MRPC News Release

For immediate release
Nov. 6, 2015

For more information, contact
Roxie Murphy at (573) 265-2993

Maries County residents honored with MRPC volunteer awards
Jones, Sassmann, Bialczyk, John recognized

MARIES COUNTY —Four Maries County residents—Jamie Jones of Vienna, Jan Sassmann of Belle-Bland, youth volunteers Harley Bialczyk of Belle and Seth John of Vienna— were honored for their volunteer efforts during Meramec Regional Planning Commission’s (MRPC) 2015 Annual Dinner on Oct. 30 at the Havener Center in Rolla. The organization also honored nine 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.

Nominated by Maries County Presiding Commissioner Ray Schwartze, Jones has worked to better the Vienna community by improving the city’s sidewalks and walking trails. Formerly mayor, he was instrumental in helping the city acquire grants to build the Tackett Trail around the city park. He is also an active member to the Vienna Knights of Columbus and his church.

Belle Mayor Stewart Darrah and mayor representative Steve Vogt nominated Sassmann for her involvement in the community. She has dedicated her life to her community and has contributed numerous hours to boards, including Missouri Prairie Foundation, Missouri Quail & Pheasants Forever, Conservation Federation of Missouri, MORIT-Missouri Rock Island Trail, the Belle Chamber of Commerce, the Maries County R-2 Schools Foundation and serves as an Osage Arts Community Art League leader. She is also an active member of the St. Alexander Catholic Church in Belle.

Bialczyk is the son of Theresa Bray of Belle and was nominated by Belle Mayor Stewart Darrah for the Outstanding Youth Volunteer award. He has donated extensive volunteering hours with the Osage Arts Community (OAC) Art Center Art League, volunteering his musical talent in the church community and is serving as a program developer of OAC’s Youth Music Project.

John is the son of Chris and Brenda John of Vienna and was nominated for the Outstanding Youth Volunteer award by Maries County Presiding Commissioner Ray Schwartze. He is a 2015 graduate of Maries County R-1 School in Vienna and was valedictorian of his class, a member of the National Honor Society (NHS), volunteers at the local food pantry, as he has done for the last three summers, is active in his church and is always willing to help someone who needs it.

Rolla resident Thomas (Ted) E. Day was honored with the Eugene E. Northern Award, MRPC’s highest honor. It is given to a volunteer who demonstrates life long community service. Northern, a former Rolla mayor, was a Missouri Circuit judge that was dedicated to his community and went beyond the call of duty.

Day is active or has been active on numerous boards including The Community Partnership, Phelps County Regional Medical Center, Phelps Regional Health Care Foundation, Community Child Care Development Corporation (president), Rolla Regional Economic Commission, Rolla Community Development Corporation, First United Methodist Church, Hy-Point Tenant Association, Boys and Girls Town/Great Circle, Presbyterian Manor and the Rolla Technical Institute advisory group.

In addition to his volunteer efforts, Day is also a philanthropist. He served as co-campaign chairman for the Delbert Day Cancer Institute (DDCI) capital campaign, through Phelps Regional health Care Foundation, which raised $7 million towards the construction of DDCI. Day and his wife, Kim, were the first contributors. The cancer institute was named in honor of Day’s father.

Others honored included:

· Laura Antolak of Rolla, nominated by MRPC At-Large Senior representative Donald G. Brackhahn;

· Gary Brown of Salem, nominated by Darrell Skiles, presiding commissioner of DentCounty;

· Rosemary Gruver of Steelville, nominated by Leo Sanders, presiding commissioner of Crawford County;

· Jamie Myers of Rolla, nominated by John Butz, Rolla City Administrator, and John Petersen, Community Development Director;

· Robert (Bob) J. Vinyard of Caledonia, nominated by Caledonia Chairman John M. Robinson;

· Planters of Pulaski County Garden Club, nominated by Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman; and

· Potosi/Washington County Chamber of Commerce, nominated by Potosi Mayor T.R. Dudley.

Another youth volunteer was honored:

· Sierra Zeiss of Steelville, nominated by Leo Sanders, presiding commissioner of Crawford County.

MRPC staff service awards were also presented during the evening. MRPC Housing Program Manager Linda Hollandsworth and Planning and Development Manager Kelly Sink-Blair were recognized with plaques for 15 years of service; Fiscal Officer Linda Loughridge received a 20 years of service plaque, and Housing Coordinator Tammy Rigsby received a 25 years of service plaque.

Lyle Thomas was also honored as MRPC 2015 Employee of the Year, a selection made by MRPC staff. Thomas is a senior community development specialist and works with transportation planning, comprehensive economic development strategy, homeland security, planning mobility management and the housing renovation programs.

Thomas was nominated by his co-workers because of his enthusiasm and willingness to help others and to go above and beyond the call of duty. He willingly accepted changes in duties and volunteers to help when needed and has built a knowledgeable, versatile, professional and friendly rapport with customers.

Meramec Regional Development Corp., the loan board that works in partnership with MRPC, presented its Lender of the Year award to First State Community Bank. Ernie Kost, president of First State Community Bank in Rolla, accepted the award on behalf of the bank.

Nearly 130 people attended MRPC’s annual dinner. Among those attending was Leon Camillo, who was a founding member of the MRPC board in 1969. Camillo represented the city of Potosi on the first MRPC board. Several area cities, businesses and board members donated items for the silent auction, which was held during the reception. MRPC Chairman T.R. Dudley, mayor of Potosi, served as master of ceremonies and was assisted by MRPC Vice Chairman Ray Schwartze and MRPC Executive Director Bonnie Prigge. Welcoming addresses were provided by Rolla Mayor Lou Magdits IV, Phelps County Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp and Walt Branson, vice chancellor for finance and administration at Missouri S&T.

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

Belle Mayor Stewart Darrah (left) and mayor representative Steve Vogt (right) nominated Jan Sassmann (center right) of Belle-Bland for her outstanding volunteerism within her community. Darrah, Vogt and MRPC Chairman T.R. Dudley (center left) presented Sassmann with the award at the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) Annual Dinner and awards ceremony Oct. 30 at the Havener Center.

Nominated by Crawford County Commissioner Leo Sanders (left) for being an outstanding youth volunteer within his community, Seth John (center) of Vienna was presented with an award from T.R. Dudley (right), Meramec Regional Planning Commission chairman.

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