BLOOMINGTON — The McLean County Board of Directors on Thursday approved the county’s updated mental health action plan after its vote was postponed for a month.
It is the first update to the mental health plan since its inception in 2015, after the City of Bloomington and the City of Normal agreed to raise sales tax from 1.5% to 2.5% to support the county’s initiatives under part of the plan.
Council members postponed a vote on the plan at the April board meeting because it had yet to be made available to the public.
The 156-page plan is a “roadmap to make progress toward changing a system in McLean County that focuses on improvements that are needed,” according to the authors of the McLean County Behavioral Health Coordinating Council.
“It aims to reflect current progress, performance and recommendations; however, it is also known that it must be kept alive and used to continue to make progress for all,” the plan said. “As with the original, some actions weren’t followed exactly, and they shouldn’t be with this document.”
The plan outlines recommendations in various areas, such as housing, youth, crisis, access to medical services and management, courts and prison.
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Board member Shayna Watchinski noted that the plan said the county was evaluating a co-responder model for crisis response situations in 2017, but it found that model was not sustainable. Instead, the province took advantage of the police crisis intervention team’s training to de-escalate situations.
“There wasn’t enough participation, enough support or enough money to support a co-responder system at this point,” said John McIntyre, chairman of the board of directors for McLean County, who is also a member of the BHCC. “We’re really advocating for it and would love to have it, but it really required an intense engagement from all the agencies involved in the BHCC and we couldn’t come up with a solution.”
Board member Elizabeth Johnston, who gestured last month to submit the mental health plan update at the May meeting, said the plan should “always be considered a work in progress”.
“The world is evolving and our response will be most effective if we simultaneously take action on what we have already identified as issues and listen to our residents, experts and staff on the ground about what they are experiencing,” Johnston said.
Solar park project postponed
In other cases, the McLean County Board postponed plans for a 5-megawatt, 28-acre solar facility southwest of Bloomington in Dale Township.
The $7 million project proposed by Towanda Solar LLC, a sub-company of California-based Cypress Creek Renewables, would invest approximately $4 million locally and it would be McLean County’s second solar park.
Board member Jim Rogal motioned for approval to be submitted to the June 16 district council meeting to ensure that the company hires local workers for construction.
“When they came last time and built their solar farm in Downs, they said they would hire local workers. They didn’t,” Rogal said. “This time, plenty of people contacted them about hiring local workers. They told us there wasn’t enough time to finalize it for tonight, so I’d like to give them a month to try and sort that out before we vote on this.”
The project would last 40 years and is expected to create 21 construction jobs, which Cypress Creek Renewables labeled “local” in its application.
The solar installation is also expected to generate property taxes for the province.
If the project is approved at next month’s McLean County Board meeting, it will have to wait for permits to be issued to begin construction. Construction is expected to begin sometime in 2023.
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