McLean County Government | WGLT

McLean County Government

An image of the McLean County Law and Justice Center
Staff / WGLT

A longtime public defender in McLean County is the new head of the office. Ron Lewis has been appointed, said Chief Circuit Judge Mark Fellheimer.

McLean County Law and Justice Center
Staff / WGLT

The pandemic has slowed programs in McLean County that help keep people out of prison and the county jail.

Michael Donavan, the county's court services director, said recovery court and drug court usually offer intensive therapy and other services, but they are not seeing as much use right now.

Rendering of a proposed apartment building.
Town of Normal

A union-backed development group is moving forward with a $9 million affordable senior housing project that would use the old TB Sanatorium in Normal.

Republican McLean County Auditor Michelle Anderson was not hampered by a history of contention with county officeholders of her own party, or a medical leave that took her away from a portion of the campaign.

Anderson defeated Democrat Rob Fazzini and Libertarian Kevin Woodard on Tuesday to win her third full term.

McLean County Government Center
Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

McLean County’s clerk says she is insulted by a complaint relayed by Bloomington’s city manager that some of her staff at the Government Center are not wearing their masks.

McLean County Health Department video briefing
Eric Stock / WGLT

One of McLean County's most public figures during the pandemic has been removed from the role after he issued a statement on public health guidance for racial justice rallies and other mass gatherings that he says put him at odds with some county officials.  

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Longtime McLean County Board member George Gordon said he remains interested and engaged with public policy. He said he is running for another term to see certain projects through, such as the county's creation of several behavioral health initiatives.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

McLean County Republican auditor candidate Trisha Malott said she wants to build relationships between the auditor's office and other county office holders and department heads.

Kevin Woodard stands at podium.
Woodard campaign

There are now four people from three political parties who want the job of McLean County auditor in next year's elections.

Toby Talbot / The Associated Press

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed an executive order Wednesday assembling a task force to fight the state’s opioid crisis.

Mike Miletich / WGLT

Construction is finally underway for the highly anticipated McLean County Jail expansion. 

The McLean County Board held a groundbreaking ceremony for the $39 million project Monday morning. 

The three-story addition will have a first floor area for visitors and space on the second floor for inmates with mental health concerns.

Mclean County Government

McLean County will break ground on its $40 million jail expansion May 5.

Inmate capacity will double to 400.

Stangboy7 / Wikimedia Commons

A proposed change to rules for siting wind farms in McLean County didn't get very far.

Board member Catherine Metsker took aim at the County Zoning Department for failing to notify townships and cities of the potential change.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

The McLean County Board has approved an additional 216,000 dollars for the County Clerk to cope with increased administrative demands caused by the same day voter registration law.

The move comes in response to three plus hour wait times at precincts on the campus of Illinois State University during primary voting in March.

Staff

The McLean County Board’s Finance Committee recommends spending an extra $215,000 to handle what could be unprecedented voter turnout for the November presidential election. McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael calls the worst-case scenario for taxpayers the best case scenario for Democracy.

Charlie Schlenker / Schlenker

A move to cut the McLean County Coroner's salary by six percent has failed soundly. Outgoing County Board member Ben Owens made the motion, saying new hires in businesses often come in at a lower rate than their predecessors. Owens framed the proposal as a money saving move for taxpayers.

McLean County Considering Fixes For Voting Problems

Apr 26, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

A solution to the long wait times and registration issues experienced by voters at Illinois State University's Bone Student Center is still in progress. The McLean County Board Finance Commitee held a special meeting at ISU to address concerns from people in the community.

Chris Potter / Wikimedia Commons

The Illinois Courts Commission recently punished two McLean County Circuit Judges for conduct related to an affair they had. Judge Scott Drazewski has been suspended for four months for not removing himself from cases in which the husband of Judge Rebecca Foley was representing clients. Drazewski also lied about his reason for eventually asking to be removed from other cases. Foley was censured for not reporting Drazewski's failure to recuse himself.

Ralph Weisheit

City, town and county officials in McLean County are being visited by small groups of people with many questions. It's part of a study to figure out just what it is these officials do, and how their work can be made more efficient.

The county chapter of the League of Women Voters is embarking on a year-long "Exploring Government Initiative" to study of effectiveness and efficiency of local government. WGLT's Willis Kern talks about the study with longtime league member Sally Rudolph.

 

McLean County Government

McLean County Coroner Kathy Davis said she is thrilled with the support given her by voters in a victory over two other opponents in the Republican Primary.

staff

The two candidates for the Republican nomination for McLean County Board Distict 10, challenger Josh Barnett and incumbent Ben Owens have differing views on whether the coroner's office should be elected or appointed.

During the GLT Sound Ideas/League of Women Voters Candidates Forum in Normal, Owens said the technical aspects of the job make it difficult for the voting public to decide who should carry out the duties.

Ralph Weisheit

The new McLean County Board leadership team is in place, Chair John McIntyre and Vice Chair Jim Soeldner. A vote followed the resignation of Chair Matt Sorensen from the board. Sorensen said he needed to avoid distracting the board from his legal troubles. Sorensen faces a five count federal fraud indictment over an alleged false billing scheme that victimized State Farm Insurance.

Judge David Butler

One of the things that changed with the New Year is the departure of a longtime fixture on the McLean County bench. Circuit Judge Charles Reynard retired.

Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen faces a federal fraud indictment. The document alleges Sorensen conspired with an outside consulting firm when he was an internal consultant at State Farm Insurance to engage in false billing for work never done. Sorensen allegedly personally benefited by more than $370,000 in the scheme. State Farm says it alerted federal prosecutors to the situation in 2012 and Sorensen has not worked for State Farm since.

Normal Mayor Chris Koos sits during a town council meeting.
Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

Mayor Chris Koos is taking a wait and see approach on the indictment of McLean County Board Chair Matt Sorensen.  He spoke with WGLT's Mike McCurdy.

Sorenson is accused of using his position as an internal consultant at State Farm Insurance to collude with an outside firm to file phony consulting work invoices. The indictment also alleges Sorenson steered State Farm work to fellow defendant Navdeep Arora a former partner at the firm of McKinsey and Company, who was arrested Sunday. 

401Kcalculator.org

The head of the McLean County Board is casting a cautious eye on a new report from the Lieutenant Governor suggesting ways to consolidate units of government. Illinois has more small government bodies than any state. But, County Board Chair Matt Sorenson says he is concerned that the report will take a one size fits all set of recommendations.

Charlie Schlenker

Former McLean County Board member Dave Selzer is again on the county board. He left several years ago for employment reasons, but moved back to town and when a vacancy happened in District 5, Selzer asked to fill the vacancy representing north and east Normal. He says he supports the direction the county is going in providing more mental health services.

Selzer says he hopes more public private partnerships can happen to address the mental health needs of the community.

The McLean County Sheriff's Department is getting a new canine unit. Sheriff John Sandage says that's through a $59,000 grant from the Howard Buffet Foundation.

Sheriff's police already have one drug dog on staff. Eight weeks of training starts in January.

Sandage says the grant pays for the dog, equipment, a new vehicle, and eight weeks of training.

Sandage says the Buffet Foundation offers canine unit grants through Illinois and has also supported Macon County mental health programs.

The State of Illinois owes Bloomington, Normal, and McLean County governments more than 5.4 million dollars according to public officials.

The measure approved by the Illinois House and up in the Senate next week would improve some of that cash flow crunch. The largest single chunk of cash owed local governments is Motor Fuel Tax Receipts. County Administrator Bill Wasson says release of that money would ease the process of going out to bid for road projects next spring.

Three candidates have filed to run as Republicans for McLean County Coroner. Current Coroner Kathy Davis was appointed to fill a vacancy. Challenging her in the GOP primary next year will be Ryan Gibson and Gary Morefield. Monday was the first day of the petition filing period. The County Clerk's office also says there will be a contested race for County Board in District 10. Josh Barnett will try to knock off incumbent Ben Owens in the GOP primary for District 10 on the County Board.

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