Peoria Public Radio News

Local news stories and features from Peoria Public Radio.

Highway projects near Morton to begin

Mar 29, 2013

An $86 million road improvements project begins Monday near Morton.  It’s part of Governor Pat Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now program, and includes additional lanes and pavement replacements on I-74.  The I-74 and Morton Avenue interchange will also get ramp improvements.  The project is expected to finish by summer of 2015. 

Judge post filled in 10th Circuit

Mar 29, 2013

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Thomas Keith to fill a vacancy in the 10th Judicial Circuit.  Keith has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney since 1994 and is currently based out of the Central District Office in Peoria.  He will fill the Resident Court post in Stark County starting April 5th.  Judge Stuart Borden retired from that position last December.  The 10th circuit is comprised of Marshall, Peoria, Putnam, Stark and Tazewell Counties.

Rivermen hockey team leaving Peoria

Mar 29, 2013

  The St. Louis Blues are taking the Rivermen hockey team out of Peoria at the end of the season. The notification came via a letter to the Peoria Civic Center Friday. 

Peoria County’s rural transit service may have funding through the end of June.  Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports the County Board is considering two-resolutions next month to fund the cash-strapped service: 

 The rural transit service needs about $140,000 to stay afloat through June. That’s because more people are using the program than annual grant funding can support.  One resolution proposes taking money directly out of the general fund to pay for rural transit costs.  County Board member Allen Mayer has another resolution. He proposes instead paying  for the transit service with anticipated revenues from property taxes and delaying some road projects for a year. 

Area unemployment rate rises to 10.4 percent

Mar 28, 2013

  The number of people filing unemployment claims increased nearly half-a-percent from January to February.  The Illinois Department of Employment Security reports the unemployment rate at 10.4 percent in the Peoria Metropolitan Statistical Area.  

Drone technology plan before state Senate

Mar 28, 2013

Illinois legislators are being asked to strike a balance between privacy concerns, and letting police use technology they say will help them do their jobs. IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports on a plan before the state Senate.

ICC tuition to increase eight percent

Mar 27, 2013

Illinois Central College tuition is going up eight percent next school year. The ICC board of trustees approved the  increase Wednesday. It raises the tuition rate about nine dollars per credit hour. 

  The Peoria Police Department is applying for a federal grant as part of the community's anti-violence initiative. The Don’t Shoot program is based on the book by David Kennedy and addresses ways law enforcement and the community can reduce violent crime. Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard says the Department of Justice grant request is for about $700,000 over three years. He says it would pay for some of Kennedy’s staff at John Jay College to help Peoria officials with the program:

Quest for community health

Mar 27, 2013

Quality Quest for Health is overhauling its mission. The not- for-profit group is partnering with The Heart of Illinois United Way and the Peoria City/County Health Department to focus on community health matters. That’s a shift away from a medical institution outcomes based focus. The move comes as the recent County Health Rankings Report showed Peoria 66th out of Illinois’ 102 counties. Peoria Health Department Administrator Greg Chance says the report is an ideal platform to start a broader health discussion: Peoria’s neighbor Woodford County was ranked third best in Illinois.

Congressman says Pat Brady should serve out term

Mar 26, 2013

  A Republican Congressman says he believes his party's chairman should be allowed to complete his term, after taking a controversial stance earlier this year.  High-level Republicans unsuccessfully tried to overthrow State Party Chairman Pat Brady after he announced his support for same-sex marriage. Congresssman Rodney Davis of Taylorville stands by Brady, saying he did a “good job” bringing the GOP together during the 2012 election season.  Instead of focusing on inner-party politics, Davis says Republicans should focus on solving the problems that plague Illinois.

  The state could garnish casino payouts for neglected child support payments.  State Senator Darin LaHood is sponsoring legislation that would require the state to garnish winnings of $1,200 or more from deadbeat parents.  LaHood says the measure allows casino officials to check a winner’s Social Security number in a state database to see if they owe child-support:

Homeless student number jumps in District 150

Mar 25, 2013

The number of reported homeless students in District 150 jumped 50-percent compared to last academic year.  Peoria Public Radio's Alex Rusciano reports:   

 District 150 gets federal and state funding to support the number of students without a regular residence.  422 students were counted as homeless last school year.  That number jumped to 635 this year.  York Powers is the District 150 Family and Community coordinator.  He says the increase is partly the result of the economy:

Renowned cancer researcher resigns from UICOMP

Mar 25, 2013

A renowned professor and researcher with the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria has resigned his post. Doctor Jasti Rao resigned Monday morning due to health concerns. Doctor Rao headed the Cancer Research Center at U of I College of Medicine and was also a professor of cancer biology and neurosurgery.  The College of Medicine Dean,Doctor Sara Rusch, says she will fill Doctor Rao’s roles until a replacement is found.  Doctor Rao’s research efforts have led to a patented discovery of an anti-cancer treatment and more than $30 million in grant funding.

Decatur airport impacted by FAA cuts

Mar 25, 2013

The director of the Decatur Airport says the loss of their air traffic control tower staff will affect airport operations, but not flight safety.

Decatur Airport is one of 149 airports across the country, where the Federal Aviation Administration last week announced plans to lay off contract air traffic control workers, due to sequestration cuts.

Pekin continues talks for proposed garbage fee

Mar 25, 2013

The Pekin City Council is considering a garbage free to plug a nearly $2 million annual deficit in the city waste department. 

City staff are proposing a 12-dollar fee per household to pay for garbage, yard waste and recycling pick-up. They say the fee would plug a $1.9 million annual hole in the city waste department. Pekin Mayor Laurie Barra says she supports the garbage fee:

Pekin continues talks for proposed garbage fee

Mar 25, 2013

The Pekin City Council is considering a garbage free to plug a nearly $2 million annual deficit in the city waste department. 

City staff are proposing a 12-dollar fee per household to pay for garbage, yard waste and recycling pick-up. They say the fee would plug a $1.9 million annual hole in the city waste department. Pekin Mayor Laurie Barra says she supports the garbage fee:

Wildlife Prairie State Park measure passes IL House

Mar 22, 2013

The Illinois House unanimously approved a measure to transfer ownership of Wildlife Prairie State Park to a private group.  Representative Mike Unes sponsored the legislation that would transfer control of the facility to the not-for-profit group, Friends of Wildlife Prairie State Park. That would allow the group to access private funding to pay for projects at the facility. The park’s major source of funding comes from the public through membership fees, donations and grants. The state stopped funding the park in 2008. The measure now heads to the state senate.

Remembering Ernie Russell

Mar 22, 2013

The greater Peoria community laid to rest a longtime public servant Friday. Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce reports Ernie Russell died Monday. 

Peoria to host neighborhood improvement conference

Mar 22, 2013

Peoria is hosting the 27th annual Regional Neighborhood Network Conference this fall. Peoria Public Radio’s Sean Flavin reports the event runs September 19th through 21st.

The conference brings more than 400 community leaders together to share neighborhood improvement programs. It includes community leaders from five midwest states. At-Large Peoria City Councilman Ryan Spain helped bring the conference to Central Illinois. He says the conference will help the city improve from the neighborhood level up.

Peoria County rates poorly in 2013 health report

Mar 22, 2013

For the fourth year in a row Peoria County ranks in the lower half for overall health. A number of factors contribute to Peoria’s mediocre scores and they have officials in the county health department searching for solutions. 

Peoria County is the 66th healthiest county out of 102 in Illinois according to the 2013 County Health Rankings report. The report analyzes a number of health factors to determine overall rankings. Peoria finished 78th in the health behaviors category. This factors in behaviors like smoking, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases. Peoria County reported more than double the state average of STDs in 2013.

  U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan says the budget passed this week by the Republican-controlled House is vital to the nation’s financial stability.  He made his comments at a fundraiser for Congressman Aaron Schock at Five Points Washington.  The former vice-presidential candidate says the House spending plan offers solutions to keep the country’s financial house in order:

Revamped Peoria County law library opens doors

Mar 20, 2013

The law library and help center at the Peoria County Courthouse is officially re-opened following nearly $33,000 in renovations. Michael Brandt is the Chief Judge of the 10th Judicial Circuit. He says the renovations helped make it easier for people to use legal resources:

Springdale’s only board secretary retires

Mar 20, 2013

The Springdale Cemetery Authority Board’s secretary resigned Tuesday. Jeanette Hillyer has served in the board as a Peoria County representative since its creation 11 years ago. Hillyer says there have been many improvements in the historic burial ground over the last decade. 

Video gaming regulations for East Peoria

Mar 20, 2013

  The City of East Peoria is requiring all video gaming machine holders to register. Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce reports:The East Peoria City Council unanimously approved the measure that requires registration and a $25 per machine fee. Peoria Mayor Dave Mingus says he supports the measure, but the city will need to revisit how it regulates video gaming. “I question the best interest of it being in the city, particularly because we have the Par-a-dice [Casino] that does a good job of monitoring, that does a good job of community support,” Mingus says.

The U of I College of Medicine Peoria is teaming-up with the Center for Prevention of Abuse. The goal is to train medical students to identify and treat victims of abuse. College of Medicine Dean, Dr. Sara Rusch says the program will use patient actors to represent symptoms of abuse. 

Illinois' economic development wing is fighting to hold on to its existence.

Former Bradley professor dies in Peoria crash

Mar 19, 2013

Bradley University’s first female African-American faculty member died in a car accident Monday in Peoria.  Bradley President Joanne Glasser says Doctor Barbara Penelton joined the college of Education and Health Sciences in 1969.  She also chaired the Department of Teacher Education and served as the University Ombudsman.  Penelton also received recognition including the Putnam Award for Teaching Excellence and the YWCA Leadership Award.  

Emo's Opening Day

Mar 18, 2013

Patrons lined up this morning outside of Emo’s for the ice cream shack’s Opening Day. The event doubles as a yearly signal of spring in Peoria. 

Peorian wins outstanding victim advocacy award

Mar 18, 2013

Peoria Congressman Aaron Schock’s nomination for a National Outstanding Victim Advocacy award is going to a long-time community advocate. Martha Herm is the executive director of The Center for Prevention of Abuse in Peoria and is one of two people nationwide to receive the annual award. 

Peoria LISC aims for $11 million grant

Mar 18, 2013

Peoria’s Local Initiative Support Corporation, or LISC, is applying for a nearly $11 million grant. 

LISC set up in Peoria last year. It works with non-profits, governments and community groups to rejuvenate struggling neighborhoods. To that end, the national non-profit organization applied for a multi-million-dollar grant from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. Brandon Holmes is the executive director of Peoria’s LISC office.  He says the grant would help pay for re-development efforts in the East Bluff:

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