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Missouri Whitewater Association members speak at chamber luncheon

Diane McHenry and John Tansil from the Missouri Whitewater Association speak to the Madison County Chamber of Commerce at its monthly luncheon, March 7.

The Madison County Chamber of Commerce welcomed Diane McHenry and John Tansil from the Missouri Whitewater Association to speak at its monthly luncheon, March 7.

The 52nd Annual Whitewater Championships will be March 22-24 at Millstream Gardens. 

McHenry said the downriver races will be Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. with a celebration at the end of the night.

"We actually have a band that comes in, anyone is invited," McHenry said. "The races held on Saturday and Sunday are the slalom races at Millstream. There are different classes from Olympic on Saturday morning and all the other age groups going all day long."

McHenry said the Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Forestry will be in the area all weekend. 

"The campground is full, completely full," McHenry said. "The hotels are full."

McHenry said the event brings a lot of people to the town and the association appreciates the way Fredericktown has embraced the whitewater community.

"My husband and John have been kayaking together forever and they started going to Tallulah Gorge, around Clayton, Georgia, and they weren't very welcome there," McHenry said. "They decided as a group to get a big stack of two dollar bills and when they had a run in Tallulah they spent their two dollar bills in their town of Clayton in a way to show them 'hey we aren't all bad, and we bring a lot of money into your community.'"

McHenry said the community was amazed by how many two dollar bills showed up over that weekend and it was a real eye opener for the community that had been so resistant.

"We're lucky to have such a popular event so close to home," Madison County Chamber of Commerce President Tessa Rehkop said. "It's great for our businesses because the traffic the event draws will hopefully come and shop at our stores and eat at our restaurants."

In other meeting business, Rehkop introduced the members to Team Up Clean Up Day, April 27.

"Team Up Clean Up is a day to clean up the community the weekend before the Azalea Festival," Rehkop said. "Last year was the first year and we'd like to make it an annual thing, expanding it every year."

Rehkop asked organizations, businesses and individuals to sign up as teams to work on various projects in the community.

"Projects last year included things like spreading mulch, painting picnic tables and fire hydrants and picking up trash," Rehkop said. "The goal of the day is not only to clean up our town but also to come together and bond as a community while having fun doing it."

Rehkop said the chamber is looking for both donation and supplies such as flowers, paint, rakes, gloves, trash bags etc. 

To register to participate or donate to Team Up Clean Up visit

Jennifer Ballew from Beautification Committee approached the chamber members with a plea for help.

Ballew said after 30 years the committee has dwindled down to five members and they are in need of new members and help from the community.

"Your old people get older and the young people don't seem to come along to pick up the slack," Ballew said. "We are down to five active members, and we are struggling to keep up with our projects."

Ballew said the group does more than just plant flowers in the spring as they maintain the three welcome signs coming into town which read "Welcome to Fredericktown" as well as keep all the flower beds free of weeds and garbage throughout the summer and much more.

If you are interested in being a part of Beautification Committee the next monthly meeting is at 10:30 a.m., April 5 at Madison County Farm Supply.

Rehkop said she has known about the Beautification Committee since she was a child and says she believes it is because what they are doing in the community can be seen.

"From the flowers they put in the planters around town to the decorations during the holidays," Rehkop said. "Something as simple as a planter of flowers not only makes the community look nice but it can also uplift everyone's mood."

Next, Rehkop reminded the group Madison County Feed the Families is at 8 a.m., April 13. Rehkop said the chamber will again host a candy booth.

"The organizers of this event do such a great job of fundraising for our local food banks but in a way that you don't feel like you're just donating money," Rehkop said. "I love that the event is held the weekend before Easter so kids can come in and make their own Easter basket, get pictures with the Easter bunny and play all kinds of different games. I personally like that I can go buy a homemade pie and then take it to the family Easter dinner, claiming it as my own."

The Madison County Chamber of Commerce will meet for Perk Before work at 7:30 a.m., March 19 at Country Lane Florist and for its next luncheon at 11:30 a.m., April 4, at Beaver Valley Golf Club.

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


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