When I was in high school, I worked for my father’s business during the summer months. Most of the other guys in high school took jobs hauling hay, working for Shank’s Farms north of Granby or worked on other local farms.

When I was in high school, I worked for my father’s business during the summer months.  Most of the other guys in high school took jobs hauling hay, working for Shank’s Farms north of Granby or worked on other local farms.  
My job brought me into Neosho almost daily throughout the summer months.  One of the results of these summer employment excursions was an extreme knowledge of the streets, alleys and paths throughout Neosho.  The day after I graduated high school, I went to work for Southwestern Bell Telephone and once again I spent a good portion of the day traveling around the city.
A few new additions and streets have been added since those days beginning 50 years ago, but for the most part the fundamental parts are still here.  As time progressed my expanse of internal mapping extended to other areas of the state, region and beyond.  Due to this foundation of knowledge most of my navigation is done from memory.  On occasion I have resorted to the use of the GPS on my phone or in the car.  I blame it on the journeys that we are making to new and different places, but I think it is something more.
In the early 1970s when I was working for Southwestern Bell Telephone, I resolved that I would never have a phone in my home.  I believe that they are a virtual plague and that has never become more evident than now.  The catalyst for this rant happened just minutes ago as I received yet another call from a telemarketer.  It was for a product that I don’t need and have never solicited information on.  So thus we write.
Anyway, back to my original thoughts.  As you can tell I was unable to keep my resolution and avoid the phone.  We still have a landline in the house and everyone in the house has a cell phone.  One of the problems that I see and many people I encounter comment on, is that everyone seems to have such an intense focus on these devices.  If the device is not demanding our attention, then it is interjecting our lives with calls from telemarketers or phone scams.  Recently there has been a surge in the recurrence of these phone scams, so just a reminder, ignore them if you can and NEVER SEND MONEY!  
This re-direction of focus has moved attention from the real world to a virtual world.  Lack of attention always has a negative result.  Most times this shows up in the details.  Those very small details that later grow into massive and costly problems.  Over the years a decrease of attention took its toll on the Historic Downtown District.  That has since been reversed but as it took years to deteriorate; it has taken years for restoration.  The latest project that is going to enhance the Historic Downtown District is now underway.  The McGinty’s Building on the outside southwest corner of the square has now begun its rehabilitation.  As restoration moves forward, one needs to consider the possibilities of the cycle repeating.  Once those who are giving attention to the real world details are gone, will we repeat the deterioration cycle and would that be followed by restoration.  
The one solution is to put down the phone and let’s build a community that has focus on the real and moves forward with an attitude of maintenance.  Escape the virtual and let’s improve the real community, take off your hat and stay awhile as we are going to need some help in keeping things up!

Paul Richardson is the director of public relations and events for the city of Neosho.