Word for Life --------------------------------------------------- "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him."
--------------------------------------------------- Luke 12:4-5
Harrison Man Arrested and Charged with Rape The Boone County Sheriff’s Office reported that a Harrison man has been arrested and charged with five counts of rape. On Wednesday, March 5, the Sheriff’s Office initiated an investigation into a possible child predator. During the course of the investigation, a series of “chat” messages between 43 year old Jeffrey Hamilton and a juvenile were intercepted by investigators. Investigators were also able to establish an ongoing illegal relationship that involved Hamilton and other juveniles. Hamilton is currently being held at the Boone County Jail with bond set at $250,000.
Two Injured in Two Vehicle Collision in Protem Two people were injured in a two vehicle collision at about 3:45 Thursday afternoon on Highway 125 in Protem. A pickup driven by 32 year old Ashley Kellett of Theodosia was pulling out of a parking lot and failed to yield to an SUV driven by 54 year old David Armes of Protem. Kellett suffered moderate injuries and a passenger in Armes vehicle, 16 year old Ashlee Armes, sustained minor injuries. They were both taken to Cox Branson for treatment.
CoxHealth Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Selected as Charity of Choice by Wendy’s of Missouri Wendy’s of Missouri, Inc., has selected CoxHealth Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals as its charity of choice for 2014. Wendy’s of Missouri will raise funds throughout the year at each of its 34 locations to assist local children suffering from injuries and illnesses. Wendy's of Missouri is a Wendy’s franchisee owned by the Hamra Family and headquartered in Springfield. The company has three locations in Branson.
Boone County Sheriff Recommends Online System to Track Valuables The Boone County Sheriff’s Department encourages all residents to use a free online system that is useful in recovering property in the event of a loss or theft. ReportIt is a free, secure online service allowing citizens to record serial numbers and upload images for valuables. The ReportIt service is a part of an online system that works with police across the country to track and recover stolen property. This system may also come in handy when filing claims with insurance providers in the event of loss. Citizens wanting to participate in ReportIt can register for the free service at reportit.leadsonline.com.
Local Law Enforcement Agencies Form New DWI Task Force Local and regional law enforcement agencies have joined together to form the Central Ozarks Regional DWI Task Force in the ongoing battle against impaired drivers. By combining manpower, equipment, and resources of the member agencies, they are able to make a greater regional enforcement effort to impact communities. DWI enforcement funding for Task Force members comes from their own budgets and MoDOT’s Division of Highway Safety grant program. Some of the local agencies participating in the Task Force include the Stone County Sherriff’s Department and the Police Departments of Hollister, Branson West, Forsyth, Kimberling City, Merriam Woods and Rockaway Beach.
Branson Offering “Responsible Alcohol Selling” Class The Branson Finance Department will be sponsoring its next “Responsible Alcohol Selling” class this Tuesday, March 11, for servers, cashiers and bartenders. This training is required of all businesses selling liquor in the city of Branson or businesses that are in the process of obtaining a liquor license. The 1½ hour session begins at 9:30 a.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall. For the first time, a second class will be taught in Spanish and will be conducted on Wednesday, March 12 at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall. The cost is $5 per person, payable at the time of the training.
March 6, 2014
Two Branson Men Face Multiple Charges of Securities Fraud Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has stopped two Branson men from selling sham investments they called “Enhanced Premium Structured Notes,” or EPSNs. Without being appropriately registered, Michael Leeper, Jr. and Eugene Barnes along with their company, AJ&J Investment Group, Inc., took approximately $282,000 from at least nine investors for the sale of EPSNs, and now face multiple charges of securities fraud. Although the investment group’s website allegedly guaranteed returns of between 12 and 15 percent within nine months, none of the notes have been paid to date. Instead, these funds were used to finance some of AJ&J’s advertising and legal costs, according to Kander’s office.
ORHF Suspends Dam Tours, Still Operating Dewey Short Ozarks Rivers Heritage Foundation announced that tours of Table Rock Dam & Powerhouse which typically resume on March 1 are not currently being offered due to a decision last fall by the Corps of Engineers regarding their contracts with non-profit partners. The Foundation is still operating the Dewey Short Visitor Center every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In an effort to resolve this situation, Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill from Missouri and Senators John Boozman and Mark Pryor from Arkansas have introduced the “Corps of Engineers Cooperative Joint Management Restoration Act.” The bill would reestablish earlier practices of allowing cooperating partners managing Corps recreational facilities to keep the user fees collected and apply them to site maintenance and operations.
Record 38 Million People Visited Missouri in Fiscal Year 2013 The Missouri Department of Economic Development today announced its annual tourism report findings for fiscal year 2013. Spending at Missouri’s tourism-related businesses topped $11 billion this last fiscal year, an increase of more than $104 million from the previous fiscal year. In addition, a record 38 million people visited the Show-Me State during fiscal year 2013, nearly half a million more visitors than the previous year. This news comes following Governor Jay Nixon’s recent budget proposal for fiscal year 2015, which calls for a $10 million increase for the Missouri Division of Tourism.
jackson+appleton Wins Multiple Video/Commercial ADDY Awards In an evening honoring the best advertising in the Ozarks, Branson-based production company, jackson+appleton, won multiple honors for their video and commercial work at the 35th Annual American Advertising Awards in Springfield. jackson+appleton won a record 5 GOLD ADDY Awards and 8 SILVER ADDY Awards. Their clients honored included College of the Ozarks, CoxHealth Branson, IMAX Entertainment Complex, The Butterfly Palace, The Keeter Center, School of the Ozarks, White River Valley Electric Company and Xtreme Racing. Winning videos projects may be viewed at www.jacksonappleton.com.
New Non-Profit Supports Local Hearing Impaired Community The Tri-Lakes Sertoma Club is a new non-profit established in November 2013 with a mission to promote hearing health in the local Tri-Lakes area. The organization says there are over 800 people in the Tri-Lakes area who are affected by hearing loss. Through local club events and fundraisers, the Tri-Lakes Sertoma Club intends to raise money for this mission, as well as sponsor community projects to promote other local community needs. Anyone interested in becoming a member or finding out more about the club is invited to their next meeting this Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the Old Chicago restaurant at Branson Landing.
March 5, 2014
Aldermen Give Final Approval to Convention Center Contracts The Branson Board of Aldermen approved the second reading and final passage of two bills Tuesday evening relating to the Branson Convention Center. The Board approved the contract with SMG for management services. Proposals from two companies were considered. SMG was selected because of the company’s profitability, pride in operational details and their marketing efforts to generate a consistent flow of events for the center. The new manager will start on April 1. The Board also approved the contract with Dazzee Integrations for IT hardware and software installation at the Convention Center.
350 Branson Fifth Graders Graduate from DARE Program 350 Branson fifth grade students graduated from the DARE program last week. The Branson Police Department’s Drug Awareness Resistance Education program teaches students to avoid the life destroying substances tobacco, meth, alcohol and marijuana. The graduation ceremony was held at the Presley Theatre in Branson. Students sang a song they had composed relating to bullying, drugs, decision making and staying in control of their destiny.
MoDOT to Launch Enhanced Pothole Patrol The Missouri Department of Transportation will start its statewide enhanced pothole repair initiative next Monday. The goal is to fill the hole with asphalt within a day of being notified of the repair need. The quick response effort is planned for the rest of the month of March. Residents may contact MoDOT on the web at MoDOT.org, by phone at 888-ASK-MODOT, by Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Missouri's Fiscal Year-to-Date Revenue Up 2% State Budget Director Linda Luebbering reported that Missouri’s 2014 fiscal year to date net general revenue collections increased 2% over the same period last year. Net general revenue collections for February increased 17.3% compared to the previous February. Individual income tax collections increased 2.5%. Sales and Use tax collections increased 4.1% and corporate income and franchise tax collections increased 14.1% for the year.
Mercy Berryville Fundraiser Surpasses Goal by $14,000 Mercy Hospital in Berryville, Arkansas held a record-breaking Charity Ball on February 23. Nearly $56,000 was raised during this 11th annual fundraiser, through donations, sponsorships, auctions and a pledge drive. Thirty sponsors generated $16,500. Individual donations totaled $14,000 even before the dinner, including a $5,000 anonymous gift. Physicians donated $5,200. The total surpassed the goal for the evening which was $42,000. The money will be used to purchase new patient monitors.
CoxHealth to Hold Health Insurance Enrollment Event Open enrollment to purchase health insurance from the Marketplace Exchange ends March 31. The marketplace is a component of the Affordable Care Act designed to help individuals, families and small businesses shop for private health insurance based on quality and price. Most Americans will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty. Certified Application Counselors from CoxHealth will be available this Saturday in Kimberling City to help residents learn more about the marketplace and begin the application process. People should bring their social security number, employer and income information, and policy numbers of any current health insurance policies. The meeting will be held at First Christian Church, 5 Hilltop Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
March 4, 2014
Fire Destroys Vehicle on Lakeshore Drive near Kanakuk Kamps The Western Taney County Fire Protection District responded to a vehicle fire on Lakeshore Drive near Kanakuk Kamps on Monday. When firefighters arrived the vehicle was fully involved in flames and aerosol cans were exploding in the rear of the vehicle. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the flames. There were two people in the vehicle when the fire started however both were able to escape from the vehicle unharmed. The cause of the fire was undetermined due to the amount of fire damage to the vehicle.
Missouri Statewide Tornado Drill Postponed Until Thursday The National Weather Service has postponed the Missouri Statewide Tornado Drill from today until this Thursday at 1:30 p.m. The weather service says the postponement is due to the winter weather and other factors. Branson Fire Chief Ted Martin said that the City does plan on participating in the tornado drill on Thursday. The 40th annual statewide drill is part of Missouri’s 2014 Severe Weather Awareness Week, which runs through Friday. For more information about planning for severe weather, visit StormAware.mo.gov.
Governor Nixon Sends Letter in Support of Keystone XL Pipeline Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urging the State Department to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. Governor Nixon said, “The approval and construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline will strengthen our economy, create jobs, and promote North American energy independence.” He also said, “Our experience in Missouri demonstrates that with the proper oversight and safeguards, these projects can help meet our energy needs, without compromising our responsibility to protect the environment.”
Lou Holtz to Speak at South Central Missouri FCA Christian Athlete/Coach of the Year Banquet The South Central MO FCA Board of Directors announced that former Notre Dame Head Football Coach Lou Holtz will be the Keynote Speaker for this year’s Christian Athlete/Coach of the Year Banquet. Holtz is the only coach in NCAA history to lead six different programs to bowl games. He is a best-selling author and is currently an analyst for ESPN’s college football coverage. The Banquet will be held on Thursday, April 24, at 7 p.m. at Chateau on the Lake. For tickets, call 417-337-3977 or visit www.socentralmofca.org/fca-banquet.
Voices of Glory Book Pitched to Boston University for Film Adaption Branson Ticket & Travel announced that the book "Higher Than Me: The Story of Voices of Glory” will be pitched to the Boston University Film & Screen Writing Graduate School on March 20. The film adaptation of the book will focus on the personal account of Michael & Felicia Cole and their three children, Michael, Avery, & Nadia, who now perform as The Voices of Glory in Branson. The book was recommended to the Boston University Film & Screen Writing Graduate Program and was selected from among several other works.
Reeds Spring School Foundation to Host "PACK NIGHT at Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction" The Reeds Spring School Foundation will hold its fourth annual major fundraising effort: "PACK NIGHT at Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction" this Friday at 8:00 p.m. All of the evening’s proceeds will benefit the Foundation which grants continuing education scholarships to Reeds Spring students and provides classroom enrichment mini-grants to teachers. In addition to the Dixie Stampede dinner show, former St. Louis Cardinals catcher, Tom Pagnozzi will address those in attendance with a message about educational excellence and reaching for a championship. Tickets are currently available at each of the Reeds Spring School offices or by calling (417) 272-8173.
March 3, 2014
Injury Accidents Minimal Despite Winter Weather Up to 8 inches of snow and sleet fell on the Branson area over the weekend. Vehicle accidents were minimal as most drivers stayed off the roads. Just two accidents were reported by the Missouri Highway Patrol from this past weekend. 23 year old Evan Sorrell of Galena received moderate injuries when the car he was a passenger in slid off a slippery intersection and hit a ditch. That accident occurred on the west outer road two miles north of Branson. A two car accident north of Galena sent 44 year old Tricia Sams of Branson to Cox Health Branson with minor injuries. She had slowed to avoid a deer on the road and her car was hit from behind by a vehicle driven by 16 year old Nikayla Wood of Branson.
Governor Nixon Approves Use of 15% Ethanol Fuel Missouri motorists could be able to purchase a higher blend of ethanol gasoline by this summer. Governor Jay Nixon has OK’d a policy allowing the 15% ethanol fuel, over the objections of some state lawmakers. The change to the E15 blend was not required by state law as it was in 2006 when E10 was offered by gas stations. This time it’s the result of a Department of Agriculture rule change, championed by Nixon. Supporters say expanding the use of renewable fuels can boost the nation’s energy independence and bring more dollars back to Missouri’s farming communities. Opponents are concerned that the higher percentage of ethanol could damage some car engines and void car warranties.
Branson to Host Preschool Screenings for Next School Year Developmental screenings will be available for all children interested in attending preschool for the 2014-2015 school year. The screenings will be conducted by the parent educators from the Parents as Teachers program. Children four years of age before August 1 are eligible to enroll in the Branson School District’s preschool programs. Parents should provide the child’s immunization record, birth certificate and proof of residency. Screenings will be conducted March 10, 11 and 13. A $5 processing fee can be paid at the time of the screening. Financial assistance is available for those in need. For details or to make an appointment, call 336-1887.
Sponsors Sought to Help High Schoolers Attend Prayer Breakfast Legendary college football coach Bobby Bowden will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Ozark Mountain Prayer Breakfast. The event, formerly called the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, is held in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer. It will be held at the Branson Convention Center on May 1. A special effort to encourage high school students to attend the event started last year and will continue this year. Organizers are working to secure table sponsors in order to have several hundred students attend the prayer breakfast. Coach Bowden’s message is that none of our successes matter unless our lives are rooted in faith in Christ. The prayer breakfast will also feature a hot breakfast, prayers led by Christian leaders, inspirational singing and more. Seating is limited and based on first come-first served ticket reservations. Ticket forms are available online at OzarkMountainPrayerBreakfast.com, or by calling 417-334-6308.
Organizations Sought to Help Feed Kids During Summer Months The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is seeking organizations to help feed children who would otherwise go without meals during the summer months when school is not in session. The Summer Food Service Program reimburses organizations which provide the meals. Groups which qualify include schools, faith based organizations, camps, private non-profit agencies and local governments. The sites are required to be located in areas where at least half of the children are eligible to receive free or reduced price meals. Applications will be accepted now through May 15. More information is available by calling 888-435-1464.
February 28, 2014
Branson Aldermen Approve Contract with SMG to Manage Convention Center The Branson Board of Aldermen met in special session on Thursday due to the lack of a quorum for the regular board meeting on February 25. The Board approved the first reading of a contract with SMG for management of the Branson Convention Center. Key features that were mentioned as influential in the selection of SMG were profitability, pride in operational details such as food quality, and the potential reach of marketing to generate a consistent flow of events for the center. Aldermen also approved the first reading of a contract with Dazzee Integrations to provide Information Technology hardware and software installations for the Convention Center. This contract allows for separation of network infrastructure and telephone systems due to the fact that the Convention Center and Convention Center Hotel will soon be operated by different management companies.
SPIA Index Helps Utility Companies Predict Power Outages During a Media Day Luncheon this past week, White River Valley Electric Cooperative demonstrated the use of a tool called the Sperry–Piltz Ice Accumulation Index, or SPIA Index. This index uses a combination of predicted ice accumulation, wind and temperature to predict the potential damage to overhead utility systems, along with outage duration possibilities. By using these predictions, utility companies can locate their workers where they will likely be needed the most in order to fix power outages more quickly and efficiently. The ice accumulation index can by viewed online at Spia-Index.com.
Coach Bobby Bowden to Speak at Ozark Mountain Prayer Breakfast Coach Bobby Bowden, the winningest college football coach of all time, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Ozark Mountain Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, May 1, from 6:45-8:30 a.m. at the Branson Convention Center. The 13th annual Prayer Breakfast held in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer will also feature a hot breakfast, prayers led by Christian leaders, inspirational singing and more. Seating is limited and based on first come-first served ticket reservations. Ticket forms are available online at OzarkMountainPrayerBreakfast.com, or by calling 417-334-6308.
Branson School District's Last Day of School is Now June 4 The Branson School District announced that its school year has been extended to June 4 after missing 13 days due to inclement weather. Students will be in attendance one-half day on June 4. If more school is missed due to inclement weather, it will not need to be made up. After 14 days are missed, additional days missed are forgiven per Missouri statute.
Two from Galena Injured in One Vehicle Accident Two people from Galena were injured in a one vehicle accident just after 8:00 Thursday night on Peaceful Drive, two miles south of Crane. A Jeep driven by 36 year old Christopher Dean of Galena ran off the roadway at a curve and struck a tree. Passengers Aubrey Cook and Corie Cook were both taken to Cox South Hospital in Springfield for treatment of minor to moderate injuries.
February 27, 2014
Southern Stone County Fire Crews Respond to House Fire Wednesday Southern Stone County Fire crews were called to a single story house fire Wednesday. When firefighters arrived at the house in the 800 block of Y Highway near Galena, they found black smoke filling the living room. The fire department’s Facebook page reported that all occupants had safely escaped the building. The fire was extinguished and crews left the scene about an hour after arriving.
Boone County Sheriff Issues Lottery Scam Alert The Boone County Arkansas Sheriff’s Department has reported that some residents have been receiving phone calls saying they have won something from the Arkansas State Lottery. The resident is told that they need to purchase a card and place money on it so the items can be shipped once the card number has been received. The calls originate from Kingston, Jamaica. The Sheriff’s Department says this is a scam and people are advised to not send any money.
Cox Branson Nurses Awarded for Above and Beyond Care Two nurses at Cox Medical Center Branson have received the DAISY Award this month. The Award is given to nurses who go above and beyond in their patient care. Susan Kempf, RN was recognized after a patient’s family wrote that she did her best to comfort and encourage them during the hard process of losing a loved one. Melanie Lavoi, RN played a critical role in helping a new mother learn how to nurse and provide for her baby. Five other RNs at Cox were nominated for the Award. They are Deborah Rainey, Amanda Owusu, Kathryn Gubin, Kendra Bradford and Melody McGuire. Rachel Bertrand, GRN was also nominated.
"Explore OTC Night" to be Held at Table Rock Campus Ozarks Technical Community College will hold an "Explore OTC Night" next Tuesday at their Table Rock Campus in Hollister. The event is especially for college bound high school students or others who are interested in taking college courses to help prepare for a new career. The event from 7-8:30 p.m. is free and includes tours of the campus. Information about the admissions process, financial aid and course requirements will also be available.
McMenamy Ventures Awarded Contract for Crane License Office The Missouri Department of Revenue has again awarded the management contract for the license office in Crane to McMenamy Ventures, LLC. All license office contracts in Missouri are awarded through a competitive bidding process. McMenamy Ventures has been the contractor of the Crane office since 2009. In fiscal year 2013, nearly 14,000 transactions were conducted at that office, generating over $45,000 in agent processing fees. One percent of the fee is returned to the state.
Missouri House Approves Cap on Medical Malpractice Lawsuits The Missouri House of Representatives has given initial approval to a bill that would cap the amount that could be awarded to plaintiffs for non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. The bill would limit those damages to $350,000 but would not apply to lost wages or hospital bills. Supporters of the measure are concerned that since the State Supreme Court eliminated such caps in 2012, Missouri may struggle to attract or keep high quality health care professionals. Opponents say the bill would infringe on the rights of residents to have a jury decide the appropriate damages.
February 26, 2014
Big Cedar Lodge to Host PGA Golf Tournament this June The new Top of the Rock Par-3 golf course, located south of Branson, will host a $2.75 million dollar PGA tournament this June. There are over 800 Par-3 golf courses in the United States but this will be the first time a PGA Tour event will be held on a Par-3 course. Research has found that time, money and difficulty are primary barriers to golf participation on a full-length course and Par-3 courses provide a way for new players to experience the game. The event will be called “The Big Cedar Legends of Golf.” College of the Ozarks has been designated as the primary beneficiary for the tournament. College President Jerry Davis announced that a portion of the money received will be used to construct a memorial on campus to the veterans of the Vietnam War. C of O students will assist in the construction.
Reeds Spring Man Fatally Injured in One Vehicle Accident 82 year old Charles Kelsey of Reeds Spring died in a one vehicle accident early Tuesday afternoon. The car he was driving ran off the right side of the road where it hit a fence and a tree, then overturned. Kelsey was pronounced deceased at the scene by Stone County Coroner Rick Stumpff. The 1:20 p.m. accident occurred on Highway DD, two miles south of Branson West.
Bergman Man Arrested on Drugs, Firearms, Sexual Assault Charges A report made to the Boone County Arkansas child abuse hotline last Monday resulted in the execution of a search warrant on a residence on Zinc Road. Investigators discovered marijuana plants and firearms and seized computers and other items associated with drug transactions. A 13 year old girl in the house was allegedly a victim of sexual abuse. She remains in DHS custody. The girl’s father, 61 year old Floyd Lewis was arrested and is jailed on a $50,000 bond.
March 1 is Deadline to File Personal Property Assessment List Taney County Assessor Chuck Pennel reminds residents that the deadline is fast approaching to file this year’s personal property assessment list. State law requires a late penalty to be levied if the green personal property form is not returned to Pennel’s office by March 1st. Residents must list items they owned as of last January 1st. These include cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, RV’s, boat docks, farm machinery and similar items. Call if you have questions. 417-546-7240.
Forsyth Aldermen Approve Increase in Water and Sewer Rates During their regular meeting early this week, the Forsyth Board of Aldermen approved the first reading of a bill that would increase water and sewer rates for residents. If approved on second reading later in March rates would increase by 30 cents per 1,000 gallons of water and 30 cents per 1,000 gallons of sewer usage. The issue was tabled during their meeting on February 10th to allow time for additional discussion.
Missouri House Approves Voter Photo ID Legislation The Missouri House has given initial approval to legislation that would require voters to have photo identification when they go to the polls. The legislature passed such a requirement several years ago, but it was ruled unconstitutional. Supporters are attempting to change the state’s constitution to allow it to become law. Another favorable vote will send the measure to the state senate. The proposed constitutional change would require voter approval if it clears the legislature.
February 25, 2014
Community Awards Presented at Annual Black Tie Celebration The Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau held its annual Black Tie Celebration this past Saturday night at Chateau on the Lake Resort. Awards were presented to those in the community that have shown outstanding service to the area. The Mary Award was given to Dr. Sue Head, the Pioneer Award went to Mickey Gilley, the Ambassador Award was presented to Ann McDowell, the Beautification Award went to Scott and Linda Skoglund of Skoglund Properties, the Community Spirit Award was given to Janet Akers, the Care for Kids Award was presented to Rod and Brenda Romine, the President’s Award went to Gary and Pat Snadon, and Rod Glaze was named Ambassador of the Year.
The Price Is Right Live! Moves to Andy Williams Moon River Theatre The Andy Williams Moon River Theater will be the new home of The Price Is Right Live - the on-stage, interactive version of the longest-running TV game show. The show was previously held at the Welk Resort Theatre. Now in its third year in Branson, the show premieres at its new home on Friday, May 23rd, for 10 weeks. Over 50 audience members at every show will have a chance to win prizes. The show will run Wednesday through Sunday nights at 8 p.m., through August 3. Kids 12 and under are free with each paid adult.
Over 10,000 Anglers Expected at March 1 Trout-Park Opener More than 10,000 anglers are expected to come out for the March 1 trout-park opener at Missouri’s four trout parks. This Saturday marks the opening of catch-and-keep trout fishing at Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon, Montauk State Park near Licking, Roaring River State Park near Cassville and Maramec Spring Park near St. James. More than 30,000 trout, averaging around 12 inches, are stocked for opening day, including a few hundred “lunkers,” ranging from three to 10 pounds. According to a survey conducted in 2011, Missouri trout fishing generated more than $187 million in business activity, supporting more than 2,300 jobs.
C of O Ag Department to Host FFA Workshop for Area High Schoolers The College of the Ozarks Agriculture Department will host an FFA workshop for area high school students this Saturday. The event will include workshops on livestock, dairy products, meats, nursery and landscaping, forestry and more. For the first time, the workshop will feature creed speaking, as well as prepared speaking and extemporaneous speaking. In 2013, the event brought more than 2,500 students from over 90 different schools in the southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas regions, making it one of Missouri’s larger agricultural events.
Branson Arts Council Launches New Website The Branson Arts Council announced that its new website is now available at BransonArtsCouncil.com. The website outlines the programs offered by the Branson Arts Council and also features information about its mission, board members, membership and volunteer opportunities. The website is still a work in progress with some of the links and content to be available in the near future.
February 24, 2014
Columbia Firefighter Fatally Injured in Walkway Collapse A Columbia, Missouri firefighter, Lt. Bruce Britt, died early Saturday morning while evacuating residents from a University of Missouri apartment complex. Firefighters were called to University Village Apartments at about 4:45 a.m. for a report of a structural collapse and found a second-story walkway partially collapsed. Lt. Britt was attempting to assist residents out of the building when the walkway collapsed underneath him. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Lt. Britt had served as a firefighter for 23 years.
Merriam Woods Man Pleads Guilty to Burglary and Stealing Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell announced that 30 year old James Warren of Merriam Woods has pleaded guilty to 2nd degree burglary and stealing for a break-in he committed in July of 2010. Warren broke a window to gain entry into a home at 130 Huntington Drive in Branson and stole several items from inside. Investigators found blood on the broken window and were able to trace the DNA to Warren. He is being charged as a prior and persistent felony offender and faces up to 15 years in prison at his sentencing on April 17.
Branson Committee Selects SMG to Manage Convention Center The City of Branson’s Convention Center Management Review Committee has selected SMG to provide management services for the Branson Convention Center after the current contract with Hilton Worldwide ends on April 1. Branson Aldermen will vote on the first reading of a contract with SMG at their regular meeting tomorrow night. SMG was founded in 1977 and currently manages about 70 convention centers and over 100 other facilities including stadiums, arenas, theatres and entertainment venues.
Corps to Hold Open Houses on Final Table Rock Lake Master Plan The Army Corps of Engineers will hold two open houses March 7-8 in Branson to release the final revised Table Rock Lake Master Plan. The drop-in open houses will be held from 2 until 7 p.m. Friday, March 7 and from 1 until 4 p.m. Saturday, March 8 at the Dewey Short Visitor Center. A short informational video will be playing at 15 minute intervals, representatives from the Corps will be available to answer questions and maps will be shown to provide an overview of the revision. This will be the final public outreach engagement for the Table Rock Lake Master Plan revision process.
Branson Area Partnership Announces 2014 Legislative Priorities Branson/Lakes Area Legislative Partnership, made up of local governmental bodies, Chambers, local businesses and individuals, has announced its Legislative Priorities for 2014. The Partnership: Supports tax incentive abatements for secure data processing and storage centers; Supports a legislative priority for the inspection of septic systems at the time of the property ownership transfer with the requirement of repair or replacement for systems that fail the inspection. This is similar in scope to the Stone County Health Department's ordinance; Supports funding of the Missouri Division of Tourism and their marketing budget; And opposes the repeal of the income tax and its replacement with a state sales tax.
5th Annual Branson Gong Show is this Wednesday The 5th annual Branson Gong Show will be held this Wednesday at 6:49 p.m. at the Hamner Barber Theatre. The show includes Celebrity Host Jim Barber and Celebrity Judges Dalena Ditto, Joseph Hall, Terry Wayne Sanders and Brydon Brett. The event is a benefit for the Branson Senior Center and its homebound meal program. Adult tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door and $5 for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased at the Branson Senior Center. For more information, call 417-335-4801.
February 21, 2014
Branson’s Visitors Have Changed Since the Recession The Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB held its annual Community Marketing Presentation on Thursday at the College of the Ozarks’ Keeter Center. Jerry Henry, President and CEO of H2R Market Research, said that Branson’s visitors have changed since the recession. Branson has lost more than 1 million lower income visitors and nearly a million outer market customers. Most of these have been replaced by higher income core & primary market visitors. Travelers are more cautious with less brand loyalty and more focus on value. Henry said that Branson’s biggest negatives as reported by guests were food quality, businesses closing too early, too commercial, looking dated and a little run down, and not very pedestrian friendly along 76. Henry also said that youth sports tourism is now the fastest-growing segment in travel, a category that Branson has started tapping into and plans to do so more in the future. Branson’s internet marketing continues to increase with over 7 million people reached online in 2013. The largest share of that was Facebook at over 5.5 million people followed by websites at 1.3 million and the growing category of Pinterest at .14 million.
Work Starts on Stormwater Management Parking Lot at Kimberling City Shopping Center Ozarks Water Watch reported that work has started on a parking lot project for stormwater management at the Kimberling City Shopping Center. The roughly 3-acre parking lot which has been in need of repairs will be excavated and re-done with stone sub-grade aggregate and finished off with permeable pavers that will look like cobblestone. The pavers allow stormwater to percolate between the bricks and soak through the aggregate below filtering out the nutrients, sediments and metals that are contained in the run-off from cars and trucks. Photo: Example of pavers to replace parking lot
Branson Fire & Rescue to Host Hunter Safety Certification Courses Branson Fire & Rescue, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation, will be hosting Hunter Safety Certification courses on Saturday, March 29, at the fire department’s Joint Emergency Training Center in the former Factory Merchants Mall. Students must be age 11 years or older and all students under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a guardian. Anyone interested in participating in this safety education program can register on-line at www.mdc.mo.gov and look under Hunter/Bowhunter Education. Registration can also be done by calling the Fire Department at (417) 243-2780. The fire department has been hosting the Hunter Safety Education Program for the past three years as part of its community outreach programs.
Hollister School District Announces Snow Make-up Days The Hollister School District announced that its last day of school has been changed to Friday, May 30 due to snow make-up days. The District also said that one of its snow make-up days will be on Friday, April 18. This will be a half day of school, dismissing at 11:30 for middle and high school students and 11:40 for early childhood and elementary students.
Branson’s Cedar Ridge Intermediate Announces Spelling Bee Winners Branson’s Cedar Ridge Intermediate School announced its Spelling Bee winners. Corynn Cunningham took first place for fourth grade, Solomon Anderson was the winner for fifth grade and Domenic Clark was the top speller for sixth grade. These three winners will advance to regional competition next month. In other Branson School news, the High School Jazz Band earned a Superior rating at the Parkview Jazz Festival and JonPaul Dean received the Outstanding Soloist award.
February 20, 2014
Three Ozark Teens Injured in One Vehicle Accident Three teenagers from Ozark received serious injuries late Wednesday afternoon when the pickup they were riding in ran off the road and hit a tree. Treated at Cox South Hospital in Springfield were the driver Devan Hall and passenger Jacob Ketchum. Treated at Mercy Hospital in Springfield was passenger Thomas Xavier. The driver was using the truck’s seat belt, but the passengers were not. The 4:50 p.m. accident occurred a mile south of Ozark on Elk Valley Road.
Branson Tourism Center to be Purchased by Welk Resort Group The Branson Tourism Center has been purchased by the Welk Resort Group. The name of the area’s premier vacation planning service will stay the same and management and staff will remain in place. Branson Tourism Center uses innovative marketing strategies including social media and three websites to promote their vacation planning services. The sale should be completed by early April.
Proposed Missouri Legislation Would Extend Wait Time for Abortions Missouri’s senators started debate Wednesday on legislation that would require women seeking an abortion to wait longer after seeing a doctor. The state’s informed consent law currently requires a 24 hour waiting period before having an abortion. That would be extended to 72 hours if the bill becomes law. Women are provided information about medical risks and alternatives to abortion. They are also given tbe opportunity to view an ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of the baby. Within the past two years, South Dakota and Utah have enacted a 72 hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion.
Lilleys’ Landing to Host Final Winter Team Trout Fishing Tournament Lilleys’ Landing in Branson will host their final winter team trout fishing tournament for this year on Saturday. A $1,000 prize will be given to the angler weighing in the largest legal brown trout. A $200 cash award will be given for the largest rainbow trout. The Vince Elfrink Memorial Tournament will start at 8 a.m. with teams returning at 4 p.m. for the weigh-in and a complementary meal. The winter tournament was renamed two years ago to honor Vince Elfrink, accomplished outdoorsman and longtime field house manager at College of the Ozarks. He died in October 2011 from brain cancer.
Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery to Host Vulture Venture For centuries, vultures have migrated to southern Missouri to roost along the protected valley of the White River. The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery will host its 18th Vulture Venture event this Saturday. The annual event features live vulture presentations each hour, plus vulture activities such as Roadkill Café, Fill the Roost and Scavenge Like a Vulture. Spotting scopes will be set up so visitors can observe a large number of the birds along Lake Taneycomo. The event from noon until 5 p.m. is free and no reservations are required. All participants will receive a free vulture print.
Proposed Missouri Law Would Place Limits on Payday Loans A proposed law that would place limits on payday loan companies is close to approval by the Missouri Senate. Bill sponsor Senator Mike Cunningham says he is not trying to shut down the industry but just trying to protect customers. He said payday loan companies are needed because banks often do not want to make small loans. The bill prohibits borrowers from having more than one loan at a time, prohibits rollover loans and allows for an extended payment plan. One more favorable vote will send the bill to the House.
February 19, 2014
Preparations on Track for S of O Lower Grades, Which Now Includes K-6 Preparations continue to add additional grades at School of the Ozarks. The school, on the campus of College of the Ozarks, opened with grades 9-12 in the fall of 2012. Grades K-6 will be added this coming fall. The college construction department is transforming the upper level of the Youngman Agricultural Center into classrooms, a lunch area and a small library. Jennifer Carey has been hired as Curriculum Director and Lead Teacher for the lower grades. The school will hold a town meeting March 6th where parents can receive more details and receive an application packet if desired. The 7p meeting will be held at the Keeter Center on campus. Photo: C of O students assigned to the Construction Department as their work station install the metal studs which frame the rooms of the Lower School.
Reeds Spring Police to Continue Taking Patrol Cars Home Reeds Spring Aldermen have given approval for the city’s police officers to continue driving their police cars home after their shift ends. The Branson Tri-Lakes News reported that the issue surfaced when a resident expressed concern about the practice. Law enforcement personnel pointed out that emergencies can receive quicker response if officers have immediate access to the patrol car, rather than first going to the police station to pick it up. As part of a two-week study to determine extra travel expenses, officers will keep track of mileage and break it down to include the number of miles driven to and from home.
Hollister’s Assistant Superintendent of District Operations Resigns Hollister’s Assistant Superintendent of District Operations has resigned. Chris Ford has signed a contract to serve as Superintendent of the Fordland School District. He has worked for Hollister for eight years, starting first as high school principal. During Ford’s term in Hollister the graduation rate has had marked improvement and the high school has added football, an agriculture program and developed a fine arts department. Construction projects included an addition to the high school, a football stadium, an early childhood center and safe rooms to protect students and staff during storms.
Taney County Commission Approves New Personnel Policy Manual A new personnel policy manual has been completed for the nearly 260 employees of Taney County. The Taney County Commission approved the manual after input from all elected officials and department heads. The manual includes information about employee hiring and firing, appropriate dress, vacations, use of social media and other items. The last update to the personnel manual was in 1998. It can be viewed at co.taney.mo.us under the Human Resources Department.
Unique Partnership to Distribute One Million Meals to Hungry Convey of Hope, headquartered in Springfield, has partnered with non-profit The Pack Shack in Rogers, Arkansas to distribute one million meals this year to hungry families in the United States and abroad. The unique partnership is called NWA vs. Hunger and will be held March 7-8 in Rogers. Local teams of volunteers from major companies such as Tyson Foods, General Mills and Wal-Mart will pack 500,000 meals with up to half of those donated to Convoy of Hope for distribution to those in need.
Winterfest to be Held at Welk Resort Theatre this Weekend Winterfest will be held at the Welk Resort Theatre this weekend. The three day Christian music event is geared toward people ages 13 and up. Christian comedians and special speakers will also participate. Winterfest emphasizes worship, praise and evangelism. Details at WinterFest2014.com.
February 18, 2014
Fire Departments Warn of Elevated Fire Danger Local fire departments are warning residents about elevated fire danger due to current weather conditions. The Southern Stone County Fire Protection District responded to two recent brush fires, one on Sunday night on Patterson Avenue off Stormy Point, and a 20-acre fire Monday evening on Reno Hollow Road near Spokane.
Branson Aldermen Approve Several Service Agreements At the last Branson City Council meeting, Aldermen approved the first reading of an agreement renewal with Coca-Cola/Dr. Pepper Bottling Company. This renewal is the 10th year of a 10-year contract to provide drink items for resale at Parks and Recreation facilities and events. The Board approved the first reading of a contract amendment with Radiophone Engineering, which provides maintenance of police radios and mobile data computers. This amendment will provide for the installation of new communications equipment within patrol vehicles. And Aldermen approved the first reading of a proposal from Mercy Occupational Health for annual firefighter physicals and immunizations.
Management Contract Awarded for Forsyth License Office The Missouri Department of Revenue announced that Patricia Dreyer of Forsyth has been awarded the management contract for the Forsyth License Office. All license office contracts in Missouri are awarded through a competitive bid process. Dreyer has been the contractor of the Forsyth License Office since 2005. The office will remain at its current location at 210 Shadow Rock Drive. In fiscal year 2013, more than 28,000 transactions were conducted at the Forsyth office, generating approximately $94,000 in agent processing fees.
Mercy Hospital Berryville Radiology Now CT Accredited The radiology department at Mercy Hospital Berryville has been CT accredited after a review by the American College of Radiology. The accreditation means computed tomography images for pediatric and adult patients meet the highest standards for quality and patient safety. The CT Accreditation Program involves a peer review by board-certified radiologists and medical physicists. Mercy Hospital Berryville is also ultrasound accredited, and has been so for three years. The facility offers digital mammography, general and vascular ultrasound, CT, nuclear medicine and dexascans. Photo, left to right: Misti Conner, Sam Fraga, Susan Coenen, Brian Patterson and Ronda Littrell from the CT department
Grant Applications Available for Outdoor Recreation Projects The Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced that applications are available for grants to assist in financing outdoor recreation projects. All local governments and public school districts are eligible for the federal funds, which can be used for the development or renovation of outdoor recreational facilities, or for acquisition of park land. A 55 percent match is required. Applications must be postmarked by April 28, 2014. An estimated $600,000 is expected to be awarded in the current fiscal year. The application is available online at MOStateParks.com under the Grant Opportunities link.
Kids Across America VP Marvin Daniels to Speak at C of O Vice President of Leadership Development at Kids Across America Marvin Daniels is scheduled to speak about leadership tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in Jones Auditorium on the campus of College of the Ozarks. Kids Across America is a Christian sports camp and youth development ministry where Daniels is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the camp’s national youth and urban youth workers programs. He also founded Beyond the Norm Training Ministry — a program that provides youth with essential skills for the mission field. The convocation is free and open to the public.
February 17, 2014
Branson to Rebid Gateways, Phase 1 of Downtown Streetscape Project Branson City Engineer David Miller sent a letter to downtown Branson business owners concerning issues with the recent bids for the Downtown Streetscape project. Bids were received in January for two entrance gateways to downtown and Phase 1 which will include new pavement, sidewalks, street lighting, benches and landscaping on select streets. Only one bid was received for the gateways which was 42% higher than the estimated price of $368,255. The City has decided to rebid the gateways because the original bidding was done during the holiday season and several contractors were too busy to submit a bid price and were also concerned about winter weather. Only one bid was received for Phase 1 as well which came in at $3.2 million compared to the estimate of $1.9 million. The City has decided to rebid Phase 1 because many contractors who considered bidding felt the project timeframe was too short. Phase 1 will be rebid on June 14, 2014 with an anticipated construction start date of October 6. The contractor would be given 220 days to complete the work and have a final completion deadline of May 15, 2015.
Public Invited to 2014 Community Marketing Presentation The Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau invites everyone to its 2014 Community Marketing Presentation this Thursday at 9 a.m. in the Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks. CVB staff will be joined by its marketing partners to share tourism and marketing information, including results from 2013 and what to expect in the year ahead.
S of O Instructor Chaplain Paul Vicalvi Receives Centurion of the Year Award School of the Ozarks patriotic education instructor and retired U.S. Army Colonel, Chaplain Paul Vicalvi, recently received the Centurion of the Year Award at the Chaplains Commission Centurion Banquet in Alexandria, Virginia. This award recognizes exceptional commitment to the ministry of Evangelical military chaplains. Chaplain Vicalvi entered active duty in the U.S. Army in 1977. His duty positions included battalion chaplain and Commandant of the United States Army Chaplain Center and School.
Kirbyville Man Sentenced to 8 Years as Chronic DWI Offender Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell announced that 55 year old Kevin Johnston of Kirbyville has been sentenced to eight years in prison as a chronic DWI offender. On December 18, 2013, Johnston pled guilty to driving while intoxicated and driving with a revoked license for an arrest on May 8, 2013 in Hollister. Johnston was charged as a prior and persistent felony offender because he has had four or more intoxication-related traffic offenses.
Branson Teen Gets 7 Years in Connection with Horse Abuse A Branson teen has been sentenced to a total of seven years in prison for taking part in the abuse of several horses on a farm in Hollister in late July, 2012. Nineteen year old Amber Askins pled guilty to multiple felonies including 1st degree burglary, conspiracy to commit animal abuse, failure to appear in court and damage to jail property. Another suspect, Chris Miles, previously pled guilty for his role in the burglary and animal abuse conspiracy, and multiple other defendants are awaiting trial relating to this crime. The abuse to the horses included cuts with knives and improper saddling.
Lead Hill Student Arrested for Making Death Threat Boone County Sheriff Mike Moore reported the arrest of a juvenile at Lead Hill School after an investigation into threats. On February 11, Lead Hill Superintendent John Davidson requested assistance from the Sheriff’s Department regarding a juvenile male who had communicated a death threat concerning a school employee or student. The student was taken into custody without incident at the school. He was released to the custody of Juvenile Services and the investigation is ongoing.
February 14, 2014
Tony Friend Sentenced to Two Life Sentences for Double-Murder Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell announced that 46 year old Tony Friend of Springfield has been sentenced to two life sentences without parole for the double-murder of Russell and Rebecca Porter of Willard. Friend pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree murder as part of a plea agreement that dismissed two counts of armed criminal action and two counts of felonious restraint. Friend was indicted by a Taney County grand jury in 2012 for his role in the disappearance and deaths of the Porters on April 18, 2011. Tony’s son, Phillip Friend, previously pled guilty to murder in the second degree and felonious restraint. Tony’s wife, Windy Friend, still faces first-degree murder charges, along with Dusty Hicks and Robert Campbell.
Aldermen Approve Changes to Highway 76 Complete Streets Project Branson Aldermen have approved the first and final reading of a contract amendment with CFS Engineers for the Highway 76 Complete Streets Project. The contract amendment included three major components: The removal of the far east portion of 76 from the project scope, which will now be included in the Downtown Streetscape project; The addition of a “light radar” survey of the entire 5-mile project area, which allows for an extremely accurate survey at a fraction of the time and cost of a traditional field survey crew; and direction for the consultants to continue with Right-of-Way negotiation with over 80 property owners along a 1.2-mile segment of 76 between Pat Nash Dr. and Wildwood Dr.
Convention Center Management Review Committee Appointed Branson Aldermen have appointed members to a new review committee entitled the Convention Center Management Review Committee. This group will help review the bids for future operation of the Branson Convention Center, which were due by February 11. Committee members include Mike Booth, Rick Todd, Deborah Cohen, Mike Combs, Jerry Shackette and Bill Malinen. Hilton Worldwide, the operator of the Convention Center since its opening in 2006, previously announced that it would be canceling its contract as of April 1 this year.
Flags Taken on Recent Missions in Afghanistan Presented to C of O College of the Ozarks alumnus First Lieutenant Caleb Dunnam recently returned from Afghanistan with the 135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion. Three days after returning, he made a special trip to C of O to present his alma mater with three special items that he brought home with him—an American flag, a C of O flag and an empty shell from his Apache helicopter that he took with him on a convoy security mission. Lt. Dunnam presented the items to C of O Executive Vice President Dr. Fred Mullinax on February 12. Lt. Dunnam acquired 230 combat hours during more than 100 mission assignments during his deployment.
Free Severe Weather and Business Continuity Workshop A free Severe Weather and Business Continuity Workshop will be held this coming Wednesday at the Ramada Hotel in Branson. The workshop will provide information on how businesses can focus on safety from tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods while protecting business operations. The event will include presentations from industry experts, including the National Weather Service, KY3/KSPR, Midland Weather Radio, Taney County emergency management and WeatherCall Services. The event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will include a complimentary lunch. To register, visit http://try.weathercall.net/2014-ozarks-workshop.
February 13, 2014
Branson to Rehabilitate Several Sections of Sewer Lines Work started this week to rehabilitate several sections of sewer lines in Branson. The lines have not failed but some of the older lines do not have tight joints and are experiencing groundwater infiltration and tree root intrusions. 6,304 feet of lines will be improved with the use of a cured-in-place sewer lining which will eliminate any openings. Lines in the Cantwell Hills Neighborhood, Lakeview Terrace Subdivision and in downtown Branson will be rehabilitated. Residents in the affected areas will be asked to minimize water usage when the work is done on lines serving their property.
Rockaway Beach will not Pursue Lake Taneycomo Weed Treatment During their meeting on Monday, Rockaway Beach Aldermen failed to approve a measure that would have sought a financial grant to treat weeds in Lake Taneycomo. The Branson Tri-Lakes News reported that about 25 acres of the lake near Rockaway Beach contains fast growing curly-leaf pondweed. The weeds become tangled in boat propellers and cause a foul odor in the fall when the weeds die. The chemical used to kill the weeds is reportedly non-toxic and has been approved by the Army Corps of Engineers, Empire District Electric Company and Ozarks Water Watch. However, Rockaway’s mayor is concerned about liability if there was any negative impact downstream resulting from the chemical.
Roger Hunzeker Named Branson’s Employee of the Month Roger Hunzeker is Branson’s Employee of the Month for February. He works for the City’s Parks and Recreation Department. Roger took a leadership role last fall in the planning and implementation of the Branson Balloon Festival, including extensive setup planning for 30 balloon crews and vendors. The city received many compliments about the excellent service provided by Roger and his staff.
Several Original Exhibits Planned for Branson Centennial Museum Several original exhibits are planned for this year at the Branson Centennial Museum. The first exhibit will run through mid-spring and is called "Branson Gals." It features the lives and contributions of well-known women of the Branson area. Other exhibits planned for this year are a compilation of Harold Bell Wright and various productions of The Shepherd of the Hills, a look at many of the household chores of the past and the history of the Christmas Adoration Scene. There is no admission cost for the museum, which is located in downtown Branson. Winter hours are Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Photo: The Branson Centennial Museum's latest exhibit, "Branson Gals," will run through mid-spring
New Physicians Join Cox Health's Ferrell-Duncan Clinic Four new physicians have been added to the Ferrell-Duncan Clinic, a part of Cox Health Branson. Robert Vorhies, MD, will practice vascular and general surgery. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Jacob Smith, MD, an ear, nose and throat doctor is a graduate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Cardiologist Steven Rowe, MD, is a graduate of the University of the Missouri School of Medicine. Arthur Hawes, MD, will practice plastic and reconstructive surgery. He graduated from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. While not new to the area, Urologist Jerry Givens, MD, has joined the Ferrell-Duncan Clinic, which is located in the Cox Health Branson Outpatient Center.
New Roman Ride of Fire Debuts for Dixie Stampede's 20th Season in Branson The Dixie Stampede opens Friday, February 21 for its 20th season in Branson. To celebrate, the popular dinner show is adding an all-new Roman Ride of Fire where a rider stands astride two horses and guides them through a ring of fire. The show will also feature 32 horses, trick riding, singing and dancing, a stampede of buffalo and a lumberjack relay.
February 12, 2014
Branson Football Coach Steve Hancock Takes Position at Springfield Catholic Branson Football Coach Steve Hancock has resigned. He will assume the head football coach position at Springfield Catholic and also teach physical education and weight training there. Hancock plans to keep living in Branson and commute to Springfield. Changes in the Missouri Public School retirement system restricting the number of hours he can work and the amount of time he can participate with students in the football program made it advantageous to move to the private high school. His 28 years in Branson were the major portion of his 42-year coaching career.
Branson Aldermen Approve Funds for Local Service Agencies Branson Aldermen approved the first reading of a series of bills relating to local agencies which provide services to residents, often on an emergency basis. The amounts approved are maximum annual limits and are invoiced only after services have been provided. Faith Community Health Center was approved for $5,000 for prescription and medication assistance. OACAC was approved for $5,500 for emergency assistance for car repairs, gas vouchers and water and sewer expenses. The Women’s Crisis Center was approved for $10,000 for 24-hour crisis intervention and shelter access. CAM was approved for $12,000 for emergency food assistance. And the Branson Arts Council was approved for $20,000 for young people to experience fine arts at a minimal cost.
Branson Tri-Lakes News Stops Conducting On-line Polls The Branson Tri-Lakes News reported that they have stopped conducting on-line polls. In its January 29th edition, the paper reported that an on-line poll showed that 1,919 voters overwhelming wanted the Tourism Community Enhancement District tax to be phased out in a public vote April 8th. It was discovered that people with knowledge of computers could vote in the poll multiple times, thus manipulating the results. An inquiry from a reader led to an analysis of the on-line polls’ security and the problem was discovered.
Cox Branson to Launch "Feel Better Now" Class on Thursday In an effort to continue its mission of improving the health of the community through quality health care, education and research, Cox Medical Center Branson will launch a Feel Better Now Class on Thursday. The six-week series is designed to help residents set and meet goals for a healthy lifestyle. Topics will include exercise, diet, relaxation, stress reduction and how to manage pain. The class will be held in the Magnolia Conference Room at Cox, starting at 6 p.m. Registration is encouraged by calling 335-7333.
Missouri's New Long-Range Transportation Plan Approved The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission approved a new long-range transportation plan but cautioned that without additional finances there is little chance of accomplishing it. MoDOT’s annual construction budget has fallen from $1.3 billion between 2005 and 2010 to $685 million this year. Revenues are tied to state and federal fuel taxes and that income has decreased due to gas efficient cars. The budget is also impacted by increased employee healthcare and retirement costs and higher prices for materials. The complete plan can be viewed at MissouriOnTheMove.org.
C of O Graduate Commissioned into U.S. Marine Corps A College of the Ozarks graduate has been commissioned into the United States Marine Corps. Lieutenant Daniel Keech from the class of 2013 was commissioned during a private ceremony last Saturday at the Keeter Center. While a student at C of O he entered Officer Candidate School in 2011 and completed two six-week courses at the Quantico, Virginia Marine Corps Base. He will now attend infantry school at Quantico, then go on to flight school. Photo: Led by Captain Webber, Lt. Keech (on right) takes the oath of Marine Corps Officer.
February 11, 2014
Senator Blunt Meets to Discuss Funding for Child Advocacy Centers Missouri Senator Roy Blunt held a meeting this past Saturday at the Lakes Area Child Advocacy Center in Branson West to discuss the importance of child advocacy centers in law enforcement investigations and to address the need to secure funding to keep them open and operating. The Lakes Area Child Advocacy Center regularly interviews children as part of child abuse investigations that are ultimately referred to the Taney and Stone County Prosecutors’ Offices. Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell said that the center referred about one investigation every two weeks to his office last year. Merrell said he’s grateful for Blunt’s efforts to fund these centers in the ongoing battle against child abuse.
New Executive Director Selected for Ozark Mountain Family YMCA in Hollister The Ozarks Regional YMCA announced that Dan Caliento has been selected as the new Executive Director of the Ozark Mountain Family YMCA in Hollister. Caliento most recently served as the Senior Program Director for the YMCA of Broward County in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where he lead their sports programs that impacted more than 4,000 youth in 2012. He has also led the sports and aquatics departments with the YMCA of Fort Worth and the Charlotte County YMCA’s, significantly growing both associations in the numbers served and in the effect of those programs to the community. In addition to his work with the Y, Caliento has worked with community volunteers and municipalities in addressing youth obesity through sports programming.
Jesus Was Homeless Launches “Meet the Doc” Events Jesus Was Homeless recently launched “Meet the Doc,” a collaborative effort between local non-profits and area healthcare providers. The free “Meet the Doc” events provide various medical services to area people in need. Thirty-eight people attended the first event in January. Twenty-three flu shots were given, 14 people received medical consultation, 38 received dental consultation, 19 signed up for tobacco cessation classes, 10 enrolled in food stamps and 8 signed up for the Jobs for Life program. Jesus Was Homeless offered transportation to and from the event and for any follow up medical and dental appointments.
Area Panera Bread Cafés to Raise Money for Hungry Ozarks Children Several Panera Bread cafés in southwest Missouri including the one in Branson are participating in a fundraiser called Second Friday’s to benefit the Ozarks Food Harvest’s Weekend Backpack Program. On the second Friday of each month, starting on Valentine’s Day this Friday, participating Panera Bread cafés will donate a portion of select menu purchases to the children’s hunger-relief program. This is the third year for Second Friday’s at Panera. In 2012 and 2013, the cafés donated a combined $10,000 to Ozarks Food Harvest, which provided 1,500 Weekend Backpacks for hungry Ozarks children.
Alzheimer’s Association to Host Family Education Workshop The Alzheimer’s Association will host its monthly Family Education Workshop this Thursday, February 13 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Taneyhills Community Library in downtown Branson. This month’s seminar will focus on the topic, “Know The 10 Warning Signs”, and will include video footage that addresses fears and myths associated with dementia. The workshop is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Call 417-886-2199 to make your reservation or visit www.alz.org/swmo for more information.
February 10, 2014
Fire Destroys Home on Highway 248 North of Branson The Western Taney County Fire Protection District responded to two fires over the weekend. On Friday at approximately 10:30 p.m. firefighters responded to 7946 St. Hwy 248 and found a home heavily involved in flames. It took 15 firefighters from 4 Western Taney County stations several hours to bring the fire under control. Several venting propane tanks hampered firefighters’ efforts and cold temperatures made hazardous road conditions at the fire scene and the water fill sight. Hwy 248 was partially blocked for several hours. The homeowner was home at the time of the fire but was able to escape safely. Crews determined that the fire originated in the chimney and spread to the attic.
Fire Damages S & L Collision Center in Branson On Saturday at approximately 1:00 p.m. firefighters from Western Taney County and the Branson Fire Department responded to 261 Dawn Road for a report of a fire at an auto body repair shop. Upon entry firefighters found fire above the paint booth advancing along the ceiling. It took firefighters about 15 minutes to extinguish the fire. The paint booth and the area above and around it received fire damage and the rest of the building received heat and smoke damage. No one was in the building at the time of the fire. The fire was possibly caused by an overheated blower motor.
The Track Family Fun Parks Featured in Funworld Magazine The Track Family Fun Parks in Branson is featured in the current issue of Funworld Magazine, a publication of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. The article delves into the company’s recovery efforts after the devastating tornado that hit Branson on February 29, 2012. The tornado demolished much of the Track 4 property just a few days before it was scheduled to open for spring break, causing more than $1 million in damage. To read the full article in Funworld Magazine, visit www.iaapa.org/news/funworld/funworld-magazine/back-on-course.
Connell Insurance Employees Donate To Local Charities The employees of Connell Insurance are continuing an annual tradition of distributing collections from their weekly donation campaign to support several non-profit charities in the area. Since beginning the program, the employee group has raised nearly $2,500 for their chosen charities. Gift Of Hope received $1,173.50, Branson Tri-Lakes Humane Society was provided $430.50, Christian Action Ministries was given $262, Christian Associates of Table Rock Lake were the beneficiaries of $245, Care To Learn received $205 and Tantone Industries was provided $175. Connell Insurance, based in Hollister, is one of the largest insurance agencies serving southwestern Missouri.
Branson Chorale to Begin Spring Term this Thursday The Branson Chorale will begin its spring term this Thursday, February 13. The 65-voice ensemble is directed by Bob Abbott and meets for rehearsal on Thursday evenings from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in the Presbyterian Old Stone Church in downtown Branson. Persons with prior choral experience who are interested in singing with The Branson Chorale may contact Abbott at 417-334-3637 or email email@example.com. The next performances by the Chorale will be April 27 at Branson First Presbyterian Church and June 20 at the Branson High School Auditorium.
Actor/Comedian/Director David Shultz to Speak at C of O Actor/comedian/director David Shultz will speak at College of the Ozarks this Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Jones Auditorium. Shultz has been acting, writing and producing for nearly 20 years. He has performed with comedy and improvisation troupes, and also appeared in commercials for Honda, a Doritos Super bowl commercial, and a State Farm Commercial with Bobby Knight. Schultz will speak on his time in entertainment and will present his latest film “Ragamuffin,” a biography about one of his personal heroes Rich Mullins. The event is free and open to the public.
February 7, 2014
Omaha Man Charged with Rape Boone County Sheriff Mike Moore reported that 35 year old Nicholas Blakely of Omaha has been charged with one count of rape. Deputies responded to the initial call on the night of February 3. A seven year old female victim was interviewed at Grandma’s House, a non-profit advocacy center for children in Harrison. The information provided in the interview will be used by the Sheriff’s Department and the Arkansas State Police in the ongoing investigation. Blakely was taken into custody without incident on February 4 and posted $50,000 bond.
Boil Water Order Lifted for Taney County Water System The Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced that a boil water order has been lifted for a Taney County water system. The department lifted the boil order for Taney County Water LLC- Venice, located at 111 S. Thurman near Rockaway Beach, after testing showed appropriate disinfectant levels and water sample results indicated no contamination. The order was in effect due to a recent loss in water pressure in the system.
Free Tax Preparation Available for Qualifying Taxpayers Several area IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Sites can provide free tax preparation for taxpayers with an Annual Gross Income of $52,000 or less. The service is available now through April 9 at Taney County OACAC in Branson, Ozark Technical College in Hollister and Taney County MU Extension Center in Forsyth. Volunteers are not trained to do business taxes, itemized deductions, or capital gains and losses. To make an appointment for free tax preparation, call 417-546-4431.
MoDOT to Host Discussion on Route 76/Bull Shoals Bridge in Forsyth The Missouri Department of Transportation will hold a public discussion on the Route 76 bridge over Bull Shoals Lake in Forsyth. The meeting is scheduled for this Tuesday, February 11 at 5 p.m. in the Forsyth School Cafeteria. MoDOT officials will answer questions and gather input on the possibility of rehabilitating or replacing the bridge which is over 60 years old and no longer meets current standards.
Branson High School Chess and Speech Students Win Honors The Branson High School Chess Club won first place in the West Plains Tournament which is the largest event held for high schools in southern Missouri. Medalist honors went to Kyle Deppe for 1st place and Konrad Holden for 8th place. The Branson High School Speech Team recently competed at the MSU Tournament which included 21 schools and over 1,000 entries. Branson finished fourth overall in the Individual Events category. Two students achieved first place for their individual speeches, including Cheyenne Simmons and Jack Cathcart.
College of the Ozarks Orchids Receive Top Awards College of the Ozarks orchids recently received top honors during the Orchid Society of Greater St. Louis’ Annual Show held at the Missouri Botanical Garden. C of O students care for the renowned McDade Orchid collection and take some of its prized orchids to competitions each year. The orchids taken to St. Louis this year received the highest designation given by the American Orchid Society. Plants were recognized as superior quality and given national awards in the categories of American Orchid Society Show Trophy, Top Exhibit of Plants and Best in Class Misc. Genera.
Photo: College of the Ozarks Sophomore Eleesa Gaeddert and Greenhouse Supervisor Nathan Bell tenderly care for the school’s prized orchids.
February 6, 2014
First Ever Branson Social Media & Web Summit will be February 13 The first ever Branson Social Media and Web Summit will be held Thursday, February 13, from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel in Branson. The conference combines seminars from nationally-recognized speakers and local experts to provide information about current trends in Social Media and Internet Marketing. This conference is organized by the Branson/Lakes Area CVB, and registration is open to any business, organization or individual. Register online at SummitBranson.com.
Branson Building Permits for January Total Over $6 Million According to a report from the Branson Planning & Development Department, there were 26 new Commercial Construction Permits issued in January with values of $10,000 or more. The entire monthly construction total for all January permits was $6,088,234.00. Some of the larger projects include a new Italian restaurant on the strip called Pasghetti’s valued at $1.7 million, a new ride at White Water called KaPau Plummet valued at $1.2 million and a remodel project at Wal-Mart on Branson Hills Parkway valued at $566,000.
Share the Harvest Provides Over 200,000 Pounds of Venison to Feed Hungry According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, 4,487 deer hunters donated 227,358 pounds of venison from the 2013 Missouri deer harvest to the state’s Share the Harvest program. Share the Harvest orchestrates the efforts of hunters, local supporting organizations, and more than 100 participating meat processors to get ground venison to people in need through food banks and food pantries around the state. Since the program started in 1992, Share the Harvest has provided more than 3.1 million pounds of venison to help feed Missourians in need.
Access Hospice Care Supports the Hospice Promise Foundation Access Hospice Care in Branson has announced its participation in The Hospice Promise Foundation – a non-profit initiative designed to assist hospice patients and families struggling with non-hospice related expenses. Donors to the Foundation can request that their gift be earmarked for local hospice patients. Donations assist hospice patients with expenses such as rent and utility bills, emergency repairs, personal care items and food assistance. One hundred percent of donations collected are used to support hospice patients. For further information, or to donate to the fund, visit LHCGroup.com/Foundation.
Princeton Review Names C of O Among Nation's “Best Value Colleges” The Princeton Review has named College of the Ozarks one of the nation’s “Best Value Colleges” for 2014. C of O was one of only three Missouri colleges to make the list, with the other two being Truman State University and University of Missouri—Kansas City. The 2014 list names 150 “Best Value Colleges” based on surveys concerning academics, cost and financial aid awards. “USA TODAY” has posted the list online at BestValueColleges.USAToday.com.
Branson School District Accepting Enrollment for Preschool The Branson School District is currently accepting enrollment for its tuition preschool program for the 2014-2015 school year. Children four years of age before August 1, 2014 are eligible to enroll in the program. Inquiries and enrollment appointments may be made through the preschool office by calling 336-1887, ext. 6011. Parents must provide the child's immunization record and birth certificate. Tuition enrollment is limited and will be filled on a first come, first serve basis.
February 5, 2014
Charges Filed in Connection with Monday Morning Burglary in Galena Charges have been filed on the three people who were arrested after an attempted burglary early Monday morning at a residence in Galena. 46 year old Sandra Jo Hall of Reeds Spring is charged with Burglary 1st Degree. Her bond is set at $100,000 cash only. 31 year old Joshua Brown and 35 year old Dennis James Brown, both of Kimberling City, are both charged with Robbery, Burglary and Assault, all 1st Degree plus Armed Criminal Action. Joshua Brown’s bond is set at $100,000 cash only and Dennis Brown’s bond is set at $150,000, cash only. All three remain in the Stone County Jail.
Rockaway Beach Chamber of Commerce Ceases Operations The Rockaway Beach Chamber of Commerce has ceased operations. The Branson Tri-Lakes News reported that the chamber has continued to struggle financially. The chamber has worked to promote and raise money for several annual events in Rockaway including a Fourth of July fireworks event, hydroplane boat races and a talent show. Costs to host the popular boat race had increased to $7,500 so the race was not held last year. Most recently the chamber has been operated by President Bill Kitchin and Bridge of Faith Pastor Jonathan McGuire.
Branson West Mayor John Rhodes Died Last Friday Branson West Mayor John Rhodes died last Friday at CoxSouth Hospital in Springfield. He was 76. Rhodes moved to Branson West in 1996 and was elected mayor in 1998, a position he held until his death. He served in the United States Navy then the Army for a total of 20 years, including three tours in Vietnam.
CVS Pharmacies to Stop Selling Tobacco Products CVS Pharmacies, a chain which opened their first store in Branson last year, has announced that they will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October 1st. Helping customers achieve better health was given as the primary reason. CVS will be the first major pharmacy chain to remove tobacco products from their shelves. Health related organizations praised the decision, which could cost the chain $2 billion in tobacco sales. CVS with 7,600 stores claims to be the nation’s largest pharmacy chain based on total prescription revenue.
Hollister Woman Injured in One Vehicle Rollover 47 year old Tamara Flier of Hollister was injured early Wednesday morning in a one vehicle accident. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported that she was driving too fast for conditions. The car left the road and overturned. She was taken by ambulance to CoxHealth Branson for treatment of moderate injuries. The 4:45 a.m. accident occurred on Highway 165, two miles west of Hollister.
Missouri Attorney General Warns of One Ring Scam Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has issued a warning about a scam that can add up unauthorized charges on a person’s monthly cell phone bill. It’s been referred to as the One Ring Scam. Scammers call a cell phone number, let it ring once then hang up. When the target of the scam calls the number back, usually an international number using a 473 area code, an international phone charge of $20 plus per minute charges are added to the bill. Returning the call also confirms to the scammer that he has reached a working number and those numbers are often sold to unscrupulous overseas telemarketers.
February 4, 2014
Three Arrested After Monday Morning Burglary in Galena Three people were arrested after a reported burglary early Monday morning at 1200 Everest Road in Galena. A juvenile female who was staying at the residence told Stone County Deputies that she was awakened by the sound of someone outside and then heard glass breaking. She immediately called her brother on the phone and than called 911. When her brother arrived, he saw the rear door had been forced open and observed two men running away. Gunshots were fired between the brother and the suspects and then the suspects fled into the woods. Another suspect, a female, who was sitting in a car in front of the residence, was detained by the brother until law enforcement arrived. After an extensive search, the two male suspects were apprehended while walking in the area later in the morning. The investigation is continuing and charges are expected to be issued soon.
Fire Damages Cottage in Indian Point The Southern Stone County Fire Protection District responded to a cottage fire at about 1:30 Monday afternoon at 108 Table Rock Circle in Indian Point. Indian Point Police arrived to find the female occupant attempting to re-enter the structure to retrieve a dog. With heavy smoke and fire showing, police kept her from going back inside. Crews made a quick knockdown of the fire with assistance from the Branson Fire Department. The dog did not survive and was found under a bed. The fire originated in the kitchen area but the cause is still under investigation.
Boone County Sheriff Warns of Door-to-Door Scammers Boone County Sheriff Mike Moore announced that his agency has received some reports of suspicious persons posing as salespeople for the Kirby Vacuum cleaning company and a local Pizza Hut. Door-to-door scammers are usually trying to take advantage of the elderly or steal valuables from a home. Sheriff Moore says if someone comes to your door, always ask for ID and then make them wait outside while you call the company to verify that they have a representative in your neighborhood. If things don’t check out, lock your door and call your local law enforcement agency.
MO House Speaker Presses Health Care Conscience Proposal Missouri lawmakers are renewing their efforts to bolster conscience protections in Missouri law for health care professionals and institutions. House Speaker Tim Jones of Eureka has reintroduced a bill which would prohibit employment discrimination against medical professionals who decline to participate in morally objectionable procedures. The legislation would also secure the legal right of faith-based health care institutions to refuse to provide medical services which violate their religious doctrines. The bill has been approved in the House the last two sessions with overwhelming bipartisan votes, but the Missouri Senate has chosen not to take up the legislation either year.
C of O Inducts Four Individuals Into Sports Hall of Fame College of the Ozarks inducted four individuals into its Sports Hall of Fame during a private ceremony held on February 1. Three of the inductees worked at C of O—former Women’s Basketball Coach George Wilson, former Sports Information Director Candace Sullinger and former Dean of the College Marilyn Graves. The fourth inductee, Jenessa (DeMuth) Hughes, graduated from C of O in 2008 with Bachelor of Science in pre-physical therapy and played basketball for C of O from 2004-2008.
Volunteers Sought to Help Senior Citizens with Computer Classes The Ozarks Technical Community College Center for Workforce Development, in partnership with the Taney County Senior Citizens Service Fund, are seeking volunteers to help senior citizens with the skills they are learning in beginner computer classes. Volunteers are needed on Fridays from 8-11 a.m. or 1-4 p.m. For more information, please call 417-447-8926 or email PorterA@OTC.edu.
February 3, 2014
Snow Causes Numerous Accidents in Branson Area No serious injuries but numerous accidents after five inches of snow fell on the Branson area late Sunday morning. Many people found more snow than expected when they left their church service and had difficulty travelling home. Some had to stay in motels in town. An 89 year old man’s car was stuck in the snow on Hilltop Drive near Kimberling City. He was given a ride to his house, but on exiting the vehicle he collapsed. Emergency crews were not able to revive him. 28 year old Austin Moore of Kirbyville received serious injuries late Sunday morning when he was hit by a car while trying to attach a tow rope to his vehicle. He was treated at CoxHealth Branson. 41 year old Shawn Campbell of Lampe received minor injuries Sunday evening when the truck he was driving slid into an unoccupied SUV that was disabled in the roadway. Four people visiting the area from Oklahoma City received minor injuries when their SUV slid down the steep hill near Big Cedar Resort. The vehicle ran off the road and hit a tree. Numerous other cars were seen disabled beside the road or in ditches. More wintery weather is predicted for overnight and into Tuesday morning and again later in the week.
Aldermen Approve Bills on Hwy 76 Project, Computer Hardware Last week, Branson Aldermen approved a resolution authorizing CFS Engineers to negotiate with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission on behalf of the city. The negotiations relate to the funding of the Highway 76 Revitalization Project. Although the city devotes resources for the upkeep of the highway, it still belongs to MoDOT. The board also approved the first reading of a bill approving an amendment to the contract with World Wide Technology for the purchase of computer hardware. The contract amendment raises the not-to-exceed purchase amount to allow for purchase of hardware to support the Branson Convention Center, as the management of the center changes.
Branson Mall Owners Planning to Reopen Venue by May The owners of the Branson Mall, located on Highway 76 between WalMart and Price Chopper are planning to reopen the mall as an entertainment venue by this May. The Branson Tri-Lakes News reported that the mall had been for sale for $3 million. The building owner, Z and K Investments has reportedly received funding to make improvement to the building instead of selling it. Plans include a new exterior facade, new air conditioning units, expanding the women’s rest room and re-flooring the public area. Interior demolition has been approved by the city and work has started.
Use Extra Caution with Alternate Sources of Heat Officials remind residents to be extra careful when using alternate sources of heat. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas created by incomplete combustion in propane space heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces. It can be deadly even at low levels. Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other fuel burning device inside the house, garage, basement or crawlspace. Homes should have a carbon monoxide alarm on all levels and they should be tested monthly. If an alarm sounds, residents should exit the building and call for help.
Former Muslim to Speak at College of the Ozarks Elijah Abraham of Living Oasis Ministries will share his story of converting from Islam to Christianity at College of the Ozarks this Wednesday. He lived in the Middle East as a child and fled to Europe as a teenager. In the 1980’s he escaped persecution by moving to the United States where he eventually accepted Christ. The convocation will start at 7 p.m. in Jones Auditorium. It is free and open to the public but students have priority seating. This week is Missions Emphasis Week at College of the Ozarks.
January 31, 2014
Aldermen Approve Next Steps for Downtown Branson Streetscape Branson Aldermen have approved the first reading of a bill relating to the next steps in the Downtown Branson Streetscape project. The change removes a portion of Main Street from the Highway 76 project and places it in the Downtown project. The change includes design work to handle traffic, pedestrian walkways, drainage and signage for the added area. The board also approved the first reading of a bill accepting the proposal of Carson-Mitchell, Inc. The firm will work on the new Streetscape gateway features that have been approved by the steering committee. They will be placed at entrances to downtown on the north and south ends of Commercial Street.
Branson to Host "Responsible Alcohol Selling" Class The Branson Finance Department will conduct another "Responsible Alcohol Selling" class next Tuesday. The class for servers, cashiers and bartenders is required of all businesses selling liquor in Branson and those businesses in the City that are in the process of obtaining a liquor license. The intent is to have more responsible sellers of alcohol in order to minimize the risk of selling to underage or intoxicated customers. Servers and cashiers from neighboring communities are also welcome to attend. The class will start at 9:30 a.m. at Branson City Hall.
Corps to Host Workshop on Closure of Viney Creek Park The Army Corps of Engineers will host a public workshop next Wednesday to discuss the closure of the Viney Creek Park. The park is being closed because of budget constraints. The workshop will be held at the Golden Community Center between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. The center is located on Highway J across the street from the Post Office. Although there will be no group presentations, residents are welcome to stop by to talk with Corps representatives about the closure.
Mercy Hospitals Named One of the Healthiest Workplaces in America Mercy Hospitals has been named one of the Healthiest workplaces in America. Healthiest Employers, a leader in employee health analytics, ranked Mercy number 22 in the top 100 workplaces. Mercy has promoted a healthy lifestyle among employees through a walking program, support groups for weight management and healthy eating and its wellness program which promotes healthy nutrition, physical activity, smoking cessation and emotional and spiritual wellness. Mercy facilities throughout Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma have on staff either a wellness coordinator or a designated wellness captain.
Justin Dearing Hired as Program Director for Air Evac Lifeteam Justin Dearing has been hired as the program director for the Air Evac Lifeteam base in Boone County, Arkansas. He served as an EMT for North Arkansas Regional Medical Center for over 15 years before joining Air Evac. He has also worked as a patrolman and corporal in the Harrison Police Department, and a deputy for the Boone County Sheriff’s Department. Air Evac Lifeteam provides rapid access to health care for residents who live in medically underserved areas. Flight crews are on call 24 hours a day and consist of a pilot, flight nurse and a flight paramedic. Justin Dearing, left, is pictured with Senior Program Director Michael Perrin.
Study Shows Missouri Behind in Digital Learning Opportunities A new study by the Evergreen Education Group shows that Missouri has fallen behind in the effort to bring digital learning opportunities to K-12 students. The study was commissioned by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation. A few of the recommendations include allowing statewide, fully online public schools, allowing schools to receive 100% funding for students taking online courses without requiring ‘seat’ time, increasing opportunities for rural students, continuing to provide broadband internet access not just to schools but to all homes statewide. The full study is available at www.MOChamber.com.
January 30, 2014
Fire Destroys Condo Building off Fall Creek Road in Branson It was a complete loss for a three-story 12-unit condominium building during a fire Wednesday at The Woodlands off Fall Creek Road in Branson. Ten of the 12 units were occupied but all the residents escaped the fire without injury. The fire was reported about 10 a.m. but was still smoldering into the evening. Over 50 firefighters from several departments fought the fast moving blaze. Water pressure problems at nearby hydrants required the use of tanker trucks to bring extra water to the fire. Nearby buildings were not damaged.
Aldermen Approve 2014 Strategic Plan and Legislative Agenda During their regular meeting this week, Branson Aldermen approved the 2014 Strategic Plan for the City. The document provides direction for city departments over the next five years and is based on feedback received from residents, as documented in the Community Plan 2030. The board also approved a resolution approving the 2014 Legislative Agenda for the City. The approval allows the City to support various issues to be considered this year by the State Legislature relating to local control and economic development.
Three Marijuana Initiative Petitions Introduced in Missouri Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander announced that three initiative petitions meet state standards for circulation. The petitions, each with slightly different wording, all relate to the production, sale, distribution and consumption of marijuana and hemp products. If enough signatures are obtained the issue could be placed on the November ballot. Voters would then have to approve the measure, which would change the Missouri Constitution regarding marijuana. The signature petitions would be due in the Secretary of State’s office by May 4th.
ADAPT Receives Grant to Address Youth Substance Abuse The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team Coalition of Taney County, known as ADAPT, has received a federal grant to address the problems of youth substance abuse. The Drug Free Communities grant will provide $125,000 annually for up to 10 years. The Coalition, made up of over 20 local community organizations, has hired a full-time Project Coordinator. Over the past several years, ADAPT efforts have already reduced alcohol and tobacco use among the area’s youth. The work has included drinking awareness campaigns, drug take-back events, responsible beverage service training, retailer compliance checks and safe and sober prom campaigns.
Aldermen Approve Liquor License Suspension for Gilley’s Texas Café Branson Aldermen have approved the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law relating to the Liquor Commission hearing held on January 14th. The subject of the hearing was Gilley’s Texas Café, which has been fined three times since 2011 for serving alcohol to minors. The board approved a suspension of the restaurant’s liquor license for a seven-day period this coming March.
Empire District Electric Expands Mobile, Social Media Presence The Empire District Electric Company has created a mobile version of its website, has added a mobile payment feature and launched a social media presence. The mobile website enables customers to access their statements, usage data and payment information. It also includes a pay-by-text option and can provide a reminder by text of an upcoming bill five days before its due date. The free app is available through a link at EmpireDistrict.com. The Empire Facebook page includes updates on outages, energy efficiency programs and other information.
January 29, 2014
Two Injured in Car/Tractor Trailer Collision A collision between a car and a tractor trailer on Highway 65 north of Saddlebrook about noon on Tuesday sent two people to the hospital. The car, driven by 22 year old Alexander Goeman of Springfield failed to yield to the semi driven by Tracy Morrison of Kansas City. The driver of the car and 21 year old passenger Megan Waddell, also of Springfield were both taken to Cox South Hospital in Springfield with minor to moderate injuries.
Arson Specialist Investigating Fatal House Fire An arson specialist is investigating the cause of a house fire in Carroll County, Arkansas that took the lives of two residents. The fire in a rental house on Highway 62 about eight miles east of Berryville occurred just before midnight Monday night. The bodies have been sent to the Arkansas state crime lab.
Hollister Police Chief Reports Crime Down in Hollister The Hollister Police Chief reports that crime is down in Hollister. An article in the Branson Tri-Lakes News reported that crime statistics showed improvement in most categories in 2013, compared to 2012. Hollister police responded to 3,336 calls last year, down 10% from the previous year. Officers made 324 arrests, down 21% from 2012. Citations were down 36%. Assaults decreased from 37 to 21, burglaries dropped from 35 to 28, drug offences down from 19 to 13, peace disturbance dropped from 34 to 20 and property damage dropped from 38 to 32. Slight increases were noted in six categories including juvenile offences, fraud, stolen vehicles and weapons offences.
Main Street Lake Cruises Brochure Wins Award A promotional brochure produced by Main Street Lake Cruises was recently named first place regional winner in the 2013 International Best Brochure Competition. From a field of 19,000 brochures representing the membership of the International Association of Professional Brochure Distributors, 73 were nominated for competitive comparison evaluation using specific criteria. Main Street Lake Cruises is located on Lake Taneycomo in downtown Branson.
New Deluxe Cabins Being Added To Branson KOA Seven new deluxe cabins are being constructed at the KOA Campground in Branson. All will have screened-in porches and full bathrooms, most have kitchens and some will have fireplaces. The seven new cabins will bring the total cabin inventory at KOA Branson to 29 units of all types. Kampgrounds of America is the world’s largest network of family-friendly campgrounds with 485 locations in North America. The company was founded in Billings, Montana in 1962.
January 28, 2014
Kimberling City Man Pleads Guilty to Burglary of Polo Store Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrell announced that 19 year old Kyle Ayres of Kimberling City has pleaded guilty to the felonies of 2nd degree burglary and possession of a controlled substance. On the morning of May 21, 2012, Ayres, along with another man, used a rock to break through the glass door of the Polo store at Tanger Outlet Mall. The two men stole some clothes but were confronted by a maintenance man as they were escaping. Ayres’ co-defendant struck the maintenance man, injuring him. The two burglars – along with a getaway driver – were apprehended by Branson Police shortly after the burglary. Once arrested, Ayres was found to have been in possession of testosterone – a controlled substance for which he did not have a prescription. Ayres was identified by an eyewitness, who recognized him as an employee of the Polo store he had just burglarized. Sentencing for Ayres is scheduled for April 4, 2014.
Taneyville Teen Injured in One Vehicle Accident A teenage girl from Taneyville was injured in a one vehicle accident shortly before 10:00 Monday morning on Highway 76, two miles west of Kirbyville. The Highway Patrol reported that seventeen year old Taylor Motley suffered minor injuries when the SUV she was driving ran off the right side of the roadway. Motley was transported to Cox Medical Center Branson for treatment.
Hollister Students Collecting Shoes for Needy Hollister High School senior Jayden Hester and the advanced art class are working to collect 200 pairs of shoes to donate to those in need. The shoes will go to Soles 4 Souls, a not-for-profit organization that collects and distributes shoes and clothes to needy people around the world. Hester and her classmates are looking for gently used or new shoes to donate to the organization. Shoe donations can be brought to the Hollister High School during school hours or during any home basketball games.
Boger Art Gallery Hosting Victoria Christen Exhibit The Boger Art Gallery at College of the Ozarks is currently featuring an exhibit entitled Victoria Christen: Recent Ceramic Vessels. The exhibit runs through February 14 and is free to the public. Christen, a full-time studio potter, was a resident artist at Guldagaard, the International Ceramics Research Center in Denmark, and the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana. For her work, she has received an NEA Regional Visual Arts Fellowship Award, two Minnesota Arts Board Grants and a travel grant to Japan. Boger Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 1-5 p.m. weekends.
2014 Season of Tri-Lakes Community Theatre Begins Friday The 2014 season of Tri-Lakes Community Theatre will include the musicals “Once Upon A Mattress” and “Clue, The Musical.” “Once Upon A Mattress” will be presented at the Branson Star Theatre January 31-February 2 and February 7-9. “Clue, The Musical” will be presented at the Owens Theatre in Branson February 14-16 and February 21-23. Show times are 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Starting its 31st season, Tri-Lakes Communtiy Theatre is a non-profit organization supported solely by donations of patrons and ticket sales of its productions. It has distributed approximately $30,000 in scholarships for area youth over the last fifteen years. For more information, visit TLCTheatre.org.
January 27, 2014
Hollister Board of Education Hires Dr. Brian Wilson as New Superintendent The Hollister Board of Education has hired Dr. Brian Wilson as Superintendent of Schools. Wilson will replace Tim Taylor who announced last November that he would be resigning after the end of the current school year. Wilson has previously led both the Ava and Fordland School Districts as superintendent and comes to Hollister with thirteen years of administrative experience. Wilson’s employment with the Hollister School District will be effective July 1, 2014.
Another Suspicious Fire in Reeds Springs Area The Southern Stone County Fire Protection District responded to a suspicious fire this past Friday afternoon at Valley View Apartments, located at 118 Estate Lane in Reeds Spring. Crews knocked the fire down quickly with extinguishers. The tenant reported that she had left for errands and was gone for about 45 minutes. Upon returning, she opened the front door, saw the flames, closed the door and called for help. The building was evacuated and there were no injuries. All accidental causes have been ruled out. The area of origin was the exterior dryer vent however the dryer was not in place or connected. The suspected arson is consistent with another apartment fire on December 31, 2013 in the same vicinity, along with the other recent arson fires. A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in these arson cases. Call the Arson HotLine at 1-800-39-ARSON (1-800-392-7766).
Reeds Spring Woman Injured in One Vehicle Accident A woman from Reeds Spring was injured in a one vehicle accident at about 5:40 Saturday evening on Highway 76, one mile west of Reeds Spring. A pickup driven by 56 year old Bambi King ran off the left side of the roadway and struck a cable. King suffered minor injuries and was transported to Cox Branson for treatment.
Candidate Filing Period Closes, Few Local Seats Challenged The candidate filing period is now closed for the upcoming April 8 municipal and school board elections. For the City of Branson, the current Aldermen for Wards 1 and 2, Mike Booth and Cris Bohinc, are running unopposed. Current Ward 3 Alderman Rick Davis will be challenged for his seat by Patrick Crisp. For the Branson School District, terms will expire for Teresa Givens, Jeff Smethers and Craig Wescott. All three will appear on the ballot in addition to Joshua Smith, Dr. Kristopher Peters and Dale Speelman. For the City of Hollister, Mayor David Tate, Ward 1 Alderman David Honey and Ward 2 Alderman Phil Carman are all running unopposed.
Missouri Senate Wants Investigation Into Propane Shortage Members of the Missouri Senate are asking Attorney General Chris Koster to investigate the steep increase in the price of propane gas this past week. In less than 24 hours, the price of propane rose $1.25 at the wholesale level to $3.55 per gallon. The steep increase is being blamed on higher exports of propane from the United States and extremely cold temperatures this winter. Some suppliers indicate that even with the higher prices, the propane simply isn’t available to buy. Sen. Mike Parson of Bolivar believes the blame lies at the feet of manufacturers for creating an artificial shortage.
Branson Seeking Used Motor Oil to Heat Recycle Center As part of the City of Branson's sustainability efforts, they recycle used motor oil in a waste-to-energy process, then use it to heat the Branson Recycle Center. Due to the extreme cold temperatures this winter, they have recycled their entire supply of oil. If anyone has old motor oil to dispose of, please drop it off at 601 Compton Drive between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday for recycling and heating of Recycle Center. ________________