We all know someone who is an amazing citizen—someone who serves on civic boards and planning committees, volunteers for special projects on evenings and weekends, and uses their position to make big changes in communities throughout the region. It’s not often that these community rock stars are recognized. Many prefer just to do their work quietly in the background, making their mark without any accolades or admiration. But Truman Heartland Community Foundation (THCF) deeply admires the efforts of these amazing citizens, and we strive to sing their praises throughout Eastern Jackson County and beyond.
I am pleased to present this year’s Citizen of the Year honorees. Area Mayors have selected a slate of impressive individuals to receive this prestigious award, individuals who have made a significant impact on their local communities. Honorees will be recognized at the 27th Annual Toast to Our Towns Gala, presented by Blue Ridge Bank and Trust Company, on Saturday, September 24, 2022, at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center. Although their areas of impact are varied, all the Citizens of the Year are united by a common goal, improving and enriching their local communities.
2022 Truman Heartland Citizens of the Year
Blue Springs – Nominated by Mayor Carson Ross
Keith is a retired schoolteacher who spent 40 years in education working for the Kansas City and Blue Springs School Districts. Keith’s work with the Blue Springs School District (BSSD), Blue Springs Parks and Recreation, students, the community, and the Missouri Department of Conservation helped to establish an Outdoor Classroom in Wilbur Young Park, complete with a stocked fishing pond. Various student-driven projects resulted in him being awarded the Presidential Environmental Youth Award from the EPA. In 2017, Keith was part of the committee which developed the first Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Master Plan and worked to pass the five-year dedicated Parks Sales Tax successfully. Keith has been on the Blue Springs Park Commission for 19 years and is currently the commission’s Chair.
Grain Valley – Nominated by Mayor Mike Todd
Robert (Bob) Headley selflessly served the City of Grain Valley in many volunteer capacities over his sixteen years as an elected official. His time as an Alderman for Ward 3 consisted of eight terms ending in April 2022. He was part of the board that steered and provided input that pushed the I-70 interchange project to completion, including securing funding for nearly $20 million in improvements. In 2022, before his final term expired, a $14 million bond issue for a new Police Station was approved, which was ultimately approved by voters. Bob believed in growth and preparing the city for future needs. Bob has been a big proponent of Parks and Recreation and has served as the Parks Board liaison for the Board of Aldermen for numerous years. Bob’s presence and thoughtful decisions will forever be a part of Grain Valley’s story.
Karen DeLuccie (posthumous)
Independence – Nominated by Mayor Rory Rowland
Karen graduated in 1982 from the Juris Doctorate program at the University of Missouri–Kansas City and would later return as an adjunct professor at the UMKC School of Law. Karen spent her 40-year legal career on The Independence Square, practicing law as a Family Law specialist. She was a member and past president of the Eastern Jackson County Bar Association, a fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and co-founder of the Independence Youth Court. As an AV-rated lawyer, Karen was a mentor to numerous young lawyers. Perhaps the greatest achievement of her legal career occurred when she helped author and pass the law that created the Family Court of Missouri, signed by then-Governor Mel Carnahan. The law completely transformed the Family Law Court system for the benefit of all parties by streamlining divorce and child custody cases. Karen also served 17 years on the City of Independence Planning Commission before her election to the City Council. She was a member of the Independence Square Tax Board, a trustee of Gold Bank, and the Advanced Reading Program director for eight years at her children’s school. Those who knew Karen know that every day with her was a true gift.
Lake Tapawingo – Nominated by John Sellars
Jayme Dean has lived a life of service. In addition to being an elementary school teacher, Jayme, and her husband, David, are foster parents. She volunteers at her church, Harvesters Food Bank, and has served five years as the President of the Lake Tapawingo Country Club (LTCC) Board of Directors. Other service to the City of Lake Tapawingo includes serving on the Board of Aldermen, Strategic Planning Committee, Election and Nomination Committee, Municipal Committee, Budget Committee, Lake Dredging Committee, and volunteering at numerous functions. Jayme was also named teacher of the year at Southwind Elementary School in the Raytown School District.
Dr. Elaine Metcalf
Lee’s Summit – Nominated by Mayor Bill Baird
Dr. Elaine Metcalf deserves recognition for her work educating, supporting, and mentoring the youth in the Lee’s Summit community. She has dedicated more than 34 years to inspiring and educating youth in the City of Lee’s Summit. After retiring from teaching, Elaine joined the Pro Deo Youth Center as executive director, continuing to create opportunities and positive outcomes for youth. She spends her free time volunteering for various organizations in Lee’s Summit, including the Sunrise Sunset Rotary Club, where she serves as president, and the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce. When so many teens find themselves disconnected, Elaine is stepping up to provide a safe, healthy environment where teens are encouraged to be their best selves.
The Fidler Family
Oak Grove – Nominated by Mayor Dana Webb
The Fidler family has positively impacted the Oak Grove community in many ways. At four separate locations in Oak Grove, the family has taken abandoned and derelict buildings and transformed them into thriving businesses that bolster the local economy. Fidler on the Roof, The Den, and Diakonos Counseling are Fidler family businesses. The family happily participates in the National Night Out each year, provides event sponsorships and other charitable donations, and are members of the Oak Grove Chamber of Commerce. Currently, they are working with the city to develop Trade Days for local youth to encourage young people to learn more about a career in the skilled trades as an alternative to a traditional college or university education.
Dr. Allan Markley
Raytown – Nominated by Mayor Mike McDonough
Dr. Allan Markley has been the Superintendent of Raytown C-2 School District for 14 years. Because of his belief that education starts early in children’s lives, he established Three Trails Preschool, open to all district children, ages 4-5. Allan headed the development of a community wellness center, led two bond campaigns for district-wide improvements, and was named the 2018 recipient of The Missouri Association of School Administrators Robert L. Award. He has led many educational groups in the Greater Kansas City area, most recently as Chair of the Board of the Greater KC Suburban Conference and Missouri Securities Investment Program. Allan has also been continually active in the Raytown Area Chamber of Commerce, Raytown Kiwanis, Raytown Rotary clubs (past president), and the Raytown Educational Foundation.
Sugar Creek – Nominated by Mayor Mike Larson
Jeff Shawhan is the type of business leader anyone would want on their team. Jeff was instrumental in designing the metal canopy roof for the Mike Onka Hall and proposed a design for the Sugar Creek Welcome Center. From the restoration of the facilities at Harris Park to a new gazebo design for Wells Park to replace the old traffic circle, Jeff uses his time and energy to make Sugar Creek a better place for everyone. He is passionate about community development, serving as Vice President of the Sugar Creek CDC and an active member of the economic development subcommittee. He is one of the brilliant minds on the CDC team developing the Sugar Creek Master Plan.
These days when we only seem to hear bad news, we encourage everyone to take a moment and celebrate these Citizen’s passionate dedication to the towns they love. Please join us at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center on September 24 to honor all our outstanding honorees during our annual celebration of philanthropy.
The 2022 Toast to Our Towns Cocktail Reception Sponsor is Truckmovers, and Community America Credit Union is the sponsor of the Mix, Mingle, and Music after party. Centerpoint is the sponsor of the private Citizen’s Reception which will take place a few weeks before the gala at the Swan Dive at Vivilore. Table sponsorships and individual tickets are still available for this year’s Toast to Our Towns gala. Last year we sold out two weeks before the event, so get your tickets now before they’re gone! www.thcf.org/toast-to-our-towns-gala or 816.836.8189.