Tanya Koonce

News Director

Tanya Koonce is the News Director at Peoria Public Radio.  She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism from Eastern Illinois University, and a M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield.  Tanya started her news career in TV, managed two political campaigns after college, worked in state government and did some state association work before going back to school.  Post master’s degree, she’s worked in commercial radio and operated her own freelance agency before taking a reporter position at WCBU in 2001, and becoming news director in 2008. She’s currently serving as the Treasurer of the Illinois News Broadcaster’s Association, lives in Peoria and loves discovering interesting people, places and things.   

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The 1st District Peoria City Council Seat has some competition in the April 4th. David Berry is challenging the incumbent, Councilwoman Denise Moore.  He made a formal announcement yesterday. Berry says the incumbent is doing a good job on the whole but he would like to see more:

“Now issue I am seeing overall 1st District is that when it comes to public funding it’s nearly 100-percent going to private sector projects and in some cases there are zero dollars going to job train and continuing education.”

David Quitoriano / Flickr/Creative Commons

32 year-old Tracy Long of Pekin will spend 24 months on probation, along with other sanctions, for falsifying medical reports and stealing narcotics for personal use last year at Maple Lawn Healthcare in Eureka.

 

Long, a nurse, pleaded guilty to the Class 4 Felony of Unlawful Acquisition of a Controlled Substance.

United Way agencies across the United States are receiving $11.5 million in contributions from Caterpillar employees and retirees and the company Foundation.  This amount includes a dollar-for-dollar matching grant from the Caterpillar Foundation.

ridecitylink.org

CityLink General Manager Al Stanek is retiring at the end of year. Stanek has served in the position since February 2015. His retirement announcement comes as the Regional Mass Transit Authority continues to negotiate with its bus driver’s.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The Peoria County Board has three new members. The body remains a democratic majority with a 10-8 make up of Democrats and Republicans. But this board is less gender diverse than its predecessor.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Caterpillar is celebrating the life saving teamwork of seven people who administered CPR when their colleague collapsed. 49-year-old Mark Whiting went into cardiac arrest about a month ago while speaking at an offsite work meeting. Seven of his colleagues responded.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The Peoria County Board is slated to approve its 2017 budget tonight. The board has to fill a two-and-a half million dollar shortfall, for this year and next.

 

County Board Chairman Andrew Rand says fund reserves will be depleted in three years at this pace. He says expenses are outpacing revenues about one percent a year, compounded by declines in the major revenue sources of sales taxes, fines and fees.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Peoria Public School Building Committee is asking those who submitted a proposal for the future of Peoria Stadium to move forward with developing a business plan. The Building Committee yesterday talked through the three page proposal Adam White and others submitted. The proposal calls for replacing Peoria Stadium with modern facilities and operating it as a nonprofit with a board of directors and full-time person to run the operation.

WCBU

The city is seeking suggestions on ways to improve the social and economic challenges that disproportionate affect Peoria’s African American residents.

It comes in response to a recent ranking by the site 24/7 Wall Street that named Peoria “worst-in-the-nation,” in terms of racial disparities.

The data used to assign that unflattering designation shows the median income for black residents is less than half that of whites. The survey also included the unemployment rate, which is three times higher in Peoria’s black population, compared to whites.  

The meeting will take the form of small group discussions on the subjects of economic disparity, health, employment and education. The small group discussions aim to find potential solutions.

CityLink and Peoria area transit workers have reached a contract extension agreement.

 

The Amalgamated Transit Union Workers Local 416 contract expires Wed. The contract extension keeps nearly 140 bus drivers and maintenance workers on the job through January 31st. It also allows time for the union and CityLink managers to schedule more negotiations.

104 members of Amalgamated Transit Union Workers Local 416 unanimously approved a strike authorization Sunday.

O'Dea / WikiCommons

The public is getting a look inside a medical marijuana dispensary opening next week in East Peoria.

“By normalizing this and opening it up to the community, it allows for physicians to be more comfortable with learning about it,” Ben Rediger, a spokesman for the dispensary NuMed, said.

State regulations specify that medical cannabis dispensaries be open only to registered patients, caregivers and state-credentialed employees. After the facility is licensed by state regulators, the dispensary area is closed to everyone else. 

The final field of candidates is set for Peoria City municipal and township offices in the spring elections. Mayor Jim Ardis is facing two challengers. Marie Kennell and Couri Thomas both filed candidate petitions Monday.

falkenpost / Google/Creative Commons

The death of longtime dictator Fidel Castro has again sparked interest in Cuba.

Meantime, Illinois lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, are already delving deep into developing economic ties with the island nation. 

Congressman Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) gives credit to President Barack Obama for opening up trade with Cuba. Lahood says Cuban trade is important for companies, including Caterpillar because 75 percent of the tractors built in East Peoria are shipped to foreign destinations.

Tanya Koonce

AAA Chicago Motor Club anticipates 2.5 million people in Illinois will travel for the holiday weekend.  2.3 million are expected to drive between Wednesday and Sunday.

Peoria Public Radio

Peoria Public Schools are preparing to sell $50 million in bonds to pay for a mighty list of school facilities’ improvements.

The bonds will be paid for with the revenue from the 1/2-percent sales tax increase Peoria County voters approved in Nov. 8 election. PPS' School Board approved the underwriting agreement with Stifel Nicolaus and Company, on a 5-1 vote.

Chief Financial Officer Mick Willis says he recommended the company because the way it structures the bonds will be beneficial to the school district.

BREAKING: A major explosion in Canton this evening on the square left one person dead, others injured and caused massive damage to multiple businesses. More than 500 residents in the area are without power. Natural gas has been cut off to the community until further notice. The public is asked to avoid the area as a precaution while Emergency Management and clean-up crews work to secure the site.

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.

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.

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.

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.  

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.

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.

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:

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