Boone, Callaway and Cole counties stepped out ahead of the state’s bicentennial Monday morning by dedicating a marker on the Katy Trail in north Jefferson City.
The monument that now stands at the trailhead is a three-sided obelisk with each side dedicated to the county it faces.
“Some day, 200 years from now, somebody is going to be sitting out here talking about our history and this monument,” said Missouri Gov. Mike Parson during the dedication.
Next year marks the 200th anniversary of Missouri’s entry as the 24th state in the union. Officially the date is Aug. 10, 2021, but events are expected to be staged all year long.
The State Historical Society of Missouri is coordinating efforts to engage all 114 counties and the city of St. Louis in a series of projects and activities. Celebrations will include a festival geared toward arts and education, as well as a themed Missouri State Fair with special exhibitions and presentations.
While the list of events for the bicentennial celebration next year is still evolving, the vision behind the celebration remains the same: to engage Missourians and visitors in a reflection of the state’s past, present and future.
Monday’s dedication attracted about 50 people and featured an array of speakers, many with a role in creating the marker.
Bob Priddy, executive committee member of the State Historical Society, said it provides a clear opportunity to think about the state’s future.
“It’s an opportunity to think about those who will gather for the tricentennial and what kind of a place they will come from and what kind of people they will be,” he said.
The chair of the Cole County Bicentennial Committee, Marc Ellinger, listed some of the partnerships that helped fund the monument, including Central Bank, founded in Cole County in 1902.
Originally as Central Missouri Trust Company, bank officials had a hand in saving Jefferson City as the state capital in 1911.
“Boone, Callaway, and Cole counties are different places because of our banks, and we are certainly a better bank because of their support,” said the current bank president, Dave Minton.
Carol Comer, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, noted that the Katy Trail is a fitting place for the marker because it skirts the state capital and provides recreational opportunities for at least 400,000 visitors annually.
During the ceremony, three presiding commissioners — Dan Atwill of Boone County, Gary Jungermann of Callaway County and Sam Bushman of Cole County — gave the governor a 24-star flag, which served as the national flag from 1822 until 1826, when Arkansas became a state.
The flag will fly at the Cole County Courthouse through next year, a symbolic way to recognize the 200th anniversary of statehood, they noted.
“You get to take over the reins now,” Bushman told Parson.