A MAYORAL TRANSITION
Outgoing Mayor Jim Maloof reflects on his years in office at the May 6th Peoria City Council meeting: "The members of this council and previous council members of the past 12 years should take particular pride in their accomplishments of supporting growth, from the new riverfront to the suburbs of the northwest. Neighborhoods, infrastructure, annexation, Southtown. Peoria County and Medina Township agreements. New downtown buildings and parking decks. Employee union contract negotiations. Healthcare savings. From hospitals, science laboratories, airport, park board, intergovernmental relations, Springfield, Washington, and city support of dozens of corporations that have brought about a diversification of national and international businesses.
…Property values increased by nearly 30 percent. The city tax rate decreased 100 percent. More people are working now than at any time in the history of this community. Most of this took vision and risk, and history will show this to be one of the most progressive periods of our city and area. For this, my fellow council members, you deserve accolades for your dedication and service. Yes, the people are the city, and we have followed the lead of the people."
"I am truly excited about being able to serve Peoria as the next mayor. Peoria has both breathtaking possibilities and gut-wrenching problems as we enter the 21st century. In meeting these challenges, it’s imperative we have a city council that is united in a common vision of where we are going and a plan of action to get there."
-Bud Grieves, City of Peoria Mayor-Elect
CREATION & DESTRUCTION
Two weeks after a January 8th fire and explosion shut down Tazewell Machine Works, the foundry and machine shop that makes parts for Caterpillar and other companies is open again. Damage to the Pekin business could reach $500,000.
Cohen Furniture Co. closed its downtown store February 17th, citing changes in consumer shopping patterns. The company is actively seeking another location in the metropolitan area and will keep the Sheridan Village location open.
The old Burlington Coat Factory building on University will be demolished and a new retail center built on the site later this year.
Caterpillar Inc. will tear down the buildings where the company first began its Midwest manufacturing operations more than 70 years ago, and plans are underway to transform the area into a greenway in the heart of East Peoria.
Gov. Jim Edgar announced the state will provide $100,000 to help pay for renovation of the Powell Press Building. The 155-year-old building was moved in March from NE Washington Street to Constitution Avenue and Main Street and will become a visitors’ center and museum on the riverfront.
Peoria’s Riverfront Business District Commission has agreed to redevelop Eckwood Park with the help of private developers. Co-developers Monte Brannon and Mike Wisdom want to build an office structure on top of a parking deck situated in the riverfront parking lot. The project will mean close cooperation between the city and the private sector.
- Caterpillar Inc. was named to Fortune magazine’s first-ever list of the "World’s Most Admired Companies."
- Representative David Leitch was named Legislator of the Year by the Association of Community Health Authorities for his support of mental health services.
- Charles T. Ruppman received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Yellow Pages Publishers Association, the highest award given in the industry.
- RLI Corp. and founder Gerald Stephens were featured in Barron’s magazine. The publication compared RLI’s track record to that of legendary investor Warren Buffett.
- With Caterpillar Inc. announcing new facilities in other parts of the U.S., the company made it clear that, while it will continue to expand globally, it will also continue to operate from Peoria.
- Komatsu Ltd. elected former Peorian Arlie Tucker as the company’s first non-Japanese board member. Tucker is the chairman and CEO of Komatsu Mining Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Komatsu Ltd.
- After an absence of more than 35 years, a mass transit link is being restored between Peoria and Pekin. Bus service between the two cities will be initiated beginning October 6th.
- Ground was broken for the Peoria County Jail addition and new juvenile detention center on Maxwell Road in October.
Peoria will be one of the first test markets for Carl’s Jr. fast food. CKE Restaurants, parent company of Carl’s Jr., acquired Hardee’s in a deal valued at $327 million. The new stores will combine the breakfast menu of Hardee’s with Carl’s lunch and dinner items.
One of the hottest fashion trends in Hollywood has a strong connection to central Illinois. Caterpillar construction boots are the rage among TV and movie stars, according to Entertainment Weekly. The heavy-duty footwear is manufactured by Wolverine, which has a licensing agreement with Caterpillar. The boots are a popular fashion statement in Europe as well.
BY THE NUMBERS
In August, the Life Flight air transport service at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center surpassed a significant milestone, its 10,000th patient flight-and with a perfect safety record.
A two-hour autograph signing on December 7th by Cleveland Indian first baseman Jim Thome raised over $6,200 for the Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Thome, a Peoria native who graduated from Limestone Community High School and attended Illinois Central College, had an exceptional year in 1996 as he batted .311, hit 38 home runs and drove in 116 runs.
The average price for a home in the Peoria area topped the $100,000 mark for the first time. Numbers released by the Peoria Area Association of Realtors show the average price paid for a home in June was $100,544. Association President Nancy Koch said it’s an important sign of the area’s recovery from the mid-1980s, when home prices were very low.
THEY SAID IT…
"The Peoria area has to be one of the most generous communities
around. I have lived in several other cities and I have never
experienced more volunteerism and charitable giving in any other area.
The people of this community are our number-one asset."
-Greg Edwards, President, Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
"The presence of the College of Medicine and the Peoria area’s teaching
hospitals…means that specialists and subspecialists who would
otherwise not practice medicine in a city this size are able to be
-Jim Moore, OSF HealthCare System iBi