Ashland Out Loud

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ASHLAND - It's been nicknamed the "Fastest Growing Community in Mid-Missouri." Over the past 10 years, Ashland's population has grown from roughly 2,700 to 3,707. On Thursday, the community celebrated that growth with its fourth annual Ashland Out Loud event.

The community-wide celebration included events at local businesses, restaurants and schools. 

The Chamber of Commerce also honored eleven local business owners celebrating milestone anniversaries. One such business, Home Movie Depot, is a product of Ashland's growth over the past decade. Celebrating 10 years of business, Home Movie Depot hosted a presentation on preserving personal and local history. Panelist Wallace Johnson once lived in the house that sat on the property where Home Movie Depot is. A look at a recently restored photograph of his old house sparked recognition.

"I have a lot of fond memories about this place," Johnson said.

But while some residents remembered the past, others looked to Ashland's future.

At City Hall, Mayor Mike Jackson met with residents who came out to see plans for a new Main Street development and hear presentations on community involvement and the future of the local swimming pool. Jackson is a 14-year resident of Ashland, and he believes the growth will continue.

"We've kind of reached a plateau, or a level where I think we're really going to start attracting some businesses, the schools are a big attraction for why people move here. We're strategically located halfway between Jeff City and Columbia, so I expect that we will continue to be a draw."

Residents hope the community will continue to grow while maintaining its small town feel. 

"You meet them on the street, they wave. They might be talking on the phone, drinking a cup of coffee, but they'll still wave," said lifelong resident Frank White.

Brenda Austin, a 50 year resident, has plenty of hopes for the future as well. "I want it to be a progressive community but not too large, a lot of assets for our children and other members of the community, much like we are now," Austin said.