Despite cloudy skies and a little bit of rain, the community turned out in full force to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony for the long-awaited and much needed expansion at the Neosho-Newton County Library at 201 West Spring St., Neosho in Neosho, Thursday.

Despite cloudy skies and a little bit of rain, the community turned out in  full force to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony for the long-awaited  and much needed expansion at the Neosho-Newton County Library at 201 West Spring St., Neosho in Neosho, Thursday.  
Rainy weather brought the groundbreaking ceremony inside, so no actual dirt was turned  but enthusiasm for the project remained high. Library patrons from tots to senior citizens were on hand for the historic moment in the library's history.
The noard of trustees and library staff hosted the event to kick off the $1.8 million dollar expansion and to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the building.
Library board president Jonathon Russell welcomed the crowd and elected officials who turned out for the ceremony.
"The board has worked diligently for several months with the library director and staff, with the architects, and the contractors to ensure that the expansion will fit the needs our library patrons," Russell said. "We want to prepare the building to last for the next 100 years. We are especially pleased that we did not have to approach county residents for a tax increase to pay for the construction. Through sound fiscal practices, we are funding the expansion through savings, donations from interested citizens, and a recent successful public sale of certificates of participation."
Russell stated that a campaign to gain public donations to help pay off the remaining debt is in the works and that details will be announced within a few weeks.
"It will be affordable," he said of the program. "We will have affordable donation levels for all size budgets."
The expansion will maintain the historic character of the building but will double the size of the facility. There will be additional space for books, magazines, movies, and audio books, for more computers as well as a safe and secure local history and genealogy section. The area will help to preserve and protect the books and materials used by patrons when researching family or local history.
Other amenities will include a community member room that will hold 150 people, improved public restrooms and a new family restroom, wider aisles for easier browsing and accessibility, an expanded youth and teen section, small study group rooms, quiet reading and research areas and a safe room for storms.  There will also be a convenient entrance and checkout area as well as increased parking.
"I cannot stress how excited we are to be able to provide additional space for our patrons," Carrie Cline, library director, said. "Attendance at our programs for children, teens, and adults have exploded and we are busting at the seams. The expansion will not only will provide more comfortable accommodations for existing programming but it will also allow us to continue to grow and offer additional materials, services, and programs."
Alan Cook, Newton County Commissioner shared a few words with the crowd.
"On behalf of the Newton County Commissioners, I would like to congratulate the library on this expansion, which has been so needed for so many years. Newton County is growing!"
Displays of historical materials were available along with a rendition of how the building will appear once the expansion has been completed.  Representatives from Branco Enterprises of Neosho were on hand along with architect Chris Ball, of Jack Ball and Associates in Springfield, who designed the expansion.
The project is expected to take about eight months to complete.  
"The next few months may be a little chaotic," Cline said. "But it will be worth it when we have our ribbon cutting next spring."
Refreshments were served and all in attendance were presented with a commemorative ceramic coaster to mark the occasion.