MACOMB — The problem of opioid addiction was discussed this week by the McDonough County Quality of Life Advisory Committee. Mayor Mike Inman said Macomb is preparing awareness and advocacy information for those interested in combatting the problem.
County Sheriff Rick VanBrooker said, "We're fortunate in comparison to Quincy and Peoria, but (the addiction) is here and it will get worse...Meth and ice are still our greatest problem. There's been a resurgence."
The sheriff also expressed concern that public sentiment has swung in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana. "We're close to legalizing it," VanBrooker said, "but I'd like to see it kept out of the schools."  Dawn Sweet, the committee's youth task force chair, said she has received reports of young people coming to school high on cannabis and she believes this is the result of greater public acceptance of marijuana.
The committee also discussed the recent death of QLAC co-founder Clyde Cronkhite. Lorraine Epperson said the Western Illinois University Foundation is working toward creation of a Cronkhite scholarship. Dennis Danowski said the committee should contribute to this effort.
Mayor Inman said the public may be generally unaware of the jobs available in Macomb. He said WIU has 98 openings and NTN Bower has about 100. "There are opportunities in this community," the mayor said.
"We have teaching jobs available everywhere," said committee vice-chairman and regional school superintendent John Meixner. "We're filling in with substitutes but we need more of them, and there's a continuous need for bus drivers."
McDonough District Hospital chief executive Kenny Boyd reported that MDH is listed in the "Top 100 Rural and Community Hospitals" in the 2017 edition of Becker's Hospital Review. He said the hospital also received an "A" grade in patient safety from the nationally recognized Leapfrog Group.
Boyd said he hopes to have a construction cost estimate by the end of the year on the hospital's planned women's center. He said the county has the highest out-migration in the region of those giving birth and that the center might eventually turn this trend around.
"The state has finally started paying on the $20 million it owes us," said Boyd. He said the hospital has spent $5.5 million from its cash reserves to cover some of the unpaid state commitment.
Sweet said that e-sports are becoming increasingly popular with young people and that card games will join video game offerings in January. She said $1,300 in prizes was awarded at a recent multi-state event hosted in Macomb.

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