Peoria’s “Don’t Shoot” program received national exposure Monday from one of the top newspapers in the nation—USA Today. Mayor Jim Ardis invited Simantel owners Susie Ketterer and Maggie Whalen to take part in the reporter’s interview because of their longstanding support and help with the campaign.

The article titled, “We’ve Got This,” focuses on four communities in four Midwest states that have come up with innovative solutions to combat a serious community issue. What makes them all similar is they applied for state or federal aid to help fund their program, but unfortunately were denied. Even so, community leaders and residents banded together and forged ahead, finding alternative sources of support.

In Peoria, the group leading the effort to implement “Don’t Shoot,” a focused deterrence strategy that aims to reduce gun violence, turned to local businesses and individuals for assistance. It was too important of a program—one that could reduce gun crimes and save lives—for the Mayor, law enforcement and the community to walk away from simply because it lacked financial backing.

Simantel is proud to be one of more than 30 sponsors and supporters that stepped up to make this program a reality. All of us working together have made a positive impact on the community.

The news story is available online now. The printed version hit newsstands Feb. 19. Make sure to pick up a copy or go to to learn more about this very worthwhile program because it’s working—and here to stay.