Peoria County news briefs


Students learn computer science skills at STEM Academy

Middle school students learned how cars can drive themselves as part of the fourth annual STEM Academy put on by University of Illinois Extension Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit, Pearl Technology, Richwoods Township, Caterpillar, Tri-County Regional Planning, and Amazon Web Services earlier this summer.

This year, participants could learn about, train and race 1/18 scale autonomous vehicles, while learning about artificial intelligence, reinforcement learning and computer coding. A unique aspect of this camp is the amount of one-on-one time participants get with local Caterpillar engineers and programmers.  One participant highlighted his interaction with the volunteers as his favorite part of the Academy, “I learned so much from him– he was very patient and taught me a lot about coding I didn’t know.”

The demand for workers skilled in computer science is projected to continually increase (Bureau of Labor Statistics). The need for more youth to be able to see themselves in local STEM careers is one of the reasons that STEM Academy began four years ago.

Each year participants work on a week-long project with local STEM industry volunteers. They also hear from local STEM employers about career pathways and important steps to take while they are in school.

Ninety two percent of participants said that STEM Academy made them more excited to take STEM classes in school.

Because the autonomous cars they taught to drive were not even available to the public at the time of the camp, the group will reconvene in the fall when the cars are released so each participant can race their own vehicle, which they will get to keep thanks to additional financial support provided by Pearl Technology and Richwoods Township.

Past STEM Academy projects included using an Arduino to create a secret-lock box, using a Raspberry Pi to create a mirror that could display the local weather, learning about amateur radio and making a live call to the International Space Station.

STEM activities such as this are an integral part of the 4-H youth development program through University of Illinois Extension. More information is available online at or by contacting Judy Schmidt, 4-H Metro Youth Educator, at or 309-685-3140.

ICC to hold ag, diesel and horticulture expo

ICC will host a special Agriculture, Diesel, and Horticulture Showcase for potential and current students to learn about in-demand careers.

The showcase, sponsored by Compeer Financial, provides attendees an opportunity to speak with ICC faculty, local employers and vendors, and industry specialists from a range of career and technically based programs in agriculture, diesel, and horticulture.

The event will take place on Friday, Sept. 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the ICC East Peoria Campus at the Agricultural and Industrial Technologies Building.  The free showcase features a student panel Q&A session, industry speakers, and lunch.

Representatives from more than 20 local businesses will be on hand to demonstrate the sophisticated technology used to provide goods and services to farmers, producers and other agricultural businesses.  Tours of the Agricultural and Industrial Technologies Building, the Horticulture Center, and live demonstrations of diesel equipment, construction equipment, and highway trucks will be available.

Attendees will have access to information regarding degrees, certificates, and “Earn and Learn” opportunities in these fields.  ICC Enrollment Services also will be on hand to answer questions regarding applying to the College and specific program admittance requirements.

To register and for more information, visit or call ICC at 309-694-5200.


OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital gets new president

Mike Wells has been named president of OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois. He has served as vice president since June 2018.

Wells will be accountable for oversight of all internal operations of OSF Children’s Hospital, while developing and implementing short-term tactics within the long-term strategies of the OSF Women & Children’s Service Line. This will ensure high quality and cost-effective health care to children and families.

“I’m honored to serve alongside our talented, compassionate team of leaders and caregivers at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois, some of whom founded and built the hospital into the destination center it is today. We have a responsibility to provide the highest level of care for children from across Illinois and beyond,” said Wells.

“To accomplish that, we will incorporate cutting edge technology and techniques to advance inpatient care, further develop specialty and multidisciplinary clinics for complex conditions, extend our expertise to support care in communities throughout our service area, and continue developing innovative ways to provide access to care. Most importantly, we will carry on our OSF Sisters’ Mission of serving with the greatest care and love. The future is exciting for Children’s Hospital and it is a privilege to be part of it!”

Wells joined OSF Children’s Hospital in 2005 as the director of the Resource Link program and has assumed roles of increasing responsibility over the years.

He received a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Illinois State University and went on to earn his master’s degree in clinical counseling psychology.

German heritage celebrated at annual Oktoberfest

Come celebrate German heritage and culture through food, drink and dance at the annual Peoria Oktoberfest at the Peoria RiverFront CEFCU Center Stage at The Landing, 200 Northeast Water St.

The festival will be held Friday, Sept. 20, 5 to 11:30p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21, noon to 11:30 p.m.
and Sunday, Sept. 22, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a Mass at 10:30 a.m.
Admission on Sept. 20 is $10, on Sept. 21 before 5 p.m. is $8 and after 5 p.m. is $10 and Sept. 22 is $8; admission is free with a canned good donation until 11 a.m.
There is no admission charge for children ages 12 and under.

Visit for up to date information.

Applications accepted for District 5 Board vacancy

Peoria County Board Chairman Andrew A. Rand invites interested individuals to apply for the vacant Peoria County Board District 5 seat.

The appointed individual will serve until December 2020. Applications are being accepted through 5 p.m. on Sept. 27.

The vacancy was created with the appointment of former board member Rachael Parker to the office of Peoria County Clerk on Aug. 19.

Per statute, the Chairman, with the consent of the County Board, has 60 days to fill the vacant position. Also, per statute, Parker’s replacement must be a Democrat, having voted Democrat in the most recent primary election in which he or she voted, and must reside within the boundaries of District 5. A detailed map is attached.

Interested parties should submit a resume, references, and a County Board Appointment Application found at to the attention of Chairman Andrew Rand, Peoria County Courthouse, 324 Main St., Room 502, Peoria, IL 6160


IDNR gets ready for fall waterfowl hunting

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is reminding waterfowl hunters of key dates and other information regarding the 2019-20 waterfowl seasons and beyond.

Public Duck and Goose Hunting Permits

The application periods for Illinois Public Duck and Goose Hunting Area Permits are now open, with application periods of Sept. 1-14 for the second lottery, and Sept. 15-28 for the third lottery. Permits remaining after the third lottery will be available on a first-come, first-served basis online starting Oct. 1. Permits are no longer mailed to successful participants but will be emailed, and participants can check the status of their permit application online and print their permit.

More information, including online applications, instructions and a list of participating sites is available on the IDNR website at: