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Madison County Elder Justice Initiative logo
(Image courtesy of Madison County)

Madison County launches elder abuse prevention drive

The new Madison County Elder Justice Initiative was formally announced Aug. 25 at a special Understanding Elder Abuse: Protect Our Seniors Conference, sponsored by Senior Services Plus in Alton.

“The initiative seeks to ensure better access, protection, support and justice for senior citizens in Madison that have experienced any form of abuse, neglect or exploitation,” said Chief Madison County Circuit Court Judge Dave Hylla, Sheriff John Lakin and Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons in a joint statement.

The collaborative partnership between local law enforcement, county government agencies, elder protective services, and senior community advocates will work to identify and address common barriers in a variety of areas related to the aging population in Madison County —  from improving court accessibility, to enhancing the effectiveness of investigation and prosecution of crimes against the elderly.

“The combination of the aging population, along with the issues of abuse and access to justice, have led to the creation of the initiative, which includes a review of court services and law enforcement efforts available to serve this segment of the population,” the joint statement continues.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, each year hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected or financially exploited. The National Council on Aging reports that 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse, but only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.

As a first step, the coalition plans an education initiative to enhance public awareness of abuse, exploitation, and neglect of elderly persons.

The outreach program will “promote a better understanding of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes which affect elder abuse; and identify steps we can take as a community to identify and prevent cases of elder abuse,” according to the joint statement.

To assist older adults in navigating the court system, the Elder Law & Justice Division of the Madison County State’s Attorney will attempt to provide seniors with later docket times, accessible courtrooms, and consolidation of cases, as needed.

Conference attendees were provided information on how to recognize elder abuse as well as contact information for agencies that report or investigate elder abuse.

The Madison County initiative is modeled in part on the U.S. Department of Justice Elder Justice Initiative and Illinois Department on Aging Elder Justice Initiative.

The conference was sponsored by the Third Judicial Circuit Family Violence Prevention Council, Oasis Women’s Center, Senior Services Plus, Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office, Alton Police Department, AARP, the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Southwestern Illinois Visiting Nurses Association, the Madison County State’s Attorney’s office, Centerstone, Senior Services Plus and the Oasis Women’s Center.

Smith takes helm of regional mayors’ council

Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith is the new president of the Southwestern Illinois Council of Mayors. He succeeds Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert.

The Southwestern Illinois Council of Mayors was established provide a means by which cities in geographically related counties of Southwestern Illinois can cooperate on matters of mutual concern. The council also provides a forum through which member municipalities can jointly study and solve mutual problems at all levels of government, exchange viewpoints and experiences, and speak as a body to achieve common goals.

As president of the mayors’ council, Smith will also serve on the board of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, the federally recognized planning agency that is often influential in shaping development in the St. Louis region.

In addition to Waterloo, the council includes the mayors of Alton, Belleville, Bethalto, Breese, Carlyle, Collinsville, Columbia, Dupo, East Alton, East St Louis, East Carondelet, Fairview Heights, Edwardsville, Freeburg, Godfrey, Grafton, Granite City, Hartford, Highland, Jerseyville, Madison, Marissa, Maryville, Red Bud, Roxana, Shiloh, Smithton, St. Jacob, Swansea, Trenton, Troy, Vandalia and Wood River.

A total of 50 townships, organizations, businesses, local taxing districts, associations, groups, and individuals are non-voting associate members of the council.

State Sen Bill Haine (D-Alton)

Haine leaving Illinois Senate after 2018

State Sen Bill Haine (D-Alton) announced Aug. 16 that he will leave the Illinois Senate at the end of his current term. Haine has represented the Illinois Senate’s 56th District since 2002. He has been battling multiple myeloma — a form of blood cancer — for several months.

He currently serves on the Illinois Senate’s committees on criminal law, insurance (as chairperson), the judiciary, licensed activities and pensions, and legislative petitions, as well as its committee of the whole and on its subcommittees on mandates and special issues (as sub-chairperson).

The Alton native and Army veteran holds a law degree from St. Louis University and has served as a member of the Madison County Board and Metro-East Transit District Board of Trustees, as well as Madison County State’s Attorney.  

Judge LeChien dies following surgery

Twentieth Judicial Circuit Judge Robert P. LeChien died Aug. 30 of complications from surgery, according to statement from the court offices. LeChien, a Democrat, was first elected a St. Clair County Resident Judge in 1998 and return to the bench by voters in 2004, 2010, and 2010.

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice, a Republican, could appoint a judge to fill LeChien’s seat on the court until next November’s general elections.  However, such appointments require a screening process that could take months.


–Metro-East Area News Briefs–