Every year, the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce honors an outstanding citizen — and this time around, they're looking for a little extra help from members of the community.

Chamber interim executive director Pam Stevens said the deadline for award nominations is July 31, but not many have been submitted so far. She wants to encourage community members to speak up and nominate someone they think has made a difference in Newton.

"We look at what they do for the community," Stevens said of nominees.

The Chamber's "Outstanding Citizen Award" for 2013 will be presented at the Chamber's annual banquet Sept. 12 at the Meridian Center.

Past winners of the award will select the winner for this year. Stevens said although it can be tough to keep it a secret, the Chamber tries to surprise the winner with the award. A speaker will give clues about the winner and list his or her accomplishments before making the announcement.

Examples of past winners include Steve Kelly, CEO of Newton Medical Center, and downtown developer Dewayne Pauls.

Stevens said the nomination form is simple to fill out. It's only a page long and includes two main questions: list of organizations the nominee is involved in (professional, government, religious, etc.) and examples of community service provided by the nominee.

Copies of the nomination form are available at the Chamber office, or one can be sent via email. For more information, call the Chamber at 283-2560.

Although the outstanding citizen award is all about honoring a current community leader, the Chamber is also looking to train future leaders for Newton.

The Chamber is now accepting applications for the 2013 Leadership Newton program. Leadership Newton is facilitated by Growth Associates and trains participants how to become better leaders, handle complex situations, energize others and intervene for progress.

The program starts Oct. 2, and the cost is $400 per person. The class includes a summit at the Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita. Applications are available at the Chamber or through email.

"It's a great program," Stevens said. "You grow a lot as a person, and you become close with your classmates."

And who knows — Stevens said a future "outstanding citizen" winner could even come from this year's group of Leadership Newton alumni.

"Hopefully we're growing leaders to get that outstanding citizen of the year award," she said.