State senators visit county, tour Choate Center in Anna

Anna hosted a visit by two of Illinois’ newest state senators on Monday, Jan. 30. 

Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, and Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, toured the Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in Anna, where they spoke with residents, caregivers and administrators.

Schimpf represents the 58th State Senate District. Fowler represents the 59th State Senate District. Union County is in both districts; U.S. Route 51 serves as an approximate dividing line between the two districts.

Neither of the freshman lawmakers had been to the facility previously, but both welcomed the opportunity, and state how important Choate is to the area. The facility is home to some 550 jobs. 

The legislators spent about two hours at the facility. Fowler said he found the visit to be “very informative.”

Fowler noted that the campus requires a lot of maintenance due to wear and tear of the buildings. 

The two were led by provider relations manager Bryant Davis through several of Choate’s buildings. Davis shared with them that the demand for the facility’s services is increasing.

Schimpf said they talked with the caregivers and patients. He said the residents seemed happy, but they need to have a sense of stability “and to feel safe and secure that this is their home.” 

Fowler added that “our job is to get them resources.”

Focusing on the future of the center, which often surfaces as a concern for the area, Schimpf said “there’s a demand” for Choate’s services. Schimpf said he anticipates that Choate will remain open.

Regarding Illinois’ ongoing budget crisis, the senators said that “terms seem to be changing on an almost daily basis,” but that they are optimistic that they might be able to link the budget with reforms.

The legislators agreed that it is critical for Illinois to have a balanced budget, but that goal can’t be achieved on the backs of the people of the state.

Both would like to see Illinois become more economically competitive.

Schimpf said that the discussions also need to focus on “meaningful reform.”

Both Fowler and Schimpf have been busy on the job since being sworn in on Jan. 11, and “the pace picks up every day.”

Schimpf said that he was surprised at the “pace of the budget compromise. It’s a challenge to get up to speed on all of the provisions.”

Fowler said “we’ve come in at a very unique time.”

Schimpf planned a stop at Kiki’s Coffeehouse in Anna to meet informally with some Union County Republicans. 

Both said they hope to make time for many informal stops.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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