Peoria Public Radio News

Local news stories and features from Peoria Public Radio.

KristinNador / Flickr/Creative Commons

The Peoria County Sheriff is asking parents to talk with their teens about attending year-end parties that included alcohol.

Three young adults were shot at a party on Murphy Road in rural Hanna City Monday night. The injuries were not considered life-threatening.


The gathering of up to 50 included mostly 17 to 23 year-olds from high schools throughout the tri-county region. Sheriff McCoy says evidence at the scene indicates the party involved drugs and alcohol.


Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio


More than 150 people toured the new Ray LaHood International Terminal at the Peoria International Airport Monday.


It was an opportunity to see the $11 million facility before it’s commissioned. The two-story, 21,000 square foot structure includes full-service Customs and Border Protections capacity as well as two additional gates for domestic or international travel.

Illinois Department of Corrections

This week, 73-year-old Cleve Heidelberg will have spent exactly 46 years in prison.

Heidelberg, a black man, was convicted of murdering a Peoria County Sheriff’s sergeant in 1970. Since that time, Heidelberg has filed numerous petitions arguing his innocence.

Cleve Heidelberg says the last 46 years of his life have been spent in “the grave.”

A Peoria attorney has been disbarred by the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. The Commission is an agency of the Illinois Supreme Court.

Caterpillar Lifts Peoria Area Lockdown

May 20, 2016

Caterpillar has lifted the lockdown on its Peoria facilities and resumed normal operations.  A statement from the company says they continue working with police on what is described as a credible workplace violence threat.

A Peoria Police spokeswoman says they’re investigating a complaint regarding an individual who made threatening statements toward the company.


Foster Pet Outreach

Foster Pet Outreach is getting a new office to handle adoptions. The nonprofit agency has been working out of foster homes for the 23-year life of the effort.

FBI Director Speaks to ELITE Graduates

May 20, 2016

  Area high school ELITE Program graduates had a Key Note speaker that rivals anyone area college graduates have this year. The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, James Comey gave the address to the ELITE Program class.


Heidelberg's Case Reassigned

May 19, 2016
Illinois Department of Corrections

A 1970 murder case has been reassigned to a different presiding judge for review.

In a filing Wed., Peoria County Chief Judge Stephen Kouri ordered that Cleve Heidelberg’s case be assigned to Judge Al Purham.

The motion for substitution of judge is a motion that parties can file asking that a different judge be assigned to the case.

Peoria County Chief Judge Stephen Kouri says substitutions are not unusual in cases like these. 

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio


The East Peoria City Council is preparing to put a new budget in place.

The public hearing Tuesday night was the initial step in the approval process. The nearly $55.5 million spending plan represents a .003 percent increase from last fiscal year.

Commissioner John Kahl says the city’s reserve funds are lower than he’d like. Finance Commissioner Gary Densberger says he shares that concern, but he’s counting on the bond payments for East Side Center being retired next year.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

The City of East Peoria is planning ahead for residents in the year 2066.

The City of East Peoria is placing a time capsule Saturday during the cornerstone dedication for the Civic Complex.  

Director of Building and Inspections Robert Cole says items being placed in the sealed container are on display at the Fondulac Library, and everybody can participate in the fun.  

Melissa Wall / Flickr/Creative Commons

Mid-size American cities like Peoria face some of the nation’s deepest challenges with poverty, health and a lack of investment. 

A new initiative hopes to tackle some of those problems, thanks to a grant from the Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The “Invest Health” initiative was established to launch projects focused on urban revitalization, healthier food options, school attendance, and economic opportunities, the Peoria City/County Health Department said in a news release.

Hakan Berberoglu

About 700 people gathered at the Civic Center to hear business and civic leaders attempt to overturn stereotypes and fears about Muslims and the Islamic faith Monday night.

The event "Peace for Peoria" was created to bring people of diverse faiths together to unravel some of the questions surrounding Islam. The local star-studded cast of speakers included Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman, Bradley University President Gary Roberts, and presidents of the two major hospital systems. 

Authorities leading the Don't Shoot initiative to reduce gun crime in Peoria say the program may be showing big dividends. 

Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy says they’ve seen the number of people in the jail reduced nearly by half during the last 18 months. He owes a large part of the shift to the Don’t Shoot Program, but he says there’s still more to be done to further reduce gun violence.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

What does addressing storm water runoff have to do with improving quality of life? Everything, according to city government officials.

Mayor Jim Ardis announced a series of green infrastructure projects in the works for downtown Peoria Thurs. The initiatives, like streetscape redesigns and a grant program for repurposing vacant lots, aim to improve the look of industrial, blighted areas. 

lady_lbrty / Flickr/Creative Commons

Members of the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance and Illinois People’s Action are renewing their call for environmental justice and a transition to clean energy in the greater Peoria area.  

Dynegy recently announced plans to shut down five units split between its Baldwin and Newton Plants.

Tracey Fox is with the Health Communities Alliance. She says burning less coal is a step forward for the state. But Fox says  the economics used to decide the plant closures was one-sided in the fact that they are also some of the least polluting.

The Peoria Zoo has welcomed a new giraffe to its "Africa!" exhibit. The 3-year-old female named Emy arrived in Peoria last week inside a very tall trailer. 

exfordy / Flickr/Creative Commons

Leaders from Caterpillar are traveling to Cuba this week, as the company tries to grow business opportunities in the island nation. 

On Wed., the company announced representatives from machinery dealer RIMCO are joining CEO Doug Oberhelman and Cat executives.

Oberhelman says this week’s trip lays “important groundwork” for Cat and RIMCO to serve the Cuban market, once the remaining trade restrictions are lifted.

City Council Looks at Unified Zoning, Building Reuse

May 11, 2016
Seattle Municipal Archives / Flickr/Creative Commons

Peoria City Council looked at several ways to make neighborhoods more cohesive Tuesday night. 

One recommended change in land development codes would put properties into "unified" zones.

Under typical zoning, residential, office and commercial properties are in separate zones. But Community Development Director Ross Black says a new unified development code would give the city more flexibility.

Peoria Public Schools could be forced to cut all extracurricular activities, from sports to clubs, if state funding doesn't come through in the fall.

walter_bean / Flickr/Creative Commons

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Veterinarians in central Illinois say canine influenza has sickened dozens of dogs in the Bloomington and Normal area over the past few days. 

Veterinarians are urging dog owners to keep their animals away from other dogs and take their dogs to the veterinarian if they show symptoms.

 Dr. Kirsten Pieper of the Animal Emergency Clinic of McLean County says the most important thing pet owners can do is keep their dogs at home until the outbreak is under control. 

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The Peoria Public School District’s board members are still in the early stages of adopting a revised student behavior policy compliant with Senate Bill 100.

The law passed in August requires school districts to only resort to suspensions and expulsions until “other interventions have been exhausted.”

The seven-page policy mandates changes, like increased documentation and administrative support, should an incident arise.

skyobrienpics / Flickr/Creative Commons

Comedian Paula Poundstone has been a fixture in the world of stand-up for 37 years. Public radio listeners know her as a regular panelist on NPR’s “Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me.”

Poundstone is scheduled to bring her candid comedic style to a stage in central Illinois Thursday at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.

She recently spoke with Peoria Public Radio’s Cass Herrington about the media’s coverage of the presidential race, her androgynous style, and the role of gender in comedy today:   

Salvation Army Drop-In Center closing

May 7, 2016

The Salvation Army is closing its Drop-In Center for the homeless July 1st.  The HUD grant that funds the program has not been renewed.  

Peoria School Board Gets New Member

May 6, 2016

The Peoria District 150 School Board is filling the 2nd District seat left open with Linda Butler’s resignation. Doug Shaw will serve the remainder of Butler’s term.  

Shaw is an active parent of a Richwoods High School International Baccalaureate student. He serves on the Illinois Central College Scholarship Committee and has mentored at both Trewyn and Von Steuben Middle schools. Shaw says he understands that quality public schools are critical for the City of Peoria.


Flags on Bradley University’s campus are being flown at half staff to mark the death of Junior Ashley Borja from Plainfield.

The  engineering student was killed in a four car accident Thursday afternoon when her car crossed the median on south bound Interstate 55 in Livingston County.   

 "Our hearts go out to her family and friends. She was a vibrant young woman who will be missed by all," Bradley University President Gary Roberts said in the statement Friday.


slgckgc / Flickr/Creative Commons

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - A memorial to the victims of the Holocaust featuring millions of buttons will reopen in Peoria next year.

 The memorial will be relocated to the campus of the Peoria Riverfront Museum. It was displayed for more than a decade at a Peoria shopping center before it was taken down for maintenance last year. 

The memorial features tall Plexiglas forms containing millions of buttons, which symbolize Jews and others killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Still Trying to Fund Lock and Dam Upgrades

May 5, 2016

Congressmen Darin LaHood and Rodney Davis toured the Peoria Lock and Dam system Thursday. The duo was looking to gain some firsthand knowledge of the needs of the system ahead of the congressional negotiations to reauthorize the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).


The 13th District Republican Congressman says the last authorization made significant progress identifying needs and he’s hopeful the next will mean further action, "and that means upgrading this facility.


Costa Rica Bill / Flickr/Creative Commons


The Greater Peoria Economic Development Council is expanding its efforts to increase the number of startup companies in the area. It’s preparing to launch a shared workspace stocked with equipment like welders, lasers, and sewing machines.


The concept aims to provide entrepreneurs a space to create prototypes or perfect their product before taking it to market. EDC CEO Jennifer Daly says, when you put skilled workers together in one space, magic happens.

Tanya Koonce

The Peoria Police Department negotiated a stand off today that involved a man with a gun near Glen Oak School at Wisconsin and Republic. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that the city of Galesburg offer residents bottled water or filters after tap water there tested for high levels of lead.