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 That ban was rescinded by the Trump administration, so this neurotoxin can still be used on agriculture crops, golf courses and road medians.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

Jeff Johnson, President; Jimena Lopez, Vice President



CONTACT: Jeff Johnson, 309.397.4772;

Jimena Lopez, 309.573.3283;


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 ( or contact the ACLU at  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:

More information: Karrie Alms 309-258-7762

Elaine Hopkins <> 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.

Up Coming Events at Westminster Presbyterian Church

Sept.10 4:00 pm – Opening Gretchen Iben Concert Two-piano Jazz with John Campbell and Derel Monteith, along with a jazz ensemble Dave Hoffman and Friends.


The 2017 – 2018 season of the Gretchen R. Iben Arts Series at Westminster Church will kick off with a concert of great Jazz for Two Pianos.  Derel Monteith of the Derel Monteith Trio will preside at one piano, and John Campbell, now resident in Bloomington, but the world famous as a professional jazz pianist will preside at the other piano.  The exciting sound of two pianos is always a treat, and jazz in this form is most particularly attractive.  Derel and John will be joined by well-known Central Illinois artists including Jason Bannon on drums, Andy Crawford on bass, as well as Larry Harms on reeds and the nationally known trumpeter, David Hoffman rounding out the group.  But the focus will definitely be on the two pianists and their keyboard wizardry, bringing us traditional jazz tunes, popular music and a few standards all to delight the listener.

This concert is a prelude to Westminster’s Jazz Vesper Services which start up again for this season on Sunday afternoon,September 17 at four.  Each week David Hoffman and his friends from the Central Illinois Jazz Community bring first-class jazz as a worthy offering of music before God.  Some congregational songs are included as well as prayers, scripture and a short homily by Pastor Denise Clark-Jones.  The roots of jazz are deeply embedded in the church, and in this service, we return this great American art form to the place where it started.  Come and join us … both for the concert on September 10 and also for the Jazz Vespers which will run throughout the academic year.

Sept.17 4:00 pm – Weekly Jazz Vespers services start again.

Sept.30 10 am – 1:30pm Gathering at the Well: Our Stewardship of the World’s Water Seminar. Guest speakers, Q & A, lunch provided.

Gathering at the Well: Our Stewardship of the World’s Water

Westminster will host a seminar on issues surrounding this most critical natural resource in the Fellowship Hall of the Parish House (across from the church building on Malvern Lane). Two speakers will address water issues at both the local and global level. Scott Reed, chief engineer for the city of Peoria, will address local concerns. Dr. Yunus Salami, an engineering professor at Bradley University and head of the local chapter of “Engineers Without Borders” will address global water issues. After each presentation, there will be question and answer period. There will be a 45-minute lunch break between the two speakers for lunch catered by Avanti’s. The seminar is free, but donations will be accepted to help with the cost of the lunch. To register, call the church office (309-673-8501) or sign up online at


Friends of Riverfront Park is sponsoring a Save the Park Fundraiser & Update on Saturday, Sept. 16, from 2 – 4 pm in Riverfront Park, at the foot of Morton Street, Peoria.

The event will include jazz by Dave Hoffman and Friends; folk music by Chris Stevens, a supporter of open space; Native American drum, dance and storytelling by the Eagle Ridge Players and Friends; nature and trail tours by Mike Rucker and Doug Franks; photos and games for children and adults, and more. Food will be available for purchase from Haddad’s and Dawn’s Taco.

An update on the fight to save Riverfront Park from destruction if upscale apartments are built there also will take place. The city of Peoria’s application is pending with the National Park Service, which must approve or deny it.

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.

In-kind donors to the event include C. T. Gabbert, Remodeling and Construction; Westminister Presbyterian Church, Kendall Davis (Master Designs Boomerang) and others.

In case of rain, the event will take place at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1420 W. Moss Ave., Peoria.

For further information on the efforts to save Riverfront Park in Peoria from the apartments, see the FORP Facebook page:

More information: Joyce Blumenshine 309-676-1011

Joyce Harant 309-648-3035