President’s Message

62753_1454076710487_748020_nAs many of you know, my wife Maureen and I have 2 black labs, James and Sophia. Great dogs! Loving, fun, energetic… well one of them is…she’s still young. And I know many of you have dogs as part of your family as well. Others may have cats, or lizards, turtles, snakes, whatever is your fancy.

What I find great about dogs is they live for the moment and they implore you to do the same. It’s not about what happened in the past or what’s going to happen tomorrow or further down the road. It’s all about right here, right now, and in most cases, all about you!

In general, dogs are social. They’re upfront with you. You know where you stand. They either like you or they don’t.

And dogs need to go for walks. At least twice a day.

If you’re walking your dog, chances are good that you will run in to the same people and the same dogs whom are also out. Even if your daily exchange is as simple as a smile and a quick hello, you are building a sense of community. The presence of this cheerfulness is apparent. Not only are dog owners’ experiences of their neighborhood made a little better by additional human contact, passersby notice it too. We become an even friendlier neighborhood to any new visitors.

The most valuable trait that a neighborhood can have is people. People are drawn to other people. We struggle as a community to build and cultivate vibrant neighborhoods. It’s one of the goals of the city of Peoria, but is also one of the existing attributes of our neighborhood. I’ve talked about it in previous newsletters, the end-goal of having and maintaining a walkable neighborhood filled with people and activity.

Walkable neighborhoods command higher property values than car-centric neighborhoods and are healthier on average. The act of welcoming dogs and their owners to a neighborhood can help activate the process of increasing walkability.

In an article written by Michael Roden titled Dogs Make Our Neighborhoods Better, he states, “There are measures that apartment buildings, business owners, neighborhood associations, and even individual homeowners can take to harness in the benefits of dog-friendliness. Something as simple as setting out a water bowl can signal to a dog-walker that they are welcome here. A repeat visit will increase foot traffic, which will increase eyes on the street, which is a boon to business or a benefit to home value.”

So, what’s the big deal about dogs?

The growing trend in pet friendly communities and businesses is fueled by the growing research into the health benefits of pets. “The research is pretty compelling,” says Patricia Olson, chief veterinary adviser for the American Humane Association. “Pets provide social capital. Social capital brings us pleasure and a feeling of wellness. And that’s animals. Even if I don’t have one, I may get social capital from having animals in a community.”

Many major cities across America are creating dog-friendly environments by allowing them in retail stores and restaurants and developing dog parks. Businesses are setting out water bowls and having treats at the ready for customers who bring their canine companion with them. Neighborhoods are setting up doggie waste stations along walking routes.

Now, please don’t take me to be a canine-snob. I am more than supportive of anyone taking their pet for a walk. I am certain you will be engaged by neighbors as you stroll down Moss Avenue with their pet boa constrictor or ferret. And though it’d be a topic of discussion with whomever you’d come across, walking your pet turtle around Bradley’s campus may not be considered walking, at least at that pace. However, doctors do say any form of walking is better than none.

Candidates Forum – October 2016


17th Congressional District
Patrick Harlan (R)

Peoria County Circuit Judge
Tim Cusak (R)
Jodi Hoos (D)

Peoria County Coroner
Jamie Harwood (D)
Johnna Ingersoll (R)

Rick Melby, MBRA’s Artist in Residence

Rick Melby & Michelle Funk

Rick Melby & Michelle Funk

Rick Melby, accomplished glass artist and neighborhood activist, echoes another local entrepreneur, saying, “we wanted to not just move to Peoria, but become a part of Peoria.”

And he has succeeded admirably in the past seven years. He recalls being welcomed to the neighborhood in 2009 by Jim Evenhuis, who was the president of the Moss- Bradley Residential Association, and came bearing a plate of brownies and an invitation to join the organization. Since then Rick has served as a MBRA board member and is the current Vice President. He keeps an eagle eye on the happenings in his Barker Avenue neighborhood, including the dog walkers and Bradley students, and has established a friendly rapport with the University and City Code Enforcement.

Rick, along with his wife, Michelle, landed in Peoria after a series of moves that in his telling sounds like “Rick’s Excellent Adventures in Art and Life” One encounter in a search for housing early in his career, started with the question, “What’s your sign?” When it turned out that Rick and the interviewer shared not only an astrological sign, but a birthday, he was shoo-in for the space!

His early beginnings were ruled by the postings of his father’s military career. A turning point happened in the mid sixties with a move to Satellite Beach, Florida with it’s lure of ocean and the new space age rocket launchings. There he signed up for junior high classes in Art rather than endure the more threatening “Shop” option.

After high school it was on to the University of South Florida in Tampa, where Rick had a love/hate relationship with academia and as he says, “escaped” with an Associate of Arts degree. Settling into the real world, he was attracted by a mid-seventies popular resurgence of the art of stained glass. He jokes that his first commission was not glass of the decorative variety, but a request to craft a replacement draft window for a friend’s automobile. (You may have to be of a certain age to know what a draft window is…).

The historic Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa beckoned and for several years Rick maintained a studio there where he added three dimensional blown and kiln glass art to his repertoire and made a significant move in his art career by following an impulse to pursue crafting lighting fixtures . Eventually, attracted by the mountain setting and the Penland Art School, Rick’s move to Ashville, North Carolina was kismet – he became a part of the thriving art community there, opened a small show room, connected with glass artist and Midwest native, Hiram Toraason, and in what he says was the most important decision in his life, married Michelle Funk.

So, inspired by the opportunity for artistic stretching, Michelle’s Midwest family roots, and Toraason’s encouragement, Rick and Michelle came to Peoria. They found themselves intrigued by the possibilities for home and hearth in the West Bluff area and the challenges in engaging in the arts community.

At Hiram Toraason’s invitation, Rick became a member of the steering committee for the newly established CIAO First Friday which has burgeoned into a successful showplace for Arts in Peoria. You’ll find him regularly at First Friday demonstrations at Toraason Glass studio and gallery. Rick has also had his own show at Exhibit A Gallery in Peoria Heights and his art has been selected for display in the innovative and popular local ArtPop project. You can check for current location on the ArtsPartners website,

Councilman Chuck Grayeb

chuck-grayebMy friends: I want to talk a little bit about what is happening in our beloved City and Country. We are in a dangerous period when a single incident can divide us and set back all the progress we are making as a unified City with tolerance and love for all.

Moss/ Bradley has won a great award for its outstanding neighborhood features, but, more importantly, Moss/ Bradley exhibits an embrace of diversity and warm positive change. The strength of Moss/ Bradley is not in its homes or in its beautiful lawns. The strength of Moss/ Bradley is in the fundamental decency and loving nature of its exceptional people who are determined to love their neighbors as themselves.

As your elected leader, I rarely speak of such intangibles, focusing instead on our material progress. But, my friends, it is time for us to recommit ourselves to our neighbors and show them the love and respect which we all deserve.

MBRA is reflective of the greatness of all of District Two and, indeed, the entirety of our City. As I travel through our neighborhoods, I am so humbled to think of the many people who reside here who have built our community. Some are still in the living years and some have passed, leaving a hole in our hearts which we must fill.

Continued hard charging progress on our roads and public safety is at the top of my list and occupies my attention every single day. Since my election, I have been convinced that we must move fast and urgently to build and rebuild the core of our City. I have challenged Staff and have enjoyed your unwavering support.

As we move into the Fall and toward Election Day, may we give thanks that we have each other. Would we really want to live anywhere else at any other time?

Finally, I want to acknowledge the departure of a really good guy– our Public Works Director, Michael T. Rogers, who is a visionary and who has served all of us with probity and vision. Scott Reeise will be the new Public Works Director who will no doubt continue with the initiatives and progress all across our City.

Again, I am deeply privileged to be able to serve you and the people of Peoria. I will always be in your debt. Thank you Beth and Sid for all you do and your love of community. Together, we will not falter or grow tired.

Best, Chuck


Gretchen R. Iben Arts Series Opens at Westminster Church

Series starts Friday, October 14 at 7:30 PM

Sixteen pieces of wire, some wrapped with catgut … four beautiful wooden boxes to hold them … and four talented, young players … and what do you have???

A String Quartet!

In this case the KAIA String Quartet … a group of young artists based in Chicago, participating in its vast musical scene in many different ways, and coming together to concertize as a string quartet that has seen much of the world already!  This makes for a stunning ensemble.  Victoria Moreira and Naomi Culp play violin, Sixto Franco Chorda plays viola and Hope Shepherd is the ‘cellist.  Together they play a repertoire that spans music from the 16th to 21st century.

The evening will be graced by this fine quartet, playing a varied program from Beethoven to Piazzolla.  The graceful and dramatic music of Beethoven soars in a space like the Westminster sanctuary and we already have had a goodly amount of non-traditional music in our worship, so now we stretch it to the concert series with some wonderful Tangos from the pen of Astor Piazzolla the famous Argentinean composer whose classical approach to this native music of South America has brought him acclaim, and audiences great pleasure.

We hope you will set the evening aside to join us.  Bring some friends with you.  Westminster will be alive with sounds of great music all through the 2016-2017 season.  There will be an offering received to help support the series. No donation is required.  We hope to see you on October 14.

For the Moss-Bradley area, this is great music right at your door.  Walk over to Westminster Presbyterian Church and enjoy!

The October Review

By Bonnie Mason

picture1I love Hallowe’en! October is my favorite month –  I have a self-proclaimed Holiday during October. Many years ago I designated October 4th to be my own personal holiday and have celebrated that day ever since! My family and close friends even give me gifts… I loved Hallowe’en before it became such a retail extravaganza and for years baked twenty five or thirty loaves of pumpkin bread to deliver on Hallowe’en night to people I absolutely enjoyed in life, but rarely got to see.

One of my favorite events at Barnes & Noble is “Howloween” held on the Saturday before Hallowe’en every year. PAWS to Read therapy dogs fill the Children’s Department: the dogs all come in costumes, their owners come in costumes, and kids come in costumes! It is so much fun and at the end of the event they all parade through the store!

I have three great books for you so perfect for this Season and all written by local authors. Sylvia Shults has written Fractured Spirits, Hauntings at the Peoria State Hospital, a collection of experiences at the mental health hospital from ghost hunting groups, former nurses, sensitives, and ordinary people along with a history of the hospital and Dr. George Zeller’s innovative treatment of the patients. Ms. Shults “brings a passion for paranormal investigation to her adventures at this haunted hotspot”, tauted as a “ghost story a hundred years in the making”. Sylvia’s next book,  Rhoda Derry, a fascinating history of one of the patients at the Peoria State Hospital will be released on October 15th.

Next,  Stephanie McCarthy ‘s book Peoria’s Haunted Memories is a must this season!  A compilation of ghost stories and legends, a collection of haunted sites in and around Peoria to drive by or visit during the Halloween season… “Peoria’s Haunted Memories serves as a unique guide for the intrepid supernatural sleuth seeking confirmation that the dead do not always rest in peace”. Visit these sites housing the supernatural at dusk and add a welcome eeriness to October!

Lastly, Joe Chianakas is writing a series that falls under the genre of horror beginning with The Rabbit in Red, Joe’s first book, and Burn the Rabbit, book two released on the 15th of this month! Rabbit in Red involves 19 horror-loving teens who enter a movie studio competition that promises rewards including a career making the movies they love, but things aren’t always as they seem and soon life starts to imitate art.  Lots of horror film references for the horror film devotee!

All of these books are available in paper back for prices from $15.99 to $24.98 and will add just the right touch to this delightful fall season when the days rapidly grow shorter and there is a definite chill in the air! So put on a sweater or comfy jacket, grab a quilt and curl up on that wicker porch furniture with all of these books for the last of the outdoor reading weather.

Support our local authors (a great diversion from the ever pervasive Presidential campaign) and enjoy – Happy Halloween everyone!

St. Marks School – October 2016

st-marks-imsa-studentSt. Mark’s School is fortunate to participate in the Illinois Math and Science Academy’s (IMSA) Fusion program. IMSA is a residential high school in Aurora that is ranked one of the top 10 high schools in the nation for math and science. IMSA Fusion is their outreach program for middle school students.

This year St. Mark’s students will study units on Medieval Science and Secret Communications. The Medieval period was ripe with scientific inventions. Secret Communications will focus on codes and encryption. The IMSA Fusion curriculum is designed to be inquiry based and problem centered. One of its goals is to teach students how to think.

St. Mark’s Halloween Harvest Festival, Oct. 28!

Come one, come all in your spookiest best to the St. Mark’s Halloween Harvest Festival on Fri. Oct. 28 from 5:30-8:30 pm at the school. Food, fun, games, fire escape rides, and trunk or treating are just some of the scary-good things at the Festival. Hope to see you there!

St. Mark’s Students serve Mass at the rededication Mass at St. Mark’s Cathedral.

St. Mark’s was proud to have eight students help serve Mass at the rededication of  the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception. The Mass held on August 26 was also a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the death of Archbishop John Lancaster Spalding, first bishop of the Peoria Diocese.



Whitttier Wildcats – October 2016

Our Wildcats are rising to the top with endless possibilities! Our Backpack night was a success in August with a fabulous turnout.

Look its My Book! continues to provide us with free books that the children can choose several times a year. If you are interested in volunteering, let us know!

Start cutting those Box Tops! We receive free money for our school when your child turns 10 or more in. Lots of fun prizes too!

Attendance Counts – Every student, Every class, Every day! We want you here!

Upcoming Events:
October 10, 2016 – Columbus Day Holiday
October 13, 2016 – Parent University ( Location TBA)
October 20th – Parent Teacher Conferences – 4PM – 7PM
October 21st – Parent Teacher Conferences – 9AM – 12PM
October 26th – Student Improvement Day – ½ day schools
October 28th – Fall Room Parties

Button Up Your House For Fall

Prepare your house now, before winter comes knocking

By Sal Vaglica of This Old House magazine

We all know the drill: You wake up on a Saturday with every intention of doing some pre-winter maintenance but ditch your best-laid plans as soon as you feel the late-summer sun on your shoulders. Take a tip from the experts and avoid putting off till next Saturday (or next year) what you can do in a snap today—whether it’s replacing old weather-stripping or adjusting the pitch of the gutters. You can always put your feet up late, when it’s time to rake the leaves.

Weatherproof Windows and Doors

Seal gaps larger than ⅛ inch around windows and doors to cut your winter heating bill by up to 15 percent. On windows, press adhesive-backed closed-cell foam onto the bottom of the sash. Secure a loose sash by applying a strip of plastic V-channel weather-stripping in the groove the sash slides in, securing it with finish nails. Use foam strips on the sides and tops of doors, and install a door sweep on the bottom

Check Your Gutters

When gutters aren’t pitched at the right angle, they overflow—and can threaten your once dry basement. Properly pitched gutters slope between 1/16 inch and 1/8 inch per foot, directing water to the leader and out the downspout. Check the pitch by holding a level even with the gutter; on longer runs, pour in water from a hose and check the flow’s direction. Get instructions for keeping your gutters in good working order.

Find and Fix Cracked Concrete

Cracks in your driveway, walkway, or steps are a big-time trip hazard, and they’ll only get worse if water seeps in and freezes. Luckily, if you can caulk, you can fix concrete—just make sure it’s clean and dry to start. For cracks less than a half-inch wide, squeeze a bead of acrylic latex concrete repair compound deep into the crack, smoothing excess with a putty knife. For larger cracks, trowel on a vinyl concrete patching compound, and let it cure one day before walking on it, three days before driving over it.

Check for Holes in the Roof

During the brightest part of the day or a steady rain, look for streams of light or water entering the attic through the roof or sheathing, which can lead to more serious damage (and critter invasions) if left unfixed. (Another sign of holes is black staining on insulation.) From inside, fill sheathing gaps with closed-cell polyurethane foam. Fix small roof leaks by caulking with tripolymer elastomeric sealant, which is compatible with asphalt shingles and resists UV rays. But don’t caulk large leaks, which tend to develop around chimneys or vent stacks. For now, place a bucket underneath to catch drips and stuff an old towel in the crevices to absorb moisture. Then do a more serious repair before the first winter storm hits.

How do you know if your attic is properly protected? It’s simple: If you can see the tops of the joists, you’ve got a problem. If the existing insulation is roughly even with the tops of the joists, add a new layer of unfaced batt insulation perpendicular to the old one, pushing the pieces together so they fit snugly side by side. On the other hand, if the existing layers are more than an inch above (or below) the joists, blown-in cellulose or fiberglass does a better job of filling the crevices. To find out how much you need, depending on where you live, type your ZIP code into the ZIP-Code Insulation Program at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory website,

And give yourself a pat on the back for keeping up with fall upkeep!