Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Local Leaders Making A Difference

We all know people in our community that always seem to get involved and stay involved. Some are in a lot of different things and organizations. Others pick one or two things a year to really grab hold of. But they're all serving and really making a difference.

So I wanted to take a moment and recognize three people and their achievements that have really stood out to me this past year. They're by no means the only people doing big things, and these certainly aren't the only big things that they've done.

Randy Peterson has been active in the Republican Party for years, and is the new Chairman. While he's in lots of organizations and amazingly busy, Randy also did something very cool recently. He helped orchestrate the moving and placing of the magnificent Christmas Tree on the courthouse lawn this season.

I know there were others involved, and it was definitely a team effort, but Randy got it done. You've seen the result. It's been enjoyed by people of all faiths, regardless of political party.

It singlehandedly brought people together for a remarkable celebration. Now the county board is looking for a way to place a permanent tree there so we can make this a tradition every year. Awesome.

Carolyn Brown Hodge stands on the other side of the aisle politically. But like Randy, she's always had a big heart for this community, and has been involved in many things over the years that made a difference.

Carolyn caught the vision of the new Splash Park that opened this summer, and ran with it. She was instrumental in getting donors on board, and seeing it go from a neat idea to a real project with real funding.

Many of you have seen the result. I've watched my four year old laugh and splash as he enjoyed it many times this summer, free to the community. Wow.

Finally, you may have read about some funding recently made possible by Tom Hebermehl, for the STEM project at the new Paris Cooperative High School. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, and is really the future.

According to Dave Meister, Principal, the new STEM labs are going to be the most advanced labs anywhere around. As usual, when Tom heard about the need, he stepped up so they could get it done.

This isn't the first time he's done this. Several years ago, he spearheaded an amazing campaign to build and deliver state of the art PVC wheelchairs to third world recipients.

There are so many more examples, I could do columns for weeks. Like all the fine work by Warren Sperry and all the community leaders on the Edgar County Community Foundation. And all the people with Cause for Paws, Toys for Tots, Shriners, and so on.

There are lots of other people making a difference too, many anonymously. A lot of people volunteer at their church and for other organizations, but most people don't know about it. Every little thing makes a difference, and all those little things add up to really big things!

And we shouldn't forget all the people that work in jobs, but that make a difference with people everyday. In just the last week alone, I've watched police officers keep people safe, received great care for my son out at the clinic, seen my dad well cared for at assisted living, and watched awesome teachers pour themselves into our kids.

Even the people that work to provide us goods and services are making a difference. Without all of them, our lives wouldn't be nearly as comfortable. It's nice knowing I can quickly get a package shipped, or get a few items last minute. Well done everyone.

So as we move into the New Year, I want to thank all of you for your service. Whatever it is that you do, whether it's for a living, as a offering, or service to our community, thank you. From all of us, to all of you, thank you, and God Bless.

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