Longtime city leader honored with St. Charles’ Charlemagne Award

Longtime resident and public official Mark Koenen served St. Charles for 39 years in multiple capacities, including as city administrator and director of public works.

Those years of service were honored Friday when the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce presented Koenen with the city’s highest honor — the Charlemagne Award — at 56th Annual Charlemagne Awards Dinner.

Established in 1968, the award is a lifetime achievement award given to one community member each year with a distinguished history of service to the city.

“(Koenen) has been an excellent example of servant leadership, with numerous acts of volunteerism,” said Josh Feagans, chair of the chamber’s board.

Koenen retired in 2021 after serving as city administrator for eight years. Before that he served as director of public works for 23 years and worked in the city’s engineering department for eight years.

During his tenure, Koenen played a pivotal role in the development of several award-winning city projects and commissions, including the Prairie Street Bridge, the Red Gate Bridge, the new police station, the First Street Plaza and the liquor commission.

“St. Charles is a special community,” Koenen said. “Thank you for letting me do my job and I hope that I never let any of you down, because you’re all wonderful. Thank you so very much.”

Mayor Lora Vitek congratulated Koenen.

“His engineer’s mind, his attention to detail, and his incredible knowledge of all things St. Charles was invaluable and still is,” Vitek said. “I’m so happy that Mark’s dedication and decades long commitment to making St. Charles a better place has been recognized tonight.”

The Charlemagne Award was the first of many recognitions during the gala, which marked the chamber’s 102nd anniversary. The event also celebrated community business leaders and their accomplishments, as well as the chamber’s milestones and achievements in 2023.

Chamber Executive Director Deborah Gurley presented the 29th annual L.E.A.P. award to Becky Gillam, chief of staff for Illinois Sen. Don DeWitte and chair of the Kane Forest Preserve Foundation. L.E.A.P. stands for Leadership, Excellence, Achievement and Professionalism.

“This is so exciting and it means so much, especially to come from a group like this.” Gillam said. “This truly is an honor, thank you so much.”

Other award winners included:

  • Community Development Awards: Andy’s Frozen Custard, Baker Memorial Methodist Church, Kiddie Academy, Realtor Association of the Fox Valley, The pride of St. Charles, The Springs of St. Charles and Tiger Drylac USA.
  • Community Image Awards: Dear Donuts, Flower of Life Yoga & Wellness Studio, Fully Promoted St. Charles and Rosie’s Color Studio.
  • Civic Image Awards: City of St. Charles (First Street Plaza), Clarke Mosquito Control and Dr. J. Luell Clarke III (First Street Plaza) and St. Charles Park District (Kehoe ‘Rocket’ Park).
Mark Koenen accepts the 2024 Charlemagne Award on Friday during the 56th annual Charlemagne Awards Dinner hosted by the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce. Sandy Bressner/Shaw Local News Network
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