Area communities are being encouraged to submit entries for the 31st Annual Governor’s Hometown Awards, a program that recognizes volunteer efforts to improve Illinois communities. The application deadline is July 15, and communities of any size may submit nominations. Applications may be submitted by local governments, schools, youth groups, community organizations, chambers of commerce, or other local entities. Awards are given based on population in six project categories: Services and mentorship, beautification and sustainability, parks and recreation, memorials and monuments, history and historic preservation, and general projects. Judges will also nominate one project from each population division to receive the Governor's Cup, a traveling silver trophy which signifies the project deemed most representative of the spirit of Illinois volunteerism. Details and application forms are available at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website.