Peoria Public Radio News

Local news stories and features from Peoria Public Radio.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

A vacant building on Peoria’s South Side got a splash of color that the city hopes will spur more economic investment in the area. The City unveiled two vinyl murals Mon., as part of the Community Development Center’s first contest for the "Art Pop" initiative.

The first Art Pop installations are two vinyl murals, draped along the sides of a large warehouse at 3560 SW Adams St.

Lincoln K-8 Starts School Year On Better Footing

12 hours ago
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Students who returned to Lincoln K-8 School this month entered a drastically different environment, compared to last year.

Peoria District 150 allocated about $270,000 to implement the ELITE program at Lincoln last fall. That change, among others, is helping turn things around.

ELITE founder Carl Cannon says he and his colleagues were shocked by what they saw when they arrived at Lincoln last year. The scene was so chaotic, he called it a “Hollywood” School.

HerrWick / Flickr/Creative Commons

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The board of Illinois' largest public-pension fund could take action that would increase the state's annual contribution by hundreds of millions of dollars amid a budget crisis. 

Teachers Retirement System trustees are expected to vote Friday to lower the assumed rate of return on the fund's investments. The move comes as pension systems across the United States are seeing lackluster returns and analysts are warning they should adjust expectations.

Peoria 10th Circuit Court Judge Al Purham stands by his original ruling: The 1970 case involving Cleve Heidelberg must be reinvestigated by the Illinois Attorney General.

"I believe in transparency," Purham said.

That was his final statement in the courtroom Thurs., after hearing arguments from the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s office in defense of his decision not to reopen Heidelberg’s case.

At issue was State’s Attorney Jerry Brady’s personal ties to the trial's lead prosecutor, who Brady contacted before determining not to reopen the case earlier this year.

City Names New Director of Public Works Department

Aug 25, 2016
City of Peoria / Facebook

The City of Peoria is promoting from within to fill the office of public works director.

On Thurs., the Peoria City Administrator announced Scott Reeise will fill the vacant position.

Reeise, a Morton native, was named assistant director of public works in 2015 and is also the city engineer. The Bradley University alum started his career with the City of Peoria as a Civil Engineer in 2004.

Reeise’s public works director appointment is effective August 27th.


Peoria Police are looking into the cause of a crash that left one man dead and another critically injured.

The County Coroner says 26-year-old Jacoby Cotton died at approximately 1:15am after his motorcycle crashed in the 5900 block of Knoxville Ave.

Coroner Johnna Ingersoll says autopsy results out today could clarify the extent of the injuries. Toxicology results take 10 days to process.

Cotton was riding with Brandon Hardin, who was transported to OSF after police arrived on the scene of the single-vehicle crash.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Governor Bruce Rauner announced the creation two minority business advancement programs at the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce Conference in East Peoria.

He says the state is creating a sheltered market, first to find a minority owned IT consulting firm, with food service, healthcare and construction as other target areas.

Google maps

The Salvation Army Shelter in Pekin closed in June for a complete renovation and is looking toward its rebirth. The Rust Transitional Shelter is looking to open its doors in about 30 days.

Tunnel to Tower Foundation

A ceremony kicked off the opening of the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit in East Peoria today. The exhibit, from the Tunnel to Tower Foundation, is traveling to Boyd Gaming establishments, and is currently set up at the Par-a-dice in East Peoria.

WASHINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Authorities in central Illinois say a house exploded outside the city of Washington sending two residents hurtling out of the home.

Tazewell County Sheriff's Department chief deputy Jeff Lower says the blast happened about 1:45 a.m. Wednesday. Emergency responders arrived to find the property full of debris and the house on fire. The only part of the home left was a chimney.

Twelve jobs will soon be added to Peoria’s employment roles after the city council Tues. rezoned property to allow meat processing and packaging.

Kencor Company will now move its operation from Kenosha, Wisconsin to Peoria and begin operations this fall on Precast Way.

The company will process catfish, using the fish body for human consumption, primarily by ethnic groups. The remainder of the fish will be used for animal food. Company president Kevin Evans says the oven at the new facility will meet air quality standards.

Nucho / Flickr/Creative Commons

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - A federal judge has ruled a coal fired energy plant outside Peoria has allowed too much soot to be emitted from its smoke stacks.

U.S. District Judge Joe B. McDade wrote in a Tuesday order that Illinois Power Resources Generating LLC must work to clean emissions from the E.D. Edwards power plant.

The Sierra Club and other groups filed the lawsuit in 2013. They alleged the plant then owned by Ameren Illinois violated the Clean Air Act. IPRG acquired the plant after the lawsuit was filed. 

Tanya Koonce

The 9/11 Mobile Memorial Exhibit opens in East Peoria today. It was escorted by fire and police vehicles to its temporary resting place in the parking lot of the Par-a-dice Hotel and Casino.

Tanya Koonce

UnityPoint Health Peoria and Pekin’s Progressive Health Systems are negotiating terms of an affiliation. The two organizations have a letter intent that means the parties have entered exclusive negotiations to finalize an affiliation agreement by year’s end.

Tanya Koonce

Greater Peoria Area Habitat for Humanity breaks ground for its 3rd Veteran Build next month. Lea Anne Schmidgall is the Executive Director of the area Habitat chapter. She says Army Specialist James Stevens will put in sweat equity on the 1,200 square foot, 3-bedroom home.

A program offering help with winter heating bills is preparing to enroll seniors and people with disabilities.  Priority enrollment in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as liheapIllinois, begins Sept. 1 at 35 local agencies that administer the state-federal program.

For Peoria GED Graduates, the Future is Now

Aug 23, 2016
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The Peoria Park District is hosting its annual graduation ceremony for 11 adult learners.

The students recently completed the Peoria Park District Foundation’s free GED program, the Moonlight Coalition, for students who dropped out of high school.

One of those graduates, Bernell Harvey, dropped out 10 years ago. He enrolled in ELITE's re-entry program  because he "wanted to make my mom proud." Through that initiative, he met instructor Hedy Elliott, who encouraged him to pursue a GED. 

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Peoria District 150 School Board unanimously approved adding a tax referendum question to the November ballot.

The Peoria Public School Board approval was necessary to get the half-a-percent facilities-sales-tax question on the ballot, because it serves more than 49-percent of the county’s population.

Mick Willis is the District’s new Treasurer. He says the tax referendum question would mean an estimated four-point-two  million dollars toward District 150 facilities improvements:

Health officials are issuing a West Nile Virus warning after a dead bird tested positive in Tazewell County.

  Human cases of the disease are rare, but the Illinois Department of Public Health is urging people to take precautions, especially since recent temperatures have been more favorable for outdoor activity.

Common symptoms include fever, nausea, and headaches. On average only one in five people infected show symptoms.

Max Becherer / AP Photo

A Peoria based non-profit is lending a hand to disaster-stricken communities in Louisiana.

On Sun., Midwest Food Bank sent a volunteer-driven semi packed with 800 disaster relief boxes to Baton Rouge residents affected by flooding from recent storms, according to a new release.

Midwest Food Bank says it plans to send more disaster relief boxes in the days ahead. Each box contains enough shelf-stable food and supplies to provide for a family of four for about 4 to 5 days.

The Sweep Squad / Flickr/Creative Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois has become the latest state to grant legal protections to nannies, house keepers and in-home caregivers with a domestic workers "bill of rights."

City of Peoria

The Illinois State Board of Elections has terminated the political campaign committee of Fifth District Peoria City Councilman Casey Johnson. The termination comes for failing to file quarterly campaign disclosures.


The letter mailed to Johnson's Hamilton Road Address says he has not responded the Campaign Disclosure Division for a year.

Peoria County Voters Get Two More Questions

Aug 19, 2016
Peoria Public Radio

Peoria County Voters will have two additional referenda on the November General Election Ballot. The Peoria County Board overwhelmingly approved placing the measures on the ballot last night.


Back-to-School for the Community

Aug 17, 2016
Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Most kids are heading back to school today and tomorrow. Though Pekin Public Schools start Monday and Morton and Washington Schools are already back in session.

Between what some see as obligatory Facebook-kid photos, the backpacks and all the school supplies, the youngsters at Franklin Primary School on Columbia Terrace were greeted a little differently by their community.

Bradley Move-in Day Traffic Strategy

Aug 17, 2016

Saturday is official move-in day at Bradley University. That means a significant increase in traffic in the area of Main and University Streets.

Motorists can expect delays on University between I-74 and campus mostly between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. and are encouraged to use alternate routes.

There are also parking restriction and road closures around the University for move-in and back to school activities.


Changes to traffic pattern around BU for move-in day and back to school activities :

The Peoria County State’s Attorney is requesting a judge reconsider his decision to appoint a special prosecutor to a 46-year-old murder murder case.

State’s Attorney Jerry Brady filed a motion Tues. defending his reason for calling his friend and colleague, Ron Hamm, who was the prosecutor in the trial that led to the lifelong prison sentence of Cleve Heidelberg.

Brady says in the filing he called prosecutor Ron Hamm on Apr. 22 with the intent of releasing Hamm’s number to the news media.

Tanya Koonce, Tamie Yost / Peoria Public Radio

The author of the award-winning book, Dreamland spent Tuesday in Peoria talking about the opioid epidemic. Sam Quinones is the author of three narrative non-fiction books. His last is Dreamland, subtitled ‘The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.”


The book is part of the 2016 community reading initiative included in the Mayor’s Community Coalition Against Heroin.


Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation that sets training standards for those who provide care to people with Alzheimer's disease.  It outlines how long caregivers need to be trained and what should be included in the curriculum. 


The City of Peoria has an answer to a question that seems like a no-brainer. A recently issued court order adds language to a 1988 Court Decree. Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce reports it specifies voters get the same number of votes as there are at-large seats up for election.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

There’s a shift playing out in classrooms across the country in how teachers manage and address student behavior. That was the takeaway of a presentation for Peoria Public School teachers in preparation for the start of class on Wednesday. 

Regional Superintendent of Schools for Macon-Piatt Matthew Snyder is an author on the subject -- and he’s dealt with it on a personal level in raising his adopted son from Haiti.  

Snyder says teachers need to consider the underlying cause of a student’s behavior, like fear or anxiety, often caused by traumatic situations at home: