Bob Mitchell: A fortunate period for Cassville

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Between the mid-1950s and 1986, Cassville was very fortunate to have three District Seven highway engineers with the Missouri Highway Department, each of whom were sensitive to problems that existed in this area.

The connections were either through past associations in Jefferson City, appreciation for project support in the area, and even the love of Rainbow Trout fishing at Roaring River State Park.

In each instance, projects proposed by the engineers had fallen on opposition locally, either through business reasons, property disputes or, in some instances, greed. As each progressed, the department policy was to “walk away” from their proposals that either didn’t have public support or required no-cost right-of-way from property owners in the line of projects.

To the project, the Cassville Democrat supported projects, gathering enough public input to eventually get the requirements met and projects under contract.

W.J. Eddlemon

First of these was W.J. Eddlemon, known throughout these parts as “Tuffy.” He was never in Barry County unless he dropped by the Cassville Democrat on the south side of the Square.

He was closely connected with support of building the Central Crossing Bridge over Table Rock Lake, encouraging then chief engineer Rex Whitton of the justification for the project.

Wilber Stegner

From 1967-76, Wilber Stegner took over the Joplin headquarters and quickly realized Cassville needed a major project at center-town for a storm sewer plan and signalization.

Most businesses in that area had been constructed without any regard to property lines abutted against or near state lines.

When the plans were submitted to public view, there were those who accused Stegner of changing the layout to please some interests, a charge we rebuked with proper evidence, eventually resolving the question.

This and a pledge of the state walking off if public resolve wasn’t in place, finally received approval from opposition, and present day functions are sufficient to prove the engineer was correct.

wStegner was also in charge of the Highway 39 project accessing the Shell Knob community and Central Crossing Bridge. A farm pond resulted in one property owner holding out on right-of-way. Public knowledge of this fact, published in the Cassville Democrat, brought a favorable decision for the route.

At the route dedication, Stegner proposed naming the route’s overlook, the Cassville Democrat Overlook, for support received.

The proposal fell on deaf ears and frankly got a few jeers from the crowd.

I always wondered why.

Joseph Mickes

Putting the finishing touches on getting the mid-town project underway, after assurance the public was satisfied, Joe Mickes, an ardent trout fisherman at Roaring River, put the project in motion.

Think of it today, how the middle of Cassville might be traffic-wise without signalization. And, in heavy rains, how that area of Cassville might be, if Flat Creek would stay out of the picture. Storm sewer construction, deep underground near the intersection drains a low lying area of residences and businesses during normal times.

Mickes was also ready to walk away from the Recreational Access into the King’s River country from Golden due to a property owner holding out on providing access for the RA road. This construction was coming from a special fund, useable district personnel, with access for the road volunteered by landowners.

When one holdout existed, the project was on the verge of cancellation, until the fact became public, and the easement was quickly signed when residents learned of the problem.

Suggestion overlooked

Those readers who might recall late November, right after the presidential election, I proposed very seriously that President-Elect Trump consider some of his federal appointments might be those who had been road commissioners, city council members, some school board members but not all, and those who might have been involved in productive civic projects, as part of his administration. I guess I was way out in left field on this one!

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.

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