McLean County OKs election money; delays gravel pit permit

Rich Buchanan
McLean County Board member Rich Buchanan said college students are largely to blame for long lines at ISU on election day in March. (Photo courtesy

By Eric Stock

BLOOMINGTON – It was a unanimous vote as the McLean County Board approved more money to ease congestion on election day, specifically on the Illinois State University campus, but some board members weren’t happy about it.

Board member Rich Buchanan said the county wouldn’t have to shell out an additional $216,000 for more and better-paid election judges, more early voting sites and ballots if students didn’t wait until the last minute when they voted in the March primary.

“They need to get off their butts and get out there to about 20 different locations and get registered,” Buchanan declared.

Board member Erik Rankin, a professor at ISU, said this was the opposite of students apathy. This was the result of students voting in record numbers.

“We are asking for this (money) because the turnout of students basically broke the election system in (precincts) 8 and 30,” Rankin said.

Board member Laurie Wollrab said it’s a learning process for students.

“I think we need to give them a little leeway, in maybe not knowing exactly what to do, or maybe never having done it before,” Wollrab said. “Maybe their parents don’t even know how to do it under the new system.”

The primary in March was the first election in Illinois which allowed same-day registration.

County Clerk Kathy Michael had presented the request to the county for more funding after students aired their concerns at several committee meetings. She said the money will be used to ease voting all over the county, but she says there was just the one problem spot.

“We didn’t have any problems in the entire rest of the county, (but) that doesn’t mean we won’t have glitches down the road,” Michael said.

Gravel pit

The County Board voted 12-6 to send a request for a special use permit for construction of a new gravel pit back to the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

Odle Family Management Group is looking to build a sand and gravel mining operation in Funks Grove Township.

Board member Jim Soeldner requested the delay so the ZBA could study examine reclamation efforts once the gravel pit has been fully mined.

“After reading some of the testimony they are concerned some of those gavel pits aren’t being taken care of after they have closed,” Soeldner said.

The County Board also asked ZBA to assess the company’s plans to help repair roads that could be damaged by the trucks that will be frequently traveling the road to and from the gravel pit.

The special use permit was initially approved on the consent agenda. Soeldner later asked County Board chairman John McIntyre for a motion to reconsider the vote.


McIntyre announced a vacancy in District 19 caused by Benjamin Owens’ resignation. Applications can be turned into the County Administrator’s office by noon on Aug. 4. All eligible candidates will be interviewed by the County Board Executive Committee on Aug. 9. McIntyre plans to present a nominee for the County Board to consider at its Aug. 16 meeting.

Eric Stock can be reached at [email protected].


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