It's time to rewind and look back at the top stories impacting Neosho and southwest Missouri in 2019.
Our number one story is the flood buyout in Neosho. The City of Neosho, with the assistance of the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council, submitted an application in October for a proposed buyout of around 500 homes.After two floods - in 2017 and earlier this year - that impacted portions of Neosho, the United States Department of Housing And Urban Development (HUD) is allocating money that can be used for a buyout of homes in the flood prone areas and to create disaster reduction zones. HUD had previously selected 5 zip codes in Missouri where the funding may be dispersed and Neosho is one of those zip codes. Several public meetings were held to discuss the potential buyout that includes primarily homes and a few businesses. Many residents in those area expressed concerns that compensation won't be adequate for them to relocate. If approved, the intake process may begin in January or February 2020.
The second top story relates to the first with unprecedented June flooding throughout the city on Sunday morning, June 23. From the streets of Neosho, downtown Seneca and Anderson, to Grand Falls to McNatt and all points in between, heavy rainfall caused major flash flooding on Sunday morning, June 23. According to the National Weather Service, between 4-8 inches of rain fell across the area in a six hour period, much of it in a shorter time frame. In Neosho, water rose rapidly across town, flooding Morse Park, parts of Neosho Boulevard and many other streets throughout the community. Big Spring Park and the downtown area saw rising water. So did residents of Riverside Drive and Stratford Place, two of the hardest hit areas in April 2017, in what was termed a 100 year flood at the time.In the area, downtown Seneca and Anderson both were flooded. At one point, Seneca was virtually cut off when all roads leading into town were closed due to high water. On Highway 59 south of Goodman and north of Anderson, several culverts washed free from ditches which contributed to covering the the highway with high water. Numerous roads in Newton and McDonald were closed. Some remain closed due to bridge or road damage. Many water rescues were necessary throughout the area with area law enforcement as well as representatives from the Missouri Conservation Department on hand.
Ranking third is another story that relates to water, but not flooding. After announcing plans to build a reservoir to supply Joplin's needs in November 2018, Missouri American Water announced the final site selection for the proposed water reservoir. Site C, located north of Neosho and near Diamond was the final recommendation. The process of buying the land from current owners and then building the reservoir is expected to be long-term and may take several years to complete.
At number four, it's the Apollo moon landing's local connection. In July, on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo lunar mission, Neosho remembered with pride the years when it was known as Spacetown USA. Fifty years ago this week, the world watched as Apollo 11 blasted off into space and delivered three men to the moon, making history. An estimated billion people around the world watched. In Neosho, pride mingled with awe because Rocketdyne Neosho had a crucial role in getting that mission off the ground, literally. Rocketdyne designed and developed the F-1 engine. Components of the engine, which propelled Apollo 11 to the moon, were made in Neosho. The Neosho location built and tested engines for the Redstone, Jupiter, Thor and Atlas missiles, served as the primary manufacturing installation for the Saturn H-1 engine, and produced components for the Saturn J-2 and F-1 engines that launched the Apollo spacecraft that eventually landed men on the moon.Gene Andrews, now 89, of Neosho watched the launch as it replayed on television. "I can't even talk about it," Andrews said with obvious emotion. "I sat here with tears in my eyes. So exciting. I remember we didn't leave the television (in 1969). It was so exciting to me."
The new Goodman Elementary School is number five on the list. Goodmen Elementary once again opened their doors to students in the community. The new Goodman Elementary replaced the structure destroyed by an F-2 tornado on April 4, 2017. For the past two years, Goodman students were bused to a temporary location in a portion of the Neosho Middle School. Goodman offers kindergarten through fourth grade. The new building is 47,000 square feet and is located on the site of the original school. The school received students on the first day of school and an official ribbon cutting ceremony was held on August 19.
Neosho's wrestlers reclaimed their state title for number six. Neosho is back on top of the Class 3 wrestling world after a year hiatus. “With the ups and downs you have got to keep kids focused on battling back and keeping the faith in the outcome that we are looking for. Losing last year has been on me since then. It hurt. We set our goals early this season and we took steps daily to work towards them. Even towards the end of the season we had guys adjusting goals to get to the podium. It takes a lot of grit,” Neosho coach Jeremy Phillips said. That focus and grit paid off with a team total of 141.5 team points to win the Class 3 state championship.
At number 7, the Neosho Wildcat Soccer team made history. In an action packed, hard fought match against the Helias Catholic High School Crusaders in state quarterfinal play on Saturday at the Carver Athletic Complex on home turf, the Neosho Wildcat soccer team triumphed. With a 4-2 final score against the Crusaders, the Wildcats advanced to state semi-final play - the Final Four, - a history-making first for the NHS Soccer team. The Neosho offense went cold on a chilly day in suburban St. Louis in a Class 3 semifinal game against Platte County, falling 3-0 onThe Wildcats, making their debut in the 52nd annual MSHSAA Soccer Championships at the World Wide Technology Park, had more scoring chances than the Pirates did in the second half but couldn’t overcome a four-minute span in the first half where they fell behind 2-0.
An unsolved mystery and the tragic death of an animal rank at number 8. Officers were dispatched on Monday, September 23 at approximately 5:23 p.m. to the area of Greenwood Boulevard and Lou Ida Drive in Neosho in reference to animal abuse. Officers found a female beagle with approximately 75% of its' skin removed while still alive. According to reports, the animal either escaped or was released in this condition. Officers caught the injured animal and after consulting veterinary staff, determined that the animal had to be euthanized to end its' suffering. The dog came from the area of Hilldale Drive in the same neighborhood where local residents reported it.Further investigation found that the dog escaped from the owner's residence in the 1300 block of Lou Ida Drive while the owner was out of town at a sporting event. Although numerous rewards totaling up to $30,000 have been offered, no arrests have been made in the case.
A new fieldhouse on the campus of Crowder College in Neosho ranks at number nine. The Crowder College Freeman Roughrider Fieldhouse was built at a cost of $1.6 million, 100% percent financed through the Crowder College Foundation with generous assistance from Freeman Health System. The fieldhouse was the first athletics facility built on campus in more than two decades. The indoor sports arena offers 15,600 square feet for athletes to practice in the event of bad weather as well as locker rooms, offices and a therapy room.
Making number 10 on our list is Crowder Industries 50th anniversary celebration. On August 11, 1969 Crowder Area Sheltered Workshop opened its doors for the first time. A vision to provide jobs for disabled citizens in Newton County became a reality and lives have been impacted now for five decades. A recognition ceremony for employees and invited guests was held on Tuesday, September 17 to honor this special occasion. “Crowder Industries has been successful in its’ mission, providing meaningful jobs to its’ disabled employees for half a century,” Ben Baker, current Missouri state representative said at the event.
A major renovation and upgrade to the local B & B Theatre in Neosho is at number 11.In November, B & B Neosho Cinema 6 held a grand re-opening event with an open house to showcase the upgraded amenities and screened the first movies in the just remodeled theatre. Neosho Cinema 6 has been closed for the past two months while the building underwent some major changes.Each of the six auditoriums - known as the houses in the movie industry - feature leather recliners that offer the ultimate comfort for watching the movie.Best of all, prices did not increase despite the upgrades. At the Marquee Bar, guests who are 21 and older can enjoy a favorite beer, wine or cocktail.
Rounding out the list with an even dozen is the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce's effort to Bring Back the Bloom - and the glory year of Neosho's long history as 'The Flowerbox City."e Chamber also announced that they are bringing back the bloom and returning to Neosho's roots as The Flower Box City. Flower baskets designed and manufactured locally by K & S Wire were placed on lamp posts in the downtown area. Future Farmers of America students from Neosho High School planted each basket and Adult and Teen Challenge of the Four States maintained the baskets through the season. During the holidays, the baskets boasted evergreen decor. Local businesses sponsored the baskets along with the Chamber. As part of the Bring Back The Bloom effort, the world's largest flowerbox located on North College in Neosho was also refurbished, replanted and rededicated with a special ribbon cutting ceremony.
2019 was an exciting year in Neosho and 2020 is just ahead with promise. The Neosho Daily News will continue the tradition of keeping the area informed about Neosho and our area.