BATAVIA – In accepting 2013 Batavia Citizen of the Year award, former Batavia alderman Jim Hanson downplayed his accomplishments.
“To me, it’s something that anybody should be able to do,” the 88-year-old Hanson said, just before receiving the award presented by the Batavia Chamber of Commerce.
Hanson was honored Friday at the chamber’s annual awards event, “Inspire 2014: A Celebration of Those Who Inspire Us!” at the Commons Auditorium at The Holmstad.
Hanson was elected as an alderman in 1961 and served as the chair of what then was known as the planning, zoning and annexation committee. During the 16 years of his tenure, downtown Batavia Plaza came into being, and land was acquired north of Wilson Street for additional development.
Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke lauded Hanson for his efforts in the redevelopment of downtown Batavia. He said it was during Hanson’s tenure on the City Council that a lot of old factory buildings were torn down, and he helped redevelop the area where Panera Bread and Walgreen’s are now on Wilson Street.
While on the City Council, Hanson also worked on an open housing ordinance that fought discrimination and segregation to ensure fair housing.
He was instrumental in helping provide the Muslim community with a meeting place 30 years ago.
The Muslim community continues to meet at Calvary Church today.
Friday also was the last day for Roger Breisch, executive director of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce. He has headed the organization for almost 10 years.
“Roger has been somebody who has taken the Batavia Chamber to a new plateau,” Schielke said.
The Batavia Citizen of the Year is selected by a committee of previous recipients of the award and is based on nominations from the community. The award is given for extraordinary contributions to the community over the course of the recipient’s lifetime.
In addition to his work on the Batavia City Council, Hanson continues to volunteer each month at the Batavia Depot Museum. He was involved with the R.S.V.P. group and resigned from the board last spring.
Hanson worked as a teacher in the West Aurora School District and also served three terms as the Kane County regional school superintendent.