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.   

Ways to Connect

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:

Tanya Koonce

What has been known as Heartland Clinic is now Heartland Health Services and has a new heart shaped logo. They are also expanding the services offered.

Caterpillar’s third-quarter earnings report that came out Tuesday, comes with information that often doesn’t get much attention after the basic numbers. The company’s outlook includes preliminary financial considerations for 2017.

The Peoria Public School system is kicking off a family engagement pilot program this week.

Bob Hoffman is the consultant working with School District 150 to get more parents involved in their child’s school. Hoffman says the parent workshops, that start today, aim to give parents some tools to offer support and partnership in their community schools.

Plan Peoria

The City of Peoria is taking ideas on the future use of the land under the Riverfront Village Platform.

The 2.5 acre parcel of land is to become public space. It’s in the First District, represented by Councilwoman Denise Moore. She says Monday's public input session is an opportunity for people to say what they would like to see in the space.  

Caterpillar

Civic Philanthropist and Former Caterpillar CEO Glen Barton has died. Barton retired as CEO of Caterpillar in 2004 after 43 years with the company.

Sherwood CC / Flickr

Home sales in the Peoria area were down more than 10-percent in the third quarter compared to a year ago.  Jana Heffron is the newly installed president of the Peoria Area Association of Realtors. She says it’s not unusual for us to see a seasonal slowdown. But the average home sale price is also down three-point-eight percent. Houses sold in July, August and September spent an average of 78 days on the market, the same as a year ago.

Pekin is close to selecting a new city manager.  

Mayor John McCabe says the city is negotiating terms with the candidate the council approved. Council members interviewed five of the 11 people selected by the city’s search firm, GovHR.

All of the candidates the council interviewed hold master’s degrees and have worked in municipal government.

City officials are not yet releasing the name of the person they are talking with. But they say negotiations are ongoing, and they hope to have the new city manager on board starting December first.

Detective Mike Eeten / Pekin Police Department

The Pekin Police Department is calling its effort to battle back against opioid overdose a success, at least this time. Pekin Police Tuesday responded to a call where a 33-year-old unresponsive female was turning blue with an abnormal breathing pattern. The responding officer administered Narcan. Police say it was a life saving measure.

Pages