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Bloomington Considering Getting the Community Involved in Budget Plans

Bloomington is looking to get the community more involved in the process of creating budget plans. Priority-based budgeting gets the opinion of the community by using surveys and focus groups to look at the issues that matter most to local residents. City council is planning a budgeting exercise during the next few weeks that the public can voluntarily participate in.

Frightful Festivities in Central Illinois

By Michael Balzano, John Hummel, and Falynn Lannert

October 9, 2014

Students are being offered a series of spooky spectaculars as Central Illinois gears up for its Halloween festivities.

One local highlight is “The Halloween Hustle,” a concert at the Castle Theater, Bloomington, where various bands will cover some of their favorite artists.  Flaccid, a band of ISU students, will be covering Pink Floyd.

“We were throwing ideas around and we landed on Pink Floyd,” said guitarist Nolan Kelly. “It seemed like a band we all agreed on.”
Other bands performing at the Hustle are Herbert Wiser and Jaik Willis (covering Led Zeppelin) and Jack Dupp and the Empty Bottles (covering Tom Petty).

The show is open to all ages, but those under 21 will be restricted to the balcony and charged an additional $1 at the door. Tickets can be purchased for $12 on The Castle Theater’s website, or $15 at the door the night of the show.


Concerts provide a night full of fun, but for those who want more “trick” than “treat” haunted houses and corn mazes are the way to go. There are many options in the neighboring towns to fill your Halloween evening:

  • Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, Ill., plays host to a plethora of attractions for the whole family. One of these attractions is the Massacre Mansion haunted house. This indoor haunt is 8,000 square feet of frights.
  • The 4H Park Henry Street Horrors is a long-standing haunted house in Pontiac, Ill., that offers a discount for members of the armed forces, fire, police and EMTs.
  • Urban Warfare in Bloomington is providing a real life zombie experience.  Zombie’s Alive featuring Mindtrap Creations will feature a zombie hunt and a haunted house all through October.  A hunt and a haunt is only $20 and is not recommended for children under 7.
  • Spook Hollow in Marquette Heights is a good family alternative to the more horrifying haunted houses. “It’s a great event for all ages, so much to do and it starts at the beginning of October so you can pack more Halloween fun into your agenda,” Jeff Teuscher, local resident said. Teuscher often attends Spook Hollow with his family.
  • Tanners Orchard, a 45-minute drive from campus, offers more traditional fall activities such as corn mazes, apple picking and a farmers market.

Whether it’s going to “The Halloween Hustle” and seeing a local band or traveling to haunted houses, you can still get the full Halloween experience. Don’t be “afraid” to try new things!

Tickets to “The Halloween Hustle” can be purchased here.

For additional information on Three Sisters Park, Henry Street Horrors, Zombie’s Alive, Spook Hollow and Tanners Orchard, visit them on the web.

New Era to Begin for University Galleries


The new University Galleries in Uptown Normal (photo by Tracy Conoboy)

October 9, 2014

by Kelsy Brewer, Shaunda Brooks, and Tracy Conoboy

The University Galleries usher in a new era this month when the doors open on its Uptown Station studios. The opening reception will include the work of celebrated artist and art critic Walter Robinson.

The Galleries’ new location, 11 Uptown Circle, includes over 7,000 square feet of space for ISU Fine Arts students, faculty, alumni and community members to display their works.

“We’re a bridge between ISU and the town and our move to a dazzling new storefront space in the Uptown Station building holds exciting opportunities for both the University and the Bloomington-Normal community,” said University Galleries Director Barry Blinderman.

The Town of Normal and ISU agreed on the decision to move the galleries a year and a half ago and the renovation has taken a year to complete.

“I can’t wait to relocate at a site that is so accessible, so spacious, so full of light,” said Blinderman. “With street access, onsite parking, and expanded hours for concerts, performances, tours, and other town and University events, we will offer increased opportunities for students, civic engagement for the community, and a wide variety of art experiences for everyone.”

However, not everyone is pleased with the move.

“Being an Art major, I feel like there will be a sense of disconnect with the galleries moving technically ‘off campus’,” said ISU sophomore China Harris. “I feel like it was fine where it was and fewer students will visit since it’s not as close.”

But some foresee the advantages in building a more cohesive community between the Town of Normal and ISU.

“I honestly think it would broadcast students’ work to a larger audience,” said senior and Graphic Design major Robert Taylor. “There is always that defining line between ISU and the town and this is one step closer in creating more unity amongst the both.”

Ultimately, Blinderman believes that “everyone will gain immeasurably”.

“It’s a point of pride for all concerned, and it will provide such a creative opportunity for artists, musicians, and theatre people who will show or perform there.”

sm Walter Robinson cover image - Copy

courtesy of University Galleries

The reception for the Uptown Station premises will be held on October 17 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Walter Robinson is a regular contributor on contemporary art for the magazine Artspace, and last year staged a critically-acclaimed one man show at the Dorian Grey Gallery in New York City.

The University Galleries has been located in the Center for Visual Arts for the past 27 years. Organizers plan to renovate the current gallery in the Center for Visual Arts within the next few years.

For more information on the all new University Galleries and its Grand Opening, click here.

Running Star Rippel Back on Track for the Top

Redbird star Tyler Rippel is known for his success and perseverance on and off the track.

Now, after battling illness and a toxic tick bite, Rippel says he’s ready to bounce back.

“I believe that I will be able to reclaim my spot in conference,” said Rippel, who was named to the All-MVC squad in both indoor and outdoor season of his sophomore year. “I think I will surprise some people.”

Rippel has always enjoyed running. It wasn’t until his senior year of high school that he chose to compete in track. He had shown some potential, but was not a standout.

“Illinois State was the only Division I college who let me run here. Having only one year of experience on the track doesn’t make for an outstanding race or a decent time,” said Rippel, who is now in his Junior year at ISU.

Through Rippel’s freshman year, he saw improvement but not enough to reach the podium. After taking nearly four seconds off his best high school time, Rippel was diagnosed with mononucleosis (mono). The sickness took him out for a couple months but by the time he got back into shape, the season was over.

Sophomore year ignited the fire in Rippel’s belly. He was determined to improve and make a name for himself and he did so when indoor conference came around.

Rippel earned a top-three finish at the MVC conference meet, earning All-MVC honors. A small victory to some, but to Rippel it meant the world.

“It was so meaningful to me because it was the first time I was being recognized for track,” said Rippel.”

The outdoor season came around and Rippel was prepared to top his indoor performance. Rippel placed second to his teammate CJ Hamilton.

“No one expected me to be all-conference, and that’s what fueled me through this entire year,” said Rippel.

Though Rippel saw success his sophomore season, tragedy struck at the end of the summer.

While doing fieldwork for his major, a tick bit Rippel and a nearly fatal disease landed him in the hospital for two weeks.

“I really struggled,” said Rippel. “It was so difficult to keep both my weight and my health up.”

Due to continuous physical complications, Rippel made the decision to “redshirt”, which meant not playing for an entire season.

“I knew it was what I had to do in order to get healthy and be able to compete again,” he said.

Now healthy and stronger than ever, Rippel is ready to make a mark this season.

“My goals are to keep dropping time, and get points for my team,” he said. “Redshirting this past season helped me get stronger, and I hope to continue the success I had my sophomore year.”

Rippel’s teammates have been taking notice of his enthusiastic return.

“He’s crazy talented,” said Freshman Ryan Kennedy. “He’s really a great leader. He leads our workouts and is the only upperclassmen who got to know me.”

Although his track career is becoming more of a marathon than a sprint, Ripple knows exactly what he wants to accomplish, despite having an extra year of schooling.

“I’m graduating next year, so that gives me two years to accomplish my goals,” said Rippel. “I couldn’t be more excited for what’s yet to come.”

SMACC takes COM classes to a new level

The new SMACC center is located on the second floor of Fell Hall in room 275A.

The new SMACC center is located on the second floor of Fell Hall in room 275A.


Ryann Hoffenberg, Holly Petrovich, Maggie Ziemann

If you ever wished you could surf social media sites for homework, you are in luck.

Illinois State University has begun incorporating its new Social Media Analytics Command Center (SMACC) into course work, allowing students to track and analyze social media as a part of their class curriculum.

“We will be looking at social dynamics in social media on two levels,” Assistant Director of Convergent Media and SMACC creator Nathan Carpenter said. “One is the large scale social, or macro level, and that includes a lot of analysis of politics, economics and culture.

“Then we are looking at it on the micro level or the interpersonal, impersonal and hyper personal levels – and so we can see all of those play out.”

The SMACC, a 600-square foot room in Fell Hall is lined with monitors, which are each connected to different news sources, including outlets found on ISU’s campus. The SMACC also features touch screens powered by a real-time social interactive program called Nuvi, and is used to track keywords throughout the web including hash tags on Twitter, Facebook posts and keywords. Nuvi allows for real-time visualization and shows users who are talking, what they are saying and where the conversation is happening.

In order to keep their students up to date with the changing demands of their field, School of Communication professors are taking advantage of this new technology and applying it to their class curriculum.

Carpenter has taught COM 318 Social Dynamics of Communication Technologies in previous semesters, but this year decided to adapt the course to the new command center and wanted to find a way to bring students into the SMACC.

“While building the SMACC I definitely had my COM 318 course in the back of mind the entire time wondering what could I bring [students] in for and what would be valuable,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter explained that the SMACC was designed to create a mutual development between the center and existing courses. He stressed that everyone is doing some development with social media somewhere down the line and the space provides a chance for students to get a real-time, hands-on experience with what they are studying.

T’Keya Hicks, a student in Carpenter’s 318 class, is excited to use the SMACC for researching, tracking and analyzing a social movement, just one of many projects Carpenter has planned for his class.

“I think the SMACC will enhance my understanding of the course simply because my course is about social dynamics,” Hicks said. “It can help me better understand and analyze different trends, subjects and even people.”

Hicks’ class is not the only one that has the opportunity to use the SMACC. Other teachers are using the SMACC for their major coursework including, Hunt, Lance Lippert and Rebecca Hayes.

Megan Hopper, who teaches several communication courses at ISU, plans to incorporate the SMACC into one of her students’ final project.  The project will employ SMACC technology to create a new community news outlet, using information from public opinion polls. Hopper also plans to adapt her future courses, including a new Convergence Theory course she will pioneer in the spring.

“I would like to use the SMACC in my future classes or for future projects, but first I want to see what my current class picks up on and is interested in when we take our field trip there and then base my use of the center on that,” Hopper said.