Peoria County news briefs

The Spalding Pastoral Center for the Diocese of Peoria. (Photo courtesy of Peoria Diocese)


Catholic schools closed, Mass obligations suspended

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria canceled schools this week, while at the same time suspending the obligation to participate in Sunday Mass.

Citing an “abundance of caution” after the World Health Organization termed the COVID-19 coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, the Office of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Peoria has directed its 42 elementary and secondary schools to close March 16-20.

“I have suspended all our educational programs for the next week in order to allow for an intense program of cleaning and disinfecting in all our buildings. This will also allow our principals and faculty to prepare e-learning (online teaching days),” stated Bishop Daniel R. Jenky.

“If the health crisis continues, we will most likely suspend classes for the foreseeable future. I also ask parishes to cancel religious education programs, prayer groups, parish events and other gatherings at this time,” he continued.

“I am also canceling Cathedral and Regional Confirmations and by virtue of this letter, I grant the faculty to Confirm to all the priests of our Diocese. I strongly recommend that this Sacrament be given to small groups without the attendance of people from out of town and where a proxy may serve as the sponsor of record.”

Principals and faculty will have time to prepare for e-learning programs and on Wednesday, March 18, students will participate in an e-learning “Trial” day.

“If the health crisis continues, we will most likely suspend classes for the foreseeable future,” the bishop stated.

The diocese is also urging parishioners older than 60 not to come to mass because they are particularly vulnerable to catching the coronavirus.


Officials to hold daily briefings on virus outbreak

Peoria County Emergency Operations Center will hold daily briefings Monday- Friday at 4 p.m. at Peoria City/County Health Department to provide a situational update on the Peoria County community response to COVID-19.

These briefings are planned to provide information on the planned response, monitor the threat of community spread, and deliver public health protection messages.

The public is invited to join via livestream at

For ongoing local COVID-19 information, visit the Peoria City/County Health Department webpage at .



Nominations sought for Women to Women Leaders

The Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois (CFCI) honored Diana Hall on March 9 with the Legacy of Leadership Award.

The Legacy of Leadership Award recognizes a former Leader Luncheon Award recipient and Women’s Fund Founding Member who has continued to exhibit excellence in service to her community and/or in her profession.

This award honors a woman whose lifetime achievements demonstrate a legacy of leadership that is inspirational and will leave a lasting impact. The award is sponsored by Philippi Hagenbuch and was presented at a reception at the Community Foundation of Central Illinois in Peoria.

Hall has served in numerous leadership positions in the Peoria community including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Peoria Area Community Events, the Women’s Fund, Downtown Rotary, United Way, Community Leadership School, and many others.

She is a member of NAWBO, and the owner of Bard Optical.  She grew the company from a single office to a noted, woman-owned, national leader in professional eye care and quality eyewear.

Bard Optical is recognized among the Top 50 National Eyecare Retailers.

The event also marks the opening of the nominations for the Women to Women Leader Luncheon Awards in the following categories:

  • Business / Professions Award
  • Education Award
  • Arts Award
  • Community Service Award
  • Emerging Leader Award
  • Health Care/Wellness Award
  • Young Woman’s Service Award

These awards recognize local women who best exemplify excellence in their chosen professions and a commitment to the success of other women. The winners in each category will be recognized at the Women to Women Leader Luncheon on Tuesday, May 12. Nominations can be submitted online at and are due by April 9.

Previous Leader Luncheon award recipients are not eligible for recognition.

The money raised by the Women to Women Leader Luncheon will, in part, help grow the Women’s Fund endowment. Significant grants are awarded from the Women‘s Fund annually to local programs and causes that “Strengthen Families and Communities by Empowering Women and Girls”.

The Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois is an endowment that supports projects that strengthen families and communities by empowering women and girls. Join the Women’s Fund giving circle and make a difference in the lives of women and children in your community. Visit to find out more about the Women’s Fund.

Honor Flights postponed due to coronavirus

Land of Lincoln Honor Flight (LLHF) of Springfield said the April 7 flight has been postponed.

This action was taken in consideration of the Centers for Disease Control’s recently issued advisory that adults over the age of 60 should avoid all non-essential air travel due to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

The national Honor Flight Network issued a mandatory suspension of all Honor Flight trips effective through April 30.


All veterans who were scheduled on the April 7 flight have been notified and will be offered the opportunity to participate inLand of Lincoln Honor Flight scheduled for Aug. 18.


 Unemployment benefits to workers impacted by coronavirus

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced they are taking additional steps to support workers and families impacted by COVID-19.

The administration will file emergency rules to clarify that individuals out of work due to the pandemic can generally qualify for unemployment benefits to the full extent permitted by federal law.

“The state of Illinois faces unique challenges as we work to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19,” said Pritzker. “To protect people across the state, it’s imperative that all workers stay home if they’re feeling sick or have come in contact with someone who has COVID-19. In order to overcome the unique challenges we’re facing, we’ve had to come up with innovative solutions and hope the federal government will support this endeavor as we continue to grapple with this public health crisis.”

If an individual is off work through no fault of their own, they can seek unemployment insurance benefits from IDES. The emergency rules, once filed, will provide assistance to individuals who may be restricted in the type of work they can perform due to COVID-19.

The administration is also asking Congress to waive interest on any federal loans that Illinois and other state Unemployment Trust Fund accounts might require due to added strain from the outbreak, as well as maintaining the full federal unemployment tax credit for employers in states that may require those loans.

These measures accompany those the state has already taken to help ensure the health and safety of communities across the state, including the declaration of a state of emergency earlier this week that will release State Disaster Relief Fund assistance and ongoing requests for additional COVID-19 testing kits from the federal government.