Joe Deacon

Reporter

Joe Deacon is a reporter at WCBU, joining in 2020 after one year as a correspondent for Bloomington-Normal sister station WGLT.

An Illinois State University graduate, Joe previously spent 18 years with The Pantagraph in Bloomington in various roles ranging from copy editor to sports reporter and assistant sports editor. He transitioned to radio with eight months as a reporter for WSOY in Decatur.

Joe was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and is an avid White Sox fan. He also enjoys movies and video games (still, even at his age).

Ways to Connect

Joe Deacon / WCBU

The local Susan G. Komen Memorial affiliate has a new home in downtown Peoria, along with a renewed mission partnership.

City of Peoria / YouTube

A two-year rehabilitation of Western Avenue has taken a step forward with construction set to begin as soon as next spring.

Daniel Musisi / WCBU

A former grocery store on Knoxville Avenue has been transformed into a new medical facility that will start welcoming patients later this month.

Peoria County

The Peoria County Jail currently has too many detainees, and the Illinois Department of Corrections has not helped the situation.

“We’re kind of like a water balloon,” said Sheriff Brian Asbell. “It just keeps growing and growing and growing. But at a certain point, we have no more space left.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health guidelines established by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have mandated distancing and reduced the maximum populations for detention facilities.

WCBU

Bradley University professor Jason Zaborowski admits many people do not often associate the Middle East with Christianity.

Zaborowski has encountered that reality often while participating in panels during the annual American Academy of Religion conventions.

“Often the people in the audience will express a familiarity with the Christianity part of the Christian identity, but they'll be a little bit more hesitant when talking about the Middle Eastern part of that identity,” Zaborowski said.

Peoria Public Schools / YouTube

Following a lengthy presentation on Peoria Public Schools’ hybrid return-to-school plans, the District 150 Board of Education Monday night pivoted to opening the academic year with full virtual instruction just nine days before the scheduled start.

Tim Shelley / WCBU

Tri-County health officials reported 170 new COVID-19 infections over the weekend, bringing the region’s total to 2,288 since the start of the pandemic.

The figures announced Monday included 94 new cases in Peoria County for a total of 1,598. Tazewell County added 59 new positives for a sum of 535, while Woodford County’s total increased by 17 to 155. No new deaths were reported.

Joe Deacon / WCBU

The Peoria-area’s historic link in the supply chain is getting some much-needed upgrades.

A $10 million federal grant will help fund a new maintenance facility for CityLink.

With the grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Authority, the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District has secured $20 million toward the project’s estimated $30 million cost.

Tim Shelley / WCBU

Norm Kelly, the well-known Peoria historian and author, has died following a year-long battle with cancer.

The City of Peoria Council will receive $1.4 million in federal assistance to help small businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

An additional $400,000 has been awarded to the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council. The U.S Commerce Department announced the CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants on Wednesday.

The federal money for Peoria is aimed at assisting business owners as they work to rebound from financial instability. The aid will be dispersed through a revolving loan fund.

When the Illinois High School Association announced last week it is shifting football, girls volleyball and boys soccer to the spring, many coaches were thankful the seasons did not get canceled entirely.

Teekona Group / City of East Peoria

Construction of a $13 million apartment complex along the Illinois River in East Peoria is scheduled to begin in the near future.

Several Peoria businesses put boards over doors and windows to protect their property amid civil unrest earlier this year. Now the city’s Community Development Department wants to see the remaining boards taken down.

“We’re all trying to get back to some level of normalcy in the community and with businesses, showing that the businesses are open for customers as much as they can,” said Community Development Director Ross Black.

Facing the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Peoria-area real estate market slipped a bit in the second quarter. But brokers are still seeing indications of a turnaround.

“We've seen a really active real estate market since early spring,” said Kendra Sipes, president of the Peoria Area Association of Realtors (PAAR). “We did expect things to kind of be a lot slower when our initial shelter-in-place went into effect.”

Matt Rourke / AP

U.S. Census Bureau workers have started going door-to-door in the Peoria area to boost participation in the nationwide population count.

UnityPoint Health / OSF HealthCare

Peoria health experts believe the COVID-19 pandemic is having a detrimental impact on mental well-being for many people, causing an increase in stress, anxiety and depression.

“We’re facing an invisible enemy that one of the ways to try and beat it or contain it is to not be around other people,” said Ted Bender, president of UnityPlace, the behavioral health and addiction services branch of UnityPoint Health.

FACEBOOK / FON DU LAC PARK DISTRICT POLICE DEPARTMENT

A multi-agency resource center for residents affected by recent flash flooding will be open Thursday in Roanoke.

A July 15 storm dropped at least eight inches of rain on the village in less than three hours. More than 100 homes and five businesses were affected and several families were displaced.

Representatives from state and local agencies and other support organizations will be available to residents who need assistance.

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said Tuesday the city is still waiting on federal assistance to help address its budget shortfall from the COVID-19 pandemic, while at-large council member John Kelly said he doubts a real estate tax intended to help close the deficit would pass.

Tim Shelley / WCBU

Peoria Public School District 150 will use a hybrid plan to reopen schools this fall during the COVID-19 pandemic. But for other districts in the Tri-County area, hybrid learning may not be the best option.

“It just depends on the district, the students and families they serve, and then they’re using all that information to make the best decisions they can,” said Beth Crider, Peoria County regional superintendent of schools.

The body of an 18-year-old woman has been recovered from the Illinois River.

An employee of the Peoria Lock and Dam discovered the body in front of an anchored barge and notified authorities shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday, according to a news release from Tazewell County Coroner Charles Hanley.

Hanley confirmed to WCBU the woman is the same person who apparently jumped from the Bob Michel Bridge on Friday. She was pronounced dead at 9:15 a.m. Sunday and an autopsy is scheduled for Monday. Her name is being withheld pending family notification.

Peoria Fire Department / Facebook

Peoria firefighters and police rescued a man who threatened to jump off the Bob Michel Bridge early Saturday morning.

According to a Peoria Fire Department media release, first responders were called to the bridge shortly after 1 a.m. They discovered the unidentified man on the catwalk near the center of bridge that carries Illinois Rt. 40 over the Illinois River between Peoria and East Peoria.

Police and fire crews tracked the man from one side of the bridge to the other, while a fire department boat was dispatched for a potential rescue from the river.

The 60-year-old man who died Thursday when his bicycle was struck by a truck on Knoxville Avenue has been identified.

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said Mark J. Stahl of Peoria died at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center after suffering multiple blunt force injuries.

Catholic school students in central Illinois will have the option of returning to the classrooms this fall.

The Diocese of Peoria, which includes the Bloomington-Normal area, announced Friday that all 42 of its primary and secondary schools will open for the 2020-21 academic year.

Students and parents can choose to enroll in five days a week of in-school instruction, or five days a week of online learning. A hybrid alternative is not included in the Office of Catholic Schools’ Diocesan Plan.

Facebook / Diocese of Peoria

Central Illinois Catholics have their next leader, but their current leader is under self-imposed quarantine.

Peoria County

Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell said an additional eight detainees at the county jail tested positive for COVID-19 overnight, for a grand total of 29 so far.

Joe Deacon / WCBU

Nearly two years after a devastating fire, a longtime family-owned business is getting closer to reopening in West Peoria.

YouTube

Peoria Public Schools Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat said the district has valiantly responded to the COVID-19 health crisis with an approach to reopening this fall that shows a continued commitment to students.

Illinois Central College

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shape the ability of people to gather in a single physical space, colleges and universities have modified methods of instruction.

Joe Deacon / WCBU

Governor JB Pritzker offered condolences to victims and support for the Peoria community Monday following a weekend of gun violence that included an incident that injured 13 people Sunday morning on the Riverfront.

“No one should ever experience the trauma of a shooting, or multiple ones. May that belief fuel our work to bring peace to a state that we all call home,” Pritzker said during an appearance at Manual High School to tout a summer jobs program.

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