EDITOR’S NOTE: The board voted unanimously Wednesday evening to make the appointment.
From Illinois Business Journal news services
EDWARDSVILLE – Granite City resident and longtime civic leader James R. Pennekamp has been nominated by Madison County Chairman Alan Dunstan to serve on the board of commissioners for the Metro East Sanitary District.
The Madison County Board will act on Dunstan’s appointment of Pennekamp at its monthly meeting Wednesday.
Dunstan cited Pennekamp’s accomplishments during a career in public service that spanned 36 years promoting economic development in Madison County and Southwestern Illinois.
“Jim Pennekamp has spent his professional career working to enhance economic development in Madison County and Southwestern Illinois, and has been immersed in just about every significant development during the past three decades.”
“Jim (Pennekamp) has successfully worked with businessmen and women, educators and elected officials and representatives from both political parties for the betterment of our area. I cannot think of a better, more qualified individual to serve on the Metro East Sanitary District Board of Commissioners than Jim Pennekamp,” the chairman stated.
Pennekamp currently serves as the president of Madison County Flood Prevention District which, along with the St. Clair and Monroe County Flood Prevention Districts, form the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District. The district is charged with the responsibility of working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the rehabilitation and maintenance of 74 miles of levees which protect the American Bottoms, as well as 155,000 residents and 55,000 jobs, from flooding by the Mississippi River.
Dunstan said the rehabilitation of the levees is perhaps the most important issue addressed by the county in decades. “The levees are an integral part of the economic engine that drives Madison County. If they had been decertified, the effect on our residents and businesses would have been devastating,” Dunstan said.
“As it now stands, the rehabilitation of the levees is nearing completion and will be certified in 2017 to withstand a 100-year flood,” Dunstan added. “The levee project is a textbook example of how governments can successfully work together. Jim Pennekamp not only played a key role in that effort, but is the best person to ensure the levees are properly maintained for years to come.”
Prominent Alton attorney, businessman and community leader Thomas Long lauded Pennekamp’s appointment.
“It has been a pleasure to have served with Jim Pennekamp for the past seven years as we worked on the essential project of rehabilitating the levee system which protects our area. Jim has proven to be thoughtful and efficient president of the Southwestern Illinois Flood Protection District,” Long stated. “I look forward to continuing to work with Jim on the levee rehabilitation project, and in his capacity with the Metro East Sanitary District.”
Pennekamp recently retired from his position as special assistant to the chancellor for Regional Economic Development at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and executive director of University Park, Inc.
For more than 16 years Pennekamp served as executive director of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, working with regional leaders representing government, business, labor and education on projects designed to enhance the investment climate in Southwestern Illinois.
Illinois State Sen. William R. Haine, D-Alton, said Pennekamp played an important role in Madison County’s development into the midwest’s premier intermodal distribution center. “Jim Pennekamp had a key role in the planning and development of the distribution centers which now provide employment for thousands of Madison County residents.”
“From discussions with Chairman Dunstan, I know there were a number of qualified individuals interested in the position, people who would have been excellent additions to the Metro East Sanitary District Board of Commissioners,” Sen. Haine stated. “With the appointment of Jim Pennekamp, the chairman has identified a highly-qualified, honest and competent individual who I have known and worked with for more than 25 years.”
Prior to selecting Pennekamp as his nominee, the chairman said he consulted with a wide-range of elected officials and community leaders. “In addition to Tom Long and Sen. Haine, I spoke with the mayors of Granite City, Madison, Venice and Pontoon Beach, other elected officials and community leaders about the appointment.” Dunstan said. “We discussed a number of individuals who would have been excellent representatives, but Jim Pennekamp was the one individual who was on everyone’s list.”
Among the major projects Pennekamp has been involved with are the extension of I-255 into northwestern Madison County, the creation of the Clark and Stan Musial Veterans bridges, the renovation of the McKinley Bridge, and the effort to successfully retain and enhance Scott Air Force Base during two rounds of Military Base Realignment and Closure hearings.
Pennekamp is past president of the River Bend Growth Association and has served as executive vice president of the Southwest Madison County Chamber of Commerce.
In November, Pennekamp received the East-West Gateway Council of Governments Lifetime Public Service Award at the council’s annual awards luncheon.