THAYER -- The city of Thayer put on its best last week as judges with the Missouri Community Betterment (MCB) contest came to town to see if the community was fit to pull off another first place award.
MCB is a technical assistance program designed to help Missouri communities enhance their quality of life through overall community development and planning. Each year communities and neighborhoods compete to receive awards for their efforts, making the annual awards banquet an integral part of the program.
This is the third year Thayer has competed in the contest and this year the city is in Category V. Other cities of similar size and population in Category V include: Arcadia Valley, Canton, Cuba, East Prairie, Fayette/Armstrong, Marceline, Mountain View and Palmyra. Last year Thayer brought home the first place award in their category.
MCB activities began in the city early afternoon Sept. 18 with Ray Reynolds delivering the MCB judges, state Rep. Janee' Lowe of Kansas City and City Planner Tony Warren of Richmond, to Thayer First Baptist Church Christian Activity Center in a mule- drawn wagon. Bank of Thayer President and Thayer Downtown Revitalization member Dennis Redmon accompanied the judges and their driver, Robin Heath on their journey up Chestnut Street.
Thayer High School cheerleaders and several students from Thayer High School were on the lawn of the activity center to welcome the judges as they exited the wagon.
Thayer Mayor Allen Deckard welcomed the judges and said, "It is a privilege to be the mayor of a community like Thayer. We live in one of the greatest small towns in America." While the mayor spoke a slide show of 9-11 events played for the judges. The slide show was under the direction of Thayer teacher Teresa Poulette.
The National Anthem was then sung by Thayer High School students Savannah Dills, Kristen Martin, Samantha Sandridge and Megan Underwood. A slightly jazzy rendition of "America" was then sung by Thayer High School student Christin Bohrisch as she accompanied herself on the piano.
Downtown revitalization member Bob Eckman was the next to speak and tourism development was his topic. "Tourism is the number one industry in the state of Missouri and probably in Oregon County," Eckman told the judges. As he mentioned several tourism hot spots in the area including Grand Gulf State Park, Warm Fork Park at Thayer, Rosie's Garden and others, slide show scenes of the attractions he was featuring appeared on a screen in front of the judges. "Fifty-thousand people a year visit Grand Gulf State Park. They buy food, gas and other essentials in our community. We see tourism as an investment in our community. We are currently learning to market tourism in Thayer," he said.
Harvey Allen was next to address the judges and his topic was downtown revitalization. "We are investing in our community with downtown revitalization. Twenty-two downtown businesses have committed to invest one-half million dollars in downtown revitalization," Allen told the judges. He touched on several of the recent projects in the city including the new sidewalks, lighting and planters that have been recently constructed.
Cultural programs and development were next on the agenda with Connie Wright presenting this portion of the program. "Thayer is a small town with a big heart," Wright said. She commented on the recent purchase of a new home for the Oregon County Historical Society in Thayer, the Garden Club, the Missouri State Wagon Train and Trail Ride and the Oregon County Country Music Theater. She said a new group, the Thayer Arts Council, was presently forming.
Dennis Redmon ended the downtown renovation portion of the program discussing infrastructure improvment in the city. 'We continue to work on three different projects," Redmon said. He outlined those projects as: the sidewalk project where a new sidewalk will be built from Thayer High School to downtown Thayer, Missouri Department of Transportation improvements to Highway 63 from Arkansas into Missouri; and the downtown sidewalk project.
Youth development ended the MCD program with Thayer High School student Leanne Turner and Samantha Sandridge speaking on such programs as the A+ program at Thayer High School and the Oregon County Youth Summit held last year at Thomasville.
The judges and their driver were all presented with a special goody bag and refreshments were served before they left with downtown revitalization members to tour other areas of the city.
The 39 Annual Missouri Community Betterment Conference will be held Oct. 27-29 at the Holiday Inn Select in Columbia. The awards banquet will be begin at 6 p.m. Oct. 28.