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Heavenly Hope Making Good Use Of ‘Truck of Hope;’ Others Report

By Mark Evans

Ste. Genevieve Herald

Making good use of  the “Truck of Hope” the organization purchased with federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security [CARES] Act money it received through Ste. Genevieve County, Heavenly Hope has driven 886 local miles, delivering food.

Beth Giesler reported on the progress during the monthly Community Services Forum, held August 12 at the Progress Sports Complex.

Giesler and other Heavenly Hope personnel had requested money from the County Commission, which had received more than $2 million in CARES Act money.

“We were blessed recently to get the Truck of Hope, as we call it,” Giesler said. “So, we’re out, in it every Thursday, around the county, carrying 25-pound boxes of produce.”

These were received through a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant called Farmers to Families.

“Any food distributor across the state of Missouri could apply for it,” Giesler explained. “And, if they’re awarded it, they have to find non-profits to distribute its produce. So, it’s to help the farmers stay up and running through the COVID pandemic, and then that produce goes out to people.”

Ole Tyme Produce of St. Charles and Proffer Produce of Park Hills signed on with Heavenly Hope to distribute for them. Between the two companies, Heavenly Hope gets 840 boxes of produce a week.

They started doing drive-throughs at the Elks Lodge, then the Knights of Columbus Hall. Every Thursday the deliveries are made.

The current contract goes through August. Proffer has approached Heavenly Hope about another delivery program they have applied for, Giesler said. It would be a two-year program and would include meat and dairy products, as well as produce.

That is indeed a heavenly hope for Heavenly Hope.

“We’re just praying, “Giesler said. “If you’re a praying person, please pray for us.”


Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson reported that about $600,000 of the county’s slightly more than $2 million of CARES Act money has been given out.

He explained that the county would be responsible for paying back any money that is later rejected as a COVID-19 need.

“There are many pages of do’s and don’ts.

He also reported that the new Market Street parking lot was paved and striped. It still has some beautification work to be done. Bob Mueller and Lawrence Myers are working on a plan to add a bicentennial plaza for the Market Street edge of the property. It will include a memorial to John Scott, Missouri’s first congressman, various plants and a grassy area.

He also mentioned that the pandemic had slowed progress on the rehabilitation of the old museum building, now Ste. Genevieve Art Guild headquarters. He added that  it “really looks good,” however.

He also reported that the county had received a $43,000 grant to help replace an older dump truck and that funding had been secured to rehabilitate the Franklin Bridge in St. Mary. He added that not much paving has been done, due to fuel and sales tax revenue being down.


County Public Administrator Mary Jo Ramer said the pandemic has been extremely frustrating since she has been unable to see most of her clients.

“Since March, we’ve had to largely keep up with them through their nurses,” she said. She added that Ste. Genevieve Care Center is now  allowing outdoor visits with residents.


Happy Welch, new city administrator, said he is working on his first budget for the city of Ste. Genevieve.

“We’re planning out what our street improvements will be, our public works improvements,  water and sewer,” he said.

Welch added that the city would be working with the National Park Service on a project, as well.


Brad Arnold, executive director of the Ste. Genevieve County Community Center, reported that both the community center and River Rapids Waterpark were open, after losing some nine weeks due to the pandemic.

Trying to make future plans has been frustrating. He noted that, “Planning anything has been impossible; gathering people together has been impossible.”

Summer camps, “one of our staples every year,” started late, he said.

He  expressed doubts about any youth baseball or T-ball leagues taking place.

“We had a notion to try to do a late-summer, early-fall league,” Arnold said, “but at this point there’s just so many unknowns and so much work that goes into it, We really don’t know what we’re going to do with it. It may just be one of those things that doesn’t happen this year.”

He said he will be eagerly watching the local schools, to see how the mingling of children and youth works out.

“Right now I don’t think any of us are comfortable enough to plan anything, he said, adding that “I think school’s going to be that good indicator” of what can and cannot be safely done.

He also reported that the waterpark, open since June 12,  would be open through August 23 and that between 35,000 and 40,000 people had visited, despite a 50 percent capacity limit much of the season.

“It’s not been a very enjoyable few months,” he said, “but we’re making the most of it.”


Felix Meyer, county emergency management director, said  that he has “a pretty good supply” of personal protective equipment, including 2,000 gowns.

He also reported that the joint 911 center in Park Hills was on lock-down after St. Francois County reported 47 new positive COVID-19 tests the day before.


Jennifer Hornberger reported that Community Counseling has had to change its format.

“We’ve been talking to people on the phone, we’ve been doing Zoom meetings, we’ve been seeing people in person,” she said.

Temperatures are taken of those who do visit in person, she said.

She said the group got a  grant, allowing anyone without insurance who is struggling with anxiety over the pandemic, to get six weeks of free treatment.


Shirley Moore of Options For Women reported that the organization is still offering pregnancy tests, help with diapers and baby supplies and educational classes.

She said precautions are being taken during the pandemic.

She said the Walk For Life is still on for October 10. This is a major fund raiser for the organization, she said.


Mary Bleckler of Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital (SGCMH) reported that CEO Tom Keim is retiring this month. She said a “social-distancing farewell” was being held that afternoon.

“We’re excited about seeing where things go under incoming CEO, Dr. Steve Pautler, Bleckler said.