Parents of developmentally disabled children who live at the state institution in Jacksonville continue to raise concerns about the Governor’s plans to close it. Advocates organized a media tour in an attempt to show why that would be a mistake. Amanda Vinicky was there and has this report.
Ellie Voth lived in a group home once before, for nine months.
“It was hell,” Ellie’s mom, Janet Anderson of Quincy, said.
“(Ellie has) got behavior problems, she’s OCD, she’s incontinent, and they don’t know how to handle it, they’re not trained,” Anderson said of the workers.
Anderson says she doesn’t want Ellie to go through that again. Ellie, who’s 30, has lived at the Jacksonville Developmental Center for the past dozen years and her mom says it’s “home.”
Ellie has her own bedroom, outfitted with a Disney princesses bedspread … and pictures of her brother and baby nephew, Tyson, hanging on the wall.
“I like Tyson, he’s cute,” Ellie said with a smile.
The Quinn administration wants to close Jacksonville and move residents to what it calls “community settings”.
The governor’s office had another parent, Susan Barnhart, ready via conference call to share with the media how that setup that worked for her son, Bryan. She says his behavior problems stopped since he began living alone in Canton, with 24-7 support from staff.
“Now he’s very much a contributing member of the community,and the community is accepting the gift,” Barnhart said.
Quinn also wants to close the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia.
The Quinn administration cited Jacksonville’s age and physical condition as the main reasons it was chosen as the first of the state’s centers for the developmentally disabled to close.
The governor a major culprit is the “inefficient coal plant”used to generate heat and electricity for the campus.
Stationary engineer David Jensen of Murrayville admits maintenance is needed, but says it’s not past the point of repair. He says he’s scared that by fall he’ll be out of work.
“I have a family to support just like everyone else, I have a son in college. I don’t want to see it close. I want to keep on going. I have 25 years invested in this place, I’d like to keep going,” Jensen said.
There’s also a ripple effect to consider, as the plant burns Illinois coal from the Viper Mine, near Williamsville.
The Quinn administration says it took economic impact into consideration when making its choices.
It says the Jacksonville campus is the oldest, and most expensive, to operate … and its closure will save $11.7 million a year.