The deadline for Effingham Daily News Citizen of the Year nominations has been extended to Dec. 31. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to send in a nomination so far.

The newspaper is looking for individuals of extraordinary ethics who strive to improve the welfare of our community and its citizens.

For its Citizen of the Year, the newspaper looks for somebody who has made a significant impact on the overall quality of life in our community.

Nominating letters may either be sent to the Effingham Daily News at 201 N. Banker, Effingham, IL 62401, or emailed to Put "Citizen of the Year" in the subject line.

The recipient will be honored at the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce annual gala on Jan. 19. Any resident of Effingham County who is 18 years or older is eligible.

Nominees will be considered based on three criteria: overall lifetime contribution to and impact on the Effingham area to improve the quality of life; impact on the community through volunteerism, participation or membership in community, religious or civic organizations; and demonstrations of dedication to improving our community by providing leadership and resources over and above one's normal employment.

One thing that distinguishes many past honorees is the multiple levels of contributions they have made to the Effingham area over a long period of time.

The 2018 recipient was Dr. Nash Naam, a world-renowned hand surgeon who moved to the United States in 1976. One of his nomination letters noted, “His compassion for his fellow man crosses all realms, from the youngest child to the oldest recipient of his attention. Each person he encounters is made to feel special.”

The 2017 recipient was Tod Lancaster, who was named for his positive influences in the community. As the perennial emcee of the gala event, he'd watched many others be given the honor and was stunned to read his own name that year.

Other recent past recipients include former Effingham City Attorney Hank Stephens, who helped bring Tax Increment Financing to the city, and Craig Lindvahl, who founded CEO, the acclaimed entrepreneurship program for high school students.