Metro East news briefs

Wood River Township complex. Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered the annual township meetings be suspended through the duration of a statewide disaster proclamation. (Photo courtesy of Wood River Township)

Annual township meetings postponed

Illinois’ annual townships meetings, scheduled for April 14 and April 21, have been postponed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an April 7 executive order, Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered the annual meetings be suspended through the duration of a statewide disaster proclamation on the pandemic, issued by the governor last month.

Advice on appropriate dates for the rescheduling of township is expected to be forthcoming from the state, according to the Townships of Illinois, the organization that represents the local government entities. Under state law townships must hold annual meetings on the

Illinois law requires townships to hold annual meetings on either the second or third Tuesdays of April.

An annual exercise in direct democratic rule, the annual meetings offer residents within a township the opportunity to personally help establish projects, priorities, policies, and budgets for the coming fiscal year.

Electors, designated during the meeting, address 40 categories of responsibility assigned to townships. While townships often meet those responsibilities through contractual agreements for service with other government entities, they also commonly provide services directly.

Among those state-mandated responsibilities: fire and police protection (often provided under contract with local municipalities or sheriff’s departments), maintaining a system of roads and bridges, and setting tax rates to fund required programs.

Other responsibilities: assured access for residents to the circuit court system, mental health services, control of livestock and fencing, parking regulation and tree planting along township roads, and upkeep of old and neglected cemeteries, and regulation of transient merchants.

Annual township meetings are not the major community events in Illinois that they are in some parts of New England, where township and municipal government have effectively been merged.

However, particularly in areas where townships actively provide functions such as sewer service or fire protection, the meetings can be well attended.

A unit of local government, townships represent the third level of the public administrative divisions used in the United State (following states, and municipalities), and the primary level of local government subdivision within a county.

In the Midwest, township government is used across Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin (where they are known as towns).

It is used in parts of Illinois and Nebraska and widely across Metro East.

Madison County has 23 townships: Alhambra Township, Chouteau Township, Collinsville Township, Edwardsville Township, Fort Russell Township, Foster Township, Godfrey Township, Granite City Township, Hamel Township, Helvetia Township, Jarvis Township, Leef Township, Marine Township, Moro Township, Nameoki Township, New Douglas Township, Olive Township, Omphghent Township, Pin Oak Township, St. Jacob Township, Saline Township, Venice Township, and Wood River Township.

St. Clair County, has 20:  Canteen Township, Caseyville Township, Centreville Township, Engelmann Township, Fayetteville Township, Freeburg Township, Lebanon Township, Lenzburg Township, Marissa Township, Mascoutah Township, Millstadt Township, New Athens Township, O’Fallon Township, Prairie du Long Township, St. Clair Township, Shiloh Valley Township, Smithton Township, Stites Township, Stookey Township, and Sugarloaf Township.

Two Wood River Township officials, Assessor Sandy Shaw and Township Clerk Sherry Tite, serve on the TOI board.

Gateway Regional Medical Center in Granite City
(Photo courtesy of Quorum Health Corp.)

Regional hospital operator declares bankruptcy

Brentwood-Tenn.-based Quorum Health Corp., which operates Gateway Regional Medical Center in Granite City and Red Bud Regional Hospital in Red Bud, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The filing, April 7 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, is designed to facilitate reduction of Quorum’s outstanding debt by $500 million and recapitalize the business, according to a corporate statement.

The action was planned prior to the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic, the statement indicates.

The hospitals will remain open and employees will continue to get paid, the company said.

Quorum and its lenders have already entered into a restructuring support agreement, according to the statement.

In all, Quorum operates 23 hospitals around the nation, as well as a hospital management consultancy, QHR Health, with more than 100 clients, according to company statements.

OSF cuts costs amid elective surgery reductions

Peoria-based OSF HealthCare, which operates Saint Anthony’s Health Center in Alton, on April 8, announced salary reductions for top executives and other measures “in reaction to current conditions.”

“Inpatient services, surgeries, clinics and other volumes have decreased significantly over the last three weeks as non-essential services have been shut down. Revenue has dropped substantially over that same time period,” company officials explained in a prepared statement.

Some employees are being retained and reassigned, on a volunteer basis, to better address current hospital needs — often in the hospital chain’s growing digital care system, the company says.

OSF is moving into the second phase of a “digital response to COVID-19, offering new ways of caring for individuals in their homes, and within its facilities, with digital solutions,” according to the company statements.

“OSF was one of the first to rapidly deploy digital health-care options, which allows thousands to have their needs addressed while staying safely at home,” the statement notes

Most non-patient-facing employees will be subject to mandatory paid time off or, in some cases, unpaid leaves of absence, the company says.

However, furloughed employees will retain seniority and benefits, including health insurance, the company emphasizes.

Salaries for top OSF executives have been cut by at 5 percent, with some leaders taking a 10 percent reduction.

Some cities furlough non-essential workers

The city of Edwardsville on April 8 furloughed 30 municipal employees through April 3; citing need to ensure fiscal stability.

Layoffs have been confined to the city’s libraries, Wildey Theatre, and the public access television channel.

However, additional furloughs are possible; as city offices are closed and some employees are simply running out of things to do, Edwardsville officials say.

The majority of Fairview Heights’ cuts are at the community’s recreation center.

Head added a second phase of furloughs may happen has other staff that cannot work from home run out of tasks.

Fairview Heights furloughed 126 part-time employees, most at the city’s new recreation center, on April 6.

Furloughed employees in both Edwardsville and Fairview Heights will retain health benefits, both cities emphasize.

L&C donates PPE to area hospitals

Lewis and Clark Community College Health Sciences programs have donated more than 100 boxes of masks, gloves, gowns and sanitizers to Alton Memorial Hospital and OSF St. Anthony’s in Alton.

Donated personal protective equipment to the hospitals were the college’s nursing, nurse assistant, biology, EMT/paramedicine, medical assisting, automotive, dental assisting and dental hygiene programs; along with the college’s automotive careers program and L&C Campus Safety.