About 120 people gathered at Neosho High School’s cafeteria Monday to give their input on what direction they would like to see Neosho go in as far as community quality of life in three fields: education, recreation and community services.


About 120 people gathered at Neosho High School’s cafeteria Monday to give their input on what direction they would like to see Neosho go in as far as community quality of life in three fields: education, recreation and community services.

The meeting was the first of several sessions to update the Comprehensive Plan developed by citizens three years ago. The meetings were organized by Chris Byers and Chris Marion at the request of the city of Neosho, and was moderated by John Hobbs and Wayne Dietrich of the University of Missouri Extension.

Those attending were separated into groups of six to eight people seated around several round cafeteria tables and asked to answer the question “What needs to be done / changed to maintain / improve community quality of life with regards to education / recreation and community services?”
Each table elected a recorder who wrote down that group’s responses, and a reporter who gave a brief presentation on their group’s conclusions. These responses were then written down on large pieces of paper, and, armed with colored dots like those found marking items at garage sales, each person present voted on his or her favorites.

Common themes under education included improving facilities and easing overcrowding, building a new junior high school which would result in fewer students at the middle school and Neosho High School, improving the Neosho R-5 School District’s dropout rate, investigating year-round schooling, improving student discipline, giving teachers more authority, increasing parental involvement, and increasing voter participation on school bond issues.

Ideas discussed during the work session for improving recreation included more supervision at the Neosho Rec Plex, better maintenance of the rec center, extending youth sports seasons, increasing recreation opportunities for those ages 25-35 and their young children, putting more fields at Morse Park, expanding the Rec Plex and offering longer hours, a new baseball and softball complex near Highway 71 while rededicating the Morse Park ballfields for use as adult fields, developing Hickory Creek into more of a tourist destination, developing Scenic Park with more landscaping and modern playground equipment, and installing sidewalks around Neosho.

In community services, many cited a need for a third firehouse in the city to provide better fire protection, and a need for more police officers and firefighters and better equipment for those departments was cited. Others at Monday’s meeting said improved storm sirens was a community need, while others said better code enforcement of nuisance ordinances such as dogs and cats running at large, weeds and tall grass in yards and decrepit buildings was needed. Another group said the city needed a reverse 911 system, which would notify Neosho residents by cell phone or landline in the event of an impending major storm or severe flooding.

Several groups mentioned forming a “pothole” brigade to spot and fix potholes around town.
But one of the items that got the most mentions was implementing curbside recycling as soon as possible.

After the session, Byers said he was pleased with the turnout.

“A lot of people were really involved,” he said. “For the most part, everyone stayed positive. There were a lot of great ideas presented tonight and I think we got a lot of good direction out of the meeting.”

Byers said the next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5, again at the high school cafeteria. Among the topics discussed at that session will be how to improve community pride and relationships. Economic development and improvements to infrastructure will be discussed at that and subsequent meetings.