Bloomington | WGLT


The Bloomington City Council on Monday adopted a $251.7 million budget, up 9.3% over last year’s plan.

The O’Neil Park and Pool project, now expected to cost about $11.5 million, could be voted on by the  Bloomington City Council as early as next week. 

After a presentation at its committee-of-the-whole meeting on Monday, the council learned that despite the project’s cost coming in about $1.5 million higher than expected, City Manager Tim Gleason still supports moving forward with the city’s preferred plan. That’s nearly identical to the one presented at a community forum in January.

If approved, the new aquatic center is set to open Memorial Day 2022. 

The Bloomington City Council on Monday agreed to refinance some of its general obligation bonds, a move that’s expected to save about $560,000 in interest payments. 

“We’ve done this before,” said City Manager Tim Gleason. “This is a relatively small bond refinance. But you’re going to be shocked at the amount of money we’re going to save."

Judy Markowitz
WGLT file photo

Former Bloomington Mayor Judy Markowitz, a groundbreaking leader whose passion for downtown helped bring a controversial arena and performing arts center to the city's core, has died.

WGLT file photo

District 87 could remove Columbus Day from its school calendar, in a symbolic gesture to demonstrate its opposition to the state’s legal holiday.  

On Wednesday, the board heard the proposal that calls for the 2021-22 school calendar to stop labeling the second Monday in October as “Columbus Day--No School.” Instead, that day simply would be grouped as one of 19 “non-attendance” days on the calendar.

The board is expected to vote on the change at its Feb. 10 meeting.

Starting this fall, Bloomington officially will celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day the second Monday of each October. 

City of Bloomington

Nearly 100 people took up the city's offer to ask questions about early designs for Bloomington’s new pool and skateboard area planned for O’Neil Park.

The Normal Town Council on Monday OK’d spending about $150,000 on a three-year agreement with Midwest Fiber to continue the decades-old drop-box recycling program.

Close up of damaged ceiling
WGLT file photo

The state has issued the first grant winners through a new community revitalization effort that includes Bloomington, Peoria and dozens of communities across Illinois.

Koos and Tiritilli
Cristian Jaramillio / WGLT

Mayor Chris Koos and challenger Marc Tiritilli both turned in their nominating petitions to the Town of Normal first thing Monday morning to set the stage for a rematch in the mayor’s race next April.

The Bloomington City Council on Monday narrowly approved a change to how the city's Public Safety and Community Relations Board makes recommendations and handles outreach. 

But before the 5-4 vote, council members disagreed in a lengthy discussion about whether the change constituted slightly amending bylaws to clarify the board’s purpose, or significantly broadening its mission. 

Tari Renner gestures
Staff / WGLT

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner announced Wednesday he won’t seek re-election to a third term next spring.

The Bloomington City Council opted Monday to delay a vote on creating a public arts commission, with members saying they first must resolve questions about how the commission would be funded, and who would be represented among its volunteers.

While voicing general support for the commission, the council agreed unanimously at the remote meeting to table the vote until Oct. 26.

Chris Koos speaking at podium
Eric Stock

Local and state government leaders in McLean County are issuing a plea to get counted as the 2020 Census moves into the final weeks.

Tari Renner
Staff / WGLT

UPDATED 1:40 P.M. | McLean County officials are working with other central Illinois leaders to encourage Gov. JB Pritzker to create a subregion for the area in his plan to reopen the state.

Hazle Buck Ewing Women's Suffrage Collection
Illinois State University

A Bloomington-Normal woman helped wage the fight for women to get the vote a century ago. Now, a newly digitized archive from Hazle Buck Ewing shows it was a long and bitter struggle.

Joe Deacon / WGLT

Bloomington’s downtown arena will get a new hockey tenant following a one-season hiatus.

A photo taken inside the McLean County Home for Colored Children in October 1935
McLean County Museum of History

The care of orphaned, abandoned, and rejected African American children in Bloomington Normal has not always been kind or good, or even wanted in certain parts of town.

This episode of McHistory offers an unflinching perspective of Bloomington-Normal's past.

Louise Calimese and her husband Napoleon led the McLean County Home for Colored Children for nearly three decades.

WGLT's Mary Cullen produced this episode of McHistory, featuring Bill Kemp of the McLean County Museum of History and Jennifer Rusk with the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery Walk.

Andy Birkey
Mary Cullen / WGLT

He’s not a craftsman or guilder, nor artist or tradesman. Andy Birkey makes his living carving, casting, and decorating traditional gothic furnishings for Catholic churches, but he said he struggles to consider himself part of Bloomington-Normal's community of artists.

Woman sits in a chair.
US Department of State

Sojourner Truth made a stop in Bloomington in 1879 to hold a speaking engagement on women’s suffrage and equal, just treatment of former slaves like herself. 

Trisha James Davis of Springfield will portray Truth  at Second Presbyterian Church's Sojourner Truth Celebration,  honoring the 140-year anniversary of that speech. When discussing her approach to portraying the iconic figure, Davis emphasized the vocal aspects. 

“She had a heavy voice,” Davis said. “When I’m doing a presentation on her I will affect a heavier voice with a twinge of an accent.”

State Farm downtown
Eric Stock / WGLT

The Historic Preservation Commission had been set to hold hearings on two historic landmark nominations for the downtown building State Farm is offloading.

But Mayor Tari Renner said those won’t be needed.

Kari Sandhaas the artist
McLean County Museum of History

The old Laborers' Local 362 union hiring hall is being demolished this week. The building featured a mural created by Kari Sandhaas in the 1980s, which displayed Bloomington-Normal’s historical relationship with labor and unionizing.

2019 Youth Mural Project Participants
Illinois Art Station / Facebook

A new mural will be unveiled Sunday on Bloomington's west side that will tell stories of the young artists who created it.

Woman with cat
Jeff Smudde / WGLT

Vicky Edwards travelled over 800 miles from Arlington, Texas, to show her 14-month-old Maine Coon, Brutus, at the Cat Fanciers’ Association All Breed Cat Show at the Interstate Center in Bloomington this weekend.

People dressed in bustles and goggles, carrying jetpacks made with what appear to be ceiling fan blades. Yes, it's Steampunk.

From the Industrial Revolution to the Wild West, Steampunk is a creative way to picture what history could’ve been. It’s a re-imagining of history with art, science, and modern technology.

Women and members of underrepresented groups are at a disadvantage in STEM fields across the globe.

Police are investigating an armed robbery Monday afternoon at a convenience store in Bloomington’s southwest side.

Bloomington Temple To Hold Solidarity Shabbat

Oct 31, 2018
Moses Montefiore Temple

Last weekend’s shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue is only the latest in a recent increase in threats toward the Jewish community. That's according to the Anti-Defamation League, which says antisemitic incidents rose 60 percent from 2016 to 2017.

Laurie Bell and Arthur Haynes
Eric Stock / WGLT

A group of business owners and west Bloomington advocates has launched an effort to bring a full service grocery store and shopping plaza to that part of the community.

Tree stump with a cone on top
Ryan Denham / WGLT

The death of a tree on Washington Street shall remain a mystery.