UPDATED: Houston wins top award in community betterment contest, youth finish second

Houston captured first place in its population category in the state’s 45th annual Community Betterment Contest. The announcement came Monday night in Jefferson City.

The award is the second time in recent months that Houston has been in the spotlight. The Missouri Department of Economic Development recently recognized Houston with its top community project award for downtown revitalization work at the governor’s annual conference on economic development in Kansas City.

Houston’s youth group – Community Betterment Y.O.U.T.H. – won second place Monday. About 350 volunteers, community leaders and youth from across the state attended.

Other first-place winners in their population categories were Allendale, Mansfield, Brookfield and Cameron. The City of Clinton won the grand prize.

A panel of judges earlier visited Houston to judge the community’s entry in the Missouri Community Betterment Contest. The visit included a program at the town’s new visitor’s center and a tour of the community, which included information about the development of a walking trail and wildflower garden, downtown work and other improvements during the last year.

In showcasing the individual and business donations and volunteer hours of the Houston community, the 2008 judges’ book and visit to Houston highlighted five 2007-2008 programs: The Brushy Creek Trail opening, the Houston Wildflower Gardens, The TCMH Healthcare Foundation Chili Cook-Off, The Animal Shelter of Texas County and the Houston Community Betterment Y.O.U.T.H. More than $300,000 in grants and donations with more than 400 volunteers were documented for the projects.

The five projects were selected from the Houston Community Assessment Planning Tool prepared by community leaders in the Houston Economic MoCAP plan.

In honor of the 45th celebration of MCB, the judges were give a tour of Houston which included projects from the last 33 years of Houston’s involvement in Missouri Community Betterment: Fire truck, 2007; storm shelter, 2006; Lone Star Plaza 2003 and 1999; Piney Art League murals, 2004; TRAIN, 1997; industrial park, 1993; Little League Park, 1992; Emmett Kelly Park, 1987; city transit, 1982; and Dogwood trees along Bryan and Ozark Street, 1981. Ellen McVay, 1976 MCB award winner, was recognized for many contributions to the city.

At the Jefferson City conference, Elaine Campbell presented a powerpoint visual show of Houston’s accomplishments since 2003 with Steve Jeanetta, University of Missouri community development specialist. The workshop’s focus was on communities sharing their planning process and the projects that have been accomplished. In the visual presentation, 59 pictures of Houston were used which included the human resources, economic development, government organizations, community services and community facilities. Handouts for the Brushy Creek Trail, the Houston of Area Chamber of Commerce and for the Houston presentation was gived to more than 60 attendees. Albany was the second community to talk about its planning process.

The eleven Houston Y.O.U.T.H received a VIP tour of the Missouri Capitol on Monday afternoon hosted by Rep. Shannon Cooper.

” It is always exciting to win a state award and be recognized by the governor for our community’s achievements, but the most exciting part of the award is the people in our community who volunteer their time, money and support to make Houston a show place in the state. It is easy to proclaim Houston’s achievements when everyone works hard and supports building an exemplary community,” said Campbell.

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