and died shortly thereafter at the age of 27. First featured in 1995.
2. Bell Blue-Claxton (1872-1926) This courageous African American woman was an active member of the NAACP in Bloomington. During the summer of 1919, she worked hard to desegregate the beaches at Miller Park. First featured in 2003.
3. Adam Guthrie (1825-1904) Among the first settlers to come to McLean County, Guthrie served with the “McLean County Regiment” during the Civil War. Later he owned and operated a cigar business, The Ark, in downtown Bloomington, a well known gathering place where old settlers and politicians swapped stories and remembered the good times. First featured in 2000.
4. Fan Favorite Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn (1854-1897) Bloomington’s irascible Hall of Fame baseball player who played during an era when ballplayers were rough and uncouth. This great pitcher set a record for pitching 59 wins in one season; the record still stands to this day. First featured in 1995.
5. Fan Favorite Celestia Rice Colby (1827-1900) Colby found herself torn between a life of the mind versus living the life that society expected of a wife and mother. She carved out time to write stories and riddles for children, as well as articles for abolitionist, temperance, and suffragist publications. She did this all while making sure that her surviving children received the best educations she could offer them. First featured in 1998.
6. Adlai E. Stevenson II (1900-1965) Politics was in his blood.  A member of the two most influential political families in the region, Stevenson distinguished himself in politics as his ancestors had done before him. He served as the thirty-first Governor of Illinois, two-time Democratic nominee for President of the United States, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during the turbulent 1960s. First featured in 1997.
7. Asahel (1810-1881) and Mary Gridley (1818-1900) One of the wealthiest families in McLean County, this power couple had just as many friends as enemies.  Asahel was a hot-tempered, self-made man and was McLean County’s first millionaire. Mary was a strong willed woman, not shy with her opinions, who found ways to get back at her husband for his nasty temper.  Despite their wealth and prestige in the community, their marriage was not a happy one. First featured in 1998 and 2001, respectively.
Visit the McLean County Museum of History website: and like the face book page to get up to the minute updates on the event and the actors who will be portraying this year’s characters in the Walk.


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