At a breakfast meeting, the Neosho business community gathered at the Neosho Civic Center to hear the last quarterly update for 2019. The event, held by the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce with Grey Oak Investments, Neosho, as the presenting sponsor, drew a crowd.
Representatives from Crowder College, Neosho School District, Newton County, City of Neosho and the Neosho Chamber all had 7 minutes to share their latest news and information.
Dr. Glenn Coltharp, Crowder College, noted that Crowder 2014 graduate Sam Hilliard played his first major league baseball game this week for the Colorado Rockies. He also mentioned several upcoming dates on campus that include celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Cassville campus, Wellness Week September 16-20, Manufacturing Day on Friday, October 4 that will include an open house, Show-Me Crowder for prospective students on September 17 and the upcoming dedication of the completed field house, at a date to be announced. The annual Festival of Wreaths will be held on Tuesday, November 12.
Newton County Commissioner Alan Cook was next. Cook stated that sales tax revenue in the county has increased 2.5% over the past year. Currently, renovations are underway at the Newton County Jail where the jail count is down. Inmates are being utilized to paint each cell. He also talked about the bridges of Newton County.
"There are 187 bridges in our county road districts," he said. "We have our own bridge crew and we can build a bridge for .30 cents on the dollar."
Cook announced that the Jackson Avenue Bridge in northern Newton County is completed at a cost of two million dollars. "About every ten years or so, we do a large bridge project," he said, "These are the ones beyond our bridge crew's ability."
To complete the larger projects, Cook indicated that the county saves funds they receive from MoDot and federal highway for those projects are saved to enable them to complete the larger projects.
The county will also be working with the city on the Coler Street bridge leading into Morse Park.
Dr. Jim Cummins, Neosho Superintendent of Schools, shared the news that approval to seek the final FEMA bids for the storm shelter at Goodman Elementary has been granted. Upcoming dates for the district include Homecoming on September 27. He noted that there was a zero percent suicide rate in the district last school. Two new positions, Tracy Clements as the Director of Counseling and Ryan West, Director of Safety and Security, are new this year. Cummins announced that Missouri Governor Mike Parson would be in Neosho on September 25 to dedicate the fitness facility made possible by the Governor's Fitness Grant.
"We have the most decked out fitness center at the Middle School," Cummins said.
Long range plans to build a new elementary school are in the works but Cummins noted it's expensive and if the district can move forward with storm shelters for the four locations that currently lack them, they may be able to redistrict and work with current facilities.
Neosho interim city manger, Police Chief David Kenney, provided the update from the city.
"The city has a lot going on," he stated. The city is actively interviewing for the city manager position and has narrowed a field of 11 candidates to six. They are also in the process of hiring a replacement for former Parks and Recreation Director Sally Pennington. Construction on a water detention pond on Nelson Avenue is slated to begin September 3 and take about 40 days to complete.
Plans are also moving forward for the dam at the Lime Kiln access, working with the Missouri Department of Conservation. Phase I of the project will accomplish two goals - eliminate drowning at the dam, a long-standing issue and allow the fish to move upstream. Kennedy also noted that road resurfacing will begin on September 27 and that a map of streets involved in the project will be posted on the city's website. Human Resources Director Jan Beckwith has also announced her resignation and her job will be posted. Kennedy also stated that the city is handling Neosho's water loss issues and that the new water meters now in place will assist in identifying leak areas.
Lauri Lyerla, Executive Director of the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce, noted that memberships have increased.
"We have been really busy at the chamber," she said. "We're going in all directions."
They now have four staff members instead of three and are working to divide job responsibilities.
Sponsorship guides for Chamber events went out to members this week. Lyerla also noted that the annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet will take place on November 21, in a new location.
"We've outgrown the Civic," she said. "We will be at Indigo Sky Casino, in their new big room."
Tickets for the event will soon go on sale.
Jake Heistand, Executive Director of Grow Neosho, served as the featured speaker.
"There is a recipe out there to get all the moving parts together," he said. "When that happens, Neosho will take off."
Heistand, who took the reins from longtime Grow Neosho CEO Mike Franks, formerly worked for Congressman Billy Long's office in Joplin. He provided an update on the intermodal project that has been long discussed for Neosho.
"It is still a viable project for Neosho," he said. Plans are ongoing to further develop the Hotel/Retail/Entertainment Corridor where hopes are to bring in a name brand hotel chain along with a destination type restaurant."
"A destination type restaurant that isn't in Joplin, not even in Springfield," he said. "A restaurant that will bring people to Neosho and once they're here, we can show them what else we have to offer."
"Neosho has a lot of assets," he said.
According to all those who participated in the quarterly update, Neosho is looking at both continued growth and a bright future.
Catering for the event was provided by Les Rainwater, Family Market, Neosho.