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

B.A.D. / Flickr/Creative Commons

The Community Summit of the Mayor’s Coalition Against Heroin drew about 85 participants.

The agenda included comments from Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis and the coalition, police, a doctor, a recovering heroin addict, a family member and representatives of the Human Service Center.

Peoria Police Captain Loren Marion III says debunking the myths around heroin and opioid addiction is essential in furthering the effort to squash the epidemic:   

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

The Jump Trading Simulation Center in Peoria hosted a meeting with U of I President Timothy Killeen, business and community leaders, along with state and federal lawmakers.

The stated objective of the meeting was to talk about potential opportunities to further existing partnerships that will in turn produce economic growth.

President Killeen says it was the largest delegation of U of I Officials ever to meet in Peoria.

The legalization of Marijuana, for better or worse, was the topic of a community forum Tues. at East Peoria Central Junior High.

About a dozen people attended. Chris Halsor was presenter. He was a Colorado prosecutor for 14 years before he founded the Understanding Legal Marijuana Corporation.

Halsor says for those opposed to the idea the sky is not falling. He says there are positive impacts, like robust job creation. But he says the biggest downside to legalizing marijuana is the juvenile exposure.

Duane Zher / Bradley University

The Princeton Review is again recognizing Bradley University as one of the best in the nation. The ranking comes in the 2017 edition of “The Best 381 Colleges.” That means Bradley is considered in the top 15 percent of 2,500 undergraduate colleges.

A survey of 143-thousand students places Bradley in Princeton Review’s annual guide. The print version goes on sale today and the e-book version is available October 11th.  

Google maps

The Salvation Army Shelter in Pekin closed in June for a complete renovation and is looking toward its rebirth. The Rust Transitional Shelter is looking to open its doors in about 30 days.

Tunnel to Tower Foundation

A ceremony kicked off the opening of the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit in East Peoria today. The exhibit, from the Tunnel to Tower Foundation, is traveling to Boyd Gaming establishments, and is currently set up at the Par-a-dice in East Peoria.

Tanya Koonce

The 9/11 Mobile Memorial Exhibit opens in East Peoria today. It was escorted by fire and police vehicles to its temporary resting place in the parking lot of the Par-a-dice Hotel and Casino.

Tanya Koonce

UnityPoint Health Peoria and Pekin’s Progressive Health Systems are negotiating terms of an affiliation. The two organizations have a letter intent that means the parties have entered exclusive negotiations to finalize an affiliation agreement by year’s end.

Tanya Koonce

Greater Peoria Area Habitat for Humanity breaks ground for its 3rd Veteran Build next month. Lea Anne Schmidgall is the Executive Director of the area Habitat chapter. She says Army Specialist James Stevens will put in sweat equity on the 1,200 square foot, 3-bedroom home.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Peoria District 150 School Board unanimously approved adding a tax referendum question to the November ballot.

The Peoria Public School Board approval was necessary to get the half-a-percent facilities-sales-tax question on the ballot, because it serves more than 49-percent of the county’s population.

Mick Willis is the District’s new Treasurer. He says the tax referendum question would mean an estimated four-point-two  million dollars toward District 150 facilities improvements:

City of Peoria

The Illinois State Board of Elections has terminated the political campaign committee of Fifth District Peoria City Councilman Casey Johnson. The termination comes for failing to file quarterly campaign disclosures.


The letter mailed to Johnson's Hamilton Road Address says he has not responded the Campaign Disclosure Division for a year.


The City of Peoria has an answer to a question that seems like a no-brainer. A recently issued court order adds language to a 1988 Court Decree. Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce reports it specifies voters get the same number of votes as there are at-large seats up for election.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

US Senator Mark Kirk was in Peoria yesterday for a meeting at OSF, a rally at the Peoria County Republican Party Headquarters, and an editorial board meeting at the Journal Star.

Kirk told people at the rally he is committed to his down state roots, being born in Champaign. He says transformational inventions grow out of Illinois and it’s essential to make sure the doors of opportunity remain wide open.

He says he is particularly excited about the meeting he had earlier in the day at OSF Medical Center.

MKzero / Flickr/Creative Commons

Innovation and technology have taken more of a center stage at OSF Jump Trading and Simulation Center.

OSF Innovation at Jump showcased its problem-solving capabilities last week. Chief Transformation Officer Dr. Jeff Tillery says finding solutions to medical issues requires advanced technology.

"So all the way from 3-D immersive technology, 3-D printers, telehealth with virtual care access," Tillery said.

A Freeport, Illinois man was killed early this morning in an pedestrian / vehicle accident involving an Illinois State Police Cruiser on IL Route 116 at Centennial Drive in East Peoria. 44-year-old Jarett J. Simons was hit and killed about 4:19 a.m. according to the Tazewell County Coroner’s Office and the Illinois State Police. 

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

About 20 people attended the first formal Peoria Black Lives Matter meeting yesterday at the Carver Center. Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce reports the meeting included the Peoria Police Department:


There were handouts including a primer on the 21st Century Policing Policy and its six pillars. The assistant police chief and a captain attended with police officer Dan Duncan, known for his mantra: comply and complain.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

About 150 Simulation Clinicians and Tech are gathered at Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center this week for the US conference on the specialty.

The group is called  the Gathering of Healthcare Simulation Technology Specialists or the acronym GHOSTS. The SimGHOSTS 2016 Symposium participants get to learn the latest and greatest simulation technologies, tools and practices.

The Salvation Army is asking for help with canned fruits and vegetables. Major Jesse Collins is the Tri-County Coordinator for The Salvation Army. Collins says their pantry is low. Holiday food drives typically keep The Salvation Army stocked through the summer. But Collins says demand for food and other services has hit area food pantries harder in the past few years.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos is traveling throughout her 14-county district this month, on what she’s calling the “21st Century Heartland Tour."

Bustos kicked off the tour yesterday in Fairview and Peoria. At the Fairview Livestock Sale Barn, Bustos met 9-year-old Addison Fidler. Fidler had just sold her pig for $9,000 and donated it St Jude.

Bustos also visited the U of I College of Medicine to learn about the school’s rural health care program. She says that program aims to get more doctors into smaller communities:   


Illinois Central College is getting a $1.2 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The money will pay for a new program in collaboration with Peoria District 150. Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce reports.


Grant Hutchinson / Flickr

The Illinois Department of Transportation is urging motorists to be on the alert for pavement buckling. I-DOT says the combination of the recent rainfall and extreme heat can lead to pavement expanding and buckling or blowing out, causing impassable or uneven driving surfaces. A statement from the department says as long as the heat and humidity persists, I-DOT will monitor the situation. Crews will be available to make repairs as quickly as possible if needed. I-DOT is also encouraging people to carry drinking water when traveling.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger is introducing a new online portal to help taxpayers follow the money.

The website combines information from the Comptroller's accounting system with information collected by the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Munger says the new Openbook portal allows anyone to look up the state’s contractors and see if they or their employees have contributed to a political campaign.

The Mayor’s Community Coalition Against Heroin in Peoria hosted the first of two public forums Tuesday night. The civic and law enforcement team that initiated Peoria’ Don’t Shoot Program is expanding its focus to what is being called a national heroin epidemic.

Tanya Koonce

The Tremont and Tazewell County community turned out today for the highway dedication ceremony that now honors Deputy Craig Whisenand. Whisenand died en route to a call last August 11th. The road dedication ceremony included Whisenand’s family, state and local representatives as well as other police agencies from around the state and riders with Concerns of Police Survivors - Cycle Across Illinois.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio


If you were driving on SW Adams in Peoria during Wednesday's rainstorm, you may have noticed a number of motorcycles, and people holding American Flags in front of the Peoria Police Department.

Mike Egan is with the Patriot Guard. He says the group, mostly made of veterans, thought the flagline was in order. “The law enforcement community lost five officers last week in Dallas. But officers give their lives, work hard on the job every day. We just felt it was time for those of us who support law enforcement to show our respect.”  

Legacy Audio

Peoria’s Downtown Development Corporation is planning to see Riverfront Village eventually become a linear park.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio


The roughly $12 million in exterior updates and the new Ambulatory Surgery entrance at Unity Point Methodist in downtown is complete. Patients have been using the new entrance but today those who made the 18 month long effort possible are celebrating its completion.

Debbie Simon is the CEO of UnityPoint Health-Peoria. She says the project had a lot of complexity because the core business of patient care had to continue. But Simon says it was worth the investment.

The City of Peoria is looking for input from residents on its community-wide garbage hauling service.  The City is considering the renewal option on its contract with Peoria Disposal Company.

Two informational meetings to get public comment are scheduled for Wednesday. Both are from six to seven o’clock in City Hall council Chambers and at the North Branch Peoria Public Library.     

The Peoria International Airport is receiving more than $1.7 million for the rehabilitation of the airport’s apron. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Representative Cheri Bustos jointly announced the funding. The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the grant to help with concrete replacements from gates five down to Byerly Aviation. The  announcement builds on more than $1.6 million in federal funding provided last year.


Peoria International Airport has a new destination starting November 4th. PIA is adding nonstop flights to Charlotte, North Carolina. The new destination opens the East Coast to those travelers departing from Peoria. It also provides access to more than 700 daily domestic and international destinations. The Charlotte flights, will be operated the American Airlines subsidiary on 50-seat regional jets. Tickets for the flights go on sale Monday, July 11, 2016.


Details on the PIA to Charlotte flights that start November 4, 2016:

The flights will be operated by PSA Airlines, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines on 50-seat CRJ-200 regional jets.

American Airlines also operates nonstop flights to Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) from Peoria International.

Peoria to Charlotte (PIA-CLT)

  • Flight 5464 Departs at 7:40 a.m. , Arrives at 10:50 a.m.
  • Flight 5465 Departs at 12:47 p.m. , Arrives at 3:43 p.m.

Charlotte to Peoria (CLT-PIA)

  • Flight 5465: Departs at 11:19 a.m. , Arrives at 12:22 p.m.
  • Flight 5466: Departs at 7:59 p.m. , Arrives at 9:03 p.m.