PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The former head of Peoria’s public television station and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Peoria took her own life earlier this year, the Peoria County Coroner said.
Jamie Harwood, in a rare move, publicly announced that finding regarding Lesley Matuszak, 66, who was found dead at her West Bluff home. Her death came one day after she resigned from her position as station manager and CEO at WTVP-TV, a position she had held for about four years.
“Often, when someone passes away, by suicide, there is generally no reason to release that information. However, this is a little bit different,” the coroner said. “This person was a business leader in Peoria, a significant and prominent figure that was held in high regard. We felt it necessary to let the public know.”
Those who are experiencing a mental health crisis can reach out the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call or text the numbers 9-8-8 which is a crisis hotline. The Peoria City/County Health Department has more information on their website.
Questions have swirled on social media over the past few months regarding the station’s fiscal well-being. At a board meeting in early October, directors voted to slash the station’s operating budget by $1.5 million to the 2019 level of $3.5 million.
One of the reasons was “some unauthorized, questionable, or improper expenses,” according to the WTVP Board of Directors chairman Andrew Rand.
“The Executive Committee has accumulated papers and documents, letters, and financial records that provided insight into expenditures and uses of funds of WTVP that were questionable, unauthorized or improper. We believe such expenditures have been stopped,” Rand said.
While only words on a page, the minutes seemed to convey a sense of urgency regarding the matter. The board plans to use a strategic planning expert to help with the next year or so to get the station back on track.
A week later, in mid-October, nine employees were laid off as part of a staff reduction.