Peoria Public Radio News

Local news stories and features from Peoria Public Radio.

Caterpillar maintains dividend rate

Apr 10, 2013

Caterpillar will pay stockholders a cash dividend of 52-cents per share of common stock this quarter. The company will pay the dividends May 20th for stockholders of record at the close of April 22nd. 

Cat Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman says the company is encouraged by improvements in economic indicators despite global uncertainties.  

The news comes as Caterpillar prepares to permanently layoff workers in Decatur in June.  The company has already reduced its flexible workforce in the area.

Tri-county mayoral races

Apr 10, 2013

Mayor’s races of larger communities in the Tri-county area:

(Vote totals by percentage)



I-Mark Allen: 51 WINS Don Gorman: 49

ELMWOOD MAYOR:  Stephen Davis: 32 I-John Hulslander: 68 WINS

CHILLICOTHE MAYOR: Sandy Level: 17 Doug Crew: 52 WINS

Donald White: 30

Mayor Troy Childers retiring 


Peoria teachers union elects new president

Apr 10, 2013

  The Peoria Federation of Teachers union also elected its next president last night.  Von Steuben Middle School teacher Scott Donahue replaces outgoing president Bob Darling.  Darling says the impact of pension reform and new evaluation tools are among the top issues facing teachers in the state.  To that end, he says both teachers and school administrators must collaborate: “We’re in it together because we no longer can be at odds over each other over some minor things, we won’t always agree.

Pekin and Peoria City Councils see change

Apr 10, 2013

Nearly half of the Pekin and Peoria City Councils are changing. Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce has the round-up of Tuesday’s municipal election:

The Peoria City Council has one returning incumbent of the five district seats. 3rd District Councilman Tim Riggenbach won a new four-year term. 

State House to vote on Medical Marijuana

Apr 9, 2013


The sponsor of a plan that would legalize medical marijuana in Illinois says a vote in the House could come as soon as this week. Representative Lou Lang, a Democrat from Skokie, says he expects to call the measure next week at the latest.

“It's not about people getting high. It's about making sure a 75-year old colon cancer patient who is terminal has an opportunity to live out her remaining years with a quality of life,” Lang says.

South side shootings garner police response

Apr 9, 2013

  Three shootings in the last four days are causing concern for police and residents of the south side of Peoria. Three people are dead and Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgard says at least two of the shootings have significant gang ties. The chief says they are “very concerned this isn’t over. And we are very concerned we now have a very serious, what I’ll call a brush fire burning and it needs to be put out.”The department is leveling what Settingsgaard calls a swift and severe response.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor spoke to hundreds of people at Eureka College Tuesday.  She was the first woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.  Justice O’Connor was nominated by President Ronald Reagan, who is Eureka College’s most famous alumnus.  Justice O’Connor stressed the importance civic engagement activities such as jury duty:

Readjusting the aim of Don't Shoot

Apr 9, 2013

  The Peoria Police Department is getting a new assistant police chief. The goal is to free-up time for Chief Steve Settingsgaard to administer the Don’t Shoot Peoria program. That means the vacant Don’t Shoot Law Enforcement Coordinator position is being reallocated to fund the assistant chief position.

District 150 pink-slips 190 full, part-time teachers

Apr 8, 2013

60 full-time teachers are being pink slipped for next school year.  Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports:

Remembering Holocaust victims

Apr 8, 2013

A holocaust survivor and Peoria High alumni is speaking tonight for the Holocaust Day of Remembrance. It’s called Yom HaShoah. Author Marion Blumenthal-Lazan is speaking at 6:30 at the Congregation Anshai  Emeth in Peoria. The event is open to the public. Lazan spent six-and-a-half years in refugee and prison camps during World War Two. She moved to Peoria after the war and graduated from Peoria High School in 1953.

Regional effort to boost transit access

Apr 8, 2013

The Greater Peoria Mass Transit District is leading a local effort to improve access to transportation for those with disabilities. A task force was formed last summer through the Accessible Transportation Coalition Initiative and the Easter Seals to identify transportation needs in the Peoria area, East Peoria and Pekin.   

Peoria police search for double shooting suspect

Apr 8, 2013

Peoria Police are looking for a suspect in a double shooting Sunday that killed a 17-year-old boy.  Police say Marquis Costic is wanted in the shooting at Warren and Butler Streets that left Treyshawn Blakely dead. Police say another unidentified person was shot during the same incident and taken to a local hospital.  Costic is described as a five-foot-seven black male with braided hair. Police say they did NOT recover the semi-automatic murder weapon at his home, but did find other weapons.  Costic is considered armed and dangerous.

The amount of children going to the emergency room for medicine poisoning rose 30% over the past 10 years. Roughly one child every eight minutes is taken to the emergency room for possible medicinal poisoning. 

IL State Police to begin re-accreditation

Apr 8, 2013

The Illinois State Police begin a re-accreditation assessment next week. ISP is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. It agency evaluates policies and procedures, management, operations, and support services.

More than 15,000 people in Peoria and Woodford counties will be eligible for new health insurance premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act in 2014. A report by Families USA says the credits will help more than 900,000 people in the state afford health coverage. Jim Duffett is the Executive Director for the Campaign for Better Health Care. He says there are currently about 1.8 Million Illinoisans who are uninsured.

2013 Peoria Township Supervisor Race

Apr 5, 2013

The Peoria Township Supervisor’s Race on the April 9th ballot includes 20-year incumbent Joe Whalen against 1st District Peoria City Councilman Clyde Gulley who’s looking to unseat him. The candidates have participated in sometimes spirited exchanges during candidates forums. This is the March 25, NAACP and Peoria Christian Leadership Council Candidate forum. NAACP Political Chair Jackie Petty helped organize the event. NAACP President Don Jackson was the moderator. 

Peoria police warn of illegal drug use

Apr 5, 2013

The Peoria Police Department is warning the public of the dangers of using illegal drugs.  They say the city has seen three deaths and two hospitalizations this week that might be heroin or drug-related.  Police say they’re not condoning the use of illegal drugs.  Police say people need to warn loved ones of the potential dangers of using illegal substances. 

Caterpillar plans layoffs at Decatur plant

Apr 5, 2013

  Caterpillar will lay off more than 450 workers this summer at its Decatur plant that builds products used in mining.  Cat spokeswoman Rachel Potts says the company is laying off the employees in June.  It’s part of cuts in response to reduced global demand for mining equipment.Potts says the Decatur cuts will be permanent.  That’s opposed to temporary layoffs at other Cat locations.  Potts would not say whether more job cuts are planned in the near future.  The cuts come at a tough time for Decatur.

Diane Rehm headlines WCBU Gala

Apr 5, 2013

Diane Rehm, host of NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, was the guest for Peoria Public Radio’s 1st Annual Gala at the Country Club of Peoria. She hosts NPR’s longest running call-in talk show that airs 9:00a.m. to 11:00a.m. weekdays on 89.9fm. 

While she was in Peoria she also visited students and faculty of Bradley University's Communications Department, did an interview at WTVP Channel 47, and sat down for a conversation with Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce: 

LISC awards $125,000 in local neighborhood grants

Apr 4, 2013

Peoria’s Local Initiative Support Corporation, known as LISC, is delivering its first round of grant funding for projects in the East Bluff and South Side neighborhoods. The $125,000 in “early action” grant funding is going directly to groups working to develop things like community gardens, nutrition classes, and literacy and GED classes. Brandon Holmes is the director of the Greater Peoria LISC. He says the money will help local projects that improve safety, help raise property values and create opportunities for residents that might not otherwise happen.

Land near Peoria shopping center could be re-zoned

Apr 4, 2013

  The Peoria City Zoning Commission is deferring a vote that would re-classify six-acres of residential property for commercial use.  Developer David Joseph wants the city to re-zone 13 vacant parcels and one rental property near Big Hollow Shopping Center.  Area resident Lorrie Venzon was among about 10 people who oppose re-zoning the property:

Community Care Program is out of money

Apr 4, 2013

State funding for the Community Care Program has run out of  money for the fiscal year. The program’s fund home care assistance for more than 80,000 seniors across the state. 

Community Care Program officials say without emergency funding, the state’s home care system could collapse. The association says its members can survive 30 days without state funding. A coalition of seniors and home care workers are calling on state lawmakers to pass a supplemental budget to sustain the program through July 1st. State Senator Dave Koehler says he supports the measure. 

US Transportation Secretary keynotes ICAT

Apr 3, 2013

U-S Transportation Secretary and Peoria native Ray LaHood opened the second day of the ICAT-Transportation Conference in East Peoria. 

Recreating Lincoln's funeral procession

Apr 3, 2013

A group that plans to recreate Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession says there's plenty of work left to do.

The 2015 Lincoln Funeral Coalition says it hopes to travel the entire route from Washington D.C. to Springfield, which still needs approval from the Illinois and federal Departments of Transportation.

Learning the Affordable Care Act

Apr 2, 2013

Health care insurance and the changes coming for employers was the topic of a seminar offered by the Peoria Chamber of Commerce. Laura Minzer is the Vice President of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. She says communication between employees and employers will play a key role in navigating the coming changes. Minzer says health care is very personal and is already complicated.  

Transportations officials conference in East Peoria

Apr 2, 2013

The 26th annual Innovations Conference on Asphalt and Transportation (ICAT) kicked-off with an address from Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman. Oberhelman presented the ICAT Sustainability Award to the Director of Illinois Tollways Kristi Lafleur. The award recognizes the state tollway’s $12 billion “Move Illinois” plan. The plan includes several sustainability elements over it’s 15-year life span. Oberhelman is one of eight keynote speakers for the event that includes U-S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis is an ICAT Executive Board Member.

Sen. Kirk supports same-sex marriage

Apr 2, 2013

  Another prominent Illinois Republican has come out in favor of same-sex marriage. U-S Senator Mark Kirk made his announcement on his website Tuesday. Illinois Public Radio’s Brian Mackey has more: 

 Kirk framed his support for same-sex marriage in light of his debilitating stroke last year.He says, "Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most." He says, "Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back -- government has no place in the middle."Kirk is only the fourth Republican member of Congress to publicly endorse same-sex marriage.Gregory Angelo, director of the pro-gay-rights Log Cabin Republicans, welcomed the news. He says opposing same-sex marriage is a long-term loser for the GOP.

Durbin learns about Peoria’s Don’t Shoot program

Apr 2, 2013

  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin met with area law enforcement officials to learn about Peoria's anti-violence initiative.   The Don't Shoot program is based on the book by David Kennedy and addresses ways the community and law enforcement can reduce violent crime. Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard says shootings are down 26-percent since January compared to the same time last year.

Dress for Success Peoria helps 2,000th client

Apr 1, 2013

  Dress for Success Peoria is celebrating its two-thousandth client preparing to find employment.  The non-profit group helps women by providing professional attire and a network support to help them find a job.  Sarah Fletcher is the Director of Dress for Success Peoria.  She says the milestone is significant:

Transfers from Dwight Prison to Pontiac

Apr 1, 2013

The closure of the Dwight Correctional Center last week means other state prisons will be able to ramp up staff.  As IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports, most employees transferred from Dwight start at their new posts Monday.

The Tamms prison in deep southern Illinois used to house the so-called "worst of the worst" inmates who'd committed the most heinous crimes, or misbehaved in other prison and were thus isolated as punishment. When Governor Pat Quinn ordered Tamms closed last year, those inmates were moved to the Pontiac prison.

Warden Randy Phister says there have been no problems with the Tamms inmates since they arrived, some in August, others in December. That's despite Pontiac not getting any additional staff to help with the 140 extra inmates. Pontiac prison guard Frank Turner, who’s also President of the local AFSCME union, says that forced an average of 56 overtime shifts a day.  

"You have to have them bodies here to protect the public and the institution and protect the inmates from each other. Somebody has to be here. And if you have to work 16 hours you have to work 16 hours," says Turner.