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Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon seeks input on rural issues 

Quincy Herald-Whig
May 10, 2012
By Doug Wilson

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon has seen common themes and subtile differences in how rural Illinois communities list their priorities.

As she prepared for a listening post in Quincy on Thursday, Simon said her goal is to find areas where state government can help rural areas succeed.

"Jobs development is a big concern," Simon said.

"There is always talk about infrastructure; roads, bridges, sewer systems ... and Internet connectivity has become important because it is important for business, education and health care."

Simon said rural cooperatives are working on better Internet service for rural areas, but there is a role for state and federal government to provide incentives. She said today's Internet infrastructure reminds her of the Rural Electrification initiative of the mid-1900s. Companies would not have provided service to lightly populated areas based only on the profit motive. Government incentives made rural networks a reality.

Simon had no plans to promote any particular issues while in Quincy, but was looking forward to the listening post at the Kroc Center. She said local participants would form small groups to discuss topics they identify as important.

Education is one area of particular interest to the former university professor. She has been a proponent of letting Illinois school districts work out their own direction. Simon said there is no one-size-fits-all that forces consolidation on certain systems.