Metro-East News

Madison County Board member who died unexpectedly named replacement in letter

Helen Hawkins: A look back at her life

Helen Hawkins, 89, collapsed and died as she walked to the elevator with a group of people after a Planning and Development Committee meeting Thursday night, according to spokeswoman Cynthia Ellis.
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Helen Hawkins, 89, collapsed and died as she walked to the elevator with a group of people after a Planning and Development Committee meeting Thursday night, according to spokeswoman Cynthia Ellis.

The Madison County Democratic Party has chosen a replacement for Helen Hawkins, a County Board member who died unexpectedly last week.

Choosing a replacement was easy, said Democratic Party Chairman Mark Von Nida, because Hawkins named one specifically in a letter she wrote to the County Board Chairman in case she retired from her seat.

Hawkins was up for reelection in District 16, where she served as a board member for 16 years.

Chris Hankins, of Pontoon Beach, is a business agent representing IBEW Local 309 in Collinsville, according to a news release sent Friday by the Democratic Party.

Helen Hawkins, 89, collapsed and died as she walked to the elevator with a group of people after a Planning and Development Committee meeting Thursday night, according to spokeswoman Cynthia Ellis.

Hankins is a long-time Pontoon Beach resident, where he has served as a trustee for more than seven years. He is also the chairman of the village’s finance committee, police committee and the Pontoon Beach Public Water District. He serves on the personnel and parks committees, as well.

Hankins was also a night school teacher at the IBEW Local 309 for 15 years and served 10 years on his Local Health and Welfare Board and 401k Trust.

Hankins graduated from Granite City High School in 1990 and earned an Associates Degree from Rankin Technical College in 1992. He then worked as a journeyman wire-man apprenticeship with the Illinois Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Von Nida said Hankins is “committed to open discussion with the entire community.”

Hankins is expected to appear on the ballot along with Independent candidate Susan Presswood, of Granite City.

“He believes in employing good sense and sound judgment in practical matters to everyday decisions that are made on behalf of his constituents,” Von Nida said in a prepared statement.

Hankins has lived in Pontoon Beach for 20 years with his wife of 25 years, Pam. They have one daughter, Alyson.

Kelsey Landis: 618-239-2110, @KelseyLandis
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