Organic control of Japanese Beetles

Teresa Brockman fought Japanese beetles on her organic fruit and herb farm in Eureka several years ago. She was told the invasion would be cyclical.

However, this year Japanese beetles have returned with a vengeance, worse than ever, consuming many plants to the point they may not survive the winter.

Brockman believes climate change is altering a natural cycle, and these pests may become an annual plague. She is evaluating her balance of 25 different kinds of fruits and 30 culinary and tea herbs, considering elimination of those most attractive to Japanese beetles.

In the meantime, she fights the onslaught.

Brockman’s Sunny Lane Farm: Teresa’s Fruit and Herbs is certified organic. She fights the beetle invasion with a bucket of soapy water. About 6:30 a.m. and again toward sunset, she holds the bucket of soapy water under beetles as they consume leaves and she knocks the bugs into the water. A few drops of soap in the water breaks the surface tension and the beetles quickly drown.

Considering she farms on more than 3 acres, this is a time-consuming battle but Brockman will never consider toxic chemicals.

“Our days are consumed with fighting beetles and picking fruit. We have no time even for weeding,” she said as she walked through her orchard, kiwi arbor and row crops, all of which seemed orderly and well-weeded.

“I would never consider using bad chemicals. I have an obligation to my customers and to myself. Using chemicals does not give a better result than the bucket method. So why not go for the safest method?”



Lecia Brooks, outreach director at Southern Poverty Law Center, will speak in Peoria 7 p.m. Aug. 29, Bob Michel Student Center, Bradley University.

Co-sponsored by Community Word & Bradley University Department of Sociology & Social Work; African American Studies Committee; and Intellectual & Cultural Activities Committee


Clare Howard, Community Word, 309-645-7544

Sarah Whetstone, Bradley University, 309-677-2390


Southern Poverty Law Center documented more than 1,000 hate incidents and hate crimes during 10 days in early November following the presidential election. The hate continues and, in fact, seems to be escalating worldwide.

To examine and promote understanding of this climate, Community Word and Bradley University’s Department of Sociology & Social Work, African American Studies Committee and Intellectual & Cultural Activities Committee are co-sponsoring a free public forum with Lecia Brooks, outreach director at Southern Poverty Law Center, to discuss the rise in hate groups and hate crime. Lecia Brooks will discuss what people can do to combat hate.

A panel of four members of the Peoria community will be part of this public forum. Panel members include:

Rev. Marvin Hightower, Peoria Chapter NAACP

Imam Kamil Mufti, Islamic Foundation of Peoria

Rebecca Carlson, Jewish Federation of Peoria

Sonny Garcia, Illinois People’s Action

Moderator is Garry Moore

“The swastika has reappeared in ways we have not seen before,” Brooks said, noting that teachers in kindergarten through grade 12 have reported they have never seen such a sharp rise in expressions and acts of hate. Children are repeating rhetoric from the campaign and using it as racial slurs.

Southern Poverty Law Center has tallied hate crimes and found most were committed against immigrants, followed by Black, Muslim and LGBT groups. The swastika was the next leading hate category and is used as an expression of anti-Semitism and as a symbol of white supremacy.

Southern Poverty Law Center has identified 917 hate groups in the United States. There are groups in Bloomington, Canton, Springfield, Rockford and outside of Peoria.

SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER is a nonprofit founded in 1971 to fulfill the promises of the civil rights movement and apply America’s founding democratic principles to all people. Priorities include: combating hate, teaching tolerance, protecting the rights of children; seeking justice, immigrant justice, LGBT rights and criminal justice reform.

Benefit for Western Avenue Greenway Project

A wine and cheese benefit for the Western Avenue Greenway Project is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. June 23 at 1306 W. Moss Ave. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the door and at various neighborhood businesses.

The Greenway Project started in 1985 to enhance both sides of Western Avenue with landscaping. The area runs from Main Street along Western Avenue to Calendar Avenue. It is privately owned and maintained by a group of citizens.

The Greenway Project was devised to enhance the neighborhood by buying abandoned houses, demolishing them and landscaping the properties.

Recently a group of more than 30 Caterpillar volunteers from global purchasing helped with an intense workday on the Greenway Project. Cat volunteers perform various tasks each summer.

Volunteers are welcomed for a workday starting at 9 a.m. the fourth Thursday of each month on the property.

Peoria League of Women Voters June 21, 2017 event: Single Payer Healthcare


The Greater Peoria League of Women Voters will discuss Single Payer Healthcare at its Drinks and Dialogue event, 5:30 – 6:30 pm on Wednesday, June 21, at the Lariat Steakhouse, 2322 W. Glen Ave., Peoria.

 Luan Railsback, a Peoria-area activist who has been advocating for single payer healthcare for over a decade, will review the pros, cons, and misconceptions of Single Payer Healthcare, and discuss insurance costs for individuals and business owners.

Not a day goes by without hearing about healthcare in the news. Affordable Healthcare, American Healthcare, Medicare, Universal Healthcare: which is truly the most affordable, provides the most medical coverage, while also limiting overwhelming costs for business owners and individuals?

The event is free and the public is invited. Refreshments are available for purchase.

Drinks and Dialogue is offered on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, starting at 5:30 pm and ending promptly at 6:30 pm, always at a local restaurant, to discuss local, state and national topics relating to approved LWV positions, aimed at ‘Making Democracy Work.’

The League is a non-partisan, issues oriented, volunteer, member-directed organization committed to open, responsive and effective government brought about by informed, involved citizens with membership open to both men and women in Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties. For more information, go to





Peoria – You think YOUR Saturday, June 24th will be busy? You might just want to take a look at Jeff

Heft’s calendar. That’s the day Heft’s charity, His Helping Hands, will be completing 15 wheelchair

ramps on the houses of the same number of low-income homeowners with disabilities.

Now in the 5th year of the Ready to Roll initiative, this time around marks a 50% increase. “Last year,

we did 10 ramps in one day and this year, we are working with volunteers to complete 15,” said Jeff

Heft, CEO of His Helping Hands. Low-income homeowners with disabilities apply for the program

through His Helping Hands or any one of many referral agencies.

Wheelchair ramps are not all that His Helping Hands does. In 2017, the Peoria charity expects to

complete more than 50 projects to help veterans, seniors, single moms and persons with disabilities.

Accessibility upgrades, weatherization jobs, needed repairs and ramps make up the core of what they

do. Homeowners pay nothing.

His Helping Hands completes projects in the Peoria-area, year-round. It is an all-volunteer

organization. Its CEO, Jeff Heft does not take a salary. For more information, visit their website at

Ready to Roll is a partnership between His Helping Hands, Advocates for Access, the Peoria Area

Association of Realtors, and hundreds of area volunteers.


More delays in Heidelberg case

Bill Elward, right, attorney with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, argued Thursday that his office is ethically bound not to comment on the Cleve Heidelberg case. Also in court for a status hearing on the attorney general’s review of the case are, from left,  Cleve Heidelberg, Andy Hale and Don Jackson.


Cleve Heidelberg was in court Thursday for a status hearing that was supposed to be about an independent review of his case by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

Instead, attorney Bill Elward from the attorney general’s office, told Judge Albert Purham that his office cannot ethically comment on the case because of an appeal still pending with the Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa.

Elward said if the appellate court overturns Purham’s recent ruling vacating Heidelberg’s conviction, Heidelberg’s attorneys would likely appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. If the appellate court upholds Purham’s decision, a new trial could be possible, he said.

“We are ethically bound and we can’t comment on this case one way or the other,” Elward said.

His position took both Purham and Heidelberg’s attorneys by surprise.

Andy Hale, one of Heidelberg’s attorneys, said he is disappointed and had hoped for a full, fair and independent review.

Hale said a special prosecutor from the attorney general’s office was appointed almost one year ago and he should “finish the mission.”

Elward repeated his conviction that his office is ethically bound not to issue a report and said continued involvement in the case “invites mischief.”

Purham gave Heidelberg’s attorneys 14 days to respond, Elward 14 days to assess their response and then set a hearing on the matter for 1 p.m. July 21.

Meanwhile, Heidelberg remains free on bond.

After the hearing he said he was not particularly disappointed and views this as part of the process.

He said freedom is indescribable after 47 years in prison, and “it feels like I’ve been in the wilderness, and I’m back in civilization.”



Heidelberg walks free on bond

Cleve Heidelberg, center, smiles broadly as he walks from the Peoria County jail Monday afternoon after serving 47 years of a 99 to 175 year sentence. His conviction was vacated last month.


One of the longest held prisoners in U.S. history was released from the Peoria County jail Monday afternoon for an undisclosed location after 47 years in prison for a murder he has always claimed he did not commit.

Cleve Heidelberg, 74, was a young man when he was convicted in 1970 for the shooting death of Peoria County Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Espinoza during an armed robbery at the Bellevue Drive-In Movie Theater.

Over those 47 years, Heidelberg sought and was denied parole 25 times. During a recent hearing, an attorney with the prisoner review board said those decisions to deny parole were based in large part on a report from the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s office that had originally prosecuted the case.

On Monday afternoon, there was a celebratory mood with attorneys, family, friends and media outside the jail. Despite a light rain, people were jubilant. Heidelberg smiled broadly but because of his congestive heart failure, he was noticeably breathless when he spoke.

Andy Hale, one of Heidelberg’s attorneys, said his review of the case two years ago unearthed Constitutional violations in the original prosecution, and he found that evidence used to convict Heidelberg in 1970 was not credible.

Don Jackson, another attorney working on Heidelberg’s behalf, said prosecutors in the case “were looking for an African American, and they found one, convicted him and case closed.

“Look around Chicago and you can see this happening. We have a broken system. African American males get to court with two strikes.”

Jackson said he’s glad to see Peoria County working to diversify juries and credited Judge Stephen Kouri for that process.

Heidelberg had been sentenced to 99 to 175 years in prison in 1970 by an all-white jury.

He was transferred from Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg to Peoria County jail in April when Judge Albert Purham vacated his conviction. Special prosecutor Matt Jones has appealed that decision, and that appeal is pending.

Purham set bond at $500,000 earlier this month, and Illinois law requires 10 percent of that for bail. Purham also ordered Heidelberg have a GPS monitoring system.

Speaking after his release, Heidelberg said, “I’m stepping from a graveyard back into life. Prison is a graveyard.”

He heaped praise on Jackson, Hale, private investigator Marcella Teplitz and his friend Alstory Simon who was released from prison two years ago after serving 16 years on a wrongful conviction.

Heidelberg said he hopes to work with Simon on a national website for wrongfully convicted inmates.

In discussing Purham’s ruling, Heidelberg said the judge did not vacate the conviction because the judge liked him but because the judge dealt with facts and evidence.

“The evidence showed I did not do what I was convicted of,” Heidelberg said. “I am an innocent man. All these frivolous appeals will not be successful. Judge Purham will not be overturned.”







Seminar on engaged voters

Illinois Central College is offering a new seminar series “Your Government, Your Voice” about leadership and advocacy. The sessions run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Mondays from June 5 to June 19.

Seminar speakers include Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, Peoria County board member Steve Morris, representatives for U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos and U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, Illinois Sen. Dave Koehler, Ill. Rep. Ryan Spain, Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood and Peoria City Council members Denise Moore and Zack Oyler.

Enrollment is limited to 24. Registration is $45. For more information, go to:

The series is co-sponsored by League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria, NAACP Peoria Branch, Peoria County and the Young Professionals of Greater Peoria.


PEORIA, IL – May 12, 2017— The sculptures for Sculpture Walk Peoria 2017 have been chosen and will be revealed at the Opening Day Celebration on June 3, 2017, on Washington Street in downtown Peoria. This year, opening day has expanded to include more activities and entertainment. A community art project will begin at 9:00 a.m., and the festivities will kick off with a formal ribbon cutting at 10:00 a.m. under the Bob Michel Bridge, followed immediately by the inaugural walk. During the event, there will be plenty to see and do: a variety of musical acts provided by local musicians, food trucks and vendors, kids activities provided by the Peoria Art Guild, and the community art project to paint art poles that will be installed along the walk.
Brenda Mahoney, chair of events for Sculpture Walk Peoria, focused on bringing variety to the event. “We really worked hard to make the event more inviting this year and specifically focused on a range of activities for all ages. We think this will be an awesome event for the whole family! The committee would like to see as many people as possible come downtown to celebrate the grand opening.” Jenn Gordon, Executive Director of ArtsPartners of Central Illinois, pointed out that this will also be the public’s only chance to converse with the artists themselves. “One of the unique aspects of opening day is that the artists are here, having just installed their sculptures, and are excited to share their passion and talk about the inspiration for their works.”
The 2017 sculptures will be installed during the days leading up to the event, and the Opening Day Celebration is the grand opening of the 2017 walk. The sculptures will be on display for one year, at which point they’ll be taken down to make room for the next iteration of the Sculpture Walk. All sculptures are for sale.
Sculpture Walk Peoria is donor-funded and continues to be available because of its Charter and Diamond Sponsors: Peoria Warehouse District Association, Tri-City Machine Products, Muir Omni Graphics, Bradley University, CEFCU, Hanson Professional Services, PNC, Par-a-Dice Hotel and Casino, MAXAM, Prairie Center of the Arts, Unity Point Health Methodist-Proctor, Sharon and John Amdall,  Sid and Flo Banwart, Duffy Armstrong Farrell, Chris and Georgia Glynn, Joe and Michele Richey, and The Ransburg Family.
For more information on Sculpture Walk Peoria, please like our Facebook page or visit
Sculpture Walk Peoria is an initiative of ArtsPartners of Central Illinois, Inc. with the full support of the City of Peoria and private businesses. Its mission is to enhance the appreciation for the arts in our community and educate the members of our community regarding the value of the arts via outdoor, public art spaces in the Peoria Warehouse District. In addition, art—in this case, sculpture—stimulates economic development by bringing people to the Peoria Warehouse District.
ArtsPartners of Central Illinois, Inc. promotes the arts as a vital component of central Illinois’ cultural and economic development. Founded in 1999, ArtsPartners of Central Illinois, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to build awareness and strengthen the arts for the economic and cultural enrichment of central Illinois


May 15, 2017


 From phones to computers, everything needs an update now and then. Perhaps, after 83 years, the Peoria Historical Society logo was due for a change.

While the PHS Mission is to “Preserve, Share, and Celebrate the Stories of the Peoria Area”, we’re excited to publicize something absolutely NEW!

The Peoria Historical Society traces its roots as far back as 1839 but was not formally incorporated until 1934. The original logo, by Francis Fischer, celebrated and symbolized the history of the founding of Peoria and its ties to the Native American Indians.

The new logo, designed by Graphic Designer Taylor Ackerman of the Simantel Group, incorporates a stylized clockface, suggesting movement through time and the many stories the Peoria Historical Society endeavors to tell.

Please contact the Colleen Johnson, Executive Director of the Peoria Historical Society at 843-371-0373 for questions.