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story.lead_photo.caption Cole County Historical Society President Jim Weber presents Michelle Brooks with the annual Catherine and Alex Hope Award. Photo by Gerry Tritz / Fulton Sun.

The Cole County Historical Society honored Michelle Brooks, a longtime Jefferson City News Tribune reporter, Sunday night for her contributions to preserving history through her news coverage.

She was honored with the Catherine and Alex Hope Award at the society's annual meeting and dinner, held at Capitol Plaza Hotel on Sunday night.

Since starting with the News Tribune in 2000, Brooks has covered various community issues, including the Historical Society. She specializes in feature writing.

"If you follow any of the paper or articles, you know how dedicated and complete she is," organization President Jim Weber said.

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He said it's evident she has a love of history. "She's a dear friend of ours and very deserving of this award," he said.

After the meeting, Brooks and her husband, Stephen, donated her $100 award back to the society.

"I've got to know the community and its history through the society," she said after the meeting. "Great people, and a great cause to preserve the county's history. The fact that they thought of me is pretty amazing. I'm grateful for their kindness."

Brooks recently was named editor of the California Democrat.

The Catherine and Alex Hope Award has been given annually since 1973 to a resident of Cole County who has made significant contributions during the year in the dissemination, preservation, recording and distilling of interest in the history of Missouri in general, and in Cole County in particular. Those contributions can be through research, writing, recording, photography, genealogy or any other means of personal interest.

The society's other annual award, the Cole County Historical Society Outstanding Service Award, was given to Wanda and Russ McCampbell. The couple was not able to attend the event.

Entertainment was provided by Lisa Marks as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Brown was an American socialite and philanthropist known for being aboard the Titanic when it sank in 1912. She survived, and during the incident, reportedly asked the crew of her lifeboat to return to the debris field in the ocean to look for survivors.

Marks is known for her lively and historically authentic performances. Stories range from Margaret Tobin Brown's birth in Hannibal, Missouri, in 1867 to her childhood years during Hannibal's Gilded Age; her migration to Colorado in 1886 searching for the road to love, wealth, and fame; the years of fighting for women's suffrage, fairness in the juvenile justice system, the rights of workers, and child labor laws; and her poignant and heart-wrenching experiences aboard the Titanic.

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