OPINION: Thank you, Governor Pritzker, for keeping the Veterans Home in Quincy

GUVVETSHOME

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on a tour of the Illinois Veterans Home during construction in Jan. 2023 — Photo by J. Robert Gough

For those who haven’t watched the latest edition of Muddy River Gems by Mark McDonald and Randy Phillips, you certainly should.

The program shares the progress of the nearly $250 million construction of the new and expansive facilities at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.  This represents more than half of recent expenditures on construction at the state’s five homes for veterans.  

The Muddy River Gems program tells the story of the state-of-art construction in nursing home design.  It’s something those who have served our nation in the military rightfully deserve.  Getting inside and seeing this up close and personal as the program presents, though, really is something.  What a facility!  

Our community hasn’t been a great fan of JB Pritzker.  He knows that.  We see the “Pritzker Sucks” signs.  And let’s not forget that in Adams County his voter support just barely edged above 20 percent last election.  Pike County didn’t even reach that mark.

So if you were the governor, how would you have reacted? Yeah … me too.

Although the idea of building new facilities in Quincy came just months before Governor Pritzker took office thanks to the efforts of many of our local politicians and citizenry, it was the governor who kept it on the table and moving forward.     

We all know that the governor could have scuttled the project.  Don’t kid yourself.  To his credit, he didn’t.  He also didn’t take the suggestion of many to move the project to the Chicago area or LaSalle and Manteno where other Homes are located and, frankly, where most eligible veterans and their families are located.  That would have been the easy choice.  In addition to Quincy, the only other downstate veterans’ home is in Anna.  

Pritzker approved the investing of state resources in Quincy and our Illinois Veterans Home, which proudly dates to 1886.  It is an important economic engine in our community providing not only construction work but, ongoing, a wide range of good positions and jobs. 

“Silent gratitude isn’t much to anyone,” so said novelist Gertrude Stein.  She was right.

Even though, in today’s political climate, few are willing to offer praise for good deeds because they might disagree with numerous other policies (my views on the Illinois Estate Tax come to mind). But Governor Pritzker has earned our outspoken thanks over the Illinois Veterans Home project undertaken in Quincy.  

This is no slight to Rep. Randy Frese, Sen. Jil Tracy, former Mayor Kyle Moore, our current Mayor Mike Troup and others. They have certainly worked to ensure the facility stayed open.

But it was the governor who had the final word on it. So for that, we say thank you for your support of Quincy’s Illinois Veterans Home.

Perhaps more bipartisan projects and consensus is just what our state needs.

Oh … and no doubt Private Joe Fifer whose statue is the home’s iconic symbol would applaud your support as well though he was our state’s 19th Governor as a Republican.

And, governor, please don’t forget we still need a new bridge … and the Quincy Bay project … and the work on Ill. 57 …

Jim Rapp is a founding partner in Muddy River News LLC.

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