Peoria Public Radio News

Local news stories and features from Peoria Public Radio.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

  A pipe bomb at Pekin City Hall Thursday made a momentary scare and a real-time test of emergency response practices.  

Bradley University

The Bradley University Police Officer’s union has voted no confidence in Chief Brian Joschko. The Police benevolent says it’s the third time the union has taken such an overwhelming-majority vote and they have lost all trust and faith in Chief Joschko’s ability to lead the department.


Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Another candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination has opened a campaign office in Peoria 14-days out from the election.

Peoria Sierra Club members are helping State Senator Daniel Biss and his running mate, Rockford State Representative Litesa Wallace with the office. They rallied with supporters Tuesday at the N. North St location.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Tariffs and Gun Control

Mar 6, 2018

President Donald Trump’s announcement that he wants tariffs on imported aluminum and steel is causing concerns for some industries.

Brewing companies fear there may be rising prices for aluminum cans. Auto manufacturers are concerned over price hikes in steel.

U-S Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has a different fear. While he recognizes the harm caused to American industry by foreign steel selling below the cost of production, he doesn’t want to harm the biggest economy in the state.


Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

The Marriott Pere Marquette and Courtyard Hotels will have a new owner later this month. The historic hotel complex and its companion Courtyard entered foreclosure last month.

Bob Howard is the receiver of the property. He says the lead lender INDURE Build-to-Core is planning to purchase the hotels and parking deck in an auction March 19th.


Public Domain / Creative Commons

  SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A Peoria lawmaker is co-chairing a new caucus made up of members of the Illinois House and Senate from both parties devoted to children's health.

     A statement Wednesday from the office of the Senate president, Democrat John Cullerton, announced the creation of the bipartisan children's health caucus. It says the caucus will closely examine data on the health of children and adolescents in Illinois.

Peoria County Sheriff's Office

A Pekin man has been sentenced to a two-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to charges of defrauding an elderly man out of nearly $100,000. 42-year-old Deryl Wright will spend most of that time in prison. His sentence includes another three years of supervised release and repayment of the money he swindled, with interest. That amounts to nearly $100,600 in addition to court fines and fee.


Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Some roads in the region nearest the Illinois River are closed or impassable.


In the Rome Area: about 6 blocks of Riverbeach Road is underwater. The 14100 block to the 14700 block is impassible as well as Front Street between Washington and Knox.


Chillicothe Township Supervisor Mike Ratcliff says parts of Portage, Lakeview, North and River Lane are also underwater. That includes:


Portage: between High and Proctor


Life Skills Re-entry Center Is A First

Feb 26, 2018

Illinois is the first state in the nation to develop a life skills training program for high risk and medium risk prisoners.

Illinois began the program at the Kewanee Life Skills Re-entry Center last year. It offers education and treatment programs that are up to two years in length.

Peoria County Jail Records

PEORIA, Ill. - A Pekin man is set to be sentenced next week after pleading guilty to charges that he defrauded an elderly person out of nearly $100,000.


The U.S. Attorney's office says the case of 42-year-old Deryl Wright is one of 250 defendants across the country to be charged as a result of a coordinated effort by federal and local law enforcement agencies to combat elder fraud.


Tazewell County Circuit Clerk Offers Amnesty

Feb 23, 2018
Tazewell County Circuit Clerk's Office

The Tazewell County Circuit Clerk’s Office is offering a sort of amnesty to people with outstanding court fines and fees.


If a person’s court fines and fees fall 60 days into arrears, the account is turned over the collection and a 30 percent fee is attached. Collection fees will be waived for one week in March.


It’s the first time the Tazewell County Circuit Clerk’s office is offering amnesty since the introduction of the Compliance Office in 2014.


ICC Diesel Tech Program Gets a New Specimen

Feb 20, 2018
Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

  A recently retired CityLink bus has a new job that will pay big dividends. The Greater Peoria Mass Transit District donated the bus to the Diesel Powered Equipment Program (DPET) at Illinois Central College.  

Jeff Gardner coordinates the program at the East Peoria Campus. He says the 35-foot diesel bus will provide students another type of hands-on experience to add to their skill set.

Sen. Duckworth: Keep Crop Insurance at Current Levels

Feb 20, 2018
Sen. Tammy Duckworth / Facebook

President Donald Trump has proposed a 33 percent cut to the crop insurance program. That has left area farmers concerned about their ability to weather any storms that could damage their crops. A group of farmers gathered at the Peoria County Farm Bureau Monday and told U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth crop insurance not only should be kept at current levels, it should be expanded to dairy farmers.

Peoria REACHes to Address Opioid Epidemic

Feb 19, 2018
Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

The Peoria Recovery Project is planning a broad-based opioid awareness event in April at the Peoria Civic Center.


Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis says the goal of the group is to 'REACH a solution'. “The Acronym stands for Recovery, Education, Advocacy, Community, and Health.”  

Ardis was one of many community leaders who joined in the announcement for the event. Others included the Peoria Police and Fire Chiefs, the Peoria County Sheriff, State's Attorney and Coroner and others. 

Peoria Public Radio

Early voting begins in Peoria County Monday. Peoria County Election Commission Assistant Director Elizabeth Gannon says Early Voting and

the mailing of Vote by Mail ballots also starts Monday.

Gannon says the Public Test of the system is rescheduled for Thursday at 1:00pm.

The Appellate Court in the First Judicial District has reversed the previous circuit court’s decision. Scott Drury’s name will appear on the ballot. That had delayed the start of voting in many Illinois Counties. Others have already moved ahead.

Man Arrested For Security Breach at PIA

Feb 17, 2018
Peoria County Jail

Peoria International Airport was closed early Saturday morning for commercial flights. The terminal building was closed and various police agencies swept the airport and restored the secured environment after a man breached security about 3 a.m. while it was closed.


28-year-old Justin Deemie has been arrested and is hospitalized after the security breach and disruption at PIA.


PIA Reopens After Security Breach

Feb 17, 2018
Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Peoria International Airport terminal is reopened.

The airport was closed this morning for commercial flights. Incoming airport traffic was also stopped and diverted at Dirksen Parkway.

A statement from Airport Director Gene Olson and staff around 5:00 a.m.:

Pension Shift Tops Governor's Priorities

Feb 16, 2018
Dean Hochman / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed shifting the responsibility for funding teacher pensions to local school districts. The governor says schools will not have to raise taxes to make the payments if the state gives them certain tools to lower operating costs.


"Getting rid of mandates, getting rid of restrictions and limitations and freeing up out school districts and our local governments to lower their costs by having greater control over how competitive contracts are bid, how contracting is done, competitive bidding is done." Rauner says.

Rauner Touts CNA Pilot Program in Peoria

Feb 16, 2018

Methodist College in Peoria is piloting a program in which low-income young adults can improve their medical training. A grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity enables four women to work as certified nursing assistants while simultaneously going to school.

Peoria Pere and Courtyard Hotels In Foreclosure

Feb 14, 2018
Daryl Scott / Peoria Public Radio

  Pere Marquette and Courtyard Hotels in downtown Peoria are in foreclosure. The hotel properties were placed in receivership Wednesday by the emergency order of Judge Kate Gorman.


Efforts to refinance fell through Tuesday when the finance company Yam withdrew from negotiations. The hotel will eventually be sold at sheriff’s auction. That is a fairly standard practice in such foreclosures.

Peoria City Council Roundup

Feb 14, 2018
Daryl Scott / Peoria Public Radio

The MacArthur Highway bridge in Peoria will be closed for repairs this summer. The city expects bid letting early next month. The council then will approve a construction contract at its first meeting in March. The bridge will completely close in May and not reopen until the end of November. The new bridge will include a sidewalk on one side.

Pere Marquette Hotel Heads Toward Foreclosure

Feb 14, 2018
Robert Lawton / CC BY-SA 2.5 / Wikimedia Commons

Pere Marquette and Courtyard Hotels in downtown Peoria are in foreclosure. The hotel properties were placed in receivership Wednesday by the emergency order of Judge Kate Gorman.


Efforts to refinance fell through Tuesday when the finance company Yam withdrew from negotiations. The hotel will eventually be sold at Sheriff’s auction. That is a fairly standard practice in such foreclosures.


But Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich says the hotel will stay open and operate under receivership for now.

UICOMP Gets New Financial Officer

Feb 12, 2018

The University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria has a new finance director. Eric Dubrowski is a familiar face to many in Peoria County Government. He’s the county's former Chief Financial Officer.

His new title with the college of medicine is Director of Fiscal Affairs.


Nick Straub currently handles financial affairs for the school. He is retiring in May after 18 years with UIC.


Peoria Teacher Arrested on Criminal Sexual Assault

Feb 12, 2018
Peoria County Jail

Peoria Richwoods High School teacher Phil Earhart has been arrested. The 30-year-old social studies teacher is accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with a 17-year-old female student.


The matter first came to light January 25th. The Peoria Police Department and DCFS were investigating and Earhart was placed on paid administrative leave.


Earhart was a member of the 2017 “40-Leaders-Under-40” class. In addition to teaching social studies classes, Earhart is also the sponsor for a number of student organizations.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Peoria Police Chief Jerry Mitchell is abruptly stepping down. Mitchell says he is retiring after more than 27 years on the Peoria Police Department.

Former State Senator George Shadid Remembered

Feb 7, 2018
Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

  Long-time public servant George Shadid was laid to rest Wednesday at Resurrection Cemetery in Peoria. Tanya Koonce reports:


GRANVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Authorities say they believe the suspect in last month's slaying of a northern Illinois teenager met the girl online before he picked her up at her house, drove her to a rural area and killed her.


200 Years on Display at PRM

Feb 2, 2018

The Peoria Riverfront Museum debuts a new display Saturday. The Bicentennial Exhibit includes more than 200 objects. 

Coroner: Number of Bullet Wounds Not a Surprise

Feb 2, 2018
Daryl Scott / Peoria Public Radio

  The preliminary autopsy for Daniel O. El shows he was shot 16 times. El was shot in an exchange of gunfire with Peoria Police after he fled a traffic stop.

City of Peoria

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis once again used his annual State of the City Address to implore the state legislature to develop a plan for pension reform. The state sets the pension benefit levels the fire and police retirees receive, but the city is responsible for paying those benefits. The mayor told the audience that in the next two years, the city will have to use all its property tax collections to pay just the pension liability.