Volunteers advocate for military families, stronger economic ties
SPRINGFIELD – January 17, 2012. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon appointed seven citizen members to a state committee that advocates for the retention and reuse of military bases. This group of volunteer appointees will join the committee for the first time on Wednesday at the committee’s quarterly meeting.
The citizen members of the Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC) are unpaid and will help the committee work to preserve the state’s military installations and foster a strong economic connection between the installations and their local economies.
“Each of the citizen members brings experience and new ideas to the committee, and I look forward to working as a team as we advocate for our state’s military communities,” said Simon, who chairs the IMBSEDC.
The members – which include retired military personnel and economic development officials – will bring more public input to the committee, which includes four members of the General Assembly and representatives from various state agencies. The citizen members will draw upon experiences from an array of career fields, including economic development, education, government and the military.
As chair of the committee, Simon makes recommendations to local, state and federal policymakers on retention, realignment, and reuse efforts at Illinois military installations and advocates for military families and defense communities. The committee will meet at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday via videoconference in the Lt. Governor’s Chicago and Springfield offices.
Col. Gene Blade of Springfield. Retired Army Col. Blade was the United States Property and Fiscal Officer of Illinois from 1980-1994. In that position, Col. Blade was responsible for overseeing all federal funds for the National Guard, and more than $1 billion of property and equipment in possession of the U.S. Army and Air National Guard.
Joel Himsl of Moline. Himsl is currently the Garrison Manager at the Rock Island Arsenal where he oversees a workforce of more than 500 civilian employees and contractors. Himsl also led the successful 2005 Base Realignment and Closure effort to relocate five major organizations at the arsenal, including the First U.S. Army Command. Himsl is a veteran of the Iraq War and has served in a multitude of capacities for the U.S. Army.
Gary Gray of Granite City. Gray is the executive director at the Foundation Office at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC), which raised approximately $834,000 in 2010 for grants and scholarships for SWIC students. Gray also served as Provost at SWIC for 12 years and was executive director of the Lincoln Land Community College/Eastern Regional Education Center.
Frank Miles of Edwardsville. Miles is currently the Business Development Manager for America’s Central Port, part of which used to serve as the Charles Melvin Price Army Support Center. Miles worked on the conversion of the former Melvin Price Support Center from a U.S. Army installation to the Tri-City Regional Port District along with issues facing Scott Air Force Base.
Jimmy C. Morgan of Rock Island. Morgan is currently the Program Director for the Rock Island Arsenal Development Group, which is performing business development work on Rock Island Arsenal. Previously, he worked for the U.S. Army for 32 years, retiring in December 2002. Morgan received a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and a master's degree in Business Administration from the University of Iowa. Morgan is a member of the National Defense Industrial Association, the Association of Defense Communities and the Association of U.S. Army. He is on the Board of Directors of the Quad City Manufacturing Laboratory.
Brigadier General Frank Rezac of Peoria. Gen. Rezak retired in 2003 after a lifetime of service in the Air National Guard, which began in 1967. For the final eight years of his career, Rezac served as the Assistant Adjutant General for Air and Commander of the Illinois Air National Guard. Rezac played a key role in making sure the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria was kept in-tact during the last round of Base Realignment and Closure.
Lawrence M. Walsh of Elwood. Walsh, a former state senator from Joliet, has served as a Will County Executive since 2004. In both capacities, Walsh has advocated for the economic growth and stability of the Will County region, including the Joliet Arsenal. Redevelopment of the Arsenal has created more than 3,000 jobs and $1 billion in private investment. Walsh graduated from Joliet Junior College and is an Executive Board Member for the Will County Center for Economic Development.