Peoria County news briefs


Time to register for master gardener program

University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener training is being offered in the spring, beginning April 2 and is held weekly until May 28. All sessions are held on Thursdays, and all classes run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Training includes both classroom lectures and outdoor activities, with a special focus on hands-on skills building in the latter part of the course.  For more information and to begin the registration process visit

Master Gardeners learn how to improve home landscapes, grow their own food, care for household plants, and manage pests.

Our nine-week training program teaches all about fruits and vegetables, trees and flowers, plant disease, botany, insects, turf grass, and soils.  Classes are taught by University of Illinois Educators and Specialists at various locations, including the Peoria and Tazewell Extension offices, Forest Park Nature Center in Peoria, and Illinois Central College.

For those wanting to become a Master Gardener volunteer, the University of Illinois requires each applicant to complete an application, background screening paperwork and schedule an interview with Extension staff.

The fee to participate is $250 and covers classroom sessions, handouts, and the Master Gardener manual. Upon completion of the Master Gardener training, graduates who have selected the volunteer option will become Master Gardener Interns and have two years to complete 60 volunteer service hours to become an Active Master Gardener. To continue as an Active Master Gardener, volunteers must fulfill 30 volunteer hours and 10 continuing education hours annually.

For individuals who only want to attend Master Gardener training for their personal or professional enrichment, but do not want to volunteer, the fee is $250, covering classroom sessions, handouts, and the Master Gardener manual.

The education-only participants will need to register for the class and speak with the program coordinator, but no further application is required.

Applications, screening paperwork, interview schedules, and course fee, must be received by March 20. Registration for non-volunteers is also due by March 20. Space is limited. Begin the application process at

For more information about University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program, contact University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Program Coordinator Ian Goslin at or 309-347-6614.



LWV program to discuss Compassion & Choices (Aid in Dying)

The Greater Peoria League of Women Voters will discuss Compassion & Choices: Aid in Dying at its Drinks and Dialogue event, 5 to 6:30 pm on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at Lariat Steakhouse, 2232 W Glen Ave., Peoria.

The speaker, Karen Retzer, is the Champaign Compassion & Choices Action Team Leader. For several years, she has worked on end-of-life issues and advocated for aid-in-dying legislation in Illinois.

She will discuss issues of personal autonomy in healthcare decision-making, and walk through topics such as advance directives, communicating wishes, and medical aid in dying.

She will outline advocacy strategy to help the effort locally and across the state.  The event is free and the public is invited.  Refreshments are available for purchase.

Drinks and Dialogue is offered on the third Wednesday of the month, always at a local restaurant, to discuss local, state and national topics relating to approved LWV positions, aimed at “Making Democracy Work.”

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

 Arrest made in multiple armed robberies

The Peoria police have arrested and charged a man with three armed robberies at local dollar stores.

Gentry D. Maxison, 30, was arrested without incident on Monday, Feb 10 at 3:50 p.m. and subsequently charged with three counts of armed robbery. Maxison was transported to the Peoria County Jail.

The first robbery occurred on Sunday, Feb. 2 at approximately 7:49 p.m. at the Dollar General, 2010 W. Forrest Hill.

The second incident happened on Tuesday, Feb. 4,  at approximately 7:01 p.m. at the Family Dollar, 600 S. Western, while the third robbery occurred on Saturday, Feb. 8 at approximately 3:54 p.m. again at the Dollar General, 2010 W. Forrest Hill.

Police responded to all three incidents for reports of armed robberies.

In all three incidents, the suspect entered the business armed with a knife, demanded money then fled the area. No injuries were reported during any of the incidents.



Police say posts about suspicious white van are rumors

Multiple social media posts about a suspicious white van in the Kroger parking lot whose occupants are possible kidnappers are rumors only, according to East Peoria Police.

“People should verify information they see on social media with official sources to learn if it is accurate rather than sharing these posts and spreading rumors,” said Deputy Police Chief Rich Brodrick.

The posts have been circulating for several months about an unmarked white van perceived as suspicious in the parking lot at Kroger, 201 S. Main St., and the possibility there are potential kidnappers inside the vehicle. East Peoria Police said that the van is owned by The Kroger Company and the people in the van are company employees doing nothing unlawful.

There have been zero reports of any kidnappings in East Peoria, and Deputy Chief Brodrick said if one were to occur the public would be notified.

Individual safety concerns should not be posted to the department’s social media sites as that will not initiate an officer response to a location. Safety concerns should be reported by calling the police department non-emergency line at 309-698-4700, or in an emergency by calling 911.


Nominations sought for Volunteer Service Awards

The Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (Serve Illinois) is accepting nominations for the annual Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards.

These awards recognize individual volunteers and businesses and highlight the importance of community service in Illinois.

“Each year, millions of Illinoisans take time out of their busy lives to help their neighbors,” said Scott McFarland, executive director of Serve Illinois. “These volunteers are helping keep children safe, keeping our environment pristine, helping people find jobs, and so much more. They improve and save lives each and every day, and with these awards, we recognize the best of Illinois.”

Serve Illinois will present individual awards to one youth (18 years and younger), one adult (19-54-years-old), and one senior (55 years and older) in each of Serve Illinois’ five volunteer network regions across the state (Northeast, Northwest, East Central, West Central, and Southern).

Serve Illinois will present National Service Awards to one AmeriCorps member, one Senior Corps member, and one for-profit business in each of the five service regions.

Nominations are due to Serve Illinois by Feb. 21. Visit for nomination forms and more information. Serve Illinois will host a ceremony on April 21 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield to honor recipients.

The Serve Illinois Commission is a 40 member (25 voting and 15 non-voting), bi-partisan board appointed by the Governor and administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Its mission is to improve Illinois communities by enhancing volunteerism and instilling an ethic of service throughout the state.