It's the first time that the Oasis Women's Center in Alton has honored the men they say are working to solve domestic violence problems locally.
A former and a sitting Madison County judge as well as three local attorneys are among those receiving awards.
"Men Against Violence" is the sub-title for this year's Community Partners in Peace Award.
Madison County Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli will be among those honored at a dinner Nov. 5. The five-year co-chair of the Third Judicial Circuit's Family Violence Prevention Council said Thursday, "considering the people who are doing the awards, it's great."
Tognarelli also said he was honored to accept one of the center's first awards.
He joins Illinois State Senator Bill Haine, former judge Michael Meehan, Christopher Hunter, who co-chairs the court committee of the Third Judicial Circuit's Family Violence Prevention Council, and John Ammann, who heads St. Louis University's Law Clinic, who are other honorees from the local legal community.
Margaret Trushel, the executive director of the womens' center, said they decided to honor the men this year due to their many contributions to both the center and furthering the eradication of domestic violence in the Third Circuit.
"It's not something we've done before," Trushel said of the recognition. "We did think it was time."
Many times, she said, the men's accomplishments have gone unnoticed.
"A lot of times it's a behind the scenes thing," she explained.
Meehan and Hunter serve on the center's board of directors. The center has been operating in Alton for 33 years and serves about 1,500 women a year in a five county area.
In addition to Meehan and Hunter's service to the center, Trushel cited the efforts of the others, including Tognarelli, who worked within the justice system to tackle the issue.
Tognarelli has been a judge since 2002. He has served in a number of divisions including the civil and criminal court where he is currently assigned. One of his assignments, Tognarelli said, was the domestic violence court, where he saw domestic violence issues firsthand. He was elected to the circuit seat in 2008.
Since 2004, Tognarelli has co-chaired with Family Violence Prevention Council. The council seeks to eliminate domestic abuse in Madison County and to coordinate the efforts of law enforcement, legal and social service groups. Tognarelli co-chairs the council with Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder. The council has committees that deal with intervention, health concerns, law enforcement issues and other parts of the overall issue.
"[Domestic violence is] not just a legal problem, it's a social problem," Tognarelli said.
He went on to say that he believed the greatest achievement of the council and his work in the area has come in the form of positive responses from those who have participated in the programs.
"To me, that gives great encouragement," Tognarelli said.
Pull-out: For more information about attending the event, please call 618-465-1978. Tickets are $50 per person. The event honoring the 12 men will start at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Alton Holiday Inn.
The 12 honorees are:
Rep. Dan Beiser
Sen. Bill Haine
Sheriff Bob Hertz
Capt. Marc McLemore
Judge Richard Tognarelli