SENECA, Mo. — For the second time in the program’s history, a married couple shares the honor of being named Neosho’s Citizen of the Year.

Jeffrey Jones and Donna Divine-Jones were presented the award by the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce during its 70th annual banquet, held Thursday at Indigo Sky Casino.

The couple have had a busy year: They own The Clay Cup, a combination coffee house and pottery studio, and this year, they purchased the building used by First Congregational Church in order to convert it into a concert hall named Northwood Arts and Event. Its first concert, an opera produced by Heartland Opera Theatre, was presented in September.

In an introduction during the banquet, the couple’s longtime volunteerism for different groups was also cited.

“Jeff and Donna are investing in the community on things that will make a long-lasting impact on Neosho,” said Lauri Lyerla, the chamber’s executive director.

The evening was focused on celebrating chamber successes throughout the previous year. One of the major successes was the revitalization of a large flower box located at 201 N. College St. Volunteers renovated an old gondola car that has been dubbed “the world’s largest flower box” and planted new flowers in it. The completed project was celebrated in July.

The project also included the installation of 66 wire baskets for planting flowers on the square. The final phase of the project will occur in the spring, when bulbs planted in the large flower box in the fall are expected to bloom.

Outgoing chamber President Stuart Puckett said virtually every community governmental board and a host of volunteers helped with community projects.

“They were all cogs,” Puckett said. “They were all aligned and turned in the same direction, and they produced results independently, but codependently.”

The banquet helped set the tone for the upcoming year, where Lyerla said more challenges await and intercommunication among agencies will help.

“Our community is looking at different problems, such as the flooding,” Lyerla said, referencing severe weather that hit the community earlier this year. “We’ve had a lot of changes in leadership, and we are on the right track. Everyone at the table is looking to work together instead of all of our organizations moving at their own speed.”

Justin Carnahan was sworn in as incoming president. The chamber also named other award winners during the banquet:

• CareNet Pregnancy Center was named Nonprofit of the Year.

• The family of Frank McCullough was awarded the Gib Garrow Lifetime Achievement Award.

• TH Rogers Lumber Co. was named Most Improved Business.

• Downtown Nutrition was named Small Business of the Year.

• B&B Theatres was named Medium Business of the Year.

• K&S Wire Products was named Large Business of the Year.

The chamber currently has 515 members.

Joe Hadsall is the digital editor for The Joplin Globe. He has been the editor of the former Nixa News-Enterprise and has worked for the Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine.

Recommended for you