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by Mark Cheffey
While it wasn’t officially so, last Wednesday was Al Durand Day in Palmyra.
The Palmyra native was given a major tribute for not only his crucial role in establishing emergency 911 in Marion County but for all of his extensive civil service involvement in Palmyra.
Marion County 911 officials, joined by a hosts of the county’s first responders as well as city employees, came to honor Durand, who is now a resident of Maple Lawn Nursing Home.
With family and friends as well as many of his fellow Maple Lawn residents gathered outside in front of the facility, Durand was honored with a patriotic ceremony, a parade of emergency vehicles, presentations by E911 and Palmyra Mayor Rusty Adrian.
“Al Durand’s passion for serving the community has touched so many lives in so many ways, it is time to give back to Al and tell him ‘Thank you for everything you have done,’” said Mike Hall, Marion County 911 director, who emceed the event.
Hall said it was impossible to think about the establishment of 911 service in Marion County and its successful growth over the years without crediting Durand.
“A leader in the community for years, Al was instrumental in bringing lifesaving 911 emergency dispatching services to Northeast Missouri while serving as chairman of the Marion County 911 Board of Directors for over three decades,” Hall said. “I can’t say enough about how appreciative we are of his hard work and dedication.”
Richard Cerretti, a member of the 911 board, also credited Durand with the success of 911 that has now expanded to serve Ralls and Lewis counties.
“We give all thec credit for the success of our 911 center to Al Durand,” Cerretti said.
Among the presentations made to Durand was a plaque honoring him for his long-time service on the 911 board, a medal that was presented to 911 personnel for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and a Palmyra city proclamation recognizing his service to the community.
Before reading the proclamation, Mayor Adrian credited Durand for being an inspiration to many, including himself, for wanting to serve the community.
“I got involved in the city and followed in his footsteps in a lot of ways,” he said.
An extra special surprise came when Hall announced that the access road to the 911 facility along U.S. 61 north of Hannibal would, from now on be known as Durand Drive.
Durand was presented with a replica green sign signifying the designation, and Hall said a sign would be posted at the entrance to the road sometime this week.
Speaking on Durand’s behalf was his wife, Elaine, who said her husband loved being a part of Marion County 911 over the years.
“It was a hobby,” she said. “He loved the expansion of it, the vehicles, and he’s always raved about the people who work for 911.”
Durand’s list of civic involvement is long and extensive.
A long time Palmyra businessman, family to many as Palmyra’s pharmacist, Durand:
• served six years as an elected city council member from 1997 to 2003;
• served 12 years as an appointed member of the Palmyra Board of Public Works, which oversees the city’s electric, water and sewer operations from 2009 to 2021; and
• served four years on the Palmyra Planning & Zoning Commission from 1990 to 1994.
Durand has also been deeply involved with the Palmyra Kiwanis Club and Palmyra United Methodist Church and even until the last few years, a fixture in the PHS football press box and basketball officials table as a clock operator.
In the framed city proclamation read by Mayor Adrian and presented to Durand, he was recognized for performing his duties “diligently, faithfully, courteously and with the highest integrity.”