During the Missouri Rural Water Association (MRWA) Fall Operations & Maintenance Symposium, held at Lodge of Four Seasons/Lake of the Ozarks, on October 27, 2022, Howard Baker, Executive Director for the MRWA, presented the rare and prestigious “Outstanding Service Award” to Roger Barker, Daviess County Public Water Supply District #3, Viking Valley Association. Roger started his employment with the Viking Valley Association over 40 years ago, serving most of those years as Water Superintendent.

The Outstanding Service Award is selected by nomination only. The nominee shall be an individual that has made contributions above and beyond, and whose achievements have benefited the Missouri Rural Water Association.

Roger Barker has donated time, expertise, and expense without expectation of compensation, reimbursement or return of favor. He gives and doesn’t expect anything back. He leads by example and does not shy away from a tough challenge. Roger has worked tirelessly to increase his knowledge over the years and now takes time to encourage his colleagues to join in on his journey, since he recognizes the benefit of shared knowledge. He exemplifies the intangibles found in the fabric of a true leader: caring, respect, humility, commitment, dedication, humor (and it’s dry sometimes, but it’s there), honesty, integrity, empathy, and transparency. Yes, that this is a lot of adjectives, but they are very deserving.

He brings a considered and thoughtful approach to leadership and a willingness to learn. He takes the time to listen, (and he truly does listen). He makes sure that all voices in the conversation are heard and makes a thoughtful and inclusive decision. He is willing to take the initiative when asked and does so with gusto and determination. He has established a renewed and reinvigorated spirit of cooperation and collaboration over his 40+ year tenure, as a natural leader.

Roger provides an exceptional level of service to investigate water issues not only for his system but also for others. He has the confidence to act and the persistence to keep working through issues until a resolution is found. Simply put, Roger can run his water facility and is willing to step in and help run others if needed, often going unnoticed in the process.

Roger’s knack for seeing a need and stepping in to help extends well beyond his home department. For example, lake residents struggling to locate excess water usage, he jumps in to collaborate with the residents to find and fix the problem. His assistance has even included a trip to town to purchase the parts with a return to the home for installation.

He has an open-door policy with time for everyone and a work week that extends far beyond normal hours. He develops relationships with everyone he interacts with, whether in person or by phone, and he treats everyone the same; with honesty, openness, and fairness.

Roger has spent countless hours researching, developing, and working toward completion of a new Water Purification System for the Viking Valley Association. His personal investment in the project is huge, but he is quick to give credit to others when due. He has worked tirelessly with his Board of Directors, Engineers, Contractors and Coworkers to expedite this project. His expertise and intimate knowledge of water operations have allowed him to steer this collaborative effort in a manner to keep the project on track and moving forward.

Even after all these years, “normal” is not a word used to describe Roger’s day. There is no school to attend that will teach you to run Daviess County PWSD #3 or how to deal with the wide array of issues that crop up on any given day. Roger juggles everything while remaining calm, cool and professional. His interactions with customers, attorneys, elected officials, staff or myriad of others allow him to apply the professional skills he has acquired on every “normal” day, for many years. A true local hero, going often unnoticed while going about the business of “saving the day” for so many others by taking on the following roles: Dig Rite Expert; Small Animal Trapper (Coon, Beaver, Squirrel); Pest Control Technician; Carpenter; Electrician; Mechanic; Heavy Machinery Operator; Professional Shovel Houdini; IT Guru.

Roger is the only remaining original employee of Lake Viking Association. He has been in the industry for 40+ years, has worked alongside MRWA for over 18 years, and is currently the Region 1 Director for the Missouri Rural Water Association.

Congratulations Roger on this monumental award!