The Rend Lake College Community Service Award is reserved for individuals who exemplify meritorious service to RLC, its students, staff, faculty and the communities of its district. This award has not been handed out in more than five years. Thursday night, at the RLC Foundation’s 26th Annual Dinner, it was presented to Illinois Representative Kurt M. Granberg.
Rep. Granberg (D-107th) has grown into a legislative lynchpin for this area since winning an underdog victory for the 109th District seat 21 years ago. His tenure of outstanding service to the District began in 1982 at the local level. From there, he became a local boy who went places but never lost sight of where he was from – a small town in Southern Illinois.
He was born June 16, 1953, in Breese and went to school at St. Mary’s in Carlyle, Mater Dei High in Breese and then on to the University of Illinois where he graduated with honors in 1975, majoring in political science and minoring in criminal justice. Although his interest in politics began years earlier, his actual entrance into Illinois politics was in 1976 when he interned for one year on the Illinois House Democratic Appropriations staff. A former attorney, Granberg graduated in 1980 from Chicago-Kent College of Law – the law school under the Illinois Institute of Technology – where he also served on the college’s finance committee.
Granberg was elected Democratic Precinct Committeeman in 1982 and to the Clinton County Board two years later. In 1986, he was elected State Representative of the 109th District – which became the 107th after redistricting – and has been re-elected every term since. It took him a decade in the House to become the Assistant Majority Leader – a timeline which included appointments to Democratic Floor Leader in 1992, Assistant Democratic Leader in 1994, and elections to be a delegate for the Clinton/Gore administration in 1992 and 1996. He was also elected to be a delegate for Al Gore/Joseph Lieberman in 2000 and Jim Kerry/John Edwards in 2004.
Through supporting numerous bills and serving on many committees, Granberg has built an influence at the State Capitol that has impacted Southern Illinois tremendously.
Some of the legislative highlights in Granberg’s tenure under the dome include bringing all interest groups together to forge comprehensive legislation to create incentives for the use of Illinois coal. This was a large factor in the Peabody Energy project for the area. He passed legislation to create a $250 million economic development finance authority known as S.E.I.D.E.A., whose board of directors is controlled by Marion and Jefferson counties. In a joint effort with Senator Gary Forby, Granberg passed legislation to build a new interchange in Mt. Vernon which has the potential to attract industry to the area and will be of great value to local residents.
He sponsored legislation to increase the use of ethanol and other agriculture products, to focus on Southern Illinois tourism and secured hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and loans for transportation and infrastructure improvements. This year, he secured $100,000 for the RLC Culinary Arts expansion and another $100,000 in state funding for the Amy Center.
Granberg sponsored a 10-piece legislative package that became law and deals with child protection. He worked with America’s Most Wanted host Adam Walsh in developing this legislation after the assault and murder of 10-year-old Amy Schulz in Kell. His establishment of the Amy Center for child sexual abuse victims also spun off from the Schulz tragedy. Granberg worked with Dennis Schulz, and local and State law enforcement officials, to create the Amy Center which is now the largest of its type in Illinois, covering all or parts of eight counties.
He also sponsored legislature, now law, dealing with pension reform that forced adequate funding of the Illinois pension system and prohibited legislators from increasing their state pensions after leaving office. He sponsored legislature, now law, that allows children in sexual abuse cases to provide their testimony by television instead of being physically in the courtroom. He sponsored anti-corporate take-over legislation, now law, that made Illinois one of the first states in the U.S. to implement this policy; and passed “timber tax” reform in Illinois.
Rep. Granberg has served in many capacities on numerous civic organizations. Former roles have included member of the Carlyle Lake Advisory Committee; member of the Board of Directors for Clinton County Projects for Older Americans, Inc.; member of the Board of Directors for Central Comprehensive Mental Health Center; Vice Chair for Hospice of Clinton County; Chairman of United Way of Clinton County; and member of Jaycees and Optimists organizations.
He is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Amy Schulz Center for Sexually Abused Children, member of the Fayette County Hospital Advisory Board, member of the Board of Directors for the Salvation Army; and a member of the Knights of Columbus, Moose Lodge, Elks Lodge and multiple Chambers of Commerce in the area.
The RLC Foundation Community Service Award will join a list of honors that has grown long in the 21 years he has served as a State Representative.
Last year, Granberg was named “Legislator of the Year” by the Illinois States Attorney’s Association and Autism One; and received a “Law Enforcement Appreciation” award from the Illinois Sheriff’s Association for his dedication to law enforcement in Illinois. Fresh on the floor from 1987 - 89, Granberg was Community Banks in Illinois’ Outstanding Freshman; a Distinguished Service Certificate recipient for AMVETS, a Taxpayers’ Best Friends Award for Integrity recipient; a Boy Scouts of America Certificate of Appreciation recipient; and an Illinois Electric Cooperative Public Service Award winner.
In the time between 1990 - 2005, he amassed 20 additional honors including an Appreciation and Recognition Award from the Illinois Education Association for “Outstanding Service to Public Education;” the Amy Center Board of Directors’ Appreciation Award; an Appreciation Certificate for Salem Economic Development; the “Israel Peace Award” from the Jewish Federation of Southern Illinois; a “Legislator of the Year” Award in 1991 from the National Association of Social Workers; a “Legislative Achievement Award” from the Illinois Probation and Court Services Association; “Contributions Appreciation Award” from KCAA; “Outstanding Legislator” Award from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund; Certificate of Merit from Delta Kappa Gamma Society International; “Dedicated Service” Award from the Illinois Retired Teachers Association; “Appreciation Award” from Projects for Older Americans, Inc.; Achievement Award and Recognition of Service from the Public Hospital of Salem; “Outstanding Legislator of the Year” Award in 1997 from the Illinois Healthcare Association; “Legislator of the Year” Award in 1997 from I.B.E.W.; “Outstanding Legislator of the Year” Award in 1998 from the University of Illinois Fire Fighters and the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois; an induction into the Samuel K. Gove Legislative Staff Intern Hall of Fame; the first-ever Glenn Walters Legislative Memorial Award from the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois; “Legislator of the Year” Award in 2001 from the Illinois Healthcare Association; and a mention in “Who’s Who” in politics, government and community service.
In 2001, he served as co-chairman of the National Conference of State Legislatures Reappointment Committee and as a member of House Committees on Registration and Regulation, and Electric Utility Oversight. He was chosen by House Speaker Michael Madigan to Chair the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee. He currently serves on the Committee of the Whole, Electric Utility Oversight Committee, Gaming Committee, Insurance Committee, Rural Economic Development Committee and the Telecommunications Committee.
Granberg’s offices are located in Springfield, Mt. Vernon and Centralia. He has announced that his current term in office will be his last.