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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Small Town Dying

If you watched the Super Bowl this year you might have caught an outstanding commercial by Dodge. featuring Clint Eastwood it captured the desolation felt around America in the present economy. The tag line was: Its halftime America. Unfortunately, for a small town in Southern Illinois it is a lot closer to the end of the game. 

           Ten years ago the major car factories in Centralia Illinois closed their doors, sending hundreds to the unemployment line. Many moved, those who remained, chose to adapt and overcome. They completed degree training in fields of employment left in this area. Mainly,the Healthcare Industry. The largest employers remaining in this area are a place called Warren G Murray Center a home for developmentally disabled, the hospital St.Mary's Good Sam, the local prison Centralia Correctional Center,various nursing homes, the school system, and three remaining factories specializing in food, plastics, and metal. This area is poor to say the least. With a population of 13,032 according to the 2010 census. The average median income is approximately $31,000. Every other house on any given street displays a for sale sign. Vacant businesses mark every city block.

 The Governor of Illinois has decided it is in the best fiscal interest of the state to close Murray's Center. In an area where the hold outs have overcome, filled with rich history, and endless possibilities the mighty hand of politics has decided to challenge hundreds of families again, with unemployment. Why? Because the state has a looming deficit it is struggling to overcome. Yet the Governor's salary is $179,000 while the Lieutenant Governor is being paid $137,000. Two prior state Governors now sit behind bars on charges of corruption. The great Governor Pat Quinn has decided to fix the budget by eliminating jobs instead of wanton waste. 

So the town screams for someone, somewhere to help. Not just for the families of the town, but for the resident's of the facility.What is to become of them if Murray's Center is closed? Approximately 328 people with developmental issues, unable to function in standard society will be in need of housing, food, 24 hour care. Where will they find the services they need? Do we mainstream them into Nursing Homes where the average age is above 60 when the residents of this facility are much younger? What of the education, training, and rehabilitative services they would loose? What of their quality of life?

It would be pretentious of me to suggest I have all the answers. Instead I leave you with many suggestions, and a few questions. How much money would the state save if we didn't pay our elected officials at all? To speak for the people you should be required to live like them. Governor Quinn I challenge you to work next to the people whom you would make unemployed. Look them in the eyes. Care for the people you would deprive care. Look them in the eyes. Then explain to them why you have to make no sacrifice, yet they must give everything. Open up the doors of the Gubernatorial Mansion to house the developmentally disabled.
Our taxes foot the bill there so we can just combine to save money right. Walk the streets of Southern Illinois. Then go on back up to your comfy home and sleep in your warm bed while the people you passed during the day try to figure out how to feed their children.


Do Changes need to be made? Hell Yeah! Let's start with the people who speak for us! Give us someone with a history in the medical field; they know where cuts can be handled. Give us someone who will speak because they believe not because they are being paid! Their voice will carry the loudest. Fix the problems we have by building not breaking.  Spread this, let the voice of small town USA be heard!
R.M.Brandon 2012

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