Demetra Tsimiligras for Circuit Judge

With State Owing $1.5 Million, Pioneer Center “in Crisis”

A press release from Pioneer Center:

Pioneer Center in Crisis, Loss of Services Expected

Due to the state budget crisis and continued insufficient program funding, Pioneer Center for Human Services has announced it can no longer sustain the scope of services it provides today throughout McHenry County.

This plea is posting on the Pioneer Center web site.

This plea is posting on the Pioneer Center web site.

The agency must raise at least $400,000 immediately or be faced with the very real possibility of shutting its doors in the coming weeks.

Currently, the organization is evaluating aggressive program cuts and transfers of services to partner agencies to extend its ability to stay in business during this financial crisis.

The impact of the budget impasse has already been felt by several programs at Pioneer Center.

  • As of February 15, 2016, the agency’s Wheeler Group Home and Madison Group Home clients will be merged and the Madison Group Home will close.
  • As of March 2, Traumatic Brain Injury Services will be transitioning to the Epilepsy Foundation of North Central Illinois. As of March 18, adult psychiatric services will close and over 1,200 people will need to find other providers.

With each programmatic change or closure the agency has administered staff reductions.

At this critical stage, Pioneer Center is seeking partner agencies to discuss the viability of transferring programs to ensure that clients continue to receive the care they need.

Currently, the organization is working with the McHenry County Mental Health Board, the Illinois Department of Human Services and additional social service providers to ensure that client care remains top priority.

With the State of Illinois in crisis since July 1, 2015, the lack of a state budget has had a crippling effect on Pioneer Center. Approximately 78% of the agency’s funding comes from government entities.

And, because of the budget impasse only a small portion of that revenue has been paid, oftentimes delayed.

As of February 11, the State of Illinois owes Pioneer Center over $1.5 million for services provided.

Programs such as respite care, group homes, at-risk youth mental health services and homeless services are a part of the budget impasse. In many cases, this means Pioneer Center has been providing services to thousands of people for many months with little or no payment.

To date, the agency has attempted to absorb the financial blow as gracefully as it can but programs and clients are now affected.

At the beginning of the impasse, the agency looked internally at financial efficiencies and operating costs attempting to trim expenses and streamline processes. Their investigation led to the discovery that the billing and claims process was dysfunctional and allowing a high percentage of claims to be rejected and not followed up on.

Over the course of several months, the agency introduced a revenue cycle management team with a focus on retrieving those rejected claims and the funds associated with them. In addition, the agency instituted several best practices typical in a health care service environment that would enable it to quickly and effectively receive payments.

Pioneer Center made as many adjustments and expenditure cuts as it could—cutting its operating budget by over $2 million. These cuts included reductions in staff levels, decreases in staff benefits, a freeze on back filling vacated staff positions and more.

Unfortunately, with the complete stoppage of payment from the state for many programs and delayed payments for others…the agency just isn’t able to wait for those cuts to have their effect on the bottom line.

“Due to the continued budget impasse and unsuccessful efforts in securing adequate funding of key programs, we can no longer win this fight on our own. We are at the mercy of the community and the other agencies in McHenry County to help us through this crisis,” said Mike Moushey, Pioneer Center Board Chairman.

To help raise the funds so desperately needed, Pioneer Center has created www.SavePioneer.org which contains information about the agency’s struggles and a simple and easy way to make a donation to the campaign. Donations can also be sent to Pioneer Center for Human Services, 4100 Veterans Parkway, McHenry, IL 60050. Questions can be directed to Marilou Niggemann, Interim Director of Development, at 815.759.7128 or [email protected]

Realtors Give Carolyn Schofield $10,000

Carolyn Schofield

Carolyn Schofield

McHenry County Board member Carolyn Schofield has not been a candidate getting big contributions.

Last Tuesday, however, she reported receiving $10,000 from the REALTOR Political Action Committee.

Although Schofield held a fundraiser on February 3rd, no contributions $1,000 or more other than the $10,000 has been reported to the State Board of Elections since then.

Casey Urlacher Uses Brother and Donkey in First Mailing

There are three candidates running for the Republican nomination to replace State Senator Dan Duffy.

Here is the first mailing from Casey Urlacher, the Village President of Mettawa.

It features his brother, Briar Urlacher.

Casey Urlacher, running for Dan Duffy's seat, is seen running with his brother Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher, on the address side of his first mailing.

Casey Urlacher, running for Dan Duffy’s seat, is seen running with his brother Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher, on the address side of his first mailing.

First time I have seen a candidate use a live donkey in a campaign piece.

First time I have seen a candidate use a live donkey in a campaign piece.

Skillicorn Economic Growth Mailing

Here’s a post card devoted to tying State Rep. candidate Allen Skillicorn to support of economic growth.

A gravel pit, a bakery and construction are emphasized on the address side of this piece.

The small print talks about Workers’ Comp law that needs repealing.

This piece aims at superficial readers who focus on the need for more jobs and businessmen who think Workers Comp costs are too high.

This piece aims at superficial readers who focus on the need for more jobs and businessmen who think Workers Comp costs are too high.

The back has a picture of a warehouse, which Skillicorn wants more of.

Allen Skillicorn touts his former membership on the Northern Kane County Chamber of Commerce on this side.

Allen Skillicorn touts his former membership on the Northern Kane County Chamber of Commerce on this side.

Bernie Sanders Fans Feel the Chill

As I have written previously, I have seen no Democratic Party presidential activity in McHenry County, except for Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders supporters could have used some "burn" to protect them from the wind chill as they held up signs supporting their candidate.

Bernie Sanders supporters could have used some “burn” to protect them from the wind chill as they held up signs supporting their candidate.

Tonight, as I was driving to Outback Steakhouse, I saw Sanders’ signs at the corner of Route 14 and Virginia Street Road.

I asked that the banner be held up so I could get a photo. The wind was blowing so hard that fulfilling my request was difficult.

I asked that the banner be held up so I could get a photo. The wind was blowing so hard that fulfilling my request was difficult.

The wind was really blowing, so those holding the signs were really making a sacrifice.

Kids were out supporting their parents' candidate for President, Bernie Sanders.

Kids were out supporting their parents’ candidate for President, Bernie Sanders.  “End the Greed.  Spread the Love.  Feel the burn,” reads one girl’s poster.

And, as I have observed for a very long time, intensity counts.

There is no indication of any support for Hillary Clinton for President locally, unless you want to count State Rep. Jack Franks being a Clinton Delegate candidate.

Patrick Kenneally for State's Attorney

Carolyn Schofield Endorsed by Teachers Union

The Illinois Education Association, the teachers union that represents most, if not all, of the school districts’ teachers in retiring State Rep. Mike Tryon’s district, has endorsed McHenry County Board member Carolyn Schofield.

You can see the mailing from the IEA’s Political Action Committee–IPACE–below:

The endorsement of Carolyn Schofield by the largest teachers' union in Illinois.

The endorsement of Carolyn Schofield by the largest teachers’ union in Illinois.