Robert Stone hasn't lived in Stone County as long as some of the other candidates seeking the office of Northern Commissioner, but in the two years he and his family have lived here he has become deeply involved in the community.
Stone, 50, and his wife, Luda, opened a community center in Galena that's main focus is youth. "We kept hearing there was nothing for kids to do here so we wanted to give young people an outlet that was safe." The center is open three nights a week and averages about twenty kids a night, according to Stone. They hope to expand the program with a new building next year so that more kids from surrounding areas can participate.
He also jump started the defunct Galena Area Chamber of Commerce, of which he is president, and sits on the council of the University of Missouri Extension Office in Stone County.
A graduate from the Air Force Academy, Stone worked as program manager for Department of Defense Embassy aircraft in Latin America, a multi-million dollar, international program. "I know how to get things done and operate within a budget."
Roads and road maintenance is one of the areas that Stone believes could benefit from a cooperative agreement between surrounding counties and municipalities.
"I think it would benefit all of us to have a cooperative where we could share equipment and knowledge. Most of our cities and incorporated villages are on a very tight budget. We could pool our resources to buy and maintain equipment that could be used to repair roads using hot patches and volunteers from towns or areas that either legal or county manpower or budget restraints can't provide. We can train city maintenance workers and certain volunteers to safely operate equipment and then municipalities and others share time and cost."
Stone's family has deep roots in the Ozarks that date back over 160 years; his father grew up in Monett and his grandfather lived in Sparta. He says he learned a life lesson from his father early in life that he still applies to daily life," A man is only as good as his word."
Stone is also a member of the Enhance Enterprise Zone Committee that is attempting to entice businesses to move operations to Stone County. "We need to bring quality employer's to the area." Stone says he is talking with a manufacturer that could potentially employ up to sixty people and would like to see a grocery store open in Galena.
In 2005 Stone was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma while visiting his parents during a vacation from Missionary work. "I'm not supposed to be here...at least that's what the doctor's said. Because of the urgency of the times, and knowing life is short, we have to take advantage of every opportunity to serve the community and the Lord."
"I've lived in over 120 countries and of all the places I've been the people here are what make me want to stay. I love living here."