by Stacey Embry,
Director,
Morgan County Library
Some runners don’t care. That sounds bad, doesn’t it? Let me clarify. A few weekends ago, three local runners participated in the Go Girl Series. Another runner and I were discussing what they ran. We cared, but not like one might think we would. I was interested in what race they ran; I was interested in if they had a good time or not.
You know what you never ask a runner after a race? “Did you win?” I didn’t care about their time, pace, or finish. Those things might be important to the runner, but we are all different, pace is relative and the answer to “Did you win?” is, “Yes, I completed the challenge I had set for me.”
Our running group is a family, we don’t compete, we want each runner to be healthy and to have fun. We don’t care about who won, we care about our people. Pride comes from our shared experiences, sometimes it might come with a trophy, but that trophy isn’t necessary, it can just sometimes be the cherry on top.
Community pride is something our local towns have been working hard to develop. Versailles has their community betterment group and I know the Stover chamber and city officers are pursuing similar goals. They are not the only places in Morgan County that are striving for pride in their communities, it can be seen in fairs and activities that pop up throughout the year in all the towns in our great county. It is not a competition; we should want all areas of our county to have success in what they work toward. Sometimes people think community refers to certain city limits, but it can be bigger than that, it can represent a different boundary. Working in a county building, my community is bigger than the city limits I am housed in. To me, the county is my community.
Sam Shewmaker brought my community, Morgan County, together this last month. For me, it started with Facebook, people were sharing photos and videos of Sam they had been taking throughout our county; photos in front of the Gravois Mills population sign, photos in front of the Versailles mural, photos at my local gym. I was curious. How could I not be? He had American flag boxers on and he was all over Morgan County. Sam was promoting his upcoming participation in the 10-fight card that was billed as the first legal, sanctioned, and state-regulated, bare-knuckle boxing event in U.S. history. I did PPV and watched it with friends, as many people did in our county.
Well, if you don’t know how it went, you must have been away from this planet. It was 18 seconds in and all of Morgan County shook. Pride, it started with some cool photos highlighting areas of the county important to not only Sam, but most of us, and ended with a cherry on the top, a win. We cared, we wanted Sam to be safe and to have as much fun as someone can in bare knuckled boxing, but the pride was thick before he even entered the ring.
We have recently started our Summer Reading Program. The main reason behind SRP is helping prevent summer slide, but I will be honest and tell you I am a little more selfish than that. SRP is how we build our clientele. If we can get those kiddos in the door when they are little, we can develop a sense of ownership with them. This is their library, from whatever town they are from, this is their community. People of all ages are invited to participate in SRP. There are no competitions, you can read what you want, as much as you want. Each week, our kiddos get a coupon for a treat from a local business. At the end, someone will win the various grand prizes we have. So, yes, there is a cherry on top, but the real treat is being part of something.
Those runners made me proud, because they are part of my group. Sam made me proud, because he represented where I am from. Our SRP participants make me proud, because they are the future of our library, they are the future of our community. All of these people are winners, because they all complete challenges they make for themselves.
For more information, visit the Morgan County Library, 600 N. Hunter, in Versailles; call 573-378-5319; or see the library’s website at morgancountylibrary.org. Library hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

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