Monthly Archives: April 2009

Water quality not an issue in Normal

I feel sorry for the residents of Crestwood who have been making coffee and kool aid and showering with polluted water for years while city leaders allegedly knew about it and did nothing.

Good for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for raiding city hall there and carting off records that might produce evidence of a crime.

There is nothing more basic or important than providing clean water.


Running a municipal water utility is a big job.    In Normal, there are 35 full time employees in the water department which has a $7 million budget.    We use about 1.6 billion gallons of treated water a year.  

And we expect it to be safe.

EPA imposes a lot of regulations on water departments.   One of them requires that the Town issue an annual report on water quality and distribute it to ratepayers.   Please take some time to read through the report.

The Town of Normal has excellent water.   The unhappy story out of Crestwood reminds us we can’t take our clean water for granted.


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Normal’s green approach to Uptown makes the paper in Portland

One of the names synonymous with Uptown Normal planning and redevelopment was an opening session speaker of the recent National League of Cities’ Green Cities Conference and Expo in Portland, Oregon.

Doug Farr’s comments at the conference about our work in Normal prompted the Portland Oregonian newspaper to editorialize on our efforts.

It’s nice to know the project continues to receive national attention.  It’s also interesting that some critics will go to any length to be heard.

Here’s a question, especially for any ISU student living in Watterson Towers with a car:

How much would you pay to park monthly in the Beaufort Street Parking Deck which will open this summer.   The current monthly rate at the College Avenue parking deck is $40 per month.

Watterson residents:  How much would you pay to park here?

Watterson residents: How much would you pay to park here?


Filed under Green, Uptown Normal

Chicago Tribune pokes fun at Normal contest, generates additional publicity

After a busy weekend (watching three soccer games, two baseball games, and a minor league baseball game), I literally passsed out  in my green chair Sunday night before I got a chance to pass along the story in the Chicago Tribune on our little contest we’ve got going down here.

Meanwhile, I haven’t changed my vote. 

As Harry Caray would say, "He had a cut!"  The Peoria Chiefs plied us with $5 tickets Saturday night under the guise of honoring the Parkside Junior High Cross Country team before the game.  Once in the ballpark, the Nielsen's spent at least another $40.  The rains came in the 7th inning.  Like most good minor league baseball fans, I can't recall who was winning at the time.

As Harry Caray would say, "He had a cut!" The Peoria Chiefs plied us with $5 tickets Saturday night under the guise of honoring the Parkside Junior High Cross Country team before the game. Once in the ballpark, the Nielsen's spent at least another $40. The rains came in the 7th inning. Like most good minor league baseball fans, I can't recall who was winning at the time.

I’m still solidly behind the CamelBacks.  Although, I helped my son vote for the CornBelters tonight.  He was torn between them and the Fellers.

I have to admit it’s a little disappointing that you go through all the rigamarole plugging in the code and filling out the application to vote and you don’t get to see your vote count.

I’ll live over it.

I was reminded how much fun we will have next year watching our team –whatever it’s named.   We attended Saturday night’s Peoria Chiefs game.   The team honored the state champion Parkside Junior High Cross-Country team and gave families discounted $5 tickets to the game.

Smart marketing move, because we spent a whole lot more in the seven innings before the rains came and the tarp covered the field.

During the process of attracting professional baseball to Normal, our ad-hoc committee learned that 62 percent of all fans who attend a minor league game can’t tell you who won.

They do end up entertained and a little lighter in the wallet.

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Just About Normal welcomes new baseball team name choices

I guess I’m not surprised by the fine print in the baseball team naming contest.   The owners’ decision is final.   

I’m glad they admitted it.    Credit the folks who questioned the integrity of the process for getting that fact out there.

If the owners like one of the names better than the one that wins the contest, they’ll choose it.  That’s an owner’s prerogative.  And I’ll go along with it as long as they reward one of the people who nominated the name that won the popular vote. 

That’s only fair.

When I voted this time, I filled out all of the information again but was disappointed not to see which team name was leading.   Probably a technical glitch.  I’ll give the webmaster the benefit of the doubt.

All that aside, I have a new favorite name.  The Normal CamelBacks.   The C-Backs. 

 "Let's go C-Backs!"  The Camelback bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is worthy of inspiring the nickname of the new Frontier League team that will begin play next year in a $12 million stadium on the Heartland Community College campus.

  • The Camelback bridge is one of Normal’s historic and best known landmarks on a busy stretch of the community’s favorite park — Constitution Trail. 
  • With its wooden planks, the bridge has a distinctive appearance and sound that takes us back to the days when the Illinois Central railroad cut through the heart of Bloomington-Normal.
  • The Camelback bridge is a source of community pride that spans portions of three centuries and multiple generations.
  • The Camelback bridge mounted its own comeback against those who wanted to replace it with a modern, non-descript (and probably safer) bridge.
  • It’s a survivor and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • The bridge is one of the most photographed structures in Normal.  
  • It screams Normal and that’s why its image serves as the header for this blog.

As a nominator of the CornBelters, I would be happy with that name for the reasons I outlined in a previous post.   Today, for some reason the Normal CamelBacks struck me as a better name.

Tomorrow, who knows?

I’m just happy the Cardinals beat the Cubs.


Filed under Baseball, Uncategorized

Normal Baseball owners make the right call to restart the voting

The first time I voted for the name I nominated — Normal CornBelters — it had six percent of the vote.   

The second time I voted, it had zero percent, a big fat goose egg.  frontier-league-logo

The third time wasn’t much of a charm.  Still zero percent for the CornBelters.

That’s why I was not surprised to find out that 800,000 votes had been cast.  You don’t have to be a corporate IT expert or a computer hacker to figure out that some computer whiz found a way to defeat the system and vote early and often.   It’s been done before.

This has been a somewhat disappointing exercise in democracy, but it is definitely creating water cooler talk.  I have discussed the baseball team with more non-fans in the past week than I had the previous several months.   So, whatever snafu caused the voting to spiral out of control might turn out to be a good thing.

Kudos to  the owners for deciding to use an ID code so a computer program can’t take over the voting again.   I really wish we’d get a chance to see the uniforms and complete marketing packages before we vote, but maybe that’s asking too much.

I really find the conspiracy theorist website to be hilarious.  The T-shirt is absolutely nutty.   I love the fact this is making national news on-line.   The offbeat sports blog Deadspin picked up the story.   What would we do without online communties?

I readily admit CornBelters might not be the most creative name in the world, but I wasn’t the only one that nominated it.   I also nominated the Normal Route 66’ers.   That wouldn’t be a very tough logo to design, and it would probably sell a lot of caps and shirts in Europe.

I like the Teachers and the Fellows, two submissions from readers of this blog.  I also thought the Underwriters or the Actuaries might be a nice tip of the cap to the local financial services industry.

I’m still not sold on the Nutz, the Nighthawks, or the Colberts.   I mean the Coal Bears.   Although, I will admit it’s kinda funny and a great publicity stunt.

Regardless of how this turns out, I will be a season ticket holder and be wearing the ballcap all over town.

And when the games begin, I suspect I’ll be screaming “Let’s go, Nutz!”


Filed under Baseball, Uncategorized

Where should they put the 2009 Sugar Creek Arts Festival?

It’s a committee with representatives from Uptown Normal Business Assocation, WGLT-FM, the Town of Normal, and McLean Arts Center that has the responsibility of deciding where exactly to hold the  Sugar Creek Arts Festival in Uptown Normal.

Earlier this year, the committee decided to hold the 26th annual festival on Beaufort Street and around Uptown Circle, July 11-12. 

A map on the McLean County Arts Center website shows the proposed map of the annual arts show.scaf-2009-map1    The proposed location shows that the stage near the front of the Marriott Hotel.

But a recent development could push the festival along North Street, west of Fell Avenue.

Evidently, the contractor on the Uptown street and underground utility project believes it will be completing the North Street portion and starting on Beaufort Street, east of Uptown Circle at the time of the festival.

I don’t know anyone who isn’t interested in seeing the road reconstruction, underground utility, and streetscape work move quickly.  So, that’s good news.

But where does it leave Sugar Creek?

It would appear to be almost completely out of Uptown.     Councilmembers are beginning to hear from a number of Sugar Creek Arts Festival goers who would like to see the show on the ISU Quad again.   The council might have an opinion, but it’s a decision that really in the hands of the festival organizers who include the Uptown Business community.

If the show is truly being pushed out of the planned 2009 site due to construction, the committee has a tough decision.

North Street?  The Quad?  

What location would you choose and why?

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Filed under Illinois State University, Uncategorized, Uptown Normal

Name that Team heads into the final days of voting

Nutz to the NightHawks!

Coal Bears?  Doesn’t he already have a NASA treadmill named after him?   Do we really want to feed his oversized ego?

And doesn’t a Coal Bear sound like its part of the Cub family?    And who really wants to be associated with the Cubs?   We do want this team to win a Frontier League title sometime in the next century, don’t we?   

 Naming our team the Coal Bears would be like giving them the shaft,  dooming them to losing seasons or even worse —  being swept every year in the first round of the playoffs.   

No, our beloved Normal team needs to be named after the ubiquitous crop that fattens livestock, sweetens beverages, and fuels our vehicles.

The Normal CornBelters.    There’s some rhythm there.  

With this name you’re saluting corn — a staple of the American diet — and a major part of what makes the local landscape so beautiful.    corn

The corn dogs, the hamburgers, and the nachos all contain corn.

The name has a double meaning.   Here in Normal we’re in the middle of the Corn Belt that stretches from Iowa through Illinois and into Indiana.

A belter is a good hitter.

Good hitters belting the ball around a ballpark located in the middle of the Corn Belt.    What a mental picture.

As the great Jack Buck would say: “That’s a winner!”

Name That Team: Vote Normal CornBelters.


Filed under Baseball