On Thursday, October 15th the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed “the state must also have a plan for allowing beneficiaries to choose either institutional services or home and community based services.” In essence, allowing legal guardians to choose whether or not to keep their loved ones at Murray Center or a group home.

“This is what we and the Murray Parents’ Association have been fighting for since the Quinn administration tried to intimidate legal guardians into relocating their loved ones, including the wards of state,” said Rep. Meier. “The court ruling will protect the residents living at Murray, the only state operated developmental center serving central and parts of southern Illinois.

Thanks to the dedication and hard work from the Murray Parents’ Association, Friends of Murray Center, State Rep. John Cavaletto, State Rep. Charlie Meier, State Senator Kyle McCarter, Governor Rauner and dozens of Illinois legislators, Murray Center will remain open. The recent federal court decision is another positive court ruling in favor of the residents at Murray Center and their friends and family.

The federal court did affirm that State Operated Developmental Centers (SODC) such as Murray Center could close, however as it stands there are no plans to close Murray Center. Currently, there are seven SODCs located throughout Illinois. Murray Center is the only SODC serving central Illinois and parts of southern Illinois, making Murray Center feasible for the State and its residents that call Murray Center their home.

*The U.S. Court of Appeals Opinion can be found here.
The Warren G. Murray Development Center located in Centralia, Illinois will have a new director later this month. The new Center Director Mary Ann Smith will begin her first day on the job effective October, 19 2015.

“I am happy to welcome Mary Ann Smith back to Murray Center,” said Rep. Meier. “She is no stranger to Murray, it’s great to see her back as Center Director. I look forward to visiting with her as soon as she gets settled into her new position.”

For the past ten years, Smith has been the administrator of the Odin Healthcare Center located in Odin, Illinois. Mary Ann has a MS in Speech Language Pathology from SIU-E and is licensed as an Illinois Nursing Home Administrator. Smith was selected as Administrator of the Year in 2005, and a Blue Ribbon Winner in 2010 and 2012. She started her association with Murray Center as a student worker at Grape Cottage while attending Kaskaskia Jr. College and became a full time employee at Grape Cottage as a technician.

The Murray Parents’ Association recently awarded Illinois State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) with the Dr. Plassman Award for his dedication, and devotion to the residents of Murray Center and for advocating to improve the livelihoods of the disabled.

According to the Murray Parents’ Association, “We are humbled and honored to present this award to Representative Charlie Meier. Rep. Meier has been on a constant mission to keep Murray Center open as a home for our residents. He has spent countless hours working with other legislators, the parents/guardians, and community leaders to plan and implement ways to keep Murray Center open. Even when he was told "Murray is going to close" he refused to back down, and continued to fight.”

The prestigious Dr. W.P. Plassman award was started in 1977 by the Murray Parents' Association to honor Dr. Plassman who was instrumental in helping to start the Murray Parents' Association. Dr. Plassman became the superintendent of Murray Center in 1970 and he immediately saw a need for a parents' organization, and arranged to have a Parents' Day for two successive years with the hope that a parents' group would materialize from these days. After the Second Parents' Day in October 1971, the organizational meeting took place and the Murray Parents’ Association was born.

“I am extremely appreciative to receive the prestigious Plassman Award,” said Rep. Meier. “When I began standing up for the residents of Murray Center I did not anticipate nor expect to receive such an award. It warms my heart to receive such an honor and my heart will always be with the residents and family of Murray Center.”

Since 1977 fourteen people have been honored with the Plassman Award; Anita Becherer (1977), Ethel West (1979), Nancy Scott (1981), Phyllis Hatfield (1984), Wes and Lois Heintz (1984), Ed Elmore (1987), Howard Phillips (1987), John and Betty Stumpe (1991), Mary Phillips (1994), Audrey L. Kolar (1998), Senator Frank Watson (2001), Vickie Niederhofer (2005), Rita Winkeler (2014), and in 2015, State Representative Charlie Meier.