Peoria Public Radio News

Local news stories and features from Peoria Public Radio.

Subsidized Housing Renovations in Peoria Complete

14 hours ago

Four subsidized housing complexes for seniors and families in Peoria have new updates. The 40 million dollar project is the largest ever in the state outside of Chicago.

The Peoria Planning and Zoning Commission is recommending approval of elements for the proposed River Trail apartment project.  

Army National Guard Base Getting Upgrades

Sep 3, 2015

U.S. Congresswoman Cheri Bustos toured the Army National Guard base in Peoria Thursday.  She met senior Guard officials and also touted federal funding for upgrades at the facility.  Bustos says six that includes replacing six Chinook helicopters at more than $20 million per chopper:

Heat Advisory Information

Sep 3, 2015
Conservation Law Foundation / Flickr

Cooling Centers Open

With the temperature on the rise, cooling centers are now open throughout the region. All Peoria Fire Departments operate as cooling centers and are open around the clock. The lobby of the Peoria Police Department at 600 SW Adams Street is available and the Peoria Civic Center Verizon Cafe’ at 201 SW Jefferson Avenue is also open weekdays 8-5. 

Cooling Center Map

A Red Cross map showing other cooling centers throughout the region is available here

Peoria settles lawsuit over parody Twitter account

Sep 2, 2015
Tanya Koonce

The City Of Peoria will pay a cash settlement to the man had his home raided after he created a parody Twitter account of Mayor Jim Ardis.  The settlement reached between the City and the American Civil Liberties Union representing Jon Daniel agrees to give Daniel $125,000.  The City Council will vote on the proposed settlement at its meeting next week.

In 2014, Peoria Police raided then 29-year-old Jon Daniel’s home after he was linked to the parody account. 

With the mercury rising and heat index nearing 100 degrees this week, some District 150 Schools are without air conditioning.

Superintendent Sharon Kherat says 11 of the district’s 26 schools have had partial or no air conditioning for years. She says it’s estimated that replacing the systems would cost the district $40 million.

“It’s all about the money and where will that come from," Kherat said. "We’ve begun having those discussions, so we’ll see what happens.”

District 150 is starting a heat schedule Wednesday through Friday due to high temperatures.  That means middle and high schools will dismiss at 1pm and primary schools dismiss at 2pm.  All students will be able to eat lunch before the early dismissals.  Students at schools without air-conditioning will get additional bottled water this week.  Normal school hours will resume next week.  Also during the heat schedule:


On a hot, sultry summer’s day, the Peoria Civic Center announced  that a corner of downtown will become an ice skating rink this winter. It’s part of the Center’s inaugural Winterfest, a 39-day event that organizers hope becomes an annual tradition.

Peoria City Councilman Ryan Spain says the goal is to attract residents downtown during the chillier months.

Peoria County's sales tax revenue lags

Aug 31, 2015
Aranami / Flickr/Creative Commons

Online sales and big box chains across the river are hurting Peoria County sales tax revenue. That’s according to the latest 2015 financial report presented to a county budget committee last week.

County Chief Financial Officer Eric Dubrowski says the tax from online sales is distributed to Peoria County at a lower rate, based on a per-capita distribution. The County's revenue is based on its unincorporated population of 37,000.

KEWANEE, Ill. (AP) - Authorities say two Texas residents have died in a plane crash in northern Illinois that left a third person injured. Authorities responded to the crash in a soybean field in Kewanee around 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Henry County Coroner David Johnson pronounced 67-year-old Steven Murray and his son, 38-year-old Mark Murray, dead at the scene. Both were from Houston. A third victim, 40-year-old Samantha Murray, was airlifted to a Peoria hospital. Johnson says the trio had been in the area for a family gathering and were returning home.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Peoria County’s jail facilities are overdue for major upgrades. Its security software and basic infrastructure haven’t been updated since it opened in 1985. 

The first item on the jail’s long list of upgrades is the Central Control. It’s a room paneled with monitors and flashing buttons. Superintendent Brian Asbell calls it the “communication hub.”

“Our officer that’s stationed up here, he monitors all inmate movement through cameras, we have right now 112 cameras throughout the campus,” Asbell said.

A new program will help homeowners on Peoria’s East Bluff pay for home improvement work. The city council approved the new grant program last week:

Easter Seals pursues line of credit to continue services

Aug 28, 2015

The board of directors at Peoria’s Easter Seals voted to add a half million dollar line of credit to keep services going through January. 

  “For my folks who operate on these state contracts, if there’s no more line of credit, or no more payment, their jobs are done,” Runyon said.The move comes as the non-profit, and many others in Illinois, are left in financial limbo because of the state budget impasse. Easter Seals’ Executive Vice President James Runyon says forty of the Peoria agency’s service providers haven’t been paid since the end of June.

Candidates seeking Illinois' 18th Congressional District seat vacated by Aaron Schock reiterated their positions during a second debate this week.  

Peoria-area sees year-to-year drop in unemployment

Aug 27, 2015

The unemployment rate fell in every metro area in the state for the 17th month in a row. The Illinois Department of Employment Security is reporting an unemployment rate of 6.2-percent in July for the Peoria area. That’s a more than one-percent decline from the same time last year. But the Peoria metro area lost 1,900 jobs year-over-year.

$3M grant to help tackle lead hazards in Peoria

Aug 27, 2015

The Peoria City/County Health Department is getting a $3 million federal grant for lead hazard control.  The funding lasts three years and will pay for programs to reduce lead-poisoning rates in low-income areas.  The grant will target health hazards in 180 homes affected by lead poisoning.  The Peoria Health Department has received $8.5 million to tackle lead poisoning in more than 600 homes.

  PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - Officials at Peoria's airport say they hope renovations in the works will help the facility compete for passengers wanting to fly international.  Construction on a two-gate expansion at Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport is roughly 40 percent complete. Airport director Gene Olson says the $9 million project is slated to be finished in spring next year.  He says it's going to add domestic capacity and set the stage for expanding flights to international destinations in the coming years, like to Mexico and the Caribbean.

Career fair for Veterans sees high turnout

Aug 26, 2015
flazingo_photos / Flickr/Creative Commons

A veteran’s career fair in Pekin saw record turnout Wednesday. An event spokesperson says more than 150 veterans met with organizations and companies with vacancies to fill. 

 Officials say most of those who attended the annual veteran’s event are unemployed. 17 agencies including state police, hospitals and corporate chains are accepting applications.

Local positions within the state police and correctional officers are posted at

Bishop Daniel Jenky has defrocked a priest following allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor stemming from nearly 30 years ago.  Jenky says Father Terry Cassidy is stepping down from public ministry.  Cassidy was the pastor at Saint Ann Church in Peoria.  Jenky made the move after the Peoria Diocese Review Commission unanimously supported defrocking Cassidy. 

  CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - University of Illinois athletes reportedly tested positive for banned drugs 65 times during last school year.  It's more than any school year in at least a decade. A print report cites documents obtained through an information request.  The next highest total in the past 10 years was 52 positive tests in the 2009-2010 year.  The sports with the highest numbers were football, which also has the biggest roster, followed by baseball/softball and basketball. The most common drug was marijuana. Random drug testing has been in place for years.

Caterpillar cutting 475 management, support jobs

Aug 25, 2015

East Peoria Police crackdown on impaired driving

Aug 25, 2015

The East Peoria Police Department reminds drivers to plan ahead and designate a sober driver.  

Amid enrollment slide, District 150 tackles deficit

Aug 24, 2015
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

District Superintendent Sharon Kherat says enrollment is down at least 444 students compared to this time last year. That number wasn’t part of last night’s official budget presentation.

Enrollment is at 12,824, compared to 13,268 last year and 13,354 in 2013, Kherat said. 

Staff skirted answering exactly how large class sizes would be, saying more firm numbers are expected after Labor Day.  The district also started the year with 53 fewer teachers compared to last fall.  School board member Dan Adler says lower enrollment numbers would affect the final classroom tally.

The City of Peoria is drafting a plan to convert a plot of riverfront property into park space to placate concerns about a a segment of Riverfront Park that’s pegged for private development. The River Trails Apartment project is sketched for construction on what’s currently city-owned parkland along the Illinois River.