McLean County Republican Party names 2021 Everyday Hero Award winner

This is the second year for the award sponsored by the McLean County Republican Party. (Photo courtesy: McLean County Republican Party/Facebook)

By Blake Haas

BLOOMINGTON – Mike Jones, President of Western Ave. Community Center has been named the 2021 Everyday Hero Award winner.

The award, sponsored by the McLean County Republicans, honors a community member who best serves the need of a non-profit in the Twin Cities.

“We received our nominations (and) our select committee went through and read all of the nominations and decided that Mike Jones, who is President of the Western Avenue Community Center; exemplifies everything that we believe that volunteers should be doing in our community,” said Connie Beard, Chairman of the McLean County Republican Party.

The award includes a $500 check to Western Avenue Community Center, which provides support from food to families to programs for Hispanic, youth, and senior citizen groups.

“We are excited to support the good work they are doing over there and to recognize one of their top volunteers in Mike Jones,” added Beard. “His years of dedication to just the program as a whole and then among the things were presented to us in the nomination packet were letters of reference giving testimony to his hard work in fundraising, to his not his just helping to keep Western Avenue Community Center afloat.

“Which many in the community realize that with COVID and everything going on this last year they along with other organizations have taken a real hit financially. Mike worked just beyond what a normal volunteer would do in helping to keep Western Avenue financially solid and able to continue its mission.”

The award and grant check will be presented on Friday, April 30 at the 2021 Lincoln Reagan Dinner at the Doubletree Hotel.

The public is invited to attend, and tickets are available online at

Blake Haas can be reached at 


Labor Day – Expanding voting rights for all

By Mike Matejka Because of COVID, there is no Labor Day Parade this year.  It’s always a great event for our everyday workers to march proudly down the street and enjoys the festive crowd. If there had been a parade, this year’s Labor Day theme was to be “150 years of struggle: your right to vote.” …

Is federal mobilization the answer?

By Mike Matejka As President Donald Trump threatens to send federal marshals into Chicago, over the objections of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, recall another Illinois Governor who protested the incursion of armed federal personnel into the city.   Those federal troops, rather than calming, escalated the situation, leading to deaths and violence. Illinois poet Vachel Lindsay…

In these troubled times, to my fellow white Americans

By Mike Matejka Our nation is at a unique watershed in human relations. African-Americans have been killed too many times in the past before George Floyd, but the response to this man’s death is international and all-encompassing. I was a grade-schooler during the Civil Rights 1960s. I watched Birmingham demonstrators hosed and the Selma – Montgomery…

Workers’ Memorial Day – Remember those whose job took their life

Looking around our community, when we say employer, most will respond to State Farm, Country, or Illinois State University.   We too often forget those who are building our roads, serving our food, or our public employees. COVID-19 has made us more aware of the risk.  Going to work every day for some people means…