Village of Mackenzie set to disappear in 2018 — its trustees hope

By on January 2, 2018

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  The dateline on this story will disappear soon, if the five women around Dorothy Berry’s dining room table have their way.

They are the trustees of this 12-acre village in south St. Louis County. Berry’s house is City Hall. On a recent night, the last monthly village meeting of 2017 — in what could be the village’s last full year on the map — has come to order.

The meeting is open to the public, and there is a red velvet cake to share at the end of business, but nobody is coming. No one ever comes. Except tonight, when two journalists are on Dorothy Berry’s sofa.

The median age of the five trustees is 82, and nobody else in the village is stepping up to take over. While they are proud of the job they have done running the city, the women are ready to dissolve it and let St. Louis County have it back.

The county has lost municipalities to dioxin poisoning (Times Beach), political rancor (Peerless Park) and outrage over police tactics (St. George). It may never before have lost a city to age and apathy.

The Honorable Patricia Berry, village chairman, is 85. She’s been doing the job for 17 years. She ran unopposed in April’s municipal election, which brought out just 18 voters. Dorothy Berry, her sister, the longest-tenured trustee at 18 years, is 92.

“Mainly, nobody wants to serve,” Pat Berry says. “And after as many years as we’ve put in, we’re just kind of tired of it. I am.”

Her sister adds: “There’s no salary that goes with it. This is all volunteer. And as soon as you mention that to people, you can imagine how people are turned off on that.”

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