Missouri Governor Mike Parson brought the spotlight to Four Rivers Career Center on Thursday, March 11. The governor has been visiting work-ready communities in the state and spoke with students and instructors in the Engineering, Machine Tool, Information Technology, Carpentry, Auto Technology, Collision Repair, Welding, and CAPS programs. Student Ambassadors led the tour, giving Missouri's top elected official a unique perspective to the tour.
Programs at Four Rivers are focused on bridging classroom learning with real-world experience. The Chamber is excited to partner with the career center to develop relationships with area businesses, improving the outlook for our community's future workforce.
For more photos and details on Gov. Parson's visit:
School District of Washington article
Photos from Gov. Parson Flickr
Inaugural Class of Youth Registered Apprentices from Four Rivers Career Center - Many Chamber Businesses Participating!
On Friday, February 26, Four Rivers Career Center in Washington hosted a signing day ceremony to recognize 33 Youth Registered Apprentices and 10 Apprentice-Elects. Watch the Ceremony here! Leaders representing the community, apprentice's parents, FRCC instructors and elected officials, as well as Wade Johnson (Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship) and Commissioner Zora Mulligan (Dept. of Higher Education and Workforce Development) were present to celebrate the students' achievements. Over the past six months, staff at the career center has worked closely with City of Washington and Chamber Officials to develop partnerships with local businesses and accelerate the youth-focused apprenticeship program.
At this time, FRCC offers seven (7) different apprenticeship study programs: Automotive Technology, Machine Tool, Welding, Collision Repair, Carpenter, Engineering, Information Technology. There are currently 24 Premier Business Partners certified to employ apprentices from Four Rivers Career Center. Chamber Members taking advantage of the training program include Modern Auto Company, Riechers Tire and Auto, Straatmann Toyota, School District of Washington, KJ Unnerstall Construction, GH Tool & Mold, Riechers Truck Bodies, and Sahm Welding and Fabrication.
The Signing Day ceremony was the culmination of many efforts and milestones leading up to this ceremony:
Four Rivers Career Center prides itself in authentic experiences for their students, bridging the gap between education and career success. Recognized as a premier Career and Technical Education Center FRCC offers students the ability to connect their passions to their career path. FRCC services ten high schools and spans St. Charles, Gasconade, Warren, Franklin, Crawford, and St. Louis Counties.
"Five years ago, the charge was to change the face of Four Rivers," said FRCC Director Andy Robinson. "Prior to that, we were vo-tech - we were the school students would go to that weren't successful in academic educational areas. I trust my staff, I trust the teachers that are making it happen, I trust what they do every day in the classroom to make it real. They take our students and they find their passions and they push them out into the real world. They understand that their program of study may be to go to a 4 year university, to a 2-year community college, or to a trade school, or just go straight to work and get involved. We find every kid where they're at and we push them along. In order to represent that, we needed an apprenticeship program."
The program has great potential to keep growing, developing an effective pipeline for a highly skilled, sustainable workforce. Four Rivers Career Center is setting a high standard to qualify as Youth Registered Apprentices through aptitude, academic performance, and work ethic. Students must meet a number of requirements to qualify for the program, maintaining a minimum 2.5 GPA and 95 percent attendance rate, and they must be at least 16 years of age. "Today we're celebrating 33 students," Robinson said. "We call them gold standard students because they are our guarantee. We want to push out high quality students.
We've got another 500 kids in the wings - we just couldn't get to them all, but we will. It just takes time and effort, and building more relationships in our community."
Cynthia Walker was hired as the Apprenticeship Coordinator and has been impressed with the way the community has embraced the apprenticeship model. "I'm amazed at the achievements we can make when we all work together as a team. The vision of YRA has been a long held initiative for our administration, school board, employers, and our local/state officials, with a purpose to bolster our economy and fill the needed workforce skills gap. Our FRCC Director, Andy Robinson, has helped put feet to that vision and provided the initiative for the community relationships, the leadership, as well as the many provisions to move this chapter of career and technical education forward."
Governor Mike Parson and Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe, both supporters of apprenticeship and other programs to help narrow the skills gap, were unable to attend the ceremony due to scheduling conflicts. Gov. Parson has plans to visit FRCC for a tour in the future, and Lt. Gov. Kehoe provided a video address for the ceremony, stating, "CTE (Career & Technical Education) students are a vital resource to Missouri's thriving economy today, tomorrow, and the future because our state needs a strong skilled, and highly motivated workforce to compete in the world's marketplace."
Wade Johnson of the U.S. Department of Labor/Office of Apprenticeship had wonderful things to say about the greater Washington community and Four Rivers Career Center. Before presenting the official certification of the FRCC Apprenticeship Program, he stated, "City and Business organizations. This is the perfect storm in a positive way of things that need to happen to not only develop an apprenticeship program, but to have it be sustainable."
His words about the students, however, were a highlight of the day, and proof that Four Rivers Career Center is living and fulfilling its mission to provide a quality education with real life experiences and opportunities to achieve a higher standard of living for a diverse student population using authentic hands-on learning modeled by knowledgeable and caring instructors.
Johnson stated, "I wish I was as confident and talented in high school as what I've seen today. And it's not just the apprentices. The kids that gave us tours... They were very sure of what they wanted to do and how they wanted to prepare themselves for the workforce, for becoming productive, contributing members of society, forging their own path to the middle class. It inspires me, and it gives me hope for the future."
The program was closed by Commissioner Zora Mulligan of the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. "To the students watching - the state of Missouri is tremendously proud of your success and we can't wait to see what you do as you finish your apprenticeships and go on into the economy and your lives. Thank you all for celebrating this important event with us today."
Does your company want to get involved with the Youth Registered Apprenticeship Program?
Learn more here, or contact Cynthia Walker, Apprenticeship Coordinator for additional details!
We're excited to hold our Annual Business Meeting on Thursday, January 14 at 8:30 a.m. Instead of gathering at a banquet hall, this year's event will be live-streamed on our Facebook and YouTube pages for members to enjoy from their homes or businesses. No pre-registration is required, and the recording will remain available for viewing after the livestream concludes.
Below are links to the Event Program and to the Facebook and YouTube livestreams.
Would you like to support any of these events through sponsorship? We have multiple commitment levels available, so you can choose the amount and benefits that work best for your business! Learn more on our sponsorship blog post, and then sign-up with our online form. Thank you!
The Washington Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to welcome Tricia Piontek (The Magnet Group) and Kevin Richardson (Zick, Voss, Politte & Richardson, P.C.) to the Board of Directors. They were chosen through a membership-wide ballot that included four nominees, selected by a committee of past board chairs.
“We’re excited to add Tricia and Kevin to our team. Both have a great appreciation for our community, and we are grateful for their willingness to serve our Chamber in this capacity,” said Chamber President, Jennifer Giesike. Board members typically serve two, 3-year terms on the board, although if selected by fellow directors to the Executive Board, additional years can be served. Piontek and Richardson will replace Dave Politte (Zick, Voss, Politte & Richardson, P.C.) and Casey Zastrow (American Family Insurance), whose terms will end on December 31, 2020.
Tricia Piontek has been with The Magnet Group since 2002 and currently holds the position of Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Brands Division. She served on the Our Lady of Lourdes School Board and is an experienced volunteer, helping plan and execute school auctions, parish breakfasts and dinners, and fundraisers for the Washington Junior ROTC Booster Club. She and her family enjoy supporting local events and businesses. Tricia and her husband, Allan, have five adult children – Nicole (Brueggenjohann), Holly (Wunderlich), Sydney, Samuel, and Jackson.
Kevin Richardson is a partner and attorney at Zick, Voss, Politte & Richardson, P.C., where he has worked since 2003. Kevin has served on the Board of Directors for TEMCO, Inc. and the Franklin County Area United Way and on the Parish Finance Committee at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. He was President of the 20th Judicial Circuit Bar Association, and was named to the Chamber Outstanding Young Professionals Class of 2013. Kevin and his wife, Sarah, have two children, Audrey and Will.
Piontek and Richardson will join 14 others on the 2021 Board of Directors.
On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we celebrated a different, but still magical Olde Fashioned Christmas event! With a small army of volunteers, lights were hung, donated decorations were placed throughout the Main & Elm parking lot and goodies were staged along the route.
Participants received an event booklet with activities and a coloring sheet, crayons, and candy canes early in the line, and then received hot cocoa or cider and sugar cookies as they pulled in front of the Farmers' Market. A take-home craft packet was given to children as they drove through the decoration display, and after driving past the live reindeer and Mr. & Mrs. Claus, children had a chance to leave a letter for Santa at the North Pole Post Office.
Olde Fashioned Christmas is always a free event, but this year we did encourage participants donate canned goods. In total, 208 items and $135 were taken to Loving Hearts Outreach after the event.
Our traffic plan worked well for the 300 cars that drove through the event and we saw many excited and grateful smiles.
Thank you to everyone that helped make this event a success!
The Washington Area Chamber of Commerce has two Board of Directors positions to fill for 2021.
The following four nominees were selected from a highly qualified field of candidates: Steven Kuenzel, Jr., Carrie Maune, Tricia Piontek, and Kevin Richardson.
Steven P. Kuenzel Jr. “Steve”, is a Partner at the law firm of Eckelkamp Kuenzel LLP, Washington Mo. He has worked full time as an attorney at Eckelkamp Kuenzel LLP since 2009, having previously clerked there beginning in 2005. In addition to his law degree from Saint Louis University, he also received an MBA from Saint Louis University in 2010. He attended the University of Missouri-Columbia for his undergraduate degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Finance and Banking in 2005.
Outside of work, Steve is a member of the Franklin County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Washington Elks, Rotary, Knights of Columbus, and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. He was a recipient of the Outstanding Young Professional Award, class of 2015. Steve is also involved in a variety real estate projects and developments throughout the county. He is married to Colleen M. Kuenzel, who he met in law school and who also received her law degree from Saint Louis University. They currently reside in Washington with their four daughters, Bailey, Darcy, Samantha, and Rory.
Carrie Maune has been a resident of Franklin County most of her life. She grew up in Union and earned a degree in chemistry and biology from University of Central Missouri. Carrie worked at Romer Labs in Union for 12 years before starting Trilogy Analytical Laboratory with two business partners in 1999. Trilogy is an analytical chemistry laboratory focused on food and feed safety. In 2015, Carrie sold her shares in Trilogy, but remains as a Vice President, working in several areas of the company.
Carrie and her husband, Mick, live just outside of Washington, close to Campbellton. They have been married for 38 years and have enjoyed the many benefits of living in this community and have found it to be a wonderful place to raise their family. Carrie and Mick have two children - a 27-year old son and a 21-year old daughter.
Carrie is a member of New Life Church in Washington and is active on the Elder Team and Outreach Team. She has volunteered for a number of groups/events, including Washington FFA, Sheltered Reality Drumming group, marching band functions, and more. At Trilogy she has worked with East Central College, Washington High School,, and Four Rivers Career Center on Industry-specific projects and education events. She has also served on the Biotechnology Steering Committee at ECC and the advisory committee for the FRCC health and science groups.
Tricia (Mohesky) Piontek was born and raised in Washington, Missouri and attended St. Francis Borgia Regional High School. She and her husband, Allan, live in Washington and have five children. Jackson (19), Samuel (22), and Sydney (23) are currently completing or have just completed their college careers and are well on their way to putting their stamp on the community; Holly Wunderlich (35) and Nicole Brueggenjohann (36) are both married with families of their own, working on their own successes locally.
Tricia has risen to the position of Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Brands Division at The Magnet Group. She began her career as a Customer Service Rep at TMG in 2002 after time as a legal secretary, assistant to an Investment Rep, and physician's office assistant.
Tricia has served on the Our Lady of Lourdes School Board and volunteered for the planning of school auctions, parish breakfasts and dinners. She helped with many fundraisers for the Washington Junior ROTC Booster Club, helping grow a successful organization. Giving back to the local community was a priority for her family growing up and a characteristic she and her husband continue to instill in their children. As a family, they volunteer for local Knights of Columbus events and are members of the American Legion Post 218. Supporting local events and activities, such as the Annual Relay for Life, Farmers' Market, Sunset on the Riverfront, and Art and Wine Festival, and supporting local organizations such as the United Way and March of Dimes are important the Piontek family, helping to maintain the small town they love so much and giving back to anyone in need. The Chamber of Commerce seems to be a natural next step and Tricia truly appreciates the opportunity and consideration for this role.
Kevin Richardson is a named partner and attorney at law firm of Zick, Voss, Politte & Richardson, P.C., located in downtown Washington, where he has worked since 2003. He graduated with Honors from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History. He received his Juris Doctorate from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. Kevin has been a board member of the Franklin County Area United Way, serving as both the Campaign Chair and President of the Board of Directors, has been the President of the 20th Judicial Circuit Bar Association, was named to the Washington Outstanding Young Professionals Class of 2013, has been a member of the TEMCO, Inc., Board of Directors, and has served on the Parish Finance Committee at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. Kevin enjoys playing golf, attending his children’s numerous activities, and following Notre Dame sports. He is married to Sarah and they have two children, Audrey and Will.
Ballots were mailed to members on Friday, November 13
and are due back to the Chamber Office by December 1.
In keeping with the “adapt and overcome” theme of 2020, the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce and Washington Parks Department will host a very different version of the annual “Olde Fashioned Christmas” event on Sunday, November 29.
The drive-thru event will be held in the Main & Elm parking lot, which will become a magical display of lights and decorations – complete with Santa and reindeer. Children will still be treated to hot cocoa, hot cider, cookies, crafts, and candy canes. A North Pole Post Office will be set up to accept letters to Santa.
Olde Fashioned Christmas (2020 Edition) will begin at 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 29 and end at 7 p.m. The line will begin on Main Street at Cedar. Cars are asked to enter from the west end of 2nd street, turning onto Pine, and then onto Main. Volunteers will be present to direct traffic, and will also be collecting non-perishable food donations for local food pantries.
Outdoor decorations and lights are needed to transform the area to a Winter Wonderland. Items to be donated or borrowed can be brought to the Chamber Office (323 W Main Street, Washington) by Friday, November 20. Office Hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. To make other drop-off arrangements, please contact Cheryl, email@example.com.
Olde Fashioned Christmas would not be possible without the generous donations and financial contributions from local sponsors. Special Thanks to:
While we had been moving forward with plans to hold our Winter Mixer in December, a decision has now been made to cancel the event. As the number of COVID cases in our community continues to rise, we want to do our part to keep people safe. Please continue to take precautions to reduce the spread and keep your family healthy and happy through the holiday season.
This year has been challenging, to say the very least, for everyone. We have all learned a lot about ourselves, our businesses, and our community. Please know that the Chamber is here to support you in the difficult times - providing resources, raising awareness, and cheering you on!
As we look to 2021, uncertain but hopeful, we remain focused on our mission to serve this community by strengthening businesses, boosting the local economic climate, and enhancing the quality of life of area residents.
On behalf of our board and staff, we wish you a season free of quarantine and illness, a wonderful Thanksgiving, a very Merry Christmas, and the happiest and healthiest New Year!
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