Celebrating 20 Years!

Celebrating 20 Years!

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University (OLLI) is a group of more than 1,000 individuals, age 50 and over, who learn together through three distinct programs: OLLI Classes, OLLI Learning Trips, and OLLI Study Groups.

Here, members can discuss what they learned, what they enjoyed, and offer suggestions to enhance future program offerings.

Take a look at the photos we're taking, and the discussions we're having as OLLI members.

Whether we're in class, in town, or out of town ... we're on the go, having fun, and constantly learning.

We look forward to reading your comments!

While you're online, be sure to visit our website www.bradley.edu/continue/olli to register for our programs.

Don't forget -- OLLI has its own YouTube Channel, where you can see video clips of Learning Trips, Classes, and Study Groups!

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Philharmonic Chorale- Sunday, December 6, 2014

OLLI gets in the holiday spirit with a tradition that has taken place in Peoria for 90 years.

OLLI attended Sunday afternoon’s performance of Christmas with the Philharmonic Chorale held at the Performing Arts Center at Illinois Central College. The Philharmonic Chorale welcomed singers from all over Central Illinois, and there were close to 50 performers present for this holiday production. The Philharmonic Chorale is led by J. Michael Morris who entered his twelfth year as director.

The music for the performance ranged in repertoire with selections such as, Three Nativity Carols, In the Bleak Midwinter, and Love Came Down at Christmas. It can often be said that music is such an integral part of the Holiday season; and OLLI members could be found singing themselves, as a number of selections asked for audience participation. A number of the selections also included instrumentation from a variety of professional guest artists which added another musical layer to the performance.

OLLI’s own Dottie Strickler, Philharmonic Chorale Executive Board Member, sang with the choir. Dottie also spoke with OLLI members regarding the various nuisances of organizing a musical production for the Philharmonic Chorale. Peoria is very fortunate to have volunteer groups that work hard each year to bring quality musical performances to the community. Towards the end of the concert the chorale led the audience with the holiday classic Joy to the World. It was truly fascinating to hear so many voices coming together to express the meaning of the holiday season through the beauty of music.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Toraason Glass # 2- Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Once again, Hiram Torrason showed OLLI a great example of how art is truly alive in Peoria, IL. Toraason Glass has been a popular Learning Trip site over the years, and this was our second trip this year alone. Hiram led a tour of his gallery and demonstrated the techniques of working with 2,000-degree molten glass to create a one-of-a-kind work of art.

In addition to working with the glass, Hiram also discussed the development of the arts scene in Peoria, and why central Illinois became the home for his glass blowing business. One area that Hiram expanded upon was the First Friday event that takes place once a month throughout Peoria. First Friday is an event in which a variety of artists can display their work for the public. Peoria is very fortunate to have unique talents such as Hiram who truly enrich the arts scene within our community.

OLLI would like to thank Hiram for another great tour. We always enjoy his enthusiasm.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Champaign- Thursday, November 20, 2014

It is not uncommon for Peoria area residents to visit the city of Champaign; however OLLI spent the day in Champaign County and discovered the hidden gems that many people may not realize exist. OLLI members were able to start off the morning with a visit to the Columbia Street Roastery. The Roastery is a popular coffee stop in Champaign, and OLLI members were able to learn about how coffee evolves from the field to the cup. The Columbia Street Roastery is a three generation family owned business that is committed to “push the concept of what it means to be a good community member through our whole bean coffee and loose leaf tea.”

The next stop on the Champaign County Learning Trip was Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch. OLLI members enjoyed brisket, beans, and coleslaw for lunch, complete with entertainment provided by a string banjo trio. Following lunch it was time to visit with the reindeers on the ranch. OLLI members found that the reindeers were extremely friendly and excited for visitors to give them a little attention.

Finally, the day concluded with a traditional tea ceremony at the Japan House. The tea ceremony was introduced over 500 years ago as a peaceful welcoming often performed in the home. Anyone taking part in the tea ceremony was required to be silent during its duration. OLLI members found that the tea was extremely soothing, and the ceremony served as a relaxing end to the busy day in Champaign County.

Atlanta- Tuesday, November 18, 2014

OLLI members "Got their kicks on Route 66", and discovered many unique treasures in Atlanta, IL. The day began with a tour of the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator which was built in 1904. OLLI members learned that the grain elevator in Atlanta is the only fully restored grain elevators that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was very evident on this Learning Trip that many community members are dedicated to preserving the history of the small community.

The next stop on the Atlanta tour was the Atlanta Public Library and Museum. OLLI members quickly fell in love with the quaint library space that is uniquely octagonal in its design. The library houses many community activities including lifelong learning style lectures and book clubs. The museum is located just across the library and holds a fascinating collection of antiques and memorabilia that celebrate Atlanta’s rich history. One section of the museum contains old records, pictures, and memorabilia from the old Atlanta school district.

Finally the day concluded with a visit to the Robert Glenn Wertheim Candy Company. OLLI members not only learned about how the candy company got its start here in Atlanta, but they were able to actually dip chocolate and pull peanut brittle. The Wertheim Candy Company is a three generation family owned business. OLLI members left the candy company with a smile on their faces, especially since they were able to take home their homemade creations.

OLLI would like to thank the community of Atlanta for welcoming us on a very informative and fun-filled Learning Trip.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Komatsu- Wednesday, November 19, 2014

OLLI visited Komatsu in Peoria on Wednesday, November 19. Komatsu established in 1921, is a diversified provider of industrial-use products and services. While remaining an international leader in the field of construction and mining equipment, the Company also participates in industrial machinery and vehicles, logistics, electronics and other solutions-based operations.

OLLI members were given a tour of the Komatsu facility, and learned that the company only uses welders who have had 3 or more years of experience. During the tour, many of the truck frames were on display in the variety of development stages. One frame weighs between 30,000-40,000 pounds. OLLI members were pleased to learn that Komatsu takes safety and procedure very seriously. There were a number of safety check sites and signs around the building to ensure employees are protected on site.

Towards the end of our trip, OLLI members were able to talk with a Komatsu engineer about autonomous machinery. Instead of using a human to work with the equipment, autonomous machinery is powered by a computer. It is clear that Komatsu is advancing technology and moving towards the future of building quality industrial machinery and mining equipment. OLLI wants to thank Komatsu for a wonderful opportunity to learn more about their operations.

To learn more about Komatsu click here.

Yinlun Machinery- Monday, November 17, 2014

It may not be a well-known fact, but Morton, IL is home to one of the 16 sites of the Chinese company Yinlun Machinery. Yinlun is the top manufacturer of heat-exchanger products in China, and customers include CAT, GM, Volovo, Ford, and John Deere. OLLI members visited the Morton facility and learned quickly about how much the company has grown over the years.

OLLI members learned that Yinlun stands for silver wheels, and the company has surely evolved over the past few decades. In the seventies, Yinlun used silver in the manufacture of engine coolers which was replaced by copper a decade later. To learn more how the company has grown, OLLI members were able to take a tour of the 50,000-square-foot facility lead by Joe Ding, Vice President of Engineering.

Yinlun has 3327 employees throughout China and Europe, however Morton is the only facility in the United States. Yinlun also proudly holds 148 patents, and reported sales of $305 million in 2013. The Morton community clearly benefits from the emergence of the Yinlun site in the United States. We would like to thank Yinlun Machinery for welcoming us on a very informative tour.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Proof- Thursday, November 13, 2014

OLLI members see Proof that the Bradley Theatre Department is at the top of their game for our most recent theatrical outing. Over 40 members attended the fall production of the play Proof, performed at the Hartmann Center for the Performing Arts at Bradley University. Proof is a Tony-Awarding winning play, and was made into a feature film starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. The show deals with a variety of heavy themes, and prior to the performance, OLLI members were fortunate to expand on these themes through a lecture given by Jim Ludwig, Professor Emeritus of Theatre.

The evening began as OLLI members learned about the history of the Hartmann Center. It is hard to imagine now, but at one time the building was utilized as an athletic facility - and it even had a pool. Today the Hartmann Center is the playground for actors, directors, and designers to build upon technique and develop a strong skill-set within the performing arts. It houses numerous productions throughout the year, including a musical which is always performed in September.

Proof beautifully provokes thought into how we deal with mental illness. The main character in the play has spent a good portion of her early adulthood caring for her father who has a debilitating mental disorder. The actors approached each character thoughtfully and earnestly. The audience seemed to be brought into a world where mental illness and the struggles associated were faced head-on. The discussion points in Professor Ludwig’s presentation rang true throughout the production, and gave OLLI members a framework as they watched the story unfold.

OLLI would like to thank Professor Ludwig and the entire Bradley Theatre Department for a wonderful evening of quality theatre and discussion.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Peoria Journal Star- Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On November 11, OLLI members had the opportunity to take a Learning Trip to the Peoria Journal Star. Tour guides for the day were Rae Anne Hamp and Bernie Drake, our own OLLI President. The building, equipment, and staff have changed quite a bit over the years, but the Peoria Journal Star's dedication to bring quality news to the Peoria area has remained the same.

OLLI members were also able to talk with Phil Jordan, Marketing Manager. Phil said that the local newspaper is in good financial shape, and described the huge impact its readership actually has on the community. Despite the fact that a lot of people are concerned with the future of the newspaper business, he said, more people are reading the Journal Star today then 20 years ago. Many readers, however, are now using their phones and other electronic devices to catch articles online. As a result, the Peoria Journal Star is adjusting some of their marketing and advertising efforts.

Our guides directed us through the print shop to show the computer control room, ink and paper storage, and of course the 4-story press! At the end of the day, members took a peek into the newsroom and offices, and spoke with an editor about the process of a story getting published. The tour ended with a discussion led by Mike Bailey and Dennis Anderson regarding their perspectives on the news business and the future of print journalism.

OLLI would like to thank the Peoria Journal Star and their amazing staff!

Nauvoo- Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A strip of chain restaurants is often displayed in towns with a high volume of tourism and activity. However, you won’t find the “golden arches” in Nauvoo, IL because as the saying goes, “Unchain yourself in Nauvoo.” If you look at all of the unique shops and places to eat in town, none of them are commercial chain stores. The food in Nauvoo is homemade, and the sites celebrate the rich history of a community that is closely tied to the Latter-Day Saints. Nauvoo was the site for our most recent Learning Trip, and OLLI members learned that “Nauvoo truly has something for you.”

The day started with a stop at the Nauvoo Visitor’s Center. OLLI members were able to learn how the town was established as a place of peace and beauty on a great bend in the Mississippi. A short film that was actually shot in Nauvoo was shown to provide an overview of the historic community. At the Visitor’s Center, OLLI members were also able to tour the Monument to Women Garden; the garden is dedicated to pioneer women and the role of womanhood.

Ron Yockey served as the step-on guide for the day, and held a wealth of knowledge regarding the history of Nauvoo. Throughout the day, Ron would tell stories behind the historic buildings that lined the streets. One site that was of particular interest was the Nauvoo temple. OLLI members learned that the temple is not used for Sunday church services, but rather as a holy place dedicated to the highest forms of worship. The trip concluded with a visit to the Joseph Smith Historic Site, which houses the Reorganized Church.

It is safe to say that OLLI members could spend days in Nauvoo learning about the rich history of the community and visiting the variety of sites. It is also quite true that the homemade food in Nauvoo is worth the trip alone. The weather was chilly, but that did not stop OLLI members from taking advantage of touring the historic sites.

OLLI would like to thank Ron Yockey for leading a wonderfully informative tour.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fall Wrap-up and Registration- 2014

Can you believe 2014 Fall Classes are behind us, and Winter Classes are just on the horizon? We concluded our Winter Classes with a Wrap-Up session during which OLLI members could share their experiences. OLLI is an organization led by amazing volunteers, and our Fall Wrap-Up was another great example of this tradition.

On Wednesday, October 29, over 50 OLLI members gathered in the Michel Student Center Ballroom to give feedback for Fall Classes. Our Continuing Education staff was thrilled to see so many first-time class members at the Fall Wrap-Up. During the event, OLLI members partnered to review the Fall Class evaluations, and presented an overview for every class that was offered. It is always rewarding to see OLLI members working together to ensure classes maintain quality and meet the needs of our members.

Following the Wrap-Up, the Winter Brochures were distributed to everyone in attendance. Just as Fall Classes came to a close, members were eager to register for Classes, Learning Trips, Study Groups, Lectures, and Cinema events. Once again the OLLI staff was thrilled to see so many members who were eager to participate in programming this winter.

We would like to thank everyone for participating in Fall Wrap-Up and Registration. OLLI at Bradley truly values the opinions and suggestions of our OLLI volunteers who help make lifelong learning such a meaningful and enjoyable experience.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Gangster Tour- Wednesday, October 5, 2014

OLLI members were on the run as they toured historic gangster sites in downtown Chicago during our most recent Learning Trip.

The charter bus was nearly full, and OLLI members were eager to hit the road even before the sun had risen. As the bus approached downtown Chicago, we noticed a male figure standing on the street wearing pin-striped pants with suspenders, a long black coat, and a black fedora appearing to be from the late 20’s era. Most drivers may have found find this image alarming at 10:00 a.m. in downtown Chicago, but for OLLI, this man was none other than “Johnny Three Knives,” our step-on-guide for the Gangster Tour.

“Johnny Three Knives” he had the gangster character and Chicago accent perfected. He directed our driver to a variety of gangster hot-spots of the 20’s and 30’s. OLLI members were able to learn how Al Capone illegally built his fortune and mapped out his success in Chicago. Many of the sites where Capone and other gangsters housed their speakeasies were still standing today, and “Johnny Three Knives” clearly pointed these out for our OLLI members to see.

The day concluded with a trip to Tommy Gun’s Garage for a gangster-inspired performance and dinner. The OLLI women were throwing boas around their necks, and the men were holding large tommy guns to pose for pictures in front of the stage. Many of our OLLI members even joined the cast as they were dragged onto the stage. The show also featured popular songs from gangster musicals such as “Chicago” and “Guys and Dolls", and the energy was non-stop. It was a joy to see our OLLI members were not only learning about the gangster era in Chicago, but having such a great time as well.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Toraason Glass- Monday, November 3, 2014

OLLI returned to Toraason Glass Studio which has become a Learning Trip favorite over the years.

Owner Hiram Toraason welcomed OLLI members to his studio, and provided a glass blowing demonstration using a variety of tools and techniques. Toraason first discussed the origins of glass blowing, then talked about the art form in detail. OLLI members were able to ask questions regarding the technique of glass blowing throughout the demonstration. Hiram also had an assistant on hand to show how partnering in glass blowing can enhance productivity and technique.

The trip participants also enjoyed taking a tour of Hirams's 4,000-square-foot studio and gallery which features his unique works of art. Following the tour, Hiram briefly discussed the artwork that he has created for Caterpillar Inc. and for a newly renovated downtown nightspot. OLLI members not only enjoy learning about the art of glass blowing at the Toraason Glass Studio, but Hiram makes the visit extremely entertaining as well.

OLLI would like to thank Hiram Toraason for leading another wonderful tour.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nice Work If You Can Get It- Wednesday, October 29

Energy was through the roof as OLLI members attended the Peoria Civic Center’s Broadway Series performance of Nice Work if You Can Get It.

The evening began with dinner and a discussion at Jim’s Steak House in downtown Peoria. Janet Lange, Continuing Education Executive Director, welcomed OLLI members as they entered the newly renovated Renaissance Room on the third floor of the Janssen building downtown. To start the evening, Bryan Blanks, the new Program Coordinator for Continuing Education, gave a brief overview of his directorial and performance experiences throughout the Peoria area.

Following dinner, OLLI member and Professor Emeritus of Theatre Jim Ludwig gave a wonderful presentation that was both insightful and entertaining. Jim included an overview of Aristotle’s Poetics and explained why musical theatre is an art from that is designed to be shared. Jim also explained how Nice Work If You Can Get It Is categorized as a Jukebox musical, which means the dialogue and plot were designed as a result of a collection of songs. In this particular show, the plot has been formed around the music of George and Ira Gershwin.

Once the show got started, the energy of the cast was contagious. OLLI members were tapping their feet and singing along to the Gershwin hits. The leading cast members were what can be described as triple threats, meaning every actor was strong in the three categories of dancing, acting, and singing. The evening was a success, and it was great to see the smiles on OLLI member’s faces as they left the building. The Learning Trip was proof that musical theatre can provide audience with a feel-good experience!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Caterpillar Global Research and Development- Tuesday, October 28, 2014

OLLI members headed to Mossville for a tour of the Caterpillar Global Research and Development Headquarters.

Caterpillar's Tech. Center was the site for the most recent Fall Learning Trip. The CAT Tech Center employs over 2,000 people, and spends $8 million per day on research and development. The tech site houses Caterpillar's testing, simulation, and validation work that ensures its equipment delivers value. OLLI members first learned about the CAT safety procedures and practices before taking a guided-tour of the facility.

OLLI members were able to see Cat employees at work, and how they help keep Caterpillar up-to-date on regulations, product certifications, and industry standards. Tour guides were on hand to provide detailed information about the research and development work that takes place at the Mossville facility. Technology has surely caused the process of testing and equipment validation to evolve over the years, but one thing that hasn't changed is Caterpillar's dedication towards making quality equipment that delivers value over its entire life cycle.

OLLI would like to thank Caterpillar for once again inviting OLLI to one of their wonderful area facilities.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Menold Construction - Monday, October 27

On October 27, OLLI visited Menold Construction, a local business that has helped homeowners restore and reconstruct homes since 1977.

Menold Construction not only holds technical quality to a high standard, but costumer service is at the core of values for the Morton business. Menold Construction has close to 40 years of experience in helping community members restore or reconstruct their homes after property damage or complete loss. Menold provides full-service construction solutions for homes that have met damage due to water, floods, fires, smoke, storms, winds, or harmful molds.

Steven Driscoll, Vice President- Business Development, gave OLLI a tour of the Menold Construction facility. OLLI members were also able to ask questions about the reconstruction and restoration work that Menold performs. One OLLI member had used Menold's services 17 years ago after a fire destroyed her home, and she had nothing but positive things to say about the quality of the work. Everyone seemed to be surprised that 17 years later, the Vice President of the company still remembered working with this OLLI member.

Menold construction was also instrumental in working with victims of the Washington tornado. On the day of the tornado, Menold Construction received hundreds of phone calls, and worked diligently to get out into the Washington community as soon as they could. Steven Driscoll, stressed that homeowners often state, "it will never happen to me," but after incidents like the Washington tornado, it proves that is extremely vital for homeowners to have quality insurance coverage.

OLLI would like to thank Steven Driscoll and the entire staff at Menold Construction for welcoming OLLI on this wonderful Learning Trip.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Peoria County E.M.A.- Friday, October 24

OLLI was on the alert for the most recent Learning Trip to the Peoria County Emergency Management Agency.

Trip participants were able to visit the Peoria County Emergency Management Agency to observe first-hand where the agency operations are housed. John Hamann, interim director, lead OLLI on a tour of the agency's facilities. John gave us historical information about the emergency management system and discussed the future of the E.M.A.

Built originally as a 1965, the Peoria County EMA is actually located in an underground bunker. OLLI members were able to go into the bunker that was originally designed in 1965 in preparation for a nuclear attack. OLLI members were surprised to see a lot of original 1965 equipment that was in the bunker, including morse code equipment.

You would have no idea that underneath the dirt and grass, entire agency operations are taking place. It was fascinating learning about the many facets behind the Peoria Co. EMA, and just how much goes into preparing for emergency situations. The EMA is equipped with monitors, radio systems, and communications that allow staff to dispatch emergencies readily and efficiently.

OLLI would like to thank John for hosting OLLI on this wonderfully informative Learning Trip.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Industry in El Paso - Monday, October 20

Industry in El Paso was the focus of the most recent OLLI Learning Trip.

El Paso, located approximately 30 miles east of Peoria, is a small town in Woodford County that is home to a number of industrial employers. Our first stop was American Buildings, one of the largest and most experienced manufacturers of custom engineered steel building systems. OLLI members were fitted with hard hats and safety glasses, then spent time touring the factory. The expert guides at American Buildings showed OLLI members why American is an industry leader in design flexibility, quality, and value.

At the next stop, just a mile down the road, OLLI went behind-the-scenes at the DuPont plant. DuPont helps farmers improve productivity and sustainability of their crops with weed and insect control. OLLI learned that all of their crop protection is now dry, versus the liquid formulas used previously. This has had quite an impact on manufacturing, packaging, and shipping for DuPont. DuPont also described their safety policy that has proven its efficiency over the years.

OLLI thanks both of our wonderful hosts for giving us insights into the industries in El Paso.

Homeway Homes - Thursday, October 23

OLLI members returned to Goodfield for the second time in a month for another Homeway Homes tour!

Brian Schieler, Homeway Homes President, graciously gave another tour of his facility and answered numerous questions about the building process. Homeway Homes has constructed modular homes for over 10 years, and contrary to popular opinion, Schieler said customers can have a custom home designed and built at their facility. OLLI members also learned about the innovative techniques his staff uses to maximize efficiency without minimizing quality.

OLLI members proudly wore their yellow hard hats, and worked their way through the Homeway home Facility. OLLI would like to thank Brian and the entire staff at Homeway Homes for welcoming us for another tour this month. We look forward to our next Learning Trip in Goodfield.

Springdale Cemetery - Tuesday, October 21

OLLI visited the Springdale Cemetery on a picture-perfect fall day.

Springdale Cemetery is a peaceful place of great beauty, deep meaning, and rich history. The cemetery was founded in 1854, and was designed to be both a cemetery and a park for Peoria. Today, it is a place where people can go to for remembrance and peace.

OLLI members were lead by Mark Matuszak, General Manager, and two step-on guides. The tour provided detailed information about the landscape, art, and architecture of Springdale Cemetery. Trip participants were shocked to learn that over 70,000 former Peoria residents reside in the cemetery. One of the highlights of the tour was to see the burial site of Lydia Moss Bradley, founder of our very own Bradley University. OLLI members were glad to spend a beautiful fall day remembering and honoring various historic business and community leaders that have made Peoria proud.

OLLI would like to thank Mark Matuszak for leading OLLI on this wonderful tour.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall Classes- October 20, 2014

Over 400 members joined OLLI for a number of new and exciting classes this fall.

Every Wednesday in October, the Bradley campus was bustling with college students AND OLLI members filled the hallways of both Westlake Hall and the Student Center. Bradley music major Adam Windish stated, “I love seeing and talking to OLLI members on campus! I hope that even after my college days are behind me, that I continue to learn in every way possible.”

This fall, OLLI members were able to enroll in courses ranging from Current Events in Chemistry to Broadway Hits of the 21st Century. Instructors from various walks of life give OLLI members the opportunity to learn something new or to expand upon a certain topic of interest. Fall courses have almost come to a close, but members can register for Winter Classes on Wednesday, October 29 at 11:00 a.m. in the Bradley Student Center. Come join OLLI to engage in lifelong learning!

OLLI would like to thank all of our instructors and members for another great season of classes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Peoria Post Office- October 16, 2014

The Peoria Post Office opened their doors for OLLI, and delivered promising news for the future of the United States Postal Service.

OLLI members visited the downtown Peoria Post Office site for the most recent Learning Trip. Rebecca Brummitt, Customer Relations Coordinator, welcomed OLLI with a brief overview of the postal service. The Plant Manager was also on hand to answer any questions about the process of the downtown facility.

Trip participants were able to tour the post office plant during the workday. Tour guides were also on hand to deliver demonstrations on how mail is sorted and distributed through the use of modern technology. Mail service has changed over the years, but competitive prices and free tracking services will help build the future of the United States Postal Service.

OLLI would like to thank Rebecca Brummitt and the Peoria Post Office for welcoming us for the annual tour of their facility.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Homeway Homes- October 13, 2015

OLLI members put on their hard hats, and learn about the process of building modular homes.

OLLI members visited Homeway Homes in Deer Creek, IL for the most recent Learning Trip. President Brian Schieler, was OLLI's private guide during the factory tour. Schieler discussed the company’s modern home design and the overall construction process. OLLI members learned about Energy Strength, a ground-breaking insulation system that not only seals the home for energy conservation purposes, but also strengthens it from a structural standpoint.

OLLI members were also able to learn the differences in building a modular home versus a traditional home built on a construction site. The Homeway Home construction process allows builders to work all year long within controlled temperatures. At the end of the tour, OLLI members were able to tour model homes at the sales office and model home facility.

OLLI would like to thank Brian Schieler and Homeway Homes for a fantastic tour.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Peoria State Hospital Walking Tour- October 10, 2014

OLLI members visit the Peoria State Hospital, but hauntings and the Halloween season were not the topic of this walking tour.

Bill Turner, former employee of the Peoria State Hospital, guided a walking tour of the Bartonville site that was established in 1895. The Hospital has been closed since 1972, but Bill Turner recalled memories of the hospital as if they were yesterday.

OLLI members walked on the grounds of the hospital, and visited the four cemeteries where 4128 patients were buried. The hospital tour took place during the Halloween season, and Bill was able to debunk the stigma of hauntings at the Bartonville site. Bill shared with OLLI members that Dr. Zeller himself would often debunk myths through a variety of stories that he wrote. Ultimately, the Peoria State Hospital brought mental health reform to the Peoria area. In Illinois, the Peoria State Hospital has sparked interest in the paranormal community, but for Bill Turner, the hospital remains a place of “bittersweet memories.”

OLLI would like to thank Bill for guiding a walking tour that was extremely interesting and informative.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mackinaw Valley Vineyard- October 7, 2014

OLLI members got a taste of the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard experience for the most recent Learning Trip.

Paul and Diane Hahn, owners of Mackinaw Valley Vineyard, guided a tour of Central Illinois's oldest winery. OLLI members were able to learn the process of how handcrafted wines are made, and how the grape evolves from the vine to the bottle. OLLI members also spent the afternoon admiring the beautiful panoramic view from the vineyard’s spacious deck and patio area.

The Learning Trip was completed with a guided wine tasting lead by Diane Hahn. OLLI members were able to taste and savor six different handcrafted wines. Diane also offered suggestions of how to optimize the wine tasting experience. OLLI members learned that swirling a glass of wine helps to bring out the full flavor, particularly for dry red wines. Ask an OLLI member, "why are you swirling your wine glass before dinner"... they may impress you with the response, “I’m simply volatizing the esters.”

OLLI would like to thank Paul, Diane, and their son Eric for a wonderful visit to the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard.

For more information on the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard and for a list of events, click here!

JDraper Glass- October 6, 2014

OLLI members visited J Draper Glass as the studio celebrates the year anniversary of Fine Blown Glass by local artist Jeremie Draper.

Jeremie Draper, owner and glass artist at J Draper Glass, opened her studio for OLLI members on the most recent Learning Trip. OLLI members were able to watch Jeremie construct a number of projects, beginning with the first step in the glass making process to the final artistic product. OLLI members learned how to shape and blow glass bubbles to make forms that ultimately became works of art.

OLLI members also received a guided tour of the Studios on Sheridan. The Studios on Sheridan houses a number of local artists in addition to the sale of vintage goods and antiques. OLLI members were also able to learn about the classes offered by J Draper Glass, which include: Paperweight Making, Mushroom Making, Pumpkin Making, and more.

OLLI would like to thank Jeremie Draper for opening up her studio and hosting an extremely informative Learning Trip.

Please visit J Draper’s website for more information about the studio and classes offered by Jeremie Draper.


Friday, October 3, 2014

South Side Mission- October 2, 2014

OLLI members visited the South Side Mission, a faith-based organization that provides an array of services for those in need.

Phil Newtown, Executive Director at the South Side Mission, welcomed OLLI for the most recent Learning Trip. OLLI members were given a tour of the South Side Mission's facility, and learned of the history behind the not-for-profit group. Meg Newell, Associate Director of Development and Marketing, was also on hand to welcome OLLI to the South Side Mission.

OLLI members also enjoyed a wonderful meal prepared and served by students in the South Side Mission's Culinary School. Students enrolled in the culinary program attend tuition free, and are given an opportunity to learn skills that will be useful in the real world. At the conclusion of the meal, the students introduced themselves and were greeted with applause and words of appreciation from OLLI members.

OLLI would like to thank Phil Newton, Meg Newell and the entire South Side Mission team for hosting a wonderful and informative tour.

Please visit the South Side Mission's website for more information: https://www.southsidemission.org/

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Elmwood Cinema: Shadow of a Doubt- September 29, 2014

OLLI members visited the Palace Theatre and Jubilee Café for our first ever Dinner and a Movie event.

Vern Reynolds, owner of the Palace Theatre, provided a short tour of the building and discussed the history and background of the nostalgic Elmwood theatre space. Following the short tour, members were able to enjoy movie theatre popcorn as they watched the classic 1943 Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Shadow of a Doubt. Hitchcock is known for his unique approach to filmmaking, particularly for the genre of psychological thrillers.

Once the film concluded, Randy Wilson and Carol May moderated a discussion on Hitchcock and the thriller genre. OLLI members gave feedback on the film and discussed other films within Hitchcock’s repertoire. OLLI members also examined various themes and motifs that were present in many of Hitchcock’s films.

The Elmwood Cinema Trip did not end at the Palace Theatre. Dinner and conversation on Shadow of a Doubt continued as OLLI members enjoyed an evening meal at the Jubilee Café’ in Kicakapoo. Typical of Hitchcock films, Shadow of a Doubt left a number of plot and thematic discussion points for us to engage in over dinner.

OLLI would like to thank Carol and Randy for their work, and Vern Reynolds for giving OLLI a great, old-fashioned, movie-going experience. For more information on the Reynolds Theatre

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Shamrock Plastics - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shamrock Plastics owner and president, Mary Cay Westphal, welcomed OLLI to their facility for a private behind-the-scenes tour. This thermoforming facility contains over 36,000 square feet of manufacturing and storage space.

OLLI members divided into small groups, as long time staff members gave us an up close look at the thermoforming process. Each station we visited demonstrated a particular step, showing us how some of the parts are made at this facility. We learned what it takes to achieve a platinum supplier status for Caterpillar, which Shamrock Plastics was very honored to earn this past March 2014.

OLLI would like to thank Mary Cay and her very dedicated staff for such a wonderful and informative tour.

For more information you can check out the website at Shamrock Plastics.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Peoria Disposal Company and Peoria City/County Landfill - September 22, 2014

OLLI member Les Bergsten, Chairman of the Peoria City/County Landfill Committee, was our host for today’s tours.

We started with a visit to the offices of the Peoria Disposal Company. Chris Coulter, Vice-President of Peoria Disposal Company welcomed us to PDC. He gave an overview and history of this family-owned company. Bergsten talked about PDC and his role on the committee. In addition to traditional curbside waste and recyclable collection, PDC has resources to provide technical consulting, laboratory analysis, equipment rental, transportation, brokerage, hazardous waste disposal, and many other environmental services.

For the next stop, OLLI members boarded the shuttle and headed to the Peoria City/County landfill for the next part of the trip. During our tour, Bergsten discussed the history of the landfill, and gave us an update on the construction of Landfill #3. It was quite an adventure to drive through the landfill, watching and observing the huge machines performing their actual operations.

OLLI would like to give a big thanks to Chris Coulter and Les Bergsten for providing such insight into the operations of PDC and Waste Management.

Post Quatre from France

Our intrepid travelers, OLLI Francais, started the work week on Monday with a leisurely walk through the ancient Roman city of Arles.

Our local guide here is Austrian and speaks fluent English. The Mistral was blowing today, the strong, cold wind that travels from the northwest through the Rhone river valley. OLLI members found it invigorating after the past few warm days, but our guide explained that it blows an average of one-third of the year and makes some people anxious and out of sorts.

Our guide did a great job of refreshing our memories of Roman history while explaining the importance of the city since it was first settled around 800 B.C. The Romans took over the town in 123 B.C., gradually building a large city with Roman baths, a Forum, Circus forchariot races, Theater for cultural events, and an arena for games and fighting. Much of the arena remains and bull games and bull fighting now takes place there.

We had our photo taken on some of the remaining steps of the Roman Theater. After another memorable lunch, near the choppy Rhone river, we visited the Musee de l'Arles et de La Provence Antiques, where we saw a Roman boat that was recovered from the mud of the Rhone river in 2011 and put on display in 2013. Our guide shared the stories behind many more treasures in the Musee before leaving us until Tuesday, when we conclude our journey to see the "Three Faces of France."

Post Trois de France

Jet 'aime Aix-en-Provence! On Saturday OLLI Francais visited this southern, Provençal city of 140,000 and strolled through the many markets of flowers, vegetables, baked goods, jewelry, linens, ad more. The ladies were sad that there was no time for shopping, but most of the men were relieved. After another wonderful lunch of salmon and poached pears for dessert at L'Orangerie, we returned through the old city and toured the Cathedrale Saint-Saveur, another lovely and vert ancient church, but with a beautiful contemporary alter. We then traveled by bus to the studio of Paul Cezanne and learned more about the artist and his life and work. After dinner at a local restaurant in Arles, many of us stayed to watch a local parade that ran from 9-11 pm, and 8 of us took a whirl on the local merry-go-round.

OLLI Francais does not rest on Sunday! We left by coach to see a bird park where the beautiful pink flamingoes live and the Mediterranean Sea tourist town of Saintes Maries de la Mer, where finally some retail therapy took place. We then journeyed to a little known area of southern France, the Camargue, the delta region of the Rhone, where we saw a demonstration of how bulls are cut from the rest of the herd to be chosen for bull fighting and toured the ranch. On the way back we made a brief stop at the bridge that Van Gogh painted when he lived in Arles.

I hope you are enjoying these brief descriptions of our amazing journey and will forgive me my typos, as I am often writing on the fly. Au bientot, Janet

Peoria County Sheriff's Office - Friday, September 19

OLLI visited the Peoria County Jail on Friday, September 19. Peoria County Corrections Superintendent, Brian Asbell, gave OLLI members a private behind-the-scenes tour of the jail.

Participants had the opportunity to test their aim at the interactive indoor shooting range located at the facility. This is an important training operation for the department.

OLLI toured the lock-up portion of the jail, learned about the daily operations of the jail and the challenges faced by the department.

OLLI would like to thank Peoria County Sheriff's department and his team for an amazing tour.

To learn more about the Peoria County Jail please visit www.peoriacounty.org

Vaughan and Pella - September 18, 2014

Our regional bus trip took us to the Macomb area today to check out two very different manufacturing facilities.

Our first stop was Vaughan Manufacturing facility, which has been designing and manufacturing hammers for over 135 years. Mike Havens gave us a short history of Vaughan, describing how they went from a small maker of hand tools to the world's largest manufacturer of striking tools.

It was exciting to see the huge forging machines in action, with the loud striking noise and sparks flying. We toured the plants watching the forging, grinding and polishing process. We also went to the fiberglass building to see that process demonstrated.

After a wonderful lunch in Macomb at the Red Ox, we headed for Pella Windows. Headquartered in Pella, Iowa and founded in 1925, Pella has plants in 13 U.S. cities, including Macomb, Illinois. The Macomb plant manufactures Pella’s wood windows and patio doors and is the most recent addition to Pella’s wood manufacturing sites.

After a big welcome to the facility, we sat down with one of the sales managers for a background and overview of the company. We then split into smaller groups to tour the shop floor and see the process from beginning to end.

It was such an interesting day to have the chance to visit these two outstanding, but very different facilities.

For more information, please visit www.vaughanmfg.com and www.pella.com.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Post Deux from France

Our OLLI group of 20 has enjoyed a fabulous time in Lyon, France. we started Thursday with a lecture from a local guide about the history and culture of this ancient city, that dates back to Roman times. We then used the Metro (below ground train) and tramway (above ground trolley) to see different parts of the "old city." OLLI members quickly became comfortable using these forms of transportation, as well as pedi-cabs which several a participants tried. We stopped at the Bartholdi fountain in Place des Terraux near the Musee des Beaux Arts and the extravagantly decorated Lyon city hall.

We climbed the Medieval cobblestone streets of the old city, where we saw charming courtyards and homes and the famous "traboules," stone passageways used primarily by the silk merchants and later by WW II existence fighters. We rode a "funicular," a tram that goes up the hill Fourviere to the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere, an amazing example of sacred architecture with beautiful mosaics [photo attached]. At the top, we had an amazing view of the city [photo attached] and another delicious lunch, including a traditional French dish, pommes au gratin Dauphinoise. We all loved this creamy, garlicky dish. We had the rest of the day to explore the city, with some taking a well-earned nap and others returning to visit the old city, the Cathedrale de St-Jean, built between the 12th and 15th centuries., and the Musee de Cinema et Miniature, where we saw Harry Potter's wand (be still my heart) and the creature from "Alien," quite frightening up close.

On Thursday we joined our British guide James in celebrating Scotland's vote to stay part of the United Kingdom and then took public transportation to Les Halle's de Lyon Paul Bocuse, the luxurious food indoor food market named for Lyon's famous chef. We enjoyed a tasting lunch featuring choices of fish soup, blood sausage, leg of lamb, or pork intestines made into sausage. Some of us were very happy when dessert arrived and was delicious. We spent the afternoon at the Musee des Beaux Arts and visiting a silk screening studio.

OLLI's 20th Fall Kick-Off Luncheon - September 17, 2014

On Wednesday, September 17, more than 350 OLLI members, volunteers, and instructors gathered at Bradley University to celebrate the kick-off of another academic year.

A volunteer committee decorated the room in a back-to-school theme, complete with books, apples, and individual cupcakes to honor OLLI's 20th birthday. Guests were welcomed by OLLI Vice President Mary Ellen Krum, who encouraged everyone to keep humor in their lives as they continue their lifelong learning goals. Bradley University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. David Glassman, officially welcomed OLLI back to campus. "We believe in OLLI," he said, noting that both he and Bradley University President Joanne Glasser are proud to have OLLI as part of the Bradley family.

Next, Continuing Education Assistant Director Michelle Riggio announced some good news: overall membership for OLLI had reached 1,098 individuals in the past academic year, representing a 7% increase over the past year. She also formally introduced new Program Coordinator Bryan Blanks to the audience, noting his first day on the job will be September 22.

After dining on a delicious meal of prime rib, participants were treated to a keynote presentation by Dr. Michael Wiant, Museum Director at the Illinois State Museum-Dickson Mounds. Dr. Wiant discussed the importance of gathering and how it impacts lifelong learning.

OLLI wishes to thank all of those who came to campus yesterday to celebrate the kick-off of our year!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Janet Lange Provides Update on OLLI Members in France!

Bonjour from France, where 20 OLLI members are visiting three cities over 12 days. Our hotel in Paris, our first stop, was located next to the Sorbonne, in the heart of the Latin Quarter and on the Left Bank of the Seine. We were about two blocks from the steps of St. Stephen's where Owen Wilson's character is picked up by a car nightly in the movie,"Midnight in Paris." After walking tours of the city, visits to the Louvre, Notre Dame, and Saint Chapelle, and lovely meals, we headed for Lyon today by high speed train.

After a lovely bus drive into the Beaujolais area and mountains, we enjoyed a three-course meal at La Table Du Donjon in the charming village of Oingt, in the Rhone district. Our meal included a puff pastry and duck salad, leg of lamb, and ice cream filled cream puffs, plus tiny cups of espresso and three wines. We have been well fed on this trip.

Next we drove through the Beaujolais mountains to the Chateau de Montmelas, a former castle (which by definition means it was originally for housing soldiers), where the wife of one of the owners gave us a tour of the public portions of the Chateau and tastings of their three wines. The Chateau has been in her husband's family for more than 500 years!

We are having a wonderful time experiencing the Three Faces of France, and we wish you were here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette - Tuesday, September 16

Today, we had the chance to tour the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette hotel, learn about its incredible history, and view the renovations that took place. Not only that--but we also had the opportunity to visit the Marriott Courtyard, which recently opened.

The historical Pere Marquette Hotel was first built in 1926 for $2.5 million. The 12-story building closed in 2011 to undergo an extensive renovation and expansion into a full-service, upscale Marriott Hotel.

Lauren Snopek,Marriott sales manager, began our tour with a private look at a few of the hotel's most famous ballrooms--the 'Marquette Ballroom' with the dazzling, sparkling chandeliers that hang from the ceiling of the ballroom,and the French-inspired 'Cotillion Ballroom " The historic Cotillion Ballroom has been the venue for numerous weddings, and social events of Peoria's elite. The mirrors lining the walls, the detailed carpeting,and preserved wood-work were absolutely breath-taking.

The concierge lounge was a highlight as well, since they kindly offered us treats as we relaxed in this beautifully decorated area with an entire wall of windows.

On our way to the adjoining hotel we checked out the recently completed walkway which links the hotels with the Civic Center and the parking deck. We really enjoyed the amazing view from one of the Courtyard Marriott's suites which provided a birds-eye view of downtown Peoria. Our final stop was the pool and spa area which looked tempting, but our group was hungry for lunch.

The visit concluded with a delicious meal at the Hotel's brand-new restaurant Table 19. Ever wonder where the name originated from? Apparently, during the original days of the Pere Marquette, Table 19 was the most sought-after table to dine at, and with its window seating was the location of many proposals, anniversaries, and birthdays.

Thank you to the Peoria Marriott staff for a wonderful, and informative tour of this historic gem. For more information about the Hotel and the restoration that took place, visit the website here!

Peoria Monument Tour - Monday, September 15

OLLI members joined Jim Ludwig, Professor Emeritus of Theatre at Bradley University for a unique adventure exporing the monuments of Peoria. Ranging from Vanna Whitewall to Lydia Bradley; from religious figures to a famous agnostic; from classical to very, very modern; from silly to serious, there is a surprisingly rich and varied collection of public sculpture that we all see (they are in plain sight), but don't really notice.

For the Peoria Monument Tour, members boarded the OLLI shuttle to drive by dozens of sculptures and monuments. Jim Ludwig was a very entertaining narrator as he shared some history and anecdotes about treasures of the community. The final portion of the tour consisted of walking through the Peoria Civic Center inside and out, as well as Peoria City Hall and the plaza area. Today's tour held a special treat, as Byron DeHaan recited his poem Hallowed Ground as the group gathered around Preston Jackson's sculpture Knockin On Freedom's Door. This was the poem he recited at the dedication of the art piece, which honors Peoria's role in the historic Underground Railroad movement.

A big OLLI thank you to Professor Ludwig for sharing his time and talent on the Monument Tour.

Wheel Art Pottery - September 11, 2014

OLLI members cranked up their creativity for this hands-on trip to Wheel Art Pottery. Jacob Grant and Susie Mathews co-own, this studio which opened in 2010.

We learned the background and history of the studio, and also about the different types pottery as we toured the front of the facility. On this trip, OLLI members had a chance to get dirty and tap into their inner artist as they attempted Wheel Throwing and Hand-building. By the end of the morning everyone had at least two pieces of art to put in the kiln.

Our time at the studio flew by and no matter the experience level we all enjoyed working with the clay. Wheel Art Studios will put the pieces in the kiln, and in three weeks we can see just how awesome our art turned out.

A big thanks to Susie, Jacob and Ricky for hosting our group at Wheel Art Pottery, what a fun day!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tazwell County Jail - Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014

On this OLLI trip we joined Tazewell County Sheriff Robert M. Huston on a tour of the Tazwell County Jail facility. The Sheriff gave us a little background and history of the new jail, which is now 11 years old, built in 2003. The old jail only had 105 beds and no dayrooms, which was the cause for many problems according to Sheriff Huston, who estimated they had 3 assualts per week. The new jail has 226 beds and proper dayroom space and many of these issues have decreased dramatically.

The Sheriff gave us a private tour to see first-hand the systematic procedures that take place in the facility.

Our tour began in the booking and intake area, and we also visited the medical area. The group had the opportunity to observe the lock-up portion of the building, which included both the male and female housing units and the special housing units for mental and behavioral issues.

OLLI would like to thank Sheriff Huston and Jail Superintendent Kurt Ulrich for taking the time to give us such an informative and interesting tour.

Pere Marquette State Park & More - Monday, September 8, 2014

Thirty members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of Bradley University had an early start to their day, as they boarded a charter coach for southern Illinois.

We began with a tour of the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower in Hartford, IL which started as a project to commemorate the bicentennial celebration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition but became a structure that honors the courage of the two men who set west. OLLI members went high above the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, about 150 feet up to view the confluence, and listened to our guide, Mary Ann describe the background of this monument rich with history.

Our next stop was a visit to the Melvin Price Lock and Dam, located south of the majestic Clark Bridge near Alton, Illinois on the Upper Mississippi River. Our private tour took us atop the Dam, as we learned how this lock and dam system helps to control the flow of the Mississippi and is the means by which barges are able to navigate the river.

After visiting the lock and dam area we had a chance to see the Great Rivers Museum. Established in 2003, the 12,000-square-foot facility contains a large model of the bluffs of the region, an aquarium displaying the various species that inhabit the river, and exhibits explaining the mechanics of the river.

A short drive down the scenic river road we found our final stop, Père Marquette State Park. We enjoyed a delicious all-you-can eat fried chicken dinner in the lodge dining room. We then met with park naturalist Scott Isringhausen, who gave us a short presentation about the park on the veranda. We walked to the visitor's center for a brief stop before boarding the coach for the trip home.

It was a gorgeous, late summer day to be out and about in southern Illinois.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Art Institute of Chicago -- Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014

OLLI had their first official trip of the Fall 2014 season with a charter coach to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jean Gronewold, a painter, teacher and frequent OLLI instructor joined us for the day. She gave us a preview of what to look for in the special exhibit "Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926 - 1938" and some insight into this decidedly different artist.

OLLI members began their day at the museum with a keynote lecture where they learned even more about the feature exhibit on Magritte.

They spent the rest of the day on their own enjoying informal gallery talks, self-guided audio tours, as well as artist demonstrations and other mini-lectures.

It was an awesome day, admiring the collection of the second largest art museum in the the United States. We would like to thank Jean Gronewold for joining us and sharing her expertise.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

OLLI Fundraiser at Kickapoo Creek Winery - Friday, Aug. 29, 2014

Nearly 150 people celebrated OLLI’s 20th birthday by attending its special fundraiser event on Friday, August 29 at Kickapoo Creek Winery.

The fundraiser was developed to help OLLI continue its tradition of unique, high quality, engaging, and educational programming. Participants spent a beautiful afternoon taking behind-the-scenes tours of the winery with owner (and fellow OLLI member) Dr. David Conner, partaking in wine tastings, enjoying appetizers on the patio, and enjoying the music of the Bradley University Jazz Combo.

After a delicious dinner (which was briefly interrupted by a late summer thunderstorm), participants were entertained by local comedian Rex Havens, who had everyone in stitches with his insightful observations about the hilarious miscommunication that populates our personal lives. In addition, Rex made a generous donation to OLLI by giving all proceeds of his book and compact disc sales to the fundraising effort.

OLLI thanks Rex and our other generous sponsors, Bill Kwon of the Kwon Gallup Group at Morgan Stanley, and Dr. Conner of Kickapoo Creek Winery, for making this first-ever event such a success.

Over the past two years, member donations allowed OLLI to purchase two shuttles and provide Lectures and Cinema programs for free. This year, our fundraising efforts will focus on improving the audio-visual equipment and technology services for OLLI Classes, Study Groups, Cinema, Learning Trips, and Lectures.

For more information about annual or planned giving, please contact Janet Lange, Executive Director of Continuing Education, at lange@bradley.edu.

National Center for Agriculture Utilization Research- Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014

Today OLLI had the unique chance for a behind-the-scenes tour of Peoria's National Center for Agriculture Utilization Research (NCAUR).

On this trip, we had the rare opportunity for a first-hand look at the lab, home to more than 100 Ph.D. research scientists who invent industrial and food products and develop technologies to improve environmental quality.

More than one OLLI member commented they had always wondered what went on in this huge brick building, and thanks to today's tour, now they know!

Thank you to Clete Kurtzman for coordinating our tour, and to the staff at NCAUR who gave their time and energy for this OLLI trip, which was such an outstanding learning experience.

Komatsu- Monday, August, 25, 2014

It was an extremely hot day as OLLI members toured Komatsu's Peoria facility.

During this tour, we saw a large truck frame welded from start to finish, and we also had a chance to walk through an assembly line of the Engine Power Module, and visit the main assembly line of Komatsu’s large mining trucks.

Keith Rohman, Manufacturing Engineering Manger at Komatsu gave us a brief history of the company and was our personal tour guide for the day.

A big thanks to Keith and the entire Komatsu staff for their warm welcome.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Peoria Journal Star- Aug 20, 2014

OLLI members had the opportunity to take a learning trip to the Peoria Journal Star. Our tour guides were Rae Anne Hamp and Bernie Drake, our own OLLI President.

The trip featured a tour of the building, a mainstay visible from War Memorial Drive that dates back to the 1950's with an addition completed in 2004 to house new high tech printing and packaging equipment.

Phil Jordan, Marketing Manager, met with the group and discussed how our local newspaper is in good financial shape and what a huge impact its readership actually has on the community.

Members took a peek into the newsroom and offices and even swung by the "cavern" left behind when the old press was dismantled once the new press was put into service.

Our guides led us through the print shop, explaining the printing process while showing us the computer control room, ink and paper storage and of course the 4-story press!

Following the tour, Mike Bailey and Steve Tarter shared their perspective on the news business and the future of print journalism.

OLLI would like to thank the Peoria Journal Star and their amazing staff!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Aurora Architecture - Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014

Our final regional bus trip of the season was an outstanding way to finish out our summer schedule. For our first stop of the day we visited the Farnsworth House. One OLLI architecture buff commented she had wanted to visit this house since the first time she learned of it many years ago.

Ludwig mies van der Rohe’s masterpiece is a world famous example of modernist domestic architecture, which represents the builder's minimalist expression of structure and space. We arrived at the house after our half mile stroll along the river. I'll have to admit my first impression of the one-room plain structure totally enclosed by glass, made me wonder how we would spend more than a few minutes viewing it. In fact, there was way more to see than first met the eye.The guides were wonderful, giving us the history of the house and the relationship between the owner and the architect. Once we were actually inside the house, although it was small, it was spacious and peaceful, especially watching the river flow by through the floor to ceiling glass.

We had a delicious lunch at Two Brothers Roundhouse, and learned about the history of our lunch spot, which happened to be over 150 years old, the oldest Roundhouse in North America.

After lunch, we headed to the Paramount Theatre for a behind-the-scenes tour of this recently renovated theater which hosts a variety of shows, including a Broadway series.

The theater has an interesting background, designed by Rapp & Rapp, nationally known architects of movie theatres, who combined the original plan of a Venetian theme with the fashionable Art Deco influence of the 1920s and early 1930s, it is truly a breathtaking palace.

We went backstage, and then upstairs into the dressing rooms and even had a chance to stand on stage and take in the view of the majestic theater. While on stage, OLLI member Gary Clark took the opportunity to serenade his fellow members with a quick song-- what a treat!

Our final tour of the day was the Tanner House, an Italianate-style home to prominent merchant William Tanner. The house was amazing to browse through, featuring high ceilings, oak grained woodwork, ornate plaster decoration, and unique furnishings.

Our Aurora Architecture trip gave us chance to soak up the last of summer and take in the beauty of three distinct styles of architecture.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cottage District Garden Walk - August 7, 2014

For so many of us who have lived in Peoria for the greater part of our lives, it was such a surprise to come across the beautiful Cottage District, a part of the Bradley-Moss Neighborhoods.

These homes are not only displays of incredible architecture, but also house beautiful gardens worthy of their own attention.

On today's Cottage District Garden Walk, OLLI members were lead by long-time area-resident, florist, and gardener Dan Callahan on this two-mile loop around the Bradley-Moss area.

Starting at the corner of Duryea and Moss, we slowly circled our way around the Cottage District, taking the time to appreciate and explore the intricate gardens. Dan Callahan and his team added commentary on the architectural highlights and social background of the tour. One of the highlights was a beautiful home nestled-away in the bluffs off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. It is incredible to see the restoration and renovation that has taken place in what was once an 1800s servant's living quarters. This modern and classic home is surrounded by gardens containing indigenous plants.

The garden walk continued all-along Moss Avenue until we wrapped back around towards Main St. Having worked-up an appetite, our meal at the Fieldhouse felt extra-rewarding.

We are thankful for our friends in the Cottage District for opening up their gardens and homes, and allowing us to explore Peoria's many hidden treasures.

OLLI at Bradley

Pat Sullivan's Downtown - August 6, 2014

Well, it has been over a week since our last trip, but our first trip of the week was definitely an excellent way to begin wrapping up our summer adventures!

During this learning trip, OLLI members ventured downtown to Peoria's up-and-coming Warehouse District.

Pat Sullivan is a man who turned a vision into a reality. We were lucky enough to receive a comprehensive, behind-the-scenes tour of several of Pat's projects--collectively known as "Le Vieux Carre," or old square in French.

After a wonderful meal at Kelleher's, Pat gave an overview of the vision he once had for Peoria's Warehouse District, and how that vision manifested itself. It's truly incredible to think that one man could drive such large-scale renovation and restoration.

As we walked through the connecting buildings and abandoned warehouses, we too, began to see Pat's vision. In a short amount of time, the Water Street renovations have inspired a cultural renaissance in downtown Peoria.

Pubs, restaurants, breweries, offices, businesses, and apartments all contribute to 'Le Vieux Carre.'

For many, the highlight of the trip was the tour of the Water St. apartments--these luxurious lofts, with their high ceilings, exposed pipes, and cozy brick walls make you feel like you're living in NYC. They present the perfect marriage between modern and historic.

The visit concluded with a look at some of the projects that are currently under way--but, it's safe to say that Pat Sullivan will not stop until his vision is complete, and we can't wait!

OLLI at Bradley

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Homeland Security Education Center & Fermilab - July 29, 2014

With our summer learning trips coming to an end, OLLI members have been busy hitting the road to discover new places. We have been on many exciting and interesting visits, and our trip to the Homeland Security Education Center (HEC) and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory was certainly no exception!

It was an early morning for many of us, but well-worth the early wake-up call! Our trip began with a visit to the Homeland Security Training Center at the College of DuPage. To say we were all impressed would be an understatement. It was incredible learning about the comprehensive and collaborative training programs taking place. While the HEC offers programs in Criminal Justice, Fire Science/EMS, it also houses the Police Department and Suburban Law Enforcement Academy. Most interesting are the collaborative efforts taking place between the various programs, providing an all-encompassing comprehensive education for recruits and students.

The highlight for many was definitely taking a tour of the indoor street scene simulation center, used for force-on-force exercises. We even got to take a look at few students in training! A wonderfully-catered Italian meal completed our visit of the Homeland Security Education Center, and we were off to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

A scientist's oasis, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory was a feast for the mind! The Fermi lab is recognized as the United States' premier physics laboratory, which includes the wold's most advanced particle accelerators. Located on 6,800 acres in Batavia, IL you would never guess that this Chicago suburb housed such an incredible facility. On our tour of Wilson Hall, we had the opportunity to look at the experiments taking place, as well as learn about the collaborative efforts between the Fermi lab and labs across the globe working on the same project.

During our Q&A session, OLLI members also had the opportunity to learn about some mind-bending research on topics that include neutrinos, a component of the proton, and dark matter. If that's not confusing enough, there is also research being done on 'nothing,' sort of. Scientists are trying to discover what exactly makes up 'nothing,' or if 'nothing' actually exists--some pretty profound stuff!

For more information on the research happening at the Fermi lab or about the many exciting programs at the HEC check out their websites below!

What's a Neutrino?

Homeland Security Education Center at the College of DuPage

OLLI at Bradley

Monday, July 28, 2014

Wayne's Printing - July 24, 2014

If you've ever wanted to know how your OLLI brochure gets from the Continuing Education office to your mailbox, or what happens in between, then a visit to Wayne's Printing is in order!

The local printing press was founded by Wayne Owens in 1963, and originally began as a small home-based business. On this trip we got to visit the 37,000 square-foot Edwards facility the company moved into in 2001.

It was absolutely incredible getting to see the new state-of-the-art printing equipment, and the Heidelberg QMDI presses, meanwhile learning about the evolution of the printing industry. Upon entering Wayne's Printing, you would never guess that the facility housed such a massive distribution site. It was fascinating to learn about the many facets that go into printing, from plates to paper. Watching the printing equipment at work, it is hard to imagine that there was a time when this was all done by hand! Nevertheless, employees at Wayne's Printing exude craftsmanship in what they do.

The interesting visit was topped-off with wonderful gifts from Wayne's Printing. Each OLLI member received a personalized note-pad, complete with the OLLI logo!

Thank you to our wonderful friends at Wayne's Printing! We can't wait to come back!

OLLI at Bradley

Effingham, IL - July 23, 2014

Effingham, IL: arguably the hidden gem of Southern Illinois, was full of surprises during this OLLI regional learning trip.

Our first stop on this tour of Southern Illinois was to the renowned John Boos and Company. This company which began producing butcher blocks and cutting boards in 1887, has become famous for its high-quality products. So much so, that it has been endorsed in several Food Network Shows, and by culinary experts across the globe. It didn't take long for our visit to turn into a shopping trip--OLLI members purchased everything from cutting boards to stools.

After a great time at John Boos, it was time for lunch. If I had to choose one place to eat at for the rest of my life, that place would have to be Effingham's Firefly Grill. Head chef Niall Campbell and his wife Kristie established this culinary oasis in the heart of the Midwest. With a menu that changes daily, and local ingredients--often grown outside in their own garden, Firefly is certainly a gastronomical adventure. OLLI members enjoyed options that included: an American Burger, Chicken Burger, and Reuben, delicious garden salads, and the most indulgent chocolate lava cake! Without exaggeration, some OLLI members claimed it was the best meal they have ever had!

Our last stop of the day was to Mid-America Motorworks, which is accompanied by MY Garage Museum, a one-of-a-kind museum that houses vintage Corvettes and thousands of pieces of Corvette history and memorabilia. We were greeted by owner and Corvette enthusiast Mike Yager, who shared with us his humbling and commendable story. After a comprehensive tour of Mid-America Motorworks, OLLI members had some time to admire the collection of vintage cars that sat beside a restored 1910 gas station.

There is no doubt that we will certainly be returning to Effingham in the future!

OLLI at Bradley

Illinois Shakespeare Festival - July 17, 2014

A summer highlight for many OLLI members, this year's Illinois Shakespeare Festival certainly delivered. Joining us for our trip to Normal, IL was professor of Shakespearean literature Dr. Susan Hillabold. Susan gave OLLI members background information on the play, including several elements to be aware of while watching.

Once we arrived to the breath-taking Ewing Manor, OLLI members opened-up their lawn chairs around the central fountain, enjoying the beautiful summer evening.

OLLI members enjoyed a nice picnic dinner, and endlessly flowing wine as they prepared for the evening's theatrical performance. After a few glasses, it was time to enter the historically-accurate amphitheater.

Shakespeare uses humor in Much Ado About Nothing to mask deeper issues, including gender limits, love, and sexuality. On the road back to Peoria, Dr. Hillabold was able to further interpret the performance and discuss it in regards to the original play script.

Safe to say that we are already looking forward to next year's performance!

OLLI at Bradley

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Peoria Pere Marquette 2 - July 22, 2014

Can you believe that the beautiful Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette Hotel was first built in 1926 for $2.5 million? The 12-story building closed in 2011 to undergo an extensive renovation and expansion into a full-service, upscale Marriott Hotel. Today, we had the chance to tour the magnificent hotel, learn about its incredible history, and view the renovations that took place. Not only that--but we also got an exclusive first-look at the Marriott Courtyard, which opened up only 5 days ago!

The tour began with a private look at a few of the hotel's most famous ballrooms--the 'Marquette Ballroom' and the French-inspired 'Cotillion Ballroom.' The dazzling, sparkling chandeliers that hang from the ceiling of the Marquette Ballroom? Those came straight from Texas following the renovation of the hotel.

The historic Cotillion Ballroom has been the venue for numerous weddings, and social events of Peoria's elite. The mirrors lining the walls, the detailed carpeting, and preserved wood-work were absolutely breath-taking.

As an added bonus, we were lucky enough to visit the sought-after Bridal Suite located on the 12th floor of the Pere Marquette. The Bridal Suite was simply breath-taking, and it is no wonder that many brides swoon over the opportunity to get ready for their big day in front of its vintage vanity mirrors.

The visit concluded with a delicious lunch at the Hotel's brand-new restaurant Table 19. Ever wonder where the name originated from? Apparently, during the original days of the Pere Marquette, Table 19 was the most sought-after table to dine at, and with its window seating was the location of many proposals, anniversaries, and birthdays.

Thank you to the Peoria Marriott staff for a wonderful, and informative tour of this historic gem. For more information about the Hotel and the restoration that took place, visit the website here!

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts!

OLLI at Bradley

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