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.


Press Release:


An Illinois not for profit corporation

Facebook: Friends of Riverfront Park







Friends of Riverfront Park, through its secretary, Elaine Hopkins, has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The lawsuit contends that IDNR is improperly withholding documents needed to analyze Peoria’s application to transfer most of Riverfront Park to a developer for upscale apartments.

That application is pending with the National Park Service, which must approve it after review by IDNR.

“We have repeatedly asked IDNR for documents we need to see if the proposed sale of Riverfront Park by the City is legal or not. IDNR has been stonewalling us for the last 3 months,” said Hopkins. “They claim that the documents are exempt as relating to negotiations for a sale of land, which is demonstrably false. We had no choice but to sue,” she added.

The lawsuit was filed on May 15, 2017 in Springfield, IL circuit court and seeks expedited treatment because the City must make a decision whether or not to proceed with the sale by June 30, 2017.

Copies of the court filings are available on request made to Ms. Hopkins at her e-mail address above.

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

Freedom looms for Heidelberg

Left, attorney Don Jackson with attorney Andy Hale partially hidden, stand in front of Cleve Heidelberg who is speaking with the Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow PUSH  Coalition.

Right, Cleve Heidelberg’s sister Mae Winston speaks at a press conference after learning her brother will be released on bail.


After nearly half a century in prison on a murder conviction, Cleve Heidelberg will walk out of jail within the next few days on $500,000 bond with a GPS monitoring system.

Judge Albert Purham set bond significantly below the $5 million requested by the state but refused to allow Heidelberg to live in Cleveland with a friend while awaiting a decision from the appellate court.

Prosecutor Matt Jones appealed Purham’s ruling last month vacating Heidelberg’s conviction.

During a nearly two-hour hearing Friday, Jones questioned Ken Tupy, an attorney on the prisoner review board that has ruled 25 times over the past 47 years not to grant Heidelberg parole.

Jones meticulously went through Heidelberg’s conduct while in prison and cited a number of minor infractions and five incidents involving fighting with other inmates, one involving stabbing an inmate with a pencil, one involved using a sock filled with batteries as a weapon and one report referred to a modified razor blade. Tupy said based on this record, Heidelberg was considered a “moderate” prisoner, but the prisoner review board also relied on a report from the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s office that had originally prosecuted Heidelberg and has consistently refused to consider new evidence.

In a stunning exchange, Heidelberg’s attorney Andy Hale asked Tupy if he were aware of any of the developments in the case over the past year.

Tupy was not. The prison review board most recently denied parole in December 2016, almost a year after Hale began systematically discrediting and dismantling the evidence that had been used by the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s office in the original conviction.

Tupy admitted he did not know Matt Clark who testified under oath that his brother James Clark had confessed to shooting Espinoza. He did not know Lester Mason who testified under oath he had borrowed Heidelberg’s car on the night of the shooting and loaned it to James Clark. He did not know two eyewitnesses were actually unable to identify Heidelberg.

Hale said five fights over nearly half a century amounts to one fight a decade. He said prison is a violent place and prisoners must be constantly prepared to defend themselves. Tupy admitted he did not know any details about who initiated the five fights.

Heidelberg consistently has maintained his innocence since his arrest in May 1970 following the shooting death of Peoria County Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Espinoza at the Bellevue Drive-In movie theater.

Prosecutor Jones read the court a victim statement by Phyllis Espinoza, daughter of the slain officer. Espinoza objected to allowing Heidelberg to live in Cleveland because she visits family in Cleveland and would feel unsafe knowing Heidelberg was living in that city.

In the statement, Espinoza said her mother had received death threats during the trial and went to every single parole hearing to object to Heidelberg’s release until the day she died.

Hale said Heidelberg is 74 years old, has congestive heart failure, a bad back and limited vision. He does not pose a threat to anyone.

“He has been trying to prove his innocence for nearly 50 years. He is no danger,” Hale said.

Jones countered that even “minor violations paint a mosaic of infraction by infraction by infraction” showing a refusal to obey authority.

The judge ordered Heidelberg to remain at the Peoria County Jail until housing has been arranged in the Chicago area and a GPS program is set up.

Hale called the judge’s decision a victory and said before he walked out of the courtroom Friday afternoon, he already had received a commitment for half the $50,000 bail needed because Illinois requires 10 percent of the bond.


Senator fuels movement demanding change

Sen. Dave Koehler, left, and Sen. Daniel Biss talk briefly Tuesday morning at the Labor Temple in Peoria before Biss spoke about his reasons for running for governor and fielding questions from a labor-friendly crowd. 


Illinois senator and gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss stopped at the Peoria Labor Temple Tuesday to discuss labor issues, his vision for Illinois and why he chose this time to run for governor.

“We’ve had 30 years of broken machine politics. We need a movement of the people,” Biss said, noting that he is being far outspent by the billionaires and millionaires in the race, but is convinced he can lead change that will work for the people of the state, not just the super rich.

Among his issues, Biss said:


  • Illinois has the most unfair system of public school funding of any state in the country, and Peoria public schools suffer. The system is based on property taxes, and that must change.
  • Prevailing wage and project labor agreements are fair and help create a strong middle class.
  • Illinois needs term limits on lifetime politicians.
  • Illinois taxes are too onerous for the working poor and the middle class.
  • Going 22 months without a budget means schools not only wonder if they’ll open in September but must be concerned with having the funds to finish the school year.


With the vote in Missouri to become a right-to-work state, Illinois has literally become an island surrounded by states like Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana that have right-to-work laws that seek to undercut unions.

He said Republicans are “obsessed with the idea that people in construction should be paid less.”

“Rauner’s way to grow the economy is to create a smaller middle class,” he said.

The pension problem developed in Illinois “not for years, not for decades but for generations,” he said. “Whatever else we do, we need a binding mechanism to make sure payments to the system are made to the system. We need actuarially required payments that are legal and fair.”

Sen. Dave Koehler, appearing with Biss, said Gov. Rauner wants to privatize Medicaid.

“Rauner always wants to privatize things, and that’s a big mistake,” Koehler said.

Both Biss and Koehler noted in the case of Medicaid, that would amount to a $9 billion contract awarded to a private company.

Biss supports universal single-payer health insurance that would cover everyone. He called universal health insurance “a moral responsibility.”

Biss graduated from Harvard University, earned a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a mathematics professor at the University of Chicago.

“It was my dream job,” he said. Then the war in Iraq began based on dishonesty, and Biss began going door-to-door doing political organizing.

During that process, he concluded that people could rise up with a common goal and change the world. He ran for public office, lost and ran again. He served in the Illinois House from 2011 to 2013 and was elected to the Senate in 2013.

We now have a president who is “reckless, dishonest and makes dangerous decisions,” Biss said. “Across Illinois we are seeing the start of a movement of people. The Capitol Building in Springfield is now the site of demonstrations.”

People are demanding a massive improvement over the way government is operating, he said.


Freedom eludes Heidelberg

 Cleve Heidelberg’s niece Wanda Figgers listens as attorney Andy Hale, center, talks about the decision by Judge Albert Purham to return Heidelberg to the Peoria County jail and await a bail decision by the appellate court. There had been a widespread sense in the courtroom that Heidelberg might be released Friday after serving 47 years in prison. 


Cleve Heidelberg returned to the Peoria County jail Friday afternoon following a court hearing regarding what jurisdiction has the right to set or deny bail. Many in the courtroom Friday had expected his immediate release.

Filming the proceedings were news crews  from throughout central Illinois, Chicago and New York City. This is a high profile case with Heidelberg, 74, serving a 99-to-175 year sentence for shooting a white Peoria County sheriff’s deputy in 1970. During hours of detailed testimony over many months, Heidelberg’s attorneys used the police radio log from the night of the shooting to cast doubt on police reports that had been relied upon to convict Heidelberg 47 years ago.

In a stunning decision April 20, Peoria County Circuit Judge Albert Purham vacated Heidelberg’s conviction.

Jesse Jackson was in Peoria for several days recently inquiring into the case.

But the issue of Heidelberg’s release was delayed again, and Heidelberg’s frustration was clear.

Prosecutor Matt Jones labeled the effort for immediate bail “inappropriate” and said that decision is not within the power of the Peoria court.

Attorneys Andy Hale, Don Jackson and Amy Hijjawi argued for bail and the immediate release of Heidelberg after Purham vacated his conviction last week.

Hijjawi, arguing on speaker phone Friday, said she was “stunned at the mischaracterization of the state and its misunderstanding” of legal precedent.

Purham, at one point, said he had reviewed all relevant cases and was not going to entertain back and forth arguments between Hijjawi and Jones, and the decision regarding bail would be made by the appellate court.

Following the hearing, Jones said a decision from the appellate court would likely be issued within a week.

Hundreds rally for science

Clockwise from top left: About 30 students from Spoon River College attended the rally for science  at the Gateway Building in Peoria. 

Marlene Brockman holds a sign in support of Earth.

A crowd that grew to about 500 attended the Peoria science rally Saturday.


Science is not a partisan issue but is at the core of our national interest, Dr. Karen Bartelt said to about 500 people at the Peoria Rally for Science Saturday at the Gateway Building.

It was a theme repeated throughout the country and around the world as people protested by the thousands against climate change deniers and politicians who cut funding for science at the same time they cut taxes for corporations.

Saturday was the 47th Earth Day, and Bartelt said she remembers attending the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, a celebration founded by Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis.

Science saves lives, Bartelt said, noting that in 1952, there were 52,000 cases of polio but after the discovery of the polio vaccine, there were 161 cases and that eventually fell to none by 1994.

“There are no polio deniers in Congress,” she said.

Respect for science started to change in 1980 when presidential candidate Ronald Reagan declared that evolution was only a theory.

She urged the crowd to never back down in support for science.

“Work to remove politicians ignorant of the laws of physics and chemistry,” she said.

Dr. Jeff Walk, director of conservation programs with The Nature Conservancy in Illinois, told the crowd his nephew recently asked him if he believed in climate change.

“Science is based on facts. I don’t believe in climate change. I know facts, and I know climate change is real,” he said, adding that the most devastating harm from climate change falls upon the most vulnerable.

“Stepping away from science is an enormous mistake for us, for nature and for our future,” he said.

One of the organizers of the rally in Peoria was Megan Pulley. She said, “Science is our reality. We don’t get to opt out of reality. It is light in the dark. I want my daughter to be passionate about science.”

Pulley is urging people to donate to the science scholarship fund at the Peoria Public Schools Foundation.

About 30 students from Spoon River College attended the rally.

“We preach the importance of the scientific method and following the facts,” said Spoon River chemistry teacher Bridget Loftus. “I feel facts are under attack and an alternative narrative is being pushed.”

The policies of President Donald Trump spurred rallies around the world. Trump has disparaged climate change as a hoax, doubted the safety of vaccines and budgeted cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health and weakened protections for public lands and environmental protections. He talks about “clean coal” and bringing back the coal industry while loosening restrictions on carbon emissions.

Speaker Tracy Fox said at the Peoria rally that “clean coal” is the equivalent of “clean cigarettes.”