Sedalian named grand marshal for Nixon's inauguration parade

January 11, 2013

A Sedalia resident will have the honor of being the grand marshal during Gov. Jay Nixon’s inauguration parade Monday.

Becky Smith was selected by the Missouri Association of County Developmental Disabilities Services to lead the parade through Jefferson City to the south lawn on the Capitol grounds where Nixon will be sworn in for a second term as governor.

“Becky has been practicing her wave, she’s very excited,” said Susan Mergen, Center for Human Services’ Director of Development. “When Ann (Graff, CHS’ CEO) nominated her, we had no idea that she would be chosen, but we couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Smith has worked at CHS since 1998, most recently in the CHS Bloomin’ Gardens greenhouse. Mergen said she does “a little bit of everything” there, from planting to running the cash register and customer service.

“She’s done extremely well since she got to CHS,” she said. “She’s reached several milestones in work production and inclusion in the community. And has really taken to learning about horticulture through her job at Bloomin’ Gardens. She’s very easygoing and you can tell really enjoys her job at the greenhouse.”

Smith receives services through Partnership for Hope, a county-based waiver that provides services for people with disabilities through a partnership between the Missouri Association of County Developmental Disabilities Services, the Division of Developmental Disabilities and the MO HealthNet Division.

“(Nixon’s) mother, who has since passed away, used to be a teacher in Jefferson County working with special needs students, so programs like this truly are near and dear to his heart,” said Governor’s Office Spokesman Scott Holste. “He is a big proponent of the Partnership for Hope program, which helps families that include someone with developmental disabilities to receive services that may otherwise be unavailable to them.”

Holste said choosing Smith as Grand Marshal allows Nixon to not only spotlight a worthy developmentally disabled person, but also bring awareness to the Partnership program.

After the parade Smith, along with her Community Support Specialist Sandy Meives, will attend a public meeting and lunch at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.

“Everyone in the office is talking about Becky and the parade,” Mergen said. “We can’t wait to see the pictures and hear all about how the day went. We’re so proud of her.”