County Commissioners responding to FOIA request regarding Veterans Court

By Blake Schnitker on February 14 at 12:31pm

Morgan County Commissioners are responding to a Freedom of Information Act Request in regards to a meeting last year in which the board discussed possible Veterans Court scenarios.

Local attorney and veterans advocate Tyson Manker sent a FOIA request to Morgan County officials regarding the board’s regular meeting on February 6th of 2017. In the FOIA request, Manker references two military veterans inquiring about the implementation of the now-mandatory Illinois Veterans and Servicemember Court Treatment Act in Morgan County.

Chairman of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners Brad Zeller says it is not uncommon for the board to receive FOIA requests, and discusses how they plan to respond to this latest request.

“We receive many Freedom of Information Act requests and we treat them all in the same manner. I believe we have five working days to respond to that. If we can’t respond to that in a necessary manner, then we will request an extension for another five days,” says Zeller.

Zeller explains that county officials are hoping to discuss the matter of a local veterans court with the judge and the state’s attorney.

“There is nothing specific right now for this request. We are in the process of talking to Judge Chris Reif and also State’s Attorney Gray Noll and have not been able to contact or set up a meeting with those two individuals to discuss this further. It is truly in their hands as to what direction this county goes,” explains Zeller.

Zeller says that the Morgan County Commissioners recognize the needs of local veterans, and explains some of the options currently available to them.

“We understand at the board level the want of the veterans in this community, and we made it clear at that meeting that if there was a need for a specific veteran, that the state’s attorney would look into it on a personal matter, which he has done so in the past. And if there was a need to use the veterans court in Springfield, this county would be more than willing to help enable that person get back and forth between that court. We made that perfectly clear that if there was an urgent need, that this county and this county board would address that at that time,” Zeller says.

The Illinois Veterans and Servicemember Court Treatment Act was signed into law on June 11th, 2010, and amended as recently as August 14th, 2016.