The Character Counts organization has announced its annual awards which will be presented in October. Character Counts focuses on the six pillars of character — trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring, citizenship, and fairness. Character Counts in Iowa spokesperson, Amy Smit says this year marks the first year of a new award.

The new award is called the “Aaron Eilerts Service Award” and honors people in Iowa who give back to their community. Eilerts was a Boy Scout from Eagle Grove and will be honored posthumously this year and then each year someone will be honored with the award for giving back to their community. Eilerts was one of four Boy Scouts killed when a tornado struck the Little Sioux Scout Camp in June, 2008.

Smit says this year’s “Organization of Character” award will go to Trinity Regional Medical Center in Fort Dodge. She says they have done a great job of internalizing the six pillars of character and all of the staff have taken the time to learn about the pillars and making it part of the way they do business. Smit says a long-time figure on the Iowa sports scene will receive the “Robert Ray Pillar of Character” award that’s named for the state’s former governor.

Smit says they typically give out one or two of these awards each year and they go to people who have “put their life’s passion into promoting good character and being a good citizen. This year’s winner is Jim Hallihan the director of the Iowa Games.

Hallihan was an assistant men’s basketball coach at Iowa State University before taking over leadership of the Iowa Games.

Other awards for this year are: Community of Character: Cedar Valley; Educator of Character: Marilyn Clauss (Clive); School of Character: Beaver Creek Elementary (Johnston); Pursuing Victory With Honor: Iowa Hall of Pride; Citizens of Character: Meghan Hammen (Iowa City), Elizabeth Swanson (Cedar Falls) & Eddie Diemer (Cedar Falls); Character Champion: Beth Stephas (Eagle Grove); Partner of the Year: KDSM Fox 17 (Des Moines). Award winners will be recognized at the 2009 Awards Banquet on Saturday, October 17, 2009 in West Des Moines.

Story by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City