BLOOMINGTON – The McLean County Board approved the county’s updated Mental Health Action Plan Thursday after postponing a vote on it for a month.
It’s the first update to the mental health plan since its creation in 2015, after the City of Bloomington and Town of Normal agreed to increase sales tax from 1.5% to 2.5% to partially fund the county’s initiatives under the plan.
Board members delayed a vote on the plan at the April county board meeting because it had yet been made available to the public.
The 156-page plan is a “roadmap for moving forward toward changing a system in McLean County focusing on needs improvements,” said its drafters, of the McLean County Behavioral Health Coordinating Council.
“It strives to reflect current progress, accomplishments and recommendations; however, it is also known that it needs to remain alive and utilized to continue to make progress for all, ”the plan said. “As with the original, some actions have not been followed exactly, nor should they be with this document.”
The plan outlines recommendations in various areas, such as housing, youth, crisis, access to medical services and management, court services and the jail.
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Board member Shayna Watchinski noted the plan said that in 2017, the county evaluated a co-responder model for crisis response situations, but it found that model was not sustainable. Instead, the county utilized crisis intervention team training for police officers to deescalate situations.
“There was not enough participation, enough support or enough money to support a co-responder system at this time,” said McLean County Board Chairman John McIntyre, who also sits on the BHCC. “We really advocate for it and would like to have it, but it required, really, an intense involvement from all the agencies involved in the BHCC and we were unable to come up with a solution.”
Board member Elizabeth Johnston, who last month motioned to table the mental health plan update to 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 are simultaneously taking action steps on what we have already identified as problems and listening to our residents, experts and staff on the ground regarding what they are experiencing,” Johnston said.
Solar farm project postponed
In other business, the McLean County Board postponed plans for a 5-megawatt, 28-acre solar energy 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 around $ 4 million locally and it would be McLean County’s second solar farm.
Board member Jim Rogal motioned to table the approval to the county board’s June 16 meeting to ensure 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 did not, ”Rogal said. “Numerous people have reached out to them this time about hiring local workers. They told us there was not enough time to get it done before tonight, so I would like to give them a month to try and get that in order before we take a vote on this. ”
The project would last 40 years, and it is expected to generate 21 construction jobs, which Cypress Creek Renewables characterized as “local” in its application.
The solar facility is also expected to generate property tax revenue for the county.
If the project is approved at next month’s McLean County Board meeting, it would then await issuance of permits to start construction. Construction is expected to begin sometime in 2023.
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