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Governor Releases Funds For WIU Construction, Talks Lawsuit

WGIL Newsroom . Local News 243

Quinn MacombWestern Illinois University is expecting construction to begin next year on a new performing arts center.

Governor Pat Quinn appeared in Macomb on Wednesday to announce the release of $60-million for the project – which has been in the making since 2002. The structure will include a 1,400-seat auditorium and expand opportunities for students on the campus.

Total project costs will exceed $71-million dollars with funding through the Illinois Capital Development Board.

Governor Quinn says it’s good people will be working on a project that makes a difference in the lives of students.

“This stirs the soul,” says Quinn. “I think it’s very, very important that every part of Illinois have an opportunity to really have outstanding opportunities to see art and music and building this center where students will be educated by great educators but also at the time to help people in the region really have a good time.”

During his visit, Quinn used the opportunity to respond to allegations that he has used his position to make political hires at the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Quinn says that when he heard the claims last year, he immediately ordered an audit.

“We have zero tolerance for anything in hiring that isn’t exactly according to the rules,” says Quinn. “They conducted an audit, they have done an investigation, I want them to carry that out and to follow the law at all times.”

The attorney making the case against Quinn has cited a review suggesting positions were not correctly classified.

Despite the allegations, Quinn says the funds for the $71-million project will create jobs and educate students for generations to come. Western Illinois University expects construction to begin in the spring with a building opening in 2018. State Senator John Sullivan and State Representative Norine Hammond were also in attendance for the ceremony.

New building construction on the Macomb campus has not received state funding since the 1970′s.