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Archive for April 21st, 2014

Peru replacing red street signs for blue

Posted by wlpo on April 21, 2014

You know you are in Peru and not La Salle when the street signs are red but that handy rule of thumb will gradually be changing.

A change in federal road sign requirements means Peru will have to phase out their red street signs for ones of another color.  Alderman Dave Waldorf says they have decided to use blue signs with white letters.

Immediately 54 intersections will have to get the new blue signs.  The rest of the signs will be replaced as they become damaged or hard to read.

You will find a new blue sign already up at Seventh and Rock Streets.


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Utica marks ten year anniversary of deadly tornado

Posted by wlpo on April 21, 2014

With showers falling from an ominous sky, prayers and song were used Monday evening to remember the deadly Utica tornado of April 20th, 2004.

Pastor Lloyd Johnson of the Utica Baptist Church talked about the moments of destruction and despair after the storm killed nine people. He gave credit though to village leaders and first responders for helping the village “rise from the ashes like a phoenix”.

Village President Gloria Alvarado says they continue to mourn those who died but also reflect on how the village has been rebuilt and improved since the storm. Everyone who spoke gave thanks to late-mayor Fred Esmond leading the village thru the recovery. Alvarado credited Esmond’s calm, strong leadership with propelling the village forward.

The short ceremony ended with the unveiling of a new sculpture made by Peru artist Steve Seaborn sitting just to the west of the tornado memorial. The sculpture features nine, stainless-steal hearts symbolizing the storm victims.

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Auditions for “Annie” to be held in La Salle

Posted by wlpo on April 21, 2014

The popular story of an orphan and her dog will come alive at Stage 212 in La Salle. “Annie” is being performed in July. Auditions will be Saturday and Sunday.

Children and adults are encouraged to try out. Girls in second through 10th grade are needed to play the orphans. It will be directed by Robert Kinsella.

Children’s auditions are at 4pm Saturday with the adults trying out at 7pm. Extra auditions will be held Sunday at 1pm.

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Woman injured after crash on Route 89

Posted by wlpo on April 21, 2014

If you heard a helicopter flying over Putnam County it was for a crash on Route 89. Sheriff’s deputies say Heather Turner of Amarillo, Texas was heading south on Route 89 near McNabb Sunday afternoon when she hit another car and lost control.

Turner’s car would go airborne before hitting a second car and rolling several times according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department. Turner was taken from the scene by helicopter to St. Francis Medical in Peoria. Her condition was not available.

Laura Smith of Peru and Cassie Danekas of Oglesby were driving the other cars and didn’t need to be treated for their injuries.

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Motorcyclist injured during crash on Route 71

Posted by wlpo on April 21, 2014

An Easter afternoon motorcycle ride quickly turned an ambulance ride to the hospital. State Police say Brian Ford of Princeton was riding on Route 71 near Starved Rock State Park when he hit a car that had stopped in traffic.

Ford was taken to Illinois Valley Community Hospital. The people in the car weren’t hurt. Ford was ticketed for not slowing down to avoid an accident and a violation of motorcycle classification.

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Demolition begins at former Peru hotel

Posted by wlpo on April 21, 2014

Demolition started Monday at the old Holiday Inn and King’s Inn in Peru. The city bought the old hotel in late 2012 for $26,000 from a tax scavenger. Asbestos abatement, demolition and site restoration is estimated to cost $448,000.

Crews began removing asbestos from it last month. Fire Chief and Building Inspector Jeff King says demolition will take several weeks.

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Remembrance ceremony will mark 10th anniversary of Utica twister

Posted by wlpo on April 21, 2014

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when the 2004 tornado ripped through Utica?

The tenth anniversary was Sunday and a remembrance ceremony will be held Monday evening at the tornado memorial site on Mill Street. Village trustees decided against having the ceremony on the 20th because it fell on Easter.

Eight people were killed in the Utica tornado as they sought shelter at the Milestone Tap. The 10th anniversary ceremony will start a little after six in the evening or the approximate time the tornado rolled through Utica.

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Woman remembers brother that was killed in the Utica tornado

Posted by wlpo on April 21, 2014

“A long, horrible night” That’s how Phyllis Mertes describes her memory of the April 20th, 2004 tornado that ripped through Utica killing her brother Jay Vezain.

Mertes says Vezain was on the balcony of the Milestone Tap when another sister heard sirens and told her brother to seek shelter. Rescuers say Vezain was one of the first people killed as he was trying to hold the tavern’s door shut.

Mertes says the hours after the tornado were surreal.  The coroner made the news about her brother official the next morning . She says Jay was quite a character and will always be with be with her.

To mark the 10th anniversary, Mertes says a brother from Texas and a sister from Arizona are coming in to spend time together. Mertes says she no longer takes any tornado watches or warnings for granted.

An interview with Phyllis Mertes is available on the WLPO AM and FM news page.

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