QUINCY (WGEM) — Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker was in Quincy Thursday to tour the Illinois Veterans’ Home.
Pritzker said he wanted to show his commitment to fixing the home in Quincy and keeping it here.
He got a firsthand look at the facility and discussed the work underway since the deadly Legionnaires’ disease crisis.
This comes on the heels of U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth’s conversation with Pritzker’s administration two days ago.
Pritzker also said he would work with the federal government to appropriate funds for the project. The goal is to prevent legionnaires disease, which has killed 14 residents and sickened 66 others since 2015.
Pritzker said he’s glad to see the recent renovations at Hammond Hall are giving veterans a safe place to stay while the current home is being renovated. He aims to expedite work on the rest of the veterans home, to get veterans in their permanent home as soon as possible.
“I met with federal elected officials in Washington, Republicans and Democrats very recently, we talked about the Quincy Veterans’ Home, I’ve been very focused on making sure we get that federal match, we can’t do this without the feds,” said Governor Pritzker, adding that one of the reasons for his visit Thursday is to expedite the work to improve and replace facilities at the home.
He said with a plan in place, they can draw up legislation to get federal assistance with the project.
“We’ll make sure that there’s an appropriation at the state level for 35% of that cost which is what the state’s responsibility is, and then the feds will match that with 65% of the funding,” said Pritzker.
People who live and work here at the veterans home say they appreciate the show of support from the governor
“What I heard today was commitment, he is committed to follow through with what’s already been started, and so we are excited that we can continue on with the plans that are being made,” said Veteran’s Home Administrator Troy Culbertson.
Culbertson said he’s pleased to see Pritzker pushing the project forward.
Veterans’ home resident Alfred Griffin served in the army during the 50’s. He’s glad the governor is pushing for what the project needs most– funds– so that veterans like him are properly cared for.
“Some buildings need to be torn down and rebuilt, and you know they do as well as they can with the funds they get, so basically what they need here is just some more funds allocated,” said Griffin.
Something Pritzker said he’s confident he’ll be able to deliver.
“Frankly I’m very impressed at whats going on, both on the campus serving our veterans, and also the way the transition is taking place, beginning to move veterans to the Hammond facility, and getting ready for the construction that we’re going to get to very shortly,” said Pritzker.
Pritzker didn’t say exactly when the state money would be approved, he just said shortly. He’s also hoping the federal government will approve a design/build plan, which officials say could cut up to two years off the project.
Culbertson said more demolition is expected later this year at the vets home, and before construction can begin in 2020, upgrades need to be made to the power system to accommodate the new facility.
Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Officials said the project will cost around 230 million dollars.