By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce officials have put out the call for nominations for major awards to be presented during the organization's annual banquet.
The Citizen of the Year and the Small Business Person of the Year are nominated via a form on the Chamber's website, southernillinois.com. Letters of recommendation are recognized.
"Letters are already coming in for Citizen of the Year and Small Business Person of the Year," said Chamber Executive Director Brandon Bullard. "I have no clue how it's going to go."
Last year's Citizen of the Year was the Rev. Rob Dyer, former pastor of the Presbyterian church here and the driving force behind the rehabilitation of a nursing home that provide a shelter to the homeless under the direction of Lifeboat Alliance and Habitat for Humanity. Last year's Small Business Person of the Year award was presented to James Czerwinski, co-owner of Magnum Steel Works, Inc.
The President's Award is chosen by the Legislative Council, which is the past president's club. "They nominate and pick who they want, but it's for those individuals or businesses that don't fit into the criteria for the other two awards," Bullard said. Continental Tire of the Americas and National Railway are the two most recent award winners.
Bullard also announced that a new award will be distributed this year — a Young Professional's Award.
"It is for a business person that has made a difference in the community and in their own industry, who is under 40," he explained. "We're excited to have that award too. It will add some spark to our awards system."
Nominations may be made by e-mail through the Chamber office, with the winner selected by the Board of Directors.
Bullard said the Chamber leaders will have a difficult time choosing the award winners, based on the amount of volunteerism that community leaders provide.
"This community really rallies around each other all the time. It seems when things to bad or on the downside the community pops up and gets to work. No question about it, it's going to be a hard decision," he said.
Winners for all four awards will be announced in mid-March, ahead of the annual Chamber banquet, scheduled on April 5 at the Holiday Inn.
"We look forward to another huge crowd and show off what we've done this past year," Bullard said.