More than 120 gathered at Allerton Park and Retreat Center on Nov. 14 for the Monticello Chamber of Commerce annual banquet. Greg Crawford was announced as the Piatt County Journal-Republican Citizen of the Year during the event.
"I don't think I've done near enough to deserve this award," said Crawford when accepting the honor, despite his four decades in the insurance industry and volunteer work with local Boy Scouts, organizing Christmas parades and work with the Chamber and Monticello Main Street groups. "But it's been a pleasure to work with all the people I've worked with in Monticello, the Scouts, the Chamber, Main Street. I've probably had more fun than anyone else involved, and I appreciate it," he added.
Emcee and News-Gazette Publisher John Foreman also pointed out that Crawford — a Corvette enthusiast — was "instrumental in helping Monticello welcome the Bloomington Gold Caravan" this past summer, which saw hundreds of Corvettes parade through town.
Members of the Monticello Fire and Rescue Department were also given an Honorary Achievement Award, while Renee Fruendt earned an Outstanding Certificate of Achievement.
In accepting the award for the fire department, its chief of 28 years Rick Dubson admits he was surprised at the honor. Fruendt, a Monticello native and local high school grad, served as the local city clerk for four terms, and has been involved in activities including Boy Scouts, as a church Sunday School teacher and secretary and a director on the Monticello Main Street board.
Former University of Illinois and NFL linebacker J Leman was the keynote speaker at the event, and spoke on his faith, a desire to succeed and the power of failure.
Leman earned his bachelor's degree in speech communications and master's in human resource education from the University of Illinois, and is now employed by USANA Health Sciences.