22nd Annual Toast to Our Towns Citizen's of the Year
Your invitation to our October 14th Toast to Our Towns Gala should have arrived in your mailbox last week. In last month’s newsletter we shared some news about some of our honorees for our annual celebration (Brad and Sandy Cox, Humanitarians of the Year, Cable-Dahmer Auto Group, Heartland Corporate Citizen of the Year, and Ron Finke our Professional Advisor of the Year). This month I am pleased to share information about our 7 Citizens of the Year being recognized by their community’s Mayor.
The Citizens of the Year are individuals who exemplify a spirit of service to their community and typically have been very quietly making a significant impact in their community through their volunteer and civic engagement for many years. While they are recognized as the 2017 Citizen from their community, the recognition is for their consistent involvement over time. They are not actively involved because they are looking for recognition, they simply believe everyone giving back to their community is what is required for a community to thrive.
Mayor Eileen Weir of Independence this year is recognizing Brad Speaks, President and CEO of Speaks Family Legacy Chapels. Brad and I serve on the Board of the Independence Rotary Club and I know from personal experience that he is a go to leader in the Independence Community. He has served in many civic leadership positions over the years including Chair of the Independence Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of Independence Civic Council, EDC Board Member, Centerpoint Medical Center Trustee, and Jackson County Historical Society Board member. Recently he took on the job of providing leadership for the fundraising campaign to generate $400,000 in private support to build a state of the art Farmers Market in downtown Independence on the Square. The city has already committed $600,000 for this project. Brad is also Chairing our Rotary Club’s annual Mardis Gras Gala with all net proceeds going this year to this project. One of Brad’s keys to success is that he always enjoys his service to the community and his positive attitude draws others in because they enjoy working with him.
Mayor Carson Ross of Blue Springs this year is recognizing N.T Reed (Nick) Burrus. He recently celebrated his 90th Birthday. As an army veteran of the Korean War, he used his skills working as a carpenter in the service to found Burrus Construction, the Blue Springs Development Company and the Nick Burrus Builder Company. His home building companies have built hundreds of homes in Blue Springs and the surrounding area including custom homes for members of the Kansas City Chiefs. His businesses have supported building rehabilitation projects like the 1860s Volker Home and a local AMC theatre. He has also been an active Shriner for 38 years.
Mayor Michael Larson of Sugar Creek is recognizing Joseph Kennedy. He is a lifelong Sugar Creek resident and was active on the Board of Alderman and served as Mayor Pro Tem from 2012 to 2017. He has also volunteered with Boy Scout Troop 221, and Knights of Columbus Council 3430 where he served as Grand Knight, and then as District Deputy for the Knights of Columbus. He also serves on the Holy Cross Catholic School Board and is active at Nativity of Mary Parish.
Mayor Mike Todd of Grain Valley is recognizing James T. Cook. Jim served as Grain Valley’s City Attorney for 41 years and is a partner and founding member of the law firm of Berkowitz, Cook, Gondring and Driskell. He has worked with many Mayors and Alderman over the years and hosts an annual luncheon each December for city employees. Working with the police department he has helped design youth diversion programs which include community service and education programs. He has also been involved in the police departments Victim Services Golf Tournament and the Grain Valley Fair.
Mayor Tom Goddard of Lake Tapawingo recognizes George W. (Renny) Buckaloo, Jr who is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. He has been a part of the Lake Tapawingo community for 22 years and since 2006 has had a focus on keeping the lake free of invasive species and the water quality at an optimum level. The program he developed requires each resident to complete invasive species training every two years to have lake use privileges. Through his leadership they also have weekly water quality testing performed by volunteer teams using state of the art water testing equipment.
Mayor Randy Rhoads of Lee’s Summit is recognizing Laurence Pressly. He is a life-long Lee’s Summit resident and is a senior broker associate and certified Reece Nichols consultant. After graduation from the University of Missouri he was a partner in his family’s dairy and livestock operation and in 1956 joined the University Extension as a dairy specialist. He served as the manager of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City in 1972 and in 1975 joined the American Royal Livestock, Horse Show and Rodeo where he served as general manager. He began his real estate career in 1985. He applied his leadership skills acquired in business to numerous civic positions. He has served on the Lee’s Summit Street Planning Commission, City Council for two terms, the Board of Zoning and Adjustment, and the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council.
Mayor Michael McDonough of Raytown is recognizing posthumously Steve Mock. Steve passed away suddenly last year and his wife Carla will accept the award in Steve’s memory. He was a lifelong resident of Raytown and built homes with his father Larry Mock. Steve served as Mayor Pro-Tem for two Mayors and was Alderman of the 5th Ward when he passed away. He received the Raytown Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year Award and the Jackson County COMBAT Neighborhood Advocate Award for his dedication to Raytown. He was actively involved in numerous Raytown organizations and enjoyed spreading the light he felt for life in any way he could, including playing the Easter Bunny at the annual Raytown Eggstravaganza. He is greatly missed in the Raytown community, however, thinking about Steve and his love of Raytown and service to the community will certainly bring smiles to the faces of many in the community who knew and worked with him.
As you can see we have a great group of Citizens of the Year to honor this year. We are going to have a wonderful celebration on October 14th of these individuals and others who help make their community a great place to live, work, and raise families. I hope you can join us for our “Toast to our Towns”.