For immediate release
Feagan, Heidbreder receive outstanding community service awards at MRPC Annual Dinner
ST. JAMES—Barbara Feagan and Bryce Heidbreder were honored with outstanding community service awards during the Meramec Regional Planning Commission’s (MRPC) Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet, held Oct. 26 at the Festhalle in Hermann. 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. This year’s event was hosted by Gasconade County and the City of Hermann. Event sponsors included Hermann Area Chamber of Commerce, Hermann Regional Economic Development Corporation, Peoples Savings Bank and Joseph Brazil.
Feagan, of Owensville, was nominated by Gasconade County Presiding Commissioner Tim Schulte. Feagan was instrumental in organizing Owensville’s Relay for Life – 2005 and is involved in the community through fish frys at Immaculate Conception, as a member of the V.F.W. Ladies Auxiliary, and as a past member of the Ladies Auxiliary with the Owensville Fire Department. Since 1999, Barb has served as a member of the Gasconade County Fair Board, where she has served as the co-chair and chair of the food committee since 2016. At the end of the fair, Barb works with the Shriners to help provide excess food for its annual tractor pull and works to make sure none of that inventory goes to waste with donations to other organizations, primarily the Helping Hands Food Pantry. Because of all the work she does through the community, Barb was the first woman awarded the honor of Woman of the Year by Owensville Chamber of Commerce in 2006 because of her Relay for Life efforts. She also supports her daughter with the PATT group in Owensville school district.
Heidbreder received MRPC’s youth volunteer award. He is the son of Mike and Angie Heidbreder of Bland and was nominated by MRPC Board Member Steve Vogt, who represents the city of Belle. He was the 2023 Class Valedictorian at Belle High School with a GPA of 4.533 and very involved in his school and community. His school activities included: FCCLA Vice President of Membership 2020-2021; FCCLA President 2021-2023; FFA Greenhand President 2019-2020; FFA Chapter Historian 2020-2021 and 2022-2023; FFA Chapter Reporter 2021-2022; Student Body Officer 2019-2023; NHS Member 2021-22023; FCCLA State Conference; FFA State Conference; FFA Contest Teams; FBLA District and FFA Fall Public Speaking Conference. Heidbreder’s honors and awards besides Valedictorian include: A+ program; FCCLA Legislative Shadowing Project; FBLA 1st in Community Service Project; 5th in FBLA – Introduction to Public Speaking; and National Society of High School Scholars. He has been very involved volunteering in the community as well. Service projects have included the NHS Blood Drive; FBLA Gazebo Project; Welcome to Belle sign; Barb’s Books and the Doodlebugs Learning Center.
“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.”
The night included a reception that began at 5:30, which was sponsored by The Inn at Hermannhof and showcased German music and dance by the Loehnig German Band and Wurstjaegger dancers. A silent auction, held during the reception, raised over $3,076 to offset the costs of the dinner. Approximately 170 people attended this year’s event. The dinner was catered by the Inn at Hermannhof.
Other individuals and community organizations recognized for 2023 contributions to their communities are:
- Sarah Rion of Potosi, nominated by MRPC Board Member Laurel Yahl,
- Brenda Johnson of Vienna, nominated by Maries County Presiding Commissioner Vic Stratman,
- Rylee Krawiecki of Rolla, nominated by MRPC Board Member Shane Anselm,
- Belle Community Betterment Association, nominated by MRPC Board Member Steve Vogt, and
- The ARK Community and Sports Center, nominated by Waynesville Mayor Sean Wilson.
This year’s other youth award recipients were:
- Juliana Mae Davis of Vienna, nominated by Maries County Presiding Commissioner Vic Stratman,
- Emilia Vega of Waynesville, nominated by Waynesville Mayor Sean Wilson,
- Easton May of Salem, nominated by Dent County Presiding Commissioner Gary Larson, and
- Madiline Pankey of St. James, nominated by MRPC Board Member Shane Anselm.
The Eugene E. Northern award, the highest honor given by MRPC for volunteers and community service, was presented to Deloris Gray Wood of Salem for 2023.
Wood, nominated by Dent County Presiding Commissioner Gary Larson, is a community scholar and journalist who works to educate the public on the Native American history in this area. She currently serves as the president of the Dent County Historical Society, past president of the Missouri Chapter Trail of Tears Association and a national board member of the Trail of Tears Association. She is also a member of the Trail Leaders Council, Partnership for the National Trails System and helped plan a Trails Workshop in Albuquerque in November 2022. In 2006, she and then Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman worked to certify a portion of the trail near the Old Route 66 Bridge and Roubidoux Spring. They then worked together to establish seven National Park Service wayside exhibits in the park.
In 2017, Deloris was instrumental in planning stops for the Cherokee Removal Bike Riders as they came through Crawford, Phelps and Pulaski counties. The day included stops at schools to speak with students and other landmarks along their path, riding along the Trail of Tears. At Hike the Hill, in Washington, D.C. in February 2023, she presented before the US House of Representatives staff for the Natural Resources, Public Lands, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service.
Wood also located two campsites north of St. James, in Phelps County, where Cherokees camped in the fall of 1837 and other detachments in 1938 that the National Park Service Trails Office in Santa Fe has acknowledged. Recently, she has submitted a National Park Service grant to tell the story of the Current River. She is also working in St. Francois County to get the National Park Service Historical Trails signed and properly designated.
The Lender of the Year award was also presented during MRPC’s Annual Dinner. Working in partnership with the Meramec Regional Development Corporation (MRDC), MRPC recognizes lending institutions who partner with MRPC/MRDC on local business projects. For 2023, the Lender of the Year award was presented to Guaranty Bank. Guaranty Bank partnered with MRDC on two SBA 504 loans for PR Joplin, LLC, dba Pizza Ranch in Joplin and Croft Wilson Properties LLC, dba as Croft Bedding Company in Webb City.
Staff members were recognized at the 2023 awards banquet for years of service included:
- Bethany Ferrell, Senior Accountant II, 5 years of service;
- Chuck Cantrell, Housing Inspector, 25 years of service;
- Tammy Snodgrass, Assistant Director and Environmental Manager, 30 years of service; and
- Elaine Cloyde, Housing Program Coordinator, 35 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 2023 employee of the year was Linda Carroll, secretary.
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. Mary Heywood, representing the unemployed, serves as chair of the board. A professional staff of 30 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.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/meramecregion/.