A historic bank building, a long landmark on the Neosho Square, is now home to one of 20 First Community Bank locations in the region. Located at 111 East Main Street, First Community Bank hosted a grand opening celebration on Aug. 9, that included the unveiling of a historical Neosho mural, painted by local artist Jeff Jones, a ribbon cutting, free community catfish dinner, and a bounce house for the younger set.

A historic bank building, a long landmark on the Neosho Square, is now home to one of 20 First Community Bank locations in the region. Located at 111 East Main Street, First Community Bank hosted a grand opening celebration on Aug. 9, that included the unveiling of a historical Neosho mural, painted by local artist Jeff Jones, a ribbon cutting, free community catfish dinner, and a bounce house for the younger set.

"We're proud to be here for many, many reasons," Dale Cole, chairman, CEO and founder of First Community Bank, said as he addressed the crowd at the event. "The main reason is the grand opening of our newest, oldest bank in our company. I want to give you a little history of First Community Bank. Just 21 years ago, in August of 1997, we founded First Community Bank. We founded it with 14 employees, 153 shareholders and we started with capital of $3,453,300.00. We chose a very important slogan that we try to live everyday and that slogan is 'where community comes first'. We chose that slogan wanting to focus on communities where we're located, making investments in people, products, services, buildings and we wanted to build relationships also. This philosophy has now worked for 21 years."

The building that now houses First Community Bank, has a long history of serving as various financial institutions over many decades. First Community Bank did a complete remodel and restoration of the facility, blending some of the historic elements with 21st century style and technology.

"I wanted to give a special thank you to Laura Cornett," Cole said. "Laura is our director of marketing. In addition to her many responsibilities as marketing director,, she is the major creator of this beautiful new, old facility. What you see today is a testament to Laura's creativity."

Inside the lobby, First Community Bank features high tin ceilings, brick walls that although not original preserve the vintage look of the original building, a vault door in the lobby, and many historical photographs of Neosho.

Behind the teller area, a special mural, created by local artist Jeff Jones, is another highlight. The painting took many months to paint and required historic input as well as creative brainstorming from many individuals.

Jones unveiled his mural.

"So, the title of this that I came up with is 'Neosho: A Historical Narrative.' It's not necessarily a complete story of Neosho but it's your story," said Jones. "You will recognize things in this and you will have stories (to share) abut it. The things in this mural are things that you all have lived."

Jones shared the significance of items portrayed in the mural. Many local landmarks including the Big Spring Inn, Camp Crowder and Crowder College are featured. A tornado in the top left corner represents the April 24, 1975 tornado that struck Neosho. Local vintner Herman Jaeger, who saved the French wine industry with Missouri root stock, is portrayed. Strawberry pickers, a Hereford cow, Maypole dancers in Big Spring Park, each spotlight a portion of local history. Senior Hill, where graduating Neosho High School seniors have painted their art since the 1950s is also part of the mural.

Framed prints were given out to several individuals who provided input for the project including local historian Larry James. Poster reproductions of the mural were provided to the public as long as the supplies lasted.

Local individuals who were recognized during the grand opening included Neosho Mayor Ben Baker, Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, Lauri Lyerla, Missouri State Representative for the 160th district Bill Reiboldt and Neosho Assistant Superintendent of Schools Ritchie Fretwell. First Community Bank senior vice president and credit officer, who also serves as the current Neosho Board of Education President, Stuart Puckett, presented Fretwell with a check on behalf of First Community for the Goodman Elementary School rebuilding project.

Several First Community Bank officers and employees shared their thoughts. Among those, Stuart Puckett told those who gathered, "Mr. Cole has given me the opportunity to live out a dream I've had since high school and challenged me from day one. He said, 'show them what community banking is in downtown Neosho. Thank you for this opportunity."

Prior to the ceremonies, a Business After Hours event was held inside the bank lobby, with beverages and finger foods. A full catfish dinner was provided in the courtyard adjacent to First Community Bank and a bounce house was on site for the kids.

First Community Bank has locations in Neosho, Goodman and Jane in southwest Missouri, part of 20 locations throughout the region.