An appeal of a November 2012 Newton County court ruling regarding the city's challenge of the formation of the transportation development district was turned down in mid-December.
Word of the appeal's denial came as the TDD board met in regular session Dec. 10. Ray Stipp, a TDD board member, received a text from Chris Williams, attorney for the board, with the news.
Last November, Newton County Division III Associate Circuit Court Judge Kevin Selby ruled the city waited too long to challenge the formation of the district. This ruling allowed the collection of a half-cent sales tax by businesses in the district to partially fund $6.9 million in transportation projects, The Missouri Department of Transportation will fund $2.4 million, with the TDD picking up the rest of the tab with proceeds from the sales tax.
The city had contested the district under a subsection of a state law which the district was founded. Under the subsection, only residents who live within the TDD boundaries can vote to form a district. The mayor stressed there are no residents in the district, therefore, the ballot forming the district was invalid.
The city had contended that when a representative of the Missouri Department of Transportation cast a ballot in an officer election a few years ago, it did so wrongly, as only residents of the district can vote. It was during research into why MoDOT cannot vote that attorneys discovered the TDD had been filed under a subsection of the law that allowed residents of the proposed district to vote on the issue and not property owners.
"I'll start by saying this is in no way a loss for the city," Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson said. "From the beginning of the appeal, we have said we simply wanted an answer — one way or another — that the TDD was valid. This decision by the court gives us a guard of protection against future actions that, if successful, could have cost the city much more than the monies spent to get the answer received today."
In early January 2014, the Neosho City Council authorized City Attorney Steve Hays to draft an ordinance overturning a measure that blocked a cooperative agreement between the city and the TDD.
On Jan. 10, the council granted the ordinance rescinding the rescission on first reading. Second and third readings will take place on Jan. 21.
Gib Garrow, economic development director for the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce, died Nov. 7 at KU Medical Center in Kansas City after battling leukemia. He was 66.
Garrow came to Neosho in December 1985 as executive vice president of the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce. A few years later, he became economic development director for the chamber and Newton County.
Friends remembered Garrow for his love of Neosho and his do or die efforts to help the community's economy. Rudy Farber, chairman of the board of directors at Community Bank and Trust, remembered how he helped keep Scholastic in Neosho after a Good Friday flood caused the company to vacate its West Harmony location in 2008.
"By Monday morning — and keep in mind this was all through Easter weekend — the operation had been relocated to Crowder College (Longwell Museum), the jobs had been preserved and approximately 57 days later, they moved into the quarters that they now enjoy [in Neosho's industrial park]," Farber said. "It was a tremendous effort and he was right in the middle of it, coordinating with the city and with Empire District Electric, it was a magnificent effort. [It] preserved a number of jobs and very important to us. That is just one among many."
Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce's president Jason Stipp also remembered Garrow fondly.
"He left a big mark on the city, he has been an asset to the community and to the chamber," Jason Stipp said. "It just sounds like everywhere he has been, all of the stops that he has made along the way, he has had that effect on it."
Echoing those sentiments was Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson.
"What Neosho is today is due in large part to the efforts of men like Gib Garrow," Davidson said. "He believed in Neosho and worked hard to make it better.
"His passing is a loss not only for his friends and family, but for Neosho as a whole."
At the time of his death, Garrow was working with representatives from Denny's Restaurants on locating in the former Shoney's location on Lusk Drive.
In September, Denny's reps had toured the site and Neosho and were "very impressed." After a review in their corporate office in Atlanta, Ga., reps told Garrow they would recommend the Neosho site to their franchisee.
Denny's Restaurants was founded in Southern California in 1953 and currently has almost 1,700 restaurants, according to information on their website.
Currently, the nearest Denny's locations to Neosho are in Joplin and Bentonville, Ark.
Other economic development milestones also made headlines in 2013.
In November, the Wyandotte Nation opened a new Sonic Drive-In in Seneca with a smoking ceremony performed by Chief Billy Friend.
Friend said all of the profit netted from the restaurant, and other tribal ventures as well, provide social services for tribal citizens. This ranges from health care, elder services, and scholarships for young adults.
"Any time we open up a new venture like this, it is an opportunity for our own citizens," Friend said.
"This is great for Seneca and for the community around us," said Josh Dodson, Seneca chamber president. "This is something we've been needing in Seneca for some time, some growth for our business. Things like this help drive revenue for the town and help our infrastructure overall. We're looking forward to the future and wish much success for them."
The new restaurant is located at 2314 Cherokee Ave., just off of U.S. 60 on Missouri Highway 43, and the opening marks the first for a Native American tribe in the Sonic system.
A new truck stop and convenience store will be coming to Neosho in 2014, it was announced in December.
Steve Kenny, Becky Cobb and Mike West with Red Carpet Real Estate said Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores has purchased a parcel of land near the intersection of Interstate 49 and Missouri Highway 86 Business in order to build a new travel stop. Kenny said the realty company assisted in the transaction.
"We just received a call one day from their rep," said Cobb. "They definitely wanted to locate a facility in the Neosho area."
Kenny said company representatives came out and looked at several sites around the city before agreeing that the intersection near New-Mac Electric would be an ideal place to locate a travel stop.
"It's got 86 on the north, Hammer Road on the east, five lanes of traffic," he said. "Just an ideal place with the lanes they have out there, turning lanes for the trucks."
Kenny said groundbreaking is slated to begin some time this coming spring.