The President’s Message

March-2015A neighborhood has a profound impact on one’s quality of life, yet it is difficult to define. At its best, it fosters a sense of place and encourages social interaction.

As we all look at what we all call “our neighborhood”, what makes it great? A truly great neighborhood is one in sync with your current lifestyle. recently listed a number of components common to ALL great neighborhoods. Here are some of those components, listed in no particular order:

Pride in ownership

All great neighborhoods have this in common. Pride in ownership is obvious when the residents… “maintain their homes and care about their neighborhood.” Neighbors participate to connect and create local groups that bring the residents together for the betterment of the area.

Low crime rate

Low crime rates give a neighborhood a sense of ease and calm. As safety and security are everyone’s concern, crime is a quick way to tell if a neighborhood is improving or not. You can usually spot a transitional and improving neighborhood by the improvement or decline in its crime rates.

Outdoor activities abound

Being close to the outdoor adventures you love can sweeten the appeal of your neighborhood. Being super close to places to jog, or pedal can keep you riding high about your home. Proximity and access to tennis courts and golf courses are also qualities that keep your neighborhood on par.

Access to medical care

This is important for all residents, but especially for seniors and retirees looking to find that perfect place to retire and for families with young children. Being close enough to get to a hospital or doctor’s office quickly is key for many people in various stages of their lives.

Family friendly

Lots of other families in the neighborhood are a real draw for buyers with children. There are more opportunities for children to play, socialize, and make lifelong friends. Carpooling groups and other children’s programs are much more accessible when the neighborhood is overflowing with kiddos.

Close to public transportation

Easy access to public transportation is a fantastic plus for a neighborhood and an amenity for almost any lifestyle. From a commuting millennial to a retiree who wants to keep the car at home, public transit is a solid upgrade to any neighborhood.


Being able to leave the car keys at home and hit the pavement to walk to markets, shopping, restaurants, parks, and all the other amenities your neighborhood has to offer can alleviate a lot of road rage … and make you fall even deeper in love with your neighborhood.

Richard Florida, a noted urban theorist stated, “And then the most important factor is what I call the quality of the neighborhood itself. Does it have trees? Does it have open space? Does it preserve its historic architecture? In other words, does it have some kind of physical beauty? This quality, the aesthetic character, is the number one factor in making a great neighborhood.

So, how great is our neighborhood?

Brian Buralli


Mural Adds Vibrancy to Main Street

Multiple artists have worked with the Renaissance Park Community Association NFP (RPCA) and Muir Omni Graphics to create a collaborative mural and art project on West Main Street.

As part of the collaboration, there is now a colorful 12 by 78 foot mural painted on the side of the Muir Omni Graphics building at 909 and 911 West Main Street.

The project also includes six large-scale artist-designed panels placed on the front of the building. The panels are printed on weather-resistant material, using state-of-the-art technology, via a new Muir Omni Graphics printer.

The public art piece, which focuses on community, diversity, and representation of local artists, was created in an effort to increase the walkability and overall perception of the West Main Street neighborhood.

“Murals and other forms of public art are elements that can make a huge impact on the overall look and feel of a neighborhood by introducing new colors, shapes, and concepts that increase the visual interest and memorability of the space,” said RPCA board member Nick Viera.

Members of RPCA began to plan the West Main Street Mural project in June of 2014. Andrew Muir, President of Muir Omni Graphics, has used the building where the mural is located for years as a printing press and warehouse. When presented with the public art concept, Muir was very open to the idea of hosting the project on his business’s building.

From there, RPCA created a public art committee, with RPCA board member and West Main business owner (The Art Garage) Jessica Ball as the committee’s chairperson. This is RPCA’s first public art project.

“The Muir family was very positive about the idea of bringing public art to this neighborhood, and very eager to help,” said Ball.

Some of the contributing artists expressed interest in the project through a city-wide artist call-out, and others have worked previously in the West Main
Street area through the Art Garage or RPCA. Each individual provided submissions of their work for approval by the project organizers. RPCA was then required to get a Building Permit from the City of Peoria for the mural, since it is considered an exterior alteration to the building.

“The City of Peoria has been very helpful and supportive of this project. I believe that the city understands the benefit of public art in its community”, said Ball.

Contributing artists for the painted mural include the following individuals: Angie Jo Goudie, Jonathan Gonzalez, Natalie England, Keith Wilson and Kreative Worx, Brenda Gentry, Shannon Slaight-Brown, Jessica Benassi, Alec DeJesus, and Connie Andrews.

The March Review

by Bonnie Mason

This is the month I traditionally devote to gardens in some regard, but I don’t even want to think about my back yard this year. I am totally devastated by the city’s great plan – whatever it could possibly have been – that destroyed my enchanted forest full of happy little creatures.

The trees home for countless birds and squirrels and a delightful buffer for me and my own little world, chopped down, replaced by grass ( who’s going to cut it?) and the tackiest cement block wall. I feel as if someone built one of those basement houses from the 50’s on my gorgeous lot. What does Historic Preservation even mean?

Between the grocery store parking lot, the bombed out hill, and 7th Street/MLK, Jr. Vegetation Mow Down… I simply cannot make a right turn from my driveway. Topics to avoid if you see me – don’t get me started.

So while this is my “think garden” month for books, not this year – I found two irresistible history related books that are great fun to pour over.Time-Book

The first entitled Inside The Red Border is a compilation of TIME Magazine covers (no surprise there) coupled with compelling excerpts from the stories referenced. Divided into sixteen sections from The Presidents to Science & Medicine to Person of the Year, the book even includes a section of covers that didn’t make it, we get a fascinating overview of history. This book would fall under the genre of “coffee table” books, but I love it.

I look back with great interest at what was important enough at the time to make the cover of a magazine respected for nine decades. How the images were presented speaks to their historical significance as well. Published by Time Books, 2013, hardcover it sells for $34.95 (B&N Bargain Dept. $14.98).Life-Book

The second book is LIFE The Classic Collection which holds LIFE Magazine’s 100 greatest pictures including 25 prints ready to frame. Many of these images are immediately familiar as part of a news story. In this book they are “allowed to sing as they have never sung before” standing on their own as works of art.

The photographs are not without description, but it doesn’t interfere with their presentation as art in this volume.

To quote “in these pages is the best of LIFE Magazine and – as is clear in many of these heroic, lovely or simply touching photographs – the best of life itself”. Another great book to pour over. Published by LIFE Books, 2008, hardcover it sells for $29.95 (B&N Bargain Dept. $9.98).

If you are looking for just a rather delightful mystery – not little “cozy” mystery, more than that – but not violent, terror, I am going to suggest Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series.Doll-People-Book

Read them in order, you must read them in order, but they are perfect for curling up on a cold and windy March day or evening with a cup of tea and biscotti. Heaven!

A charming cast of characters in a small town not too far from the border in Canada…They are interesting and fun, well written, and available in paperback for $15.00. The first one is entitled Still Life, start with it and enjoy!

Also, if you have little girls in your life, Anne Martin has written a fourth book in the “Doll Series”, The Doll People Set Sail, hardcover, $17.99.

Grisham-BookLast, but not least, John Grisham is coming out with a 5th Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer on May 15th for the little boys in your life, hardcover, $17.99 as well. (I have reviewed these series in the past).

Stay warm – in just a few weeks we can watch for daffodils, tulips and buds on the trees with winter behind us! I am always thrilled with the arrival of March – it’s so hopeful!

Easter at Franciscan Rec Complex

Annual Easter Egg Festival

Join us for our 18th Annual Easter Egg Festival at Franciscan Recreation Complex on Saturday, March 28 from 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Bring your Easter baskets and join in the hunt for colorful eggs filled with candy and prizes! Our egg hunt begins promptly at 10:15 a.m. Before and after the hunt, join us in the gymnasium for snacks, a coloring contest, face painting, and more. We’ll even get a visit from a very special some-bunny…

Children ages 1-12 are welcome to join in the Easter Egg Hunt. The Hunt will be divided into three age groups. Cost is $6 for residents and $8 for non-residents.

Host Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt

The Peoria Park District’s Franciscan Recreation Complex (FRC) will host a Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt on Friday, March 27 from 8:00-9:30 p.m.

Big kids ages 10-13 are invited to join us for this nighttime hunt for eggs filled with candy and plenty of prizes! Afterwards, participants can enjoy pizza, refreshments,
and games.

Please be sure to wear weather and color-appropriate clothing. All participants will need to bring their own flashlights and prize bags.

Cost is $10/resident or $15/non-resident. Registration is required by March 25.

For more information please, call FRC at (309) 677.6705.

The Latest from St. Mark’s School

On March 28, St. Mark’s School will be having its 16th annual auction at the Itoo Hall. This year’s theme is “There’s No Place Like St. Mark’s.” Doors will open at 5 p.m. with a silent auction.

Dinner is at 6 p.m. and the live auction starts at 7 p.m. with great items, including a condo in Florida, dinner with the priests, a hot air balloon ride, and Cubs and Cardinals overnight stay packages.

There will also be a Dessert Dash, 50/50 raffle, and dancing. Tickets will be available later in the month. Please contact Andrea for more information or tickets.

We would love to see you at the auction, which is our biggest fund raiser of the year.

The first couple months of 2015 have been busy ones at St. Mark’s with basketball, Scholastic Bowl, cheerleading competition, Souper Trivia, and rehearsals for our school musical, High School Musical, to be held April 24 – 25.

We also had a busy Catholic School Week, the last week of January. Activities included a visit from a Catholic bishop from Kenya, a food drive benefiting the West/Mark Food Pantry, a visit to Heddington Oaks where our 4th graders visited the residents and assisted with Mass, and Family Holy Hour.

CASA of Peoria County

CASA-LogoMoss Bradley residents with interest in community service and in child welfare should be aware of a current need for volunteers in the local CASA program. 

CASA of Peoria County is a non-profit organization that recruits and trains community volunteers, who are appointed by judges to be independent fact finders and to speak up for the best interests of abused and neglected children in Peoria County.

The program’s volunteers work with the court system and the Department of Children and Family Services to ensure that all of the necessary information is presented to the court to allow the judge to make the best decision possible.

CASA programs have been successfully implemented across the United States and in several other communities in Illinois.

The program aims to reduce the amount of time children spend in foster care and help ensure that the child’s best interest is served in the court process.

After an initial training the time commitment is about two hours per month. A training session will be provided during the period March 7-17.

This is an important and worthwhile program. 

For more information about CASA call the program office at 309.669.2939 or speak to Rod Lorenz (673.9520).

Message from Councilman Chuck Grayeb

chuck-grayebRecent traffic studies show no significant increase in volume of traffic in the MBRA area. The findings were quantified in handouts provided by staff at the last MBRA meeting. In fact, traffic is considerably reduced from the decade of the nineties. I also indicated that further traffic calming methods are being looked at on Moss Avenue east of MacArthur.

The EPA settlement which will be expensive for our taxpayers may be a boon to the Heritage Neighborhoods, as we do sustainable green projects, providing  uplift to the neighborhoods.

All major road reconstruction on my watch has incorporated these features, and the Main and University Street intersection is a template for further citywide work, with its rain gardens, which effectively prevent the kind of runoff the EPA wants us to combat.

Washington School will soon be shown to prospective buyers. I will keep you posted.

A more comprehensive, systematic citywide snow removal strategy was outlined by Director Rogers at the last MBRA meeting, which involves better equipment to remove the snow slush from sidewalks following a storm (which often freezes hard as a rock and is beyond the capacity of any homeowner to remove without specialized equipment).

Shotspotter is being expanded to an additional three square miles. It has promoted citizen and officer safety and netted more arrests and removal of guns from our streets.

We will continue to look at the erection of more ornamental stop sign poles and four-way stops in the MBRA area.

I hope all of you enjoy the weeks leading into Spring. We are blessed to live in a neighborhood and District second to none.

Best, Chuck

2015 Moss Avenue Sale & Festival

Moss-Ave-Sale-2015The 35th Annual Moss Avenue Sale & Festival will be held on Saturday, June 13th. The committee has already been working on preparations for this year’s sale and “Save the Date” cards have gone out. We have gained many new dealers through our Facebook page, so take a look at our page and feel free to post on it and share with your friends.

Last year was a record for participating dealers, with 117 total. To continue to grow the sale, we are dependent on the homeowners who allow us to use their yards, driveways and parkways.

The funds we raise from this sale help us to beautify our neighborhood, decorate the lamp posts with holiday greens, support causes that affect our quality of life and many other issues that arise throughout the year. Please consider donating the use of your property when contacted by a block captain.

We are always looking for help as block captains, assisting the day of the sale on the barricades, as well as new faces to work on the committee. Also welcome are new ideas and thoughts on how to improve and enhance the sale.

If you are contacted directly by a vendor, please direct them to contact the committee and we will handle it.

We want to insure that all of our vendors and dealers receive the same application and rules to avoid any confusion the day of the sale.

If you have any questions, concerns or would like to join the committee, please give me a call!

Jan Krouse 676.7900

The Central Illinois Jazz Society

Presents CIJS House Band at 6:00 p.m.

Guest Group
David Hoffman and Friends at 7:15 p.m.

David Hoffman leads the group on trumpet and flugelhorn. Joining David are Chip McNeill on tenor sax, Tim Pitchford on trombone, Derel Monteith on piano, Andy Crawford on bass, and Jason Brannon on drums.

David Hoffman and Friends features an All-Star lineup of excellent musicians from the Central Illinois area. They will present a variety of standards and original tunes. David will provide interesting insights as to how his original songs were named.

Those who have attended previous programs know how talented David is as a writer and as a performer. He has performed regularly with the Central Illinois Jazz Society House Band and as a guest performer.

He is well recognized as an instructor and mentor for developing musicians. He also performed as an arranger and composer with the Ray Charles Orchestra throughout the world for more than 13 years.

The Starting Gate Banquet Room, Landmark Recreation Center
3225 N. Dries Lane, Peoria

$5.00 Members | $7.00 Non-Members | Students are free

Additional Dates
Sunday, April 19• Sunday, May 17

The Central Illinois Jazz Society (CIJS) House Band will

play during the first set, under the leadership of Larry Harms. The CIJS House Band features outstanding jazz musicians from the area. They will entertain you with a mixture of jazz styles.

For more information call 692.5330 or visit For more information about our location, visit

Peoria Historical Society Celebrates City’s 180th Birthday with 2nd Annual Spring Showcase

Peoria-Historical-SocietyTo celebrate Peoria’s 180th birthday, the Peoria Historical Society will host its 2nd annual Spring Showcase on Sunday, April 26 at the Peoria Civic Center Ballroom.

This year’s event is entitled “You Are There” and will feature Tom McIntyre of WEEK-TV along with other well-known local leaders portraying the original founders of the community.

The event kicks off with a Spring Boutique at 1 p.m., followed by entertainment at 3 p.m. Refreshments and desserts will be served, along with a cash bar.

“You Are There” will be a re-enactment of Peoria’s early history from the perspective of the individuals who were involved. Based on the popular television series that aired from 1953 to 1957 hosted by Walter Cronkite, the program format will consist of a series of interviews with early Peoria settlers who were involved in the incorporation of the City in 1835.

McIntyre will re-create Cronkite’s role and function, traveling back in time to get a glimpse of life in early Peoria from Peoria’s social, administrative, and political leaders of the time.

Prior to the entertainment, a Spring Boutique will be held featuring local artisans, authors and vendors featuring new and vintage jewelry, quality costume jewelry, home décor, children’s items, books, handcrafted ceramics, fiber art, women’s fine clothing, accessories, Irish collectibles, handmade purses and much more.

The Spring Boutique begins at 1 p.m. and is open until 4:30 p.m.

Reservations are $40 per person or $400 per table of 10, with reservations and payment due by April 4.

To book a table, make reservations or find out more information, call the Peoria Historical Society at  (309) 674.1921.

Upcoming Events at Westminster

Holy Week Services:
Palm Sunday  – March 29 at 10:00 a.m
Maundy Thursday – April 2 at 7:00 p.m
Easter Sunday – April 5 at 10:00 a.m.

Next Iben Series Concert:
Peter and the Wolf
A Children’s Event for All
Sunday, April 19 at 2:00 p.m

Several years ago, the Iben Series presented this event to great excitement. The music is the great classic score of Sergei Prokofiev, the great twentieth century master.

In this version, the solo instruments, played by some fine instrumentalists from the faculty of Bradley University, were present to portray all the characters, but the orchestral part is performed on the piano…which makes it available for this kind of program.

Children from the neighborhood, and across the region will be invited to join us in a time of puppet making and general good time, learning about the characters and how they will participate in the performance. Once ready, the music will commence and all the characters will be represented by the children’s puppets.

At the conclusion of the performance, everyone will be invited to have an early dessert … ice cream for all in the Fellowship Hall.

We urge you to invite your friends with children and grandchildren to participate with us in this grand time.