Peoria Public Radio News

Local news stories and features from Peoria Public Radio.

A central Illinois man has pleaded guilty to charges related to an incident in which he tried to kill another man in anger over child pornography charges he faced.  20-year-old Dustin Brown entered two guilty but mentally ill plea agreements that produced a sentence range of 16 to 94 years in prison.

Tanya Koonce

Junction City Ventures along with several other business sponsors are working with Peoria Public Schools to launch a student-run company. It’s called AppsCo.

Peoria City Council Approves Annual Budget

Nov 16, 2016

Approval of the City of Peoria budget hit a temporary road bump Tuesday night.

Peoria Sees Peaceful Anti-Trump Protest

Nov 16, 2016

About 50 people gathered outside the federal courthouse in downtown Peoria Tuesday night, in what was billed as a peace rally. The focus, however, was clearly the group’s opposition to president-elect Donald Trump’s proposed policies.

Tamie Yost

The 2nd Annual Charley Steiner Symposium on Sports Communication kicks-off tomorrow at Bradley University. Symposium participants include its namesake, alumni and L.A. Dodgers Play-by-Play announcer Charley Steiner as well as the play by play announcers for the Cubs, the Cardinals and ESPN. Female sports writing pioneer Diane Shah is also participating.

Peoria Transgender Society

Advocates for transgender rights in Peoria are bringing academic perspectives to their annual awareness week. The Peoria Transgender Society is bringing together historical research, medicine and law in a project displayed at the Public Library.

The project called “Make History, Be An Ally” includes information about the latest medical and legal perspectives on people who are gender nonconforming.

Ex-Rep. Schock: 'I Am Eager to Finally Defend My Name'

Nov 10, 2016
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The U.S. Attorney’s office Thurs. indicted ex-Illinois congressman Aaron Schock on 24 counts of alleged fraud.

The former 18th District Congressman resigned in March 2015, amid allegations of financial mismanagement.

He held a press conference with his attorneys in Peoria, about an hour before the indictment was released. Schock claims no wrongdoing. He says the Justice Department "manufactured a crime."

Tanya Koonce

Illinois Senator-Elect Tammy Duckworth thanked supporters in Chicago, Springfield and Peoria. Duckworth says she remains committed to working in a bipartisan fashion for manufacturing jobs, roads, waterways and rail as well as college loan refinancing.

Peoria County Voters Shake Up Coroner's Office

Nov 9, 2016

Voters affirmed incumbents in the 17th and 18th Congressional Districts. But Peoria County will have a new coroner.

Republican Johnna Ingersoll lost her bid for a fourth term to Jamie Harwood, 53 to 47 percent. Harwood says his background as a forensic nurse will bring changes to the coroner’s office.

“Every day, medicine changes and we work on an evidenced based best practice system everywhere in healthcare,” Harwood said. “There’s no reason the coroner’s system for investigating death shouldn’t be the exact same premise.”

Local Election Results (Final)

Nov 8, 2016




Peoria County voters looked favorably on two of the three tax increase referenda on the ballot. But the Peoria County School Facilities half-cent sales tax increase was approved by a less than a one-percent margin. Conversely, voters approving the property tax increase for programs supporting veterans and those with disabilities by a 10-percent margin. The referendum that would have meant a quarter-cent sales tax increase for roads failed 55 to 45 percent.


Fear a Common Thread Among Peoria Voters

Nov 8, 2016
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

One of the forces driving Peoria voters, with varying political views, is concern about the future of the country.

At Westminster Presbyterian Church, Roxanne Hoffman and her husband John voted together, like they do every year. But this time, Hoffman says, she cast her ballot for Trump, out of fear.

“I’m afraid for my children. My husband and I are old enough where we’re not going to be affected by it, but my heart cries for my children and my grandchildren,” Hoffman said. “We have five children, and sixteen grandchildren and a great grandchild.”

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Early voting in Peoria County has surpassed 2012.  The Peoria County Election Commission reports nearly 21,300 voters cast their ballots early.

That's about 200 more votes cast in early voting than the last presidential election.

6,100 people elected to vote by mail. That’s more than double the number who cast -what was still called an "absentee ballot" during the last presidential election cycle.

Michael Gil / Wikimedia Commons

Two people were killed in a collision Mon. afternoon with an IVC school bus.

More than 60 Mossville School Students were on the bus when the 2002 Hyundai, Elantra struck it between the front and rear drivers' side wheels.

34-year-old April Turner and 58-year-old Mark Lane, both of Chillicothe, were killed in accident.

The children on the bus where on their way home from school about 3:30 when the crash occurred. The car was traveling southbound on Route-29 when it collided with the bus in the intersection of Cedar Hills Drive.

State Sen. Dave Koehler says he’s introduced a bill that will allow local governments to receive federal funds even if the state doesn’t have a budget.

That was a problem for local agencies like the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Peoria had last year when the state didn’t have a spending plan.

The state budget also serves as the allocation mechanism for federal funds designated for such agencies. The Peoria Democrat says he introduced the bill, after talking about the idea with Director of Airports Gene Olson.

Roo Reynolds / Flickr/Creative Commons

The first Allegiant Flight from Charlotte North Carolina landed at Peoria International Airport today. That was closely followed by the first flight departing for the new destination.

sun dazed / Flickr/Creative Commons

The Peoria Fire Department is reminding people about changing their smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries at the same time they set their clocks back.

The annual fall back time change happens at 2am Sunday, making it 1am.  

Peoria Fire Department Prevention Division Chief Phillip Maclin says they are also encouraging people to check the manufacture date of smoke detectors. 

@goodforshona / Instagram

Race, Inequality and Policing was the topic of a Town Hall Meeting last night at Manual High School.

About 200 people attended the Illinois Central College event. Much of the panelist conversation was about the recent 24/7 Wall Street ranking that placed Peoria "worst in the nation" for African American life.

Peoria City Councilwoman Denise Moore represents zip code 61605, which has one of the highest poverty rates in the state. She says young adults have to get involved to improve the situation.  

Former McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen has pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge, admitting he defrauded a Chicago consulting firm of nearly $500,000.  Sorensen entered the plea during a short hearing in Chicago federal court. 

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The Peoria Public School district is piloting new security technology at Trewyn K-8.

The tech infrastructure includes a feature that allows principals to access their school’s intercom system from any smart phone. Trewyn's principal, Renee Andrews, calls it a “Godsend.” Andrews says the technology gives schools an extra layer of security and comfort should a situation, like a lockdown, arise when a principal is out of the building.

A man suspected of multiple stabbings in central Illinois in August 2015 has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.  36-year-old Jason Hopkins sat at a table in a courtroom Tuesday but didn't participate in the hearing. The state and his lawyer agreed that he was too severely mentally ill to grasp the criminal nature of his actions.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The Heart of Illinois United Way announced Wed. it’s raised more $8.5 million so far in its annual campaign. That’s a slight decrease from $8.8 million this time last fall.

Still, 2016 Campaign Co-Chair Katie McCord Jenkins called the update, “good news” for the community.

“People are really tapping into this message that we have people in need in our community,” McCord Jenkins said. “Funding from state and federal is not what it was, and in order to keep our community strong, we’ve got to be unified and come together.”

Pekin’s New City Manager Gets Unanimous Support

Nov 2, 2016

The City of Pekin has a new city manager. The Pekin City Council unanimously approved Anthony “Tony” Carson for the position in a special meeting.

ttarasiuk / Flickr/Creative Commons

Morton Unit School District 709 will continue using case-by-case decision-making when it comes to transgender student’s using restrooms and locker rooms.

The board of education voted 4-3 against the so called Student Physical Privacy Policy, crafted by the Alliance for Defending Freedom. That policy would have required all students use the restrooms that align with the sex specified on their birth certificate.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Local and state elected officials gathered outside a high rise in Peoria, where a yellow “Now Leasing” sign hangs. 

US Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth and Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis were among those who cut ribbon on the renovated Glen Oaks high rise on Main Street. The Section 8 project now offers 171 residential units for seniors and the disabled. The building formerly known as "Glen Oak Towers" previously had 168 aging units, and its owners were looking to sell the building before the renovations.

Bradley University

Many have already cast a ballot in vote by mail or early voting. But some are still weighing their options in the final week leading up to election day.  Two Political Science Professors at Bradley University are helping us break down some of the things voters are deciding on in this election.

The annual state school report cards are out. Here's what the data reveals about Peoria Public Schools in the 2015-2106 school year.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Grocery shoppers at Kroger today were met by television cameras at the checkout aisle. The Stuff-a-Bus food drive launched its annual campaign with its loftiest goal yet. The idea is to collect so much food it won’t all fit in a retired CityLink Bus.

This year’s goal to raise 13 tons of food is driven by a shortage at the Peoria Friendship House pantry. CEO Melanie McNiff says the nonprofit ran out of food for the first time ever.       

“We actually didn’t think that we could fill the bus any more than we did last year,” McNiff said.

Bre LaRow / Flickr/Creative Commons


As Halloween parties get underway, State and Local law enforcement, as well as the Illinois Department of Transportation, are reminding drivers to exercise some extra awareness. IDOT Spokesman Brian Williamsen says children will also be out past dark.

"You know it’s dark outside, it’s getting darker earlier and earlier," Williamsen said. "Kids are going to be out when they probably normally would not be out, so definitely be aware of that.”


Tanya Koonce

IDOT says the lengthy Interstate 74 project in Morton is complete.

Interstate 74 is now three lanes in each direction from Pleasant Hill Road to Morton avenue. The 1-55 interchange is also reconfigured to improve access to Morton Ave and that community. Morton Mayor Ron Rainson says thank you doesn’t seem like enough:

Bradley University is using tech to combat sexual assault and abuse.

The University announced Wed. it’s participating in an app that allows students to anonymously report incidents on and off campus.

BU says the app called “Reach Out” also encourages students to report situations of harassment and discrimination, including Title IV violations.

In addition to reporting incidents, Reach Out lists information about the medical, reporting, protection, and support options available both on campus and in the local community.