Peoria Public Radio News

Local news stories and features from Peoria Public Radio.

Governor to survey flood damage in Edwards

Apr 19, 2013

About a dozen homes in the small community of London Mills were evacuated last night due to flooding of the Spoon River. That’s according to multiple media outlets. The town of 500 received more than six inches of rain from Wednesday to Thursday. That caused the river to rise to over the flood stage of 15 feet. The river is expected to crest at near 30 feet today. Volunteers spent all day Thursday sandbagging to protect the community, but the levee was breached last night.

Homes in the town of Roanoke were also evacuated Wednesday night.

Cleaning up

Apr 18, 2013

Neighborhood associations throughout Peoria are celebrating the Great American Cleanup. The official event runs from 8:00a.m. to noon Saturday, April 20th. 

Participating neighborhood will have large dumpsters to assist participating residents. There are other opportunities to disposing of tires and tired electronics at certain location in the city.  The full list of participating neighborhood associations and drop-off locations is linked here: 

The Peoria Public Radio News Team is happy to report winning two Regional Murrow Awards. The regional awards are for the Small Market Radio Division of RTDNA’s (Radio Television Digital News Association) annual Edward R. Murrow Awards named after the legendary newsman.

Annual ceremony honors Holocaust victims

Apr 18, 2013

“Never forget” was the theme of a ceremony in Springfield Thursday held in remembrance of the Holocaust. Dozens gathered in the Old State Capitol for the annual memorial service, which honors the six million Jews who were systematically killed during World War Two. Representative Scott Drury, a Democrat from Highwood, says remembering the tragic event keeps the world vigilant.

Durbin seeks fourth term

Apr 18, 2013

Illinois US Senator Dick Durbin says he’s planning on running for a fourth term. From Washington, IPR’s Lauren Chooljian reports. 

Senator Durbin has been serving in the US Senate since 1997.

Environmental groups filed a lawsuit against Ameren Energy Resources for alleged air pollution violations at the Edwards coal plant in Bartonville.  The Sierra Club, National Resources Defense Council and other groups filed the lawsuit in federal court.  They say the plant violated the Clean Air Act more than 1,000 times in the last five years.  Kady McFadden is with the Sierra Club.  She says the lawsuit is seeking better pollution controls at the plant:

Motorists urged to avoid flooded roads

Apr 18, 2013

More than a dozen road and bridge closures remain in effect as showers and thunderstorms continue to hit central Illinois. Some of the roads considered impassable include Illinois 8 and 116 in Peoria and Knox Counties, 13-miles of Illinois Route 26 in Woodford County and Edwards and Farmington Roads just outside Peoria. Brian Williamsen is the IDOT spokesman for District 4.

Flooding causes road closures across tri-county area

Apr 18, 2013

Drivers are encouraged to use extra caution on the roads as flood watches and warnings are in place in numerous locations throughout the area. Weather-related road closures in IDOT District 4 include:

Riverfront Museum finances in question

Apr 17, 2013

The Peoria Riverfront Museum plans to comply with its contractual obligation to provide financial data to the county. So says museum president Jim Richerson.  County staff say the museum is months overdue in providing last fiscal year’s audit and other tax forms. Richerson says the audit from last fiscal year isn’t finished because it involves the colossal transition from Lakeview to the new organization that complicates the finances. Some close to the situation say the museum is running a monthly operating deficit. Richerson says he cannot answer that:

IL House passes medical marijuana bill

Apr 17, 2013

The Illinois House of Representatives approved the medical use of marijuana Wednesday. It's a milestone marking the first time the House has passed the legislation after years of failed attempts. IPR’s Brian Mackey has more.

The proposal has been introduced year after year, each time a little different to try to win majority support.

Quinn aims to improve roads

Apr 17, 2013

Illinois will invest nearly 13 billion dollars on highways, bridges and other transportation projects under a plan the Governor unveiled Wednesday. As IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports the bulk of that spending will go toward fixing roads, not building new ones.          

Bill to lower voting age passes IL House

Apr 17, 2013

The Illinois House Wednesday approved legislation that would lower the voting age for some teenagers. IPR’s Chris Salby has more. 

The proposal would allow 17 year olds to vote in primary elections as long as they're 18 by the General Election in November. Representative Jerry Costello, a Democrat from Smithton, pointed out that 17 year olds can serve in the military.

Studying the future of Taft Homes

Apr 17, 2013

The City of Peoria is using 46-thousand dollars of Tax Increment Finance funds to pay for a Taft Homes redevelopment study. Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce reports:

The Peoria Housing Authority property is within the Northside Riverfront TIF. The City is using TDA consulting to do the analysis. The firm specializes in working on public housing issues and its long-standing relationship with the Local Initiative Support Corporation. LISC and PHA are partnering with the city for the study results. Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich says the study is to consider all redevelopment options for the Taft Homes.

  The Peoria Riverfront Museum has failed to file required financial information with the County, that holds the property. Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports that leaves the Museum’s financial standing in question: 

  The Peoria Police Department is looking to boost security at public events following the Boston Marathon bombings. Peoria holds its first marathon next month and hosts multiple public gatherings and races throughout the year. Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard says the tragic events in Boston mean more awareness from local officers:

Methodist gets a new name

Apr 16, 2013

Iowa Health System is rebranding itself along with its eight affiliates. That means Methodist Medical Center will now be called UnityPoint Health-Methodist. The new name and logo will also be in place for Methodist’s physician group, home health and hospice. UnityPoint Health officials say the re-branding reflects its emphasis on coordinated care as well as its growth in Iowa and Illinois. The name and logo change will not impact management, structure or staff.   


PIA experiences monthly passenger record

Apr 16, 2013

The Peoria International Airport broke an all-time monthly record for passengers using the facility. More than 56-thousand people flew in and out of Peoria in March. Airport Director Gene Olson says the record is due to its Punta Gorda and Atlanta flights as well as its connecting destinations on Delta Airlines. The last all-time monthly record was set in June 2008 when there were slightly more than 55-thousand passengers. Olson says passenger activity is up more than eight-and-a-half percent so far over last year.  

Caterpillar forming new group

Apr 16, 2013

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.     

Law firm highlights free regional legal services

Apr 15, 2013

The Peoria-office of Prairie State Legal Services held its annual luncheon to highlight this year’s fundraising efforts. The campaign raises money each year to provide free legal service to low-income residents in the region.  Jeff Hamaker is with Prairie State Legal Services.  He says about half Central and Western Illinois residents living below the poverty line have civil legal needs:

Road work zones return

Apr 15, 2013

  It’s time for drivers to start seeing orange on the roads. Work Zone Awareness is the state campaign by I-DOT, The Illinois State Police and Governor Quinn. The trio of interests joined up at the Morton I-DOT facility to kick-off the campaign and the I-74 &1-55 interchange project.

Methodist College is hoping to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. The college hosted the national Distracted Driving Awareness Program Monday.

The program uses driving simulators, educational video and a display coffin to highlight the possible results of distracted  driving. Cody Beerthuis is a tour manager for the program.  He says the program has helped deter some distracted driving habits, and the feedback has been positive:

Peoria City, County look to digital data storage

Apr 15, 2013

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:

Jump Trading Center gets simulation ambulance

Apr 12, 2013

The Jump Trading Center is getting ready to be outfitted with furniture and simulation equipment for training doctors, nurses and paramedics. But a simulation ambulance was parked inside the center Friday near the simulated home setting. Advanced Medical Transport is donating the ambulance. It lacks an engine.

  The Peoria County Board approved a resolution that fund its cash-strapped rural transit service.  Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports the rural program needs about $140,000 to stay afloat through June: 

House votes to cut Lt. Gov. post

Apr 11, 2013

The Illinois House has voted to eliminate the office of lieutenant governor.Republican Representative David McSweeney of Barrington Hills says the office costs about two-million dollars a year.

"It's an office that is a luxury. I understand if we were sitting a pile of cash, if we had a triple-A bond rating, it would be a different story," says McSweeney.

Technology changes mice behavior

Apr 11, 2013


Researchers at Washington University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed tiny, wireless devices that can be implanted inside the brains of mice to influence their behavior. 

Bustos bill would affect federal contractors

Apr 11, 2013

17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos introduced a bill that aims to boost American manufacturing jobs. The American Jobs Matter Act would allow businesses applying for federal contracts to include how their bids would create or retain American jobs.  Bustos says that would help keep more jobs in the US and help local businesses"

Preparing for new Peoria City Council members

Apr 10, 2013


The 11 member Peoria City Council gets four new district members next month. Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis says it will be a significant learning curve for the new members, but it will help that two of the newly elected councilmen have served previously. Ardis says still, for those who are new to the council it may initially feel like they’re drinking water from a fire hose.  

Justice O'Connor speaks to Peoria leaders

Apr 10, 2013

The nation’s first US Supreme Court Justice concluded her two day visit to the Tri-county with brunch at the Federal Courthouse. Sandra Day O’Connor spoke before a room of about two hundred people. She says she’s traveled to see the highest courts in other countries and still believes in the US court system.

Don't Shoot takes aim at new gangs

Apr 10, 2013

The Peoria Don’t Shoot lead team has a message for members of the Zone 4 and 4-Corner Hustlers gangs. The message is ‘GAME ON!’ The two shootings Sunday and Monday are thought to be tied to the two groups. The city’s top prosecutors, law enforcement officials and Mayor Jim Ardis are standing firm, promising that Don’t Shoot principals are being focused on all members and affiliates of the two gangs. “We said we were gonna come after them, like the group behind me went after the bomb squad.