State Panel Approves Closure of Developmental Center
By Amanda Vinicky, with additional reporting from The Associated Press
A state board has voted to allow the closure of a central Illinois institution for the developmentally disabled.
The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board voted 6-1 on Tuesday to let the Illinois Department of Human Services close the Jacksonville Developmental Center.
The decision came after board members heard from dozens of people, including parents of residents who wanted the center to remain open.
The vote by the panel that oversees state health facilities comes as a disappointment to Republican State Representative Jim Watson, who's been fighting to keep the institution open - who sees it as Governor Pat Quinn not caring about downstate Illinois.
"I feel, like I don't know where we can turn from here," he said. "Losing that many jobs is the equivalent of the city of Chicago losing 60,000 jobs. 60,000! Can you image what the mayor and the other politicians would do if that was happening to a community in one year?"
As of Tuesday morning nearly 100 people still lived at the center. The state says it has found home for all but about a dozen of those residents.
Quinn wants to close the center and move residents into community care, including group homes and their own apartments.
The closure was set for Wednesday but has been delayed until Nov. 21.