Judy Apperson of Salem was honored during the Meramec Regional Planning Commission’s (MRPC) annual dinner Oct. 24 at the Stonebrooke Center in Waynesville. Twelve other individuals were honored at the dinner as well.
Apperson, nominated by Dent County Presiding Commissioner Darrell Skiles, has been involved with Salem Area Community Betterment Association since her retirement in 2002. She served as secretary for 14 years, and became president in Feb. 2018. The Salem Area Community Betterment Association owns, manages and maintains a complex that includes three buildings – the farmers market, Visitor’s Center and the chamber of commerce offices. Apperson is instrumental in making sure all building and offices are well-maintained and used by the community. Apperson has been the hands-on or go-to person for several grants that the association has received recently, including making sure all grant documents are submitted in a timely fashion. She also serves on the Heroes Marathon Committee, helping plan and working the day of the event; caretaker of two local cemeteries, ensuring the mowing and general upkeep is performed; and is an instrumental asset with the Ozark Natural Cultural and Resource Center, as well as the Farmers’ Market.
“I was very surprised and honored to be nominated. It is not expected that the things you love to do are really noticed by others, and most importantly I don’t expect that kind of recognition. It is a humbling experience,” said Apperson of the recognition.
Other individuals recognized by MRPC for contributions to their communities were:
• E. Louise Baker of Owensville, nominated by Owensville Mayor John Kamler; Jan and Terry Primas of Waynesville, nominated by Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman; Karlee Hallahan of Vienna, nominated by Maries County Presiding Commissioner Vic Stratman; Dr. Donald “Doc” Broman of Linn, nominated by MRPC Board Member Dr. Donald Claycomb; Joey Butler Sr. of Belle, nominated by MRPC Board Member Steve Vogt, Julia Semsick of Crocker, nominated by Crocker Mayor Glen Smith; William “Bill” S. Jenks III of Rolla, nominated by MRPC Board Member John Butz; andCindy Butler of Belle, nominated by MRPC Board Member Ray Schwartze.
• Local Agency Representative Patricia Heaney of Hermann, nominated by Hermann Mayor Dr. Robert Koerber.
• Youth Volunteer, Shane Jones, son of Eugene and Consuelo Jones of Belle, nominated by MRPC Board Member Steve Vogt.
• The Eugene E. Northern award, the highest honor given by MRPC for volunteers and community service, was presented to Faye Howard of Cuba. She was nominated by Crawford County Presiding Commissioner Leo Sanders. Howard is a member of the Crawford County Fair board having served on it for 34 years and holding the positions of secretary and president. She works the gate and the food stand, sells food tickets, and serves on the commercial and entertainment committees.
Outside of the fair, Howard dedicates her time to the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Board, Park and Recreation Board, the Order of the Eastern Star, Oak Hill Cemetery, her church and the fire department. With the fire department, she is a volunteer firefighter. One day out of the month, Howard works with a 14-year-old boy with Autism at the Cuba Fire House, teaching life skills as she helps him clean the office and fire trucks.
• The Missouri Bank was honored with Meramec Regional Development Corporation’s Lender of the Year award. Kathy Schlottach-Brandt, of the Hermann branch, accepted the award on its behalf.
One staff member was recognized at the 2019 awards banquet for years of service: Connie Willman, senior community development specialist with MRPC, received her award for 25 years of service. Linda Loughridge, fiscal officer, was honored as MRPC’s employee of the year. Loughridge joined MRPC in August 1995.
The night included a reception featuring Hoppers Pub, Cellar 66 Restaurant and Wine Bar and Piney River Brewery. Reception food was sponsored by the Waynesville/St. Robert Regional Airport. A silent auction, which raised over $1,614 to offset the costs of the dinner, was held during the reception. Some 170 individuals were in attendance.
Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe was the keynote speaker, speaking about infrastructure and workforce. Lt. Gov. Kehoe congratulated all of the award winners and encouraged everyone to keep working for the betterment of the region.
“Our Annual Dinner is the highlight of our year, as our board takes great pleasure in honoring some very deserving volunteers across our region, recapping some of the great projects that have occurred in our communities and taking a look at the contributions MRPC, as an organization, has made to our cities and counties,” said Bonnie Prigge, MRPC executive director. “This year was even more special as we celebrate MRPC’s 50th year of service. We really appreciate the hospitality, provided by the city of Waynesville and Pulaski County, our hosts, and a special thank you to Caleb Rowden and Stonebrooke Center for delivering a top-notch location for our evening. It was certainly a great evening.”
Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities.