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by Steve Robinson

Connect Transit Officials Explain Proposed Route Changes Council

Last November, after nearly 45 years of picking up passengers up at any corner in the Twin Cities, Connect Transit established fixed pick-up points from where riders needed to be stationed to be collected. It was a change that was the start of numerous changes from the transit company. On Monday, Normal Town Council  received an update of changes to come from Connect Transit’s general manager, Andrew Johnson, and the company’s Chief Operating Officer Isaac Thorne.
Connect Transit has spent the last few months learning from riders and teaching riders about proposed route changes which, if approved by the bus company’s Board of Trustees next month, will go into effect in August, Johnson told Council members.
A public hearing concerning the route restructuring will be held on Monday, May 2 in the 4th floor multipurpose room in Normal City Hall at Uptown Station, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Connect Transit’s Board of Trustees will vote on the route restructuring on May 3. If the Board approves the restructure, the changes will take effect in August. Johnson told Council members a marketing campaign is being developed to help make the public aware of the route changes.  
Thorne told the Council the route restructuring Connect Transit has been working on will serve current riders better while attracting new riders, as well as simplify routes, while serving already defined markets in the community.
Sunday Bus Service Coming: Johnson explained the community will have Sunday service for the first time beginning this summer, planning for a debut in August along with the route changes, running from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. He said the additional service will cost $1 million and will be paid for with local sales tax dollars.
 He said the increased service will require increased staff, including two additional route supervisors; two additional dispatchers; 22 additional full-time drivers; 3 additional maintenance workers, and one additional administrative employee.
Appointment On Police Pension Board Extended For Bender: Council members unanimously approved extending the term of Andy Bender on the Normal Police Pension Board.
Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included
• Approval of minutes of public hearing held March 21, 2016.
• Approval of minutes of the regular meeting held March 21, 2016.
• A motion to authorize the renewal of the Town’s participation in the Municipal Insurance Cooperative Agency (MICA) insurance program for plan year 2016-17 beginning on May 1, 2016.
• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing the purchase of a one half ton pickup truck from Bloomington-based Dennison Ford in the amount of $22,539.
• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and accepting a quote from Bloomington-based Dave Capodice Excavating, Inc. in the amount of $27,442 for a public sanitary sewer extension on Broadway St. to serve 703 and 705 Broadway St. and approval of a budget adjustment to Line Item 508-7520-432.65-80 in the amount of %7,442 for this project.
• A resolution to waive bids and accept a proposal for engineering services to upgrade HVAC systems at the Normal Theater from Rock Island-based KJWW Engineering and award a contract in the amount of $29,750 for design, bidding, and construction phase services.
• A resolution to award the bid for the University St. water main replacement project to George Gilder, Inc. at a total cost of $311,317 plus potential bonus for early completion.
• A resolution to ward the bid for the railroad crossing casing pipe extensions project to George Gilner, Inc. at a total cost of $102,288 plus potential bonus for early completion.
• A resolution to award the bid for the Jacobsen, Johnson, and Taft water main replacement project to Deer Creek-based G. A. Rich and Sons, Inc. at a total cost of $1,452,954 plus potential bonus for early completion.
• A resolution authorizing the renewal of a joint agreement with the City of Bloomington and the Ecology Action Center for an energy efficiency program.



McLean County Board Report
????, Chairman
Recording Secretary:  Judith A. LaCasse

No Meeting This Week


ISU presents ‘Alice in Wonderland’ opening April 15th
On the heels of the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Illinois State University School of Theatre and Dance will present an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland by Eva Le Gallienne and Florida Friebus. Performances will be held in the Center for the Performing Arts Theatre, and will run April 15-17 and 19-23.
Inspired by the success of Peter Pan and its appeal to both adults and children, Le Gallienne and Friebus wanted to create a production of Alice in Wonderland that was true to Carroll’s words and made the book come to life. Speaking to the New York Times in 1982, Le Gallienne said that Alice in Wonderland was relevant in the early 80s, and it still is today. According to Le Gallienne, “It’s extraordinary how much of it is very much of today. Think of the upside down math, the chopped-up logic.” Or as the Cheshire Cat says, “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
Alice in Wonderland will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on April 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23.  There will also be a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 17.
For tickets or information, contact the College of Fine Arts Box Office, located in the Center for the Performing Arts, open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, at (309) 438-2535, or purchase tickets online by visiting ticketmaster.com. Tickets are $17 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.  Performance parking is available for free in the School Street Parking Deck, 400 W. Beaufort Street, Normal.

IWU School of Theatre Arts to Stage Fame: The Musical April 12-17
Illinois Wesleyan University’s School of Theatre Arts will present Fame: The Musical April 12-17.
Developed by David De Silva, and with music by Steve Margoshes and lyrics by Jacques Levy, the musical follows the final class at New York City’s renowned High School for the Performing Arts from their admission in 1980 through graduation in 1984. Their struggles, fears and triumphs — from prejudice to substance abuse — are depicted with razor-sharp focus as the young artists navigate the worlds of music, drama and dance.
Curtain is at 8 p.m. April 12-16 and 2 p.m. on April 17 in the Jerome Mirza Theatre in McPherson Hall, 2 Ames Plaza East. Tickets are $12 for Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, and $14 for Friday and Saturday performances. The Wednesday performance is free. Tickets for students are $2 with valid ID. Call the box office for tickets or more information at (309) 556-3232. The box office is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12:30 to 5 p.m. and Tuesday from 12:30 to 4 p.m.
Associate Professor of Theatre Jean Kerr is directing Illinois Wesleyan’s production of Fame: The Musical.



ISU presents ‘Alice in Wonderland’ opening April 15th
On the heels of the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Illinois State University School of Theatre and Dance will present an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland by Eva Le Gallienne and Florida Friebus. Performances will be held in the Center for the Performing Arts Theatre, and will run April 15-17 and 19-23.
Inspired by the success of Peter Pan and its appeal to both adults and children, Le Gallienne and Friebus wanted to create a production of Alice in Wonderland that was true to Carroll’s words and made the book come to life. Speaking to the New York Times in 1982, Le Gallienne said that Alice in Wonderland was relevant in the early 80s, and it still is today. According to Le Gallienne, “It’s extraordinary how much of it is very much of today. Think of the upside down math, the chopped-up logic.” Or as the Cheshire Cat says, “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
Alice in Wonderland will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on April 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23.  There will also be a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 17.
For tickets or information, contact the College of Fine Arts Box Office, located in the Center for the Performing Arts, open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, at (309) 438-2535, or purchase tickets online by visiting ticketmaster.com. Tickets are $17 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.  Performance parking is available for free in the School Street Parking Deck, 400 W. Beaufort Street, Normal.




In the April 7 2016 Printed Normalite:
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Bill Linneman
Island In The Sun

Helen J. Leake's Gardeners Tips
Lawn Care Tips & Hints

Capitol Facts by Rich Miller
Governor unwilling to accept Madiagan's government union backed power

Classic Colcalsure
Spring Break

Normal Town Council Report
Connect Transit Officials Explain Proposed Route Changes Council

Unit 5 School Board Report
 
No Report This Week

McLean County Board Report

by Steve Robinson

No Report This Week

Capitol Commentary from Senator Bill Brady
News from the Capitol

News_from_State_Rep._Dan_Brady

Statehouse Update from Jason Barickman

Publisher Ed Pyne - Pyne Needles
Anniversary of a day never to be forgotten

Chimperscage - by Alan Look



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Mystery Photo, Legal Notices, Obituaries, Service Directory, School and Senior Information, and Classified advertisements

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Unit 5 School Board Report

by Steve Robinson


No Report This Week





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Annual Normal Township Meeting set for April 12
The Annual Town Meeting of Normal Township will be held on Tuesday, April 12 at 7:00 P.M. at the Normal Township Hall, 304 E. Mulberry Street, Normal. Come hear what Normal Township has been doing for you and your community in the past twelve months. Light refreshments will be served.


Town of Normal Seeking Harmon Arts Grant Applications
The Town of Normal is seeking applications for arts-related projects, programs or events to be funded through the 2016 Harmon Arts Grant Program. Applications will be accepted through Thursday, May 12. The grant application is available on the Town of Normal website, www.normal.org
Harmon Arts Grants awarded in 2016 are available to art organizations for programs or events taking place between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017. Priority will be given to programs within the Town of Normal and proposals that make a program or event more accessible to the public particularly seniors, students and low income residents.
The Harmon Arts Grant Program, named to honor former mayor Paul Harmon, was created in 1993 to help promote the arts in the community. In 2015, Normal awarded 21 grants to local art organizations including $2,500 to the Heartland Theatre Company to fund the Mike Dobbins Memorial New Plays from the Heartland program. The program provides Midwestern playwrights a chance to share never before produced one-act plays with the community. In addition to the performances, the Heartland Theatre Company also offers an open forum on playwriting, workshop, and reception for patrons to meet the playwrights.
The maximum grant award is $5,000. Grant applications will be reviewed by Harmon Arts Grant Committee members who will make recommendations to the Normal Town Council. The Council will select grantees in June, and awards will be presented on July 5.


Museum of History announces four History Makers

McLean County Museum of History has announced the four recipients of the 2016 History Makers award to be presented during the Museum’s fifth annual History Makers Gala on Thursday, June 16 at Illinois State University’s Brown Ballroom in the Bone Student Center.
Each year, the History Makers Gala recognizes senior citizens whose outstanding, lifelong contributions of time and talents have helped to make McLean County the thriving community it is today. The Gala dinner will feature live entertainment that celebrates the honorees and their lives of service. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with the program beginning at 6:15 p.m.
Beth Whisman, incoming Museum Executive Director, revealed this year’s class of McLean County History Makers:
Jill Hutchison, iconic women’s basketball coach at Illinois State University who helped make significant strides towards gender equality.
John R. “Jack” Porter, Jr., attorney, community organizer, minister Born June 4, 1936 in Chicago. His passion for social justice has defined his life and career over five decades.
Gordon Ropp, Normal. It is impossible to study the history of agriculture and rural life in McLean County without examining the career of Mr. Ropp. His dedication to the advancement of agriculture and enrichment of rural life has played an instrumental role in shaping McLean County.
Father Ric Schneider, O.F.M. Since Father Ric Schneider arrived in Bloomington to become the pastor of St. Mary’s Parish 23 years ago he has built St. Mary’s into an institution that contributes to the well-being of the entire community, serving the needy regardless of faith.
We’ll have more on the honorees the closer to the gala.





McLean County Clerk, Kathy Michael, Thanks The Voters, Election Judges and Staff
McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael would like to thank voters for their patience at their polling places on Election Day. Lines were longer due to the enactment of Senate Bill 172, passed in June 2015 by the Illinois State Legislature, mandating all counties in Illinois to offer Same Day Registration. “While this unfunded ill-planned mandate resulted in some delays and frustration for some voters, especially in our office and at ISU Bone Center, I would like to express appreciation to all voters, our hundreds of election judges, field technical assistants and our staff for meeting this challenge of implementing this Bill,” said Michael.
Michael strongly urges voters, especially in campus areas, to plan ahead for the November 8th General Election as turnout will be even greater than the record-setting 50% Primary Election turnout. Michael and staff anticipate a higher than 70% voter turnout. “It’s the voter’s responsibility to make sure their registration is up-to-date,” said Michael. “It’s a good idea to do this sooner rather than waiting until the last minute. If you are a college student who is moving back home for the summer and then moving back to McLean County to a different address for the Fall semester, you will need to re-register to vote.”
All registered voters in McLean County are eligible to order a Vote-By-Mail ballot. “You can request an application for a mail-in ballot right now by calling our office at 309.888.5190 and ask for Elections. The downloadable application will be available on our website next week. Just Google McLean County Clerk Elections. Join us on Facebook for continuous election news and updates. Ballots will be mailed out beginning September 29 and must be postmarked on or before November 8th, Election Day. Michael also stated that Early Voting and new voter registration opportunities will again be offered at Eastland Mall every Saturday and Sunday in October, from noon until 6:00 pm, and at the Clerk’s office at the Government Center, downtown Bloomington. These dates and times will be announced later this summer.
Voters who would like to express their concerns about SB172 are encouraged to contact their State Senator and Representatives. Voters can contact their local Senators and Representatives by going to the websites of Senator Bill Brady, Senator Jason Barickman, Rep. Dan Brady, Rep. Keith Sommer, and Rep. Bill Mitchell. To find your Senator or Representative, go to this website:  http://www.elections.il.gov/  “County Clerks don’t make the laws, but it is our responsibility to enforce them, as challenging and expensive as they may be,” said Michael





April Showers Bring Rain Barrel Workshops
The Ecology Action Center welcomes the spring and invites all landscapers and gardeners to participate in one of their ever-popular, hands-on workshops in which individuals build their own water-saving, rainwater collection system. EAC provides all the materials, equipment, and training so that each participant goes home with a high-quality rain harvester at a very low price.
The Ecology Action Center will hold rain barrel workshops on Wednesdays at 5:30 on April 13 and May 11, and on Saturdays at 9:00 am on April 23 and May 28. Participants have a choice of a traditional 55-gallon rain barrel (food-grade) or a 275-gallon “Mega Rain Harvester” (non-food-grade). Workshop fees are $45 ($35 EAC member) for a 55-gallon rain barrel or $105 ($90 EAC member) for a 275-gallon Mega Rain Harvester.
Rain barrels are an ancient technology seeing a significant resurgence in recent years. They not only increase water conservation but also help reduce storm water runoff pollution, a major source of water pollution locally and nationwide.
Workshop space is limited and pre-registration is required; online registration is available at ecologyactioncenter.org. Consult the BN-Green Events calendar on the right side of the home page for dates and registration.


‘Planting the Seeds of Inspiration’ Breakfast To Be Held April 19
Beyond the Books Educational Foundation Board of Directors will sponsor an informational breakfast and presentation by grant winners on Tuesday, April 19 at Bloomington High School from 7- 8 a.m. in the school cafeteria.
Tracy and Brian Hitchins will describe their Unit 5 and District 87 collaborative grant, “Students as Scientists AND Teachers” that involved kindergarteners at Sugar Creek Elementary and high school students at BHS.
“This grant was innovative in many ways. It involved students of different ages and was cross-district, as well. It was a prime example of what we look for when we award grants,” according to Sally Pyne, BTBEF grant committee chairperson.
Beyond the Books Educational Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation that funds innovative academic programs in Unit 5 and District 87. Educators in both districts submit grant requests in three categories: mini (up to $400) and standard (to $5,000). BTBEF also facilitates the Beyond the Box grant ($10,000) through the auspices of the Shirk Family Foundation. This year’s grants will be awarded in May.
Since its founding in 1992, BTBEF has granted nearly $600,000 for almost 700 projects. Last year, the Foundation was able to award $43,000. Applications are considered through a blind review and evaluated against established criteria.
An RSVP is required to attend the FREE informational breakfast. Please email ~ kimpenland67@gmail.com

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Normal Community Ironmen, Normal Community West Wildcats, Ridgeview Mustangs, University High School Pioneers, Central Catholic Saints, Lexington Minutemen, ElPaso Gridley Titans, Illinois State University Redbird, Illinois Wesleyan Titan, State Farm Holiday Classic, McLean County Tournament, HOI Conference, Heart of Illinois


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Historic North Street




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coming next to the Historic
Normal Theater
All seats $7• Refreshments $1
Doors open 6:30 pm • Showtime 7:00 pm
Prize drawing every night
Great cartoons before classic movies
Hotline: 454-9722


The Normal Humor Comedy Showcase
Friday, April 8 • 7:00 PM
Building on the success of our Normal Humor Open Mic Comedy nights, this showcase will feature the best comics to appear on our stage over the last few months plus other regional favorites in longer, featured sets. Tickets for this event will be the same price as our films- $7 for general admission & $5 for students
.

Army of Darkness
Friday, April 8 • 10:30 PM
In this, the third Evil Dead movie, Ash (Bruce Campbell) finds himself trapped in medieval times. He must quest for the Necronomicon, a book of evil which can return him to his time. Unfortunately, he releases the evil trapped inside the book and unleashes an army of the dead. Though the final entry in the film series (so far), this is a great standalone story. Groovy. R / 96 min.


The Penguins of Madagascar
A FREE Dress-up Movie Event
Saturday, April 9, 1:00 PM
Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private join forces with undercover organization The North Wind to stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine from destroying the world as we know it.


Where to Invade Next
Sat & Sun • April 9 & 10 • 7 PM
Michael Moore visits various countries to examine how Europeans view work, education, health care, sex, equality, and other issues. From cafeteria food to sex ed, Moore looks at France, Finland and Slovenia. In Portugal, Moore notes the effects of the decriminalization of drugs. R / 119 min.


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May
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 http://bestlookmag.com.
Single issues availble.

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ISU Planetarium to present shows on lunar exploration, seasonal skies March 4 - April 30
The Illinois State University Planetarium will present Back to the Moon for Good and Bear Tales and Other Grizzly Stories, running weekends March 4 through April 30. Back to the Moon will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and Bear Tales will be presented at 2 p.m. Saturdays. There will be no shows on March 25 and 26.
It has been more than 40 years since the last American astronaut walked on the Moon. Back to the Moon for Good, narrated by Tim Allen, traces our first steps on the Moon and how lunar exploration benefits us all. The program explores the wealth of knowledge and resources gained by a return to the Moon, focusing on the Google Lunar XPRIZE – a $30-million prize offered to the first non-governmental teams to successfully send robotic missions to the Moon. Back to the Moon for Good premieres the Planetarium’s exciting new full-dome video system which gives audience members the visual sensation of traveling in space.
The children’s show Bear Tales and Other Grizzly Stories features a family campout under the stars and Grandpa Ben telling tall tales about the late-spring and early-summer night sky. Included are stories from ancient Egypt and Greece, right up to a tale about Blackbeard the Pirate.
Admission to Planetarium shows is $4 for adults, $3 for children ages 5-12 and seniors, and $2 for children ages 3-4.  For more information call the Planetarium’s Skyline at (309) 438-5007 or visit the Planetarium’s website.





Calling All Performers! Register for June 18th’s Make Music Normal

The Town of Normal is seeking performers for the 2016 Make Music Normal Festival taking place on Saturday, June 18 from 10 am to 7 pm. Participants do not have to be an established performer, band or group to play, but must be willing to have fun! From Indie Rock to Country, all genres and abilities are welcome. The celebration is not limited to residents of Normal, but invites music enthusiasts from all around to participate!
For more information or to register, visit www.normal.org/makemusicnormal.
Join us and make music…well, normal.
About Make Music Normal
Make Music Normal is a unique all day music festival that began in 2014. Every kind of musician - young and old, amateur and professional, of every musical persuasion - pours onto streets, parks and plazas to share their music with friends, neighbors and strangers. All of it is FREE and open to the public. Make Music Normal is about celebrating the power of music and giving back to the community by providing great entertainment. Participating musicians are not paid to perform. Make Music Normal is part of a larger celebration, Make Music Day, launched in 1982 in France - http://makemusicday.org/. Although the world celebration takes place on June 21, Normal will be celebrating the Saturday before on June 18.


The Irish in Evergreen Cemetery to be held Tuesday, April 19
The Irish Heritage Society and the McLean County Genealogical Society in Bloomington are co-sponsoring “The Irish in Evergreen Cemetery” to be held on Tuesday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the 2nd floor courtroom at the McLean County Museum of History Margaret Bratcher and Denise DeFries will present the program about the notable Irish inhabitants of Evergreen Cemetery and their contribution to our communities. All are welcome and admission is free.



The McLean Co. Master Gardeners Help Desk  is now open

McLean County residents, did you know McLean County Master Gardeners helped hundreds of local gardeners with their gardening questions during the 2015 growing season through services offered throughout the county?  Let them help you solve your gardening woes by visiting the University of Illinois Extension McLean County Master Gardeners walk-in Help Desk, Bloomington Farmer’s Market or the Down’s Farmer’s Market for the 2016 growing season.
Master Gardeners have been trained by University of Illinois specialists and educators. Questions answered range from plant and insect identification, weed identification, tree problems, growing vegetables and fruits, and how to create a beautiful landscape.
The McLean County Master Gardeners walk-in Help Desk is open and ready to answer questions. The Help Desk is located at the University of Illinois Extension Office, located at 1615 Commerce Parkway in Bloomington. Help Desk hours are every Monday from 9 a.m. to noon and every Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m. The Master Gardeners can also be reached by phone at (309) 663-8306 or by email at uiemg-mclean@illinois.edu.
Is there a problem with your yard or garden? Are pests and weeds concerning you? What tomato should you grow?  Worry no more—the McLean County Master Gardeners can help. Bring your questions and any samples you have. Samples should be enclosed in a plastic bag or container and should be fresh to obtain a good diagnosis.



Pratt Music Foundation offering scholarships

Every year, the Pratt Music Foundation searches out talented youth with financial need as candidates for the Pratt Music Foundation Scholarships. The Foundation grants scholarships to the Illinois Wesleyan University Music Preparatory Program. Instruction is available in piano or strings (violin, viola, cello). Each scholarship covers one academic year of lessons as well as summer lessons.Scholarships are awarded based on financial need, motivation, and talent.
While most scholarships are awarded to students who have already had some instruction, students with no previous musical instruction may also apply. Any student in grades 2 - 12 and capable of regularly attending instruction will be considered. (As a practical matter, most students are drawn from the Bloomington-Normal area.)
Applications are due on or before June 1. To receive an application or for more information, or for answers to specific questions, email the PrattMusicFoundation@gmail.com or call 827-5534. Downloadable applications are also available at www.PrattMusicFoundation.com.



Lions Club seeking members to form McLean Co. Cyber Lions
Individuals in McLean County are looking for others to join them in serving the needs of communities across the county. The proposed “McLean County Cyber Lions Club” is looking to join the more than 46,000 Lions clubs making a difference in communities around the world. They are now seeking civic-minded men and women to join them in working together to meet local needs.
“Lions are people who want to help, who want to make a difference, and who want to have fun while doing it. Lions give a lot to their communities, but they get back something that’s even more valuable – the satisfaction that comes from impacting lives,” said Jeffrey Bathe, Hudson Lions Club President.
In addition to providing hands-on support, Lions clubs give members an opportunity to advance worthy causes, serve with friends and become leaders in the community. Unlike other service groups in the area, meetings would minimal and done online. This approach is not only family friendly but to be respectful of individuals’ time. Members would come together to serve in the communities that are touched by the club, putting a physical presence to this virtual effort.
At this time, examining interest in this potential club is underway. Interested community members who want to learn more about Lions and how they can make a difference in their community can get additional information at http://bit.ly/CyberLionsClub. Additionally, there will is a form available to express your interest and to ask any questions.
For more information on becoming a charter member of this potential new club, you can e-mail mcleancountycyberlions@gmail.com.
Lions Clubs International is the largest service club organization in the world. Its 1.40 million members in more than 46,000 clubs are serving communities in 207 countries and geographical areas around the globe. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired, championed youth initiatives and strengthened local communities through hands-on service and humanitarian projects. For more information about Lions Clubs International, visit lionsclubs.org.



‘A Risk’ Taken Became A Successful 39-Year Career For Retiring History Museum Director Greg Koos 
by Steve Robinson
Some risks are worth a gamble. Greg Koos, retiring executive director of the McLean County Museum of History, delivering a farewell monologue to family, friends, co-workers, and community leaders, totaling just over 300 people on March 31, explained that the woman who hired him in 1977, Barbara Dunbar, “was taking a huge risk” in doing so.
That risk was because, at the time, Koos was not well versed in how a museum operates.
But, as Koos retired 39 years later, his success with the Museum, working up to end his career as its executive director, was celebrated with a reception with those 300 people packing the old courthouse’s second floor courtroom and small first floor rotunda to hear Koos recount the many highs he – and the Museum – have had. Koos made his retirement plans public last year.
Dunbar’s risk, Koos said, is “something that will stick with me, and stick with me all my life, giving me a chance.” He explained that to pay for his initial salary, the Museum applied for and was awarded a Federal grant. Of that move, and as he pointed to himself, Koos said, “Obtaining that grant was done if there was some chance they were going to keep this son of a gun on.”
Koos said a Museum board member, Elmo Franklin, “taught me patience in the midst of a crisis.” Koos said he was grateful to former WJBC Radio Morning Host Don Munson for the help in putting together the photo book, “The Illustrated History Of McLean County.” At $75,000 worth of books sold, Koos said, “it almost still holds a record in sales.”
During his tenure, Koos said, “What we demonstrated was that a small Midwestern museum could achieve the highest national standards for accreditation. We were the first county history museum in Illinois to receive accreditation and the 17th county museum in the United States to receive accreditation.” Mention of those touchstones drew applause from the audience.
Koos called Museum Board Member Nancy Froelich “a visionary who saw the potential of the organization.” He said Froelich helped play a role in the Museum receiving funds from corporate entities in the community for various projects.
The 66-year-old Koos also singled out people on the Museum staff like Susan Hartzold for her skills in presenting, packing, and storing exhibits. He said that included preparing for them, knowing where they were displayed, and how to take care of them once an exhibit ended.
Koos reminded guests about the Museum’s chief exhibit, “Encounter On The Prairie” leading the way for the Museum having won numerous awards over the years for its presentations. He also cited the Museum’s reaching out to other groups such as the McLean County Geological Society in an attempt to help “make both organizations stronger.”
But Koos saved his last compliments for those who want to continue to visit the exhibits. “You folks are the people who make this place,” he said. “The will of the people of McLean County make the McLean County Museum of History.”
Koos received a standing ovation from the gathering after concluding his remarks by saying that for him, “it was time to step back, say goodbye and watch” Beth Whisman take over as the Museum’s new executive director. Koos said during his retirement, he will continue with gardening and cooking among other pursuits.
Whisman, hired as director of development for the Museum two years ago, succeeded Koos as executive director April 1.









 

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