QUINCY -- Officials from the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs are asking for public feedback on how to rebuild the Illinois Veterans Home during an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 12, in Lippincott Hall on the Veterans Home campus at 12th and Locust.
Gov. Bruce Rauner has called for a multimillion-dollar master plan that will eliminate Legionella bacteria from the water system and "make this the best veterans home in America."
Architects, engineers, medical professionals and long-term care experts will help assemble the master plan, which will prepare the Quincy facility for future generations of veterans.
"This master plan will develop and improve our Veterans Home through a long-range plan that balances and harmonizes all elements," said Stephen Curda, acting director of the Department of Veterans' Affairs. "I encourage people in the community to stop by and learn more about this important work, and share their hopes, visions and thoughts about the future of the (home)."
Thursday's open house is being held as the master plan work begins, giving residents of the home and the Quincy area a chance to make their thoughts known.
A team of planners, architects, engineers, historians, communication professionals, community members and Veterans Home leadership will develop the master plan over the next few months. The team will continue to speak with residents of the home and their families and staff members while developing the plans. But the open house is seen as the first opportunity for people to make their thoughts known.
Attendees can review exhibit boards, take a survey, provide comments, and speak directly with the project team.
The Veterans Home houses about 360 residents, including residents coming from 70 of the state's 102 counties. With more than 30 buildings stretching over 210 acres, the home is a "city within a city" that boasts its own post office, assembly hall, chapel, museum and animal park.
A Legionnaires' disease outbreak sickened more than 50 residents at the home and led to 12 deaths in 2015, and the Legionella bacteria has resurfaced at the home each year since. Legionella bacteria was listed as a contributing cause of another death late last year. A water purification system costing more than $6 million was installed at the home in 2015 to address the problem.
The state also has provided the city of Quincy with a $3 million grant to cover up to half the costs of building a well system to be used as the city's water source. Well water would be less costly to treat than river water, and because of its constant temperature, Legionella and several other forms of bacteria would not be present.