MRPC News Release

For immediate release
Oct. 31, 2016

For more information, contact
            Bonnie Prigge at (573) 265-2993

Two Washington County volunteers honored with MRPC awards

WASHINGTON COUNTY—Leo Dickey of Belgrade and Carma Labbee of Potosi was among those honored for their volunteer services 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 10 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.
Caledonia Mayor John M. Robinson, III, nominated Leo Dickey of Belgrade. Dickey is described as a wonderfully committed and civic-minded person who has worked diligently for over 50 years for the community of Caledonia. He is currently active in the Valley Lions Club, Belgrade Masonic Lodge and is former board president of the Valley R-VI School District. He was an early volunteer and continuous supporter of the Caledonia Community Betterment Organization. Leo is a former local business owner and a founding board member of the Meramec Regional Community Foundation. Leo also served as an at-large commissioner for farming on the MRPC board for many years.

MRPC At-Large Board Member Debby Bust nominated Carma Labbee. Labbee has served as the volunteer chair of the Salvation Army, Potosi Service Unit and organizer of the Red Kettle Campaign, the Business Bell Ring Off and Local Service Unit since 1996. Labbee raised $1,000 for victims of fire, flood, storms and other disasters in the first year of the annual events. Twenty years, in 2016, the total raised is $14,808 and growing! Labbee also volunteers each year at the Washington County Health Fair, the Washington County Fair and Back-to-School Fair, providing shoe vouchers for the children. After 20 years of volunteer service, she is retiring from the chairmanship of the Potosi Unit Salvation Army, but will continue to volunteer where she can.

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:

  • 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;
  • Mark McClane of Belle, nominated by Osage County Commissioner Dave Dudenhoeffer and Belle Mayor Steve Vogt;
  • Barb Schaller of Belle, nominated by Maries County Presiding Commissioner Ray Schwartze and Belle Mayor Steve Vogt;
  • Pulaski Young Marines of Waynesville, nominated by Luge Hardman, Waynesville mayor;
  • Betty Layman, nominated by Crocker Mayor James Morgan.

       The youth volunteers were:
  • Josh Sirois of Salem, nominated by Dent County Presiding Commissioner Darrell Skiles; and
  • Evan Thierry, nominated by Maries County Presiding Commissioner Ray Schwartze and Belle Mayor Steve Vogt.

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 MPRC 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 at or on Facebook at

MRPC Chairman and Maries County Presiding Commissioner Ray Schwartze (left) presented Carma Labbee (middle) of Potosi with an at MRPC’s annual dinner and awards ceremony Oct. 20. MRPC Board Member Debby Bust (right) nominated Carma for the award.

Leo Dickey of Potosi was not able to attend the annual dinner. MRPC Chairman Ray Schwartze (left) presented the award to Caledonia Mayor John M. Robinson III, who nominated Leo.


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