No place like home

Sunday, April 3, 2005

It's good to be back in Cape Girardeau. February and March were busy with industry conferences. This weekend marks the first time this year I've been home two weekends in a row. Traveling really does make one appreciate the amenities of our community.

The riverfront area of Cape Girardeau is certainly a differentiator, boasting unique architecture and rich history. And at the heart of preserving and growing this area is Old Town Cape, led now by a dynamic new director, Tim Arbeiter.

At its annual awards banquet last week, Tim did an excellent job laying out a vision for the future. He also properly spread the credit around for the group's recent successes to its many community partners and to the volunteers who are at its core.

Special among those volunteers this past year was historic preservation consultant Terri Foley, who was recognized as Volunteer of the Year.

Other awards included the John Boardman Excellence in Historic Rehabilitation prize, which went to Mike and Sherry Yaeger for their successful dream of developing Renaissance at the corner of Main and Broadway. Prost Builders, which reclaimed the Marquette Hotel and turned it into a community jewel, was recognized with the new Heritage Award for extraordinary achievements in preserving the heritage of our community.

The Southeast Missourian was recognized with the Charles L. Hutson Visionary Award, which is named after a gentleman who passed away from cancer too young and who was, indeed, a visionary leader: witty, fun, compassionate, dedicated to family. He continues to be missed.

Also recognizing volunteers and community support recently was the United Way of Southeast Missouri. Year after year this organization continues to prove its critical relevance. Not only does it do this by raising funds to help our communities' most impactful charitable agencies extend their services, but the United Way has become a local expert on identifying community problems and helping to devise solutions for them.

At its awards banquet, hosted with gusto by KFVS-12 anchorman Jeff Cunningham, the United Way recognized Narvol Randol Jr. for his individual volunteering. Randol, vice president of the Bank of Missouri, is active with the Boy Scouts and the Southeast Missouri State University Copper Dome Society, just to name a couple of his many activities. He is also a longtime member of the United Way board and a past president.

The Boy Scouts of America received the Spirit of Caring Award for its volunteerism and work with other community organizations. Mike Smythe of KFVS-12, last year's campaign chairman, was recognized for leading a historic fund drive which, thanks to the support of local businesses and individuals, has raised more than $1,047,000 to date. Smythe was personally thanked by Nancy Jernigan, United Way director, for his energy and commitment.

And the Southeast Missourian and its employees were recognized with the Spirit of Community Award. Personally, I am proud to be associated with such a kind-hearted and dynamic company.

These were but two of the many events in the past week that recognized important contributors to community progress. So many people are instrumental in making this area a good place to work and live, but not all get recognized.

Among those that came to my attention recently, though:

Shannon Davis and the folks at McDonald's, who helped finance the construction of an impressive family room at Saint Francis Medical Center, and Sarah Goeke, a Central High School student, who gathered 35 friends to pick up litter over Easter weekend.

The community continues to grow and prosper thanks to the hard work and volunteerism of many. And that's, in part, what makes this a great place to live.

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. E-mail him at jrust@semissourian.com.

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