The things I love about Cassville

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

In light of our announcement this week, I've been spending a lot of time thinking back over the last 27 years. We moved to Cassville in 1986 and never left. We raised our sons here, pursued our careers here and met hundreds of wonderful people along the way.

The newspaper business has given me full access to explore Cassville and the surrounding communities, and for one of my final columns, I want to list what I love most about Cassville and the Barry County area.

* My sons grew up wading in Flat Creek, hunting for snakes, wakeboarding at the lake and camping with friends. When they went off to college, the adventures they had growing up in Cassville became legend among their more "city"fied friends.

* Cassville is the gateway to Roaring River State Park, a place that will always hold a special spot in my heart. After covering Opening Day festivities for almost two decades, the appeal of the park has never faded. When I drive down into the valley, park my car and head off on one of the hiking trails, the weight of the world lifts from my shoulders and I breathe a little easier.

* In small communities like Cassville, people come together in times of need and in times of celebration. I think back on the time when a young boy with Down syndrome was lost, and hundreds gathered in the Oak Ridge area to comb the countryside, walking side by side searching for the child who was eventually found. I also remember the send-off the Cassville boys soccer team received when they made their first trip to state. The younger students stood outside the school and cheered the boys on as they walked down the driveway, accepting high fives and handmade cards, before getting into vans and heading off to St. Louis. Or the huge crowd that spontaneously gathered outside the football team's fieldhouse to welcome "their" Cassville Wildcats back home after winning a state football title.

* I love the volunteer spirit that drives events and organizations in Cassville. Last week, you would have seen Rotary members preparing the Bill Hailey Arena for the annual two-night rodeo, and this week, plans are ramping up for the July Friday Squared event, another effort that relies on the support of volunteers and businesses to make it happen.

* The Greenway Trail has been a huge addition to the community. I love running along Flat Creek and watching all the activity around me -- kids playing baseball, couples playing tennis, youngsters scrambling over the playground equipment and others walking and jogging the trail. The Greenway creates a safe and scenic corridor for walkers and joggers and links Cassville's three parks with the school and neighborhoods along the way.

* School and church matter in this small community, which creates a wholesome place to raise a family. I knew the parents of my children's friends and I knew my sons were being watched over when they spent the night away from home. These relationships grew strong over the years -- friendships formed while sitting together on bleachers cheering on our children. Just this weekend, I attended the wedding of one of Nick's high school friends and it was a lovely time of reunion. It was as if time and distance hadn't separated them. Those boys, now successful young men, reveled in each other's company, and it was clear to me that the bond of growing up together in Cassville was a forever kind of thing.

* Living in a small town gives you the opportunity to know you're making a difference. Over the years, I've had the chance to get involved with various projects and campaigns from their inception. I've joined forces with others to get school bond issues passed, to raise money for hurting families and to create a drug court program that transforms addicts into contributing members of society. It's amazing to live and work in a community where needs are identified and then people work together to create the solution.

* I appreciate the fact that Cassville is the kind of town that supports its local newspaper through advertising and news sharing. I can't go anywhere in town without someone stopping to talk to me about an article they read in the paper or telling me about a story they think would make a good article in the paper. I really love that interaction, and the input I receive from readers is what keeps the newspaper lively and filled with information the community wants and needs.

Leaving Cassville is like leaving home, and you can be sure our connection to this small community will always remain strong. ~ Lisa Schlichtman