Rauner announces $6 million partnership with Quincy for new well
A $6 million partnership between Illinois and the city of Quincy is bringing fresh water to the veterans home.
But not just the home, according to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who announced the deal at a Wednesday afternoon press conference in Quincy.
“This will be a new well and water source for the community,” Rauner said.
In the past year, the Illinois Veterans Home has been one of the most controversial topics for the governor, who stayed in the home over a weekend in January 2017 to show his dedication to addressing the Legionnaires' outbreak that has killed more than a dozen people on the site since 2015.
“The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investing $3 million of development funds with the city of Quincy, who will be authorizing and allocating the rest of the cost,” Rauner said.
The development of the well will take one year, according to Rauner, who said construction should start in the summer. He said along with Quincy, many communities are moving to groundwater rather than river water since it has the benefits of natural cooling and sand and gravel filtration, which lead to fewer bacteria in the water.
“It tends to be cleaner and safer water,” Rauner said.
But the well is just the first step to protecting veterans, according to Rauner, who also used the conference to push forth three bills that he said must pass the General Assembly to truly address the veterans.
“There are three pieces of legislation pending in the General Assembly, and I hope all of the media here and you here in Adams County will join me in encouraging the General Assembly to move swiftly,” Rauner said.
The first bill, the $230 capital development appropriation, must happen sooner than later, Rauner said.
“So we can begin building a world-class facility at the veterans home campus,” Rauner said.
And it’s not just about the water, he said. It is also about the site meeting the needs of veterans now and in the future.
“The health needs of our veterans has changed, and we need to change with the times, so we need that bill to pass,” Rauner said.
Waiting will run the risk of losing key federal funds to make it happen, he added.
“That bill should have been sent to my desk already,” Rauner said.
The second and third bills allow access to federal funds and design-build, he said, to save money and save time.
All politics aside, Rauner said both parties have agreed veterans’ needs come first.
“We are calling on the General Assembly to get those three bills passed and get them on my desk, and I will sign them immediately,” Rauner said.
Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore said the well is already saving $600,000 this fiscal year due to planned rehab on the older system now not taking place.
But it gets better, according to the mayor.
“It allows us an opportunity to incorporate that property into a future riverfront development, which was recently identified as a key strategy in our Quincy Next Strategy Plan,” Moore said.
But bottom line, it’s all about safety, he added.
“It provides Quincy with a safer water supply that is easier to treat, less expensive to operate,” Moore said.
EPA Director Alec Messina said the well is yet another commitment Rauner has made to keep veterans safe.
“It’s really all coming together,” Messina said, adding he looks forward to working with Moore in the next year.
Rauner concluded the conference saying if members of the General Assembly wanted to, they could get their end taken care of today or tomorrow.
“I will sign it and then we can let the federal government know we are underway,” Rauner said.