Stop the presses!

The sleuths at the Peoria Journal have uncovered another major crime! While there are murders on the streets and alleys of the city, drug deals almost in the open, fights among teens at Peoria High, and muggings of shoppers, the newspaper has revealed that Mayor Jim Ardis used City Hall stationary to write a letter on behalf of a man charged with a crime. And this is the second time the Mayor reached into his desk and pulled out his official stationary. How offensive!!!!

Quick, call Peoria County’s top law enforcement official for a damming response….again.

State’s attorney Kevin Lyons always has a clever quip for the media and will probably urge Mayor Ardis in the future to use plain paper from Wal-Mart.


The November elections have come and gone. Some say it was one of the most negative ever. I’ve decided to present awards for those candidates deserving of special recognition.

Most Negative Campaign: State Representative Mike Smith; Most Positive Campaign: Judicial Candidate John Vespa; Biggest Upset: Bobby Schilling winning the 17th Congressional District; Worst Loser: Phil Hare who lost to Schilling; Most Exciting Race: Bill Brady and Pat Quinn; Most Embarrassing Opinion: Peoria Journal’s choices for judgeships. Voters rejected all of their recommendations. Most Disappointing: Bill Brady’s defeat. It would be wonderful if someone outside Chicago could become Governor.


In other election notes I wish the best to good friend Bill Prather. I had the good fortune to work with Bill during my 22 years on the County Board. Though we were members of opposing parties, Bill and I agreed more often than not. Unlike other Democrats on the board, Bill was not a blind partisan. He voted on the merits of an issue not what the party caucus dictated.

Good luck to Merle Widmer as he retires from the board, but not from politics. I recruited Merle and found him to be as independent as anyone has ever been in local public office except for Gary Sandberg. No wonder they collaborated in a failed effort to slow down plans for the museum.

It was ridiculous for PJS Democrat reporter Karen McDonald to lump defeated board members Bud Sous and Mike Bartolo with Prather and Widmer as “veteran board members.”

Sous served only one term and Bartolo about six months. Give me a break. And then all of her quotes about the retiring and/or defeated members came from Democrats relatively new to the Courthouse and county government.


Regardless of your feelings about Bradley coach Jim Les, pro or con, the two losses to Quincy University and Eastern Illinois were major upsets. In a word, it’s embarrassing.

Critics of Les claim he will be gone unless he wins either the Valley title or the conference tournament thus receiving an NCAA bid.


Dave Reynolds is the newspaper reporter covering Bradley basketball. After just two games, Reynolds provided an unfair critique of radio analyst Danny Adams. With due respect, Reynolds has no experience, education or broadcast credentials. He must’ve been bored when he wrote it or he thought he was Phil Luciano. Anyway, Adams is no Joe Stowell and never will have his knowledge, expertise or wit. But give him time. He’ll get better….but will the Braves?


Former President George W. Bush has been making the media rounds talking about his book, “Decision Points.” The worst interview was with Matt Liar on the “Today Show.” The far left NBC host asked a number of questions, all negative and all adversarial. The best was Sean Hannity on Fox News. How refreshing to hear a President openly discuss his reasoning and the emotions he experienced about the Iraq War, Katrina, 9-11, and visiting our wounded soldiers.

Of course, the liberal Associated Press recounted only his discussion about mistakes. I still don’t understand how or why Bush gets all the blame about the poor intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction. I recall it was General Colin Powell who went before the U.N. and on national television to show aerial photos of the buildings where the alleged weapons were either constructed or stored.


Just about when you think you’ve heard about the dumbest from District 150, they fool you with more dumb-er, poor decisions. It wasn’t enough to close a viable high school serving as a neighborhood anchor to save money, they said, but now they want to open this multi-million dollar, modern, educational building so the community can use its swimming pool. Hey, open the restrooms, too, for the community. That would be another cost-saving idea while spending millions modernizing old Peoria High and the newer Lincoln Middle School.

The school board is consistently inconsistent. After dumping live TV coverage of its regular meetings, now they’re reconsidering that poor decision. Many in our community would like them to reconsider the closing of Woodruff High School.


The questions facing the Peoria County Board was build a new nursing home or not and should the County even be in the business of caring for the elderly. A third question, if the answer to the first two was yes, was where should the home be built. Due to an overwhelming vote, there will be a new nursing home and it’ll be located in West Peoria.

There was plenty of spirited debate with good arguments for and against each of the three questions. I served on the board for 22 years and was chairman of the Health Services Committee overseeing Bel-Wood. There were strong arguments then as there are today for the county to get out of the nursing home business. Today’s economic environment, especially in health care, is dangerous and risky. However, if that issue was placed on the ballot as a referendum, it would probably pass by a 2-1 margin as has every referendum requesting a tax increase for Bel-Wood. Anyway, Peoria County remains in the nursing home business with construction of a smaller facility on the drawing board at a cost to taxpayers of more than $54 million.

Only time will tell if those votes were in the best interests of all county residents. I like the location in West Peoria for a variety of reasons. It’s closer to hospitals and medical offices and more accessible for employees and visitors. My family once lived just a few blocks from the where a new Bel-Wood will be constructed. It’s a great neighborhood. I still think building a two-story facility is wrong, primarily for safety reasons. Look around the Peoria area and tell me what nursing homes are anything but ground level. Facilities like Riverview in East Peoria and Independence Village in Peoria are two or more stories, but they have ambulatory residents, those who can move around without assistance. The health care center at Riverview, like the current Bel-Wood, is ground level only.


The people of Creve Coeur, headed by former Police Chief Jerry Daughters, invite everyone to attend the annual remembrance and memorial of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Tuesday, December 7th, starting at 11:30 a.m. The special ceremony will take place at the community’s memorial park. Special guests this year are Secretary of State Jesse White; Colonel Bill Robertson, Commanding Officer of the Air Wing, National Guard; and Congressional Medal of Honor hero, Hal Fritz. Once again I have the honor of serving as emcee.


Congratulations to Bloomington radio station Magic 100.7. The FM station was the first out of the gift box with wonderful Christmas music. Most of Peoria radio is stuck with their formats, unwilling to get into the holiday spirit. So it’s a delight to be able to tune to FM 100.7 and hear the Carpenters, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, and others singing the songs of the season.

One of the highlights of our six years on WOAM with “Breakfast with Royce and Roger,” was playing Christmas music. Station owner Bob Kelly didn’t know it, but I would’ve hosted the morning show for nothing in November and December just so I could play and listen to “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson or “The Little Drummer Boy” by Johnny Mathis.

My favorite, though, was and is Mark Lowry’s moving arrangement of a song he wrote, “Mary, Did You know?” Lowry was a guest on our show, another exclusive for Royce and Roger. By the way, Lowry will appear at the Assembly Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois, December 4, as part of the Gaither Christmas Tour. Tickets start at $46.36. Wow.


Wow is a good word for the wonderful photo of the old Block & Kuhl Store at Christmas time that graced the front page of Section C of the Peoria Journal, Sunday, November 21. Thousands of people of all ages are shown gathered at the corner of Adams and Fulton following the annual Santa Parade. If you look closely you can see Santa climbing the ladder on the side of the store on his way, eventually, to Toyland on the 5th floor. I remember one year when Santa almost fell off the ladder. I heard someone say, “I think Santa may have had too much egg nog.”

Those were the days when downtown was alive with stores and shoppers. The windows of Block & Kuhl and Bergner’s were decorated with moving holiday characters and toys. There were stores like Grants, Wards, World Drug, Newberrys, Kresge’s, Crawford Shoes, Johnson’s Clothing and Schradzski’s, Peoria Dry Goods, Kellsted’s, The Nut House, Pantry, Downyflake, Grayson’s, Weisser’s Jewelry, and so many more.

It’s the Christmas season. I’m going to take a big risk and reprint for readers, my letter to Santa at the North Pole. Please don’t laugh.

Dear Santa,

It’s been a year since I last wrote. Thank you for everything you provided last year. You have a heart as big as your “bowl full of jelly” stomach. Here’s this year’s list:

Stationary for Mayor Jim Ardis,

a Mind Game for District 150 board members, a big, husky, strong center for Bradley, a radio station that plays good music for central Illinois adults, Aa local candidate for City Manager, a new box of ammunition for the Agatucci gang, a competent program manager for ICC’s new radio station, and Good health for everyone in 2011!


While Santa, shopping and music seem to dominate the season, the real story is one that has lasted for centuries. It can be found in Chapter 2 of Luke: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone around about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.




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