John Gulick of Louisiana takes notes during a presentation Monday by Elaine Campbell of Community Betterment and Arts Council of Houston. Gulick is a board member with the Missouri Community Betterment Program and a community development specialist with University Extension. He spoke during a reception to celebrate the community's recent successes.

Houston celebrated its recent top prize in the Missouri Community Betterment Contest during an event Monday at the Houston Storm Shelter.

Houston last month won the grand prize in the contest, took first place in its population category, was recognized for the top display at the state event in Columbia and the town’s Y.O.U.T.H. (youth organization understanding today’s Houston) group took second place.

John Gulick, a state board member with the Missouri Community Betterment Program and a community development specialist based in Pike County with the University of Missouri Extension Service, spoke before those gathered. Gulick praised Houston for its recognition in the statewide contest and the many projects that have brought it distinction across the state.

Those gathered learned about several other recent successes:

• The Houston School District’s recent placement in the Constitution Project, a statewide competition that gives students hands-on experience in the law enforcement, judicial and journalism fields. Houston’s journalism team won the top honor in its category last week in Jefferson City. Jim McNiell spoke about the program.

• The launch of another year of the Imagination Project that provides books in the mail to youngsters in the district who are ages infant to five. About 120 are enrolled in the program, which is sponsored by the Community Betterment and Arts Council.

• Nearly two dozen awards won by the town’s newspaper, the Houston Herald, in statewide competition.

• The work of the Texas County Memorial Hospital Healthcare Foundation and the impact it has on the area’s economy. It recently staged a fund-raiser that generated more than $59,000. With 357 employees, the institution is working toward completion of a new surgical wing.

• New projects targeted by the youth arm of the local community betterment group, including a facelift for the town’s fire plugs.

• Continued progress with Healthy Schools Healthy Communities local initiative that has poured money into the community to promote health lifestyles, including a major upgrade at Rutherford Park on the city’s west side.

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