CENTRALIA - Despite a federal judge's declaration that Centralia's Murray Center could close, residents' family members have time to consider options because the closure is on hold, officials told The Southern this weekend.
"We will have more information in the coming weeks and will continue to be in constant communication with all parties involved," said Department of Human Services spokeswoman Januari Smith. "This will be a long process and the focus right now is on re-starting discussions with parents about all the living options that are available."
The judge also said in his ruling that the state developmental center must work with the residents' family members to obtain a workable setting for all involved. That's given the family members some room to breathe before they are forced to consider alternatives.
"They can't just haul people away in buses like they did when they closed the center in Jacksonville," Rita Winkeler, Murray Parents Association head, told The Southern. "It's going to be our decision, not theirs."
One choice is to appeal the federal decision and pursue keeping the taxpayer-funded facility open for the developmentally-disabled residents that family members deem are best cared for in institutional settings.
The issue of Murray's closure has made its way into the governor's race. Governor Quinn wants to close the facility and move the residents to small group homes. Republican candidate Bruce Rauner told the residents and their families he would keep Murray open if elected in November.
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