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Bloomington approves spending $1.4 million on annual sewer rehab; OKs donation toward mobile health unit

David Taylor, left, who leads United Way of McLean County, and Jeff Tinervin, of the Tinervin Family Foundation, address the Bloomington City Council at its meeting Monday, June 13, 2022, at the downtown Government Center.
Michele Steinbacher
David Taylor, left, who leads The United Way of McLean County, and Jeff Tinervin, of the Tinervin Family Foundation, address the Bloomington City Council at its meeting Monday, June 13, 2022, at the downtown Government Center.

Bloomington will use some of its federal COVID-relief funds to help launch a mobile health unit targeting McLean County’s underserved populations.

“We’re going to bring healthcare to them,” said Jeff Tinervin of the Tinervin Family Foundation, one of the project’s organizers.

At its meeting Monday, the Bloomington City Council unanimously approved the $150,000 donation to Carle Health Center for Philanthropy. The funds are part of $13.3 million that Bloomington received via the American Rescue Plan Act.

Also at its meeting, the council OK’d an amended timeline for ward redistricting, and approved spending more than $1.4 million on its annual sewer rehabilitation program.

Ward 3’s Sheila Montney and Ward 7’s Mollie Ward were absent.

Mobile health unit

Carle already operates as similar mobile unit in the Champaign area. Tinervin described it as a giant recreation vehicle specially outfitted with a doctor’s office.

Creating a Bloomington-Normal centered mobile health unit is an estimated $750,000 project, said Tinervin. His family foundation, United Way of McLean County and the Laborers International Union of North America each pledged $100,000 to begin the fundraising for the unit.

The vehicle’s expected to be up-and-running within a year, he said. After it’s launched, Carle will fund the mobile health unit’s programs and staff, said Tinervin.

A doctor, nurse practitioner and social worker will be part of the mobile program — which will include a focus on behavioral health, and eventually include some type of food pantry.

Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe asked how frequently the vehicle will run, and where it will stop. That hasn’t been finalized yet, said Tinervin.

David Taylor, who heads the local chapter of United Way, told the council while Carle plans to operate the vehicle beyond McLean County borders, its focus will be dedicated within.

He said social service agencies' needs assessments consistently show more access to health care is needed on the west side of Bloomington and in several rural areas of the county.

Possible Bloomington stops include the Western Avenue Community Center and Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington Normal, said Taylor. In Normal, one stop could be the Unity Center on Orlando Avenue, he added, while noting rural communities such as Bellflower and Colfax also are on the radar.

“This truly is a collaborative effort,” said Tim Gleason, Bloomington city manager.

Ward 2’s Donna Boelen noted the mobile unit's services are mostly screening and referrals after a diagnosis. But some on-site treatment including immunizations would be available.

New ward boundaries expected in July

The council voted to extend consideration of new boundaries for its nine wards until June 30.

The proposals will be discussed at the council’s July 11 meeting, and tentatively formally designated at its July 25 meeting, according to council materials.

Following the most recent U.S. Census, population data shows the nine wards no longer are equally balanced. The redistricting is intended to resolve that.

Sewer projects

The council voted Monday to award Hoerr Construction the more than $1.4 million contract to handle the city’s fiscal 2023 sewer rehabilitation program.

There was no council discussion of the project at Monday’s meeting. Hoerr was the only complete bid received, according to council materials.

The contract calls for crews to install about 21,000 feet of sanitary sewer cured-in-place pipe lining. Which pipes are treated is based on an engineering review of about 300,000 feet, or 57 miles of sewer lines. The selected areas were rated extremely high risk for failure, according to council materials.

The city’s 2014 storm water and sanitary sewer master plan recommends spending about $3.2 million each year to rehab the city’s sewer system.

Sincemajor flooding in the city a year ago this month, many city council meetings have focused on improving the city's aging sewer infrastructure.

Also at the meeting Monday, Gleason and Mwilambwe celebrated news that Italian candy maker Ferrero would be expanding its Bloomington operations.

Gleason also reminded residents the city plans its Juneteenth celebration from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday at Miller Park; and will host its first Saturdays at the Square concert June 25 in downtown Bloomington.

In other business, the council approved:

  • Spending about $185,000, with Martin Equipment, for a new backhoe.
  • Spending about $143,000 with Tyler Technologies for annual maintenance of Bloomington police and fire departments' computer-aided dispatch system. 
  • Renewed a joint agreement with Normal, and the nonprofit Ecology Action Center — for its energy efficiency program. Bloomington will pay about $150,000 over a three-year period.
  • The final plat of the Empire Business Park, 12th addition.
  • A special-permit request from a resident in the 500 block of East Olive Street to build a chicken coop.
Michele Steinbacher is a WGLT correspondent. She joined the staff in 2020.
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