Meier Applauds Murray Parents Association
State Representative Charlie Meier said on Friday, Nov. 21, he is thrilled with the appointment of Rita Winkeler, President of the Murray Parents Association, to serve on Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner’s Health Services Transition Team. Meier, who has worked with President Winkeler and the Association to fight recent plans to close the Warren G. Murray Center in Centralia, said the appointment finally gives Murray residents and their families a seat at the table as decisions about the Center’s future are being made at the state level.
“The current administration turned a deaf ear to these parents’ pleas to allow their children to remain safe and happy at Murray, which is their home. I’m elated that their voices are finally being heard,” said Meier (R-Okawville).
The Warren G. Murray Developmental Center was built in 1964 to meet of needs of children faced with severe developmental challenges. The Murray Parents Association was founded in October of 1971 to promote the general welfare of the residents of the Murray Center and foster the development of programs on their behalf. Association President Rita Winkeler has been a third grade teacher for the past eighteen years. The mother of three sons, her severely disabled son Mark lives at Murray Center.
For the past several years the Association and local legislators have been fighting plans by the Quinn Administration to close the facility and relocate residents to group homes and other facilities that offer less supervision and assistance.
“I am honored and humbled to ask to service on this transition committee. Since the beginning of the states attempt to close Murray Center the goal of the MPA and myself is that all the disabled in Illinois would receive quality, safe care. As part of this committee I will continue to advocate for all the disabled…from those who live in their family homes to those who call a state center home. I am very happy that Governor Elect Rauner has chosen to include someone from southern Illinois to be part of this team, as our voice has not always been heard in Springfield and Chicago.”” said Winkeler.
Today, court cases continue concerning the fate of Murray Center, but Rep. Meier said President Winkeler’s appointment bodes well for the future.
“At the bare minimum it means the incoming administration wants to hear Murray Parents’ side of the story, and wants their input and ideas. After several years of being completely shut out of the process, this is huge.” Meier said.