Last week I attended a fairly productive 2013 planning meeting for the Newton County Historical Society.

Last week I attended a fairly productive 2013 planning meeting for the Newton County Historical Society.

One of several good things that came from it is that, in addition to the historical society’s regular events throughout next year, we will also begin hosting special historical displays, and perhaps accompanying programs, one Sunday each month. We all individually picked, or will pick, a month to plan a neat display and/or program (my month is August, by the way).

Something unique about this is we will be relying heavily upon the community to provide both ideas and displays. So if you have, say, an antique bottle collection, and have good information to go along with it, give us a call (I should say give me a call, since I don’t know yet what I’ll be doing for August).

As I said, the monthly Sunday displays / programs will simply be supplemental to the regular schedule of events. We’ll be having our April Thomas Hart Benton Birthday celebration, and History Alley in October, and plenty of events in-between – one every month, in fact. I look forward to sharing information about all of them when they come up.

But the event I am perhaps most excited about is a possible fundraiser in April to help preserve the flight of historic concrete steps in Big Spring Park. Built in 1923, the steps leading from Spring Street to High Street have really been a part of Neosho for much longer. Old photographs from the early 1880s show a wooden stairway in the same spot, and newspaper articles from around the same time note that those steps had replaced stairs that had been in place for a long time. So we’re talking about saving a local landmark, as far as I’m concerned. I might as well not pretend that I don’t have strong feelings on this issue, because nobody who knows me at all would believe it anyway.

I know the city administration and the city council would prefer that those steps be preserved, provided there is some citizen support. And I know there is.

I can tell you that, as requested by the council, the city’s engineer is officially looking into the cost of repairing the steps (there has been one rough estimate from a contractor, though it wasn’t an actual bid). Once there is a more or less fixed dollar amount, I think a strong gesture from the community in raising some of the money to show that they want to save this landmark is all it would take.

We, as in the historical society board of directors, haven’t discussed many details about an April fundraiser, other than it would be held in Big Spring Park. We want to partner with other like-minded local civic groups and organizations in sharing ideas and making this event happen. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll have more on this later.

Wes Franklin serves on the Newton County Historical Society Board of Directors. He is also public relations and events coordinator for the City of Neosho. He can be reached at 658-8443.