County board revisits senior services issues

<p class="p1">Funding for programs which serve senior citizens was revisited at last week's regular meeting of the Union County Board of Commissioners.</p><p class="p1">The meeting was Friday morning at the Union County Courthouse in Jonesboro. A large crowd was on hand for the session.</p><p class="p1">The focus of discussion was on the allocation of funding generated by a tax which is levied in Union County to help support services provided to senior citizens. Last year, the levy totaled just over $19,000.</p><p class="p1">Among those attending Friday morning's county board meeting were Gail Johnston, the program manager for the Egyptian Area Agency on Aging Inc., EAAA, and Dea Ann Crown, the executive director of the Southern Pride program.</p><p class="p1">EAAA is an umbrella organization which serves Southern Illinois senior citizens with a variety of programs.</p><p class="p1">Southern Pride provides meal programs and other services for senior citizens in five area counties, including Union County.</p><p class="p1">One of the programs overseen by Southern Pride is located at the Sunshine Inn in Anna. The Sunshine Inn operates in a former church building along North Main Street.</p><p class="p1">The Sunshine Inn provides on-site and home-delivered meals for senior citizens in Union County. </p><p class="p1">The county has allocated funding generated by the senior services tax levy for the operation of the Sunshine Inn. However, the continued allocation of the funds has been a source of ongoing contention. </p><p class="p1">County officials have contended that Southern Pride has not provided detailed information regarding utilization of the funds. The county officials have repeatedly stated that they want to ensure that the funds are being utilized to benefit the senior citizens of Union County. </p><p class="p1">Southern Pride has contended that it has provided the information which the county has been seeking.</p><p class="p1">EAAA's Johnston asked the county board to reconsider how the funds are allocated. </p><p class="p1">County board chairman Richard Cunningham reiterated the commissioners' view that they wanted a complete accounting of how the funds are utilized in Union County.</p><p class="p1">The county has allocated some of the senior services referendum funding to the Shawnee Development Council. The agency uses the funds to support a food pantry program which is designed to help low-income senior citizens. </p><p class="p1">After lengthy discussion, those involved with the issue agreed to meet and seek a resolution to the situation. County commissioner Bobby Toler Jr. said he would be willing to meet with seniors about the matter.</p><p class="p1">"The last thing that we want is for any senior to not get help who needs it," Cunningham said.</p><p class="p1">"If our hearts are in the right place to help the seniors of Union County," then an agreement can be reached, EAAA's Johnston said.</p><p class="p2"> </p><p class="p2"> </p><p class="p2"> </p>

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