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Community leaders honored at awards night

February 11, 2019 GMT

DIXON – Several community members and organizations were recently recognized for their positive contributions to the city.

In addition to Dixon High School resource officer Mark Dallas being named the 2018 Citizen of the Year, others shared the spotlight Friday at the Best of Dixon awards ceremony hosted by the Dixon Chamber of Commerce and Main Street and sponsored by The Telegraph.

Among the award winners were the 4 Under 40, a group of younger individuals working or living in Dixon who have shown great career achievements, community involvement and volunteerism.

In that group were Rob Bates, Lori Cortez, Anne Hermes and Aaron Simonton.


Bates is an engineer with the Illinois Department of Transportation, volunteers for Dixon Habitat for Humanity, and is involved in the Petunia Festival Board, Dixon Municipal Band, and Kiwanis Club of Dixon.

Cortez, dean of institutional advancement at Sauk Valley Community College, helped more than 200 first-generation college students, students with disabilities and low-income students as former director of Sauk’s TRIO Student Support Services. She also volunteers for the United Way of Lee County, the Petunia Festival and other events, as well as the Lee County Farm Bureau and the Whiteside County Senior Center.

Hermes, an artist who recently finished work on large murals covering two silos in Sterling, is working with Dixon businesses on beautification efforts, and is working on creating a Big Brothers Big Sisters in Lee County as well as a nonprofit organization called the Shoe Fairy that allows children to receive new shoes paid for by someone anonymously.

Simonton, a detective with the Dixon Police Department, is involved with the Dixon Police Charitable Association, Shop with a Cop, Lee County Honor Flight and Bags for the Brave.

Tourism grants were awarded to the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home, the Lee County Historical and Genealogical Society, The Next Picture Show, the annual World War II Recreated event, the Penguin Project of the Sauk Valley and the Dixon Municipal Band.

Thomas McDonald, a Chamber Main Street Board member who started volunteering for the organization in March, received the Volunteer of the Year award, and Nicole Goodeill won the chamber Ambassador of the Year award.