Southeast Missouri well represented at inaugural ball

Friday, January 7, 2005

As Jefferson City gears up for the inaugural activities on Monday, a slate of individuals and groups with ties to Southeast Missouri are readying themselves to take part in the ceremonies.

Among the locals who will help usher in the new state government are the Cape Central High School marching band, the Jerry Ford Orchestra, Southeast Missouri State University alumnus and Sikeston native Neal Boyd and the Dexter High School choir.

The Central marching band has been selected to march in the inaugural parade, which will begin at 10 a.m. on Monday at the Simonsen Ninth Grade Center in Jefferson City.

"We're very excited about it," said the band's director, Neil Casey. "It's an honor to be chosen for that."

The band will perform the song "America" at the parade. The bus to Jefferson City will leave at 4 a.m. Monday.

"That's a sacrifice for any teenager that I've ever known," said Casey.

But the students say they're ready and excited about the chance to perform.

"I do like the chance that we get to get out of school and go do something patriotic for our state," said freshman Angel Gaither. She said she is nervous, but confident the band will do well if its members stay focused.

Freshman Jacob Bagot said he's eager for a chance to take the tour of the capital. Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girar-deau, is sponsoring the visit for the students. The march, however, is what Bagot's looking forward to most.

"It's really nice to be a big part of the governor's inauguration," Bagot said. "I feel lucky that we all get to do this."

The Jerry Ford Orchestra from Cape Girardeau will be providing the music for the inaugural ball, which is set to begin at 8 p.m. Monday night. The orchestra was asked to play the event after its performance at the 2002 inaugural ball for legislators, at which it was asked to play an hour past its scheduled time due to its popularity among the patrons.

Boyd has been selected to sing the national anthem before the official swearing-in ceremony, which is set to start at 11:30 a.m. Monday. Boyd, a former speech communication student at Southeast, has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and at New York's Carnegie Hall on two separate occasions.

He was the winner of the National Collegiate Artist Voice Competition in 2000 and sang a solo for the memorial service of former governor Mel Carnahan following his death in 2000.

The Dexter High School choir from Dexter, Mo., will perform twice during the inaugural activities, singing once in the early afternoon and again before the grand march of newly-elected officials.

Missouri Speaker of the House Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, will lead the pledge at the inauguration and Missouri Supreme Court Justice Stephen Limbaugh Jr., of Cape Girardeau, will swear in governor-elect Matt Blunt and lieutenant governor-elect Peter Kinder, also of Cape Girardeau.

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