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Flex Coordinator Joe Garrity

Fredericktown High School School Flex Coordinator Joe Garrity speaks about the School Flex Program at the Madison County Chamber of Commerce meeting March 1, at the Senior Center.

Victoria Kemper, Democrat News

The Madison County Chamber of Commerce met Thursday at the Senior Center in Fredericktown.

Fredericktown High School Principal Shannon Henson and School Flex Coordinator Joe Garrity spoke about the School Flex Program.

“We are trying to prepare kids for life after high school,” Garrity said. "It's kids that already have their eyes set on some career pathway or something they are interested in and they are really excited about working."

“We wanted to make sure that you didn’t want to pass on a kid that has applied because you think 'that’s a high school kid I need a kid that’s gonna work 12-6'," Henson said. "We do have ways to make that situation work. We also have the opposite. We can have kids that can come to school in the afternoon. They have to be in school for two hours. That is the requirement."

The program involves students in eleventh and twelfth grades whose pursuit of timely graduation would benefit from enrollment. They must maintain 95 percent attendance, attend school at least 2 hours a day and work at least 15 hours per week.

“We’d like to get to the point where we are building relationships with community members and businesses so that we are aware and we can help the students to make choices of classes that help prepare them for that type of work," Garrity said. "We have kids working in automotive, in house services, food services. We have a student at Black River."

“The best way for this program to grow is with a reciprocal relationship with you all and we hope that maybe you can help us to drive it and make it a more meaningful program for our kids," Henson said.

Following the high school speakers, Madison County Chamber President Tessa Rehkop discussed new memberships. Rehkop said the number of additional members was only one this past month and proposed holding a spring membership blitz 11:30 a.m. to noon, March 15 in order to encourage new members.

The purchase of static cling chamber window decals was approved. They will feature the courthouse with the current year on them. Vice President Allison Boyer said the static cling will be easier to remove than last years sticker design. Once the order is received the board will distribute them to all the members.

The post bicentennial poster contest winners were awarded their prize money last month. Rehkop went around with Madison County Retired School Personnel representative Audrey Unruh to the schools to reward the winners Feb. 14.

"If you are interested in seeing the winners or any of the entries I have posted all of them on our Facebook page," Rehkop said. " It is really cool to see all the entries. Everyone did a really good job and we were very impressed by the amount of entries and the research that went into them. The students really learned a lot about the town and its history. It was a nice contest, and we would like to thank the Madison County Retired School Personnel for organizing and sponsoring it."

Upcoming bicentennial events include Whitewater Specials March 16-18, Window Decorating Contest the entire month of April, June Concert Series and the July 4th Optimist Club Fireworks.

Due to Relay for Life falling on a Saturday in June it was decided to move the Saturday, June 9 concert to Friday, June 8 to avoid conflicting events. Rehkop said the chamber currently has two bands booked, John D Hale Band will be playing June 8 at the Rodeo Grounds and Hunter Hathcoat will play June 23 with the location yet to be determined. 

Rehkop said they are also looking into other entertainment options for the remaining dates including Dawson's Hollow, Shannon Cox, Rhubarbarella and Jive Turkeys.

The bicentennial banners and coins are currently being designed and Rehkop said she plans to attend the next Fredericktown City Council meeting to request the city split the cost of the banners with the chamber. 

The next meeting will feature the founder of HOPE, Amber McCutcheon, as the guest speaker. McCutcheon will speak about her organization and raise awareness of the staggering statistics of sexual trauma, to connect people with resources to encourage healing and to bring a greater understanding that prevention is essential.

The chamber will hold a Perk Before Work event from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., April 24 at the Battle of Fredericktown Civil War Museum (156 S. Main St.) A sponsor is still needed.

The next regular meeting of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce will be at 11:30 a.m., April 5 at Durso Hills Winery and Bistro.

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at


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