Ted Ziske was tired. After all, he’s still practicing dentistry at 91 years of age. So at the Meramec Regional Planning Commission dinner Thursday evening, Dr. Ziske left early, unaware he was about to receive MPRC’s highest honor, the Eugene E. Northern Award, for his years of service to the area. Approximately 200 vendors, MRPC staff and dinner guests attended the gala, held annually to celebrate outstanding volunteers in the area and highlight MRPC’s accomplishments from the past year. Before dinner, Red Moose Winery proffered wine selections as music played by the four man band, Alter-K-Shon, and guests visited displays highlighting local businesses. After a catered meal, video presentations highlighted some of the MRPC accomplishments of the year, including as well as a tribute to the region’s veterans, compiled by MRPC’s Caitlyn Jones. A silent auction of locally donated gift items, ranging from wreaths to wine baskets, was held and brought in about $1,700 for the organization. “Our Annual Dinner is the highlight of our year, as our board takes great pleasure in honoring some very deserving volunteers across our region, recapping some of the great projects that have occurred in our communities and taking a look at the contributions MRPC, as an organization, has made to our cities and counties,” stated Bonnie Prigge, Executive Director of the MRPC. The MRPC serves an eight county area comprised of Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties: their mission is to work toward cleaner, healthier, and safer communities; greater socio-economic wealth through community and economic development; and a stronger and unified voice in the legislative process. The organization is based in St. James and has been in existence for 48 years.   Outstanding youth volunteer honorees included Maxwell Butler of Vichy; Tyler Roberds of Meta, and Baylee Bilyeu of Salem. The outstanding organization recognized was the non-profit Ya Ya’s of Belle. Harold Selby of St. James was given the Outstanding Local Agency Representative Award. Outstanding Volunteer Awards were presented to Bill Reynolds of Loose Creek; Neil Richards (posthumously) of Potosi; Henry and Mary Wansing of Vienna; and Sean Wilson of Waynesville. The Eugene E. Northern Award is presented annually at the MRPC dinner for outstanding community service. This year’s recipient, Dr. Ted Ziske, has been a lifelong Salem resident “except when I was stationed on the East Coast as a Navy corpsman from 1944-48,” Ziske states. He went to dental school at St. Louis University and began practicing dentistry in Salem in 1954. Ziske helped establish a cooperative of local dentists, has served on hospital and school boards, and has been active in Rotary Club for over twenty years. After closing his dental practice, he was hired to be a supervisor for the Missouri Southern State Dental Hygiene Program in Rolla, where he works two afternoons per week. “I evaluate patients, read x-rays, perform cursory overviews, etc. I enjoy it,” Ziske says. An avid fisherman, Ziske states, “I am never happier than when sitting in the back of a fishing boat on the Current River.” His love of fishing led him to create a 35-acre lake on Spring Creek property he owned near Salem, which he later donated to the Missouri Department of Conservation; Ziske Lake is the larger of two lakes which comprise the Shawnee Mac Lakes Conservation Area. Asked his response to being given MRPC’s highest honor, Ziske states, “my father taught me to always pay your own way and then some.” Of the gala, Bonnie Prigge concludes, “we really appreciate the hospitality provided by the Salem Community Center, the city of Salem, and Dent County. The support from local residents was amazing. It was certainly a great evening.”