Peoria water: panel to discuss public or private ownership

League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria Program: Should There be Public Ownership of the Water Company?

The Greater Peoria League of Women Voters will hold a program on public ownership of the water company on Thursday, February 2 at 6pm at the AMT Auditorium, 1718 N. Sterling Ave, Peoria.

A panel from the League Water Ownership study committee will present various aspects of water distribution system ownership, including: rates, maintenance of the infrastructure, public health, water supply and quality, and economic viability of the region as it relates to water.

The program is free and open to the public.

Nearly 100 rally in Peoria against Trump immigration ban

Womens Rally

Teresa Brockman holds her sign “Welcome the Stranger – Basically the Whole Bible” at the Peoria rally protesting Donald Trump’s immigration order.

Peoria was one of scores of locations across the country with protest rallies over the weekend against President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Becca Taylor, organizer of the Peoria rally, said she started posting information about 9 a.m. Sunday morning, and four hours later people filled the sidewalk in front of the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Peoria on the corner of Main and Monroe streets with posters calling for an end to Trump’s action.

People stomped their feet and layered with jackets, coats and blankets in below freezing temperatures and a frigid breeze.

To cheers and honks from passing cars, protesters chanted, “No Ban. No Wall. Trump will not divide us all;” “Build bridges, not walls;” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go.”

Lauren Padgett participated in the Peoria protest and said, “Unless you are 100 percent Native American, we are all immigrants.”

Trump is turning away vetted refugees, she said, pointing out that in 1936, a ship with more than 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler was turned back when it approached Miami. Subsequently, hundreds of the ship passengers were killed either in concentration camps or through other acts of religious persecution.

“One reason we have been so open to refugees is because of that huge shame, that huge scar on our country,” Padgett said. “We have got to know our history.”

State Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, was at the Peoria rally and said, “We are at a crossroads in this country. Make sure members of Congress feel the heat. Contact your representatives and let them know you want to move forward as a just and inclusive society.”

One of Koehler’s senate colleagues, Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, joined a protest at O’Hare International Airport Saturday night.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., held a press conference Sunday saying he is considering legislation to overturn Trump’s executive order but needs some Republicans to support the bill.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday the Trump order will make America less safe and will boost ISIS propaganda.

MSNBC commentator Christopher Hayes tweeted, “The Women’s March was astounding but it was planned for two months. Tonight was a spontaneous national protest. Never seen anything like it.”

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin tweeted, “Thank you @ACLU for your quick work” and “It’s clear these executive orders were slapped together without a plan to implement them – I call on @POTUS to end these cruel policies now.”


Black Lives Matter Co-founder, Activist To Speak at Bradley

For immediate release
Black Lives Matter Co-founder, Activist To Speak at Bradley
Peoria, IL – January 25, 2017 – Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder and national organizer of the Black Lives Matter movement​, will give a presentation at Bradley University on February 23. ​
Cullors will discuss her work as an activist, an artist, and a lifelong organizer and educator​, as well as the role of Black Lives Matter in 21st century social justice at 7 p.m. in Renaissance Coliseum.

​A Q&A session will follow​.
​The program is free and open to the public.
The program is sponsored by Bradley’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program, the African American Studies Program and Sociology Club with numerous campus and community co-sponsors.



A training will be held on Saturday March 18, 2017 at the Peoria Public Library from 9am to 4pm for individuals interested in becoming an educational surrogate volunteer. This is a rewarding opportunity with a minimal time commitment. Stipends are available and lunch is provided that day

There are many children up to age 18 in Illinois who live in residential facilities and are under the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Many of these children require special education services from local schools both public and private. They do not have parents available to act on their behalf when special education decisions are made.

The Educational Surrogate Parent (ESP) Volunteer would become familiar with the student records and attend special education meetings where an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed once or twice a year. The ESP would serve in the role of the parent and work with the school team to make educational decisions in the best interest of the student. The ESP would not be involved in day to day educational decisions such as attendance, field trips, parent-teacher conferences. ESP’s can be surrogates for 1 or more students.

It is a federal and Illinois State Board of Education mandate that all eligible students have an ESP who must be a citizen, over 18, and completes a one day training program. ESP’s will be reimbursed $ 60 for the full day training which includes lunch as well as $ 50 per semester for each student they agree to be ESP for.

Please visit our website for more information. It is . If you have any questions please feel free to contact Jim Even at the ESP program at 630-955-8055 or e-mail him at

Anti-Trump wave engulfs Peoria

Womens Rally Womens RallyPhoto left, Dr. Rahmat Na’Allah addresses the crowd at the Gateway Building proclaiming that everyone deserves access to health care, and America ranks worst in access among industrialized nations. One of the event organizers, Nora Sullivan, listens to the right.

Photo right, “I’m with Her” poster states this man’s support for women’s rights. Chanted at events throughout the world were Hillary Clinton’s words, “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.”


Shouts and cheers thundered across the park at Peoria’s Gateway Building as speakers addressed a crowd estimated at 1,200 people. Signs promoted women’s rights, LGBT rights, equal pay and universal access to health care – all in marked opposition to the agenda of Donald Trump.

Organized by Nora Sullivan and Sandy Crow, the event was one of more than 600 sister marches across the county and 75 around the world to coincide with the woman’s march in Washington, D.C. that drew 500,000 people, more than the attendance at Trump’s inauguration the day before. In Chicago, 250,000 flooded the streets.

Many objected to Trump’s inauguration speech the day before in which he continued his campaign rhetoric blasting his opponents and journalists, “the most dishonest people in the world.” Some attending his inauguration speech chanted “lock her up” when Hillary Clinton walked to her seat as a former First Lady.

Saturday’s marches and rallies clearly reflected the 73 million Americans who rejected Trump on election day – 10 million more than the number that supported him.

Peoria Rally in Support of Women’s March


Peoria Rally in Support of Women’s March planned in Peoria, IL, all 50 States and more than 55 Other Global Cities  

Peoria, January, 2017 – The Women’s March on Washington has inspired nearly 300 other ‘sister marches’ to take place on January 21. All 50 states and Puerto Rico are confirmed to have at least one grassroots-led march on that day, as well as 55 global cities on six continents, from Tokyo to Sydney, Nairobi to Paris to Bogotá.

Date:                        Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017

Time:                       11am – 12noon

Location:              Gateway Building (outside under the building archway)

200 NE Water St. Peoria 61602

“This is an unprecedented, organic and viral grassroots global movement that is growing everyday. More than 500,000 people have already committed to march all over the country and the world in just a matter of weeks,” said Boston-based national sister march spokeswoman Yordanos Eyoel, who became a U.S. citizen last fall. “The aggregate turnout has the potential to exceed 1 million marchers. What makes this movement even more special is that people who have never been politically active before are now mobilizing.”

The mission of the marches and rallies is to bring people together to take a stand on issues that deeply impact all of us. The Peoria Rally will seek to reaffirm the core American values of freedom and democracy for all at a time when many fear their voices will be lost, specifically related to women’s rights, immigrant rights, worker rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, environmental rights, rights for all races, and religious freedom.

As stated by the League of Women Voters in their endorsement of the event, “ As women and defenders of our democracy, there is more that unites us than divides us. We march for voting rights. We march for health care. We march for the environment. “   The marches and rallies are bringing together people of all backgrounds, races, religions, gender identities, ages and abilities, as well as communities of immigrants. While led by women, all are welcome to attend the Peoria Rally. The rally will have music and community members will speak about their hopes for the future. A list of speakers will be provided when all are confirmed.

“We’re excited that women across the nation and the world are organizing to stand together in solidarity. Our unity will send a strong and clear message that women and our allies will protect our rights, our health, our safety and our communities,” said Bob Bland, a co-chair of Women’s March on Washington. “These sister marches show a powerful and inclusive movement, which is just as crucial as the thousands who will travel to D.C.”

For more information about the Peoria Rally please go to, or to, click on Find a Local March, and enter your Peoria area zip code. Please RSVP so we have an idea of how many to expect.


Dangers of antibiotic overuse


The League
of Women Voters
of Greater Peoria Illinois
League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria
Drinks & Dialogue
Topic: The Dangers of Antibiotic Overuse
January 18, 2017, 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Lariat Steakhouse, 2322 W. Glen Ave., Peoria, Illinois

The Dangers of Antibiotic Overuse will be discussed at Drinks & Dialogue, a program hosted monthly by the League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria.  It’s free and open to the public
Katie Crone, Doctor of Pharmacy and Registered Pharmacist with UnityPoint Methodist will share information about the overuse of antibiotics and the problems associated with it.  The overuse of antibiotics has been a topic on the news for some time and raises questions and concerns for many.
The dialogue on the Overuse of Antibiotics will include up to date information provided by Dr. Crone, who has been focusing on this area of concern in her professional practice.
Drinks & Dialogue provides an opportunity for people to share opinions and ideas, ask questions and become more aware of issues that could impact us 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 Lariat Steakhouse, on 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

Heidelberg case moves toward full review


DAVID ZALAZNIK/JOURNAL STAR Cleve Heidelberg's sister, Mae Winston, right, and her daughter, Wanda Figgers, send wishes to Heidelberg at the end of the hearing Thursday at the Peoria County Courthouse. Heidelberg was granted progression to a third stage evidentiary hearing in his effort to overturn his decades-old murder conviction.

POOL PHOTO BY DAVID ZALAZNIK/ Cleve Heidelberg’s sister, Mae Winston, right, and her daughter, Wanda Figgers, are overjoyed at Judge Albert Purham’s ruling finding clear Constitutional violations in the original police investigation and trial of Heidelberg in the shooting death of Peoria County Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Espinoza. The judge granted Heidelberg an evidentiary  hearing scheduled for early February in his 1970 murder conviction.


Cleve Heidelberg won two out of three arguments in the appeal of his murder conviction in the 1970 shooting death of Peoria County Sheriff’s deputy Raymond Espinoza.

After listening to arguments presented Thursday by Matt Jones for the state and Andy Hale and Don Jackson representing Heidelberg, Peoria County Circuit Judge Albert Purham said there clearly were Constitutional violations in the original police investigation and trial.

Jones agreed these Constitutional violations occurred, but he contended they did not influence the outcome of the case.

Hale and Jackson argued these Constitutional violations alone should be sufficient to dismiss the 1970 conviction. They also argued there was no physical evidence linking Heidelberg to the murder except his car. Heidelberg’s attorneys argued the man who had borrowed Heidelberg’s car the night of May 25, 1970, was threatened and coerced not to testify in court. They also argued that FBI fingerprint reports that did not link Heidelberg to the crime were suppressed

The judge set 9 a.m. Feb. 8 for an evidentiary hearing in the case.

Heidelberg, 73, was sentenced in 1970 to 99 years to 175 years in prison, but he has always maintained his innocence. He has been incarcerated for the past 45 years.

His sister Mae Winston and her daughter Wanda Figgers were in court Thursday and were clearly overjoyed by the judge’s ruling.


Union Intervenes for Nonunion Workers

Matt Bartolo of Local 165 explains why the union worked on behalf of Warren Little, left, and Juan Goode in a dispute over payment for work for NMR Renovations of California at job site at former Sheraton Four Points hotel in Peoria.

Matt Bartolo of Local 165 explains why the union worked on behalf of nonunion workers Warren Little, left, and Juan Goode, right, in a dispute over payment for work for NMR Renovations of California at job site at former Sheraton Four Points hotel in Peoria.

Warren Little was a laborer working on the renovation of Sheraton Four Points hotel project in downtown Peoria for 10 weeks this past summer as an independent contractor. Little received his first paycheck five days before Christmas.

He expects to receive subsequent payments over the next six months under terms of an agreement reached with the assistance of Laborers Local 165 and the West Central Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council.

Even though Little and nearly two dozen other laborers on the site were nonunion, Local 165 intervened on their behalf in a dispute over pay.

Matt Bartolo, secretary/treasurer with Local 165 of the Laborers International Union of North America, said “It is not at all unusual that workers don’t get paid for the work they do.”

He said the situation is repeated in other locations throughout Peoria.

“What is unusual is that we could help,” he said. “Our morals and principles would not allow us to walk away from this.”

Rather than work through state channels that could take up to a year, Bartolo said the decision was made to work with attorney Lance Jones, a partner with HeplerBroom LLC in Springfield. A settlement package of nearly $20,000 was reached covering seven workers and legal expenses, but Bartolo said the actual number of workers who were unpaid could be closer to 20. Local 165 has been unable to get in touch with other workers, many of whom travel around the country from job site to job site.

Sheraton Four Points is the largest hotel in downtown Peoria and it has been closed for a number of years. The city has offered incentives to the new owners Hawkeye Hotels of Iowa.

A call to Hawkeye was not returned.

Mayor Jim Ardis said the hotel renovation is important to Peoria and the Civic Center. He expects the hotel to open in April or May.

The unpaid workers on the job were hired as independent contractors by NMR Renovations of Concord, Calif. Owner Nathan Moore said he has worked on many job sites with both union and nonunion workers with no problems but there was constant friction at the Peoria site.

Moore said he flew to Peoria to meet with each worker and offered them payment of 85 percent of what he owed them but that agreement was later rescinded. He said he lost $47,000 on the Peoria job.

The Contra Costa County District Attorney concluded a 10-month investigation in April into Moore’s company and filed charges against him for wage theft and tax fraud.

Like Warren Little, Juan Goode worked on the Peoria job site for weeks without pay. He drove to work from Canton and paid about $20 in gas daily.

Both men said they received checks from Nathan Moore that bounced.

Goode said he had been asked to work for NMR Renovations on a job site in Texas.

“Working people need work,” he said. “I told them to get right with me on what they already owe me.”

Other workers on the project who believe they were not properly paid can call Great Plains Laborers-Employers Cooperation & Education Trust at 309-310-2947.







Literary Magazine, Downstate Story; Newest Edition Available


Downstate Story


Elaine Hopkins, publisher

1825 Maple Ridge

Peoria, IL. 61614 phones: 309/688-1409; 309/231-5758


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Further information:

Elaine Hopkins 309/231-5758




Ten new short stories by Illinois, Midwestern and other writers are featured in the 2016 edition of Downstate Story, Peoria’s only literary magazine for fiction. Downstate Story is now published only on the Web at


The writers in this issue are Pepper Bauer of Mapleton, IL; Susan Duke of East Peoria, IL; Daniel Botkin of East Peoria, IL; Connie Cook Smith of Canton, IL;  Jim Courter of Macomb, IL;  Marie Anderson of LaGrange, IL;  Grazina Smith of Chicago, IL; James Chnura of Oak Park, IL; Kent McDaniel of Chicago, IL; and Matt LeShay of Culebra, PR.


These outstanding writers include several with 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



The magazine is available free on the Web. Interviews with the authors are encouraged and can be arranged. Contact us, or them. Their email addresses and other information are included below.


Please help us notify the public about this unique venture.


(continued on p. 2)



  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.


  1. 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.




Authors: (Telephone numbers available on request)

Pepper Bauer,

Susan Duke,

Marie Anderson,

Connie Cook Smith,

Daniel Botkin,

Grazina Smith,

Jim Courter,

James Chmura,

Kent McDaniel,

Matt LeShay,