Two individuals, two businesses, and one organization will be honored by the Trenton Area Chamber of Commerce during its annual banquet/meeting on Friday, June 4, at the Black Silo Winery.
The five honorees will be recognized for their service to the community, with M.G. Kennedy and Dan Wilford being named Pillars of the Community while Vintage Vines and Black Silo Winery receiving the Business of the Year award. The Organization of the Year is Trenton Elks Lodge No. 801. The awards were originally to have been presented at the 2020 annual chamber event; however, COVID 19 restrictions caused the banquet to be canceled. It was then decided to recognize the 2020 recipients during the 2021 event.
Activities get underway at 5:30 p.m. with a social hour and the meal at 6 p.m. The program will follow and will also include recognition of chamber board members and ambassadors, as well as a review of chamber activities. “Wild Safari” is the theme of this year’s banquet, with Slow Leak providing music throughout the evening. Tickets are $35 per person. Table sponsorships are available for $450 and $300. Reservations are being accepted until Friday, May 28, by contacting the chamber at 349-4324 or by email at [email protected].
2021 Pillars of the Community
The 2021 Pillars of the Community, M.G. Kennedy, and Dan Wilford, have spent a lifetime giving back to their community and have no intention of stopping. Kennedy, a resident of rural Trenton, and Wilford, a resident of rural Laredo, began serving the area at an early age and continue to be individuals who still answer the call when needed.
“There are so many good things in Trenton, and I want to focus on the good,” Kennedy said in his explanation of why he feels it is important to give back to a community that has provided him with a place to live and raise his family over the years. He initially was employed by Grundy Electric Cooperative as an electrician, which also allowed him the opportunity to focus on his “real job” of farming. He farmed with his wife, Beth’s, family until her parents were killed in a car wreck. He later bought out his brother-in-law’s portion of the farming business, and he and his wife became sole owners of the farm on which they still own and operate today. In 1994, he became a registered sales manager with Burris Seeds, serving north Missouri and southern Iowa for 16 years before retiring from that job.
But it wasn’t all work with Kennedy, who took on many volunteer roles, beginning with serving as president of the Pleasant View R-6 Community Club – the first of many education-related “jobs” he would be involved in while he and Beth were raising their three children, Brenda, Alan, and Don.
“We felt it was important to support our kids, and it was one of the nicest things we were involved in,” Kennedy said. In addition to his work with the community club, he spent time serving as a 4-H leader and was extensively involved with FFA activities – in particular as one of four sets of parents whose sons made up the Goat Ropers, a singing group that began as entertainment at the state FFA Convention but eventually performed events throughout Missouri and surrounding states, including the National FFA Convention. In addition to Alan Kennedy, the group included Alan Ferguson, Tim Hein, and the late Joe Brinser, with Joe’s mother, Ann, being the group leader.
“We had so much fun doing that,” Kennedy said, adding that many individuals were met along the way who remain friends today. “And we never had to worry about those kids doing anything that wouldn’t make us proud. They were a fine group of boys.”
Kennedy was among individuals who helped get signatures that would eventually lead to the formation of the county public water district, a job he said that provided a challenge as not everyone necessarily thought it was a good idea at the time. “We had to work at it,” he said.
He was appointed by the county commission to serve as a member of the Grundy County Library Board, trying to come up with a way to better fund the library, one of the first challenges he encountered.
“We didn’t have any money, and we definitely were not paying Mrs. (Catheryn) Higdon enough,” he said, noting that the county did finally pass a tax after his term on the board was completed.
Kennedy also served several years on the Trenton Township Board as well as the Grundy County Extension Council. He has been a member of the North Central Missouri Fair Board, along with his wife, and his family represented Grundy County as the county’s Farm Family at the Missouri State Fair. The Kennedys have also been longtime members of the Grundy Center Church where, of course, M.G. has served on various boards. “I’ve done everything but be a Sunday school teacher,” he said.
His current passion is the Grundy County Community Food Pantry, where he can be found most days helping pack up food and deliver boxes to families served by the organization. He is also president of the food pantry board.
“I work with a wonderful board and a great group of volunteers who are willing to go above and beyond to serve those in need,” he said.
It’s those individuals, along with others he has worked with, that he credits with the success of those volunteer activities he has participated in over the years.
“You surround yourself with good people, and they will make you look good,” he said. “And I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of good ones.”
Anyone who asks Dan Wilford how he is doing, his answer is always the same: “Super fantastic.”
That word can also be used to describe the work he has done in giving back to the community of which he has been a part for many years. Described by those who know him as “positive” and “generous,” it is understandable why his list of community volunteer work is so extensive.
“I love helping people have a better quality of life,” he said.
While serving as a licensed professional counselor for many years, Wilford is probably best known for his involvement with his church and the religious community in
general. A charter member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, he has served on the board of the Sparrow Ministry Advisory Council, the Medicine Valley Community Ministries Advisory Council, chaplain for Marketplace Chaplains USA, and a director with the Southern Baptist Bi-vocational Ministers. He is a director/teacher of the North Grand River Baptist Seminary Extension and since 2007 has been the full-time pastor of the First Baptist Church at Milan. He has also led a weekly worship service at the Milan Health Care Center and monthly worship service at the Sullivan County Memorial Hospital in Milan.
His community volunteer list is long, beginning with his involvement with both the Lions Club and Rotary Club organizations. His membership in the Laredo Lions Club has included several offices while as a member of both the Milan and Trenton Rotary Clubs, he has been a board member, served as president and sergeant of arms, and provided a weekly newsletter. He is a Paul Harris Fellow several times over and was recently recognized by Rotary District 6040 for his charitable giving to and involvement in the Rotary International program. He certainly lives the Rotary motto, “Service Above Self.”
Dan has also held memberships on the Grundy County Human Resources Council, the Wright Memorial Hospital Board of Directors, the Grundy County Supportive House Board (vice president), Grundy County-Jewett Norris Library Friends of the Library (president), the Trenton Ministerial Alliance (treasurer) and the Senate Bill 40 Board of Grundy County dba Family and Friends of the Developmentally Disabled (president) – and has been very active in all. He has provided funding to help the recently-formed Arts Alive organization achieve not-for-profit status and to help purchase furniture for the new Life Options facility. He is a regular contributor to many other organizations in the community, including the Trenton Area Chamber of Commerce and the community fireworks.
“It irks me when people say they don’t have time (to give back to their community),” Wilford said. “They have 24 hours in a day. I never say I don’t have time.”
It’s not all work for Dan, who does have a passion for one hobby – that of a “rockhound.” He has collected rocks from 22 countries around the world and hopes to collect even more as he and his wife, Carol, a recently retired music instructor, plan to do more traveling while also continuing visits with their three children – Mary, John, and Naomi – and their grandchildren. He also enjoys building birdhouses.
“The word retirement is not in my vocabulary,” Dan said. “I plan on doing what I do until I can’t do it anymore.”
Vintage Vines and Black Silo Winery are the 2021 Businesses of the Year
Vintage Vines is owned and operated by sisters Sena and Rachel Arnold. The store has been a key in the revitalization of downtown Trenton, with Sena and Rachel remodeling an empty building ad turning it into a vital business that draws many visitors to the community while providing a much-needed product. In the short time Vintage Vines has been in business, both Sena and Rachel have become very involved in the local activities and participate in many events that promote Trenton and its business community.
In its short time as a local business, Black Silo Winery has made its impact felt. Located on the east edge of Trenton, the winery has now become the place to go for activities that happen throughout the year. Owners Duane Urich and Jenn Hottes began growing grapes in 2010 and opened for business in 2013. In addition to providing a fun place to sit, relax and enjoy a locally-produced glass of wine, Black Silo hosts several activities throughout the year and has become north Missouri’s home for great music. The Mid-America Music Festival first started in 2017, draws big crowds, and after having to cancel its 2020 event due to COVID-19, it will be bringing back music to the area with two nights of entertainment on July 16-17. A concert series has been added this year, with a featured band playing each month from April to October. Other events include the annual Swine in the Vine KC BBQ-Sanctioned competition on June 18-19, the Wine and Wheels car show fundraiser on June 26, and the community fireworks show on July 2.
Trenton Elks Lodge
Trenton Elks Lodge No. 801 is the 2021 Organization of the Year. Organized on July 2, 1902, the lodge has been an active participant in all community activities. Its motto is “Elks Care, Elks Share,” and the Trenton Lodge can always be counted on to help when needed. Many local and area individuals, families, and schools have benefited from the generosity of Lodge No. 801 through donations and scholarships, with primary emphasis on youth and veterans. The lodge also hosts the annual Missouri Day Car Show each October in downtown Trenton. Harry Kately currently serves as the exalted ruler of the lodge, which has a membership of around 200 individuals.