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Lt. Gov. Simon seeking Rural Illinois Champion Nominees 

CHICAGO – Jan. 22, 2014. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, chair of the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, is seeking nominations for the 2014 Rural Illinois Champion award. The award is a way to recognize and honor Illinois residents working to make a difference in rural Illinois.

“This award is a great opportunity to recognize the hard work of someone fighting to improve the quality of life in our rural communities,” said Simon. “It is important that we acknowledge the unsung heroes in our rural communities. Whether you are trying to improve education opportunities, encouraging economic development or fighting to revitalize your community, I want to hear from you.”

Any Illinois resident who is working to bring about change in rural Illinois communities can be considered for the award. Themes of service include: economic development and community revitalization, agriculture, education and empowerment, sustainability, public service, community and/or public health. Simon is asking for nominations to be submitted by Feb. 14 so her office can review and select a winner and announce it at the 25th Annual Rural Community and Economic Development Conference in Peoria on March 5.

A copy of the nomination form is available here and can be emailed to or mailed to the Lt. Governor’s office in Room 414 of the Stratton Building, Springfield, IL 62706 care of Maggie Carson.

Past award winners include Norm Walzer, founder of Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University, and Jerry Townsend, who worked nearly 40 years in rural development with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Established by Governor’s executive order, the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council (GRAC) is tasked with improving delivery of state services to rural Illinois and expanding opportunities for rural residents to enhance their quality of life. As GRAC chair, Simon has recently advocated for equitable education funding and local food access.