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Republicans at odds over LDC's future

Republicans at odds over LDC's future

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SPRINGFIELD - Republicans who represent parts of Logan County are sniping over what to do with the former Lincoln Developmental Center.

In a press conference Tuesday, state Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, and state Rep. Rich Brauer, R-Petersburg, said the vacant facility should not be used solely to care for veterans.

That runs counter to a proposal by state Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, who wanted the site to be used as a treatment center for veterans with Alzheimer's disease.

The indecision is the latest twist in the four-year struggle to resurrect LDC. Earlier this year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced he would not fund the partial reopening of the facility this year.

Mitchell suggested four, new 10-bed homes at the site be used for veterans and Blagojevich said the idea was worth considering.

But, Bomke - long an advocate for families who want their children to return to the Lincoln institution - said Mitchell should have discussed his proposal with him.

"I'm disappointed that he did not contact myself or Representative Brauer since we represent the area," said Bomke.

Bomke also chided Mitchell for not attending any meetings of a task force that was formed four years ago to determine what to do with the center.

But, the senator added, "I'm not here to impugn Representative Mitchell."

Bomke wants the governor to reopen a downsized version of LDC, which once was Lincoln's largest employer. He said other areas could be used to care for veterans, but only after other veterans' homes in Illinois are filled.

"It is wrong to put the legitimate needs of two groups against each other," Bomke said, who was joined in support by a representative of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Mitchell wouldn't respond directly to Bomke's criticism and added he is sticking with his proposal.

"I'm still looking forward to working with the governor on this," said Mitchell.

Januari Smith, a spokesman for the Blagojevich administration, said officials are "actively" investigating the use of LDC as a treatment center for veterans.

But, Smith said, "Nothing has been decided. We're still weighing our options on what to do."


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