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SPRINGFIELD — The state agency that helps plan for earthquakes and other natural disasters is activating its emergency response center in conjunction with Bruce Rauner's inauguration as governor.

It's almost as if they are taking the Republican businessman's pledge to shake up Springfield literally.

Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Patti Thompson said the partial activation of the center is precautionary in nature.

"Nobody anticipates anything will happen," Thompson said.

Inaugural events for Rauner and other statewide officials begin Sunday and end Monday evening with a concert by country music star Toby Keith.

Rauner, who repeatedly said he'd shake up state government if elected, will be the first Republican in the governor's office in 12 years.

It's not the first time the center has been staffed during nonemergency events. On election night in 2008, the facility was on alert because of a massive party in Chicago's Grant Park as part of Barack Obama's presidential victory.

In that situation, there were an estimated 240,000 people gathered along Chicago's lakefront, far more than are expected in Springfield for Rauner's swearing-in ceremony.

The largest gathering for the inaugural festivities will be either his swearing-in Monday at the 7,700-capacity Prairie Capital Convention Center or the concert later that day in the same building.

Thompson said the emergency facility also was on partial activation during the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.

"Its routine for us to have some people on hand," Thompson said.

Along with emergency management personnel, officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Police are among those who will have to spend time at the center Sunday and Monday.

State police spokeswoman Monique Bond said a security plan already is in place for the events.

"Obviously there are a lot of activities going on. And, clearly, we'll be handling the law enforcement response," Bond said. "We'll have adequate law enforcement resources that will be deployed to maintain the appropriate level of security."


Public Safety Reporter

Public safety reporter for The Pantagraph.

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