Tanya Koonce

Tanya Koonce is the News Director at Peoria Public Radio.  She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism from Eastern Illinois University, and a M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield.  
Tanya started her news career in TV, managed two political campaigns after college, worked in state government and did some state association work before going back to school.  Post master’s degree, she’s worked in commercial radio and operated her own freelance agency before taking a reporter position at WCBU in 2001, and becoming news director in 2008. 
She’s currently serving as the Treasurer of the Illinois News Broadcaster’s Association, lives in Peoria and loves discovering interesting people, places and things.  
 

Tanya Koonce/Illinois Public Media

Federal public defenders continued to present character witnesses in a Peoria courtroom Wednesday, in the sentencing phase of Brendt Christensen’s kidnapping murder trial. Seven witnesses, including Christensen’s father, testified in support of the defendant, who at times shed tears that had been rarely seen before.

Tanya Koonce/Illinois Public Media

Opening statements begin Wednesday morning in Peoria in the federal capital murder trial of Brent Christensen, charged in connection with the disappearance of Yingying Zhang.

The former graduate student is accused of kidnapping and killing  Zhang, a visiting scholar from China at the University of Illinois Urbana campus in 2017. Prosecutors believe the 26-year-old Zhang was kidnapped, tortured and killed, but her body has not been found. They say Christensen, 29, told the FBI that he let Zhang out a few blocks away.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Ameren Corp. shareholders are holding the St. Louis-based company accountable for coal ash contamination at current and former facilities in Illinois and Missouri.

Shareholders narrowly passed a resolution by the faith-based Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment at the company’s annual meeting in Peoria Thursday. It requires Ameren to publicly disclose its efforts to cleanup coal ash.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

10 school districts across the state are participating in a pilot project with the Illinois Board of Education.

Chicago is participating, along with areas such as Round Lake, Kankakee, and Peoria.  State Superintendent Tony Smith says the pilot initiative could have implications for districts across Illinois

“We think that there’s a lot of folks out there that have been doing work like this for a while and we want to build more of a community of practice for it. And we do think that it will have a big impact on the direction the state goes in understanding this.”

Illinois’ Comptroller is calling on lawmakers and the Governor to come to some kind of budget agreement in the next ten days. The July first start of the state’s new fiscal year without a budget means the four special spending plans sunset.

GovTrack.us

Parents of those with disabilities will be able to save more in the New Year to care for their adult children. Previously, working adults with disabilities could keep no more than $2,000 for additional care and basic life expenses without being penalized by Social Security. 

Northern Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock says the measure allows savings of up to $14,000 per year, tax deferred, on behalf of those with disabilities:

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