Peoria County News Briefs

Chronicle Media

An Ameren Illinois employee is working on a smart meter that the company is installing in Peoria County. Customers in Bartonville, Glasford, Kingston Mines and Mapleton will soon see the new smart electric and gas meters.


Changes in lead poison testing will ID more children exposed to risks

A change in how the state measures exposure to lead poisoning will increase the number of children who will be identified with lead poisoning and receive intervention earlier. The new rules were proposed by the Illinois Department of Public Health and approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. The rules lower the level at which public health interventions are initiated for children with blood lead levels from 10 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL) to 5 μg/dL, the same lead reference level used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The change means more children will be identified as having lead poisoning, allowing parents, doctors, public health officials and communities to take action earlier to reduce the child’s future exposure to lead. Levels of lead in blood – even low levels – have been shown to contribute to learning disabilities, developmental delays, behavioral problems, as well as a number of other negative health effects.

With the new rules, children who test at or above the new level will receive a home visit from a public health nurse who will educate families on ways to lower the blood lead level and reduce lead exposure, including proper nutrition, hygiene and housekeeping. Public health environmental experts will also inspect residences to determine the source of the lead exposure.

Illinois law requires that all children six years of age or younger be assessed for lead risk.

Illinois residents get free admission to Field Museum

Chicago’s Field Museum, home to Sue the T. rex, the most complete skeleton ever discovered of the world’s most popular dinosaur, invites Illinois residents to view its many natural wonders and cultural artifacts for free during February.

The museum’s collection grew out of items on display in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The goal of its staff, including 150 scientists and researchers, is to learn everything it can about the planet earth.

On Free Admission Days, basic admission is free for Illinois residents with proof of residency. Discounted passes are available in person and cannot be purchased online in advance.

No special coupon, ticket, or pass is required on free days. Just present a current Illinois driver’s license, state ID or Chicago CityKey card at the ticket desk to establish proof of residency. Residents also can prove residency by showing a valid photo ID along with one of the following:

  • Illinois lease,
  • Illinois library card,
  • Illinois student ID with photo,
  • Illinois utility bill or
  • Illinois work ID or check stub.


Smart meters being installed as Ameren upgrades

Ameren Illinois is installing more than 44,500 smart meters in communities in Peoria, Tazewell and Mason counties.

In Peoria County, customers in Bartonville, Glasford, Kingston Mines and Mapleton will soon see the new smart electric and gas meters installed.

Ameren Illinois said the upgrades will include automated switches and sensors that help better track and isolate outages. The meters can also deliver usage data to personal cell phones or the Internet.

The upgrade takes 10 to 15 minutes. Ameren said their crews will display Ameren Illinois or Donco badges. Installers never ask for payment.

Peoria, Chillicothe, Dunlap, Mossville, Peoria Heights, Creve Coeur, East Peoria and Metamora received new meters last year.


Guild’s reception focuses on trompe l’oeil art

A reception will mark the opening of Peoria Art Guild’s fine art exhibit featuring trompe l’oeil ceramic artist Tim Kowalczyk. The reception will be held from 5-9 p.m. Feb. 1, at 203 Harrison St., Peoria. 
Since graduating with his MFA from Illinois State University in 2011, Kowalczyk has maintained an active studio practice from his home in Minonk. For the past eight years, he has participated in many juried, group, invitational and solo exhibitions. He has received several awards including the Presidential Scholarship at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Merwin Medal: McLean County 82nd Annual Amateur Show and Best of Show: Water Street Studios Anniversary Show. His work can be seen in private collections, university collections and in a recent American Craft Magazine article. Kowalczyk was named 1 of 11 Innovative Ceramic Artists Breathing New Life into an Age-Old Art by’s By Stephanie Chang 

The show will remain in the gallery until March 1. More details are available at

Group collected supplies for furloughed federal workers

Peoria’s non-profit organization, It Takes a Village, is doing what it can to ease the financial burdens federal employees are facing during the government shutdown. It offered a food and toiletry distribution free of charge Jan. 25, as the clock continued to tick on the government shutdown.

Believing that they are their brother’s keepers, It Takes a Village staff and volunteers gathered hundreds of donations including canned goods, personal products and household items.

The distribution was held at the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office. Government workers were required to present their employee IDs. Each family received bags based the number of people in it, and were able to fill the bags with items of its choice.

New business taking customers to great heights

Many people try to climb to new heights during life, and you literally can do so at a new Peoria business. First Ascent Peoria has opened at 927 SW Washington St., in Peoria’s Historic Warehouse District. The company was founded in 2013 by a group of Chicago climbers with the mission to serve and grow the local climbing community. First Ascent Peoria provides a climbing terrain with climbs set for all ability levels, a full suite of yoga and fitness classes, fitness equipment and instruction on how to climb higher. Introductory discounted fees are being offered through Jan. 31. For more information, go to

Library hosts film festival for Black History Month

The main branch of the Peoria Public Library, 107 NE Monroe, will be the site for a Black History Month Film Festival, highlighting four movies that will be shown at 3 p.m. on Wednesdays in February. Admission is free to all the films. The dates and movies are:

Feb. 6: “Loving,” a 2016 movie about the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a couple whose arrest for interracial marriage in 1960s Virginia began a legal battle that would end with the Supreme Court’s historic 1967 decision.

Feb. 13: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” a 2017 movie based on the true story of an African-American woman who became an unwitting pioneer for medical breakthroughs when her cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line in the early 1950s.

Feb. 20: “Belle,” a lavish 2013 historic drama based in fact about the mixed-race illegitimate daughter of an African slave and a Royal Navy admiral who was raised by her aristocratic great-uncle in 18th-century England.

Feb. 27: “Red Tails,” a 2012 fictional telling of the true story about when a crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program who, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty.

Airport hits record passenger number

General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport saw a record number of passengers in 2018. A total of 672,594 passengers traveled through PIA, up 6 percent from 2017 and 5 percent from 2015’s previous all-time record.

American Airlines is starting a twice-daily route to Charlotte, N.C. out of Peoria next month.


–Peoria County News Briefs–