A longtime business owner and Newton County resident was named the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year during the chamber's banquet on Thursday night at the Civic.

A longtime business owner and Newton County resident was named the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year during the chamber's banquet on Thursday night at the Civic.
The sell-out crowd listed to Bryce McDermott, as he introduced the recipient.
"This citizen of the year I have known for many years now," said McDermott. "He is a lifelong Newton County resident, he is a graduate of Neosho High School in 1966. A lot of people back then and still today call him 'Johnny,' I know that you a lot of you have figured it out. After graduation from high school, he attended the University of Missouri Rolla, and got a civil engineering degree. He was the first person in his family to go to college. He is an active and longstanding member of Northside Baptist Church and serves as their treasurer. He is a past president of the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce..."
McDermott also mentioned that the recipient spearheaded a carpentry apprenticeship program which began in 1993 and continues today.
"When I first started working with this individual, the Neosho Holiday Basketball Tournament had dwindled down to - I know a lot of you people in the room remember as one of the pinnacle basketball tournaments in the area to basically a 14-round robin, it pretty much died. This guy stepped in and said, 'you know what, we are not going to let this (go), this is too big of a tradition for Neosho. We started to invest a lot into tournament, investing time and money, now it one of the premier basketball tournament in this area."
McDermott also mentioned that if the recipient was not at work, he is on his farm, loves hanging out with his cows, but beyond that, he loves to travel.
"He loves to travel with his best friend, (his wife, Vi), his favorite color is violet," he said.
This year's citizen of the year went to John Branham, second generation and owner and president of Branco Enterprises.
"I am extremely honored. But I can also tell you that.... it is surrounding my life with good people," said Branham. "We (Branco) dates from 1933 as a family owned company."
McDermott added, "he has taken this thing (Branco) from where it was to one of the biggest general contractors in the area. And he is passing it onto a third generation."
Branham continued.
"I am honored, but I have to share with so many that have helped me get to this point in time," said Branham. "...For any of us that are successful, you have to truly have the biblical help mate and I can assure you that I have. She (Vi) is beside me all of the time. Thank you for the bottom of my heart, I share this with hundreds of our employees and those around us that have helped us get this far."
Along with the award, Branham was given a Missouri House of Representatives resolution by Rep. Bill Reiboldt and a Missouri Senate resolution by Sen. Ron Richard.
There were also other awards given to the the following recipients:
• Most Improved Business Location- McDonald’s 
• Small Business of the Year – Neosho Graphics
• Large Business of the Year – 1st Community Bank
• Non-Profit of the Year – Faithful Friends