The Daily Journal presented the Citizen of the Year award at Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce banquet Friday evening.
Chamber members and guests and dignitaries met at the Knights of Columbus Hall for the annual installation and awards banquet. Originally scheduled for the end of January, the event was previously delayed due to weather, but still had a turnout of more than 200 people.
The evening began with the band Jim and I, a duo who played washboard, drums, guitar, and sang while guests socialized and ate the meal provided by Knights of Columbus.
Former KFMO and B104 radio personality and Desloge Alderman Jason Loughary served as the Master of Ceremonies.
Missouri Representative Mike Henderson, R-117, gave an update on what's happening in Jefferson City.
The second speaker was Bonne Terre City Administrator Shawn Kay, giving a city update and a special thanks to Fire Chief David Pratte and the fire department.
North County Assistant Superintendent Katie Bockman offered a school district update with “ ... the best news we’ve received in the history of the North County school district.” The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recently gave North County a nearly “perfect” report card of 99.6 percent.
During the evening awards, Daily Journal salesperson Maddi Tyree presented the Daily Journal Citizen of the Year award to Jim Eaton.
“Jim Eaton was born here in Bonne Terre, and with the exception of a brief stint, has lived his entire life in the community,” she began.
Eaton’s first job out of college, she said, was as Bonne Terre’s first city manager. “While serving in that capacity from 1966-1970 he created budgets and worked on the development of the city’s water and sewer system.
“Eaton was also an active member of the Jaycees. During his tenure the group began the Independence Day fireworks display in the park and raised money to support the youth baseball programs of Bonne Terre.”
In 1970 Eaton won an award from the citizens of Bonne Terre and the chamber of commerce for being an “incalculable force in the promotion of the community’s welfare.”
“He took a job with First State Bank of Bonne Terre, which would later become Commerce Bank,” Tyree said. Under his watch, the bank and community thrived and branched into two more banks.
Eaton became active In the Community Services Group after the closing of the mines to seek industry. She listed some of the businesses the group brought in: Wilson Leather, C and R Products, Williams-Crusher, Mavrakos, Ralston Purina and Service Heel.
Two decades later Eaton took his talents to First State Community Bank, where it more than quadrupled its loans, deposits, and total assets. It was during that time that he won his first “Citizen of the Year” award through the Bonne Terre Chamber.
Later ventures included being an active member of the Bonne Terre Economic Development Committee, which assisted in bringing the Eastern Reception, Diagonstics and Correctional Center to town. That committee “also developed the Bonne Terre Senior Apartments and renovated property to bring economic growth to the community, including South Park Subdivision and the industrial park by the golf course,” she said.
Twenty years later he retired, but was asked to return to his original position as city manager. He became interim city administrator for three years. “He continued to tackle difficult situations striving for amicable solutions for all,” Tyree capped off.
In other awards presented during the evening, the KTJJ/KREI 110% Award was presented to Reggie AuBuchon, who raised $2,000 at a tailgate party for the North County backpack program.
The Business Leader of the Year Award from KFMO/B104 was awarded to Williams Patent Crusher and Pulverizer, Inc. The presenter said, “When an organization as a whole offers leadership, and shows support in furthering the interest of the community, the business itself becomes the award winner.”
Froggy 96’ Fred Dockins began his presentation by recognizing Lois Ann Meyer, then presented the Elite Service award to Shari House for her impact as a teacher who has donated her time to numerous events and organizations including the food pantry and church.
Chamber Treasurer Julie Pratte presented the Hometown Hero award to “perhaps the oldest gentlemen in the room tonight,” Warren Leo Lodholz. She recounted his life, including when he was drafted in World War II, beginning his long military career.
Lodholz said when he was in North Africa he was always thinking about Bonne Terre. “It was my hometown and I loved it with all my heart," he said. He received a standing ovation.
Charlie Boyer received the Lifetime Achievement award from the chamber for his many contributions to boards, chambers, his fundraising, and his business leadership for four decades.
The Bonne Terre Chamber presented several special awards for various reasons. Chamber director Bill Cotton presented one to Joe and Shawna Pettus for their community philanthropy. They highlighted an event that started in 2015 called Horsepower for Hope, where race car drivers from the region raise money for Camp Hope, a retreat for veterans wounded in action. Joe and Shawna raised $50,000 in the last four years.
The final recipient of the special award was Pharmacist Melanie Houser of Pharmax. She was noted for her excellence in customer care and innovation, advanced training in several areas including immunization, and role as a lifestyles coach.
St. Francois County Rotary Club member Lois-Ann Meyer presented their Service Above Self award to Patricia Murphy for being on the search committee, economic development committee, working on Chautauqua, helping the chamber auction, and her long term commitment to being on the chamber. The award is for people who represent the ideals of the Rotary Club.
At the end of the evening, Sue Reiter installed the new members of the chamber board.