Word for Life

                        Tri-Lakes Area

News & Weather

Tri-Lakes area news airs Monday-Friday at 7AM, 12 Noon, 2PM, 5PM and 9PM.

Press releases can be emailed to news@klfcradio.com or faxed to 417-335-2437.

March 27, 2015

OTC, Hollister Schools Sign Agreement to Benefit High School Students
The Ozarks Technical Community College Table Rock Campus and the Hollister School District have partnered to offer new educational opportunities to Hollister students. OTC Table Rock Campus President Cliff Davis and Hollister School Superintendent Dr. Brian Wilson signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday. The agreement will allow Hollister students who are at least 16 years old to enroll in up to four classes at OTC each semester as well as take summer courses. As a result, a motivated student could receive his or her high school diploma and an associate degree from OTC on the same day. Students can begin classes as early as this summer under the new program. Photo: OTC Table Rock Campus President Cliff Davis (right) and Hollister School Superintendent Dr. Brian Wilson sign a memorandum of understanding on March 26

Branson Aldermen Close Out 2011 Flood Buyout Grant
At the last Branson City Council meeting, Aldermen held a public hearing to close out the Community Development Block Grant that was received for the summer floods of 2011. Four eligible properties that were determined to have substantial flood damage were purchased by the City through the grant and have been demolished. The conditions of the grant require that the properties remain green space. All the requirements of the grant of been fulfilled and a large portion of the reimbursements have been received.

Taney County Nuisance Abatement Bill Advances to Senate
Missouri Representative Lyle Rowland is sponsoring a bill that adds Taney County to the list of counties authorized to enact nuisance abatement ordinances. The nuisance abatement ordinance could be enacted when the condition of any lot or land in residential subdivisions or districts is considered unhealthy or unsafe and is declared to be a public nuisance. Currently, only ten counties in Missouri are authorized to enact nuisance abatement ordinances. The bill has passed the House and has been sent to the Senate.

Branson Landing Blvd Bridge Sidewalk to be Closed Next Week
The Branson Public Works department announced that the sidewalk on the east side of the Branson Landing Boulevard bridge will be closed next week. Crews will be making repairs on the south end of the bridge March 30 through April 3, weather permitting. The sidewalk will be closed during the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day, until the work is complete. As there is not a sidewalk on the west side of the bridge, pedestrians are asked to use the sidewalk on the nearby Veterans Boulevard Bridge during this construction.

Rural Missouri Magazine Announces Readers' Choice Awards
Rural Missouri magazine has released the results of its annual Best of Rural Missouri Readers' Choice Awards. For the 14th consecutive year, the publication's readers were asked to name their favorite eateries, destinations and activities across the Show-Me State. A winner, runner-up and editor's choice were named in each of 20 statewide categories. Local winners included the City of Branson - first place for Best Family Getaway and Dixie Stampede Dinner Theatre - runner-up for Best Unique Dining Destination. The digital edition of the magazine can be read online at RuralMissouri.coop.

Ann Compton to be Keynote Speaker for Branson Women's Event
Former ABC News White House Correspondent, Ann Compton, will be the keynote speaker for a special women's event entitled Honoring Our Mothers..Applauding Remarkable Women. The event, sponsored by the Caring People, will be held Saturday, May 2, 2015 at Chateau on the Lake in Branson. Compton has a storied career spanning 7 presidents and will share a behind the scenes look at the White House. She was the only reporter allowed to remain on Air Force One as it crisscrossed the US on 9/11. Early bird pricing is available if reservations are made by April 10. For reservations or more information, call 417-334-0131 or visit TheCaringPeople.org/HonoringMoms. Photo: Ann Compton takes a selfie in front of Air Force One

March 26, 2015

Lightning Possible Cause of House Fire in StoneBridge Resort
A three alarm fire destroyed a house in StoneBridge Resort in Southern Stone County early Wednesday night. No injuries were reported. Crews found flames showing through the roof of the house on Stoney Creek Lane and two vehicles parked there were on fire when they arrived. Firefighters from Southern Stone County, Western Taney County and the Branson Fire Department fought the blaze for three hours. Tanker trucks were used to bring water because a water hydrant was not working. Authorities reported that lightning was a possible cause.

Taney County Commits Up to $500,000 for Major Airline
The Taney County Commission has agreed to commit up to $500,000 to help bring a new major airline to the Branson Airport. The agreement requires an additional $1.5 million in risk abatement funds to be provided from other sources. The money would only be used to pay the airline if it loses money while serving Branson. If the airline breaks even or makes a profit, no money would be paid out. A Missouri Department of Transportation study indicated that the airport had a $91 million impact on the region and created nearly 1,500 jobs locally.

Two Injured in One Vehicle Rollover into Creek
A single vehicle accident in Ozark County east of Branson early this morning caused moderate injuries to both the driver and a passenger. A pickup driven by 24 year old Tyler Hogan of Gainesville ran off the road, hit a guardrail and bridge abutment, then overturned into a creek. The passenger was 22 year old Tabitha Klineline of Ava. They were taken to Mercy Hospital in Springfield for treatment. The 1:40 a.m. accident occurred on Missouri Highway 5, a mile north of Gainesville.

Branson Aldermen Approve Convention Center Amendments
During their meeting Tuesday evening, Branson Aldermen approved the first reading of two bills relating to the City-owned Branson Convention Center. The first one amends the 2014 City budget to adjust the Convention Center fund to correct for expenses in excess of the established budget. The second bill authorized an incentive fee to SMG, the Convention Center operator, in accordance with targets established by the contract.

Branson Students Advance to DECA International Conference
Members of the Branson High School chapter of Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) attended the organization's annual state-wide conference last week. The competition included 1,735 students and was the largest Missouri DECA conference on record. Miranda Herrington and Robert Taylor earned first place for their advertising campaign. Ashley David and Johnny Sparks earned fourth place for a sports and entertainment promotion plan. All four students will now advance to the DECA International Conference to be held in Orlando in May. DECA prepares students for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. The Missouri DECA program serves 8,500 students.

Zweifel Encourages Residents to Check for Unclaimed Property
So far this year, State Treasurer Clint Zweifel has returned to Missouri residents over $2.5 million in unclaimed property. Since January, he has returned 11 accounts, each valued at over $100,000. But unclaimed property does not just come in high-dollar accounts, the average amount returned is $300. Zweifel's office encourages residents to search ShowMeMoney.com to see if they have unclaimed property that could be returned to them. Unclaimed property can belong to individuals, businesses, non-profits or any entity that conducts financial transactions.

March 25, 2015

Branson Aldermen Approve Application for MoDOT Grant Funding
During their regular meeting this week, Branson Aldermen approved a resolution authorizing the application for grant funding from the Missouri Department of Transportation. The grant for the police department is typically funded every year. The three part grant relates to youth alcohol enforcement through compliance checks that are performed throughout the city, for hazardous moving violations to aid in enforcement of dangerous driving situations and for DWI enforcement which allows for additional officers to patrol the city at times throughout the year.

Crane Woman Injured in Two Vehicle Collision
Minor injuries for 53 year old Candy Chesnut from Crane when a vehicle driven by 76 year old Charles Peace from Nixa crossed the path of the car she was driving. The 11:15 accident Tuesday morning occurred on Route M, four miles south of Nixa. Chesnut was treated at Cox South in Springfield.

Ozark Man Injured in Two Vehicle Accident
A two vehicle accident Tuesday night on Lakeshore Drive, a mile north of Hollister, caused moderate injuries to one of the drivers. 39 year old Jared Hughes of Ozark was hurt when he drove his car into the rear of a vehicle driven by 59 year old Angela Sheehy of Crown Point, Indiana. Hughes was taken to CoxHealth Branson for treatment.

Dan Lennon Appointed Director of MO Division of Tourism
Dan Lennon of Branson has been appointed as the full-time Director of the Missouri Division of Tourism. For travelers, the agency publishes the Official Missouri Travel Guide and other materials and staffs nine welcome centers at key entry points into the state. For travel industry partners, the agency offers the Promote Missouri Fund, access to research and reports and the opportunity to be listed in the travel guide plus other marketing materials. Dan can be contacted at .

Hollister to Host Kindergarten Readiness Event Thursday
The Hollister School District is hosting a Kindergarten Readiness Event Thursday evening. The 'Jump Start to Kindergarten Success' family night is planned for children who will be five years old before August 1st of this year. The session will be held in the Hollister Early Childhood Center gym from 6-7:30 p.m. A variety of parent/child interactive stations will be provided to explore creative ideas, strategies and games promoting readiness success. Free pizza and beverages will be available from 6-6:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required by calling 417-243-4058.

Cox Branson to Host Blood Drive to Build Back Reserves
This past winter, Community Blood Center of the Ozarks blood reserves were diminished and a Code Yellow Alert has been issued for all negative blood types. A blood drive will be held at Cox Medical Center Branson this Friday between noon and 6 p.m. to help build those reserves. It will be held in the Tree Rooms at Cox, 525 Branson Landing Boulevard. Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds, be in good health and present a valid photo ID. Each donor will receive a gift from CoxHealth, while supplies last.

Senator Schmitt Opposes EPA Study of Grilling Pollution
Missouri State Senator Eric Schmitt has launched a social media campaign to oppose the federal government's study of pollution caused by grilling meat over an open flame. The Environmental Protection Agency has funded a $15,000 University of California study to look at particulate emissions from grilling. Schmitt is concerned that the study could lead to regulations on backyard propane grills and has filed a resolution to discourage the EPA from regulating the use of those grills.

March 24, 2015

Galena Teen Seriously Injured in Jump from Moving Vehicle
A teenager from Galena was seriously injured when she jumped from a moving vehicle just before 6:00 Monday evening on Highway 160, three miles north of Reeds Spring. A car driven by 41 year old Amber Humfeld of Kimberling City was traveling northbound when 17 year old passenger Autumn Moffat jumped from the vehicle. Moffat was transported to Cox South Hospital in Springfield for treatment.

Branson Fire & Rescue to Present Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training
Branson Fire & Rescue will present a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program starting April 7, 2015. The training will be held on Tuesday nights for eight weeks from 6-9 p.m. CERT training focuses on community member readiness to help in times of disaster. Following a disaster, emergency response agencies such as fire, police, and ambulance crews may be overwhelmed with calls for help and unable to meet the high volume of demand for services. CERT trained community members can provide immediate assistance in their neighborhood until emergency responders arrive. This training is free to local community members. For more information or to register, call 417-243-2790. Photo from previous CERT training

Cox Branson to Host Open House for Emergency Department
After a year-and-a-half of construction, the final phase of Cox Medical Center Branson’s new emergency department is now entering completion. Before they open the newly remodeled area to patients, the public is invited to an open house event this Friday from 7-11 a.m. to get a behind-the-scenes look at the new patient care areas. The emergency department will now consist of 26 private exam rooms, eight private clinical decision rooms, five rapid treatment rooms and two trauma rooms. The open house will be a come-and-go event with tours beginning in the new emergency department.

Branson Offers Spanish “Responsible Alcohol Selling” Class
The Branson Finance Department will be sponsoring a special “Responsible Alcohol Selling” class this Thursday for the Hispanic community. This training is required of all servers, cashiers, bartenders, and associated management that serve or sell intoxicating alcoholic beverages in Branson. The session will be held from 9:30-11 a.m. in the Council Chambers of Branson City Hall. This class will be taught in Spanish as an accommodation to Spanish-speaking employees that work as servers or cashiers. The cost is $5 per person and is payable at the time of training and is used to help pay for the cost of training materials. Reservations are not needed. The next normal class taught in English is scheduled for April 9. For more information, call 417-337-8575.

Local Non-Profits Invited to Roundtable Meeting
A roundtable meeting of local non-profit leaders will be held this Thursday at 8 a.m. on the 4th Floor of the OTC Table Rock Campus in Hollister. Area non-profits are invited to attend and share resources, ideas, needs and information about their programs. For more information or to RSVP, call 417-699-1566.

The Perfect Night Project Offers Free Prom Dresses in Stone County
The Perfect Night Project will hold its 1st Annual Shopping Day this Saturday, from noon - 5 p.m. at Galena High School. Junior or Senior girls attending Hurley, Crane, Galena, Reeds Spring or Blue Eye schools are invited to come and select free prom dresses, shoes, accessories and more on a first come first serve basis. There is a limited supply of dresses so interested girls are encouraged to call to ensure that they have your size. Call 417-229-0978 or email ThePerfectNightProject@gmail.com.

American Red Cross Swim Lessons Hosted at College of the Ozarks
The College of the Ozarks aquatics department, in conjunction with the American Red Cross Learn to Swim program, will offer swim lessons at the Garrison Activities Center swimming pool, April 6-16. The Learn to Swim program will offer three different sessions: Parent and Child Aquatics for ages six months to four years; Learn to Swim Session I for ages 5 to 15 years; and Learn to Swim Session II for ages 5 to 15 years. For registration or further questions, call 417-690-2567.

March 23, 2015

Mickey Gilley Announces that 2015 will be His Final Season in Branson
Branson entertainer Mickey Gilley recently announced via twitter that 2015 will be his last season in Branson. The 79 year old entertainer has been performing in Branson for 26 years and plans to take his show on the road. Gilley said that the group SIX will continue to perform shows at his theatre through the 2016 season.

OTC Table Rock Partners with MSU to Offer Four-Year Degrees
The Ozarks Technical Community College Table Rock Campus in Hollister has signed an agreement with Missouri State University that will allow OTC to offer four-year bachelor's degrees beginning this August. OTC will initially offer a bachelor of science in communication or a bachelor of science in English with an emphasis in professional writing, with plans to add more in the future. Residents of the Branson School District will vote on April 7 on whether or not to become part of the OTC Table Rock district, which would allow residents to pay the in-district tuition at the college.

Overnight Excavation Work Planned on Highway 76 in Branson
The Branson Public Works Department will perform excavation work along Highway 76 during the overnight hours, beginning at 10:30 p.m. tomorrow night and ending by 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. The work will be performed on the east side of Fire Station Number 1 adjacent to the Veteran’s Garden near the intersection of 76 and Roark Valley Road. The work will require closure of the sidewalk as well as the westbound lane of traffic, which will be routed into the center lane.

Branson Fire Department Hands Out Annual Awards
During the Branson Fire Department's annual Awards Banquet, a number of fire department personnel were honored for their service in 2014. Top honors included: Chris Gaut, Reserve Firefighter of the Year; Jason Bruck, Firefighter of the Year; Clark Bogle, Engineer of the Year; and Ben Bonner, Captain of the Year. The awards were presented by Fire Chief Ted Martin.

Pictured from left: Chris Gaut, Jason Bruck, Clark Bogle, Ben Bonner, and Ted Martin.

Slick Nick’s Car Wash Planned at Highway 65 Hollister Interchange
Nicholas “Slick Nick” Gage, along with his younger brother Joshua and cousin Zane, are planning to open Slick Nick’s Car Wash at the Highway 65 Hollister Interchange next to Big O Tire. The $1.2 million facility will offer touchless and friction auto-wash bays, debit card-enabled manual bays, a full-time attendant and staffed detail shop, in addition to amenities like a coffee station, food truck and patio seating with free Wi-Fi and charging stations. Groundbreaking will take place on April 17, with plans to host a ribbon cutting and celebration event mid-Summer.

Stone County to Host Open House for New Election Equipment
The Stone County Clerk's Office will host an Open House this Wednesday from 1-3 p.m. for a demonstration of the county's new Election Tabulation Equipment. The Open House will be held in the Commissioners Courtroom, located at 108 E 4th Street in Galena. Light refreshments will be served.

Mercy Springfield Named One of the Nation's 100 Top Hospitals
Mercy Hospital Springfield has been named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals by Truven Health Analytics, a leading provider of data-driven analytics and solutions to improve the cost and quality of healthcare. The Truven Health 100 Top Hospitals® study identifies hospitals and leadership teams that provide the highest level of value to their communities in areas such as patient care, operational efficiency and financial stability. This is the fourth time Mercy Hospital Springfield has been recognized with this honor.

Broadway In Branson Plans to Present Disney's The Little Mermaid in Branson
Broadway In Branson has announced that Disney's The Little Mermaid will be appearing as an on-stage theatrical production at The White House Theatre in Branson this summer. Broadway In Branson is now casting all parts including performance and tech positions, with auditions scheduled for April 1-3 at The White House Theatre. For more information, email director Michael Crum at BroadwayInBranson@gmail.com. In addition to The Little Mermaid, the company is planning to present Disney LIVE in Branson Sept. 26-27.

New State Record Set for Paddlefish on Table Rock Lake
The Cape Fair Marina announced that a new State Record has been set for Paddlefish. The marina said that Andy Bellbraydic caught a paddlefish weighing 140.5 lbs on Saturday at Bridgeport Resort on Table Rock Lake in Cape Fair. The previous record was 139-pounds, 4-ounces, caught in 2002 on the James River Arm of Table Rock Lake.

March 20, 2015

Firefighters Respond to Small Fire at Yakov Theatre
Firefighters from Branson, Western Taney County and Southern Stone County responded to a fire at the Yakov Theatre in Branson at around 7:30 Thursday evening. Guests who were arriving for the Acrobats of China show were evacuated after smoke began pouring from a storage room near the kitchen area. A small fire was contained to the storage room and may have been caused by some baseboard heaters in that room. One of the main issues the theatre is dealing with is the odor of smoke throughout the building. It is unclear when the theatre will reopen.

Agenda Set for March 24 Branson Aldermen Meeting
Branson Aldermen will hold their next regular meeting this Tuesday, March 24, at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Some of the items on the agenda include an update from the Park Board, a presentation of the Sustainability Council’s Annual Report, a public hearing on the Community Development Block Grant Closeout, and an update on 2014 4th Quarter Financials. The complete agenda can be viewed online at www.BransonMO.gov, where you can also listen to a live stream of the meeting Tuesday night.

Branson Man Injured in Two Vehicle Accident
A Branson man was injured in a two vehicle accident shortly after noon Thursday on Salem Road at Shady Meadow Circle, four miles north of Branson. A car driven by 67 year old Susan Kandler of Branson was making a right turn at the intersection when it ran off the left side of the roadway and struck a parked car in a yard. Sixty-nine year old passenger Frederick Kandler suffered minor injuries and was taken to Cox Branson for treatment.

Parents Urged to Resist Co-Sleeping with Infants
Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell serves as a member of the county’s Child Fatality Review Board – a group that meets to review and study child deaths that occur in Taney County. One of the tragic causes of infant deaths that is preventable is unintentional suffocation due to an infant sleeping next to an adult on a normal bed. Typically this cause of death is the result of overlay – when the infant is rolled-over on or entrapped under the person’s arm or leg. Merrell urges parents to refrain from sharing a bed with infants, and instead but the baby’s crib close to the bed. Parents should also clear the infant’s crib of all soft bedding items, including stuffed animals, to further reduce the risk of unintentional suffocation.

Branson Area Golf Courses Make Golfweek's "Best Courses" List
Three Branson area golf courses were selected as “America’s Best Courses You Can Play, 2015,” as determined by Golfweek. Payne Stewart, Buffalo Ridge Springs and LedgeStone were three of only five Missouri golf courses that made the list. Golfweek deploys over 700 experienced raters each year to survey thousands of courses based on routing, shaping, management, natural setting, variety of golf holes, strength of conditioning and more.

C of O to Host Pensmore Dialogue on Science and Faith Conference
College of the Ozarks announced that it will host the Pensmore Dialogue on Science and Faith conference this coming September 24-25. The topic for the conference will be “Life and The Universe: How Did It All Begin?” Conference speakers will include Drs. John Lennox, Stephen Meyer, and Robert Spitzer. This is the first science and faith conference for College of the Ozarks to host in conjunction with the Pensmore Foundation. The public will be invited to register for the event at a later date when information regarding conference sessions, times, and costs is made available.

Salvation Army Thrift Store Announces Temporary Change to Hours
The Branson Salvation Army announced that due to some staffing shortages, their downtown Branson Thrift Store will temporarily change its hours beginning this Monday. The Thrift Store will be closed on Mondays and open Tuesdays - Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Once additional employees are hired, the store will go back to its normal hours.

Mel's Hard Luck Diner Reopens after Renovations
After a two month closure for renovations, Mel's Hard Luck Diner located in the Grand Village on Highway 76 in Branson, is open again for lunch and dinner. Renovations were done throughout the diner with new floors in the dining rooms, kitchens and gift shops, new restroom, new pieces of kitchen equipment and new colors. Mel's Hard Luck Diner features singing servers and is open daily.

Chateau to Host "Author Luncheon" on March 26
Chateau on the Lake in Branson will host an "Author Luncheon" on Thursday, March 26, from noon to 2 p.m. The luncheon will feature writer and travel photographer Gayle Harper discussing her new book "Roadtrip with a Raindrop: 90 Days Along the Mississippi River." Tickets are $25 and include a three-course meal. All proceeds go to the Taneyhills Community Library in Branson. Advance reservations are required. Call 417-334-1161.

March 19, 2015

Oliver North to Speak at Vietnam Veterans Memorial Dedication
Retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North will speak during the unveiling and dedication of the memorial honoring Missouri's Vietnam War veterans, located at the entrance of College of the Ozarks. The memorial will list the names of over 1,400 Missouri residents who served and died in that war. The college was made the site of the memorial by Missouri state legislators in a resolution last May. It is being constructed by college staff and students. The unveiling is scheduled for April 22nd. The ceremony will include music by the college choir, the song Amazing Grace, played on a bagpipe and the placing of roses at the site by students from School of the Ozarks. After the ceremony, a reception will be held at The Keeter Center.

Proposed Rockaway Beach Poultry Plant Looking for New Location
After being turned down by Rockaway Beach planning and zoning, the couple wanting to build a small poultry processing plant in that town are looking for another location. The Branson Tri-Lakes News reported that Michael and Elizabeth Schafer are considering property in Merriam Woods to build a plant that would process 1,000 chickens once or twice a week. They say the plant would help regional farmers who now have to transport their poultry three hours for processing. The Schafer's would eventually like to open a small market to sell local organic meat and produce.

'Diggin Downtown Branson' T-Shirts Promote Open Businesses During Construction
In an effort to find ways to encourage people to shop, dine and visit Historic Downtown Branson, a t-shirt has been designed that says 'Diggin Downtown Branson'. The purpose is to help spread the word that downtown Branson is open for business during the current Streetscape reconstruction project. Local businesses can order quantities of the shirt with their logo printed on the back of the shirt for retail sale. The shirts are available for purchase through Ink Gurus, located on South Business 65 in Branson.

Legends of Golf Returning April 22-26, Volunteers Needed
The Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge will bring some of golf's most accomplished players together in a two-man team competition to be held April 22-26 in Ridgedale. The golfers will play on Big Cedar Lodge's Par-3 Top of the Rock course and the 18 hole Buffalo Ridge Springs course, formerly Branson Creek Golf Course. The tournament which debuted in 1978 will celebrate its second year in Ridgedale and is the first PGA TOUR-sanctioned event to use a Par-3 course in official competition. 120 volunteers are needed to conduct this event in April. Knowledge of golf is not required and training will be provided. Information at BassProLegends.com.

Missouri Lawmakers Working to Prohibit Powdered Alcohol
Two state lawmakers are working to prohibit the sale of powdered alcohol before it appears on shelves in Missouri stores. Palcohol is a dried form of alcohol that can be mixed with water to make liquid alcohol. It has been approved for sale by the Alcohol and Tobacco and Trade Bureau. Representative Jim Neely is a physician and expresses concern that people will snort the powder or mix it with drugs. There is also concern that Palcohol could be easily accessible and abused by minors. The company says the product was designed for hikers.

Next Week is National Work Zone Awareness Week
Next week is National Work Zone Awareness Week. It’s a time to remind motorists to slow down and pay extra attention when driving in highway work zones. Driver inattention was the second highest cause of work zone crashes in 2014. Motorists are required to slow down and change lanes when approaching MoDOT vehicles or law enforcement and emergency vehicles with their lights flashing.

March 18, 2015

Stone County Library Receives Technology Grant
The Stone County Library has received a technology grant to purchase new computers. The $3,333 grant was announced by Secretary of State Jason Kander. The funds will replace eight laptops that have become obsolete. The literacy and educational enrichment grants are funded by the Library Services and Technology Act through the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. In the 2015 fiscal year, the Missouri State Library, a division of Kander's office, has approved 178 grant applications, distributing over $1.1 million dollars in federal awards to Missouri libraries.

Workshops Set for Table Rock Shoreline Plan Update
The Army Corps of Engineers will share information and collect public comments about Table Rock Lake's shoreline management plan during three public workshops next week. The open house style workshops will include a short informational video that will play at 20 minute intervals. Corps representatives will be available to answer questions. The meetings will be held at the Branson Convention Center March 26 from noon until 4 p.m., March 27 from 4-8 p.m. and March 28 from noon to 4 p.m. Residents are encouraged to drop in anytime during those hours.

Animal Control Center Continues Microchip Clinic During March
The Taney County Animal Care and Control Center continues to offer a microchip clinic during the month of March. Most pets can be micro chipped during a simple procedure which is performed at the Center's office, located at 255 Critter Trail in Hollister. The clinic is offered Monday to Friday from 10am to 2pm by appointment only. For an appointment call 417-332-0172. The cost is $15 per pet. 24 PetWatch Lost Pet Recovery then provides the location service by registering the pet and working with veterinarians, shelters, and rescue organizations to reunite pets with their families.

OTC to Announce New Partnership with Missouri State University
The public is invited to attend a press conference Thursday morning during which Ozarks Technical Community College will explain its new partnership with Missouri State University. All residents are welcome to attend the meeting, to be held at 10 a.m. on the fourth floor of the OTC Table Rock Campus Building, located adjacent to Highway 65 in Hollister.

Missouri's Employment Gained 8,400 Jobs in February
Missouri's non-farm payroll employment gained 8,400 jobs in February, following a revised increase of 11,200 in January. The job growth was led by Education and Health Services with 4,100 new jobs. In addition, construction was up 2,700 jobs, Trade, Transportation and Utilities was up 2,400 jobs and Real Estate, Rental and Leasing employment was up 1,300 jobs. The state's unemployment rate held steady at 5.5% in February, which is nine-tenths of a point below the February rate in 2014.

Missouri Among Top Five States for New Clean Energy Jobs
Missouri has been ranked among the top five states for new clean energy jobs. The state was ranked number 5 nationally for creating 600 new clean energy jobs in the fourth quarter of 2014. This is not the first time Missouri was ranked at the top of Environmental Entrepreneurs' quarterly rankings. The state was ranked number 4 on the organization's 2014 First Quarter report with Missouri reporting 449 new clean energy jobs. Nationally, in 2014 nearly 47,000 clean energy and clean transportation jobs were announced at over 170 projects.

March 17, 2015

Branson Woman Seriously Injured in One Vehicle Accident
A Branson woman was seriously injured in a one vehicle accident shortly after 10:00 Monday night on Route J, five miles south of Kirbyville. The Highway Patrol reported that a minivan driven by 35 year old Raina Ports traveled off the roadway and struck a tree. Ports was airlifted to Mercy Hospital in Springfield for treatment.

Together Forever Grants Branson Vacation to Yearton Family
Together Forever, A Skyler Sanders Family Foundation recently granted an all expense paid Branson vacation to Stacie Yearton, a young wife and mother of five, diagnosed with a form of brain cancer. The Yearton family was provided with a 4-day stay at the Cliffs Resort, a family photo session with SwiftShots, Dixie Stampede tickets and Sight & Sound tickets to Jonah. The purpose of Together Forever is to create opportunities to make memories that last a lifetime by selecting qualified young families to receive an all-expense-paid vacation to the Branson Tri-Lakes area to give them a break from their normal lives of treatments, hospital, and doctor visits. To learn more, visit TogetherForeverSkyler.org

Reeds Spring Becomes Certifying Organization for The President’s Volunteer Service Award
The City of Reeds Spring is now an official Certifying Organization for The President’s Volunteer Service Award. The President’s Volunteer Service Award recognizes citizens who have achieved a required number of hours of volunteer service over a 12-month time period or cumulative hours over the course of a lifetime. Recipients are awarded an official pin, medallion or coin, a personalized certificate, and a congratulatory letter from the president of the United States. For details on participating, visit PresidentialServiceAwards.gov or call Reeds Spring City Administrator Bill Bell at 417-272-3309.

Missouri Recognizes 50th Anniversary of OACAC's Foster Grandparents Program
Missouri State Representative Lyndall Fraker recently presented a State Resolution to the Foster Grandparents program of Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation. The resolution celebrates the 50th Anniversary of OACAC's Foster Grandparents Program. The program's Foster Grandparents provide one-on-one mentoring, nurturing, and support to children with special or exceptional needs, or who are at academic, social, or financial disadvantage.

Branson Chamber Accepting Nominations for Champions of Healthcare Awards
The Branson / Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce is now accepting nominations for the annual Champions of Healthcare Awards, honoring local men and women in the healthcare industry. Award categories include Community Care Giver, Medical Innovator, Family Advocate and Patients Choice. The awards will be handed out at the Champions of Healthcare Banquet on April 11 at Chateau on the Lake. Nominees must physically work in Taney or Stone counties and all nominations must be received by Thursday, March 26. For a nomination form or for more information, call Julie Bolton at 417-243-2115.

Missouri Expands Pheasant Hunting to All Portions of State
The Missouri Department of Conservation has expanded pheasant hunting to all portions of the state starting with this year's fall hunting season. Previously, pheasant hunting was only allowed in the northern half of the state and a portion of the southeast. The new regulations are listed in the Department's recently released 2015 Summary of Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations booklet available at nature centers, other places where permits are sold, and online at mdc.mo.gov/node/3657.

Kids Across America to Host 25th Anniversary Staff Reunion
Kids Across America Kamps is hosting a 25th Anniversary Staff Reunion. All former Kids Across America staff members are invited to attend the reunion which is scheduled for April 24-26, 2015. Those interested in attending can email kaateam@kaakamps.org for more information.

Registration Open for YMCA Summer Day Camp Program
The Ozark Mountain Family YMCA in Hollister is now accepting registrations for its Summer Day Camp Program. Summer Day Camp offers school-aged children new experiences, skill building, nutrition education, a sense of community and new friendships. Financial assistance is available to to help working parents in need send their child to day camp. For registration or for more information about the Y’s Summer Day Camp Program, call 417-337-YMCA or email chollis@orymca.org.

March 16, 2015

Four Injured in Five Vehicle Accident
Four people were injured in a five vehicle accident just before 8:00 Saturday evening on F Highway in Bull Creek Village. A vehicle driven by 16 year old Matthew Trumble of Branson attempted to cross the highway from a country road when it was struck in the side by a minivan driven by 28 year old Rick Gordon of Branson. Trumbles vehicle then traveled into a parking lot striking a parked car which was pushed into another parked car which was pushed into a parked SUV. Four passengers in four different vehicles suffered minor injuries in the incident. They were 16 year old Dalton Roper of Branson, 62 year old Katherine Lothes of Hollister, 59 year old Robin Wright of Merriam Woods and 33 year old Drewcilla Tompkins of Rockaway Beach. They were all taken to Cox Branson for treatment.

Hollister Woman Injured in One Vehicle Accident
Thirty-one year old Michelle Reasner of Hollister suffered moderate injuries in a one vehicle accident at 5:00 Sunday evening on Highway 76, one mile east of Kirbyville. Reasner was traveling eastbound when the pickup she was driving ran off the roadway and overturned onto its side. She was airlifted to Mercy Hospital in Springfield for treatment.

Jesus Was Homeless Makes Changes to Jobs For Life Program
Jesus Was Homeless has made some changes to its Jobs For Life classes for the 2015 season. They are limiting the classes to 5 male and 5 female students, and they are also requiring a $20 application fee to help the students become more invested in the program. The students receive a $50 Walmart gift card halfway through the program and a $100 Vanity Fair gift card in order to purchase work clothes and interview clothes. Classes are Wednesday and Friday nights from 6-8 p.m. for a period of 8 weeks. The next class starts this Wednesday. For more information, call 417-335-9915 or visit JesusWasHomeless.org.

This Week is National Poison Prevention Week
This week is National Poison Prevention Week. Accidental poisoning is the leading cause of accidental household death in the U.S., and 80 percent of victims are children between the ages of 1 and 4. The Taney County Health Department offers a few simple steps to make your household safer. Store all potential poisons in a cabinet that is out of reach, and out of sight. Properly dispose of unused medications and household chemicals. Beware of unexpected dangers such as e-cigarettes which contain a juice that can be fatal to children. For more information on poison prevention, call the Taney County Health Department at (417) 334-4544 or visit TaneyCoHealth.org.

Historical Society Offering Free Beginning Research Workshop
The White River Valley Historical Society in Forsyth is offering a free Beginning Research workshop this Saturday, March 21. The day-long workshop covers seven different topics, including organization, free online sites, and breaking through research barriers. Space is limited and registration is required. For more information or to register, call 417-546-2210 or visit wrvhs.org.

Crane Lady Pirates are State Champs for Third Year in a Row
The Crane Lady Pirates basketball team is the State Champion for the third year in a row. Crane defeated Skyline by a score of 58 to 51 at the Class 2 Girls' State Championship on Saturday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. The Crane boys basketball team finished third in the state by defeating Canton by a score of 63 to 40 on Friday.

March 13, 2015

One Dead after Minivan Travels Off Bluff onto Highway 65 in Branson
Branson emergency services responded to a fatality accident shortly before 2:30 Thursday afternoon. Officers determined that a minivan was traveling eastbound on the service road by the Oak Ridge Boys Theatre when it traveled off the bluff and came to rest on the southbound lanes of Highway 65. The vehicle had two elderly occupants, a male and female. The male occupant was pronounced dead at the scene and the female occupant was air lifted to Mercy Hospital in Springfield. Highway 65 was partially closed for approximately two hours following the accident. Photo credit to Fire Chief Ted Martin.

Suspects Charged in Mini Mart Robbery
The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office has released more information about an armed robbery that occurred on March 9 at approximately 5 p.m. at Hugh Mini Mart just west of Alpena, Arkansas. A white male entered the store, displayed what appeared to be a pistol in his waistband, demanded and received an undisclosed amount of cash and got into a waiting car driven by a second suspect. Officers located the suspect vehicle in Green Forest and arrested two suspects. 45 year old Christopher Barker and 19 year old Travis Boling, both of Green Forest, have been charged with Aggravated Robbery, Theft and Commercial Burglary.

Jasmine Miller's Family Expresses Thanks, Vigil Rescheduled for April 11
The family of 6 year old Jasmine Miller, who was murdered at a Branson motel on February 21, has released a statement thanking the community for its outpouring of love and support. A vigil for Jasmine that was canceled due to weather has been rescheduled for April 11 at 5 p.m. The public is asked to line 76 Country Boulevard starting at Gretna Road and going west. The public is asked to wear pink and purple and release pink and purple balloons as motorcycles pass by in honor of Jasmine. A memorial for flowers will be located in the Botanas Restaurant parking lot across from the Windsor Inn. For more information about the vigil, call Jesus Was Homeless at 417-337-8103.

Law Enforcement to Conduct Teen Seatbelt Campaign March 15-31
Missouri law enforcement will be out in full force March 15-31 for a teen seatbelt campaign called "Buckle Up. It’s No Joke." in an effort to remind teens that their safety is to be taken very seriously. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says that only 67 percent of Missouri’s teens buckle up. The Highway Patrol added that teens are most likely to follow parental example when it come to making a choice about wearing a seatbelt. Nearly 8 out of 10 teen vehicle occupants killed in Missouri traffic crashes in the past three years were unbuckled.

Branson Tourism Center Honored as Finalist for Better Business Bureau "Torch Award"
The Branson Tourism Center was recently honored as one of the three finalists for the "Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics," presented by the Southwestern Missouri Better Business Bureau. The Branson Tourism Center was recognized for being a business with a rich history of strong integrity and marketplace ethics. The Branson Tourism Center, established in 2003 by Larry and Lianne Milton, is a marketing company specializing in the reselling of Branson lodging, shows, attractions and restaurants to prospective visitors.

Alexander Park Gets Renovations for Baseball Games
The Branson Parks & Recreation Department reported that renovations have started at Alexander Park. The ball fields are being regraded and dugouts constructed in anticipation of playing games at Alexander Park this spring and summer. The ball fields, which have mostly been a practice site since the RecPlex fields were built in 2005, are now needed to play games due to the lack of fields for local leagues as well as tournaments.

Trace Adkins to Perform in Branson July 5
Andy Williams Moon River Theatre announced that Trace Adkins will be performing in Branson for the first time on Sunday, July 5, 2015. Adkins has 31 Top 40 country songs including 5 #1 hits to his name, and also recently starred in the movie "Moms' Night Out." Trace Adkins tickets are on sale now at UpCloseConcerts.com.

Smoking Ordinance Information Sessions Continue this Month
Information sessions to help businesses prepare for implementation of Branson's new smoking ordinance continue this month at the Taney County Health Department's Branson location at 320 Rinehart Road. Branson business owners and leaders can expect to gain information and resources to assist them with the implementation process of the smoking ordinance which goes into effect July 1st this year. Upcoming sessions include this Tuesday, March 17 at 8:30 a.m. and Wednesday, March 25 at 2 p.m. To RSVP for one of the sessions, call 417-334-4544 ext. 225.

The Caring People and Bryan University Offer "Job Club"
The Caring People and Bryan University have teamed up to offer the "Job Club," this Tuesday, March 17 from 6-8 p.m. at the Community Technology Center in downtown Branson. Attendees will receive resume and job tips, and take a personality assessment. Register online at TheCaringPeople.org/JobClub or call 417-334-0131.

March 12, 2015

Aldermen Approve Police Vehicles, Autumn Daze Festival
Branson Aldermen have approved the purchase of new police vehicles. The action accepts the proposal from Lou Fusz Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge and will bring 5 Dodge Chargers into service for the police department. The Board also approved a Special Event Permit application for the 42nd Annual Autumn Daze Arts, Craft and Music Festival. The event will be held September 17-19 on North Commercial Street between West Main Street and Atlantic Street. The event will also include a large tent within the Awberry Parking Lot.

Blue Eye Man Injured in Two Vehicle Accident
A two vehicle accident Wednesday morning sent a Blue Eye man to CoxHealth Branson. 61 year old Charles Fleming was stopped at a red light when his car was hit from behind by a pickup truck driven by 54 year old Mark Francz of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Fleming was treated for minor injuries. The 9:25 a.m. accident occurred south of Hollister at the intersection of Highway 65 and Highway 265.

Silver Dollar City Unveils Fireman's Landing, Park Opens this Saturday
Local media representatives had the opportunity to tour the new Fireman's Landing family attraction at Silver Dollar City on Wednesday. The new attraction will be open when SDC opens this Saturday for Spring Ride Days. Fireman's Landing includes 6 new outdoor rides plus 4 attractions which are located inside a temperature controlled building. In honor of the service provided by firefighters, SDC will provide free admission to the park for paid and volunteer firefighters and fire department support staff, from March 14th - May 3rd. Details about the offer can be obtained at SilverDollarCity.com. Photo: School of the Ozarks students and local fire personnel take part in a ceremonial opening of Fireman's Landing on Wednesday. The park opens for the season on March 14

Volunteers Needed for Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf Tournament
120 volunteers are needed for this year's Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge. This Champions Tour event will be held April 22-26 in Ridgedale. Volunteers are needed for marshals, transportation, parking, scoring, caddie services and corporate hospitality. Golf knowledge is not required and training will be provided. The volunteer fee is $75 and includes a golf shirt, headwear, poncho, a credential valid for week-long tournament access, meals during assigned shifts and a grounds ticket to Buffalo Ridge for two days. Volunteers may register online at BassProLegends.com.

Photo: Tom Watson chips out of a sand trap during the 2014 Legends of Golf event

Public Invited to Tri-Lakes KLIFE Appreciation Banquet
The Tri-Lakes KLIFE Appreciation Banquet is planned for Monday, March 30th at the Dixie Stampede in Branson. The ministry is encouraging the community to attend the free event to see the impact KLIFE is having on the area's youth. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the traditional Dixie Stampede meal served at 6:30. During the meal, KLIFE staff will share how they fulfill their vision and mission of reaching students for Christ throughout the school year. RSVP is requested by March 20th by emailing trilakes@klife.com or calling 417-334-4034.

Missouri House Adopts $26.1 Billion Budget
The Missouri House has adopted a $26.1 billion dollar budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1st. The budget proposes a $74 million increase for K-12 education. That's $24 million more than Governor Jay Nixon's proposal but would still leave the state $408 million short of fully backing the K-12 funding formula. This is the third consecutive year that Majority Republicans have turned away an effort to accept expansion of Medicaid in the budget. The budget bills still need another favorable vote in order to be sent to the senate.

March 11, 2015

Aldermen Approve Resource Officers, Pawn Shop Requirements
Branson Aldermen have approved a contract renewal with the Branson School District to support the placement of two school resource officers. The school district pays 75% of the cost of hosting these officers at the high school and junior high school. When they met Tuesday evening, Aldermen also approved the first reading of a bill amending Chapter 26 of the City's Municipal Code pertaining to pawn shops. The action updates the City's licensing requirements to match the requirements of the state and covers such items as background checks and a licensing deposit.

Branson's Sales Tax Receipts Up 9.2% Over Three Month Period
Branson's sales tax receipts are up 9.2% over a three month period and tourism tax revenue is up 21.1% for the first two months of this year. That's according to an article in the Branson Daily Independent. A year ago, tax receipts were trending downward compared to 2013. Taney County sales tax receipts are up 19.6% for the first three months of this year compared to 2014. Sales tax reports for the city are posted online under the 'Reports' tab at CityOfBranson.org. County reports can be found under the 'Treasurer's Department' tab at co.taney.mo.us.

Shell Knob Woman Seriously Injured in One Car Crash
Diane Larson, age 67, of Shell Knob was seriously injured Tuesday afternoon when the car she was driving ran off the road, hit a driveway culvert and overturned. Larson was taken to Cox South Hospital in Springfield by air ambulance. The 2 p.m. accident occurred in Barry County, four miles south of Monett.

S of O Boys Basketball Coach/Players Earn All-Conference Honors
Four players on the School of the Ozarks boys basketball team and Head Coach Jerry Martin were awarded All-Conference honors following the S of O Patriots season that ended with a total of 19 wins to 8 losses. Martin received Coach of the Year for the Mark Twain Conference. S of O player Keaton Tillack earned the All-Conference title of Most Valuable Player. Teammates Cade Martin, Coby Dolloff and Billy Evans earned the titles of 1st Team All-Conference, 2nd Team All-Conference and All-Conference Honorable Mention, respectively. Votes are cast by the coaches of each team, with the stipulation that a coach cannot vote for his own players. Photo: District Champions School of the Ozarks Patriots

Options Pregnancy Clinic Reaching Out to Hispanics
Options Pregnancy Clinic in Branson has Spanish speaking personnel and is now expanding their ministry to Hispanic women in Taney County who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. In addition to offering a Spanish curriculum in their ministry, Options will soon have advertising on KQMO, a Spanish language radio station serving the area from Shell Knob on 97.7 FM. Twelve percent of the population in the Branson area is Hispanic.

Morningside to Host Ready Now Expo March 16-20
Morningside in Blue Eye, Missouri, home of the Jim Bakker TV Show will host the Ready Now Expo next week. The 5-day event will feature special speakers on the topics of survival and preparedness. Educational seminars will start on Monday morning with 'How to Survive on Junk'. Other seminars through the week will include 'Gardening for Life, Canning Foods', 'Check List to Survival', 'Emergency Medical Preparedness' and 'Firearm Safety'. Admission is free to all events. Information about the seminars is available on the website JimBakkerShow.com.

March 10, 2015

Branson Man Injured in Semi Truck Rollover
A Branson man was injured when the semi truck he was driving rolled over at about 2:30 Monday afternoon at the intersection of Highways 65 and 160, five miles north of Branson. The truck was from Hansen's Tree Service and was hauling mulch which spilled onto the roadside. The driver, 47 year old Jonathan Henry, was trapped in the cab and was removed by firefighters through the back glass window of the cab. The Highway 65 entrance ramp was closed for about 45 minutes as the truck was uprighted and removed. Henry was transported to Cox South Hospital in Springfield for treatment of moderate injuries.

Suspect in Custody for Mini Mart Robbery Near Alpena
The Carroll County, Arkansas Sheriff's Office reported that a suspect is in custody for a robbery Monday evening. At approximately 5 p.m. Monday the Sheriff's Office received a report of a robbery that had just occurred at Hugh Mini Mart, located about two miles west of Alpena on Highway 62. The store's security cameras captured images of the suspect and his vehicle. The man, whose identity has not yet been released, was located and taken into custody shortly after 7 p.m.

White-Nose Syndrome Confirmed in Several Arkansas Caves
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission announced that the presence of white-nose syndrome, a disease fatal to several bat species, has been confirmed in several caves. Bats from a cave on the Buffalo National River in Newton County as well as caves in Independence and Madison counties have been confirmed to have white-nose syndrome or the fungus associated with it. White-nose syndrome was first discovered in a cave in New York in 2006. Since then, it has been confirmed in five Canadian provinces and 25 states. It is not known to affect humans, but has been responsible for the deaths of millions of bats. While bats are often portrayed in a negative light, they play a key role in keeping insects, including agricultural pests, mosquitoes, and forest pests under control.

MoDOT Seeks Public's Help in Locating Potholes this Spring
At the Missouri Department of Transportation, the start of March means crews turn their attention to the potholes that develop as temperatures change. MoDOT's goal is to patch potholes as quickly as possible and they are seeking the public's help to let them know where they are. There are multiple ways motorists can report potholes: Call 1-888-ASK-MODOT; Visit MoDOT.org and click on “Report a Road Concern”; or Send an e-mail to comments@modot.mo.gov.

Animal Control Center Offers Microchip Clinic for Pets
During the month of March, the Taney County Animal Care and Control Center in Hollister is offering a microchip clinic for pets. The microchip process aids in the location of lost pets so that they can be reunited with their families. The microchip clinic is available by appointment Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The cost is $15 per pet. To make an appointment, call 417-332-0172.

Annual "Spring Gardening Workshop" Set for Saturday
The Master Gardeners of the Ozarks will present their annual "Spring Gardening Workshop" this Saturday from 9:30 a.m. through 2:45 p.m. at Faith Lutheran Church in Branson. The event will feature various gardening and landscaping workshops, a question and answer table, plants and horticulture vendors, and more. Advance registration is required. Cost per person for all sessions and lunch is $20. Register online at MGOzarks.com.

The Keeter Center Offers Etiquette Class for Children
The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks will present an Etiquette Class this Saturday from 10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Children ages 8-14 will learn basic etiquette such as: table manners, table setting, introduction and proper handshake, proper dress, proper posture, and more. The cost is $25 per student, which includes lunch and a completion certificate. Reservations are available online at KeeterCenter.edu/events or by calling 417-690-2120.

March 9, 2015

Green Forest Man Fatally Injured in One Vehicle Accident
A man from Green Forest was fatally injured in a one vehicle accident shortly after 5:00 last Friday evening on Highway 103 in Carroll County, Arkansas. A northbound vehicle driven by 42 year old William Athey Jr entered a curve at a high rate of speed, ran off the roadway and struck a tree and a fence. Athey was pronounced dead at the scene and taken to Nelson’s Funeral Home.

Branson Fire Department Responds to Derailed Train Car, Overturned Boat
The Branson Fire Department responded to a couple of unusual incidents last Friday. At about 10:00 Friday morning, a train passing through downtown had one of its empty coal cars come off the track by the Convention Center bringing the whole line of 135 train cars to a stop and blocking all three downtown road crossings. The derailed car was eventually disconnected from the train and all intersections were open by about 11:30 a.m. Later in the day just before 4 p.m., crews were dispatched to a report of an overturned boat on Highway 76 near Tanger Boulevard. The eastbound lane of 76 was blocked until the boat could be removed from the roadway.

Branson Man Sentenced to Four Years for Meth Possession
Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell announced that 29 year old Stephen Stanfield of Branson pled guilty and was sentenced to four years in prison for possession of methamphetamine pursuant to a plea agreement. Stanfield was arrested in the early morning hours of February 11, 2015, by Forsyth Police Officer Michelle Pugh. Office Pugh was investigating a disturbance at a residence on Proverbs Court in Forsyth, when she discovered Stanfield and two other individuals in possession of several items of drug paraphernalia, as well as meth and pills.

C of O Preparing to Launch New Engineering Program in Fall 2016
College of the Ozarks is preparing to launch a new academic program in general engineering in the fall of 2016. The new Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.) degree will prepare students for a wide range of engineering jobs and for specialized graduate programs in engineering and related fields. The new program will be housed in the division of math and natural sciences. The College has hired Dr. Mark Nowack to develop and lead the program. Dr. Nowack has more than 20 years of military experience with the US Air Force, primarily in mechanical engineering positions. He comes to C of O from a position as principal and consulting engineer with NK2 LLC.

Branson Salvation Army to Test Low-Income Food Co-op
The Branson Salvation Army is planning to pursue a new alternative for food assistance. The new approach will be the formation of a low-income client operated food cooperative. There will be no fee for the food co-op members however they will be required to help operate the co-op by picking up, unloading, sorting and distributing the food. The Salvation Army’s current emergency food pantry, which serves roughly 40 families a week, will continue to operate on Wednesdays as the food co-op is tested out this summer. The food pantry may be closed in the future if the co-op is successful. Those interested in being a part of the food co-op can call 417-339-4434.

NAIA Men’s Division II National Basketball Championship Kicks Off Wednesday at C of O
College of the Ozarks will host the NAIA Men’s Division II Basketball Championship beginning this Wednesday and running through next Tuesday, March 17. The Division II championship is a 32 team, single-elimination tournament featuring the champions of the Division II conferences and at-large berths. The opening round of play begins on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. with day and evening games throughout the week. The tournament concludes with the championship game on March 17 at 6 p.m. For tickets, game schedules and more information, call (417) 335- 6242 or visit www.cofo.edu/naia.

Photo: The 2014 “Parade of Champions” opening night ceremony. (photo credit CIPhotography)

Fish Hatchery to Host Bluebird Workshop this Saturday
The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery in Branson will host a Bluebird Workshop this Saturday, March 14, 2015, from 1-2:30 p.m. Participants will learn about the state bird of Missouri and have the opportunity to build a bluebird nesting box. There is a limit of one nesting box per family and each family must make a reservation. Call (417) 334-4865 ext 0 for reservations and directions.

March 6, 2015

Agenda Set for March 10 Branson Aldermen Meeting
Branson Aldermen will hold their next regular meeting this Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Some of the items on the agenda include discussion of community survey questions, an update on Priority Based Budgeting, an amendment pertaining to the licensing of pawn shops, a contract to purchase police vehicles, a contract for School Resource Officers, and a Special Event Permit for the 42nd annual Autumn Daze Festival. The complete agenda can be viewed online at BransonMO.gov.

Lieutenant Bryan Miller Named Branson's Employee of the Month
Lieutenant Bryan Miller from the Branson Police Department has been selected as the City's Employee of the Month for March. Lieutenant Miller has been an employee of the City of Branson for 20 years. During the last 12 years, he has been the primary organizer for the Shop with a Hero program. During this annual Christmas event, uniformed First Responders help area families in need by shopping for Christmas gifts with their children. Lieutenant Miller works throughout the year to coordinate the program with area donors, Love INC and Wal-Mart. He was recognized by the City for demonstrating the values of teamwork, cooperation, volunteerism and stewardship.

White River Electric Now Offering Interactive Outage Map
White River Valley Electric Cooperative announced that it now has an interactive outage map available to its customers. Information available on the outage map includes the number of members without power in each county, the total number of members served in each county, and the general location of each outage. The outage information refreshes every five minutes. To view the outage map online, visit WhiteRiver.org/Outage-Information.

Taney County Offering Free Septic Tank Pumping Program
The Taney County Commission, through the Department of Taney County Environmental Services, is offering Taney County residents the opportunity to save 100% on the cost of having their septic tank pumped of contents. The County Commission is conducting this program in an effort to improve water quality within the County and to educate residents about the importance of regular septic tank maintenance. For more information on the septic tank pumping program or to request an application, call (417) 546-7238 or visit TaneyCounty.org.

Branson High Students Compete in District DECA Contest
Students in the Branson High School Chapter of Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) recently competed in the District 11 Contest. The students were required to prepare an 11-page promotion plan for a business; prepare a 10-minute presentation; and complete a 100-question objective test. Students and their District winning entries included: Ashley David and Johnny Sparks - 1st place for Sports and Entertainment Promotion Plan; Robert Taylor and Miranda Herrington - 1st place for Advertising Campaign; Cece Givens and Hailey LaCroix - 2nd place for Fashion Merchandise Promotion Plan; and Sierra Brown - 4th place for Fashion Merchandise Promotion Plan. First and second place winners advance to the State DECA Contest March 15-17.

Legends of Golf Tournament Earns Economic Impact Award
The Taney County Partnership announced that the recipient of its inaugural Economic Impact Award is the 2014 Big Cedar Lodge PGA Legends of Golf tournament presented by Bass Pro Shops. The Economic Impact Award is presented to individuals, organizations, businesses, or events that have a significant positive impact on Taney County. The three main criteria considered for this honor are capital investment, job creation, and community awareness or exposure.

Junior Auxiliary Delivers "Tender Critters" to CoxHealth Branson
Junior Auxiliary of Taney County members recently delivered dozens of stuffed animals to CoxHealth Branson as part of their “Tender Critters” program. The stuffed animals are intended to comfort children who are facing a hospital stay or emergency room visit. The stuffed animals are collected by Junior Auxiliary members, the local Vietnam Veterans of America chapter, and community members. For more information about the “Tender Critters” program or to donate stuffed animals, visit jatcmo.org.

Photo: Junior Auxiliary members Rita Parsons and Cindi Saltzgiver deliver Tender Critters to CoxHealth Branson

March 5, 2015

Two from Merriam Woods Injured in Hit and Run Accident
The driver and passenger of a car received minor injuries during a hit and run accident late Wednesday morning. 52 year old Rocio De-Bruyne of Merriam Woods was stopped in the roadway due to road conditions. The car she was driving was hit from behind by a car which drove away from the scene of the accident. The driver and passenger, 16 year old Natalie De-Bruyne, also of Merriam Woods, were taken to Cox Health Branson for treatment. The 11:30 a.m. accident occurred on Route F, 7 miles west of Forsyth.

Local Bay Officially Designated ‘Bobwhite Cove’
A bay in Table Rock Lake near Shell Knob has been designated as 'Bobwhite Cove.' The official name was approved by the Missouri Board of Geographic Names at its November 2014 meeting, then granted final approval last month by the United States Board on Geographic Names. Bobwhite Cove is a mile long and a half-mile wide with an area of 146 acres. The original proposal was for the name 'Quail Cove' but was changed to avoid confusion with another cove 10 miles to the west that contained the Quail Cove Resort.

C of O to Host FFA Workshop for High School Students
The College of the Ozarks Agricultural Department will host an FFA workshop for area high school students this Saturday. The event from 8:30 until noon will be held in the Youngman Agricultural Center. It will include workshops on livestock, dairy cattle and daily products, entomology, meats, poultry, horses, nursery and landscaping, soils and other topics. Last year, over 2,500 students from 90 schools in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas attended the event.

Photo: College of the Ozarks senior Janelle Willis, animal science and agriculture major, takes part in FFA activities during the 2014 Expo on the College campus.

Presleys, Showboat Kick Off 2015 Season this Weekend
The Presleys will start their 49th live show season in Branson this Friday. Three generations of Presley family members still perform in their original theatre built in 1967 on Highway 76. Also this year, the Presleys will start the 6th season of their music and comedy TV show on RFD-TV. The Showboat Branson Belle starts their dinner cruises for the season this Saturday. This year, the Branson Belle will feature a 20th Anniversary Limited Engagement show with new acts and returning favorites. The 700 passenger vessel is the largest ship known to be built on an American land-locked lake.

MO Added 14,300 Jobs in January, Unemployment Up a Tenth
According to seasonally adjusted data released by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the state's non-farm payroll employment gained 14,300 jobs in January, following an increase of 4,400 jobs in December. Missouri's unemployment rate edged up a tenth of a point in January, to 5.5%. In comparison, the national unemployment rate for January was 5.7%, also up a tenth of a point from December. January's job growth was led by leisure and hospitality with 5,100 new jobs. The private educational services industry was up by 1,300 new jobs.

March 4, 2015

Clinical Decision Unit Opens at CoxHealth Branson
A new Clinical Decision Unit has opened at CoxHealth Branson. The unit provides space for patients coming to the emergency room to stay up to 24 hours if additional observation and testing is required concerning their emergency health situation. The CDU includes 8 observation beds and is located adjacent to the hospital's new emergency department. The unit is part of CoxHealth's $30 million, 60,000 square-foot expansion and renovation of the emergency department and critical care unit.

98 People Brave the Weather to Receive Chick-fil-A for a Year
98 people lined up at Branson's new Chick-fil-A restaurant at 6 a.m. this morning. They were securing their spot to stay on the parking lot of the restaurant for 24 hours in order to receive a free meal each week for a year. Thursday morning at 5:15, campers will be awakened for their last bathroom break. They will then be lined up to receive their official numbers, t-shirts and hats as the Chick-fil-A cow leads them into the restaurant. Team members will join the celebratioin banging on pots and pans and cheering as the campers receive their year supplies. The restaurant officially opens Thursday at 6:30 a.m.

Rockaway Beach Woman Injured in Two Vehicle Accident
Just minor injuries for one of the drivers in a two-vehicle accident Tuesday afternoon. A car driven by 71 year old Stanley Swenson of Chestnut Ridge, Missouri failed to yield and was hit by a pickup driven by 27 year old Holly Hackbarth of Rockaway Beach. Hackbarth was taken to CoxHealth Branson for treatment. The 3:10 p.m. accident occurred on Route F, five miles north of Branson. Both drivers were using their seatbelt.

Concerns Rise Over Safety of Extended-Stay Motels
On February 21, six year old Jasmine Miller was killed at an extended-stay motel in Branson where she was living with her mother and stepfather. An article in the Branson Tri-Lakes News reported that local officials now want to start discussions on the safety of extended stay motels. There is concern about the absence of internet connections so families can stay informed about the location of sex offenders. The city is also concerned that the facilities are not being inspected often enough for safety issues. The Jesus Was Homeless ministry says the extended stay motels should not be closed as they provide necessary housing for many service industry workers, most of whom are good, hardworking people. Of the 250 motels in the Branson area, 25 rent rooms on a weekly or monthly basis.

Branson Bank Conducts Bake Sale for Miller Family
Branson Bank employees raised over $2,000 for the Jasmine Miller family. They raised the funds through a two-day bake sale at the bank on Highway 248, with bakery items donated by individuals, Price Chopper and The Keeter Center. The Bank matched the funds and contributed an additional $500 which brought the total to $2,429.15. A memorial fund has been established at Branson Bank to assist the Miller family and donations of cash or checks can still be made at any of the three bank locations.

David Baker to Speak at Chateau on Friday
David Baker, President and Executive Director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, will speak at the Château on the Lake in Branson this Friday morning. Skaggs Foundation and the Chateau on the Lake are hosting the event, designed to encourage and equip leaders and aspiring leaders in the business, healthcare and public service organizations in the community. Seating is limited for the 7:30 a.m. event. Admission is $25 which will include a light breakfast and will benefit Skaggs Foundation and the Reeds Spring School Foundation. For more information or to purchase tickets call 417-348-8998.

March 3, 2015

Three Arrested for Stabbings in Boone County
The Boone County Sheriff’s Department reported that three men have been arrested for stabbing two people at a residence on Tennyson Loop shortly before 1 a.m. this past Sunday. Deputies responding to a 911 call found two victims who had sustained multiple stab wounds. They were both transported to North Arkansas Regional Medical Center in Harrison where they were listed in stable condition. The victims were able to identify the suspects as Samuel Lowe, Jeremiah Lowe and Samuel Lambert. All three were located and taken into custody without incident.

Branson Man Injured in One Vehicle Accident
A Branson man was injured in a one vehicle accident at about 6:45 Monday evening on Falls Parkway at Dakota Road in Branson. An SUV driven by 33 year old Jeremy Wittmer failed to stop at a stop sign, ran off the roadway and struck a guy wire and several trees. Wittmer suffered minor injuries and was transported to Cox Branson for treatment.

Faith Community Health Now Offering Full-Time Dental Clinic
Faith Community Health in downtown Branson is now offering full-time dental services five days a week, thanks to a $450,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. Faith Community Health, which serves uninsured and underinsured residents of Taney and Stone counties, began offering full-time dental services in December when the clinic welcomed Dr. Bruce Maxwell. Dr. Maxwell and Registered Dental Hygienist Casey Cagle offer complete comprehensive dental care, including cleanings, fillings, extractions and minor surgical procedures. The services are offered at a discounted rate based on a patient’s income and insurance status.

C of O Takes Show Trophy for Best Display in Orchid Competition
College of the Ozarks recently won Show Trophy for best display in an orchid competition at the Missouri Botanical Garden, sponsored by the Orchid Society of Greater St. Louis. C of O also took home Best of Class as well as first, second and third place ribbons in various categories. The show orchids were taken from C of O's Clint McDade Orchid Collection which is cared for by C of O students and features over 7,000 types of plants. C of O's orchid collection is open for the public to view Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. A limited number of the orchids are available for purchase. For more information, call (417) 690-2212.

Photo: C of O won Best of Class in the Phalaenopsis category with the Phalaenopsis chian xen piano

Mercy Berryville’s Charity Ball Sets Fundraising Record
For the third year in a row, Mercy Hospital Berryville’s Black and White Charity Ball set a fundraising record. This year’s donors raised nearly $64,000, up from $56,000 in 2014. The 12th annual event was held at the Inn of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs on February 21. Funds from this year’s event will pay for at least a half dozen Stryker stretchers in the emergency department.

CoxHealth Conducting Third Annual Diaper Drive
Now through March 28, CoxHealth is collecting diapers for its third annual Diaper Drive to help area families in need. Donation bins are located at various CoxHealth properties, including the cafeteria and Skaggs Foundation office at Cox Medical Center Branson. Diapers donated will support Jesus Was Homeless in Branson, as well as organizations in Cassville, Monett and Springfield.

Public Invited to 2015 Community Marketing Presentation
The 2015 Community Marketing Presentation delivered by the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau will be held at The Keeter Center on the campus of College of the Ozarks this Thursday from 9:30-11 a.m. The presentation will feature results from 2014 marketing efforts, as well as a look ahead at 2015. The event is free and open to the public.

Wolves Pack Night at Dixie Stampede to Benefit Students and Teachers
The Reeds Spring School Foundation will hold its fifth annual major fundraising effort, "PACK NIGHT at the Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction," this Friday at 8 p.m. All of the evening’s proceeds will benefit the Reeds Spring School Foundation which focuses on granting continuing education scholarships to Reeds Spring students and classroom enrichment mini-grants to teachers. In addition to the Dixie Stampede Dinner Show, David Baker, President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame will address those in attendance with a message about educational excellence. Tickets can be purchased at area Liberty Bank locations, at any Reeds Spring School office, or by calling 417-272-3271.

Photo: David Baker, President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

March 2, 2015

35 Injured, I-44 Closed in Greyhound Bus Accident
Thirty-five people were injured and westbound Interstate 44 was closed when a Greyhound bus struck a semi on Interstate 44 in Rolla Saturday afternoon. Crews worked through the night and most of Sunday to cleanup the accident including a hazardous material spill. The Highway Patrol reported that all of the injuries were minor with many of the bus passengers opting out of transport to a hospital for treatment.

Branson Man Injured in One Car Rollover
A Branson man was injured when the car he was driving traveled off the road and overturned at about 2 a.m. Saturday morning. The incident occurred on Highway 171 in Asbury, Missouri north of Joplin. Forty-five year old Timothy Jordan was transported to McCune Brooks Hospital in Carthage for treatment of minor injuries.

Reeds Spring Man Injured in Two Vehicle Accident
A man from Reeds Spring was injured in a two vehicle accident just before 9:00 Saturday morning on Highway 160, a mile south of Spokane. A car driven by 24 year old Riley Snyder drove into the back of a car driven by 61 year old Pamela Burke of Spokane. Snyder was taken to Cox South Hospital in Springfield for treatment of minor injuries.

Central Taney County Firefighters Help Rescue Lost Hiker
Central Taney County Firefighters responded to a report of a hiker lost inside the Mark Twain National Forest at around 1 p.m. Saturday. Taney County Road and Bridge crews were called out to help with clearing the road of snow at the trailhead. The fire department reported at about 2:30 p.m. that the hiker had been found safe.

Taney County Collector Sheila Wyatt Sworn Into 5th Term
Taney County Collector Sheila Wyatt was sworn into her fifth term in office this morning. Judge Laura Johnson, the first woman to serve as the 38th Circuit Judge of Taney and Christian Counties, conducted Wyatt's swearing in ceremony. Wyatt is the first woman to serve as Collector of Revenue of Taney County.

Branson Chamber Hands Out Community Awards at Black Tie Gala
The Branson/Lakes Area Chamber Commerce handed out its annual community awards at the 68th Annual Black Tie Gala Saturday night at the Branson Convention Center. The winner of the Jim Langham Ambassador of the Year award was Rick Castillon. The Care For Kids award recipient was Boys and Girls Club of the Ozark. Bill Jones was awarded the Community Spirit award. The Beautification award recipient was Johnny Morris with Top of the Rock and C & F Masonry. The Ambassador award went to Connell Insurance. Pam Druffel with Ozark Mountain Bank was given the Pioneer award. And the recipient of the Mary award was Jim Lawson.

Reeds Spring Receives $20k Grant to Remodel Community Center Gym
The City of Reeds Spring announced that it is a $20,000 grant recipient from the Louis and Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation. The funds will be used to remodel the gymnasium in the former Reeds Spring High School/WPA Building. Demolition in the gym is slated to begin March 16 with replacement of the floor to begin shortly thereafter. Other minor details in the gym will be addressed as well. Once the gym is in usable condition, the facility will be opened and dedicated as the Reeds Spring Regional Community Center. The facility is expected to be open by mid to late summer. Other local recipients of the Foundation grants were Jesus Was Homeless and the Southwest Center for Independent Living, each receiving $10,000. Jesus Was Homeless will use the funds for its “Meet the Doc” events to bring together medical, vision and dental resources for homeless and low-income residents in the Branson area. The Southwest Center for Independent Living plans to use the grant money for social skills classes, events and advocacy support for youths with disabilities in Stone and Taney counties. Photo: Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO) Board Chair Roger Shaw presents a Coover grant to Bill Bell along with CFO board member Karen Miller and Commerce Trust Vice President Jill Reynolds

National Enzyme Company Announces New Chief Financial Officer
The National Enzyme Company in Forsyth announced that Kim Crouse has been named as its new Chief Financial Officer. Kim previously served as Director of Finance for the past 11 years. The company said that Kim's unique talent for analyzing financial risk has helped position NEC for exponential growth. NEC offers manufacturing services for enzyme, probiotic, vitamin, mineral and botanical supplements.

C of O to Present Broadway Musical “Big Fish”
College of the Ozarks will present the Broadway musical, “Big Fish,” March 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. and March 8 at 2:30 p.m. in Jones Auditorium. “Big Fish” focuses on Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman with larger-than-life stories. The musical’s plot revolves around the relationship between Edward Bloom and his son Will, who is determined to find the truth behind his father’s tall tales. For tickets or more information, call (417) 690-2626.

February 27, 2015

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich Dies from Gunshot Wound
Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich died on Thursday from a gunshot wound that authorities believe was self-inflicted. An investigation is being conducted and an autopsy has been requested. Schweich, age 54, was in his second term as auditor and had recently announced plans to seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2016. Schweich is survived by his wife Kathy and two children, Emilie and Thomas Jr.

Rockaway Beach Man Sentenced to Five Years for Meth Possession
Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell announced that 50 year old Carl Thompson of Rockaway Beach pled guilty to possession of methamphetamine and was sentenced to five years in prison persuant to a plea agreement. On February 3, 2014, a Taney County Sheriff’s deputy made contact with Thompson as part of an investigation into an unrelated crime. During the course of this contact, the deputy discovered that Thompson was in possession of methamphetamine.

New Panhandling Restrictions Now in Effect in Branson
At the Branson City Council Meeting on February 24, Aldermen approved the final reading of a bill addressing the issue of panhandling. The bill prohibits a person from standing in, or entering into, the roadway for the purpose of solicitation or distribution of materials, for reasons of public safety. This restriction is effective immediately.

Statewide Severe Weather Tornado Drill Set for March 3
Emergency Management agencies in Taney County, including the Cities of Branson and Forsyth will join the National Weather Service and other emergency managers across the state this Tuesday, March 3, for the annual Statewide Severe Weather Tornado Drill at 1:30 p.m. This special event is designed to test emergency outdoor warning sirens, activation of NOAA Weather Radios and to allow the public to practice response to a tornado. The Tornado Drill is part of Missouri Severe Weather Awareness Week to help Missourians be prepared for tornadoes, severe storms, lightning and flooding. For more information about severe weather, visit StormAware.mo.gov.

OACAC to Open Neighborhood Center in Crane
Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation announced that its Stone County Neighborhood Center will now be open in Crane, Missouri at the Crane Christian Parsonage. The new location in Crane will be open on the first Thursday of every month from 8:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., beginning March 5. To make an appointment to meet with a Family Resource Specialist, call 417-739-1130. The Specialist will discuss your personal situation and refer you to an OACAC program or other community programs that may be able to assist you.

Branson High School Native Recognized for Community Service
Branson High School Native and Pittsburg State University guard Sam Pugh, was recently named to the 2015 Allstate National Association of Basketball Coaches Good Works Team®. The honor recognizes college basketball student-athletes for their charitable achievements and community service activities. Pugh's community service accomplishments include: Volunteering to teach third graders basic math skills using sports; Feeding the homeless; and Working with autistic children from an elementary school.

Branson High School to Hold Orientation for Incoming Freshmen
Branson High School will hold an informational meeting for all incoming freshman students and their parents this Monday and Tuesday from 6-7:30 each evening. Due to the expected number of students in the 2015-2016 freshman class, the orientation session is being divided by alphabet over two nights. Students whose last name begins with the letter A-K will attend the Monday session. The remaining students, as well as all Kirbyville students, will attend the Tuesday session. Information will be provided on curriculum, extracurricular activities, school policies and more, and a tour of the High School facilities will be conducted.

TripAdvisor Data Ranks Branson 4th in U.S. Vacation Rentals
TripAdvisor announced that Branson ranks as the number four vacation rental destination in the US, according to traveler reviews in 2014. In a study comparing average review scores for vacation rentals, Branson came in fourth place with a score of 4.79 out of a possible five – equivalent to 96%. Branson’s vacation rentals hold numerous TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence awards, owing to their high review scores.

February 26, 2015

$100k Grant to Fund New Apartments for Developmentally Disabled
The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) has approved $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for Taney County. The money will enable the county to purchase land to construct 24 apartments for people with developmental disabilities. The building will contain 18 one-bedroom units and 6 two-bedroom units that will be 100% special needs priority. It will be located next to the Taney County Developmental Connections Offices on Highway 76 east of Branson. Missouri Housing Development Low Income Tax Credits will be used to construct the apartments.

Reeds Spring Receives $500k Grant to Upgrade Water System
The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) has approved $500,000 in Block Grant funds to help the City of Reeds Spring upgrade its water distribution system. The City's water system has deteriorating cast iron and galvanized piping which is causing water loss and does not meet DNR minimum chlorine standards. The grant will enable Reeds Spring to replace the water lines, renovate two well houses and replace existing service meters. The block grant program is administered by the Missouri Department of Economic Development and provides grants and loans to cities with a population less than 50,000 and to counties under 200,000, to assist with a variety of public works and economic development projects.

Kissee Mills Woman Injured in Two Vehicle Accident
Two vehicles received extensive damage but just minor injuries for one of the drivers in an accident in Taney County Wednesday morning. 27 year old Tanya Coleman of Kissee Mills was stopped for traffic when her vehicle was hit from behind by a car driven by 21 year old Gilberto Ramos Palacios of Branson. Coleman was taken to Cox Health Branson for treatment. The 9:25 a.m. accident occurred on Route F, 5 miles north of Branson.

Boone County Sheriff Investigating Suspected Murder-Suicide
The Boone County, Arkansas Sheriff's Department is investigating a suspected murder-suicide, involving the death of 26 year old Daniel Jacob Peebles and 21 year old Haley Elizabeth Brown. The bodies were discovered late Tuesday afternoon by a parent that was arriving to pick up an infant that was being cared for by Brown. The infant along with Brown's two month old baby were found unharmed inside the house. The investigation indicated that the couple allegedly had a strained relationship and that the deaths appear to be the result of gunshots. The bodies were taken to the medical examiner's office.

Aldermen Approve New Maintenance Building at Cooper Creek
Branson Aldermen approved a resolution authorizing the construction of an operations and maintenance building at the Cooper Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The building will have four bays for the maintenance and storage of equipment and vehicles. The board also approved the first reading of a bill accepting the proposal of Carson Mitchell, Inc. for the construction of the facility.

Chick-fil-A Collecting Children's Books for S of O Lower School
Part of the mission of Chick-fil-A is to partner with organizations that work to enrich education, literacy and youth. Branson Chick-fil-A franchise owner Kevin Hutcheson is collecting unused children's books next Wednesday and Thursday at the new restaurant, located on Main Street. The books will be donated to the S. Truett Cathy Lower School, the elementary grades of School of the Ozarks, which is located on the College of the Ozarks campus. The Lower School was named for the chain's founder who died last September at the age of 93.

February 25, 2015

Branson Bank Establishes Jasmine Miller Memorial Fund
Branson Bank has established a memorial fund to help the family of Jasmine Miller, the six year old girl that was found dead in a Branson motel last Saturday. Cash or check donations may be made at any of the three Branson Bank locations, on Highway 248, and on Falls Parkway in Branson and in Forsyth. Donations may also be mailed to the bank, care of the Jasmine Miller Memorial Fund. 55 year old John Roberts has been charged with first degree murder in the girl's death and is being held in the Taney County Jail.

Branson to Conduct Community and Business Surveys
When they met in regular session Tuesday evening, Branson Aldermen approved the first reading of a bill accepting the proposal of ETC Institute to perform a community survey and a business survey. The study follows up on similar outreach efforts in 2008 and 2012. The survey should be mailed to residents and business owners later this spring. Aldermen also approved an amendment to a contract with Radiophone Engineering. The company will provide radio equipment in and on the tower site located off Elm Shade Drive. The new site will improve the communications signal in that area.

C of O Ranked #2 for Best College Farms in America
College of the Ozarks has been ranked number 2 of the top 20 Best College Farms in America. The ranking by "Best College Reviews" is based on a number of factors. These include the size of the farm, the farm's integration with the main campus, how sustainable the farm is, whether college courses are taught on the farm, whether students use the farm and whether the farm is utilized by the community. Students receive working knowledge on C of O farms where most of the agriculture professors are also farm managers. Student work stations include the dairy, beef and hog farms, meat processing plant, feed mill, agronomy, farmers market and the office.
Photo: Haley Hines graduated from College of the Ozarks in December 2014 with a double major in agriculture dairy science and agriculture business

Ozarks Area Grocers Exceed Fundraising Goal
Ozarks area grocers exceeded their fall fundraising goal. This year's goal was $40,000 but 80 grocery stores raised just under $50,000 for the Ozarks Food Harvest. The stores locally included County Mart, Harter House and Price Chopper. The campaign, Check Out Hunger, gave shoppers the opportunity to add a small, tax free donation to their bill at the checkout lane. The money will provide about 250,000 more meals to residents who struggle with hunger. The funds will benefit 200 member food pantries and hunger relief programs in 28 southwest Missouri counties.

Chick-fil-A Set to Open March 5 in Branson
Branson's Chick-fil-A restaurant is scheduled to open Thursday, March 5th, bringing 90 new jobs to the area. The 5,000 square foot facility at 607 West Main Street is one of the largest in the restaurant chain and will seat 128 inside and 20 more outside. An extensive parking area also provides four spaces for large tour busses. A dual drive-through enables motorists to place orders at two separate screens, then merge into a single lane to pick up their orders. The restaurant provides free Wi-Fi and an indoor play area that includes an interactive section for toddlers. The Chick-fil-A opening in Branson is part of 88 new restaurants the chain plans to open this year.

Corps to Adjust Hours of Dewey Short Visitor Center
The Army Corps of Engineers Table Rock Project Office will adjust the hours of operation for the Dewey Short Visitor Center. Starting March 1st and continuing through the summer, the Visitor Center will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center is located at the south end of Table Rock Dam and features exhibits about the White River Watershed, local habitats, power generation and water safety. It also features an outside overlook where visitors can view Table Rock Lake, the Dam and Lake Taneycomo from one viewing deck.

February 24, 2015

Candlelight Vigil Planned for Jasmine Miller
A Candlelight Vigil for Jasmine Miller is planned for this Saturday from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Branson Cedar Ridge Elementary, located at 402 Cedar Ridge Drive. The community is invited to stand together and celebrate the life of 6 year old Jasmine Miller whose life was taken this past Saturday. Donations will be accepted for the family and attendees are encouraged to bring a candle and dress for the weather. According to the event's Facebook page, over 560 people have already indicated that they plan to attend.

Three Injured in Two Vehicle Accident on Bee Creek Road
Three people were injured in a two vehicle accident just before 4:00 Monday afternoon on Bee Creek Road, one mile north of Branson. The Highway Patrol reported that a truck driven by 78 year old William Greer of Branson was stopped in traffic when it was struck from behind by a car driven by 27 year old Henry Gibson of Forsyth. Gibson suffered moderate injuries and was taken to Mercy Hospital in Springfield for treatment. Greer and a passenger in his truck, 57 year old Jeffrey Green of Branson, were both treated for minor injuries at Cox Branson.

Highway Across Table Rock Dam to be Closed March 3
Officials at the Army Corps of Engineers Table Rock Project Office announced that the highway across Table Rock Dam will be closed next Tuesday, March 3. A section of road between the dam and spillway will be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to install a new generator in Table Rock Dam. Officials ask travelers to plan alternate routes and allow extra time to reach their destinations.

Missouri Introduces New Homeowner Energy Certification Program
A new homeowner energy certification program is now available in Missouri to reward homeowners who invest in energy efficiency by making improvements or upgrades to their homes. Eligible homes can receive gold- or silver-level certification by achieving specified criteria. Homeowners can recover some of the upgrade costs through a tax deduction of up to $1,000 for an individual or up to $2,000 per year for those filing a joint return. For more information on the program, visit energy.mo.gov/energy/mhec.

Renowned Pianist Dr. Sookkyung Cho to Perform at C of O
The College of the Ozarks Music Department will present a piano recital by guest artist Dr. Sookkyung Cho this Friday at 7 p.m. in Newman Recital Hall at the Gittinger Music Building. Cho will be giving C of O students and the community a preview of her Carnegie Hall debut. She has performed throughout the world and is currently on the piano faculty at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School and School of Continuing Education. Friday's recital is free and open to the public.

SW Missouri Firearms & Fashion Expo Set for this Weekend
The Southwest Missouri Firearms and Fashion Expo for women will be held at The Lodge of the Ozarks in Branson this coming Saturday and Sunday. Guest speakers will include State Representatives Sonya Murray Anderson and Diane Franklin; Women's Outdoor News editor, Barb Baird; Firearms Instructor, Stacy Bright, plus others. The event will also feature a free shooting range, vendor tables, and a concealed carry holster fashion show. The hours of the Expo are 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Sunday. The holster fashion show will be at 7 p.m. Saturday night.

Adult Softball Registration Now Open at Branson RecPlex
The Branson Parks & Recreation Department announced that adult softball registration is now open at the Branson RecPlex. The 8 game season begins in April and will be played at Stockstill Park. The Co-Ed League will play on Wednesday nights, the Church League will play on Thursday nights and the Men's League will play on Friday nights. The registration deadline for spring/summer adult softball leagues is March 23. For more information or to register, call 335-2368.

March 1 Marks Opener of Catch-and-Keep Season at Missouri Trout Parks
This Sunday, March 1, marks the opening of catch-and-keep trout fishing at Missouri's trout parks, including Roaring River State Park near Cassville. The Missouri Department of Conservation expects more than 10,000 anglers on opening day and will stock more than 33,000 trout at the state's four trout parks, as well as several hundred "lunkers" ranging from three to 10 pounds. For more information on trout fishing in Missouri, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/5596. Photo: Previous opening day at Missouri's Montauk State Park

February 23, 2015

Suspect Charged with Girl's Murder at Branson Motel Saturday Evening
The Branson Police Department reported that a suspect is in custody for the alleged murder of a six year old girl at a Branson motel Saturday evening. At approximately 6:20 Saturday evening, officers were dispatched to Windsor Inn at 3520 West Highway 76 to investigate a report of a lost child. During a search of the property, officers found the body of Jasmine Miller in one of the motel's guest rooms. After further investigation, 55 year old John Roberts was arrested and charged with first degree murder. Branson Police said it appears Roberts acted alone in the homicide.

Suspicious Fire at Former Dogpatch USA Under Investigation
A fire at the former Dogpatch USA theme park in Arkansas is being investigated as suspicious. Firefighters were called to the property at about 5:00 early Sunday morning and found three buildings involved with the fire spreading to a fourth building. Crews were able to contain the fire so that damage to the fourth building was minimal. The fire is considered suspicious because there were no utilities hooked up to the buildings.

Teen Injured in One Car Crash on Route F Near Bull Creek
A teenager from Huntsville, Arkansas was injured in a one car crash at about 3:00 Saturday afternoon on Route F, a half mile east of Bull Creek. A car driven by 18 year old Samantha McCoy ran off the side of the roadway and struck a tree. McCoy suffered minor injuries and was taken to Cox Branson for treatment.

Dusty Hicks Receives Two Life Sentences for Porter Murders
Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell announced that 27 year old Dusty Hicks has been sentenced to two concurrent life sentences for his role in the 2011 kidnapping and murder of Russell and Rebecca Porter, of Willard. Judge Calvin Holden, of Greene County, handed-down Hicks’ sentences while acting as the judge assigned to the Taney County Circuit Court case against Hicks. The guilty plea was entered by Hicks on December 18, 2014, to two counts of second degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action and two counts of felonious restraint.

ADAPT Representatives Attend National Training Event
Representatives from the local Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT) attended a national training event earlier this month to learn new skills to reduce teen drug use in Taney County. ADAPT representatives Kara Miller and Casey Parnell joined nearly 2,700 community leaders from across the country at Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's 25th Annual National Leadership Forum in Maryland. The forum featured courses to help participants learn effective strategies to address drug-related problems in their communities.

S of O Student Wins Veterans of Foreign Wars Essay Competition
School of the Ozarks sophomore Madeline Sparks was the southwest Missouri regional winner for the Veterans of Foreign Wars' Voice of Democracy competition. Sparks won the local and regional level competition, earning $1,100 in academic scholarships. The competition consisted of an essay and a video recording of the student reading the contents of the essay. The Voice of Democracy program was established in 1947 to provide students the opportunity to express their personal ideas and values for democracy.

Photo: Competition winner Madeline Sparks, S of O Dean Brad Dolloff, and VFW representative James Thorpe gather for the presentation of her academic scholarship

Local Non-profit Leaders Invited to Roundtable Meeting
A meeting of local non-profit leaders will be held this Thursday from 8-9 a.m. at the OTC – Table Rock Campus in Hollister. The meeting will be a time to collaborate, share ideas and stay informed of what peer non-profits are striving to accomplish in the area. Organizers plan to hold this type of non-profit roundtable meeting each month to help improve communication and maximize time and results. For more information or to RSVP for the meeting, call (417) 699-1566 or email lthomas@taneydds.com.

Tanger Outlets Branson Hosting First Job Fair
Tanger Outlets Branson is hosting its first ever Job Fair this Friday from 5-7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. in Suite 545, located between the Asics and Talbots stores. No registration is necessary, just bring a resume if you have one, two forms of ID, and be prepared to fill out applications. For a list of participating stores, visit Facebook.com/TangerOutletsBranson.

Branson High School Art Faculty Offer Elementary Art Clinic
The Branson High School Art Faculty will host an Art Clinic for students in grades K-6 on Saturday, March 7 at the High School. The clinic for K-2nd Grade will be held from 9-11 a.m. and the clinic for 3rd-6th Grade will be held from 1-3 p.m. The clinic will provide students an opportunity to create three unique projects outside the regular elementary classroom. Cost for the clinic is $20 and includes a printed T-shirt. Reservations are required by this Friday, February 27 and space is limited. To sign up, call (417) 335-6511 x 5408 or email ridinges@branson.k12.mo.us.

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