The town of Normal's Uptown Station. (WJBC file photo)
By Ryan Denham
Five Things You Should Know for Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012:
The Bloomington Liquor Commission doled out some harsh punishment Tuesday to Main Street Grill in downtown Bloomington for serving an underage person alcohol. But the liquor panel, led by Mayor Steve Stockton, didn't go as far as they could have for a repeat violator, opting not to repeal the business' liquor license entirely. For now, Main Street (formerly called Show-Me's) will see its liquor license suspended for six days over two consecutive weekends, pay a $3,500 fine, and close early and shut down outdoor music even earlier. Stockton said Main Street Grill has had more violations than any other license in the city. "The purpose of (Tuesday's punishment) was to basically make the establishment run more as a restaurant, and we know more of the restaurant operation-type things take place before midnight," Stockton said
Local health officials say that McLean County has now seen its first confirmed human case of West Nile Virus since 2007. The 73-year-old Bloomington man tested positive earlier this month after being hospitalized, and five birds have also tested positive for West Nile in McLean County so far. "This is actually a very high level of activity in the county," a health department spokeswoman said. Weather has been a contributing factor; the mild winter and drought conditions this summer made the mosquito-borne illness that much worse. Indeed, statewide there have been 1,230 human cases across 49 counties -- and three deaths.
It's been a month since temporary McLean County State's Attorney Ron Dozier announced publicly that his office -- at least for a short time -- would no longer pursue charges against people who violate some of Illinois' gun laws, including one prohibiting concealed carry. Dozier caused quite a stir with that announcement, as intended, and added new urgency to the debate over gun rights. Since Dozier is now planning to step down next week to make way for Jason Chambers, WEEK TV did a story Tuesday trying to gauge the practical effect of Dozier's announcement. They had the right idea -- it would be interesting to know whether the trajectory of any individual case was altered in the past few months as a result of this policy. WEEK didn't exactly execute well -- tough to do in a 1-minute, 45-second piece -- but it's great fodder for other media outlets to explore.
WMBD 31's Jacob Long reports on what's accurately described as a "wonderful problem" with the town of Normal's new Uptown Station. The $45 million station, which also houses town administrative offices such as council chambers and the mayor's office, opened in July. Now, City Manager Mark Peterson says the town is "slammed" with constant requests for tours and meetings, and its conference rooms are always booked, WMBD reports. The town may limit events after-hours or weekends. "I'm in the final stages of reviewing a new meeting room policy, which will still provide free access to the public for meetings, but there will be some limitations. We'll give first priority to other government agencies and not-for-profit organizations," Peterson said.
I wouldn't be a responsible part-time member of the news media if I didn't mention the NFL replacement referees debacle. I mention it today because I really enjoyed Bill Barnwell's piece on Grantland about it, because he managed to succintly summarize the exact sentiments we're all expressing in a much more roundabout way. "The easiest way to get people to stop watching is to make them think that the games they're watching are illegitimate and irrelevant. With the continued employment of replacement referees, that is the exact path the NFL's games are on," Barnwell writes. And I think he's right. I'm sure I'm not alone in noticing that on Facebook on Tuesday, I saw at least two friends post something about their intentions to stop watching non-Bears games. That's out of spite, not because the games still aren't fun, but the point remains.
Ryan Denham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.