Streator chamber honors Dr. Eleanor Howell

‘I love Streator,’ doctor says of her migration to Illinois

Dr. Eleanor Howell has no regrets about the path she took.

She was born in Ohio and grew up in the Midwest, migrated to Illinois after college, and found her way to Streator where she practiced internal medicine for roughly two decades.

She’s volunteered for the Salvation Army, the YMCA, Friends of St. Mary’s, campaigned for United Way and is an active member of First United Methodist Church.

Through her generosity, she’s made an impact in people’s lives throughout the community, said Streator Area Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Bunker Skerston at Monday’s annual awards dinner.

Howell received the highest honor given Monday — the Cephas Williams Award — for a lifetime of giving back to the city.

“I love Streator,” she told those in attendance at the Eastwood, noting she saw so many people who have become her friends over the years.

“I’m very humbled by this award,” she said.

The award is named after Cephas Williams, who owned a construction company responsible for building much of the city’s buildings and infrastructure.

The 108th annual chamber’s awards dinner was originally scheduled for March 2020, but it was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The awards given were for 2019 service.

The chamber recognized four outstanding young leaders in the community: Jacob Burcenski, principal at Woodland School; Patrick Chismarick, of Town & Country Apartments and Chismarick Realty; Lori Isermann, teacher at Streator Elementary; and Stephanie Harcharik, of Streator Unlimited, who has been instrumental in coordinating and bringing grant funding for day services and epilepsy programming at the agency.

The Streator High School welding department was awarded for community action; its program led by instructor David Taylor has helped many community organizations, including Light Up Streator and the city of Streator with projects.

The Streator High School Education Foundation received special recognition for non-for-profit groups. In 2020, the organization was responsible for distributing $102,000 to Streator High School graduates across 20 scholarships. Overall, it has raised $3 million since its creation in 2008 and has served as a model for other foundations across Illinois.

Other business and individual awards were presented to:

Theresa Solon Wargo at State Farm Insurance (financial award)

Theresa Muntz at Accounti, Tax & Business Services (professional business award)

Jen McMullen at Main Street Market, More on Main (retail/wholesale)

Vactor Manufacturing (manufacturing/industrial)

The Pflibsen family at the Eastwood (restaurant/entertainment)

The chamber recognized past president Mark Brockman, of Vactor Manufacturing, for his time serving the organization in 2019-2020.

Judy Booze, Kris Conner, Jennifer Currier, Rhonda Eilts, Stephanie Harcharik, Karen Karpati, Gigi Lansford, Ryan McGuckin, Lisa Piecha, Jenny Salisbury, Amy Spears, Stacy Starjak and Cindy Taylor were recognized for serving as chamber ambassadors.

Bob Gubbels, Carrie Alexander, Cathy Brozak, Conner, Eilts, Jamie Gahm, Karpati, Lansford, Doug Patterson, Jane Rakoczy and Dana Stillwell were thanked for their fundraising work.

Derek Barichello

Derek Barichello

Derek is a Streator High and University of Illinois graduate. He worked at the Albany-Herald in Albany, Ga., and for Sauk Valley Media in Sterling, before returning to his hometown paper. He's now news editor for both the NewsTribune and The Times.