JEFFERSON CITY, Mo – Friday, Gov. Mike Parson announced seven appointments to various boards and commissions and filled two county office vacancies.
Mary Jane Almandoz, of Cape Girardeau, was appointed to the Missouri Charter Public School Commission.
Ms. Almandoz has spent many years teaching Spanish in both public and private schools. Over the past 17 years, she has devoted much of her time to Learn4Life Charter Schools, serving as President of several of the charters, holding numerous board positions, and attending state and national charter conferences as a supporter and advocate of the charter school model. Ms. Almandoz previously served as the Special Events Corporate Sponsorship Chairperson for the City of Palmdale, California, before returning to the education field. She has a lifelong teaching credential and is a member of the LY Chapter PEO in Cape Girardeau. Ms. Almandoz earned a degree in Spanish and English literature from the University of Southern California.
Colby Baker, of Meadville, was appointed as the Linn County Public Administrator.
Ms. Baker is a Customer Service Representative for Lincare in Chillicothe. In this role, she processes physician orders and supplies patients with medical equipment needs. Ms. Baker previously worked as a Dietary Manager for Life Care Center of Brookfield and as a Social Service Representative for Grand River Health Care in Chillicothe. Ms. Baker is a graduate of Meadville High School.
Chris Berndt, of Branson, was appointed to the Missouri Emergency Response Commission.
Mr. Berndt is the Fire Chief of the Western Taney County Fire District and the Emergency Management Director for the Taney County Office of Emergency Management. He is also an Adjunct Instructor for the University of Missouri-Columbia Fire and Rescue Training Institute. Mr. Berndt is a former chair and current member of the Local Emergency Planning Commission. He also currently serves as chairman of the Taney County 911 Advisory Board and the Tri-Lakes Fire Chiefs’ Association. Mr. Berndt is a licensed Paramedic and Hazardous Materials Technician and holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout.
Ashley Gum, of Potosi, was appointed as the Washington County Circuit Clerk.
Ms. Gum currently serves as the Deputy Clerk for the Washington County Associate Clerk. She previously held the position of secretary for American Family Insurance and Moore Funeral Home. Ms. Gum is an active member of the The BackStoppers, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance and support to the spouses and dependent children of police officers, firefighters and volunteer firefighters, and publicly-funded paramedics and EMTs who have lost their lives in the line of duty. She has also assisted in fundraisers supporting the Shop with a Cop program and her local pregnancy resource center. Ms. Gum is a graduate of Potosi High School.
Kermit Hargis, of Bolivar, was appointed to the Missouri Emergency Response Commission.
Mr. Hargis currently serves part-time as the Polk County Health Department Emergency Planner and as an Adjutant Instructor for the Criminal Justice Program at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar. He previously worked for the City of Bolivar Fire Department and Emergency Management and Polk County Emergency Management. Mr. Hargis is the former President of the Bolivar Optimist Club and a current member of the Polk County Amateur Radio Club. Mr. Hargis also currently serves on the Polk County Local Emergency Planning Committee.
Cathy Jo Loy, of Joplin, was appointed to the Missouri Charter Public School Commission.
Ms. Loy is a home educator and liaison for the SWMO Homeschool Community. She currently serves as a member of Joplin Area Classical Conversations and a volunteer for Bright Futures. Ms. Loy is also an artist, designer, and events coordinator for Custom Design by Cathy Jo. Previously, she served as the Gallery Coordinator for Mystery Gallery and 3rd Thursday Art Walk and as chair of the Joplin Women’s Connection.
Mark Owen, of Parkville, was appointed to the Peace Officer and Standards Training Commission.
Mr. Owen is currently serving his second term as Platte County Sheriff. Mr. Owen also served in the United States Marine Corps before receiving an Honorable Discharge. He attended the Kansas City Missouri Police Academy and has received numerous local and regional awards including the Clarence Kelly Award and the Mid America Leadership Award. Mr. Owen is an active member of many local, regional, and state law enforcement committees including the Heart of America Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, the Kansas City Urban Area Homeland Security Policy Committee, and the State of Missouri MODEX Law Enforcement Committee.
Patrick Seamands, of Ellisville, was appointed to the Missouri Emergency Response Commission.
Mr. Seamands is recently retired from Spire Inc. (formerly Laclede Gas Company). In his role as Chief Engineer, he oversaw project engineering, maintenance engineering, environmental engineering services, maintenance engineering, emergency response planning and training, operations training, and facilities management. Previously, Mr. Seamands held the roles of Vice President of Engineering and Chief Engineer at Southern Union Company (now Energy Transfer Partners) and Adjunct Professor for the Masters in Engineering Program at the University of Kansas. He currently serves on the St. Louis Salvation Army’s Regional Advisory Board, the Eureka Fire Protection District Search and Rescue Team, and the St. Louis County Local Emergency Planning Committee. He holds a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Master of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Chemical Engineering from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana.
Keith Stevens, of Bolivar, was appointed to the State Soil and Water Districts Commission.
Mr. Stevens is a Sales and QC Manager for Ash Grove Aggregates in Butler. He currently serves on the Polk County Soil and Water Board and the Polk County Cattleman and Missouri Cattlemen’s Association. For the past 6 years, Mr. Stevens has also served on the Missouri Limestone Association Board as a member, Treasurer, Vice President, and now President. He also currently assists with an annual farm safety program for high school age students in Southwest Missouri reaching 200-300 students annually. He previously served on the Chamber Business Expo Planning Committee representing agricultural businesses and the Bolivar Chamber Board. Mr. Stevens is a graduate of Buffalo High School.