ManarMapleStPresserGILLESPIE – Decimated funding for addiction treatment, public health, job training and affordable housing perpetuate the cycle of despair in rural Illinois that leads to problems like the opioid abuse epidemic that plagues Macoupin County and areas of the state, Senator Andy Manar said Wednesday.

“I fear that this cycle of despair is exactly what’s happening right now in too many parts of Illinois. We will not solve this problem by spending less on it,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and chairman of one of the Senate’s two appropriations committees.

“I will not vote for any state budget that cuts addiction treatment and prevention services under any circumstance, because I see the effects of that kind of short-sighted decision-making every day in the community where I live.”

Manar was joined in Gillespie Wednesday by Macoupin County officials, local police chiefs and mayors, drug addiction experts and others to discuss the effects of the state budget stalemate on the opioid abuse epidemic in the county.

The group urged area residents to participate in an April 29 drug takeback event at four pharmacies in the southern part of the county to responsibly rid homes of unwanted prescription medications that can fuel drug abuse and, later, heroin addiction.

“Anyone who can take their unused prescription drugs to this event – and anytime to the local police department – you’re saving lives,” said Angela Weidner, chief operating officer of the Maple Street Clinic in Gillespie. “That’s what this is about: saving lives and stopping a population of orphans, because that’s where we’re headed.”

Eleven people died of drug overdoses in 2016 in Macoupin County, largely because of opioids and heroin, according to figures from the county coroner. In 2015, there were six fatal drug overdoses.

Since Jan. 1 this year, 60 percent of the controlled substance felony filings in Macoupin County have been opioid related, assistant state’s attorney Jordan Garrison said Wednesday.

And Macoupin County Sheriff Shawn Kahl and other law enforcement officials have said burglaries and thefts are up in the county largely because of addicts in search of their next fix, no matter the cost.

Statistics like these play out in rural communities throughout Illinois. Yet, the governor does not consider addiction treatment and prevention programs a budget priority, Manar said. The governor’s budget shows a cut of $14 million for non-Medicaid addiction treatment services in his proposed budget for FY18 ($38.6 million) when compared to FY15 ($52.6 million).

In addition, delayed payments to addiction treatment centers in rural parts of Illinois, such as the Wells Center in Jacksonville, have pushed them to the brink of closure.

Weidner offered examples of how these misplaced priorities currently are affecting two families at her clinic:

  • An addicted mother lost her children to state custody. She has been on a wait list for inpatient rehab for three months. Weidner said she has begged every rehab in the state to accept the woman, but none will do so because she is on Medicaid.
  • An addicted father recently lost custody of his daughter. The girl’s mother is in prison. Medicaid recently changed a rule so that it no longer will pay for men to go to inpatient rehab.

“We have all these people who need help and want help, and there’s no worse feeling in the world than to say no,” Weidner said, adding that there are additional hurdles for patients in rural areas once they are able to get healthy, including barriers to employment and affordable housing.

To try to deter more addictions, Manar and Macoupin County officials are urging local residents to empty their homes of unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications. It won’t solve the epidemic but it’s a meaningful step everyone can take to help, Manar said.

“Prescriptions and other medicines typically aren’t locked up in our homes. So if you have someone coming over to visit or your children have their friends over, these things are ripe for the taking, either to fuel addiction or to be sold to somebody else,” Manar said. “And we know that addiction to pain killers leads to heroin addiction. So what can the average person do to combat that? They can clean out their medicine cabinets.”

Drug takeback event in Macoupin County: 9 a.m. until noon Saturday, April 29. Free and available to the public. Drop off unwanted medication at these four sites:

  • Sullivan’s Pharmacy, 101 E. Main St., Staunton
  • Michelle’s Pharmacy, 494 West Side Square, Carlinville
  • Michelle’s Pharmacy, 120 S. Macoupin St., Gillespie
  • Michelle’s Pharmacy, 809 S. Franklin St., Bunker Hill

Click here for more information about the event.

In addition, unwanted medication can be disposed of throughout the year at the Macoupin County Sheriff’s Office, 215 S. East St., Carlinville. A drop box is available in the lobby 24 hours a day. The Staunton and Gillespie police departments also have drop boxes.

For more information about the Macoupin County Anti-Meth Coalition, visit its Facebook page.

(Photo caption: State Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat, speaks during an April 19, 2017, news conference about the opioid abuse epidemic in Macoupin County and about how state budget cuts to human services under Gov. Bruce Rauner have affected rural Illinois' ability to battle the crisis. Joining Manar at the Maple Street Clinic in Gillespie are (from left to right): Macoupin County Sheriff Shawn Kahl; Angela Weidner, chief oeprating officer and director of nursing at the Maple Street Clinic; Macoupin County Assistant State's Attorney Jordan Garrison; Paula Campbell from the Illinois Primary Health Care Association and the Macoupin County Anti-Meth Coalition; and Staunton Police Chief Jeff Doerr.)

Category: Latest News

Effort is meant to raise awareness of opioid and prescription drug abuse in Macoupin County


MedicineCabinetBUNKER HILL — Macoupin County residents will be able to dispose of unwanted medications during a drug takeback event at four locations throughout the county on Saturday, April 29.

With opioid, heroin and prescription drug abuse on the rise throughout Illinois, including in rural areas like Macoupin County, it is important that people responsibly dispose of expired, unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications, public health and law enforcement authorities warn.

Studies show that most teenagers who abuse prescription drugs get them from home medicine cabinets. Prescription drug addiction leads to increased heroin use.

The Macoupin County drug takeback is scheduled for 9 a.m. until noon on April 29. It will occur simultaneously at four locations throughout the county:

  • Sullivan’s Pharmacy, 101 E. Main St., Staunton
  • Michelle’s Pharmacy, 494 West Side Square, Carlinville
  • Michelle’s Pharmacy, 120 S. Macoupin St., Gillespie
  • Michelle’s Pharmacy, 809 S. Franklin St., Bunker Hill

The event is free and open to the public. Area residents are welcome to drop off unwanted medications at any of the four sites.

Items that will be accepted include:

  • Prescription and over-the-counter drugs from individuals and households
  • Schedule II-V controlled drugs
  • Prescription waste
  • Transdermal patches
  • Liquids and ointments
  • Items containing sodium bicarbonate or effervescent compounds that must be dissolved first with water

Items that will not be accepted:

  • Hazardous materials
  • Hazardous pharmaceuticals
  • Medical waste / infectious waste
  • Sharps, needles, syringes
  • Drugs or waste from hospitals and health facilities
  • Radioactive items
  • Ignitable materials
  • Aerosols

The drug takeback event is being organized by Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill with the help of Michelle’s Pharmacy and Sullivan’s Pharmacy. Co-sponsors include Macoupin County Sheriff Shawn Kahl; Macoupin County State’s Attorney Jennifer Watson; the Macoupin County Public Health Department; the Bunker Hill, Carlinville, Gillespie and Staunton police departments; and the Macoupin County Anti-Meth Coalition.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has designated April 29, 2017, as National Prescription Drug Takeback Day in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of disposing of unwanted prescription medication and educating people about prescription drug abuse.

Category: Latest News

10192016ManarEthicsLegBipartisan legislation that would allow 124 Illinois prison nurses to breathe a sigh of relief about their future landed on the governor’s desk today, and two central Illinois senators who sponsored the measure are urging him to rethink his position on privatizing prison jobs.

“There is no evidence that outsourcing these jobs, as Gov. Rauner proposed, will save money. You can’t just look at one side of the ledger and claim you’re driving a bargain for taxpayers,” said Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and a sponsor of Senate Bill 19, which would protect the jobs of 322 state employees who work for the Illinois Department of Corrections as nurses, medical technicians and mental health professionals.

“This is especially true when you look at the cost of mismanagement in the prisons, at the cost of unemployment that comes from outsourcing, and the local economic cost of people earning lower wages when Gov. Rauner forces them to re-apply for their jobs with a private company, as he has proposed in the name of ‘savings.’”

Gov. Rauner in March announced he intends to lay off 124 unionized nurses employed by the Illinois Department of Corrections at 12 prisons around the state and outsource their positions to Wexford Health Sources, a Pennsylvania company. The layoffs would be effective June 15.

Senate Bill 19 would stop Rauner from proceeding with the plan. The Senate approved the legislation on March 29, and the House approved it Thursday.

“These health care professionals work in a dangerous environment and deserve far better than being laid off and forced to compete for their old jobs at lower pay. Let’s respect our workers and treat them fairly. That’s what this legislation does, and that’s why it won bipartisan support in both the House and Senate,” said State Senator Sam McCann, a Plainview Republican who sponsored the legislation.

“There is no reason we should be sending taxpayer money out of state when we can put it in the pockets of hard-working Illinois residents who live, work and pay taxes in the Land of Lincoln.”

Wexford currently has a 10-year, $1.4 billion contract to provide medical services in all Illinois prisons. The corporation has been sharply criticized for providing insufficient or improper medical care to inmates.

Category: Latest News

Manar04042017Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and a leading advocate for reforming Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation school funding formula, issued the following statement today regarding a lawsuit filed against the state by 17 school districts seeking fair and adequate school funding:

“It should surprise no one that educators across Illinois are fed up with being shortchanged by Illinois’ broken school funding system. Right now, all they hear is lip service from the governor, who refuses to advance legislation to fix it.

“I wish them luck as they seek to force Gov. Rauner and the Illinois State Board of Education to implement, once and for all, a fair formula that offers every Illinois student the same high-quality educational opportunities, regardless of their ZIP codes.”

“After years of study and debate in Springfield about how best to fix Illinois’ broken school funding formula – producing stacks of reports and legislation but no actual change because of political and regional disagreements – desperate school districts in communities like Bunker Hill, Pana and Taylorville now see the courts as their only hope for fairness and relief.”

The lawsuit against the State of Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois State Board of Education is being filed in St. Clair County. The 17 school districts that are plaintiffs in the lawsuit comprise about 25,000 students, half of which qualify as low income. The districts are:

  • Bethalto CUSD #8
  • Bond County CUSD #2
  • Bunker Hill CUSD #8
  • Cahokia CUSD #187
  • Carlinville CUSD #1
  • Gillespie CUSD #7
  • Grant CCSD #110
  • Illinois Valley Central CUSD #321
  • Mount Olive CUSD #5
  • Mulberry Grove CUSD #1
  • Nokomis CUSD #22
  • Pana CUSD #8
  • Southwestern CUSD #9
  • Staunton CUSD #6
  • Taylorville CUSD #3
  • Vandalia CUSD #203
  • Wood River Hartford #15
Category: Latest News

Working Families

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