EDWARDSVILLE — A longtime educator received recognition from the Madison County Board Wednesday.
Debra Pitts, who retired as principal at Civic Memorial High School in Bethalto last June, was honored with the 2015 Living Legends Community Service award. Pitts served as principal at Civic Memorial for eight years and spent 31 years at Alton High School as a special education teacher, guidance counselor and dean of students.
“Debra is recognized as a strong youth advocate,” County Board member Michael “Doc” Holliday Sr. of Alton said, adding that Pitts has dedicated her life to educating children.
“Ms. Pitts, you epitomize the greatness of education and we need more people like you,” board member Michael J. Walters of Godfrey said.
Madison County Board Chairman Alan J. Dunstan presented Pitts the award. In a press release, Dunstan praised her commitment to education.
“Debra Pitts has dedicated a lifetime to educating people and helping others by her association with civic organizations,” Dunstan said. “Her accomplishments have been many and the most rewarding has been the difference she has made in people’s lives. I and the Madison County Board are greatly honored to recognize her achievements by presenting her the 2015 Madison County Living Legends Community Service Award.”
Since retiring, Pitts has stayed busy with a number of civic activities, including Edwardsville Parks and Recreation, Illinois State University Associate Executive Committee, Edwardsville branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Delta Kappa Gamma Alpha Eta Chapter, National Council of Negro Women Alton Chapter, Southwest Division of United Way-Charmaine Chapman Society and Southwest Illinois Division of United Way.
An Edwardsville resident, Pitts was born in Gary, Ind., and moved to Edwardsville in 1971 to attend Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She is a member of Mount Joy Missionary Baptist Church in Edwardsville, where she serves as church clerk and is on the usher board. She volunteers at Heartland Hospice and was appointed to the Illinois High School Association Board of Directors.
Pitts’ honors and awards include YWCA Women of Distinction; 100 Black Men of Alton, Honorary Chairperson; INROADS Educator of the Year, Lewis and Clark Community College Upward Bound Outstanding Contributor, SIUE Recognition of Excellence in Teaching, Federated Unity Club of Alton, Elijah P. Lovejoy Human Rights Award, Illinois State NAACP Conference Chair, Edwardsville Branch NAACP; National Council of Negro Women Outstanding Contributor, Illinois State Board of Education Those Who Excel Recognition, Madison County Urban League Community Service Award, Bethalto Rotary Paul Harris Fellow Award and Peabody Leadership in Education Award.
“I’d just like to ask God to continue to give me the strength to do what I do in the community,” Pitts said.
Auditor Rick Faccin also received an award for excellence and professionalism in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association. Faccin has been honored 13 times for auditing excellence since being elected auditor in 2000.
In other business:
• The board opened to public inspection previously sealed minutes from executive sessions through Dec. 31. State law requires periodic reviews of closed-session minutes.
• The board approved a $400,000 Park and Recreation Grant Commission loan to the Venice Park District for improvements to Lee Park and a $300,000 loan to Granite City for street and sidewalk repairs around Gateway Regional Medical Center and to demolish the former Elks Lodge building next to City Hall.
• The board signed off on three contracts: $34,030 for Solution Specialties of Lake Villa, Ill., for a five-year contract for case management software in the Probation Department; $37,627 for Whiteside Communications of Sorento, Ill., for lights, sirens and radios for three State’s Attorney’s Office vehicles; and $1.57 million for New World Systems of Troy, Mich., for a seven-year software maintenance agreement for the Sheriff’s Department’s computer-aided dispatch system.