Houston took the top prize in the state's Community Betterment Contest in October The announcement was made in Columbia.

Houston took the top prize Monday night in Missouri’s annual Community Betterment Contest.

A Houston delegation received the grand prize news at the 54th annual Missouri Community Betterment Conference in Columbia. Houston also won first place in its population category. 

Houston vied for honors in its population category during a banquet this evening at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center.  Competing in Houston’s category were Buffalo, St. James, Fayette and Lathrop. Statewide, 23 communities earned visits from judges.

Two judges toured Houston on Sept. 11 and learned more about Houston projects included in this year’s entry:

•Melba Theatre renovation.

•Houston Community Betterment and YOUTH, address numbering project.

•Rutherford Park expansion.

•Creation of Rascalz, a teen club and community center on Grand Avenue.

•Bicycle safety program aimed at elementary students.

This year’s theme was “Rural Progress and Pride.” The keynote speaker was Deb Brown, who discussed “Rural Innovative Business Models.” Houston volunteers Elaine and Delbert Campbell and Jim and Wilda McNiell organized a game that was part of the program on Sunday night.

Since 1975, Houston has won community recognition 27 times, including first place nine times. In 2004, the town won the grand prize as “Community of the Year.”

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