Alex Rusciano

News Producer

Alex Rusciano has been WCBU’s news producer and reporter since 2010.  His beats include covering Peoria Public Schools, Peoria County government and the City of East Peoria. He also covers general community matters as they arise. Alex graduated from Michigan State University, with a major in Journalism. Alex lives in Peoria, and enjoys hiking, running and travel.  

Ways to Connect

East Peoria is looking to add residential development to its new downtown Levee District.  The City Council last week discussed possible ways to enhance the new public and commercial area.  City Planning Director Ty Livingston says adding residential space would help draw more interest in the Levee District:

A well-known women’s rights activist is speaking at Bradley University Tuesday to talk about her fight for equal pay.  Lilly Ledbetter is speaking at the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center.  Her pay-discrimination case led to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.  The event is free and open to the public. 

Bradley University was named the fifth top university in the Midwest according to the annual U.S. News and World Report rankings.  The University’s College of Engineering and Technology is again listed among the best undergraduate engineering programs.

Peoria is ranked among the top cities for global trade. The city is ranked 12th by Global Trade Magazine. It says Peoria’s businesses continue to do well despite a sputtering economy, shipping 17-billion-dollars worth of goods last year. The magazine says that’s in part to the city’s low corporate real estate taxes and growth of new businesses. 

The Peoria County Board will consider taking all board members off of the county’s health plan starting in 2014.  The resolution approved in committee would end the plan.  Currently only two board members out of 18 use the county’s health benefits.  That costs the County about 24-thousand-dollars annually. 

The Pekin-Peoria economy slowed further in the 2nd quarter of the year. A measurement of 14 key economic factors shows the slower economic growth. 

OSF HealthCare System will not take over Proctor Hospital’s five First Care Centers and primary physician sites.  OSF Spokesman Jim Farrell says talks to transfer services from Proctor Hospital to OSF HealthCare System ended without agreement.  

Community remembers Gary Sandberg

Jul 26, 2013
Tanya Koonce/Peoria Public Radio

A steady flow of people came and went from the Gateway Building on the Peoria Riverfront Friday for the life remembrance for Peoria City Councilman Gary Sandberg.  

Galesburg city leaders say the community was a fitting stop for President Obama to kick-off his new economic focus. The city was the first location in a series of speeches for the President to sell his vision for a thriving economy. Gary Camarano is Galesburg’s Global Strategies Director. He says the city economy was rough in 2004 when Maytag closed and thousands of workers lost their jobs:

NPR

President Barack Obama is speaking in Galesburg today to talk about economic recovery. Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports the president is making his remarks at Knox College.

The body found in the home of Gary Sandberg is believed to be that of the at-large city councilman.  Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll says good friends went to Sandberg’s home at 1213 South West Adams Street this afternoon to check on him. They called 911 about 2:15, saying they had found a man deceased. 

Legislation passed in Springfield clears the way for Peoria County to have a single election commission. Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports the election reform bill allows the County to ask voters if they want a combined commission:

Currently the City of Peoria runs election services within its borders, and part of the County Clerk’s Office runs the rest of Peoria County services. Tom Bride is executive director of the Peoria City Election Commission. He says a combined service means more efficiency for voters:

Peoria County is preparing to expand its employee health plan coverage to comply with the Affordable Care Act.  New regulations require the county to cover the cost for mammograms, colonoscopies and immunizations as much as 100-percent.  

Peoria County is asking municipalities to sign onto a three year contract for animal control services. The current contracts with 14 Peoria County communities expire at the end of the year.

The Peoria Park District took a firm stand AGAINST commercial re-development at the Peoria Stadium site.  Peoria Public Radio's Alex Rusciano reports the Park District Board instead is looking to buy some of the historic property:

The Park District has a long term lease with School District 150 to use some of the land next to the Stadium for athletic fields.  Park District Board president Tim Cassidy says they’re interested in talking with District 150 to see if they can own some of the property in an effort to keep the site green.  Cassidy says that move would raise new questions, like what the price would be and where funding would come from:

A Peoria County board that helps people with disabilities will no longer receive state funding for an early childhood intervention program.  Peoria Public Radio's Alex Rusciano reports that affects 16 employees with the Care and Treatment Board:

That's nearly all of the employees at the Care and Treatment Board.  The state is instead awarding the $875,000 grant to Peoria Easter Seals.  County Administrator Lori Curtis Luther says that means the Care and Treatment Board will instead focus on different programs with other pass through funding it gets every year:

Townhall mtg to address redistricting

May 28, 2013

 

Area residents can share feedback on a proposed state constitutional amendment that would change the way political districts are drawn. Lawmakers currently draw the lines. But grassroots groups “Change Illinois!” and “Reboot Illinois” propose creating an independent commission to fill the role.  

Memorial Day events for Monday

May 27, 2013

Area groups are holding several events to honor past and present service members today. Peoria Navy Club, Ship 34, will hold services at Veteran’s Plaza at Riverfront Park at 10. The City of Peoria holds its annual Ceremony at the Gateway building at 10:30. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 26-02, will conduct Memorial Day Ceremonies at the Peoria Memorial Association Monument at Springdale Cemetery at 10:00 a.m. The American Legion Post 979 in Bartonville will conduct Memorial Day Ceremonies at the Monument on McKinley Street at 11.

  Tazewell County is targeting repeat D-U-I offenders. State’s Attorney Stu Umholtz says his office is permanently implementing the so-called “No-Refusal” protocol for felony DUI offenders as well as those with aggravating factors at the time of the stop. Umholtz says DUI offenders remain a serious threat to public safety, and repeat offenders have learned to refuse testing, thwarting evidence to prosecute.

Peoria County Deputies remembered

May 15, 2013
Alex Rusciano / WCBU

The Peoria County Sheriff’s Office held its annual memorial service for fallen officers.  Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports:

The ceremony remembered four officers killed in the line of duty, including Deputy James Mulay ten years ago.  Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy says the ceremony also highlights the latest challenges for area law enforcement:

Caterpillar is forming a new group to boost the efficiency of its world-wide manufacturing and supply chains.  The company says the Caterpillar Enterprise System Group will combine multiple divisions to improve the customer order-to-delivery system. Dave Bozeman will lead the new division. He’s been the Vice President with responsibility for the integrated Manufacturing Division.     

Peoria County could help the City of Peoria back-up its storage for emergency data.  A proposal from the Metro Peoria committee would use a shared city-county fiber-optic cable to create an offsite backup location.  Tom Seckler is with Peoria County’s IT department.  He says disk-storage has advantages over traditionally backing up data on tapes:

Peoria School District 150 is touting a pilot program to help parents and high school students prepare for college.  

The College Bound Peoria program launched last fall and now has 20 students and 28 parents. The program gives parents financial information, shares tips on how to save for college and takes students on tours of state and private schools in the Mid-West. York Powers is the District 150 Family and Community coordinator. He says the program’s goal is to help students adapt to an ever-changing academic environment:

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:

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:

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:

BU launches Friedan tribute website

Feb 19, 2013

Bradley University’s website now has a page that honors Betty Friedan.  The University and the Betty Friedan Tribute Committee launched the Tribute page.  It honors the Peoria native and leading figure in the Women’s Rights movement.  People can visit the page at http://bradley.edu/bettyfriedantribute/.  The University says the launch coincides with the 50th anniversary of Friedan’s book ‘The Feminine Mystique.’  The website will be updated regularly with the latest scholarship and news about Friedan.

Catholic Times

In the wake of Pope Benedict XVI's announcement of his resignation, Springfield’s Bishop says the next pope should be a "thinker" who can reach out to other religions and non-believers.  Bishop Thomas John Paprocki says Benedict excelled at that.Paprocki says he’s not surprised Benedict stepped down, given what he calls the pope’s declining health and advanced age. Benedict was 78 when he was elected pope in 2005, one of the oldest in history.  Paprocki says he expects the next pope will be younger.

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