BLOOMINGTON — The Bloomington City Council gained a new member Monday with appointment of Grant Walch to serve as Ward 1 alderman.
“It was a strong pool which for me signaled a wide interest for this government. I think that’s a very healthy thing,” said Alderman Tom Crumpler, Ward 6. “I think he has a genuine interest in improving the quality of life in our community and I support his nomination for Ward 1.”
Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe nominated Walch, who had no prior experience on a government board.
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According to his application, Walch has lived in Bloomington for 21 years, has worked in information technology for over 25 years and now is a technical support engineer for FIS Global, an IT services and consulting firm based in Jacksonville, Fla.
The vacancy was created by the resignation of Jamie Mathy who announced in March he would step down from the council because of a business conflict. Mathy also served as mayor per tem.
Walch is one of seven residents considered for the seat.
“During our conversations it became increasingly clear that Grant is an individual who is forthright and also thoughtful,” Mwilambwe said. “I believe he will make a wonderful colleague for council members because we know there’s differences of views on the council.”
The motion was approved by a 6-2 vote with council members Julie Emig, Ward 4, and Jeff Crabill, Ward 8, voting against Walch’s appointment, saying he does not match the policy positions previously held by Mathy.
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Emig said she commends Walch for putting himself forward for the role but did not support his appointment because she contends other candidates were more aligned with the former alderman.
“Jamie was just elected last year and he has been elected on prior occasion so we can have some competence that Jamie represented the needs and views of Ward 1 constituents,” Crabill said. “I believe this is a selection made to intentionally move the council in a more conservative direction.”
In other business, two separate public hearings dealt with the 2022 Community Development Block Grant Annual Action Plan and an annexation agreement with Sale Barn Properties LLC for land located north of West Hamilton Road and west of South Main Street, across the street from the Huck’s gas station.
Along with the annexation of the land, the council unanimously approved an ordinance for a site plan and variance for a “sports and fitness establishment” that will include the development of eight soccer fields on the land for Prairie Cities Soccer League and FC Central Illinois.
“We’re pretty excited because we think that it’s gonna bring more traffic to Bloomington-Normal on a lower scale in that area, which should be positive,” said Jeremy Kelley, secretary of the Prairie Cities Soccer League and FC Central Illinois Executive Board . “We want to be good community neighbors and allow people to come in and use the facility, whether that’s an IHSA event, a one-off or a lacrosse game. It’ll all depend on size and availability.”
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Both teams have been practicing and hosting matches at their current community fields at 3808 Ireland Grove Road, near the Central Illinois Regional Airport, but their lease with CIRA is ending because of the proximity of the field to the airport’s runways, Kelley said.
Kelley said the area will include two turf-based fields and two grass fields that will be lit and four other training fields. There are also plans to construct a concession stand and bathroom in a later phase of the project as well as connecting to the city’s sewer system.
“This is potentially in my ward and I’m very happy,” said Alderwoman Donna Boelen, Ward 2.
In other business, the council also amended city code to create the Arts and Entertainment Department and include the position of director while returning the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department to the Parks and Recreation Department.
Photos: Vibrant colors at Bloomington Kiwanis Mother’s Day Flower Sale
MOTHER’S DAY FLOWER SALE
Volunteer Bob Freitag loads hanging flower baskets into cars of customers patronizing the Bloomington Kiwanis Mother’s Day Flower Sale on Thursday at the Shoppes at College Hills in Normal. The sale continues from 9 am to 7 pm Friday and 9 am to 2 pm Saturday.
From adjudication to vegetation
Retired 11th Circuit Judge Don Bernadi hauls a tray of flowers into Mary Ann Pullin’s car while volunteering for the Bloomington Kiwanis Mother’s Day Flower Sale on Thursday at The Shoppes at College Hills in Normal.
Pink impatiens soak in limited sunrays on a cloudy, wet Thursday. Illinois Extension Master Gardeners are on site at the sale to help shoppers select plants provided by Wendell Niepagen Greenhouses.
Bringing back begonias
Bloomington’s Nora Vogelsang picks a pot of orange begonias while shopping at the Bloomington Kiwanis Mother’s Day Flower Sale on Thursday at The Shoppes at College Hills in Normal.
A colorful arrangement
An assortment of flowers, succulents and other garden embellishments await new homes. The annual plant sale raises funds for Camp Limberlost at Timber Pointe on Lake Bloomington.
Jacque Bethmann, of Normal, inspects a shade-friendly coleus plant tabled Thursday at the Bloomington Kiwanis Mother’s Day Flower Sale held in Normal.
Yellow marigolds brightened up the atmosphere inside the vendor tent for the Bloomington Kiwanis Mother’s Day Flower Sale on Thursday in Normal.
Succulent gardens like these were sold Thursday at the Bloomington Kiwanis Mother’s Day Flower Sale in Normal.
Carol White, of Bloomington, prepares to check out with her finds.
A table is brimming with blooming alyssum flowers on Thursday at the Bloomington Kiwanis Mother’s Day Flower Sale held in Normal.
Red shades on this geranium bulb pop Thursday at a Mother’s Day flower sale held by the Bloomington Kiwanis club in Normal.
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