Bob Mitchell: Housekeeping provides info

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A year-end project of desk housekeeping provided information that had been overlooked on the back page of notes that eventually resulted in one of two recent columns about men of the past who had contributed substantially to what Cassville is today.

This oversight admission comes with an apology to these families for not having included these persons in the initial offering of what might be titled, Cassville Builders of the past.

Supported airport

Cassville’s long-lasting project to obtain a general aviation airport, which had been on burners for about 60 years, received the needed push when Bill Wiley was elected to the city council. His interest was fueled by a close relationship to Max Fields, an earlier-day flyer and advocate of a real honest-to-goodness airport for the county seat.

What little facilities that existed at the time were grass strips, first located between Cassville and Roaring River State Park, the Woolaway strip west off Highway 76, Fields’ private strip off 248 and finally the old sand-green golf course on Neeley land near the Corinth community.

Wiley, who was initially Vocational Agriculture instructor in the Cassville schools, left the teaching profession for the business world, eventually becoming the leading milking equipment dealership in the region. His interest in a growing community included at one time serving as chairman of the Industrial Development Corporation.

When he took his seat on the city council, the availability of state and federal funds for general aviation facilities for smaller communities had been ignored by officials. Wiley and encouragements from several others, including the Cassville Democrat, gave the council a voice in favor of providing such a facility for this community. Once the project had a favorable voice in city government, there was no further excuse for not proceeding with applications.

Voice in D.C.

At this time there was a strong voice in Washington for Cassville in the person of then Congressman Gene Taylor. His voice in this area was also in full support of the project. This provided adequate push for the project that was quickly accepted by D.C. agencies and the Missouri Department of Transportation, each contributing funds for the project.

It was one of the largest grand openings to be observed in Cassville when dedication time rolled around. Congressman Taylor and Missouri Secretary of State James Kirkpatrick, who despite their political differences were good friends, each were guest speakers at the event.

Adopted community benefitted

The second name that should have been in the first list was a transplant from Oklahoma, Wayne Tomblin.

After purchasing the business of long-time jeweler Kenneth Brown, it became evident that Tomblin was here to stay and would be a booster for progress in the community.

Graduating from small spaces on the south side of the square, his business quickly evolved into a need for more space, promoting a move around the corner on Main Street. When First National Bank moved to their new facility, Tomblin acted quickly to acquire that former bank location on the northeast corner of the square, due to the larger space and also due to the vault availability.

The community appreciated his obvious interest in his new home, by presenting Tomblin and his wife, Tommie, with a money tree to at least partially recover some of his moving losses.

The original location, once hit by burglars going through the roof, could have pushed the final location decision.

Tomblin was one of those individuals who was always ready with his checkbook to provide the initial funds for projects of employment expansion for Cassville. He was also always had verbal encouragement for those deeply involved in IDC activities.

In later years, he became involved as a Welch Grape Co. grower in the area. His use of a mechanical picker in his vineyard was among the first in this area. The Concord grapes that came off the land, between Cassville and Exeter, were not readily available in this area, but Tomblin always made sure those who had this variety as their favorite, received at least a basket full with his compliments.

Another overlooked fact

My last week’s column, which was dated January 3, should have contained a Happy Anniversary greeting to Anita Sue. After all, we’ve been partners through a lot of trials and tribulations. The real reason for this acknowledgement is the date was our 69th year together.

With the exception of Navy years, our home and that of our family, has been in Cassville. In later years, there have been possibilities of leaving the community, but quickly went out the window with the realization that there probably isn’t a better place on earth.

So, sorry Sue, space last week didn’t permit this observation. Sixty-nine years, through military service and publication of a weekly newspaper, raising a couple of very loved youngsters and acquiring nine grandchildren would certainly be an accomplishment for anyone’s lifetime.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.