By: Ernie Wren
2024 has sure started off in a fantastic manner! THANK YOU to everyone that texted, emailed, or commented to me about my new year’s predictions article from last week; I appreciate the good humor in which we all enjoyed them.

As we start the new year, it’s “Out with the Old”. The Missouri Department of Conservation will be again conducting a Christmas tree recycling program this year. The dropoff location is at Redbud Lane/Bass St. for people to set their trees out. The following rules are applicable to any trees that are dropped off:

• Natural trees only
• Trees should be left whole with intact branches
• ALL decorations must be removed prior to drop-off (including tinsel).
MDC officials will pick the trees up periodically, until the program closes on 01/31/2024. (Per the City of Ashland’s Facebook Page).

If you’ve never played in a trivia night, or if you’re an expert, you won’t want to miss the American Legion Post 152 Trivia Night on Saturday, January 27th, at 5pm. Come join the fun as either a team of eight ($160), or as individuals ($20). It’s open to all with great fun, prizes, and auction items. This event will be hosted at the American Legion Hall, 123 E. Broadway in Ashland. Personally, I’ve got my eye on that Lew’s Mach 1 Speed Spool Baitcasting Combo up in the silent auction! Contact Brian Sapp at 573-469-2685 to help sponsor or to participate (or both!).

Ranken Technical College-Central Missouri has now opened for classes! January 24th will see the start of classes in Carpentry & Building Construction Technology, Fabrication & Welding Technology, Industrial Engineering Technology, and Information Technology (with many more to come!). Let’s not forget that this venture was a long time in the making. There were a few small pockets of resistance to the City of Ashland and the Southern Boone School District investing in this project, but in hindsight, we are fortunate that progressive minds prevailed to bring in this educational investment in our future.

The grants to build Ranken came from the State of Missouri ($1.5 million) and the US Department of Education ($45 million). The state grant required that another $1.5 million be matched, which was with the partnership of the Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission, City of Ashland, Ranken Technical College, and the Southern Boone School District. This project was also made achievable in part with the strong support of local leadership by Dr. Chris Felmlee (former district superintendent and current school board member) and Sara Walsh (former State Representative). There were many others involved, and to all of them we should say thank you. We are very appreciative of the opportunities this will bring to Southern Boone’s future. As Benjamin Franklin wisely stated, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

“We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.