One year ago, six young professionals with Elsberry ties gathered in a classroom at the First Baptist Church to consider serving as board members of a newly-formed organization focused on economic and community development in northeast Lincoln County.
Roughly twelve months later, 34 professionals, business owners, non-profit volunteers, and elected officials gathered for the first annual meeting of the Elsberry Community Growth Association (ECGA).
The agenda for the evening included the installation of new directors, the recognition of new members, a vote on two amendments to the organization’s bylaws, and the presentation of the ECGA’s first “Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Following the meal, Sam Byers, president, also the primary teaching pastor of the First Baptist Church, recognized the group’s 2018 community partners and member businesses making additional investments in the organization’s mission ranging from $250 (Friend level) to $1,000 (Visionary level).
ECGA Vice-president Adam Heitman acknowledged new members at the meeting who were also presented with a membership certificate and “shop local” window cling. New members receiving certificates were Christa Montgomery with Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer’s office, Mary Watkins and George Conrad with Double Eagle Ranch, Bob and Lori Lass with Lass Chance Farms, and Billy and Carol Collins with Billy Collins Construction.
Heitman read the nominations for the “Lifetime Achievement Award.” Individuals nominated for the award were to have made significant contributions of time and resources in at least one of the ECGA’s four objectives: 1) attracting new home owners and residents; 2) spurring economic growth,; 3) civic responsibility and volunteerism; and 4) eliminating deterioration and instilling community pride. Nominees were Larry and Kayla Carter of Carter-Ricks Funeral Home, Dr. Gregory Casalone of Elsberry Dental, and Jim Heitman, a local farmer and businessman.
By a vote of the board of directors, Jim Heitman was chosen as the 2018 award winner.
New board members, each elected to serve a three-year term, were also installed at the meeting. The newly elected candidates were Brennan Lagemann with Carter-Ricks Funeral Home, Candice Steen with Providence Bank, and Dr. Tim Reller with the Elsberry R-2 School District.
Byers made the point that while it would be great to see Elsberry attract manufacturing facilities or new businesses employing five people or more, lots of communities want the exact same thing/ He added, however, that Elsberry is unique and charming and that arts and cultural tourism is a very realistic and attainable way for the community to capture more dollars for the local economy.
The ECGA plans to assist with some of these efforts by hosting a summer concert series with two concerts each in June, July, and August featuring artists and musical styles appealing to families and both older and younger audiences.
More information about the group, membership in it, and upcoming events can be found at www.growingelsberry.com