febfunPlanning family outings during the unpredictable winter weather can be daunting, but below are a variety of different events happening that can make planning easier.

Admission to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry will be free until Feb. 27. With a variety of educational and interactive exhibits and events geared toward children and adults, it’s a great time to experience one of the largest science museums in the world with the entire family.

In the Lisel area, the Morton Arboretum’s Enchanted Railroad brings life to 10 miniature model trains from around the world that wind through captivating scenery. The two-story display can be enjoyed by children of all ages.

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Eastern Illinois University636053362545246664 880580018 eiu’s continuous work to better the institution is paying off. The university announced this week that it has seen a five percent increase in enrollment over the past year, the first increase in more than 10 years.

Although freshman, graduate students and online students are to thank for this influx in enrollment, the strongest increase came from undergraduate transfer students.

EIU’s Vitalization Project may have contributed to the rise in enrollment. This project was created to advance EIU on its “Pathway to Success” mission and to craft a vision for EIU’s vitalized future. Built as a task force and working groups, the main goal of the Vitalization Project is to better the institution, attract higher enrollments and distinguish EIU in the competitive marketplace.

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ChicagoTourismChicago set a tourism record in 2017 as an estimated 55.2 million visitors made a stop in the Windy City, according to initial estimates.
The visitor total is up 2.5 percent from the previous year, bringing with it economic benefits for the city and the state.

Travel Daily News estimated that the tourism industry supported 146,500 jobs in 2017, a 17 percent increase since 2011.

Hotels were a major beneficiary of the upturn in visitors, as there was a 7.6 percent increase in occupancy during the peak tourism season of June to September. In all, hotels saw a 3.3 percent increase over 2017, according to the city. The city also saw five new hotels open in 2017, with eight more scheduled to open this year.

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2016 04 09 09.32.39Charlie Martin is an artist from Quincy. He creates a variety of pieces by mixing mediums, including ink drawings and paintings. Martin is also a children’s book illustrator.

How long have you been an artist or when did you start? Was there a single incident or moment when you realized this was your passion and if so, tell us about it?

I’ve been drawing since I was a little boy, and my family considered me2015-12-01 14.25.40.jpg to be an artist even then. My first job as an artist, however, was when I was 21 years old. I was a graphic designer. Since that time, my craft has changed and continues to evolve. I began painting in my forties. I believe that you become an artist when you decide to be one.

I can’t define or articulate a single moment when I realized the deep relationship I had with art. I know art to be an essential part of my existence just because I always find my way back to art and the magic of creating something new.CameraZOOM 20141224092410013 I have many interests, but it always cycles back to art.

Illinois has been factored into your work in the past. What does being able to live and work in Illinois mean to you?

Illinois has many flourishing art programs and communities. This state has given me some incredible opportunities to grow my craft.

What opportunities does Illinois present to local Illinois artists?

Each community in Illinois is different.2016-01-18 06.28.57.jpg Opportunities are available for all types of artists throughout the state. There is so much art married into our history.

What do you like about Illinois?

I really appreciate its history. The stories of courage are impressive. Midwesterners are a hearty lot for sure. 

What is your favorite medium to work in?

I like mixed medium, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be pen and ink.

Eden and Her Joy coverWhere can people view or purchase your work?

Artists and collectors may view my work on Facebook (Charlie Martian) or on Instagram (sketchbot).

What artist inspires you and why?

Tony DiTerlizzi inspired me to delve into illustration. He is part of the reason I decided to start illustrating children’s books. I also am inspired by Norman Rockwell and Alphonse Mucha.

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According to a survey conducted by YouGov, a significant portion of Americans are resolving to eat better and exercise more in 2018. Those focusing on health and wellness this year should visit the Fay Pickering Memorial Trails at Mill Creek Park in Marshall, where over nine miles of running, hiking and mountain biking trails are open 24 hours a day, all year long.
Four single-track trails snake through the old growth forests near Mill Creek Lake at an average grade of nine percent and a maximum grade of 64 percent. The trail system is classified as intermediate, but individual trails can be modified for runners, hikers and bikers of all skill levels from beginner to expert.
Those who enjoy outdoor recreation with their canine companions will be glad to know that the park allows dogs to roam off-leash. Motorized vehicles and horses are prohibited, and trail users are discouraged from using the trail in wet conditions.
For the truly brave, the Ninth Annual Clark County Polar Bear Dare Trail Run will take place on Jan. 13, 2018. The run includes 10.3-mile, 3.9-mile and half-mile races followed by a mountain bike race. The event is expected to take place regardless of weather, giving athletes an opportunity to compete in unique conditions.
The Fay Pickering Memorial Trails system is considered one of the best in the state. It is about a 20-minute drive from I-70 in Clark County and features a restroom and pavilion at the trailhead near the dam at Mill Creek. For more information, call 217-889-3901.