Sweeps option gives state sites hope

John Pulliam/GateHouse News Service

The Illinois House on Sept. 10 took the first step toward keeping the state’s historic sites and parks open.

The House approved more than $221 million in “fund sweeps” to restore the estimated $2.8 million in budget cuts made by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Although state Rep. Don Moffitt, R-Gilson, was the co-sponsor of a similar bill, the one approved was the “speaker’s bill.” Officially, the bill’s sponsor was state Rep. Gary Hannig, D-Litchfield, who Moffitt said is the House Democrats’ “main appropriations person.”

The big question now is whether the Senate will reconvene in time to beat the Oct. 1 deadline to prevent the closing of state historic sites, such as Bishop Hill Museum, Bjorklund Hotel and Colony Church ?- all in Bishop Hill -? and the Carl Sandburg birthplace and cottage in Galesburg.

The Senate’s next session starts Nov. 12.

Steve Holden of Bishop Hill is site manager at the Sandburg birthplace. He’s cautiously optimistic that funding might be restored.

“It sounds great, but I’m going to have to wait and see,” Holden said.