A Publication of WTVP

Business News – In Brief | August 2023

by Peoria Magazine |
Business News in Brief

WTVP PBS has added two professionals to its production crew, Chris Buckely as producer/editor/camera operator and Ryan Benton as studio supervisor. Buckely has 20 years of production experience in California and most recently worked at WMBD in Peoria. Benton has experience at a production house in St. Louis and will be responsible for scheduling the studio and overseeing crews for WTVP local productions.

Chris Buckely
Chris Buckely
Ryan Benton
Ryan Benton

Morton Community Bank and Marine Bank completed a merger in June. The move added 10 locations to the footprint of Morton Community Bank. All Marine Bank locations are now branded as Clock Tower Community Bank, a Division of Morton Community Bank, including banking facilities in Springfield, Chatham, Rushville, Macomb, Bloomington-Normal and Champaign. With the addition of Marine Bank, MCB has 55 locations in 38 communities in central and northwest Illinois, 600 employees, and $5.6 billion in assets.

OSF HealthCare has completed phase one of its purchase of St. Margaret’s Health in Peru, including the Midtown Plaza complex, Midtown Health Center and Granville Clinic, and announced the addition of former St. Margaret’s providers. The new OSF locations will offer a variety of new care options, including OSF Medical Group — Primary Care and OSF Rehabilitation. Patients seeking information regarding their providers and care can call 844-673-2778.

The West Bluff Council has presented three annual awards recognizing individuals for outstanding service to Peoria’s West Bluff community. Peoria City Councilman Chuck Grayeb received the 2023 West Bluff Council Pillar of the West Bluff Award, Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation President Tom Biederbeck received the 2023 Marj Klise Community Action Award. And Costume Trunk founder Steve Spain was named the 2023 West Bluff Business of the Year.

Four officers in the Pekin Police Department have been recognized for their service. Officers Wes Washburn, Caleb Boyer and Nick Appell, who saved the life of a 4-year-old boy in February 2022, received special recognition from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. Sophia Roberts was acknowledged for her good work by Pekin Mayor Mary Burress and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

Joshua Fitzgerald
Joshua Fitzgerald

The Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA) has chosen Heartland Community College adjunct professor Joshua Fitzgerald as co-recipient of the 2023 Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Member Award. The award recognizes the high achievement of Illinois’ part-time public community college instructors. Fitzgerald teaches communications. 

With a 2023 season batting average of .515, 14 home runs and 103 RBIs, Heartland Community College fielder Sam Antonacci has been named the 2023 NJCAA Division II Baseball Player of the Year. His list of honors also includes NJCAA First-Team All-American, ABCA/Rawlings First Team All-American and Region 24 Player of the Year. The Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin High School grad helped lead Heartland, located in Normal, to a Division II Baseball World Series championship.

The Elmwood Community FoundationGraham Medical Group, Greater Peoria YMCA and Congressman Darin LaHood have unveiled plans for a 33,000-square-foot Community Wellness Center to be built adjacent to Graham Medical Clinic in Elmwood. Funding is from a $3.75 million federal grant secured by Congressman LaHood with support from former Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. The Elmwood Community Foundation has kicked off a capital campaign to raise funds for the remainder of the project. Wellness programs and services at the center will be open to all ages regardless of ability to pay. For more information, go to

Impact Central Illinois has awarded $325,000 to four local nonprofits: $100,000 in the category of Education and Community Development to Artists ReEnvisioning Tomorrow Inc. for the ART Inc. Production Studio; $100,000 in the category of Health and Community Wellbeing to Greater Peoria Family YMCA for the Y on the Fly/PPD On the Go Collaborative; $100,000 in the category of Social Services and Basic Needs to Peoria Rescue Ministries for the RECLAIMED Center for Work-Readiness Training; and $25,000 to Safe Families for Children for its Recruiting Host Family Advertising Campaign. More on Impact Central Illinois at

A $500,000 state grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity aims to diversify acts at the Peoria Civic Center. The grant will be used to promote and invest in entertainment options that expand, build and diversify programming at the Civic Center, including well-known and up-and-coming entertainers in R&B, hip-hop, dance, spoken word, classic arts and other categories.

Peoria-based U.S. Ambulances for Ukraine has donated its 50th ambulance, part of a six-ambulance donation from Southern Paramedic in Arkansas. The vehicles are filled with supplies and made ready to go into service upon arrival in Ukraine. Of the 45 vehicles already donated and in Ukraine, most are serving on the frontlines as Ukraine defends itself against Russia’s invasion and occupation.

L to R: Krishna Kumar Veeravalli, PhD; Casimir A. Fornal, PhD; Billy C. Wang, MD; Vinay Sama (UICOMP MD student); Claire Schaibley (UICOMP MD student); Sivareddy Challa, PhD
L to R: Krishna Kumar Veeravalli, PhD; Casimir A. Fornal, PhD; Billy C. Wang, MD; Vinay Sama (UICOMP MD student); Claire Schaibley (UICOMP MD student); Sivareddy Challa, PhD

The American Heart Association has awarded a $300,000 grant to Krishna Kumar Veeravalli, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Cancer Biology and Pharmacology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria. The Transformational Project Grant Award is for $100,000 per year for three years, funding Veeravalli’s research into the use of antibodies in stroke treatment.

The Rotary Club of Peoria-North presented a $12,700 grant to the Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in June. The Center will use the grant to purchase GPS-enabled We Walk canes and Alexa devices, which allow patrons to live active, independent lives, go to work and take part in activities they enjoy.

Comcast has awarded the Boys & Girls Club of Pekin a $10,000 grant to support digital skills training through the club’s MyFuture technology initiative. MyFuture is designed to teach club members about the digital world and help bridge the digital divide. The Boys & Girls Club of Pekin Lift Zone is one of more than 90 Lift Zones in the region.

Governor JB Pritzker has appointed Monica Hendrickson, public health administrator for the Peoria City and County Health Department, to serve as a member of the Health Facilities and Services Review Board. Hendrickson initially joined the City County Health Department in 2017 as its emergency preparedness planner. Later, she became the department’s epidemiologist before assuming her current role. Her term was set to begin in July pending confirmation by the Illinois Senate.

Darren Tillis, owner of the Darren Tillis Insurance Agency in Chicago, has been appointed by Governor JB Pritzker to serve as a member of the Illinois State University Board of Trustees. Tillis has more than 29 years of experience in the insurance and financial services industry and has been involved in the North Lawndale community where he lives. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University. His term was set to begin in July pending confirmation by the Illinois Senate.

For the first time since 2019, Peoria’s Italian American Society will host its Festa Picnic from noon to 5 p.m. Aug. 12 at Hickory Grove Park, 12403 N. Hickory Grove Road in Dunlap. The 92nd picnic will feature authentic Italian food and desserts, Italian and domestic beer and wines, a bocce tournament, local artisan booths, youth activities and live Italian music by Vince Amore and Jack Miuccio. Information is at

The University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria is hosting its Golden Gala — Building for the Future event on Sept. 30 at the Peoria Civic Center. The event is part of an alumni weekend that includes a reception at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, campus tours and more. Proceeds from the Golden Gala support scholarships for medical students. Complete details including a registration link can be found at

The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals of Peoria will hold its inaugural Rise Summit Leadership Conference Aug. 21-23 at the Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino. Networking and leadership training will delve into four themes: diversity, equity and inclusion; quality of life; professional development; and innovation and entrepreneurship. Rebecca Ryan, Carlos Whittaker and Chris Reynolds are scheduled as keynote speakers. Details at

Mt. Hawley Country Club will host the 14th Annual Tee It Up for the Troops Golf Classic of Central Illinois on Aug. 14. Proceeds from past events have helped about 8,000 local veterans, military personnel and their families. Find out how to register and more at 309-323-0488.

The Peoria Historical Society will offer history tours in August. Walking tours are from 8:30 to 10 a.m. and are $15. Bus tours are from 10 a.m. to noon and depart from the Caterpillar Visitors Center, 110 SW Washington St. Cost is $20. For more information and tickets, go to or call 309-674-1921. The walking tours schedule for August is:

  • Historic High Street and Moss Avenue, Aug. 10, depart from Converse Marketing, 1125 Main St.
  • The History and Sites of Downtown Peoria, Aug. 24, depart from parking lot at Main and Water streets.

The bus tours schedule is:

  • Warehouse Renaissance, Aug. 4
  • Roll out the Barrel, Aug. 5 and Aug. 19
  • Springdale Cemetery, Aug. 11
  • Grandview Drive, Aug. 12
  • Notable Peoria Women, Aug. 18
  • Naughty to Nice, Aug. 25
  • Roots of the River City, Aug. 26