Eight counties | 36 cities | one region

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

Brand honored as outstanding volunteer at MRPC Annual Dinner

For immediate release

For more information, contact
Bonnie Prigge or Caitlin Jones

ST. JAMES—Joe Brand of Salem was honored as a 2020 outstanding volunteer during the Meramec Regional Planning Commission’s (MRPC) annual dinner Oct. 21 at State Technical College in Linn.  

Each year, MRPC honors residents, local agency representatives and organizations in the Meramec Region who contribute to their communities by volunteering their time, talents and support. With the cancelation of the 2020 dinner due to COVID-19, award recipients from 2020 were honored at this year’s event. 

“It was so good to come together in-person and honor our volunteers,” said MRPC Executive Director Bonnie Prigge. “We are only able to honor a few volunteers each year, yet we extend our gratitude to the hundreds of volunteers in our region who truly make our region such an amazing place to live, work and visit. We are successful because of our volunteers.” 

Joe Brand of Salem, nominated Dent County Presiding Commissioner Darrell Skiles, serves the Salem community in many ways. He is currently the chairman of the Salem Housing Authority Commission; a member of the Southwest Baptist University Board of Trustees; serves on the Advisory Board for Riverways Pregnancy Resource Center (RPRC) as well as teaching men’s classes at resource center. Brand also volunteers as an AARP tax advisor; serves on the Salem Public Library board; on the Dent County Foundation Committee; and served 11 years on the Board of Directors for the Salem Memorial District Hospital. He is a member and past president of the Salem Rotary Club.

Some 15 other awards in the categories of outstanding individuals, outstanding local agency representative, outstanding contributions to a community and outstanding youth volunteers were given at the dinner as well. 

Those recognized by MRPC for 2020 contributions to their communities are:

  • Paula Pierce of Hermann, nominated by Gasconade County Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel;
  • Bruce Harrill of Waynesville, nominated by MRPC board member Luge Hardman;
  • Vicki Nelson of Belle, nominated by MRPC board member Steve Vogt;
  • City of Crocker Park Board, nominated by Crocker Mayor Glen Smith;
  • Kris and Carrie Richards of Potosi, nominated by MRPC board member Laurel Boisonault;
  • Nick Barrack of Rolla, nominated by MRPC board member John Butz; and 
  • Wilma Stephen of Vienna, nominated by Maries County Presiding Commissioner Vic Stratman.

Youth volunteer awards for 2020 were presented to: 

  • Paige Breeding of Vienna, nominated by Maries County Presiding Commissioner Vic Stratman; and
  • Skyler Rice of Belle, nominated by MRPC board member Steve Vogt.

Those honored and recognized by MRPC for 2021 contributions to their communities are:

  • Stacey Kelly of Belle, nominated by MRPC board member Steve Vogt; and
  • Larry Kampeter of Vienna, nominated by Maries County Presiding Commissioner Vic Stratman.

Youth volunteer awards for 2021 were presented to:

  • Amanda Wieberg of Vienna, nominated by Maries County Presiding Commissioner Vic Stratman; and 
  • Gracie Schultz of Belle, nominated by MRPC board member Steve Vogt.
Award Winners Left to Right: (Back Row) Kris and Carrie Richards, Vicki Nelson, Paula Pierce, Stacey Kelly, Bruce Harrill, Larry Kampeter, Nick Barrack. (Front Row) Joe Brand, Judy Terry, Amanda Wieberg, Paige Breeding, Skyler Rice, Gracie Schultz, Jerry and Ralph Voss. (Not Pictured) City of Crocker Park Board and Wilma Stephen

The Eugene E. Northern award, the highest honor given by MRPC for volunteers and community service, was presented to Ralph and Jerry Voss of Linn for 2020 and Judy Terry of Rolla for 2021. 

Ralph and Jerry Voss of Linn were nominated by Osage County Presiding Commissioner Darryl Griffin and MRPC board member Dr. Don Claycomb. Ralph practiced law in Osage County and then was elected Associate Circuit Judge of the 20th Judicial Circuit of Missouri. Ralph started the Osage County Drug Court to address substance abuse issues and served as drug court judge. He took tremendous interest in the drug court participants – helping them find jobs, providing encouragement and was always on call for them. The drug court continues to be his greatest accomplishment and an important part of rehabilitation. 

Ralph and Jerry purchased the Osage County Observer in 1970 and then the Unterrified Democrat in 1976. The UD is known as one of the most outstanding newspapers in the state – factual news, community interest and articles on youth sports and achievements. Jerry is known for her “fearless focus” on local news, and her articles had every detail of public meetings.  Public servants soon learned not to say anything stupid because they would be quoted in full on the front page. Jerry received several awards for her newspaper work. The paper sold in 2018, but Ralph still writes a regular weekly column and Jerry still sells ads for the paper. 

Jerry served on the State Coordinating Board of Higher Education and was on the Board of Curators of Lincoln University. During her time on the coordinating board, Linn State Technical College was established and became State Technical College of Missouri

Ralph and Jerry are active in their church and parochial school and have served on many boards and committees over 50 years. They served as picnic and fall festival co-chairs, setting records for fundraising. Ralph served as president of the Linn Lions Club and fair chairman and both manned the famous fish stand for many years. Ralph and Jerry were founding members of the South Poll Grass Cattle Association in 2009 and served on the board of directors for several years. They also host “field days” at their beef cattle farm to bring new ideas to the local farmers and beyond.

Judy Terry of Rolla was nominated by MRPC Board Member John Butz. Judy has worked tirelessly for the citizens of Rolla and Phelps County. For the last 19 years, Judy has served as the Phelps County/City of Rolla Regional Volunteer for the American Red Cross. As part of her responsibilities with the Red Cross, Judy works to provide fire victims with hope after experiencing the tragedy of a fire. Through the Red Cross, she works to provide housing, clothing and food to each victim regardless of the circumstances. She has responded and continues to respond to fires at all hours of night, in all weather conditions with many of them emotionally and physically injured. 

She has shown compassion and made a noticeable impact for the citizens of Rolla and Phelps County by also volunteering for many years at the following organizations: First Assembly of God, to provide the shelter and food services; AARP Tax Aid services, as a volunteer tax preparer; Meals on Wheels; Rolla Nutrition Site; and GRACE (Greater Rolla Area Charitable Enterprise).  

The impact of Judy’s volunteerism to the Rolla/Phelps County community is without measure. She has never sought leadership positions or accolades for her volunteerism.  She demonstrates a true servant heart with a desire to help someone in need.

Working in partnership with the Meramec Regional Development Corporation (MRDC), MRPC recognizes lending institutions who partner with MRPC/MRDC on local business projects. MRPC’s Lender of the Year award for 2020 was presented to Mid America Bank.  Steve Brune, chief financial officer, and Mark Baker, loan officer, accepted the award on behalf of the bank. Mid America Bank partnered with MRDC on an SBA 504 loan for Harbor Place Estates, a senior living facility in Linn. MRPC’s Lender of the Year award for 2021 was presented to First Community National Bank.  Becky Simpson, vice-president/marketing director, accepted the award for First Community National Bank. FCNB used MRPC’s CARES RLF program to help the new owners of Lucky Clover Resort and Anderson Family Center, both in Steelville, to purchase the businesses and renovate the buildings.

Staff members were recognized at the 2021 awards banquet for years of service included: 

  • Jill Hollowell, environmental programs specialist, 5 years of service;
  • Anne Freand, planning manager, 5 years of service;
  • Samantha Maddison, senior community development spcialist, 5 years of service;
  • Gary O’Day, senior community development specialist, 5 years of service;
  • Linda Carroll, senior secretary, 5 years of service;
  • Mag Roberts, docudrama coordinator, 5 years of service;
  • Maria Bancrroft, business loans specialist, 15 years of service;
  • Kelly Sink, project development manager, 20 years of service; 
  • Linda Loughridge, fiscal officer, 25 years of service;
  • Bonnie Prigge, executive director, 30 years of service;
  • Tammy Rigsby, senior housing coordinator, 30 years of service; and
  • Teresa Murdie, senior housing coordinator and inspector, 40 years of service.

Each year, MRPC employees are asked to select one staff member who performs above the call of duty, exhibits exemplary work performance, voluntarily promotes the organization and exhibits a positive work ethic and attitude. MRPC’s 2020 employee of the year was Kathryn Hawes, environmental programs specialist. Employees selected Housing Manager Donald Keeney as the 2021 Employee of the Year.

This year’s event was hosted by Osage County, the City of Linn and State Technical College of Missouri. The night included a reception that began at 5:30, sponsored by Legends Bank, the City of Linn and M & T Farms – Cool Cow Cheese. A silent auction, which raised over $1,439 to offset the costs of the dinner, was held during the reception. Some 165 people attended this year’s event in the gymnasium in State Tech’s Student Activity Center. The dinner was catered by Great Western Dining.

“We want to thank everyone who came together to make this annual dinner possible, especially State Technical College for allowing us to use the activity center and handling all the room and audio-visual arrangements,” said Prigge. “It was a wonderful celebration.”

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. Steve Vogt, representing the city of Belle, serves as MRPC chairman. A professional staff of 36 led by Executive Director Bonnie Prigge 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/.


 Joe Brand Cutline: MRPC Chairman Steve Vogt (left), MRPC Vice Chairman Mary Heywood (right), and Dent County Presiding Commissioner Darrell Skiles (second from right) presents Joe Brand with his outstanding volunteer award at the MRPC 2021 Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet.