Peace for Peoria will host a Q&A at the Peoria Civic Center Theater on Monday, May 16 from 7:00-8:30 p.m. A panel of local civic, business, and religious leaders will answer questions from attendees about Islam and Muslims in an effort to promote peace and understanding through education.

Opening remarks will be delivered by Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman, OSF President Michael Cruz, Unity Point President Debbie Simon, and Bradley University President Gary Roberts, with a panel Q&A session to follow. Mayor Jim Ardis will provide closing remarks.

Peace for Peoria is accepting questions ahead of the event to determine which questions are asked most and ensure those are addressed. To submit your question, email To RSVP for the event, go to

Peace for Peoria is an interfaith alliance dedicated to fighting fear by opening doors and hearts, bringing people of diverse faiths together in opposition to irrational fear of Islam and Muslims, building loving relationships rooted in the traditions of each faith without denying their differences, and fellowshipping with the entire city of Peoria.

This event follows Peace for Peoria’s March 7 kickoff, “Know Islam. Know Peace.” Over 700 people attended the standing-room-only interfaith unity event at the Islamic Foundation of Peoria.












Peoria ACLU Celebrates 55th Anniversary at Annual Meeting April 28

The Peoria ACLU Chapter’s annual meeting on Thursday, April 28, 2016 will feature Colleen Connell, Executive Director of the Illinois ACLU. She will speak on Religious Refusals and the Threat to Religious Liberty and Healthcare.

The event takes place at the IVY Club, 1502 N. Galena Road, Peoria Heights, and begins with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. with the program, presentation of awards and election of officers to follow.

Guest speaker Connell has argued before courts in both the state and federal justice systems, including the Supreme Court of the United States, on important matters involving the rights of women to control their own reproductive health.  Ms. Connell has directed the organization’s litigation efforts involving constitutional rights of privacy and the rights of Illinois citizens to make decisions concerning reproductive matters without undue governmental restriction.

The Sam Belfer Award will be presented to the Peoria Housing Authority and its security officer Jerry McKean. The PHA board revised trespass list policies to provide due process to those placed on the list, namely a way to challenge the listing and have the name removed.  Officer Jerry McKean has gone above and beyond in his efforts to monitor the list as well as remove inappropriate and/or outdated names. The David Citron Award for an ACLU member goes to Jean Sanger for her leadership and service on the ACLU board as well as several other important civic boards of directors in Peoria in recent years.

Two special awards for civic activities also will be presented.  They go to the Collaboration that developed the Peoria School District 150 Comprehensive Sexuality Education Program that is comprehensive and accurate, and to Kamil Mufti, resident scholar and imam at the Islamic Foundation of Peoria, for strengthening understanding of freedom of religion and distinguishing between free speech and hate speech.

Reservations for the dinner must be made by April 22. Contact Elaine Hopkins, 309-231-5758 for more information or the chapter website, The dinner costs $45. The public is invited, and welcome to attend the program free of charge.

Attorney to petition court to reopen Heidelberg case


Attorney Andrew Hale is completing a comprehensive petition he expects to file within the next two weeks with the 10th Judicial Circuit Court in Peoria asking the court to reopen the 1970 murder conviction of Cleve Heidelberg.

Hale said his petition includes new and compelling evidence that Heidelberg is innocent in the murder of Peoria County Sheriff’s Sgt. Raymond Espinoza. The petition includes sworn affidavits from people willing to testify in court under oath about critical information that supports Heidelberg’s claim of innocence, Hale said.

In one sworn affidavit signed March 25, Matthew Clark recounts his brother’s confession to the Espinoza murder.

During the 1970 trial, none of the people cited in this new petition testified, Hale said.

Heidelberg was sentenced to life in prison and has spent 45 years behind bars.

The Heidelberg case came to the attention of Hale, a Chicago attorney, who has been investigating the murder for the past year and is convinced of Heidelberg’s innocence.

“100 percent convinced,” Hale said in a recent interview.

He flew to California to meet with Matthew Clark, brother of the man who confessed to the murder.

Clark, 75 and now living in Pasadena, states in a sworn affidavit that his brother James and another friend had borrowed Heidelberg’s car.

It was in the early morning hours of May 26, 1970, that James Clark drove the car to the old Bellevue Drive-in movie theater on Harmon Highway where he shot and killed Espinoza and fled the scene, crashing the car into a parked vehicle after turning onto Blaine and Butler streets and then fleeing north on foot.

In the affidavit, Clark said he was pressured by the state’s attorney’s office in 1970 to implicate Heidelberg, but he refused.

Clark states in the affidavit he was one of 16 brothers and sisters growing up in Peoria. One younger brother Mark Clark was shot and killed by Chicago police during a raid on the Black Panthers headquarters. Panther leader Fred Hampton was also shot and killed in that raid.

In the months following that shooting, Clark said his older brother James became increasingly upset with police. It was during his attempted armed robbery of the Bellevue Drive-in theater that James Clark said he saw a sheriff’s patrol car approaching and fired through the windshield. He said at the time “It was kill or be killed.”

In the affidavit, Matthew Clark stated that his brother James was arrested in Rock Island in July, and FBI agents came to question him about finding his fingerprints on evidence relating to the shooting of Espinoza months earlier in Peoria.

FBI reports from that interview have not been located by either Hale or Marcella Teplitz, a private investigator in Peoria working with Hale on the case.

Hale documented his research in a report submitted in December to Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady asking that the case be reopened. Brady declined.

“Based on what I reviewed, I did not find a basis to reopen the case,” Brady said recently, declining further comment.

Matthew Clark’s signed affidavit clearly indicates there was reasonable doubt about Heidelberg’s innocence from the beginning, Hale said, yet police, FBI, the prosecutor and the judge proceeded with a case to convict Heidelberg.

Hale said, “The police built a case against Cleve Heidelberg the very night of the shooting and they got all the witnesses on board. The police and prosecutor did not want to come off that version and look at other explanations.”

Neither Hale nor Teplitz have been able to locate the FBI report of the Rock Island interview with James Clark.

“The police manufactured this case. Every police officer who touched this case was involved. It was the job of the prosecutor to put a stop to it, and they all bear responsibility for what happened,” Hale said.

In his petition, Hale is asking the court to appoint a special prosecutor to reopen and investigate the case.

He cited new rules that went into effect in Illinois on Jan. 1 compelling prosecutors to make reasonable efforts to investigate new and credible evidence and seek remedy in previous cases that may have resulted in wrongful convictions.

“The Peoria County State’s Attorney has failed to do that,” Hale said, citing a recent DeKalb case in which the state’s attorney issued a comprehensive report documenting facts leading him to overturn a previous conviction.

“I’m not asking for the release of Cleve Heidelberg,” Hale said. “I’m asking to reopen and review the case. If there is no second look at a case when another guy confessed, when is a second look justified?”

James Clark who confessed to the murder of Sgt. Espinoza died in 2015.

West Bluff Grand Tour of Homes: May 15

The Grand Tour

                                                                  West Bluff Homes of Peoria, Illinois

Kathleen Greenberg, Chairperson-1212 N. Parkside Dr. Peoria IL. 61606

LaDonna Bobbitt, Treas.-1006 W. Moss Ave., Peoria IL 61606

The Grand Tour of Homes is proud to present some of Peoria’s fine historical and architectural heritage on the 2013 Grand Tour. On Sunday, May 15th 2016 from 12:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. the general public is invited to tour five West Bluff homes and the Main Street corridor’s shops and artists. For thirty years the Grand Tour has had the privilege of highlighting these treasures and sharing them with the community.

The West Bluff began in the mid-1800, when stately mansions were built by Peoria’s most prominent citizens and lined High-Wine Street, Moss Avenue and Randolph Ave. Today the area includes Bradley Park, Bradley University and ten neighborhoods: Armstrong-Ellis, Arbor District, Columbia Terrace North, Cottage District, Orchard District, High-Wine, Uplands, Moss-Bradley, Randolph-Roanoke and University East.

Funds raised from the tour are used to beautify the West Bluff, Ticket donations are $12 in advance and $15 the day of the Tour, and tickets can be purchased from the following participating businesses: Sterling Flower Shoppe 3017 N. Sterling Ave. Peoria, Broken Tree Cafe, Excel, Moon Dancer, and Urban Artifacts, Main St. and Sheridan Peoria. Vintage Romance 608 W. Main St. Peoria, Relics 1219 W. Glen Ave. Peoria, Olde Hair Shoppe 2128 W. Rohmann Ave. West Peoria, Random Apparel Junction City, Pink Sugar Junction City, Fred’s Shoe Repair 3033 N. University Peoria, Rhythm Kitchen 305 SW. Water St. Peoria; Gregg Florist, 1015 E. War Memorial Dr., Peoria Heights

And Marilyn’s Bow K 3711 Granville Ave. Bartonville, Il

Tickets also available from committee members, for more information please call Kathleen (above), LaDonna Bobbitt (309)672-1831, or committee member Connie Wright (309)674-2330

The Grand Tour, an Illinois nonprofit corporation







Laura Evancho, Executive Director Heartland Festival Orchestra, recognized by Illinois Council of Orchestras

Illinois Council of Orchestras Announces Annual Awards

The Illinois Council of Orchestras is pleased to announce the 2016 recipients of its annual awards for excellence in the field of music performance and for support of musical organizations. An awards panel of judges drawn from the Illinois Council of Orchestras Board of Directors and independent professional musicians reviewed nominations representing orchestras, youth orchestras, and chamber ensembles from throughout Illinois.

 The 2016 ICO Awards:

Professional Orchestra of the Year                                                                Elgin Symphony Orchestra

Andrew Grams, Music Director

Community Orchestra of the Year                                                  Lakeview Orchestra

Gregory Hughes, Artistic Director

Youth Orchestra of the Year                                                                             Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra

Allen Tinkham, Music Director

 Conductor of the Year (professional orchestra category)                           Steven Larsen, Music Director

Rockford Symphony Orchestra

 Conductor of the Year (community orchestra category)                             Gregory Hughes, Artistic Director

Lakeview Orchestra

 Executive Director or General Manager of the Year                    Laura Evancho, Executive Director

Heartland Festival Orchestra

 Guild of the Year                                                                                 Friends of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra

Volunteer of the Year                                                                                         Taylor Scott

Lakeview Orchestra



The Illinois Council of Orchestras was founded in 1974 with a mission:

  • to encourage, promote, and assist orchestras throughout the State of Illinois
  • to promote an exchange of information among members, including providing consultants and speakers
  • to hold educational conferences for member organizations, including musicians, staff, boards, volunteers, and audiences.                                                                                                                             

Peoria County residents rank toward bottom on health assessment

Peoria County’s Health Status in Bottom ThirRankings report serves as a call to action to improve community health.

Peoria County falls to the bottom third for healthy residents, when compared to the rest of the counties in Illinois. The annual County Health Rankings, released today by the University of Wisconsin, Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides the details on factors that influence its health rating and why Peoria County ranks 73rd out of 102 Illinois counties in overall health.

The Rankings Report which ranks the overall health of counties in all 50 states to provide a snapshot of how healthy people are and how long they live. Researchers use weighted standard measures and factors to assess the overall health outcomes including health behaviors, social and economic factors, clinical care, and the physical environment.

In reviewing the Rankings report, Monica Hendrickson, Epidemiologist at the Peoria City/County Health Department, states, ” The Rankings report helps counties see what is affecting the health of their residents so they can see where they are doing well, where they need to improve, and what steps they need to take as a community to improve health. Analyzing changes and trends in health factors over a 5-year timeframe suggests we’ve improved in areas such as less adult smoking and more mammography screening.”

Hendrickson adds, “The Rankings report and the 5-year trends reinforce the need to continue to address indentified priority health challenges from our current data such as high rates of obesity, STDs, and teen pregnancy. In addition to health behaviors, the Rankings report adds a perspective to address social and economic factors that affect health such as poor mental health days, children in single-parent families, and violent crime rates. To improve Peoria County’s health status, our whole community will need to address not only the behavioral  and clinical care issues, but also the physical environment and underlying social-economic issues that we now know affects overall health.”

To view the County Health Rankings report, visit the website at For more information on local public health issues, visit the Peoria City/County Health Department website at



Urgent need for election judges!

Peoria County Board of Election Commissioners


Official News Release

For immediate release

May 14, 2016 (17)


Thomas Bride, Executive Director            309-494-8683

Link to this news release:

Election Judges Needed Tomorrow


Peoria County – The Peoria County Election Commission is reaching out to citizens in the community to work as paid Election Judges for the Tuesday, March 15th Presidential Primary Election.  Community participation is key to staffing the 83 county-wide polling places. 

“An exceptionally high number of cancellations from current Election Judges is compelling us to reach out to civic minded citizens to volunteer at this late hour” said Executive Director Thomas Bride. “Please consider lending a hand to ensure the election process is easy and accessible for all voters in Peoria County.”

Mr. Bride went on to say the Election Commission has had over 100 Election Judge cancellations, nearly three times more than an average election.  Election Judges are responsible for the administration of election procedures in the polling place on Election Day. They ensure the election process is administered fairly and in accordance with the law.  For their service, judges are paid $130.

To Be an Election Judge you must meet the following criteria:

·         Be a citizen of the United States;

·         Be a registered voter in Peoria County OR a junior or senior high school student in good standing;

·         Be of good repute and character and not subject to the registration requirement of the Sex Offender Registration Act;

·         Be able to speak, read, and write the English language;

·         Be skilled in the four fundamental rules of mathematics;

·         Be of good understanding and capable;

·         Not be a candidate for any office in the election and not be elected committeeman; and

To learn more about serving as an Election Judge for Tuesday’s election please call (309)494-8683.



# #  #


Peoria County Board of Election Commissioners, 542 SW Adams St, Peoria, IL 61602

Scheduled monthly hikes at Rocky Glen

Friends of Rocky Glen is pleased to announce the resumption of free monthly hikes through the Glen beginning March 12, 2016.  Hikers should dress for the weather and expect to be on a moderately difficult trail. All hikes begin at 10:00 a.m., with departure and return to Jimmy’s Bar, 2801 Farmington Road, West Peoria by noon. Hikes were suspended in October of 2015. Additional hikes are scheduled for April 9, May 7, June 18, July 2, August 13, September 10, October 8, November 5 and December 3.

Rocky Glen is a 125 acre natural area in West Peoria, located adjacent to Kickapoo Creek Road. It is owned by the Peoria Park District but currently has no public parking. Consequently it is closed to the public. The Friends of Rocky Glen (FORG), and the Peoria Park District (PPD), have an operating agreement to allow FORG to lead guided tours. FORG is fundraising to assist the PPD in developing public access to the park, which is one of the contractual obligations the PPD accepted when they acquired the park in 2013. FORG memberships and merchandise will be available at all monthly hikes, fundraisers and at the Global Village store, 1308 E Seiberling Avenue in Peoria Heights. FORG is a federal non-profit 501(c)3 composed entirely of volunteers.

Since its founding in October 2010, FORG has raised over $35,000 to support Rocky Glen. In the past two years FORG partnered with Forest Park Foundation in a very successful matching grant program. This year FORG is excited to announce a matching grant program with the Mike and Derek Rucker family. FORG also works with the Caterpillar Foundation to accept donations and matching funds from Caterpillar employees and retirees. We are thankful and proud of these partnerships which have accelerated fundraising efforts for a parking lot, trails and signage that will someday make Rocky Glen completely accessible to the public.

FORG will host a Spring Plant sale on April 30, from 9:00 a.m. – noon, at Haddad’s West Peoria Market, 2407 W. Rohmann Ave, West Peoria.  Additional fundraisers are being planned throughout the year including yoga sessions, a Fall hike and fundraiser at Jimmy’s Bar and an Art Auction at Sky Harbor Steakhouse.

Friends of Rocky Glen also sponsors Adopt-A-Highway along a two mile stretch of Kickapoo Creek Road.  Our 2016 clean-up dates are:  Saturday, April 30, 12:30 p.m.; Saturday, June 11, 12:30 p.m.; Friday, August 19, 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, October 8, 9:00 a.m.

For more information, contact President David Pittman at, 309-573-2354 or visit the FORG website or our Facebook page


Films on Native American History and Culture

NEWS RELEASE                                       For immediate release

UU Church                                               309-688-5608, Pub. Rel.

3000 Richwoods Blvd.                   

Peoria, IL 61604-1142


Public welcome to one or all at the Universalist Unitarian Church, 3000 Richwoods Blvd., Peoria 61604, Fridays, 7-9 PM. Discussion will follow the movies.

March 11: Five Hundred Nations: The Ancestors, Wounded Knee Legacy

Three early cultures of North America are featured: the Anasazi at Pueblo Bonito, the Pueblan Cliff Dwellers at Mesa Verde, and the metropolis at Cahokia, near St. Louis.

March 25: Thunderheart (1992).

Starring Val Kilmer, Sam Shepard, and Graham Greene, the movie tells of a young, part-Sioux FBI agent sent to capture a radical protestor on the reservation. However, his awareness of native culture, as well as his suspicions of the FBI grow

Zika Virus: Should we be worried?

Greater Peoria League of Women Voters Program on ZIKA VIRUS

 “What is the Zika Virus and Should We be Worried?” will be discussed at Drinks & Dialogue, a free program hosted monthly by the League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria.

The public is invited to participate in the dialogue, at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 16, at the Hearth Restaurant, 4604 N Prospect Rd, Peoria Heights.

The Zika virus has been in the news, and the reports have raised many questions and concerns. Meredith Littell, RN, BSN, Assistant Director of Infectious Disease from the Peoria City/County Health Department will share information about the Zika Virus, including  areas with Zika, transmission, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

The dialogue about the Zika Virus will include up to date information obtained from the CDC, and will identify countries and territories where the Zika Virus has been active, mode of transmission and vector control.

Drinks & Dialogue provides an opportunity for people to share opinions and ideas, ask questions and become more aware of issues at the local, state and national level.   There’s no cost to participate, and refreshments are available to buy.

Drinks & Dialogue is offered monthly, on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, for one hour starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Hearth, with local, state, and national political topics.

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

Inquires may be directed to Cheryl Budzinski, at 309-253-9594 or