By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Streetscape and sidewalk improvement projects provided the backdrop for a press conference by Sen. John Sullivan near the Kroc Center and Adams County Health Department on Wednesday.
"Whenever we can take private, local, state and federal resources and everybody pulling together to ... move a project forward, that's when we have success. And that's exactly what we have here," Sullivan said.
The press conference was the first Sullivan has held since returning home from cancer surgery conducted Aug. 22 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
"It's great to be back," Sullivan said.He said the surgery was a success, and he does not need to undergo chemo therapy or radiation treatments.
Quincy Mayor John Spring said Sullivan helped obtain more than $1.2 million in grants from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Department of Transportation. Sidewalks and period streetlights are being improved along Fourth, Fifth, Hampshire and Vermont streets and parking spaces along the west side of Fifth Street. The intersection of Fifth and Broadway got a new traffic signal through a $350,000 grant from IDOT.
Spring also thanked Sullivan for helping extend the Illinois enterprise zone program, a key to economic development in Quincy.
"That was set to expire in 2013 ... and they were able to extend that out 25 more years," Spring said.
Sullivan and Spring said the streetscape improvements will make the area safer and more accessible.
Sullivan also addressed what he called "insulting and disrespectful" speculation on WTAD Radio last month that he was having surgery during his re-election campaign for political purposes. Sullivan is running against Republican Randy Frese of Paloma in the 47th Senate District.
"When I met with my surgeon back in July, I asked her specifically if there was any way I could put this off until after November, because I didn't want this to be a political issue. She's the one who said, ‘John, we need to do this, we need to do it now' ... and that was the soonest we could schedule it," Sullivan said.
Concerning the Illinois budget, Sullivan said pension reform is needed to help the state deal with its budget crisis.
"The timeline is as soon as we can bring all the parties to the table, we can reach a bipartisan agreement on that ... and it needs to include all five (state pension) systems. We can't go and piecemeal this thing together. It needs to be everybody," Sullivan said.
Sullivan said if the Legislature can do those things during the veto session, he would support that. Otherwise, it needs to happen as soon as possible next year.