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Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009 05:58 pm

Callahan in line for ag position

Access to broadband a

For agreeing to jump into the race last year against GOP million-dollar golden boy Aaron Schock for the state’s 18th district congressional seat, Colleen Callahan probably deserves the political equivalent of the medal of valor. Schock won the election in November, and subsequently, a contest for the hottest freshman Washington lawmaker.

But Callahan may get the next best thing to a medal — a new gig as Illinois director of rural development for the USDA. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin recommended Callahan — a veteran farm broadcaster, PR professional and cattle rancher — for the job, along with several others for various positions in the department, to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“For me, having grown up in that culture, it’s exciting to know that I may be in a position to bring about needed change,” Callahan says.

Asked about her top priorities, should she be appointed, she offers: “Most immediately, right now, a void that clearly exists in communities of 20,000 and under would be access to broadband. In many of those communities dialup is still the only option.”

The office Callahan would head up provides financial assistance for business and community needs to governments, individuals, American Indian tribes and cooperatives. Her journalism experience, she believes, makes her uniquely suited for the job.

“It has always been my hope and attempt to not only inform agriculturalists about what is going on in the industry,” she says, “but also to educate others who may be affected by the industry.”

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