Public Aid Update

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In the middle of the state wanting to close its Boone County office of the Department of Human Services, the landlord beat them to it. Last week, a state dispute with the landlord closed the offices for two days.

On Monday a sign of relief was posted. This is just a little good news to those that have been fighting to keep Boone County's DHS office open. For the past two days a staff member had been working out of City Hall so residents wouldn't have to travel to Rockford, but Tuesday, December 28, 2004 the office will be up and running, for now.

69th District Representative Ron Wait says, "It's going to stay open through January and maybe February. We hope it stays open that long. We want it to be open permanently but at least we have a guarantee that they will pay the rent."

"They" is the State of Illinois who over the summer sent the landlord a letter stating that come December 22 they would no longer pay the rent. The state has since decided to extend the lease. That just buys more time for Representative Wait and the 4,700 clients who depend on this office to continue their fight.

Wait stated, “We've got a 54 billion dollar budget. To tell me that we can't find $35,000 to keep this office open is ludicrous."

For Wait, keeping the Boone County DHS office open is his number one priority. He was fighting the same battle and won two years ago. His weapons this time around are petitions. You can find them in eight different locations like the Belvidere City Hall. So far 500 signatures of support are heading to Springfield.

Wait is encouraging the community to sign the petition or call the governor’s office. He says, "The more phone calls and people that write would really help the cause."

The Boone County office is one of 13 facilities that the state is looking to close to save money. The DHS office will reopen Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m.