MRPC News Release

For immediate release
Oct. 31, 2016

For more information, contact
Roxie Murphy at (573) 265-2993

Maries County residents honored with MRPC volunteer awards
Schaller, Thierry, McClane recognized

MARIES COUNTY —Three Maries County residents—Barb Schaller of Belle, Evan Thierry of Belle and Mark McClane of Belle-Osage County— were honored for their volunteer efforts during Meramec Regional Planning Commission’s (MRPC) 2016 Annual Dinner on Oct. 20 at the Belle-Bland Community Center in Belle. The organization also honored nine additional volunteers and service organizations for their contributions to communities during the event.

Each year, MRPC honors residents of the eight-county Meramec Region who volunteer their time, talents and support to their communities and charitable causes.

The MRPC External Relations committee selects award winners after being nominated by an MRPC board member.

Nominated by Maries County Presiding Commissioner Ray Schwartze and Belle Mayor Steve Vogt, Schaller has worked to better the Belle community through grant writing and volunteering her own time and funds for projects. In addition to her position as the city’s municipal court clerk, Schaller recently helped write and was awarded the Belle beautification grant from Three Rivers Electric Cooperative and acts as grant administrator for the Rock Island Hiking and Biking Trail grant project. She is currently working on the Belle flag project along U.S. 89 and U.S. 28 in Belle, recently worked with MRPC on a grant for a new fire truck, and continues to beautify the city park with new plants and supervises community service volunteers.

Also nominated by Vogt and Osage County Presiding Commissioner Ray Schwartze, Evan Thierry of Belle was honored as one of two outstanding youth volunteers. Thierry has a passion for volunteering and has been recognized for his school activities, community service, band, Future Business Leaders of America, Scholar Bowl, Gasconade Valley Conference Math Contest, Scholar Olympiad and National Honors Society. He volunteers for the railway walking and biking trail project; new school planning and the Osage Arts Community events. Thierry was involved with many services projects such as Trunk or Treat, Relay for Life, Red Cross blood drives, March of Dimes and is a caretaker of the city of Belle’s Flag Park. Even is a role model for youth achievement and volunteerism. He is attending Truman State University at Kirksville. Thierry is the son of Craig and Merry Thierry of Belle.

Maries and Osage counties share Mark McClane, as the city is split from east to west. Vogt and Osage County Presiding Commissioner Dave Dudenhoeffer nominated McClane, who is the executive director of the Osage Arts Community Council (OAC).

Through the OAC and his own time, McClane coordinates activities, provides venues for artists and other events in the Belle area. OAC  recently acquired many dilapidated buildings and houses in the Belle area and is working with artists to physically renovate each one, including the Cultural Center. Others have been converted into housing for artists, art education classes or performance venues. McClane is also a member and past president of the Maries County R-2 Foundation Committee. He has donated to the Community Scholarship Program, coordinated a group of volunteers focused on getting a school levy passed for a new elementary school, and spent countless hours meeting with civic groups and going door-to-door. Through the OAC, he has also helped with the city’s beautification through the tree planting project and flag project.

MRPC’s highest honor––The Eugene E. Northern award––was presented to Hermann resident Betty Hartbauer.  The Northern award is given to a volunteer who demonstrates lifelong community service. Northern, a former Rolla mayor, was a Missouri circuit judge who was dedicated to his community and went beyond the call of duty.

Hartbauer is currently president of three different organizations that either preserve or perpetuate the city of Hermann’s German heritage, including the Historic Hermann, Inc., which is headquartered in the historic German school building and museum, Hermann Maifest Committee, where she coordinates annual festivals that include 30 vendors or more and the local Wall Dog chapter, where she coordinates professional artists , both local and from the entire Midwest, paint retro advertising murals. Hartbauer has demonstrated leadership and enhance tourism through her untiring efforts within the community.

   Others honored include:

  • Carma Labbee of Potosi, nominated by Debby Bust, MRPC board member;
  • Ronald Hoffman of Linn, nominated by Osage County Commission;
  • Carol Hofstetter of Bourbon, nominated by Mary Heywood, MRPC board member;
  • Owensville M.O.B. (Making Owensville Better), nominated by John Kamler, Owensville mayor;
  • Pulaski County Young Marines of Waynesville, nominated by Luge Hardman, Waynesville mayor;
  • Betty Layman, nominated by Crocker Mayor James Morgan; and
  • Leo Dickey of Belgrade, nominated by John M. Robinson, III, Caledonia mayor.

   The second youth volunteer was:

  • Josh Sirois of Salem, nominated by Dent County Presiding Commissioner Darrell Skiles.

MRPC staff service awards were also presented during the evening to MRPC Executive Director Bonnie Prigge for 25 years of service; Teresa Murdie, housing inspector/coordinator, for 35 years of service; Maria Bancroft, business loans specialist for 10 years of service.

Housing Inspector Chuck Cantrell was also honored as MRPC 2016 Employee of the Year, a selection made by MRPC staff.  He inspects rental units through the Phelps County Public Housing Agency (PHA) and provides work write-ups and inspection services for housing renovation projects. He also does lead and asbestos inspections and helps with the maintenance of the MRPC building and cars.

Cantrell was nominated by his co-workers because of his willingness to help others and his ability to remember every detail and discuss his work. He willingly accepts additional duties and projects and volunteers to help where needed, and customers compliment on his professionalism.

Meramec Regional Development Corp., the loan board that works in partnership with MRPC, presented its Lender of the Year award to Maries County Bank. Brandon Licklider of the St. James branch accepted the award on behalf of the bank.

Some 179 people attended MRPC’s annual dinner. Several area cities, businesses and board members donated items for the silent auction, which was held during the reception. The reception was sponsored by Maries County Bank, Legends Bank and Mid America Bank, all of Belle.  

MRPC Executive Director Prigge served as master of ceremonies and was assisted by Chairman Ray Schwartze, Maries County presiding commissioner. Vogt, Schwartze and Dudenhoeffer provided welcoming addresses. Vice Chairman Marvin Wright, presiding commissioner of Washington County, assisted with awards.

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. A professional staff of 24, directed by the MRPC board, offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.

To keep up with the latest MRPC news and events, visit the MRPC website atwww.meramecregion.orgor on Facebook at

Evan Thierry (second right) of Belle was honored with an award from MRPC Chairman Ray Schwartze (second left) at MRPC’s annual dinner ceremony Oct. 20. Schwartze and Belle Mayor Steve Vogt (right) nominated Evan for the event. Bonnie Prigge, MRPC executive director (left) coordinated the ceremony.

MRPC Chairman and Maries County Presiding Commissioner Ray Schwartze (left) presented an award plaque to Barb Schaller of Belle for her services to her community. Belle Mayor Steve Vogt nominated Barb for the award.

MRPC Chairman and Maries County Presiding Commissioner Ray Schwartze (left) presented a volunteer award to Mark McClane of Belle (second), executive director of the Osage Arts Community Council. Belle Mayor Steve Vogt (third left) and Osage County Presiding Commissioner Dave Dudenhoeffer(right) nominated Mark for the award.


Return to MRPC Welcome Page

Return to MRPC Press Release Archive