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Suite Style All suites feature full kitchens Daily complimentary deluxe continental breakfast Complimentary cocktail hour Monday through Friday Fitness room and indoor pool Award-winning chef and full-service catering staff 3,200-sq. ft. conference center On-site wedding coordinator

Mention this ad and receive $20 off of your next stay. Not to be combined with any other discounts and/or promotions.

1801 Eastland Dr. â&#x20AC;˘ Bloomington, IL 61704

(309) 662-0000 â&#x20AC;˘




Uptown Normal is in line for major roadwork and big building projects over the next three to five years.

F E AT U R E S 10



18 Biz Briefs

You don’t have to be an out-of-towner to enjoy a two-day tour of McLean County.

20 Chamber Report

TALENT IN THE TWIN CITIES When it comes to the performing arts, you can always find talent on stage here.


16 It’s Go Time

WHAT’S A KID TO DO? The region is brimming with healthy, wholesome and fun places for kids to play.

25 ROUTE 66 STILL OFFERS KICKS The nostalgia of Route 66 is alive and well along several stops in McLean County.

34 RED-LETTER DAYS AHEAD The Illinois State Redbirds are upgrading their sports facilities.

21 Economic Profile

D E PA R TM E NT S 6 Almanac: a colorful sampling of McLean County culture

23 Portfolio: people, places and events that define McLean County

29 Health & Wellness 31 Education 33 Arts & Culture 35 Community Profile: facts, stats and important numbers to know

This magazine is printed entirely or in part on recycled paper containing 10% post-consumer waste.

ON THE COVER McLean County farm Photo by Jesse Knish



I M AG E S M C L E A N . C O M



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>:CA SEARCH OUR ARCHIVES Browse past content by section or search for speciďŹ c articles by subject. INSTANT LINKS Read the entire magazine online using our ActiveMagazineâ&#x201E;˘ technology and link instantly to community businesses and services. EVEN MORE Read full-length versions of the magazineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s articles; ďŹ nd related stories; or read new content exclusive to the Web. Look for the See More Online reference in this issue.

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ou don’t have to be an out-of-towner to enjoy a two-day tour of McLean County’s Twin Cities. Visitors and residents alike will find plenty of opportunities to spend a relaxing weekend exploring Bloomington-Normal’s culture, nature, history and food. Here are some suggestions.

DAY 1 Start your day off with some locally roasted coffee and gooey, homemade cinnamon rolls at Kelly’s Bakery and Café. Or try the quiche Kelly’s bakes daily from local, free-range organic eggs. After breakfast, you can walk, hike, bike or skate along the scenic Bloomington-Normal Constitution Trail – a 24-mile linear park open to non-motorized transportation. Find a downloadable map of the trail at under Departments: Parks and Recreation. Then slow the pace a little and browse uptown Normal’s interesting assortment of shops and galleries. Illinois State University’s new student gallery joins a number of visual arts venues in this vibrant, up-and-coming regional destination. Finish up your morning’s shopping at the Garlic Press, known locally as the authority on kitchenware and culinary gadgetry. For lunch, step next door into the Garlic Press Market Café and sample the specialty cheeses and seasonal, locally grown fare, such as fall harvest oven roasted root vegetables or sweet potato and ginger soup. When evening arrives, experience the magic and nostalgia of a bygone era with a movie at the historic Normal Theater. The faithfully restored Art Deco picture palace shows classic, foreign, independent and documentary films. Afterward, enjoy dinner at Destihl Restaurant and Brew Pub. The new “American grill with an urban twist” offers fabulous food, such as the fish-and-chips with jalapeno tartar sauce and habanero-infused vinegar, plus seven original beers on tap. DAY 2 Fuel up for another busy day with a hearty breakfast from CJ’s Restaurant, where selections from steaming pancakes to savory skillets will please the whole family. Ever wonder what President Abraham Lincoln would do if he paid a visit to his old stomping grounds? For a unique perspective on local history, purchase the CD audio tour, Lincoln’s Bloomington and Normal, Illinois, from the McLean County Museum of History, and spend the morning following in Lincoln’s footsteps. Then explore the museum’s awardwinning exhibits. Stay on history’s trail and visit David Davis Mansion, a beautiful must-see historic landmark. For lunch, grab an authentic Chicago-style hot dog from Boo Boo’s Dawghouse, with locations in Normal and Bloomington, and make for the Miller Park Zoo. There you can see the animals, wander the zoo’s newest exhibit – Tropical America Rainforest – and watch the bears and big cats eat dinner. Then, whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced climber, get an extreme thrill scaling the walls at Upper McLEAN COUNT Y

Limits Climbing Gym. When you’re done, take your extreme appetite to the Redfire Grille for a culinary thrill. Try the crusted catfish sandwich or pork loin with pineapple salsa and baby red potatoes. Finally, before the curtain falls on your Twin Cities tour, take in a live performance at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, where exciting concerts and theater productions take the stage almost every week. SEE VIDEO ONLINE | See the new ISU student art gallery at

Enjoy lunch at the Garlic Press Market Café. Above: The David Davis Mansion dates to 1872. Opposite: A tamarin monkey peers at visitors to the Miller Park Zoo.

I M AG E S M C L E A N . C O M



in the

Twin Cities


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t’s a long way from the lights of Broadway, but when it comes to the performing arts, McLean County competes with the best. Whether it’s symphony, jazz, theater or even Shakespeare, residents of Bloomington and Normal can enjoy a professional performance on just about any evening of their choice. The Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts opened in 2006 and hosts an impressive roster of shows, including upcoming performances by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the African Children’s Choir and Broadway’s Footloose in 2009. “We have a very broad range of performances, and we plan our season with the hope that anyone in the community can look at the upcoming season’s shows and identify something that’s right up their alley,” says Joel Aalberts, marketing director for the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts. “There’s everything from Broadway and dance to jazz and popular artists. We try to make it great entertainment for the community while expanding their artistic mindset.” The BCPA is housed in a 1920s building that the city purchased and renovated prior to its opening in 2006. “There was great attention paid to detail in the renovation,” Aalberts says.

“It’s a 1,200-seat theater that’s very intimate with great acoustics.” The facility not only hosts big-name traveling acts – it also gives local performers such as the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and the Sound of Illinois Barbershop Chorus a performance venue. “It’s nice to have a venue in the community where groups can put on a very professional production,” Aalberts says. The Illinois Symphony Orchestra performs regularly at the BCPA, bringing award-winning guest artists from faraway places such as Russia and China. “This is something new to the community, and to see folks come and have such exciting experiences is really fun,” Aalberts says. “You can spend money on all sorts of things, but these experiences are really meaningful.” Theater fans flock to McLean County’s annual Illinois Shakespeare Festival, held Tuesday through Sunday nights from late June through early August. Now in its 31st season and one of the community’s best-loved arts events, the festival built a new $2 million outdoor facility in 2000 at the Ewing Cultural Center. “The grounds are just gorgeous, with beautiful flowers, trees and bushes,” says Deb Alley, festival artistic director. “People usually picnic on the grounds before the show, and Friday and Saturday

nights we offer a free jazz concert before the show with performers from all over the country.” Actors from across the United States audition for roles. “We do wonderful productions by a wonderful playwright,” Alley says. Community Players Theatre is Bloomington-Normal’s oldest theater group and the second oldest community theater in the nation. Founded in 1923, Community Players Theatre presents two or three musicals each season by celebrated composers such as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Rodgers and Hammerstein as well as plays by authors such as Neil Simon and Agatha Christie. In late August, McLean County residents savor the last days of summer with the annual Sweetcorn Blues Festival in Uptown Normal. The event attracts as many as 20,000 people who enjoy blues artists from around Central Illinois and all the sweet corn they can eat. “Twenty tons of sweet corn are picked fresh daily, and we bag a lot of it and sell it by the dozen,” says Steve Westerdahl, community development director for the Town of Normal. Each July, Bloomington’s Nothin’ But the Blues Festival attracts more than 5,000 attendees and features New Orleans-style food and Grammywinning blues artists.

Built in 1921, the building that is home to the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts once featured the largest stage west of New York City. The facility, reopened in 2006, is again the centerpiece of the Twin Cities’ artistic life.


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What’s a

To Do?

SEE VIDEO ONLINE | Watch kids enjoy the Discovery Museum at


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cLean County has plenty of activities to keep grown-ups busy – from sports and shopping to theater and dining. But the region is also brimming with healthy, wholesome and fun places for kids to play. A favorite destination in Normal is the impressive Children’s Discovery Museum, which offers three floors of hands-on experience for children of all ages. Here kids can paint on a wall, shop the Main Street Market, serve food in the Nutrition Café, and much more. “One reason the museum is so popular with families is we’re open for the unscheduled visit,” says Shari Buckellew, museum manager. “You don’t have to reserve a time or be scheduled for a class. It’s a wonderful family outing that can be spur of the moment. They’re having fun while learning, and it’s a great memory maker.” Another popular place for kids and families is the Pepsi Ice Center, owned and operated by the city of Bloomington. More than 200 skaters ages 3 to 18 are enrolled in the youth hockey program, and more than 30 adults take part in the learn-to-play-hockey program. “We offer something for everybody in the family,” says Richard Beck, ice center manager. “Right now we have brothers who are playing in the hockey program, sisters in the figure-skating program, and moms and dads in the learn-to-play-hockey program or the adult league. We have families spending four or five nights a week here.” As for outdoor adventures, the city of Bloomington is home to more than 30 parks on almost 2,300 acres, including ball fields, golf courses, tennis courts, playgrounds and walking trails. “The hottest topic now is the splash pads [water-play areas],” says Dean Kohn, director of Bloomington Parks and Recreation. “We have three splash pads in our community, and we’re opening a renovated playground – with an 18-foot twisted slide – at Miller Park, one of our flagship parks.” McLEAN COUNT Y

Miller Park also features miniature golf, a zoo, a bandstand with weekly productions during the summer, and a nine-hole Frisbee golf course. The city also offers top-quality youth sports ranging from T-ball to ice hockey. “You name it, we’ve got it,” Kohn says. “Parks play a big role in the culture of our environment around here.” Normal also features parks and several aquatic facilities. Fairview Family Aquatic Center includes two big water slides and zero-depth entries, and it’s undergoing a $2.5 million renovation in 2008 to create a new splash area and a special kids’ zone, says Garry Little,

Normal Parks and Recreation director. Anderson Aquatic Center is geared toward smaller children, with a spray pool, a small water slide and more. The new Connie J. Link Amphitheater opened in 2008 along Constitution Trail featuring free movie nights, a concert series and other outdoor family entertainment in the summer and fall. Local colleges also offer camps and other activities specifically for kids. “We have teen camps that take trips everywhere, and we have regular day camps for kids in three parks,” Little says. “Our summertime is packed full of wonderful family entertainment and activities.”

Tyler McGregor skates at Fairview Park in Normal. Left: The Children’s Discovery Museum is a fun learning experience for kids of all ages.

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Go Time




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Uptown Normal has a variety of shopping and dining options.



ajor roadwork and big building projects. That’s what will be happening in Uptown Normal over the next three to five years. The Uptown Renewal Plan is a massive endeavor that town officials have set in motion, with an ultimate goal of making Uptown Normal a special place to live, work and visit. The project started in earnest in 2007 and will proceed virtually uninterrupted until late 2010 or 2011. “Our sister city of Bloomington has a nice historic business district, but we don’t – but we will,” says Nora Dukowitz, Uptown Normal marketing manager. “It will take a lot of work in a lot of areas, but our town council is fully behind the project and so are the people who love the Uptown district.” The infrastructure and underground utilities in Uptown Normal are nearly 100 years old, so the first phase of heavy construction began in 2007 with the replacement of everything connected with the outdated infrastructure. “This was a huge effort, and now 2008 and 2009 are devoted to replacing the streets and streetscapes in the district,” Dukowitz says. “Crews will be redoing all the roads, widening sidewalks and adding street furniture and land-

scape elements. Plus, a whole new street segment called Constitution Boulevard and a new roundabout are being added to serve as a central gathering place of our business district.” The boundaries of Uptown Normal are Fell Avenue to the west, Linden Street to the east, Mulberry Street to the north and Beaufort Street to the south. Dukowitz says the entire district is undergoing change, but the town council wants it to maintain some of its historic and traditional charm. “As for other major projects, a new Marriott Hotel & Conference Center is under construction that will be nine stories tall, have 229 guest rooms and 43,000 square feet of space for a conference center,” she says. “There are a lot of occasions in our community where every current hotel becomes filled up, so adding a new Marriott will not only be beautiful, but needed.” Dukowitz says the new hotel is especially necessary because Normal attracts many business travelers who visit the State Farm Insurance and Country Financial companies that are headquartered in Bloomington. In addition, McLean County is home to Lincoln College-Normal, Illinois State University, Illinois Wesleyan University and Heartland Community College,

so students, family members, academic professionals and alumni often come to town in order to visit these campuses. Also, Normal is the second most popular Amtrak stop in the state (after Chicago), and the town attracts a lot of tourists from Champaign, Indianapolis, Springfield, St. Louis as well as Chicago. “Besides the hotel, we have four mixed-used buildings under construction that will all be five stories tall,” Dukowitz says. “By mixed-use I mean they will feature a mixture of retail, office space and residential space. Speaking of residential space, it is something we never had before in Uptown Normal. We are making a concentrated effort to build condominiums and apartments, and we are receiving a lot of inquiries from curious people about the new residential developments.” Dukowitz adds that condos will be in three of the new mixed-use buildings currently under construction, and apartments will be in the fourth. “When the Children’s Discovery Museum opened in Uptown Normal in 2004, it served as the catalyst for this whole Uptown Renewal Plan to get in gear,” she says. “The town council declared it was time to do something about our central business district, and now there is no stopping us.”

Construction in progress in Uptown Normal includes a new Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, mixed-use buildings featuring residential units, streetscape improvement projects and a multimodal transportation center.


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Business | Biz Briefs

Chad Parker is president and CEO of Cybernautic Design, a firm that helps its clients build business online.

MAKING THE WEB WORK Chad Parker and his crew at Cybernautic Design help clients get the most out of the Web. Cybernautic’s menu of services includes Web design, hosting and content management and search engine optimization. “People appreciate that we make the Web easy to use,” says Parker, president and CEO. “We make the Web available for anyone and take care of all the complexities so our clients can build their business online.” The company’s clients include real estate firms, school districts, churches and rental companies. A key aspect to the business is helping clients keep Web sites current and user-friendly. Real estate and rental agency clients utilize a system that populates sites with available listings automatically. These content management systems allow clients to focus on their business instead of the management of their Web sites. “The Web is about communicating,” Parker says. “We work with our clients to understand their products and services and the audience they want to reach.” Cybernautic Design then uses 18

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its resources to effectively communicate the client’s message to customers. A TASTY MENU Can’t decide what you want to eat for dinner? Then you must be at the Fireside Inn in Lexington, where the choices are numerous and the dishes are delicious. Josh Parkhouse reopened his restaurant in January after repairing damage caused by an August 2007 fire. Based on current business, his customers were happy to return. “We focus on American cuisine,” Parkhouse says. “Our menu includes seafood, burgers, chicken and steak. There’s also pizza, pasta, soups and salads.” In addition to the restaurant, Parkhouse offers catering services. “Anything you need, we can cater it,” he says. “We cater everything from weddings and engagement parties to backyard barbeques and small-business luncheons.” Fireside catering ranges from casual buffets to formal dinners. Parkhouse says the restaurant’s popularity is continuing to grow. “Fireside Inn is popular with locals

and travelers from cities like Toluca and Le Roy,” he says. Although reservations are appreciated, visitors are welcome to walk in and dine. A PLACE TO GATHER The staff at The Interstate Center knows how to throw a party – and they have just the place to do it. “We are the largest convention center in the Bloomington area,” says Kate Burcham, manager of Interstate Center. “We take care of everything for our customers including planning and in-house catering.” With multiple buildings, a total of 120 acres of property and a 20,000-squarefoot ballroom, the space can meet a wide array of needs. It’s also conveniently located on Market Street near I-74. Events held at The Interstate Center have included antique shows, animal shows, wedding receptions and banquets and expos for businesses. The Interstate Center also hosts the popular McLean County Fair, which is the largest 4H fair in the country. The Third Sunday Market held at The Interstate Center offers an opportunity McLEAN COUNT Y

Our Chinese Daughters Foundation’s gift shop features Chinese clothing.

to sell or buy antiques, crafts and collectibles at one of the largest shows of its kind in the area. PHOTO COURTESY OF MOREENA TIEDE

FUN WITH PAINT Mickey Lower, known as the Zoo Lady, is an artist whose work always produces a smile. “My gift is children’s face painting, and my signature work is the rainbow tiger,” Lower says. “I paint animal faces, butterflies and prints.” Keeping an eye on what interests kids, she’s currently working on adding fairies to her artistic repertoire. Lower began face-painting in 2002. These days she also offers body painting and Henna tattoos. The Zoo Lady and her staff are invited to paint at schools, parties, special events, corporate parties and fund-raising events. “I sometimes work at benefits for charity. It’s great practice, and I can help raise money for a good cause,” Lower says. “I love to see all the people who enjoy the paintings.” The Zoo Lady regularly attends conventions and seminars to improve her craft and learn new techniques. CULTURAL SUPPORT A commitment to Chinese culture and education is the focus of Our Chinese Daughters Foundation. Founded in 1995 by Dr. Jane Liedtke, OCDF is a nonprofit organization that helps educate and support families who adopt Chinese children. “We offer many services to the families and children,” says Lynn Warren, administrative assistant. “We facilitate travel for adoption, offer tours for those families who return to China and offer culture classes for anyone interested in China.” OCDF also hosts a number of Chinese cultural events for communities and families and sponsors a quarterly newsletter with information and resources for parents, as well as a quarterly magazine for children. A gift shop in the facility offers Chinese clothes and crafts. OCDF also supports orphan programs in China. – Raven Petty McLEAN COUNT Y

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Business | Chamber Report



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Visitors Bureau and the Economic Development Council in business retention and recruitment, as well as convention development. “We have great partnerships with our colleges and arts programs to market the venues and programs these groups offer,” Natzke says. The chamber is hosting its third CommUniversity this fall, the largest tailgate party held with Illinois State University. “We’ll put more than 1,000 chamber members in the stands for ISU’s first football game,” he says. That partnership spills over into business, where chamber members work with students to develop career opportunities. Meanwhile, the four local colleges work

with businesses to create education offerings that meet their needs. New to the chamber network are a couple of programs, including BAG (Business Advocacy Group, with a dedicated chamber staff member who works with new and existing businesses) and neXt Professionals, a chamber networking group for young professionals up to age 35 who get together once a month to exchange ideas, discuss career issues and work on community service projects. “We want them to be a stronger, integral part of the community, and this is one way to accomplish that,” Natzke says. – Betsy Williams



arshaling resources. Forming partnerships. Developing leaders. Creating opportunity. As the community’s business center of influence, the McLean County Chamber of Commerce has been creating economic opportunity for more than 100 years. As a result, McLean County is known for supporting business, encouraging education, embracing the arts and engaging residents, resulting in a dynamic quality of life. “We’ve been focusing on quality of life issues that will enhance the community,” says Kenneth Natzke, president of the chamber’s board of directors and administrator of OSF St. Joseph Medical Center. The phrase “quality of life” cuts a broad swath, but Natzke and his chamber team have been cutting their way through the maze piece by piece. “We’ve been working with the bus service to expand bus routes in the cities, and now they are making an airport run,” Natzke says. As the corporate home of several insurance and health-care businesses, that means plenty to corporations that rely on business travel. “We’re working with the cities on the Main Street development to recruit business, work on landscaping and new sidewalks – things that make a community exciting to come to,” he says. “And it’s about forming partnerships and alliances. Sometimes the chamber doesn’t have to be in front of the parade, but we can sure build some partnerships to make the parade exciting and interesting.” The chamber continually works with the McLean County Convention and

The McLean County Chamber of Commerce supports the community.


Business | Economic Profile

MCLEAN COUNTY BUSINESS CLIMATE McLean County’s economy is rooted in insurance, education, health care, agribusiness and industry. McLean County has one of the most productive agricultural areas in the nation, but the economy is highly diverse. Sales tax (Bloomington-Normal)

Cincinnati, 93.7

General merchandise, 7.75%

Kansas City, Mo., 96.1

Cleveland, 101.2

Food/drugs, 1%


Vehicles, 6.25%

Airport Central Illinois Regional Airport, (309) 663-7383



Manufacturing, 8.8%

Canadian National/ Illinois Central Railroad

Transportation, communication, utilities, 6.2%

Norfolk Southern

Wholesale/retail trade, 13%

Union Pacific Passenger Rail Amtrak

TAXES Property tax (rate per $100 assessed value) Bloomington – municipal property tax rate only, $1.05 Total community property tax (includes city, school, library, etc.), $7.30 Normal – municipal property tax rate only, $.74 Total community property tax (includes city, school, library, etc.), $7.08 Corporate tax Income tax, 4.8%

Construction, mining, 4.9%





Services, 34.9% Public administration, 2.9% Professional, 7.1%

FACTS/STATISTICS (2000 CENSUS) McLean County Median house value, $109,300 Median rent, $461 Median household income, $47,021 Median family income, $61,073 Income per capita, $22,227 Total households, 56,746 Average household size, 2.45 Median age, 30.5

Income tax on trust or estate, 3%


Trusts also pay a 1.5% personal property tax replacement income tax.

Second quarter (2008) Bloomington-Normal, 96.3



Finance, insurance, real estate, 20.7%

Replacement tax, 2.5%

Estates do not pay replacement tax.



Freight Rail Bloomer Shippers Connecting Railroad

Toledo, Peoria & Western Railway


Chicago, 131.1 Champaign-Urbana, 94.7

20.5% 0

high school graduate or higher some college, no degree college graduate

FOR MORE INFORMATION McLean County Chamber of Commerce 210 S. East St. Bloomington, IL 61701 Phone: (309) 829-6344 Fax: (309) 827-3940 Economic Development Council of the BloomingtonNormal Area 200 W. College Ave. Normal, IL 61761 Phone: (309) 452-8437


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ore than 20,000 visitors each year f lock to the McLean County Museum of History in downtown Bloomington, and another 15,000 take part in its outreach activities. Now the historic building – the venerable McLean County Courthouse, an architectural gem featuring marble, mahogany and mosaic tile – is in the midst of a $1.7 million restoration. “Stone units are being repaired and replaced, and the green antique verde stone in the vestibules is being removed and laminated onto honeycombed aluminum panels,” says Greg Koos, executive director of the museum. “This will stabilize the stone. These panels are then being re-hung.” The building is also being repainted with new mortar. On the inside, the faux marble panels are being pinned to stabilize them, and new braces that match the originals are being installed on the stairs. But the doors remain open to visitors, who continue to check out the permanent and changing exhibits. The museum’s galleries are full of interesting history, including the Harriet Fuller Rust Pioneer Neighborhood/Discovery Room. In this hands-on area, visitors can push a steel plow, beat an area rug, scrub clothes after fetching water, and practice arithmetic on a slate. The Encounter on the Prairie exhibit is housed in four galleries – one each for the people, politics, work and farming of yesteryear. Koos says the most popular exhibit at the moment is “A Turbulent Time: Perspectives on the Vietnam War,” which runs until August 2010. This exhibit explores the complex ways McLean County residents perceived and responded to that crucial event. The museum’s off-site programs include bus tours of BloomingtonNormal’s architecture and the ever-popular Evergreen Cemetery Discovery Walk, featuring Illinois Voices Theatre actors portraying figures from central Illinois’ past. McLEAN COUNT Y



Located in Bloomington, the McLean County Museum of History is in the former courthouse, which features American Renaissance style architecture.

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Portfolio children, free public park concerts, regular appearances at the state fair, holiday pops, and “Sneakers and Jeans” matinee concerts for children and families, and many more community programs - all in a focused effort to ensure the ISO’s music garners a new generation of fans and supporters. To accommodate growing crowds, the ISO recently added two new venues for its chamber orchestra concerts – St. Agnes in Springfield and Second Presbyterian Church in Bloomington. The symphony also performs at the new Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts and the Sangamon Auditorium on the University of Illinois-Springfield campus. As a result of its successful and innovative community outreach programs, the orchestra was recently selected as one of 10 nationwide to participate in a three-year program to help orchestras develop visions and strategic plans, and cultivate relationships within communities. The orchestra’s members represent more than a dozen countries – a “breadth of diverse musical cultures and personalities that brings an invigorating freshness and passion to performances,” Deal says.

Making Music Matter W

ith two new performance venues and a steadily growing audience, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra is accomplishing its mission – to move orchestral music beyond the walls of the concert halls and into a place of relevance in people’s lives. The artistic level of the orchestra got a major boost when Karen Lynne Deal took over as music director in 2000, and it’s only getting better. “The 2007-08 season was truly a homerun season,” says John Wohlwend,

the orchestra’s interim board president. “The entire season was sponsored by Steinway Pianos, Horine’s Pianos Plus and the Van Cliburn Foundation, and we had a medalist or finalist for the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition performing as a guest artist at each of our masterwork concerts.” Maestra Deal has done much more than elevate the quality of the ISO’s performances. She has greatly expanded the orchestra’s outreach, adding educational concerts for school-

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Tim Nord


Buyer and Seller Representation

Karen Lynne Deal is music director of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra.


Route 66 Still Offers Kicks T


he nostalgia of historic Route 66 – the fabled highway that winds through the prairies of Illinois on its way to the Pacific Ocean – is alive and well in towns along the decommissioned byway, including stops in McLean County. Route 66 travelers heading through Normal will soon be able to spend time at Sprague Super Service, a two-story, Tudor Revival-style building that was built in 1931. This building – the largest gas station-restaurant on Route 66 – once housed a café, gas station and garage on the first floor, while the upstairs served as housing for the owner and station attendant. The building has been nominated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is being renovated to include an information center, a diner/ soda fountain, a bed-and-breakfast inn and event space. “It will be an icon in that area,” says Patty Ambrose, executive director of the Illinois Route 66 Heritage Project and Historic Route 66 in Illinois – America’s Byway. “It will take a couple years to complete, but it’s going to be quite an attraction when it’s finished.” Bloomington is home to the country’s first Steak ’n Shake, built in 1934 along Route 66. It’s now a Monical’s Pizza Parlor, but visitors can still stop in to visit the site. Another stop here is Cotton’s Village Inn, a historic hotel inducted into the Route 66 Hall of Fame in 1991. Funks Grove – in the unincorporated town of Shirley, just south of Bloomington – continues to be a favorite for travelers. Isaac Funk homesteaded the grove on Timber Creek in 1824, and the family has been selling maple syrup here since 1891. “Route 66 is within the top three attractions for the state, bringing in over 300,000 visitors in 2006,” Ambrose says, adding that more signage, visitors centers and interpretive panels are in the works along the Mother Road.

McLean County has several stops along the Historic Route 66.


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Getting Creative With Concrete


onald Ummel started his decorative-concrete company, Concrete Evolutions, fresh out of college in 2004. “A buddy and I road-tripped to Georgia and Kentucky to check out manufacturers,” he says. “I bought some equipment, got a small-business loan and started my business.” What began with concrete landscape edging soon grew to include decorative techniques, as well as ultra-modern sinks and countertops. “We did a restaurant with all the bathroom vanities, the bar top, the hostess stand and the entire floor in stamped concrete,” Ummel says. “That was in 2007, and we’ve been fully slammed since then.” Through word-of-mouth alone, Concrete Evolutions has grown to employ another full-time worker and four part-timers. “HGTV is getting the word out there, and the stamped concrete has come a long way,” Ummel says. “Recently I’ve been getting quite a few calls for concrete countertops.” Stamped concrete patios are the most popular product, he says, as more people are looking to add outdoor environments to their homes. His company can tear out smaller patios, re-pour the concrete and add the stamping. If money is an issue, the stamping can be added at a later date. “We can put color in the concrete,” he says. “We can make it look almost identical to stone, but it’s a cheaper alternative and it still looks really nice.” Ummel recently landed a contract to do decorative concrete for the Peoria Zoo – using staining and engraving techniques to make concrete paths resemble dirt. “We’re doing the decorative side of things,” he says. “That’s a pretty cool project.”

Ronald Ummel has found success with his company Concrete Evolutions.


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Capturing the Heartland on Canvas H State Universtity, Gregor still paints these large flatscapes. He’s also known for huge panoramas, an abstract series he calls “Vibrascapes,” and a series of colorful abstract paintings inspired by walks on the Constitution Trail. Considered by many to be the dean of contemporary American landscape painting, Gregor has received numerous awards, including the 2006 National Watercolor Honor Society Lifetime Achievement Award. His work is represented by five galleries in

arold Gregor is a native of Depression-era Detroit, but you’d never know it from looking at his paintings. A Bloomington resident for more than 30 years, he’s a renowned painter of the American heartland – a master at capturing the character and strength of Midwest landscapes. “Some of the best farmland in the world is here,” he says. “The landscape here is direct and straightforward. Here it is – the land, the sky, the vastness of it. I don’t want to get religious about it, but this landscape offers something to be thankful about.” Gregor moved to Bloomington in 1970 to teach art at Illinois State University, and soon his large, photorealist paintings of Illinois corn cribs were getting noticed in New York City galleries. An image on a cornmeal bag inspired his signature aerial “flatscape” paintings, which transform farm scenes into almost abstract arrangements of color. The largest of these are 5-by-15 feet, and one can be seen at the Central Illinois Regional Airport. Now a professor emeritus at Illinois

Chicago, Texas, New Mexico, New York City and Wisconsin. At 79, he still paints every day in his downtown Bloomington studio, moving from one painting to another as the mood strikes him. “I feel very blessed to have been able to teach, and I still do workshops,” he says. “To be able to paint full time in a big studio and have the kind of success where people do buy the paintings – it’s been wonderful.” – Stories by Rebecca Denton

Same Company • Same Great Service • Brand New Look

Allied Waste, through one of our operating companies (American Disposal), provides garbage collection services in McLean County. Our 26,000 employees are proud to announce that our companies will now operate under the same name, Allied Waste Services. Soon, you may notice one of our new garbage trucks in your community. We are excited about this change, but it is important we communicate one thing that will not be changing – our commitment to you, our customer. Customer service is our business – that remains unchanged.


ALLIED WASTE SERVICES OF BLOOMINGTON 2112 W. Washington St. • Bloomington, IL 61704 (309) 827-8631

Artist Harold Gregor


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Health & Wellness





hen it comes to the health-care needs of McLean County residents, two established, award-winning hospitals continue to deliver top-notch treatment and services. Both BroMenn Regional Medical Center and OSF St. Joseph Medical Center maintain accreditation by the Joint Commission, a designation that indicates the hospitals’ adherence to the highest standards of quality, safety and continuous improvement in patient care. BroMenn Regional Medical Center in Normal is a 224-bed acute care facility and the headquarters of the BroMenn Healthcare System, which also includes the Eureka Community Hospital and a network of physicians serving central Illinois. “We are an integrated health-care delivery system,” says Roger Hunt, president and CEO of the BroMenn Healthcare System. “We have three main areas of emphasis: cardiovascular, neurovascular and women’s health.” In 2007, BroMenn joined the Spirit of Women program, a national education and outreach effort that empowers women to improve their health. “We’re very enthusiastic about the program,” Hunt says. “Fewer than 100 hospitals nationwide were selected to participate in this program, [which is] designed to motivate and inspire women of all ages to make positive changes in their lives.” In addition, BroMenn recently acquired a state-of-the-art Magnetic Resonance Image unit that provides the clearest MRI images available – clear enough for both breast and cardiac MRI procedures. A major expansion of BroMenn’s facility gets underway in May 2009. Phase One, to be completed in 2011, will include a new obstetrics unit and additional intensive care units. In Bloomington, the 157-bed OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, which is operated by the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis and is part of the OSF Healthcare System, provides emergency and acute inpatient care along with a full range of diagnostic and outpatient services and palliative care. Additionally, OSF St. Joseph opened the Oscar Mandel Cohn Neuro Vascular Suite in early 2007. The suite is outfitted with the technology to perform minimally invasive, catheter-based procedures for a wide range of clinical issues, including stroke and carotid artery disease. In fact, while it has consistently ranked among the country’s top health-care facilities, in 2007, OSF St. Joseph earned the Joint Commission’s Certificate of Distinction for Primary Stroke Centers – designated by its Gold Seal of Approval. “Our balanced approach to fulfilling our mission – to serve with the greatest care and love by pursuing perfection in health-care safety, quality, service and financial integrity – has really guided us in meeting the needs and desires for health care in McLean County,” says Ken Natzke, president and CEO of OSF St. Joseph Medical Center. – Carol Cowan

Two hospitals – St. Joseph Medical Center and BroMenn Regional Medical Center – serve McLean County.

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Save Money. Smell the Flowers.

Looking for ways to save money on gas and help the environment? The EPA wants to share some smart driving tips that could give you more miles per gallon of gas and reduce air pollution. Tips like making sure your tires are properly inflated and replacing your air filter regularly. And where possible, accelerate and brake slowly. Be aware of your speed ... did you know that for every 5 miles you go over 65 mph, you’re spending about 20 cents more per gallon of gas? If you’re shopping for a new car, choose the cleanest, most efficient vehicle that meets your needs. If we each adopt just one of these tips, we’d get more miles for our money and it would be a little easier to smell the flowers. For more tips and to compare cleaner, more efficient vehicles, visit


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Higher education in McLean County is steeped in history. Illinois Wesleyan was founded in 1831, and Illinois State is marking 150 years.



he menu of choices to pursue college degrees in McLean County is varied and enticing. Illinois State offers the academic strength of a major university, while Illinois Wesleyan offers a highly selective private school setting focused on liberal arts. Lincoln College caters to working students who are pursuing degrees, and Heartland Community College helps


students get started on the path to a four-year degree, or toward a career. “As Illinois State University enters its next 150 years, our university continues to be a star on the rise,” says Dr. Al Bowman, ISU president. “In just the last dozen years, we have progressed from a middle-of-the-pack institution to what I believe is the emerging flagship university in Illinois.”

Most recently, ISU’s College of Education and College of Fine Arts were again included in the U.S. News and World Report 2008 rankings of the top graduate schools in America. Capital improvements have given ISU an evolving campus environment. The new Alumni Center was dedicated this past July, creating an exciting new gateway to the campus. Residence halls have been renovated and new academic buildings have been erected, as well as a Center for the Performing Arts. “Some of our strategies for success have changed, but the values that mark our heritage and make our institution great remain the same: individualized attention, pursuit of learning and scholarship, public opportunity, diversity and civic engagement,” Dr. Bowman says. “These core values are ISU’s foundation for excellence, and that foundation is stronger today than at any time in our history.” At the other end of the academic spectrum is Lincoln College-Normal, a private liberal arts college that opened its doors in 1979. Starting as a two-year community college, Lincoln College now offers bachelor’s programs that appeal to students who are working and supporting families. “We offer an accelerated bachelor’s degree program for working adults,” says Julie Klinzing, the college’s director of admissions and marketing. “Instead of a full semester, students will take a three-hour course over a period of five weeks, coming to class one night a week and doing the rest of the course work at home. It’s considered a hybrid, and students can earn up to 27 credit hours in one calendar year. It’s for people who want to go back to school but don’t have the time to commit to a fulltime course schedule.” Students can also earn college credits for real-life experience. “If someone has worked in accounting, they may be eligible for college credits,” Klinzing says. “And all of these programs are eligible for financial aid.” – Betsy Williams I M AG E S M C L E A N . C O M


Look, a tall purple rectangle!

When you talk to your child you build vocabulary, so everyday moments become learning moments. For more tips, visit


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Arts & Culture



a gallery store that offers handmade jewelry, ceramics and other items,” Johnson says. “We do 12 exhibitions per year, and we offer 60 different classes for children and adults.” The McLean County Arts Center also sponsors two large community festivals each year – the Sugar Creek Arts Festival in Normal in July and the Spring Bloom Arts Festival in Bloomington in March. “This is the 26th year for Sugar Creek, and it’s the bigger festival with about 170 artists,” Johnson says. “It’s a two-day event that usually brings more than 20,000 attendees, and we have live music on two stages.” The Spring Bloom Arts Festival is in its fifth year and features about 100 artists and live music. The McLean County Arts Center also hosts highly anticipated annual events such as Margarita Night in June and the Holiday Treasures Exhibition and Sale in November. Margarita Night is a fundraiser that raises money for the center’s

programs, exhibitions and classes. Admission includes live music, Mexican appetizers and margaritas, and patrons have the opportunity to purchase artwork at the event. Artist receptions, lectures and workshops are also regular happenings at the McLean County Arts Center. “We support local artists through all our exhibitions and on our Web site, and we sell their work in our gift gallery,” Johnson says. “We serve as a resource for them.” The arts center also serves as a resource for workers in the McLean County community. Everyone from doctors to insurance agents come to the center to engage in classes and workshops, which helps them recharge their creativity and incorporate it into their jobs. “We’re a refueling station for creative workers,” Johnson says, “and that enriches the lives of all our citizens.” – Jessica Mozo


hen Bloomington and Normal residents need an outlet for their creativity, all they have to do is enroll in a class at the McLean County Arts Center. “Our biggest enrollments are in ceramics, sculpture, photography and watercolor, and we have art camps for kids during the summer that are very popular,” says Doug Johnson, executive director of the McLean County Arts Center. “It used to be that we were the best-kept secret in town, but we’re really increasing our exposure. More and more people are becoming aware of the vital role the arts play in our community.” Founded in the 1880s, the McLean County Arts Center is one of the oldest community arts organizations in the Midwest. It was incorporated in 1922 and has been located in a historic 1909 building in downtown Bloomington since 1979. “We have a large gallery, a small gallery, three classrooms, offices and

Jamie Grites checks out a recent exhibit at the McLean County Arts Center.


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Sports & Recreation


Redbirds alum Luke Drone now plays for the Buffalo Bills.



he red coats are coming – red coats of paint, that is. Sheahon Zenger became director of athletics at Illinois State University in May 2005 and immediately made a declaration on his first day of work. He wanted to upgrade all of the athletic facilities at ISU so they will ultimately look as good as the eye-pleasing academic buildings on campus. “Our sports nickname is the Redbirds, so a Redbird Renaissance campaign began that day for our athletic department,” Zenger says. “Our football facility, Hancock


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Stadium, is in need of a renovation, and everything else falls in line from there.” The Redbird Renaissance began to progress in earnest during 2007 when the ISU board of trustees approved $1.5 million toward the renovation of Hancock Stadium. That money is specifically earmarked to hire engineers and contractors who will identify the precise upgrades needed at the stadium. “The engineer planning stage is the most difficult money to raise because it doesn’t result in anything physical or tangible – people don’t see bricks and mortar from that money,” Zenger says. “It will take about five years to raise all the funds needed to renovate Hancock Stadium, but the board of trustees certainly got the ball rolling by taking care of the engineering costs.” Another aspect of the Redbird Renaissance is an upgrade of Redbird Baseball Stadium. The ballpark will reopen in March 2009 with renovations that will include 1,500 chairback seats, a new press box, a club suite and more restrooms and concession stands. “Other athletics upgrades include new tennis courts that opened in 2008, and new locker rooms that will be constructed for the basketball teams at Redbird Arena,” Zenger says. “The arena will also eventually feature a beautiful Legends Room where high-end donors can gather and mingle prior to basketball games.” Meanwhile, some of the Redbirds’ sports teams and athletes have been experiencing a renaissance of their own in recent times. Perhaps most notably, the 2007-08 women’s basketball team participated in the NCAA postseason tournament, and the men’s basketball team tied a singleseason school record by winning 25 games during the 2007-08 season. Meanwhile, seven former ISU football players are currently playing in the National Football League. They are Luke Drone with Buffalo, Brandon Joyce with Minnesota, Isaiah Wiggins with Baltimore, Laurent Robinson with Atlanta, Brent Hawkins with Jacksonville, Boomer Grigsby with Miami and Aveion Cason with Detroit. “The athletic department recently secured a five-year apparel and equipment contract with Nike, while the ISU student-athletes posted an overall 3.04 GPA in the fall 2007 season – the best GPA semester in school history,” Zenger says. “Meanwhile, our student-athletes also reached 2,000 hours of community service for the third consecutive year in the Bloomington-Normal area. We truly are undergoing a renaissance these days in all aspects of the ISU athletic department.” – Kevin Litwin MCLEAN COUNT Y

Community Profile


Expansion Management has rated Bloomington-Normal as one of 72 metro areas with a five-star quality of life, giving the community high marks in areas such as standard of living, schools and commuting time.

McLean County Unit 5 Schools (K-12), 452-4476


Olympia Unit 16 (K-12) 379-6011

Bloomington Indoor Golf Club 662-6439

Ridgeview Unit 19 (K-12) 723-5111

The Den at Fox Creek 434-2300

Tri-Valley Community Unit School District 3 (K-12) 378-2351

Golf Learning Center 829-4653

ISU Laboratory Schools Thomas Metcalf School 438-7621

Highland Park, 434-2200

Carle Clinic-Bloomington/ Normal, 664-3333


University High School 438-8346

Indian Springs, 475-4111

Public Schools Bloomington Public School District 87 (K-12), 827-6031

Special-Needs Schools Hammitt School (ages 4-14) 452-1170

Prairie Vista, 434-2217

El Paso/Gridley Community Unit District 11 (K-12), 527-4410

Hammitt High School (ages 15-21), 452-1790

MEDICAL FACILITIES BroMenn Regional Medical Center, 454-1400 OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, 662-3311

Heyworth Community Unit School District 4 (K-12) 473-3727 LeRoy Community Unit School District 2 (K-12), 962-4211 Lexington Community Unit School District 5 (K-12) 365-4141

Higher Education Heartland Community College 268-8000 Illinois State University 438-2111 Illinois Wesleyan University 556-1000 Lincoln College-Normal 452-0500

Hazy Hills, 726-9200 Illinois State University 438-8065 Ironwood, 454-9620

UTILITIES Cable Comcast 454-3350 Electricity Ameren (800) 755-5000 Corn Belt Energy Corp. (800) 879-0339 Natural Gas Ameren (800) 755-5000 THIS SECTION IS SPONSORED BY

Family owned and operated

A McLean County favorite since 1971

Pizza • Pasta • Sandwiches • Salads Dine-in • Carry-out • Delivery • Catering 407 S. Main • Normal, IL 61761 • (309) 452-4436

The area code for McLean County is 309.

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Community Profile Corn Belt Energy Corp. (800) 879-0339 Nicor Gas Co., (888) 642-6748 Phone El Paso Telephone, 527-4500 Frontier, (800) 921-8101 or (217) 854-6067 Gridley Enterprises, 747-2221 Verizon, (800) 483-4600 Sewer Bloomington-Normal Water Reclamation District, 827-4396 Water Bloomington Water Dept. 434-2426 Normal Water Dept., 454-9563

NUMBERS TO KNOW City Hall – Bloomington 434-2509 City Hall – Normal, 454-2444 McLean County Government 888-5001 Parks & Recreation Department – Bloomington, 434-2260 Parks & Recreation Department – Normal 454-9540

Illinois Coaches Association Golf Hall of Fame 502 W. Hamilton Rd., Bloomington, 434-2217 Illinois State University Planetarium Corner of College Avenue and School Street, Normal 438-5007 or 438-8756 Interstate Center 2301 W. Market St., Bloomington, 829-3976 ISU Bowling and Billiards Center ISU Campus, Normal 438-2555 ISU Student Rec Building 500 N. Beech St., Normal 438-PLAY Mitsubishi Motors of North America 100 North Mitsubishi Motorway, Normal, 888-8200 Outlaw Outfitters Moraine View State Park 27267 E. 900 North Rd., LeRoy 724-8043 Pepsi Ice Center 201 S. Roosevelt, Bloomington 434-2737 Pheasant Lanes Bowling 804 N. Hershey Rd., Bloomington, 663-8556


Pro-Putt Family Fun Center Veterans & Main Plaza, Bloomington, 434-2509

Grady’s Family Fun Park 1501 1/2 Morrissey Dr., Bloomington, 662-3332

Ride the Nine 503 N. Prospect Ave., Bloomington, 662-1009

Hunter Oaks Equestrian Center 236 MacAllen Lake Rd., Carlock, 376-7771

Ropp Jersey Cheese 2676 Ropp Rd., Normal 452-3641

Bev Edgerton, Realtor “Opening Doors to Dream Homes” • Certified Relocation Specialist • Member of the 50 Million Dollar Club • Ambassador for McLean County Chamber of Commerce

#1 Brickyard Drive • Bloomington, IL 61701 • An independently owned and operated member of The Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc.


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Skate N’ Place Roller Skating 1704 S. Morris Ave., Bloomington, 828-8931 Sudden Impact Paintball 7290 E. 550 North Rd., McLean, 874-3338 The Workout Co. 419 Kays Dr., Normal 454-2582 U.S. Cellular Coliseum 101 S. Madison St., Bloomington 434-2843 Upper Limits 1304 W. Washington St., Bloomington, 829-TALL (8255)

FOR MORE INFORMATION McLean County Chamber of Commerce 210 S. East St. Bloomington, IL 61701 Phone: 829-6344 Fax: 827-3940 Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau 3201 CIRA Drive Ste. 201 Bloomington, IL 61704 Phone: 665-0033 (800) 433-8226 www.bloomington

Sources: www.bloomington,,,

Janet’s Cakes and Catering Janet Kletz, Owner 504 GUIDO CIRCLE BLOOMINGTON, IL (309) 664-0684 TOLL-FREE: (866) 664-0614 HOURS: TUE.-SAT. 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.


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Images McLean County, IL: 2008-09  

Situated in central Illinois, McLean County is less than three hours from Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis. The county is anchored by Blo...

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