2017 Downstate Story Features Illinois and Midwest Writers


Ten new short stories by Illinois and Midwestern writers are featured in the 2017 edition of Downstate Story, Peoria’s only literary magazine for fiction. Downstate Story is now published only on the Web at www.downstatestory.com

The writers in this issue are Pepper Bauer of Mapleton, IL; Jim Courter of Macomb, IL; Dennis Shannon of Morton, IL; Loren Logsdon of Eureka, IL; Margaret Lisle of Lisle, IL; Marie Anderson of LaGrange, IL Grace Kuikman of Chicago, IL; Don Mauer of Fontata, WI; Alyssa Murphy of Lawrenceburg, IN; and Paul Bowman of New Albany, IN.

Most of these outstanding writers have long lists of publications in other literary magazines, and some have authored books.

Published by Downstate Story, Inc., an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, the annual publication aims to present original fiction by Illinois writers and writers with ties to Illinois and the Midwest as a quality alternative to today’s mass-market publishing.

For this Web edition, readers are asked for donations to help defray publishing costs. All writers are paid for their work.

Downstate Story’s Facebook page can be accessed at www.Facebook.com/downstatestory



  1. Politically correct. Contributors paid for their work. No government funds used.


  1. Something for everyone. Stories reflect diversity of authors, and include romance, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, mainstream fiction.


  1. Promotes quality reading. Content realistic but not X-rated.


  1. Promotes Illinois and Midwestern writers.


  1. Unusual concept for the arts. Provides outlet for local writers and artists to reach

local audiences free.


6.Original work. None ever published before.


  1. Quality work. Stories and art comparable to work in Harpers, Atlantic, The New Yorker and top literary magazines.


  1. No poetry.


  1. No advertising.


  1. Unique experiment in publishing, asking for donations instead of fee.



Pepper Bauer, pepperbauer@att.net

Marie Anderson, baseballfamily5.2@sbcglobal.net

Jim Courter, JE-Courter@wiu.edu

Loren Logsdon, fldhand@mtco.com

Dennis Shannon, DenShnnn@aol.com

Margaret Lisle, mmlwel@comcast.net

Grace Kuikman, gkuikman@gmail.com

Alyssa Murphy, nyxierose@mail.com

Don Mauer, walldv@genevaonline.com

Paul Bowman, j.hubler@insightbb.com

Heidelberg deserves independent review



The Third District Appellate Court of Illinois issued a ruling Thursday affirming Cleve Heidelberg’s right to a special independent prosecutor to review his trial and conviction for the 1970 murder of a Peoria County sheriff’s deputy.

Heidelberg, who is African American, has consistently claimed he is innocent and was denied a fair trial in Peoria for the May 26, 1970, murder of Peoria County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Espinoza.

After 47 years in prison, Heidelberg’s case was brought back to a Peoria County courtroom by Chicago Attorney Andy Hale and Peoria attorney Don Jackson.

In a series of dramatic hearings looking at evidence that is now nearly half a century old, Hale and Jackson convinced Peoria County Circuit Judge Albert Purham that Heidelberg’s original trial failed to consider all the evidence. The two attorneys introduced new testimony and new evidence. There were dramatic confrontations in the courtroom when police and attorneys from the original trial were presented with new evidence and allegations of bias.

Purham agreed, ordered Heidelberg freed on bond and ordered a special prosecutor with no ties to the Peoria County State’s Attorneys office examine the case.

Jerry Brady, the current Peoria County State’s Attorney, appealed that decision, but Thursday’s ruling found no merit in the appeal and sent the case back to Peoria County Circuit Court.

Heidelberg, now 74, remains free. No new court date is scheduled.

Hale and Jackson contend that the original trial did not consider lack of fingerprint evidence; that police lineups were orchestrated; that witnesses were intimidated; and that evidence was manufactured or destroyed by the state’s attorney at that time. In addition, they showed a confession to the murder by another man was not considered. Heidelberg’s Constitutional right to confidential consultation with his attorney was violated by police eavesdropping. But even the eavesdropped conversations with a public defender revealed Heidelberg adamantly and consistently denying guilt.

They also claimed, Judge Purham agreed and the appellate court concurred there is a conflict of interest between the current state’s attorney and his predecessor who prosecuted the case.

Heidelberg’s sister, Mae Winston, who is now 77 and in declining health, attended every court hearing and cried when Judge Purham vacated Heidelberg’s conviction.

Madigan weighs in on Sinclair; opposes buyout of Tribune Media


By Bill Knight

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Nov. 2 announced her office’s opposition to Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed buyout of Tribune Media Company.

(See Community Word coverage of the proposed buyout in the November issue, http://thecommunityword.com/online/blog/2017/11/01/8335/ )

Madigan and attorneys general from Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island together filed a comment with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) against the buyout:

“As the chief consumer protection and law enforcement officers in our respective states, we are responsible for promoting and defending the public interest. The proposed consolidation fails to further the public interest by allowing for increased consolidation that will decrease consumer choices and voices in the marketplace.”

Based in Hunt Valley, Md., Sinclair already has 589 channels in 89 U.S. markets, according to its web site.

If approved by the FCC, the resulting company would become the largest TV broadcasting company in the nation, reaching 72 percent of U.S. households, which surpasses the FCC’s 39-percent limit on national audience reach.

Sinclair’s holdings include Peoria’s WHOI (which it’s licensed and owned since 2013, although it’s now contractually operated by Quincy Media, owner of WEEK), according to the corporation’s 2016 annual report. In Illinois, Sinclair also owns WICS in Champaign, WICD in Decatur, and KHQA in Quincy.

Tribune Media initially agreed to the $3.9 million takeover in May, despite criticism that Sinclair has turned local programming into right-wing propaganda by requiring stations to air conservative commentaries and prime-time features such as the discredited anti-John Kerry film “Stolen Honor,” broadcast before the 2004 election.

“To ensure people have access to a diverse landscape of perspectives, services and stations, the FCC should reject the proposed Tribune-Sinclair media merger,” Madigan said. “People throughout Illinois depend on their local broadcast stations for diverse viewpoints and this merger threatens that long-held practice.”

Also, Madigan and the other attorneys general say that Sinclair’s request inappropriately uses an outdated method known as the UHF Discount Rule for calculating national audience reach that doesn’t reflect today’s technology, understating the audience reach of a UHF station by 50 percent.

“The Commission should conclude that the proposed merger does not serve ‘the public interest, convenience, and necessity’ as required under the Communications Act of 1934,” the legal comment states.

Madigan urged the FCC to at least delay consideration of the merger until the D.C. Circuit Court completes its rule of the UHF Discount.


Bluegrass band featured in new ‘roots-inspired’ series

Bluegrass recording artists the Henhouse Prowlers will perform Nov. 2 as part of a new music series in Peoria Heights.

Jeff and Martha Huebner, owners of Trefzger’s Bakery and the Trailside Event Center, are launching [the] roots-inspired concert series with family-friendly hours, a full bar and a dinner menu. The monthly concerts at the historic building will feature top-notch, nationally-touring bluegrass and folk artists.

For the past 11 years, the Henhouse Prowlers from Chicagoland have performed and recorded their distinctive brand of energetic tunes all over the world from Europe and Africa to Russia and the Midwest. Their most recent records are “Still on That Ride” and “Live from Kyrgyzstan,” featuring a unusual blend of originals, bluegrass like Flatt & Scruggs classics and covers of tunes by Hendrix and the Dead.

All ages are welcome to the shows, which start at 6 p.m. with dinner and drinks, and continue with groups playing two sets beginning at 7 p.m.

Concerts are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. For details, phone 740-7171.

– Bill Knight

Ban of deadly insecticide reversed by Trump Administration

Chlorpyrifos, an insecticide widely used in central Illinois, was scheduled to become a banned substance in the spring. That ban was rescinded by the Trump administration, so this neurotoxin can still be used on agriculture crops, golf courses and road medians.

Chlorpyrifos is a nerve agent that damages the brains of children and also kills insects.

A columnist with The New York Times calls chlorpyrifos “Dow Chemical Company’s Nerve Gas Pesticide.” Here is a link to that column by Nicholas Kristof:



Here is a link to an article by Clare Howard that ran in 100Reporters about chlorpyrifos drift in central Illinois:



ACLU town hall meeting in Peoria Nov. 15


American Civil Liberties Union, Peoria Chapter

http://aclupeoria.org   https://www.facebook.com/ACLU.PeoriaIL/

Jeff Johnson, President; Jimena Lopez, Vice President



CONTACT: Jeff Johnson, 309.397.4772; JTJohnson.PHR@gmail.com

Jimena Lopez, 309.573.3283; jimenalopez83@gmail.com


ACLU of Illinois to hold “We The People” Town Hall meetings in Peoria and Bloomington-Normal in November


The ACLU of Illinois will hold town hall events, titled “We the People,” in Peoria and Bloomington, Illinois in November at the following times and locations:


Wednesday, November 15, 6 p.m.
Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall
416 Hamilton Blvd.
Peoria, IL 61602

Wednesday, November 29, 7 p.m.
The Chateau Bloomington Hotel & Conference Center
1621 Jumer Dr.
Bloomington, IL 61704

The ACLU wants to hear civil liberties concerns both nationally and locally from the audiences, and will share challenges it sees in the coming years. ACLU of Illinois Executive Director Colleen Connell will discuss the state of civil liberties under the Trump administration and contribute to the conversation at the events.


For more information click here (https://www.aclu-il.org/en/events) or contact the ACLU at events@aclu-il.org.  The events are free and open to the public.


An additional event scheduled for the Bloomington-Normal area will be hosted by the League of Women Voters of McLean County. Edwin Yohnka, Illinois ACLU Director of Communications and Public Policy, will speak on “Civil Liberties in the Trump Era” at 7 pm on November 8, at the Normal Public Library’s Community Room, 206 W College Ave, Normal, IL.





Friends of Riverfront Park is sponsoring a Save the Park Fundraiser & Update on Thursday, Nov. 16, from 5 – 9 pm at Sky Harbor Steakhouse, 1321 N. Park Drive in West Peoria, IL.

The event will include wine, cheese, and a silent auction of art, antiques, collectibles and other desirable items. Food will be available for purchase from the restaurant.

An update on the fight to save Riverfront Park from destruction if upscale apartments are built there also will take place.

The event is free but donations will be accepted. Friends of Riverfront Park has an all-volunteer staff. Donations are not tax deductible. All funds raised will be used to preserve Riverfront Park for public use.

For further information on the efforts to save Riverfront Park in Peoria from the apartments, see the FORP Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/riverfrontparkfriends

More information: Karrie Alms pinkthinksmarttalk@yahoo.com 309-258-7762

Elaine Hopkins <ehopkins7@prodigy.net> 309-231-5758

Drinks and Dialogue: Evidenced Based Education Funding

The Greater Peoria League of Women Voters will discuss Evidenced Based Education Funding at its
Drinks and Dialogue event, 5:30 – 6:30 pm on Wednesday, October 18, at the Lariat Steakhouse, 2232 W.
Glen Avenue, Peoria.
Beth Derry, Peoria County Regional Superintendent of Education, will present an overview of the
elements of the recent education bill passed by Illinois State Legislature and its impact on Peoria County
The League of Women Voters of IL has long been an advocate of access to equal and equitable education
for public schools. Recently, the Illinois General Assembly and the Governor passed and signed HB
1947. This bill has the potential for equity for education funding for our schools. While not perfect, this
law allows the budget item for General State Aid to Education to be funded for school year 2017-2018.
As a result, Illinois public schools can operate during the current year with an expectation that funding
will arrive in timely manner. The law also reforms the formula for school aid to enable public schools to
meet needs of students using an evidence based model with strategies that have been proven. The old
formula asked: “What money does the state have available and how should it be allocated?” The new
model asks: “What do schools need to provide their children with the education they need?”
One of the concerns with this law is that schools need more money to do their job than the state is
providing. More than half of the school districts in the state have been operating at a deficit. The
percentage of the state’s contribution continues to dwindle. The strategies in the evidence based model
will require more money to implement, thus more money to operate. Will there be enough revenue to
fund spending in the current budget? Some items such as special education and transportation are not
covered by General State Aid. These expenses are paid when the state has enough money its checkbook.
The event is free and the public is invited. Refreshments are available for purchase.
Drinks and Dialogue is offered on the 3
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.”


Prairie Rivers Network, an Illinois nonprofit environmental advocacy organization, is excited to bring one of the largest environmental film festivals to central Illinois. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is a collection of films from the annual festival held in Nevada City, CA, now in its 15th year! The festival focuses on films that speak to the environmental concerns and celebrations of our planet. The Peoria festival gives Prairie Rivers Network an opportunity to inspire the public to affect environmental change here in Illinois. The festival offers ways for the public, supporters, and friends to get energized and empowered to work to protect clean water, wildlife habitat, and our rich natural landscapes.


When: October 13, 2017. Doors open at 6:00pm, films begin at 6:30pm and run until 9:00pm
Where: Peoria Riverfront Museum, 222 SW Washington St, Peoria


$10: General Admission    |   $30: General Admission + PRN Membership

All proceeds from this event are going to support PRN and our
clean water and wildlife habitat protection initiatives.


The Thousand Year Journey: Oregon to Patagonia
The Wild President
Think Like a Scientist Boundaries
The Living Forest
One Hundred Thousand Beating Hearts
The Chicago River (PRN Film)
The Pollution of Our Waterways (Uni High)
Destiny’s Bay
The Refuge
A Line in the Sand
Nature Rx
The Last Dragons
The Accidental Environmentalist

NOW: All women unite, push back

Third from left, NOW president Toni Van Pelt holds a “Stop Racism NOW” sign at a rally outside the Federal Courthouse in Peoria.


Toni Van Pelt, president of the National Organization for Women, urged about 55 attendees at the state convention in Peoria to mobilize for reproductive justice and say no to Trumpcare.

In her keynote address to the Illinois state convention at the Peoria Public Library main branch, Van Pelt said a priority must be to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed in the Illinois Legislature. The ERA was passed recently in Nevada and passage in Illinois and Virginia would give the constitutional amendment the necessary 38 votes.

NOW is focusing on local action, interesting young girls in high school to start thinking about careers in public office. Van Pelt is reaching out to the Girl Scouts of America to discuss establishment of a merit badge for learning the skills to become women in elected leadership roles.

“We need more women in elected positions,” she said. NOW is analyzing congresssional districts looking for opportunities to support female candidates.

Another major concern of NOW is marriage equality under the Trump administration, she said.

NOW is initiating a major effort to recruit and work with African American women. The organization is making resources available to help with a Sept. 30 “March for Black Women” in Washington, D.C.

NOW action initiatives include: advance voting rights; protect immigrant rights; ratify the ERA; mobilize for reproductive justice; and end the criminalization of trauma.

The current version of Trumpcare reveals how critical it is to have women in Congress Van Pelt said, citing pushback from Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono.

Van Pelt said NOW is pushing to expand Medicaid nationwide to cover abortion.

Attendees held a rally outside the Federal Courthouse following Van Pelt’s talk.

Illinois State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Chicago, was given a legislative award and Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, Peoria, received the presidential award for work on behalf of women’s rights. Nancy Long received the NOW president’s award.