Illinois State Police hand out awards
After 15 teenagers died between March 2005 and July 2006 in Tazewell County traffic crashes, law enforcement officials and other concerned individuals resolved to stop the tragedies.
Their success was recognized Monday at the annual Illinois State Police awards ceremony.
Illinois State Police Capt. Dean Kennedy, who is based in District 8 in Metamora, received an achievement medal for his work with the Tazewell County Teen Initiative. The program’s goal was to get through the 2006-07 school year without any teen crash deaths in Tazewell County.
The program succeeded with its multi-layered approach, which involved educational efforts, increased police patrols and lessons on how to avoid a crash.
Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Huston, who also received a State Police award Monday, said no Tazewell teens have died in a traffic crash since July 2006.
"It was a case where we had a terrible tragedy, a string of terrible tragedies," he said. "This presented us with an opportunity. Everyone wanted to pitch in and help with this problem."
Huston and six other people involved with the Teen Initiative received an award called the Director’s Award of Distinction, which is given to individuals or groups outside of the State Police.
"I think it shows that there are other people out there who care," said one of the recipients, Drew Scott, president of the Tazewell County Youth Board. "I mean, I don’t do this to seek recognition, obviously, but it is nice to see that all these people here are here for the same purpose, and that’s making everything in Illinois safer."
"For several months, it seemed like almost every week, there was another crash, another teen involved," added Scott, a senior at Tremont High School. "It’s really hard, so we continually work toward making the roads a safer place and helping teens become better drivers."
Also receiving the Award of Distinction were Tazewell County Coroner Dennis Conover, Sara Sparkman of the Tazewell County Health Department, Tazewell County Highway Engineer John Anderson, Michael Stout of the Illinois Department of Transportation and James Graham of the Ford Motor Company Fund.
Other awards handed out on Monday included Telecommunicator of the Year, Forensic Scientist of the Year and Officer of the Year. Each category featured several nominees. None of the winners came from the Peoria region.
Nominees for Officer of the Year included:
--Trooper Luke Satterlee of District 8, which consists of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall and Stark counties.
--Trooper Jeffrey Enderli of District 6, which consists of McLean, De Witt and Livingston counties.
--Trooper Jason Dickey of District 7, which consists of Knox, Henry, Mercer and Rock Island counties.
--Trooper Jason Elswick of District 14, which consists of Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, McDonough and Warren counties.
--Sgt. Rolando Matos of District 17, which consists of Bureau, La Salle and Putnam counties.
Nominees for Telecommunicator of the Year included:
--Shonda Windish of District 8.
--Martin Bourgeois of District 6.
--Christine Swemline of District 7.
--Amy Cloninger of District 14.
--Kevin Scott of District 17.
Nominees for Forensic Scientist of the Year included Kevin Zeeb of the Morton Forensic Science Laboratory.
Adriana Colindres can be reached at (217) 782-6292 or email@example.com.