Charlie Schlenker | WGLT

Charlie Schlenker

News Director

GLT News Director Charlie Schlenker grew up in Rock Island, Illinois and graduated from Augustana College. He has spent more than three decades in radio and has won numerous state and national awards for journalism. He lives in Normal with his family.

police car in front of Walmart
WGLT file photo

It's an issue that doesn't get much play in political campaigns, but it could have major impacts on how Bloomington and Normal governments operate for decades to come.

University of Illinois

The federal government has issued emergency use authorization for a coronavirus saliva test developed by the University of Illinois for broader use around the state.

picture of David Davis
McLean County Museum of History

Most people in Bloomington-Normal know David Davis as the campaign manager for Abe Lincoln. Most know him as the guy who had a big mansion built on the near east side of Bloomington. Most know him as a judge in the legal circuit where Lincoln rode before his rise to national prominence.

State Farm HQ building
Staff / WGLT

Even with pandemic-driven refunds and rate decreases, State Farm made a lot of money in 2020.

The Bloomington-based company's annual financial report showed net income of $3.7 billion. That's well into positive territory, but down by more than a third from 2019. State Farm's net worth rose by 8.5%—thanks to stock market gains—to $126.1 billion.

Carle BroMenn hospital
WGLT file photo / WGLT

The Carle Center for Philanthropy said Friday its VISION 2020 campaign is a success, bringing in more than $36.9 million--above the $35 million goal for the seven-year effort.

Exterior of the Pantagraph building
Google Maps

The Connect Transit board has approved the former Pantagraph building in downtown Bloomington as the preferred location for a new $18-20 million bus transfer center.

Kristen Weikle
Staff / WGLT

Flat funding for Illinois schools is effectively a cut. That's Unit 5 Superintendent Kristen Weikle's thought on Gov. JB Pritzker's budget proposal.

McLean County Nursing Home
Eric Stock / WGLT

Five nursing homes and retirement communities in McLean County have now gone a month without a new case of COVID-19, leading the Illinois Department of Public Health to remove them from the list of active outbreaks.

Facebook / Immigration Project

The Immigration Project is taking a new holistic approach to services.

Traditionally, the project has offered legal services, but now has expanded offerings with a new Welcoming Center on Landmark Drive in Normal. Hannah Mesouani manages the center with two caseworkers.

State Farm HQ building
Staff / WGLT

Bloomington-based State Farm is raising Illinois auto insurance rates by an average of 4.2%. That's less than the nearly 14% drop last year because of reduced driving due to the pandemic.

The rate hike goes into effect March 29, according to a company statement.

U.S. Attorney's Office

A former technology employee for the Blue Ridge Community School District in Farmer City has admitted to a computer parts fraud scheme in federal court.

Governor Pritzker
Staff / WGLT

City and county leaders in McLean County said Wednesday one of Gov. JB Pritzker's budget proposals is a bad idea.

The governor has proposed taking 10% of the income tax money it currently shares with cities, towns, and counties through the Local Government Distributive Fund.

Project Oz sign
Project Oz

More young adults in Bloomington-Normal need shelter now than during the early part of the pandemic.

Project Oz Youth Service Director Cheris Larson said at the start of the pandemic, many vulnerable youth had jobs, but friends stopped letting them couch surf because they feared the virus. Larson said there are now longer term homeless young people.

Apartment on fire
Bloomington Firefighters Union - IAFF Local 49 / Facebook

UPDATED 8:35 p.m. | Crews worked the scene of a large fire that destroyed or heavily damaged 12 apartment units Saturday afternoon in Normal.

Screen shot of a zoom meeting of the Bloomington Liquor Commission
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

The Bloomington Liquor Commission fined two more establishments Tuesday for violating COVID-19 mitigation rules in January, and four others for tax violations.

The pace of new COVID-19 infections at long-term care facilities in McLean County has slowed as vaccinations increase in those facilities and among those over the age of 65. Seven facilities with previous active outbreaks have had no new cases in two weeks.

Watterson Towers residence hall at ISU
WGLT

The heads of colleges and universities in Illinois are asking Gov. JB Pritzker to move higher education faculty and staff up to 1B in the vaccination queue.

a dining room
Larry Carius / Facebook

The end of COVID-19 mitigation rules that banned indoor restaurant service in Bloomington-Normal has created a new problem for Twin City eateries.

six guns
Normal Police Deptartment

Authorities in Bloomington-Normal say the number of gun seizures rose significantly in 2020 with police seizing a total of 94 firearms. That's a third more than the 61 seized in in the two communities in 2019.

several people in safety gear at a vaccination clinic
Facebook

Illinois State University's Department of Health Sciences and Health Services workers administered about 300 coronavirus vaccines on Friday, according to a university spokesperson.

A bar and restaurant in Normal faces a $1,750 fine for violating COVID-19 mitigation protocols.

Joe's Station House, located at the Shoppes at College Hills, refused to halt indoor service when Gov. JB Pritzker's executive orders called for that measure. There were three violations -- two in November and one in December, according to a complaint against the business.

A restorative justice dialog circle of people.
Project Oz

Two Twin City nonprofit agencies will expand services in areas of high need after being awarded state grants funded by marijuana tax money.

General fund expenditures graph
Town of Normal

The proposed budget for the Town of Normal is $138 million next year and an estimated $711 million over a five-year period.

Unit 5 district offices
Staff / WGLT

Unit 5 students made a good transition back to hybrid learning after the holiday break, according to district administrators.

"Justice and Power Sculpture, Illinois Supreme Court Building, Springfield, Illinois (4 of 9)" by myoldpostcards is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

A noted and sometimes controversial jurist from central Illinois has died.

Illegal guns seized
Bloomington Police

McLean County law enforcement agencies reported an average amount of gun violence in 2020. That’s a significant deviation from the national picture and the numbers in some other central Illinois communities.

Reddit

Heart disease and cancer usually top the list of the reasons people die each year in central Illinois and throughout the state.  The numbers tell a grim story: 48 weeks into the pandemic, you can add COVID-19 to the list.

COVID-19 is the third leading cause of death statewide and in most central Illinois counties, including McLean, Peoria, Woodford, and Tazewell.

Don Knapp
Eric Stock / WGLT

Law enforcement officials and prosecutors said they feel blindsided by a massive criminal justice reform bill introduced by the Black Democratic Caucus in the Illinois House, with police saying they are shocked and surprised at the timing and sweeping scope of the measure.

State Senate seats like the one Bill Brady just quit, don't open up that often. Hear from the Republican County Party Chair who controls the largest chunk of the vote to replace Brady. Plus, law enforcement and prosecutors say they are none too keen on a sweeping new criminal justice reform bill that has dropped in the legislature. Nursing home operators say it is nearly impossible to keep the Coronavirus out of facilities in McLean County. And a Bloomington Normal drummer has a new advice book for musicians titled: "You Got the Gig, Here's How to Keep it."

A COVID-19 outbreak at Heritage Health in Normal has become the deadliest such event at a long-term care facility in McLean County.

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