Despite a chill and rainy day, a large number of Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce members turned out for the quarterly membership luncheon last week. Four States Payroll was the presenting sponsor for the event and Wendy Mashburn, managing partner provided an overview of the services offered by Four States Payroll.

The new Board of Directors were announced and are Lowell Lane, Higher Vision LLC, Craig Baslee, AFLAC, Melissa Wright, Wright Quote Insurance, Ashton Robinson, Grey Oak Investments, and Benjamin Coffey, Neosho Freeman Family YMCA.

The new board members will serve from January 2020 until December 2022.

New officers were also announced by outgoing Chamber Board President Stuart Puckett. Justin Carnahan, State Farm Insurance, first vice president Rachel Dobbs, Edward D. Jones, second vice president, Benjamin Coffey, Neosho Freeman Family YMCA and treasurer Carrie Cline, Neosho-Newton County Library.

Garrett Brinkley, Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council, provided an update about the flood buyout plan for Neosho. The application was turned in at the end of the week. About 500 local residences or businesses are involved in the proposed buyout but according to Brinkley, the focus will be on low to moderate income residents. The intake - or application - process - is expected to begin in January 2020.

"The funds won't go as far as they were hoping," Brinkley said. He encourages residents to apply to determine what funding will be available as well as who can and who cannot participate.

Upcoming events were announced including the annual Chamber of Commerce banquet on November 21st and the new Farm to Fork event, scheduled for November 12. At Farm to Fork, which focuses on agriculture and agricultural achievements four Century Farms will be announced. To qualify, landowners must have farms that have been in the family for 100 or more years. Two Missouri State Fair Families, one for Newton County and one for McDonald County, will also be announced.

Lauri Lyerla, Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, also spoke in favor of the proposed Use Tax that appears on the November 5 ballot. The measure, which appeared on the April ballot but failed to pass, would require that local sales tax be collected on items purchased online or out of state. Lyerla noted that had the tax been in effect, the City of Neosho would have received approximately $134,000. Collected sales tax goes to support the Neosho Police Department, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, streets and transportation and capital improvements.

"If you shop local, you aren't going to pay any more," Lyerla said. "This would bring the sales tax to the community."

The Chamber also announced they met their goal of gaining 500 new Chamber members in 2019 by October 1, including 16 new members last month.

A new program for younger chamber members, from college to age 40, will also be implemented in 2020. EPIC will be the name of the group that will bring younger members of Neosho into a closer relationship with the Chamber and community.

The luncheon was catered by Family Market of Neosho.