The theme of this issue is money, and as I contemplated what that means from a mayoral perspective, I was reminded the value of reinvesting in our workforce, families, and community.
I appreciate the extremely giving nature of those who choose to give back to projects and organizations that continue to elevate our city. Perhaps one of the most extraordinary gifts ever given to our city is the Bicentennial Bridge, which only came into being thanks to the generosity of many who have contributed, including Mrs. Betty Jo DeLong.
“B.J.,” as she prefers to be called, has long believed in “giving back.” She recognizes that Jefferson City has been a wonderful place to have lived, raised a family, and built a business for the past 75 years. She’s had a particular interest in civic beautification, specifically a riverfront park for Jefferson City, for the last 20 or 30 years. The Bicentennial Bridge to Adrian’s Island, which her gift will fund, will bring about something near and dear to her heart.
B.J. is a lady I have long admired and someone I look up to. Her extensive community involvement is something I aspire to. I asked her son, Joe DeLong, to help summarize why his mother gave such a generous gift for the construction of a bridge from the State Capitol to the riverfront at Adrian’s Island.
B.J. often says, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” She decided in September 2018 that she would continue to live by this sentiment. She talked with her children and received their full support, despite the fact that the gift represents a significant portion of her assets.
She also felt this was an appropriate way to honor her husband, F. Joe DeLong, who pioneered the family getting into the steel bridge business.
Thank you, B.J., for your vision and your dedication, not only financially, but through your service volunteering on various community boards and organizations over the years. And thank you for giving this gift, something we all can enjoy, something that will change the perspective from which we can view our capitol.
The bridge will be complete in time for the state’s bicentennial celebration in 2021, and it will likely be one of the largest and most visible “gifts” for Missouri’s 200th birthday! It is truly a gift for each and every one of us.
Watch the concept video of this amazing project at www.bicentennialbridge.org. It’s much more than a bridge; it’s a chance to experience history, honoring our veterans at the gateway before walking through replica train cars over the railroad tracks on your way to the riverfront park.
If I had a million dollars, what would I do with it? Would I choose to invest in myself or others? Whether you have one dollar or a million of them, what is your legacy? What bridge will you build?
B.J. has given us an amazing example of what it means to take the gifts that she has been given and share them with us in an extraordinary way. Thank you B.J.!