Life is always hectic. And between family, work and city council duties, the balancing act always keeps me hopping. But this past week was one of those that seemed to be especially busy – and both exciting and frustrating at the same time.

It started for me last Wednesday. I had planned to be out of town for a couple of days, but couldn’t leave until that morning because of my commitments to the city council on Tuesday night. Wednesday’s trip got pushed back a bit due to weather and, despite the best laid plans, my wife and I made our arrival in Florida later than I’d hoped Wednesday evening. Such is life…but it didn’t stop there.

We awoke Thursday morning to the news of heavy rains back home. By mid-afternoon, I was getting pictures of flooding along Big Sugar Creek and texts showing the water level INSIDE the cabin my grandpa Clemons built back in the mid-‘70s. (This was only the second time water had made it into the cabin — the first was three years ago.) Unfortunately, the water came faster than the help this time and nothing was spared. While the extent of the damage isn’t yet known, it’s hard to see a place with so many childhood memories be damaged by floods. I felt helpless sitting in Florida while other family members sorted out what to do. But that wasn’t all.
The weather continued to play havoc with my schedule Friday. I’d planned to be back to Neosho in time for the movie debut of “Planes,” but weather between Neosho and Florida wouldn’t allow it. Buzz Ball and I had planned to set up a booth for Angel Flight – an organization I fly for – in the theater lobby. My absence left Buzz in a pickle.  What a mess the week was becoming!  To his credit, Buzz (with a lot of help from his wife) managed to save the day – raising over $100 for the charity. A special thanks to Buzz and his wife for what they did!
Luckily adversity didn’t arrive without opportunity. With our Florida trip unexpectedly extended due to the weather, it did offer some time to do a few unplanned activities and we took some time to enjoy the area. I visited a local dive shop and enrolled in a diving class. I was able to complete the coursework and get my open water diving card. Although my wife was already a diver, she signed up for a “refresher” and was my dive partner during my training. I look forward to doing more of that in the years ahead.  I saw some amazing aquatic life and a Florida diving attraction called Vortex Springs. Given the problems of Thursday and Friday, it was a welcomed adventure!

With weather still keeping us grounded, we ended the weekend on Sunday with a few hours on a fishing boat with 30-40 others. Bottom fishing at 100 foot is more luck than skill, but we came in with 10 pounds of fish. We lost a few more to the dolphins. With all of the fishing that happens in Florida, they have learned it’s easier to have someone else catch the food vs. diving for it themselves. They simply circle the boat and wait until it’s about 15 feet from the surface. They then snatch it off the hook and enjoy the fresh catch. They are certainly smart creatures!

Ready to get home, Monday morning came early, and despite bad weather in the Four States, we had to get back. We blasted off and made our way across Alabama and Mississippi towards Missouri. Given how the week started, I’d hoped we’d have decent weather traveling back. Mother Nature wasn’t so accommodating. We landed in Little Rock around 1 p.m. Neosho and Northwest Arkansas were being pounded by rain and thunderstorms and those storms were headed east and south. Our only option was to grab lunch and wait it out. By 6 p.m. or so, the weather passed and on we went. By then, we’d missed yet another commitment - the open house at Carver Elementary. Thankfully, Mrs. Burr made an accommodation for Tuesday and all ended well. What a week!

The good news is that week has passed and a new week is here. The kids are back in school. The weather has cleared. Cool temps are here for a few days. The yard is mowed. City work continues. Life is once again back to “normal.” And given how this past week went, despite the good that came from it, I’m planning to stay a little closer to home for the foreseeable future!  
The first round of budget discussions are complete. Your city manager is once again reviewing the numbers to try and find some additional savings to help reduce the gap between revenues and expenses. Overall, things look promising and we are on schedule to have a budget wrapped up and done by September. If you’re downtown, the work on the Big Spring staircase is starting to take shape. Concrete forms are going in. That project should be wrapped up soon – it’s always good to see progress! 

I hope everyone had a great start to the school year. Until next time: stay the course, keep the faith, and may God bless Neosho!

Richard Davidson is mayor of the city of Neosho.