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Trustees appoint now-former ARC operations director as new Normal Township supervisor

Sarah Grammer, former Normal Township Supervisor, right, shakes the hand of Jess Ray, left, the ARC's director of operations.
ARC Normal
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ARC Normal Facebook page
Sarah Grammer, former Normal Township supervisor, shakes the hand of Jess Ray, the ARC's director of operations.

After a short stint as the director of operations of the Normal Township's Activity and Recreation Center, Jess Ray is now the township supervisor after Sarah Grammer resigned the position Thursday evening.

Grammer announced her resignation, effective immediately, during a board of trustees meeting. According to an ARC social media post, Grammer left the position to pursue another job in Milwaukee, Wis.

Ray, who was hired as an ARC employee earlier this year, was subsequently appointed township supervisor for the duration of Grammer's term, which is set to expire in May 2025.

Ray said the Normal Township's five-person board of trustees will discuss the next steps for filling the now-vacated role of ARC director of operations during its next meeting on July 21, since he cannot be both an elected official and employee.

"With anything, whenever there's change, change results in opportunity," Ray said in an interview with WGLT. "So, I know a lot of people are just like, 'Oh you're just going to reappoint (someone) or whatever' — we want to discuss things, first, before we do anything, have some measured discussions and come up with the next steps."

Questions regarding whether an interim director will be appointed in the meantime or whether the position will be permanently filled immediately "are all excellent questions," Ray said, and are among the options "we are going to discuss."

In addition to serving briefly as the ARC's director of operations, Ray was on the Normal Public Library board and recently retired from Illinois State University as its University registrar and director of Veterans and Military Services earlier this year.

Speaking to WGLT, Ray congratulated Grammer and described her forthcoming move as "a wonderful opportunity for her and her family."

And, lest anyone think that leaving the ARC as its operations director means he won't be an active presence at the facility, Ray said that's likely not going to be the case.

"I do know that it's not uncommon for the township supervisor to fill in here at the ARC," he said. "It's a smaller organization, so there's a lot of people holding multiple hats. We're like any business: We don't shut down unless or cancel unless we absolutely, positively have to."

Grammer had been Normal Township supervisor since May 2017, after she won more votes than her opponent Cheryl Gaines. Her election to the position as a Democrat followed a wave of political involvement spurred by the election of Republican Donald Trump as president in 2016.

Republicans, historically, had held the position of township supervisor for decades, but Grammer bested her Republican opponent Gaines by 3,113 votes to 2,990 — or 51% to 48.9%.

Voters re-elected Grammer for another term in 2021.

Prior to that, Grammer also served on the Normal Public Library board.

She was was not immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon.

Lyndsay Jones is a reporter at WGLT. She joined the station in 2021. You can reach her at lljone3@ilstu.edu.