The focus was on the positive during Wake-Up Wednesday, the quarterly meeting hosted by the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce. The event was held at the Civic in downtown Neosho and was sponsored by Gray Oak Investments.
Representatives from the city, county, local schools, Crowder College, the chamber and Grow Neosho offered updates on what's new and what's coming soon.
Director of Events and Communications Ashley Siler welcomed a large crowd to the event and introduced each speaker.
"We're going to hear about the good news, the positive things happening in our community," she said.
First up was Leland Butcher, Neosho City Manager.
"I've been here one month and that Mayor and City Council haven't fired me yet," Butcher said. "Neosho has a lot of challenges and we're going to start working on those. Yesterday, we started our strategic planning process, which will create a roadmap to where we want to go."
Some of the areas he noted need attention are upgrades for both the police and fire stations, road issues, the water system and infrastructure.
"Part of the plan is we will have to prioritize. We have to come up with a one year, a five year, ten year and twenty year plan."
Alan Cook, one of the Newton County Commissioners, provided an update on the courthouse, roads, and bridges.
"We are remodeling the courthouse a little now that we have the Judicial Center," Cook said. "We have the annex for sale."
According to Cook, Newton County has almost 1,000 miles of roads maintained by the county and a total of 8 road districts.
"This year, we've improved road surfaces for 93-95 roads. Newton County also has 175-185 bridges to maintain. We are unique that we have our own bridge crew and we can save money because in most cases, we can build our own."
Neosho Board of Education president Stuart Puckett provided an update on the Neosho district with three things.
"First, the progress on Goodman Elementary is ahead of scheduled. We believe we will be open at the start of the next school year. Second, our football team has advanced to district playoffs. I'd appreciate it if you all would show up to support the team. If we win, we will host another home game. Third, are the community meetings. We are going to continue to push this district forward. Please come and take part in these meetings. It takes the input of citizens to drive the improvements we need. I encourage you all to participate."
Cindy Brown, Director of Public Information at Crowder College, spoke about the search for a new college president.
"Since Crowder College was founded in 1963 we have had few presidents so it's an exciting time for us."
The Roughrider Field House construction project is underway and is expected to be complete in April 2019. Brown stated that although enrollments are slightly down, something she cites as due to a good economy, graduation numbers are up. Some upcoming events include the Festival of Wreaths on November 13 and a LEED Platinum recognition at the MARET Center in December.
Mike Franks, GROW NEOSHO, offered a positive outlook for Neosho.
"2018 was a record year in new housing starts," Franks said. "This is crucial. Growth is a big part of our remedy for the future. It's also a great year for our existing industries. An expansion to Missouri Sugars will double the size and add a new class of products. Both former Talbot facilities are about to be reoccupied, both by Adjustable Bed Base, a division of Leggett and Platt. A lot of good things are going to happen next year."
Franks also advocated a yes vote for Proposition D, a proposed fuel tax that will accrue 2 and a half cents sales tax increasing to 10 cents over a five year period,
"I believe it will be a boon for us, it will allow I-49 to Arkansas to be completed. Lots of good things have been happening in Neosho and a lot of better things are coming."
Neosho Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lauri Lyerla wrapped up the meeting.
"We are excited about the coming year. Our 2019 calendar is already full . We have lofty goals for next year and hope to reach 500 members."
Lyerla stated a new event next year will be Coffee In The County, an expansion from the First Friday Coffee events which will continue. Next year also marks the Chamber's 70th anniversary.
"Some members have been with us for all 70 years."
She also announced the the 2019 Chamber President will be Stuart Puckett and that a calendar of all 2019 events will be available by the end of the year.