Back in December, the Illinois Department of Human Services announced its desire to relocate 25 of its offices throughout the state to more centralized locations.
Boone County's public aid office was on that list, but the office will remain open.
"Boone County's public aid office will remain open."
A round of applause erupted with the uttering of those words. It's been a tough battle, but Rep. Ron Wait says they have prevailed.
"We put on a full court press. Everybody worked together, city and county," says State Rep. Ron Wait.
Back in December, local leaders and concerned citizens spoke out about the potential closing of Boone County's public aid office; 4,700 Boone County clients would be forced to make their way to Rockford's westside for service, a request that Rep. Wait says would be nearly impossible considering most of the clients don't have cars.
"All they were going to save was $35-$40,000. That's the cost of one case worker, and for $35,000 in savings, for the hardship it's going to place on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, to send them to the westside of Rockford, when I found a lot of these people don't have cars, telephones, I mean, they ride their bikes or walk currently to the Belvidere office. It just absolutely makes no sense for those few dollars of savings," says Wait.
Two weeks ago, Belvidere Mayor Fred Brereton and public aid recipient Dylan Drey met with Secretary of Public Aid Carol Adams in Springfield.
"We presented our case, presented governor with 2,700 signatures when he was at the Chrysler plant, and I told him you brought some good news to Chrysler, now let's give it a one-two punch and keep this office open," says Wait.
The state of Illinois threw that punch, bringing a victorious cheer to the public aid recipients in Boone County.
Department of Human Services spokesperson Tom Green confirmed that 23 public aid offices around the state have been closed, including the Dixon office. The Boone County office was the only facility on the list that is remaining open.