Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Peoria Times Observer News Editor DeWayne Bartels

I much appreciate DeWayne's comments about me and my role in the community, both in his column and on his Editorial page. Probably pretty much me. However, I need to make a correction and add some content. My house was appraised at a fair value of $284,880 for 2007, not $200,000 as printed, up $44,000 from 2006. DeWayne will probably make a correction in next weeks edition as I don't want a deluge of people arriving with cashiers checks made out for $200,000.

As to my 5 year departed neighbor; (left town) he was the much younger man who threatened in four ways how he would remove my head from my body. When he asked me to fight him, I dropped my hands to my side. When he said if I wouldn't fight him, he would send someone up from the "SouthSide" who would remove my head. I then said, I would need an equalizer and that is the phrase that upset the Journal Star. JS reporter Andy Kravetz didn't help things by quoting the police report in error. (Mr. Kravetz later apologized) Kravetz wrote in the JS that I approached Pickett and made the death threat. The police report clearly stated that Picket approached Widmer. I had no witnesses but Picket had his live in companion so it was their words against mine. A friend of mine who worked with Pickett said Pickett told him that the JSEB said I was "combative" (so is IBM, Microsoft, Google), and he wanted to egg me in to hitting him so he could file a civil suit.

As to my comments on Bellwood, I said that Peoria County was having studies made to determine if it would be more feasible to build a new $32,000,000.00, 220 bed nursing home with an Alzheimer wing or remodel the existing building for $23,000,000.00 Either way the funding would come from the sale of 30 year long term bonds. Our capable administrator is confident that if the County continues to pay the IMRF, Social Security and FICA ($1,231,729.00 last year) for Bellwood from our General Fund, or even if the County didn't, that no additional property taxes would be required.

It is my opinion that subsidies such as above and Medicaid subsidies from our governments are seldom dependable over extended periods of time. I also note that the JSEB wrote on 3/26/03 that the voters should vote to raise the nursing home tax to 3.5 cents and that this tax would bring in $800,000.00 a year. Actually the county has raised this 3.5 cents to 5.92 cents which brought in $1,761,000.00 last year.

In a personal survey to a number of local nursing homes, found none that I talked to had waiting lists. All felt that Bellwood was competition to the private sector.

On July 17,2008 Bellwood had 255 beds out of 300 in use. 16 were Medicare, 52 private pay and 187 Medicaid. On July 22, 2004, Bellwood had 275 residents indicating that our resident population is shrinking.

The question always comes up "where would the Medicaid residents go if their were no County Home"? My answer is "the same place those in Tazewell County and 89 other counties who don't have taxpayer subsidized nursing homes". We would not close or sell Bellwood before every resident would have plenty of time to relocate to the private sector that now includes reimbursed home care as studies show that less that 2% of people actually want to go live in a nursing home.Also, Medicaid payments have been increased to nuring homes.

When comparing costs to Bellwood with the private sector, there is very little difference. I do not dispute that Bellwood seems to be running more smoothly but it has had a troubled past from being sued to being fined. It is a buiness that has been and can be extremely troublesome and subject to litigation.

I asked for a more thorough debate as to the continued need of a taxpayer funded public nursing home in Peoria County before we launch on a new administrative time consuming project. The project is not backed by any formal "needs" study. No study was made to prove the need, Bellwood has 45 empty beds which is about the monthly average. No formal estimate has been made to install required sprinkler systems although it was estimated in past years as approximately one million dollars.

This project is kind of "flying under the radar" as the remodeling or new constrution can be done without a referendum. At least one board member questioned whether Bellwood should stay in that location.

At this time no options other than remodel or rebuild is on the table.

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