By Jeff Small
Centralia, IL (KSDK) - A local mother is outraged over more than one thousand job cuts, and the closings of state facilities proposed Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
Karen Kelly said she cried when she hear the news. It was the confirmation of months of rumors. Talk about the state run facility where her son, Eric, has lived for nearly 13 years will close in 2013.
"He's done well there. Good care and good people and the only downside is that it's about an hour away so it's a long drive but we go down to see him every two to three weeks," said Karen.
Eric is autistic, and although he's 6'5" tall and weighs 250 pounds, he functions like a 3-year-old. He also stopped talking at that age, but his mother says he's now able to enjoy some things like any other person.
"We have seen some improvement in recent years. Places we couldn't go 15 years ago and we take him to Soulard Market and he loves Ted Drewes," she said.
Eric's mother is now concerned over the governor's grim economic plan that calls for dozens of facilities like the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in Centralia to be shut down, saving nearly $90 million.
The governor says the drastic measures are part of "confronting hard realities," although parents like Karen Kelly believe cuts are not the only solution.
"It's easy and politically expedient sometimes to cut services for the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled because they often don't have a voice, but I am a nurse so I am used to being a patient advocate and I'm a mom," she said.
According to a letter parents got Thursday, there will be meetings to discuss the closure plans and to outline a transition process.
Karen Kelly is using social media and other outlets, hoping to stop that process before it ever happens.