Ferdinand chamber dinner recognizes Mohr, Potter



FERDINAND — Growing up in Mariah Hill, Barb Mohr’s father always told her to go straight to the person she has an issue with; never talk behind people’s backs.

It’s advice that served the Ferdinand woman well, leading her to years of community service that culminated in her receiving the Ferdinand Community Service Award at the annual Ferdinand Chamber of Commerce annual banquet Wednesday night.

Mohr was one of two award winners — the other was 1994 Forest Park Junior-Senior High School graduate Rachel Potter, who won the Profile In Success Alumni Award — and several featured speakers Wednesday night.

Mohr moved to Ferdinand almost 60 years ago when she married her late husband, Robert. The couple has two children — Gina Hides of Louisville and Donny Mohr of Ferdinand — and six grandchildren and seven step-great-granchildren. Mohr said her community service came naturally as she raised her children and lived in the community.

“Whenever something comes along, I’m there,” she said.

She was there a lot. She started out getting involved with the Forest Park Band Boosters where she made the color guard outfits for many years and served as president. From there, she branched out to make the banners that hang in the Forest Park gymnasium. She also got involved at St. Ferdinand Catholic Church singing in the choir and serving as a eucharistic minister and on the church’s remodeling committee. For the town, she helped organize the 150th celebration, the 175th celebration and the 2014 Heimatfest. She is a founding member of the Tri-County YMCA board and is still active with the organization, is a member of the Ferdinand Community Center and is active with the Ferdinand Historical Society. A few years ago, she was part of the committee that fundraised for the Christmas lights the town hangs along Main Street.

Upon winning the Community Service Award, Mohr teared up.

“This is something I never, ever thought would happen,” she said.

The night’s other award winner, Rachel Potter, traveled to Ferdinand from Fairbanks, Alaska, to accept the Profile In Success Alumni Award. She was the valedictorian in the class of 1994 and went on to study marine science and mathematics at the University of South Carolina before receiving a master’s degree in earth and ocean science from Duke University.

For the last 17 years, the daughter of Jane and George “Bud” Potter has lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, where she studies ocean currents. Her work helps scientists gain a better understanding of ocean circulation and climate and is helpful in cases of oil spills, search and rescue, marine navigation, and fisheries.

Potter traces her career back to a childhood visit to SeaWorld. There, she decided to become a marine scientist.

“Who doesn’t, really, after going on a trip to SeaWorld?” she joked in her acceptance speech. “But I guess with me, it just stuck.”

Her work takes her all across the state of Alaska, and she spends time in communities of all sizes. Her favorites, though, are the indigenous communities of Alaska, and she works with them often. Moving in and out of so many different places means Potter needs to be able to adapt, and she credits growing up in a tight-knit community like Ferdinand with giving her the foundation she needed to feel at ease in any community. She’s also grateful to her teachers at Forest Park for giving her the foundation she needed to pursue her dream career.

In addition to the award recipients, Sisters of St. Benedict Prioress Sister Anita Louise Lowe, Ferdinand Town Council President Ken Sicard and Huntingburg Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sara Schroeder also spoke.

In her remarks, Lowe offered an update about the remodeling project in the sisters’ historic quadrangle and about the change in leadership at the monastery that culminated in her election as the community’s prioress. She also mentioned the opening of Scenic Hills at the Monastery, a new retirement home by Trilogy Health Services that recently opened on ground leased from the sisters.

Finally, Lowe thanked the community for the partnerships the sisters have with organizations and community groups.

“We are happy to partner with so many of you and look forward to continuing that in 2020,” she said.

Schroeder spoke about the coming year for the newly formed Dubois County Chamber of Commerce, which grew out of the merger of the Ferdinand and Huntingburg chambers. The goal of the new chamber, she said, will be to offer members the same level of services they already receive from the two individual chambers while also enhancing the chamber activities to include the smaller communities throughout the county that are not currently represented by a chamber of commerce. The countywide chamber will also take a more active role in advocating for Dubois County businesses at a state and regional level, Schroeder said.

Sicard offered his annual State of the Town address, which recapped some of the town’s activities in 2019 — the Old Town Lake trail project, utility service rate increases and electric infrastructure upgrades, to name a few — and looked ahead to 2020. Housing will continue to be a focus in 2020, he said, and noted that the first home in Country Ridge Estates, a development on the town’s north side by Kerstiens Homes & Design is under roof. The development will add 14 new homes to the town.

Begle Properties is also set to open a second apartment building on the town’s north side in the coming months, Sicard said.

The town also plans to continue utility infrastructure upgrades and pursue another round of grant funding for road paving through the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Community Crossings program.

In his final remarks, Sicard thanked everyone in the community for being part of what makes Ferdinand a great place.

“We’re more than just a town,” he said. “It’s the people around us.”

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