Eight counties | 36 cities | one region

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

Four Maries County volunteers honored at MRPC Annual Dinner

For immediate release

For more information, contact
Bonnie Prigge or Caitlin Jones

ST. JAMES—Four Maries County residents were honored during the Meramec Regional Planning Commission’s (MRPC) annual dinner Oct. 13 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Vienna.  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. Gracie Rehmert, Hollis Sturdy, Bruce Grotewiel and Lawrence Buschmann were honored as 2022 volunteer award recipients. 

“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.” 

Lawrence Buschmann of Vienna was the recipient of the Eugene E. Northern award, the highest honor given by MRPC for volunteers and community service. 

Buschmann has been a highly respected person in the Maries County area for decades, and when he gets behind a project, it immediately brings credibility to the endeavor. Buschmann has a real passion for his community and is the kind of guy who wants to help everyone out. 

Buschmann has been instrumental in the incorporation of and writing of the bylaws for the Visitation Cemetery in Vienna serving on the cemetery’s board since the early 1970s. As the president of Maries County Bank, Buschmann supported worthwhile projects across the county. Buschmann has whole heartedly supported of the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. For more than 50 years, he worked tirelessly to keep it equipped and personnel trained. Buschmann helped obtain funding for a new fire house and satellite location, even getting a tax levy passed to provide the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department with more consistent funding. He served on the Vienna Fire Protection District Board since its creation 10 years ago and will be retiring from the board in December. 

Buschmann is the father of five children — Tammy Pollerisz, Paula Schwartze, Mark Buschmann, Jeff Buschmann and Larry Buschmann and currently resides on the family farm in Vienna with his wife Dorothy. Buschmann was unable to attend the award celebration so his children were on hand to accept his award.

Gracie Rehmert, daughter of Denise Rehmert and Billy Rehmert of Belle, received a 2022 Outstanding Youth Volunteer award. She was nominated by MRPC Chairman Steve Vogt. Rehmert is a 2022 graduate of Belle High School and is now attending Culver-Stockton College majoring in Business Administration. During her high school career, Rehmert was active in Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and National Honor Society, where she served in officer positions. With FBLA, Rehmert was involved with the new Welcome to Belle sign, the Belle Park Gazebo, landscaping at Flag Park, the March of Dimes and environmental awareness. She was the Senior Class Secretary and played softball. As a member of her church, she organized food in the food pantry and Christmas shopping for those in the Operation Christmas program. Rehmert also helped in the nursery during Sunday school. 

Two individuals received outstanding volunteer awards for 2022:

  • Hollis Sturdy of Belle, nominated by Vogt, works many fundraisers and volunteers for many organizations. Sturdy and his wife, Pamela, relocated to the Belle area in 1988. He has been on the Osage County Extension Council for several terms and is also a member of the Belle Lions Club, where he serves as its President. He represented the Lions Club on the Belle-Bland Community Center Board of Directors, which was instrumental in acquiring funding to build and maintain the community center. Sturdy is a charter member of the Maries County R-II Scholarship Committee, which has helped fundraise thousands of dollars that are then given in the form of scholarships to Belle High School Seniors. Additionally, Sturdy is a long time member of the Belle Fair Board that coordinates the Belle Fair and helps maintain and improve the Belle City Park. 
  • Bruce Grotewiel of New Bloomfield, nominated by MRPC Board Member Ray Schwartze, was honored for his work on the Maries-Osage Ambulance District. Grotewiel has been a paramedic with the district for nearly 50 years. Additionally, he volunteers as a firefighter in his hometown of New Bloomfield. Grotewiel is a wealth of knowledge and is always willing to educate his peers and go above and beyond for his community and the communities in which he serves. 

Also receiving awards for 2022 contributions to their communities were:

  • James T. Porter (posthumously) of Irondale, nominated by MRPC board member T.R. Dudley;
  • Jim Morrison of St. James, nominated by St. James Mayor Rick Krawiecki; and 
  • The Route 66 Rolla Summerfest Committee, nominated by Rolla City Administrator John Butz and Rolla Mayor Louis J. Magdits. 

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 2022 was presented to Town and Country Bank.  Town and Country Bank partnered with MRDC on an RLF loan for Rolla Farmers Exchange. 

Staff members were recognized at the 2022 awards banquet for years of service included: 

  • Caitlin Jones, Marketing and Communications Manager, 5 years of service; and
  • Jodie Branson, Senior Accountant II, 15 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 2022 employee of the year was Bethany Ferrell, Senior Accountant II. 

This year’s event was hosted by Maries County and the City of Vienna. The night included a reception that began at 5:30, sponsored by Maries County Bank, Unico Bank, The Bank of Crocker and The Bank of Missouri. A silent auction, held during the reception, raised over $1,800 to offset the costs of the dinner. Some 165 people attended this year’s event. The reception and dinner was catered by Argyle Catering.

“We want to thank everyone who came together to make this annual dinner possible, Maries County Presiding Commissioner Vic Stratman for serving as host and Maries County Bank for its financial support,” 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 chairman of the board. A professional staff of 36 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/.


Buschmann Cutline: Lawrence Buschmann of Vienna was the recipient of the Eugene E. Northern award at the MRPC Annual Awards Banquet on Oct. 13 in Vienna. Buschmann was nominated by Maries County Presiding Commissioner Vic Stratman. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend the event so his kids accepted the award on his behalf. Photographed (left to right): MRPC Vicechair Mary Heywood, Mark Buschmann, Tammy Pollerisz, Paula Schwartze, Larry Buschmann and MRPC Chairman Steve Vogt

Group Cutline: Front: Debbie Porter, Hollis Sturdy, Gracie Rehmert, Jim Morrison, Bruce Grotewiel; Back: Lindsay Jackson, Jeremy Porter, Tina Reagan, Rachel Guth, Dawn Smith, Lonna Sowers, Paula Schwartze, Tammy Pollerisz, Mark Buschmann and Larry Buschmann. Reagan, Guth, Smith and Sowers represented the Route 66 Summerfest Committee. Lawrence Buschmann was unable to attend and was represented by his children Paula Schwartze, Tammy Pollerisz and Mark and Larry Buschmann.