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by Mark Cheffey
The Palmyra Chamber of Commerce honored a long-time home builder, a retiring school superintendent and a successful home-grown insurance company among other individuals during its annual awards banquet Thursday.
With a large gathering at Msgr. Farischon Hall, the Chamber presented three major awards including Citizen of the Year to Glenn Griesbaum and Educator of the Year to Kirt Malone, and inducted B&S Insurance into the Business Hall of Fame.
Also honored were Trust GDC Insurance Services, which received the Paint Brush Award, and Chad Engleheart and Clint Stewart, President’s Award winners.
Griesbaum was recognized for his almost 60 years of building homes in Missouri and helping the community meet an ever-growing housing need.
“He has dedicated his career and talent to providing residential growth for Palmyra,” said Chamber President, Jason Janes, in presenting the Citizen of the Year Award.
Griesbaum is credited with developing several residential subdivisions in Palmyra including Griesbaum Meadows, Howardine Estates and Greystone Haven.
“Glen Griesbaum takes pride in what he does and strives to improve our community with the best interests of Palmyra always in the forefront,” Janes said.
“I appreciate it,” said an emotional Griesbaum in accepting the award.
He made particular note of the financing assistance he has received from local banks, but in particular Angie Poppe of HOMEBANK.
Malone, who is retiring after five years serving as R-I Superintendent and from a 34-year career in education.
“Kirt Malone has positively impacted the lives of over 1,200 children this past year and an even greater number throughout his 34-year career,” said PHS Principal, Jared Pontius, in presenting the Educator of the Year Award.
Malone, a graduate of Clark County High School in Kahoka, Mo., and Truman State University has taught and coached in the Clark County, Knox County, Lewis County and Palmyra school districts.
“One of the greatest comments I have heard others say about Kirt is that he is invested in his job,” Pontius said. “He is invested in helping students, teachers, administrators and other staff members work to achieve common goals.”
Malone, who indicated the honor was a “complete surprise” said many people besides himself are key to the education of students in Palmyra, but he was still honored by the award.
“I do appreciate being recognized,” he said. “However, we don’t teach to be recognized, but because we to love teach.”
Frank Burch, one of the founders of B&S Insurance, came to the area right out of high school and became a tenant farmer, according to his daughter, Michele Hopson, who presented the Business Hall of Fame award.
Hopson said sales had always been a part of Burch’s life, and when farming got tough in the 1980s, he switched to being a crop adjuster in order to better provide for his family, and also grew interested in the sales side of insurance.
He and another partner formed B&S Insurance in 1984 and it has grown since.
“He will tell you that the success of the business is not all his but is to be shared with the team of agents who work hard everyday,” Hopson said. “That and the creative and entertaining ‘No Bull’ commercials that B&S started producing in 2011.”
“This was a total surprise,” Burch said of the honor. “It’s been quite a ride since 1984 when we first started, and that’s no bull.”
Trust GDC Insurance Services received the Paint Brush Award after the building location at 305 South Main Street since 1983 underwent extensive interior improvement after bricks began to crumble into the interior behind the old wood paneling, forcing the business to evacuate.
“The interior now has completely updated electrical, lighting and internet wiring,” Janes said in presenting the award. “There are two new offices, and the receptionist area looks fresh and inviting.
In accepting the award on behalf of the company, Paul Frankenbach expressed appreciation for the public’s patience during the remodeling process and also cited the company’s faith and commitment to continuing to do business in Palmyra.
Janes selected two major helpers during the past year to received his President’s Awards for 2020.
He said Chad Englehardt and Clint Stewart went “above and beyond” in helping with various Chamber events, and in particular, this past year’s Taste of Palmyra street fair when a last minute shortage of help forced them to set up for the event by themselves.
Also receiving special recognition for spearheading Chamber events this past year were Nancy Goellner (Flag Day), Stephanie Cooper (Taste of Palmyra) and Randy and Michele Hopson (Marion County Fair).
Another award normally presented at the banquet is the Volunteer of the Year Award.
It was announced the honoree was unable to attend and the award would be presented at a later time.
The banquet also included the changing of the Chamber’s Board of Directors.
Taking on the president’s position is Caitlin Smyser, while Stephanie Cooper is the new vice president.