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

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.
Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

  Peoria Journal Star Political Reporter and Columnist Chris Kaergard will no doubt feel lighter after tomorrow. Kaergard has been growing a #budgetbeard since May of last year, when the governor and state lawmakers failed to agree on a budget. But lawmakers finally achieved a stopgap spending last week and that means tomorrow Kaergard will get a clean shave.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

The 67th annual HOI Fair starts up this evening.

Roxy Baker helps plan the fair. She says this year’s schedule of events focuses on agribusiness.

“We want the urban setting that we’ve become, we want those people to come in and see what it is, what agribusiness is.”

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

The Caterpillar Visitors Center is offering a look at the life of its first chairman and the inventor of the Best 60 Tractor.

  That became the Caterpillar 60, thought to be one of the most successful track type tractors in history.  C.L.‘Leo’ Best was the founder and president of C.L. Best Tractor Company that eventually merged with Holt, making Holt Best Tractor Company. That was the forerunner to Caterpillar.     

Lee Fosberg is the Supervisor of Corporate Heritage Services at Caterpillar. He says they’ve colorized 25 of the photos throughout the display.

Peoria Public Radio / Tanya Koonce


Jeff Eder will be East Peoria’s next City Administrator. The City Council unanimously approved his two year contract Tuesday.


This is Eder’s first position as chief executive for a city. He’s currently the Assistant City Manager and Economic Development Director for Rock Island, and previously spent 12 years as the Director of Community Development in Franklin Park.


Dumbo711 / Flickr/Creative Commons

The City of Peoria is considering whether to extend its contract with the Peoria Disposal Company.


The City’s contract with PDC expires at the end of the year, but it specifies the municipality needs to decide by Friday whether to extend the agreement for another three years.

The Peoria City Council Monday unanimously approved extending that window for another 60 days.

Tanya Koonce

Governor Bruce Rauner made three stops in Peoria today, speaking with the Rotary Club 76, the Illinois Economic Development Association, and touring the Air National Guard Base.

The Peoria County Board of Election wants residents to know they might be receiving a voter registration form from a Chicago based group.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Friends of Riverfront Park gathered on the green space yesterday for music and the cause of saving it.

Developers are working through the process of having the city-owned, state and federally-designated parkland converted. The development proposal is for a four-building, 143-unit apartment complex. Joyce Harant is with the Friends of the Park.

She says they’ve planted flags to show the footprint of the proposed development.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Two and half years of work culminated Thurs. for the South Side of Peoria with a new full-service grocery store at Western and Martin. 

The Southside community has been without a store for fresh produce and meat since the last grocer left the same spot. What's now in the location is a hard discount grocery store with a business model that centers on community.

Nate Hofer / Flickr/Creative Commons

The Peoria County Election Commission is planning to move. But not until after the November Election.  

Election Commission Executive Director Tom Bride says the downside of that is the new location will be much better for voting.

“But we’ll get there. And this way, I just don’t think we’re going to have the time to get the buildout done and done well," Bride said. "And it’s not something we want to rush just to get in there and not do right.”  

The director of the primary provider of outpatient mental health services in DeWitt County says it will shut July 1 because of the lack of a state budget.  Executive Director Lynn Scoville says the DeWitt County Human Resource Center board voted to stop providing services after June 30. 

Tanya Koonce

Illinois’ Comptroller is calling on lawmakers and the Governor to come to some kind of budget agreement in the next ten days. The July first start of the state’s new fiscal year without a budget means the four special spending plans sunset.

Retired Caterpillar CEO Glen Barton and his wife Polly are making an undisclosed seven figure gift to Bradley University for the school’s proposed Business and Engineering Convergence Center.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

More than a dozen superintendents representing school districts in Peoria County are calling on legislators and the governor to pass an education budget. 

The Peoria County Regional Superintendent Beth Crider Derry submitted a joint letter Mon. addressed to Gov. Rauner, the legislative leaders and lawmakers.