NEOSHO --- "These stairs are part of Neosho, they were important to Neosho, and they needed to be repaired," says Richard Davidson, Neosho Mayor.
18 months ago, the steps leading from High street down to Big Spring Hill in Neosho were in rough shape.
"It was an unfortunate situation when we had to close these steps because of disrepair and a safety hazard, and the moment we closed them, we knew we had to find a solution and find a way," says Davidson.
Community members say fixing the staircase was an important task because so many people have fond memories associated with the landmark.
"Since the late 1800s, there's been a flight of steps at this very site. Everybody remembers the steps, their parents remember the steps, their grandparents remember the steps if they grew up in Neosho," says Wes Franklin of the Newton County Historical Society.
Neosho city leaders hadn't originally budgeted to fix the steps last fiscal year, so they put some projects on hold to help fund the $45,000 project.
The community also came together to preserve this piece of the city's history. Hundreds of dollars in donations to support the project came from from last year's third grade class at South Elementary, The Daughters of the American Revolution Neosho Chapter, and Flowerbox City Newcomers Club.
"These stairs have impacted tens of thousands of people. This makes a statement about Neosho, not just the park, not just the stairs, but all of Neosho. We're working to make Neosho better every time we can," says Davidson.
And now all 57 steps leading to Big Spring Park are sturdy and safe.
"Glad to see the City Council decided to preserve these steps for future generations. See, because they're not only preserving part of our past, they're preserving it for our grand-kids," says Franklin.
"These stairs have been part of Neosho history for 125-plus years, and with the renovation and the restoration, they're going to be a part of Neosho history for many decades to come," says Davidson.
The new steps are slightly narrower than the original steps, so the original posts are still in tact and need some refurbishing. City staff say they plan to make those repairs to the posts and add a commemorative plaque within the next few months.