Peoria County

Peoria County 2017 Budget to Include 40 Job Cuts

Dec 1, 2016
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The Peoria County Board is slated to approve its 2017 budget tonight. The board has to fill a two-and-a half million dollar shortfall, for this year and next.


County Board Chairman Andrew Rand says fund reserves will be depleted in three years at this pace. He says expenses are outpacing revenues about one percent a year, compounded by declines in the major revenue sources of sales taxes, fines and fees.

A Canton man told a judge he went "redneck fishing" with a pipe bomb as a tribute to his late grandfather. He hauled in a 90-day jail sentence.  Twenty-six-year-old Marc McCulley's felony conviction also got him 30 months' probation after he was sentenced last week in Peoria County Circuit Court.

Peoria County Voters Shake Up Coroner's Office

Nov 9, 2016

Voters affirmed incumbents in the 17th and 18th Congressional Districts. But Peoria County will have a new coroner.

Republican Johnna Ingersoll lost her bid for a fourth term to Jamie Harwood, 53 to 47 percent. Harwood says his background as a forensic nurse will bring changes to the coroner’s office.

“Every day, medicine changes and we work on an evidenced based best practice system everywhere in healthcare,” Harwood said. “There’s no reason the coroner’s system for investigating death shouldn’t be the exact same premise.”

Helping Black Owned Businesses in Peoria

Oct 5, 2016
Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos visited the Minority Business Development Center in Peoria Tuesday.

Much of the space at the Black Business Alliance office at 2139 SW Adams is still under reconstruction. But it’s already working to help more minority owned businesses grow and succeed.

1st District Peoria City Council Woman Denise Moore is championing the effort to link perspective businesses owners to a variety of organizations like the Small Business Administration.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Friends of Peoria County Schools launched its 'Vote Yes’ Campaign at Richwoods High School Thursday. Many of the 18 school districts within Peoria County were represented, along with State Senator Dave Koehler and the Regional Superintendent of Schools.

Andrea Tortora is managing the ‘Vote Yes’ Campaign. She says the 1/2-percent sales tax is needed in the face of underfunded state aid.

Voters to Decide on Peoria County Roads

Sep 30, 2016
Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Peoria County voters will have two sales tax questions to consider on the November ballot. The Peoria County Schools Facility 1/2-percent sales tax question is getting another go and there’s a referendum seeking an additional 1/4-percent sales tax increase for roads.

  Peoria County kicked off a series of town hall meeting last night on its referendum requesting voters approve a 1/4-percent sales tax for roads.


Groundbreaking to Salute Fallen Soldiers

Sep 29, 2016

Those who've worked to see the final addition to the veterans war memorial at the Peoria Courthouse Plaza are celebrating the pending construction this weekend.  

The proposed memorial called “Final Salute” is dedicated to soldiers from Peoria County who’ve served in the US military from World War II to present day. The total cost is estimated to top $400,000. Most of the funds are from private and corporate donors. Peoria County is committing $125,000 to the project. 

Kimberly Thomas is the reigning Illinois Teacher of the Year. The title doesn’t come with a satin sash and a tiara, but you might think it does once you get a taste of Thomas’s extreme effervescence. This Peoria math teacher has a lot more going for her than just bubbles and fizz, but you have to get you a sip of that first.

The Peoria Public School district and Peoria County officials plan to begin educational campaigns about the proposed tax hikes after Labor Day.

Peoria County voters face three separate tax referenda this November - a binding .25 cent sales-tax hike for roads, a binding .5 cent sales-tax increase to improve school buildings and an advisory property tax referendum that would assist veterans and the disabled.

Peoria County Voters Get Two More Questions

Aug 19, 2016
Peoria Public Radio

Peoria County Voters will have two additional referenda on the November General Election Ballot. The Peoria County Board overwhelmingly approved placing the measures on the ballot last night.


The Peoria County State’s Attorney is requesting a judge reconsider his decision to appoint a special prosecutor to a 46-year-old murder murder case.

State’s Attorney Jerry Brady filed a motion Tues. defending his reason for calling his friend and colleague, Ron Hamm, who was the prosecutor in the trial that led to the lifelong prison sentence of Cleve Heidelberg.

Brady says in the filing he called prosecutor Ron Hamm on Apr. 22 with the intent of releasing Hamm’s number to the news media.

Peoria County Jail Tours Offered

Apr 18, 2016
Peoria County Sheriff's Office / Facebook

The Peoria County Sheriff corrections staff is offering an inside look at the Peoria County Jail. It’s part of ICC Adult Community Programs. Sheriff Mike McCoy and corrections staff are hosting dinner and tour of the jail Thursday. Limited seating space means pre-registration is required.

The National Weather Service confirms a tornado touched down in Peoria County last night shortly after polling places closed for the Illinois primary election.

Primary elections offer local changes

Mar 16, 2016

Dan Walther will be the newest member of the Peoria District 150 School Board. Walther won the 3rd district school board seat with 65% of the vote to Terry Spayer’s 35%.

Peoria County voters turn out in record numbers

Mar 15, 2016

Voter turnout was 43.5% in Peoria County. That accounts for 47,616 votes cased. It also exceeds 2008 voter turnout in Peoria when Hillary Clinton ran against Barack Obama.

Peoria goverments look for more collaboration

Mar 2, 2016

  Five local governments participated in an informational meeting with the Peoria District 150 School Board last night. Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce reports the goals was to explore ways to cooperate.     

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Judge Alicia Washington was sworn in this afternoon at the Peoria County Courthouse. Washington is the first African-American Woman to take the bench in the 10th Judicial Circuit.

Peoria City residents will see the way they pay for garbage service change this year. The proposed Peoria City/County intergovernmental agreement will combine garbage service fees with property tax bills.

Both the Peoria City Council and Peoria County Board are scheduled to approve the deal this week. It provides for the city to pay the county $150,000 a year for billing and collection of garbage pick-up service fee. That will save the city about half of what it’s currently paying.

Peoria Encourages Shop Local Effort

Nov 23, 2015

Peoria City, County and business owners are asking residents to shop local this Thanksgiving season.  The push to shop local comes as Peoria sales tax revenues struggle to grow, in-part because of online or nearby big-box stories.  Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Griffin says Peoria isn’t unique to the challenge:

  The Peoria County Board unanimously approved contract extension with two of its employee unions during its regular meeting.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

  The Veterans Day Ceremony at the World War I and II Memorial at the Peoria County Courthouse included a rare Purple Heart pinning. 

All of Peoria County's judges are back in their courtrooms nearly nine months after a pipe burst causing water damage.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

A Peoria County committee rejected a proposed property tax hike Tuesday. 

Board members voted 7-5 against the 1.5 cent tax increase, which would have raised an additional  $500,000 for road projects and repairs. Board Chairman Andrew Rand says the tax revenue would have been a small attempt at addressing a massive problem.          

“What this board rejected today was simply pouring a spoonful of water into a bucket full of need, that’s all a half a million dollars would be,” Rand said. 

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The Peoria County board passed three resolutions last night that allow a local agriculture company to operate a business in Trivoli Township. Akron Services Inc., plans to house chemicals, fertilizers and seeds on a site where an unused grain elevator stands. 

The vote was 12-3 with one abstention. Before the vote, the board heard from more than a dozen members of the public -- both in favor and opposed to the development.

Organic farmers neighboring the site say it would hurt the biodiversity of their crops. 

Courtroom rehab continues amid delays

Oct 8, 2015
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Peoria County is in the process of remodeling three courtrooms that were damaged when a pipe burst in February. One of those courtrooms is back in use -- while the other two are not.

Construction started on courtrooms 222 and 322 in July. Now, the drywall is exposed, the ceiling tiles are gone, and the carpet is pulled up.  

Chief Judge Stephen Kouri is growing impatient. He says having two courtrooms out of commission is slowing down the number of cases judges are able to hear. On top of that, judges are having to juggle courtrooms.

County touts expansion of access to spending data online

Sep 29, 2015
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Peoria County unveiled a new online portal that opens its financial data to the public. All County spending is public information, but the website bypasses the time and paperwork required to file Freedom of Information Act requests. 

“They have nothing to do except sit down at their desk in their bedroom at night completely anonymous, and they can find out what they want to find out,” County Auditor Carol VanWinkle said.


The portal comes from the online platform Open Government. 

As Peoria County prepares its next year’s budget, its general operating fund has a nearly $2.5 million dollar spending gap to fill. An increase in personnel expenditures this year is a factor in the deficit.

County CFO Eric Dubrowski says sharing more job duties could increase savings. He says a similar move happened in 2015 where one employee was split between the auditor’s office and the finance office:

It’s not official who, yet, but at least four people are interested in filling Darin LaHood’s state senate seat when he resigns to join Congress in the next week.  Here are some of the next steps to fill the state position:

The 37th Senate District spans parts of ten counties in central and western Illinois. Once LaHood resigns, each of the ten county Republican Party chairs will gather to formally accept applications and review candidates.  Peoria County Republican Party chairwoman Katherine Coyle says so far three people from Peoria and one from Knox County have expressed interested in filling the post:

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Peoria County’s jail facilities are overdue for major upgrades. Its security software and basic infrastructure haven’t been updated since it opened in 1985. 

The first item on the jail’s long list of upgrades is the Central Control. It’s a room paneled with monitors and flashing buttons. Superintendent Brian Asbell calls it the “communication hub.”

“Our officer that’s stationed up here, he monitors all inmate movement through cameras, we have right now 112 cameras throughout the campus,” Asbell said.

West Nile Virus identified in Peoria County

Aug 21, 2015

The Peoria City/County Health Department reports that this summer has been active for West Nile Virus.