Champaign County Board approves spending another $1.675M on nursing home

Champaign County Board approves spending another $1.675M on nursing home

URBANA — With the sale of the Champaign County Nursing Home still not finalized, the county board continues to find itself writing checks on behalf of the financially challenged institution.

On Tuesday night, the board approved spending another $1.675 million on nursing-home-related issues, including forgiving two loans and settlements for lawsuits brought by the estates of two former residents.

The board first voted to forgive two loans totaling $500,000 it made in 2017 to the home so it could cover expenses.

Board members also voted to approve a $175,000 settlement with the estate of Caroline Scalzo and a $1 million settlement with the estate of Sonya Kington.

Ms. Scalzo, 83, died in 2014 after staff at the facility allegedly failed to follow physician's orders for monitoring and hydration, according to her attorney, Patricia Gifford.

Ms. Kington, 78, was discovered dead in a hot courtyard at the home on June 10, 2017. Later, state officials determined that the home "failed to ensure the door alarm to the courtyard on the facility's Alzheimer's Unit was engaged and the door not propped open."

The board also approved two resolutions on future loans to the facility — the first allows it to loan up to $800,000 from the general corporate fund over the next four months to the home so it can pay vendors, while the second authorizes loans to cover payroll.

"How much more are we going to flush down the toilet?" asked board member Stan Harper. "This really upsets me."

"We almost got the water shut off," said board member Kyle Patterson.

"At what point is this going to end?" asked board member Jim Goss. "It is an irresponsible use of taxpayers' money. At some point, we've got to get a resolution."

County Administrator Deb Busey said the first available date for closing is Dec. 31, with the buyer having the option for two 30-day extensions.

"I don't see closure at the end of February," said board member Pattsi Petrie.

In other business:

— Two out of three proposals for solar farms were approved.

The board voted 14-7 to grant a special-use permit for a solar farm east of Sidney and 11-9 to approve a similar permit for the Woodard Trust St. Joseph East solar farm, which will be built west of the St. Joseph Sportsman Club.

But after the reading of an impassioned letter from St. Joseph Mayor Tami Fruhling-Voges opposing the construction of solar farms within 1.5 miles of the village and voicing concerns about their affect on growth north of the community, the board voted 11-10 to reject a permit for the Woodard Trust St. Joseph West solar farm, which was to be built north of Schuren Nursery and Garden Center.

— The board voted to increase parking rates for the lot next to the Champaign County Courthouse, effective Jan. 2.

Motorists using that parking lot currently pay 25 cents for the first hour and 75 cents for every hour after.

The new rate is 50 cents for the first two hours and $1 per hour thereafter.

— The board voted to appropriate $65,000 to fund litigation efforts in the Carle property-tax case.

— The board voted unanimously to reappoint Stephanie Joos as animal-control administrator through November 2020.

— The board unanimously voted to appoint Marilyn Lee and Lawrence Wood to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Both of them will serve through November 2023.

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