Report shows disparities between counties along Illinois River

Local News
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The Illinois River is known for separating two counties here in Central Illinois. 

Recent findings show that Peoria and Tazewell Counties may be close in distance, but they’re far apart when it comes to health.

US News and World Report shows health disparities between the two counties vary.

In Peoria’s South Side and East Bluff, the report says the basics of a healthy lifestyle like fresh food, basic health knowledge and more aren’t being met. 

In East Peoria, a work out facility, grocery stores and plenty of sit down restaurants are available.

“Scientists have found that the condition in which we live, learn, work and play have an enormous impact on our health, long before we ever see a doctor,” says Katy Endress, Peoria County Health Department. “So it’s time we expand the way we think about health to include how to keep it and not just how to get it back.”

These disparities between two neighboring counties aren’t just noticed by health officials.

Being out Thursday, really allowed WMBD to see these differences first hand and after speaking with many people, the consensus is clear- the difference between the levee district and the warehouse district is like night and day.

“I feel like Tazewell Co. is relating to the younger generations,” says Mary Miller. “There’s a lot more restaurants. There’s lower taxes, property taxes. There’s more things to do.” 

“I think there’s a lot of violence going on [in Peoria Co.] because they don’t have a lot of programs for the kids to keep their minds off the streets and stuff,” says Blake Johnson. 

“I just feel like Peoria’s kind of a dying city where drugs and gangs and violence are taking over everything,” says Miller.  

It’s a comparison that has been made countless times. Two counties divided by the Illinois River. 

“We are naturally working with each other,” says councilwoman Denise Moore. “It may not always be seen in the public eye but all that is happened behind-the-scenes already.”

“We have great schools throughout Tazewell County, and I think young parents are really looking for a place where crime is low, and they can get a good education in the process and then there are things to do,” says Dave Zimmerman, Tazewell Co. board chairman.  

Tazewell and Peoria Counties alike battled a crisis with synthetic cannabinoids.

Both deal with obesity, poverty and violence. 

“Nobody wants to live in city where it’s not safe anymore,” says Miller.

“I ain’t really been to Tazewell County a lot,” says Johnson. “I know I gotta lot of love for Peoria County.” 

Despite these differences, county leaders agree “that river is not a dividing line,” says Zimmerman. “It’s just something that we have in common and we really work together there.” 

“We are separate areas, of course, and when you have separate areas, you have separate needs and wants,” says Moore. “At the end of the day we are one community, we are one region, and together is how we’re going to succeed.”

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