Peoria Public Radio News

Local news stories and features from Peoria Public Radio.

Peoria School District 150 Superintendent Grenita Lathan delivered her third State of the Schools address.  About 300 people attended the breakfast meeting at Four Points Sheraton.  Lathan says the district is having to operate on a slim budget as it grapples with annual deficits and less state funding.  She says the recent two-year contract extension with the Peoria Federation of Teachers helps the district financially:

Police looking for missing teen

May 8, 2013

The Peoria Police Department is seeking help in finding a missing teenage girl. 16-year old Amanda Simon was reported missing on April 30th. She’s Hispanic with brown eyes and long black hair with highlights. She’s five-foot-one and was last seen wearing a black short sleeve shirt, blue jeans, and carrying a black and red backpack with hand-drawn hearts on it. Anyone with information on Simon is encouraged to call the police department.   

East Peoria residents affected by a landslide last month say they want a plan from the City to help.  Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports the city says it won't use tax dollars in the recovery: 

Peoria City Council swears in new members

May 7, 2013

The Peoria City Council welcomed its new members to the horseshoe last night. Four of the five district seats are changing hands.  Council members Dan Irving and Barbara Van Auken part ways with the horseshoe after failed re-election bids last month. Councilman Clyde Gulley stepped down from his first-district post, making way for Denise Moore. Moore is the first black female ever elected to Peoria’s city council.

SUV, body recovered from Illinois River

May 7, 2013

The Peoria Fire Department pulled a body inside a white SUV from the Illinois River Tuesday, following four days of recovery efforts.  Peoria Police say the body is that of 33-year-old Clarence Hanson, who was reported missing over the weekend.  Peoria Fire Department Chief Kent Tomblin says the recovery was a result of multiple departments working together.

The Peoria Fire Department says it’s still too dangerous to recover a possible vehicle submerged in the Illinois River. The city received a report of an automobile floating in the river early Saturday morning near the foot of State Street. Personnel with the city and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources later located a possible vehicle about 40 feet from the shore in nearly 25 feet of water. The Fire Department’s dive team has marked the location of the object and is continuing to monitor the site.

Police events to target scamming

May 6, 2013

The Peoria Police Department is hosting events to educate senior citizens on how to avoid falling for scams. The presentations will cover home repair fraud, phone scams, and door to door scams. The hour-long presentations will be held May 22nd and the 29th at 11 am at the Peoria Police Department. Seats are limited. Those interested should RSVP by May 16th at (309) 494-8378. 

The Peoria Federation of Teachers approved a two-year contract extension last night. The extension would run from mid-2014 through June of 2016. Each year includes a half-percent salary increase plus annual raises based on experience.

Illinois Central College and Arts-Partners of Central Illinois are looking for community input to form a Tri-County Arts and Culture Plan. The groups are holding a series of public sessions to gather input on area strengths and opportunities for growth in the arts. Chris Gray is the Dean of the Department of Arts and Communication at ICC. He says the plan aims to make Peoria a place that people want to live, work and function:

UnityPoint Health-Methodist held held a ribbon cutting for its new 13-thousand-square-foot clinic in Washington Friday. Dr. Gary Knepp is the Chief Medical Officer at UnityPoint Health. He says the $4 million Family Medicine clinic in Washington coordinates with the main hospital thanks to synchronized electronic medical records. This allows the clinic to view patient information and provide better care.

Outside help for Peoria County floods

May 2, 2013

Peoria County is relying on volunteer help in the wake of last month’s flooding.  Assistant Administrator Scott Sorrel says the County is reaching out to trained volunteers in Christian County to help with disaster assessments.  He says additional Red Cross staff will also help answer flood-related calls, and volunteer architects from across the state will help calculate damage.

Regional Port Authority Executive Director resigning

May 2, 2013

The Executive Director of the Heart of Illinois Regional Port District is resigning.  Steve Jaeger has led the Authority for more than six years.  He says he’s leaving to take a post with the Florida Economic Development Alliance on May 20th.  The Port District is working to build an $8 million port facility in Pekin.  Jaeger says the district’s biggest accomplishment is the recent permit approval it got from the Army Corps of Engineers for that project:

More rain could result in additional flooding

May 2, 2013

The National Weather Service says more flooding could occur in the area as rain is expected from today through the weekend. Up to three inches of rain could fall with the slow moving storm system causing renewed flooding in creeks and smaller river basins. Stay tuned to Peoria Public Radio for the latest on the weather. 

Veterans’ jobs fair held at Excel Foundry

May 1, 2013

More than 30,000 manufacturing jobs are available in Illinois, according to officials at the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The department hosted an event Wednesday at Excel Foundry and Machine in Pekin to help veterans connect with area-manufacturing employers. 

Area fire units receive grant funding

May 1, 2013

Two area fire response units are receiving grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Peoria Fire Department is receiving a more than $23,000 grant which will be used for fire prevention and safety to improve response times. The Lacon-Sparland Fire Protection District is receiving more than $120,000 in federal grant funding. The grant will be used to purchase Air Packs, Rapid Intervention Team Packs, and other equipment. The funding is provided through the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant. 

About 50 people marched around downtown Peoria Wednesday in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Illinois People’s Action organized the event as part of a national day of action. Similar events are taking place around the U.S.

Peoria Council approves ballpark restructuring measure

Apr 30, 2013

The Peoria City Council approved its part of a financial restructuring deal with the Peoria Chiefs.  The Council voted nine to one to absorb the payments on the Stadium’s remaining bond debt over the next eight years.  Councilwoman Beth Akeson says she initially planned to vote against the restructuring deal, but changed her mind:

Schock on proposed immigration bill

Apr 30, 2013

U.S. Congressman Aaron Schock is pleased with the Senate proposal of the immigration bill. Schock says he's concerned about potential "poison pill" amendments that could be added by lawmakers, but he's hopeful the current basic proposal will emerge:

$100,000 fireworks display returning to Peoria

Apr 30, 2013

The Red, White and BOOM celebration is coming back to Peoria for the 27th year. The cities of Peoria and East Peoria as well as UnityPoint Health-Methodist come together with other area organizations to host the 100-thousand dollar firework production. East Peoria Mayor Dave Mingus says the event is a signal of unity between the two communities:

"Since then, of course, its not just unity between our community, but it's the whole unity with the entire region - all the people it draws in. It gives me great satisfaction to see families down there at the riverfront, both sides, you can hear what's going on," Mingus says.

CHOI transplants stem cell-based artifical windpipe

Apr 30, 2013

A local hospital is in the national spotlight after it was able to transplant a tissue-engineered bio-artificial trachea into a two-year old child. The Children’s Hospital of Illinois at OSF Saint Francis announced Tuesday it successfully implanted a windpipe in Hanna Warren of South Korea that was made from non-absorbable nano-fibers and her own stem cells.

County holds flood meeting in Chillicothe

Apr 29, 2013

More than 100 residents from the Chillicothe area learned about local recovery efforts following last week’s flooding.  Peoria County held an informational meeting to answer questions and update residents on how to deal with property damage.  Assistant Peoria County Administrator Scott Sorrel says that officials want residents to remember two main points in the coming weeks:

Area Chambers of Commerce members met Monday at Weaver Ridge Country Club to discuss their priorities for federal and state lawmakers. The event was hosted by the Central Illinois Regional Chamber Legislative Effort, or CIRCLE.  Peoria Chamber of Commerce President Rob Parks says pension reform is the number one issue facing the state. Parks says CIRCLE is concerned with the transfer of pension costs from the State to other units of government, especially schools.

Bustos on the Londan Mills flood damage

Apr 29, 2013

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos was in London Mills yesterday to assess flood damage in the area. The community of about 500 people was forced to evacuate about a dozen homes due to rising water levels from the Spoon River. Bustos says the town still has a long way to go in the recovery process, and it starts with recovery efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Agency:

Obama nominates successor to Ray LaHood

Apr 29, 2013

President Barack Obama is nominating a replacement for U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  Obama nominated Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Anthony Foxx to head the department.  Foxx is the first black nominee among Obama's picks for open spots in his second-term Cabinet. If confirmed, Foxx will replace Secretary LaHood, who was one of the few Republicans serving in Obama's administration.  LaHood says he intends to spend time in Peoria after leaving.  He says curbing distracted driving and furthering high-speed rail projects are among the top achievements in his tenure

Peoria teachers’ union president steps down

Apr 29, 2013

The newly-elected president of the Peoria Federation of Teachers says he's resigning the post.  Scott Donahue sent a letter to the district's 1,100 teachers saying he's stepping down as president because of health concerns. He says he has a family history of heart disease and he needs to take steps to prevent undue stress. Donahue says he will continue working at Von Steuben middle school.  He was set to take over next month as the union president.  Donahue ran unopposed and replaced outgoing president Bob Darling.

Residents looking for guidance as they clean up from flooding can attend an informational meeting this evening. Peoria County is hosting a flood recovery meeting at Illinois Valley High School in Chillicothe. The session will cover various topics related to flood safety. Representatives from the emergency management agency, planning and zoning, the health department and county administration will also be on hand to answer questions. The meeting will take place at six this evening. 

Peoria Housing Authority administration and board members say efforts to redevelop Taft Homes are still under their purview. That’s despite the city of Peoria recently voting to approve Northside Riverfront TIF money to fund a study looking at various options for the property. 

Peoria County voters approved a one percent sales tax increase to build the Peoria Riverfront museum in 2009.  Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports that both Peoria County Board members and the museum’s president have seemingly different views on dollars generated from the tax:

County Board member Steve Morris says museum president Jim Richerson brought up the quarter cent sales tax in March:

Riverfront Museum to dedicate fountain

Apr 26, 2013

The Peoria Riverfront Museum will dedicate the latest addition to its sculpture garden collection this weekend. Harrison Gibbs’ sculpture Fountain Group will be honored Sunday afternoon at two in the garden off Water Street. The sculpture is the only fountain on display in the garden. Museum officials say The Fountain Group blends classical and modern styles. It is also the only sculpture with a direct connection to the Peoria area. The artist was from Pennsylvania and married Maurine Montgomery, a sculptor from Peoria, back in the 1930’s.  

Community celebrates Bob Michel's 90th birthday

Apr 26, 2013

Federal, state and community leaders gathered in Peoria Friday to celebrate Bob Michel’s 90th birthday.  The former Congressman served for nearly 40 years in the House until 1995.  Michel says he’s honored to be recognized for his service.