Three things to watch for this week in the Illinois Valley:
1. ADM flour mill on Wednesday will host a grand opening at its new Mendota facility.
What: The mill is a $150 million investment that began more than two years ago. The company already owned a rail loop on the east side of Interstate 39 and south of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad.
Why: ADM officials said the mill will meet the growing demand for flour in the Midwest.
Why it’s important to you: Jobs. This major investment could translate into more than 100 new jobs and be a boost for the agriculture industry. It also is a testament to the city, chamber and others that did a stellar job in helping to attract such a project to our area.
2. We are asking you to join in the “madness.” The annual Mad Hatter Ball takes place Friday at Celebrations 150. It’s for a great cause.
What: The event features food, fun, a Mad Hatter and the crowning of a queen. More importantly, it showcases the work of young artists. This year’s honorees include: Emma Anderson, piano, and Reid Rynke, vocalist, La Salle-Peru Township High School; Erin Daniel, vocalist, and Alaina Gallion, dance, Ottawa Township High School; Victor Heredia, piano, and Mia Mautino, visual art, Hall High School; and Teaghan Tillman, visual art, Mendota High School. Tickets are $35 each and are available at the door or in advance at www.nciartworks.com or (815) 228-8204.
Why: This ball benefits ARTwork’s programs and activities. NCI ARTworks assist artists of all ages.
Why it’s important to you: Last year, the Illinois Arts Indicator Work Group proposed that arts education should constitute 5 percent of a school’s total state rating. Locally, schools are doing their part to achieve this ranking and better. It’s impressive to see this year’s honorees hail from several disciplines, including music, dance or visual arts.
3. L-P’s iconic Howard Fellows Stadium is scheduled to be resurfaced with turf. That won’t happen this week but a fund drive is under way to pay for the project.
What: The school board in July approved new turf contingent on raising a minimum of half the cost — $450,000 — through donations by May 31, 2020.
Why: The current Howard Fellows surface has been deemed unsafe. This would be the school’s first since football field renovation since the mid-1990s.
Why it’s important to you: The board has opted to pay for the new field through donations. Unlike other major L-P renovations, this won’t come out of taxpayers’ pockets. That’s good news for taxpayers who are shouldering much of the cost of L-P’s recent multi-million dollar building renovation.