(Editors Note: This article is reprinted from the 1963 Missouri State Highway Commission Annual Report, investigating how the Route 5 bypass had affected Ava.
A block south of the square on Old 5 Fred Lethco added his view of the new highway. Lethco is mayor of Ava and owner of Lethco Sales Company, selling trucks and cars.
“We’ve been in this building since 1946,” Lethco said. “And the highway hasn’t affected our business at all. Ava business has been mostly local all along and it still is.
“However, we’ve been promoting the tourist business and the new road certainly has helped that.”
Citing areas of new homes, like the one where Lou Prince just moved into, Lethco went on:
“The suburbs have built up. It always happens with a new highway like that. People like to build around it. And, or course, it’s opened up some areas beyond the highway,
It also has opened up another area – sharpened competition between Ava and Mansfield – because of shorter distance and easier travel.
“But it’s all friendly,” said Lethco. “And good competition never hurt anyone.”
Most of the businessmen and the four councilmen in Ava, Lethco said, were for the highway when it was proposed.
“We hated to see the traffic go but it was necessary,” he said.
But sales tax receipts, another barometer of a town’s economic growth or stagnation, add more evidence to what happened to Ava when that through traffic was pulled out of town.
“Latest figures show they’re up in both Mansfield and Ava, both bypassed towns,” said Lethco, “and they’re not up in many other area towns of our size.”