Peoria Teacher Arrested on Criminal Sexual Assault

Feb 12, 2018
Peoria County Jail

Peoria Richwoods High School teacher Phil Earhart has been arrested. The 30-year-old social studies teacher is accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with a 17-year-old female student.


The matter first came to light January 25th. The Peoria Police Department and DCFS were investigating and Earhart was placed on paid administrative leave.


Earhart was a member of the 2017 “40-Leaders-Under-40” class. In addition to teaching social studies classes, Earhart is also the sponsor for a number of student organizations.

  CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois lawmakers and the state's hospitals have reached a tentative agreement on a new method of spreading billions of dollars in federal Medicaid money to hospitals across the state.


But some of Illinois' 22 so-called "safety net" hospitals that serve a high volume of Medicaid patients could lose money under the new program. That's prompting concerns hospitals may have to cut services, lay off staff or even close. / Creative Commons

URBANA, Ill. (AP) - University of Illinois researchers are using a $4 million grant to study how information moves across social media, affecting people's beliefs and shaping events.


Computer Science Professor Tarek Abdelzaher is leading a team that received a five-year grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The team has been modeling information spread on Instagram and Twitter and will study other platforms.


   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Attorneys for Southern Illinois University School of Medicine indicate they will ask a judge to dismiss part of a lawsuit alleging wage discrimination because few female doctors have joined the litigation.


Three current and former faculty members at the school have joined the federal lawsuit filed in 2015.


Illinois State Board of Education / Facebook

For the past year or two, public school funding has been a topic of news stories, yard signs and even campaign ads culminating in Illinois lawmakers approving a historic overhaul of the way the state pays for education. But as it turns out, getting the reform signed into law was only half the battle. The nitty-gritty of actually implementing the changes has sparked a series of legislative skirmishes pitting the State Board of Education against some unexpected opponents. Our Education Desk reporter Dusty Rhodes explains.



Seven Settlement Houses (University of Illinois at Chicago) / Special Collections and University Archives

A new exhibit opening next month at the Illinois State Museum will feature three "unsung heroes." Museum officials say they're focusing on "ordinary people who did extraordinary things." They are nurse Anna Heistad, who worked in Chicago in the early 19th century during a flu pandemic, missionary worker Minnie Vautrin of Secor, who helped shelter thousands of women and children, and Thomas Jones, a Navy medic.

The display relies on photos and personal objects to tell their stories.


Watchdog Group Suggests Taxing Retirement Income

Feb 12, 2018
Gov. Bruce Rauner / Facebook

Governor Bruce Rauner is set to propose his state budget plan this week. It comes as a watchdog group suggests the state’s finances are so bad, Illinois should start taxing retirement income. Taxing retirement income is an age-old debate in Illinois that has a lot of political pitfalls. But Laurence Msall with the Civic Federation, a group that monitors the state’s budget, says the 2-year-long budget impasse did so much long-term damage that everyone will now have to make some sacrifices.


Dave Kindred's Search for the "Essence of Sports"

Feb 11, 2018

This is the story of a successful quest for the essence of sports.

Dave Kindred is the recipient of sports journalism’s highest honor, the Red Smith Award. Kindred is a member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame. The PGA of America awarded Dave its Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award.

Kindred is the author of nine books and has written and reported for the Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sporting News, Golf Digest and many other publications.

Barry Cloyd

Our guest this week is singer/songwriter Barry Cloyd. He's presenting a concert tomorrow night at 7:00 at the Forest Park Nature Center. It's part of their "Songs from the Woods" concert series.

This has become an annual event for Cloyd - he refers to it as his "home concert," and uses it an as opportunity to reunite with other musicians he's worked with for years. He says this concert will include plenty of new songs. He also talks about why he values the Forest Park Nature Center, both as a performance venue and as a source of inspiration for his music.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Peoria Police Chief Jerry Mitchell is abruptly stepping down. Mitchell says he is retiring after more than 27 years on the Peoria Police Department.

Mike Licht / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

Some members of Congress want a one-year deadline for completing a federal study on keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes by strengthening defenses on a crucial Illinois waterway.

In a letter Thursday to heads of House spending committees, 26 lawmakers from Great Lakes states say the next federal budget should order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to finish its Brandon Road Lock and Dam study by February 2019.


Lawyers for a former physics student accused of kidnapping and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China intend to ask the presiding federal judge to recuse himself in the death penalty case. 

State officials say an Illinois Department of Children and Family Services worker has died who was severely beaten while trying to take protective custody of a child.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says lawmakers need to approve a supplemental spending bill to ensure the Department of Corrections can get through the rest of the fiscal year.

State officials say preliminary test results show legionella bacteria have been found in the Illinois State Capitol complex.

A task force created by Illinois' governor to address the deadly Legionnaires' disease at the Illinois Veterans Home will review the possibility for new construction at the facility.

State officials are challenging one million Illinois motorists to slow down and make room when they see a vehicle on the side of the road with hazard lights on.

Mary Cullen / NPR Illinois

With more cases of vaccine-preventable disease in Illinois, doctors say shots should not be skipped.

Dr. Kemia Sarraf's support for vaccinations became much fiercer when her son, Joseph, was diagnosed with leukemia three years ago. Joseph, 15, is considered to be immunocompromised because of his chemotherapy treatments.


Illinois Congressman John Shimkus has had little trouble winning re-election in the 15th District. In fact he ran unopposed in 2016. But this year, two Democrats are competing in the March 20th primary to challenge Shimkus in November.

Every year, community health centers across the U.S. serve 27 million people - at more than 10,000 sites - and they focus on reaching underserved communities.

Federal lawmakers allowed funding for these centers to lapse last fall. U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois issued a statement Tuesday calling on Senate leadership to immediately reauthorize funds, lest an estimated 9 million Americans lose access to health care.

Democrats in Springfield are pushing ahead with a plan hospitals say can’t come soon enough. It’s worth billions of dollars for treating some of the state’s most vulnerable people.

It’s called the Hospital Assessment Program, and it’s how the state pulls in billions of dollars in federal money to treat elderly, poor and disabled patients on the Medicaid program.

The two political parties have been negotiating in private for months, and now Democrats are pushing the debate out into the open.

A bill has been proposed at the Illinois General Assembly that would put term limits on four legislative positions.
Republican Rep. Thomas M. Bennett of Gibson City has proposed the bill. It would limit the House speaker, Senate president and the minority leader in each chamber to 10 consecutive years in their roles.
Bennett submitted a similar bill in March, but it never left the committee. But last year, the chamber approved a resolution that limits the tenure of the Senate president and the minority leader to 10 years.

Former State Senator George Shadid Remembered

Feb 7, 2018
Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

  Long-time public servant George Shadid was laid to rest Wednesday at Resurrection Cemetery in Peoria. Tanya Koonce reports:

Northern Illinois University

A decade has passed since five Northern Illinois University students were killed by a gunman in a lecture hall. 

Every year on February 14th, the bell tower on NIU’s DeKalb campus tolls five times at 3:06 p.m. to remember the lives lost on that day in 2008. This year, a few more events in addition to the annual wreath-laying at the memorial outside of Cole Hall are planned to observe the tenth anniversary of the shooting.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration is requiring state lawmakers to jump through a public-records law hoop before turning over emails about a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.
Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah told a joint House-Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Wednesday that Sen. Tom Cullerton's request for communication surrounding the crisis that has led to the deaths of 13 residents and sickened dozens more is subject to the Freedom of Information Act .

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is endorsing fellow Democrat J-B Pritzker for Illinois governor.

That’s even though Pritzker is taking heat for how he talked about African-Americans in a secretly-recorded phone call with Rod Blagojevich.

IL Treasurer Announces New Rural Investment Program

Feb 7, 2018

Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs has announced a new $500-million program that will help farmers, homeowners and employees in rural parts of the state get access to low-interest loans. Speaking on Illinois Public Media’s daily news talk show The 21st on Tuesday, Frerichs said predatory lending is not just a problem in urban areas.

Lambda Legal

A court heard oral arguments in a 70-year-old's potentially landmark case alleging a Chicago-area senior living center did nothing to stop residents from hurling slurs, spitting on her and physically harassing her because of her sexual orientation.

Tuesday's 7th U.S. Court of Appeals hearing came after a lower court tossed-out Marsha Wetzel's lawsuit against the Niles' Glen Saint Andrew Living Community. If reinstated, it could help establish that federal Fair Housing Act protections cover LGBT tenants harassed by other tenants.




GRANVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Authorities say they believe the suspect in last month's slaying of a northern Illinois teenager met the girl online before he picked her up at her house, drove her to a rural area and killed her.


James Reynolds / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Adapted by Peoria Public Radio / Flickr

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is changing his campaign strategy against Republican primary opponent Jeanne Ives. Previously, he dismissed her as a "fringe candidate.” But now he’s spending money on a TV attack ad, attempting to link Ives to Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.