Eight counties | 36 cities | one region

a voluntary council of local governments
serving the missouri meramec area.

Baker honored as outstanding volunteer at MRPC Annual Dinner

For immediate release

For more information, contact
Bonnie Prigge or Caitlin Jones

ST. JAMES—Louise Baker of Owensville 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. 

Baker, nominated by Owensville Mayor John Kamler, had an idea for a memorial that celebrated Veterans in the Owensville area. Once the idea was sparked, she could do little other than see it come to fruition and thus the Owensville Veterans Memorial, located at the corner of 4th Street and Jefferson, was created. The memorial honors all five branches of the military services. It is designed to provide a peaceful, dignified area, honoring all those men and women who served and made sacrifices. Baker and the planning committee sold engraved bricks and granite benches to fund the creation of the memorial which was dedicated on May 18, 2019, and donated to the Owensville park system. Baker is a former Owensville mayor and Gasconade County R-2 school board member. 

Other individuals recognized by MRPC for contributions to their communities were:

  • Judy Apperson of Salem, nominated by Dent County Presiding Commissioner Darrell Skiles; 
  • 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; and
  • Cindy 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. 
Front Row: Jan (left) and Terry Primas, Louise Baker, Paula Shockley and Leann Smith (accepting the Eugene E. Northern on behalf of their mother Faye Howard, Karlee Hallahan, Cindy Butler and Judy Apperson Back Row: Julia Semsick (left), Joey Butler Sr., and Dr. Donald “Doc” Broman. Not Pictured: Shane Jones, William “Bill” S. Jenks III, and Patricia Heaney

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 that began at 5:30, 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 at the dinner. 

This year 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. Gasconade County Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel serves as chairman of the board. A professional staff of 27 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 www.meramecregion.orgor on Facebook at www.facebook.com/meramecregion/.

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Cutline: Louise Baker of Owensville (left), poses with Owensville Mayor John Kamler, who nominated her for an outstanding volunteer award through MRPC’s volunteer recognition program.