A Blue Springs couple are among the Missouri Municipal League West Gate Division's Civic Leadership Award for 2014.

The MML's West Gate Division is made up of more than 22 municipalities across Jackson, Clay, Platte, Ray and Cass counties. Other Eastern Jackson County recipients of the award are Donna Pittman, owner of Curt's Famous Meats in Independence; Allen Lefko, president of the Bank of Grain Valley for Grain Valley; and Herb Soule, chief of police in Sugar Creek. Those winners will be profiled in future stories.

Not only individuals, but also businesses and pairs can be nominated.

Cindy Miller and her husband, Steve Greer, said they were nominated by Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross as "extraordinary residents that have enabled positive growth and community partnerships in Blue Springs."

Miller is president of Downtown Alive!, a group whose aim is to revitalize downtown Blue Springs. During her time as president since 2012, downtown Blue Springs has been undergoing a transformation. Many downtown businesses have had their original brick exteriors restored over the past year, plus several shops and restaurants have opened, including Brewer's, a sports bar and grill, Inklings' BOOKS and Coffee Shoppe and the relocation of Pizza Shoppe.

"By 5 p.m. this part of town used to be bare," said Greer. "Now it's thriving."

Greer said he constructed three out of the five public library boxes scattered throughout downtown Blue Springs. These mailbox-sized houses made of brick are where readers can freely trade or donate books whenever they like.

"You'll find people with bags of books putting them in there," he said.

Besides their downtown Blue Springs efforts, Greer and Miller are also active in the community year-round. They cook hundreds of hot dogs for spectators at the annual Mayor's Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at City Hall every December and help direct traffic at events, such as the Fall Fun Fest and recent Kids' Triathalon, as part of the Blue Springs Police Department Volunteers. Miller is also a member of the Women Endowing Education organization, a sub-group of the Blue Springs Education Foundation whose 76-passenger Learning Bus visits Blue Springs neighborhoods and schools to help students with ACT exam preparation and technology access; board member of the Blue Springs Business Association; Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce member and Blue Springs Rotary Club member.

The two said they moved to Blue Springs in 1997 for the same reason many have: the schools. Miller is vice president of America's Community Bank in downtown Blue Springs as well, and Greer has had his own construction company the past 28 years. His construction outfit transported Blue Springs' historic train depot to Central Park and aided in the restoration of its interior, as well as removed the aluminium siding and restored the original brick exterior at his wife's employer bank this past October.

"Blue Springs is really a friendly community," said Miller. "It is fun to be involved."