Peoria Public Radio News

Local news stories and features from Peoria Public Radio.

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:

Federal proposal aims to put more doctors to work

Mar 15, 2013

   Congressman Aaron Schock is renewing his effort to get more doctors into the workforce the same day fourth year medical students matched for residency assignments. Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce reports. 

The Peoria Republican says it was an exciting day for many new doctors, but also disappointing for those who didn’t get placed. He says the number of residency slots needs to be increased to counterbalance the current and pending doctor shortage. Schock says the American Medical College estimates a shortage of 130,000 doctors in the next decade. 

Springdale Cemetery GM removed

Mar 15, 2013

Springdale Cemetery is looking for a new general manager.  Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports the Cemetery Management Authority voted to terminate its contract with Jon Austin: 

 Austin took the helm of the historic burial ground three years ago. The cash-strapped cemetery has struggled with ways to find more revenue and expand its community outreach. Cemetery Authority chair Bob Manning says Austin has been very professional, but did not make significant progress on his annual goals. He says a strong financial and marketing background are some of the qualities the board wants to see as it begins its search for the next general manager:

The Levee District is open for business

Mar 15, 2013

The City of East Peoria officially has a new downtown it’s calling The Levee District. The city achieved the goal about a decade after the former Caterpillar Foundry Site was declared the place the city would build a downtown. Cullinan Properties handled the development that includes a myriad of new retailers, with restaurants, office space and a Holiday Inn and Suites coming soon. 

Medical students talk Match Day 2013

Mar 15, 2013

Fourth-year medical students across the country opened envelopes at the same time today. The envelopes contained their residency assignment.   Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano spoke with some of the nearly 50 medical students in the U of I College of Medicine at Peoria class who found out where they are going:  

Push for new DNA testing in Savory murder case

Mar 14, 2013

The legal team representing Johnny Savory was back in a Peoria Courtroom Thursday. The Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth and Northwestern Law Students are asking, among other things, to have new DNA technology applied to the blood evidence in the 36-year-old double murder cases for which Savory is convicted. Savory was 14 years-old at the time of the gruesome murders of 14-year-old James Robinson and 19-year-old Connie Cooper. He was paroled in 2006. Savory contends his conviction was unjust: 

The Peoria County Board deferred a vote to approve new rules to manage independent waste-water systems. Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports the move comes after realtors and other groups say they weren’t involved in crafting the proposed changes: 

 The Peoria City/County Health Department is proposing changes that would require people requesting permits for repairs to prove the rest of their system is up to code.  Another proposed change would make inspectors to eventually follow guidelines when examining a home’s waste-water system prior to selling it.  But the Peoria Area Association of Realtors and some residents say they weren’t included in the process of crafting the rules.  County Board member Lynn Scott Pearson says County staff were transparent in communicating the proposed changes:

Short-term layoffs continue at Caterpillar

Mar 14, 2013

Caterpillar is expected to continue with short-term layoffs   beyond the first quarter as originally anticipated. Randy Smith is with UAW Local 974. He says the rolling layoffs are expected to continue through May, but the company has not yet said how wide reaching the layoffs might be. Caterpillar is also reportedly reducing its flexible workforce of contractual employees. Cat spokesman Jim Dugan says the company will continue with short-term layoffs as needed to keep production in line with demand.

Houston-based power producer Dynegy is buying five Illinois coal power plants from Ameren.  That includes the Edwards coal plant in Bartonville.  Dynegy isn’t paying cash for the plants and the related Ameren business that provides electricity to homes and businesses. Instead Dynegy is assuming $825 million in Ameren's debt. Dynegy says buying the Ameren plants will give it more than 8,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the state and nearly 14,000 megawatts in the U.S.Area environmentalist groups are calling for the eventual closure of the Edwards plant.

Area unemployment jumps significantly from December

Mar 14, 2013

The number of people filing unemployment claims jumped 1.7 percent from December to January.  TheIllinois Department of Employment Security reports the unemployment rate at ten percent in the Peoria Metropolitan Statistical Area.  That’s also a nearly one-percent increase from the same time last year.  Even so 800 more jobs were added from the same time last year due to gains in Educational-Health Services.  But the manufacturing and Business Service areas saw declines year-to-year.

Steamboat Classic running in mid-June

Mar 14, 2013

Peoria’s first Marathon is scheduled for May. But the 40th annual running of the Steamboat Classic is a month later. The road race that attracts world class runners is Saturday, June 15th.

Peoria County is facing a nearly $700,000 cut in state funding that’s proposed by Governor Pat Quinn.  Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports: 

Quinn is proposing a 20-percent cut to a certain state fund that feeds local governments.  Assistant Peoria County Administrator Scott Sorrel says the proposed cut would mean less money to pay for several county services:

Peoria to hold first marathon

Mar 13, 2013

The first ever Peoria marathon is taking place this Spring. As Peoria Public Radio’s Deborah OldenKamp reports the Run River City Marathon also features a marathon relay, a 25-K, and a 5-K, as well as a youth run.

The marathon series is May 19th, with events beginning at 7 that morning. Marathon organizer Adam White says four years ago Champaign began their marathon events.

Region could form natural-gas buying group

Mar 12, 2013

The same consultant that helped establish a regional power-purchasing program for electricity is gauging interest in a similar program for natural gas.  Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports: 

 Charles de Casteja is the Managing Partner of Good Energy. He says the company is working with the Illinois Commerce Commission to put a referendum on next year’s spring ballot for a new gas-purchasing program:

Group explains Illinois’ lagging economy

Mar 12, 2013

Illinois' economy usually rises and falls with the rest of the country. But a government forecasting group says as the nation slowly emerges from the recession, Illinois isn't. IPR’s Chris Slaby reports.

Peoria School District 150 says it wants voters to consider a one-percent sales tax increase on some retail sales.  Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports the District says new revenues are needed amid shrinking property tax and state aid funding: 

 District 150 is expecting a $10 million decrease in general state aid next school year.  District 150 also lost nearly four-million-dollars in property tax revenues the last two years.  Officials say that means less money for roof repairs, technology upgrades and health-life safety projects.  School Board member Rick Cloyd says he supports asking Peoria County voters to consider a one-percent sales tax increase:

Peoria looks to attract new call center

Mar 8, 2013

Peoria officials are working together to attract a new call center business to the city. Mark Rothert  is assistant Peoria County Administrator for Economic Development.  He says the company would create about 200 jobs if it locates in the area.

"Right now, immediately, if the company were to expand into Peoria, they could fill about 50 jobs immediately. So, with that potential of 200 jobs, this is a good project to be working on to help spur on our economic development," says Rothert.

Peoria’s Warehouse District is moving forward. Local, state and federal officials gathered in downtown Peoria for a symbolic ground-breaking. The event kicks off the Warehouse District and Washington Street improvement projects. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined Mayor Jim Ardis, former Mayor Dick Carver and others to kick-off the $30 million effort.

The Peoria man who allegedly murdered his wife on Valentine's Day was seeing a young Lithuanian woman in the United States.  Multiple media outlets are reporting that was the message during a 20-minute bond-hearing for Nathan Leuthold. Prosecutors say Leuthold met the woman in Chicago about 20 times and also bought her clothes. A Peoria Police Detective also reportedly told prosecutors that they found a handwritten note believed to be from Leuthold’s wife, Denise. The note said she knew he wanted her dead and running around with a 20-year-old was making her look bad.

March Madness in Peoria

Mar 7, 2013

The I.H.S.A. March Madness Boys Basketball Tournament kicks-off Friday at the Peoria Civic Center. The March Madness Experience runs alongside the tournament. It features more than 15 games and other attractions to entertain kids and families. The I.H.S.A. tournament is one of the largest annual convention attractions hosted in the Peoria area. Don Welch is the C.E.O. of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. He says its a great two-weekend event for the region. “It brings a lot of economic impact, about 5,000 hotel rooms. It fills all the restaurants and hotels.

The Komatsu facility in Peoria has four federal fines related to the death of an employee last summer.  A Komatsu employee was injured, and later died, after testing hydraulic cylinders for leakage when an equipment failure released hydraulic fluid.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says Komatsu failed to develop and train employees on understanding machine energy control procedures. OSHA says it found similar violations at the Peoria facility in 2011. It also says the company failed to correct repeated failures of machine parts or document annual inspection reviews.

Animal rights group protests at Peoria Walmart

Mar 6, 2013

Mercy for Animals brought its national tour to the Walmart on University in Peoria.  The group is traveling the country protesting the living conditions of pregnant pigs at pork suppliers for Walmart.  Members of Mercy for Animals displayed a 10-foot inflatable pig in a narrow crate as part of its protest.  Phil Letten is with Mercy For Animals.  He says the display aims to highlight how pregnant sows live at some suppliers:

The Peoria Police Department arrested Nathan Leuthold Wednesday morning for the murder of his wife, Denise Leuthold on February 14. Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard says  his department arrested the 37 year-old Leuthold in Pekin during a traffic stop they initiated. He says people have shared information that’s helped his department meet the probable cause standard to make Leuthold’s arrest. But Settingsgaard says detectives are still actively following-up on details.