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 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.

February 20, 2015

Hearing to be Held on Grand Plaza Hotel Liquor Violations
Branson Aldermen will hold a hearing this Tuesday night during their regular board meeting concerning liquor violations by the Grand Plaza Hotel on Wildwood Drive. During a hearing on February 10, evidence was presented to the Board showing that three citations have been issued to employee's of the hotel for selling intoxicants to minors in October 2013, September 2014 and December 2014. As a result, the Board will be taking into consideration the recommendation of the liquor control specialist to temporarily suspend the hotel's liquor licenses for seven days from March 13-19.

Branson West Woman Injured in One Vehicle Accident
A woman from Branson West was injured in a one vehicle accident shortly after 7:00 Thursday night on Ance Creek Road, three miles west of Branson West. An SUV driven by 50 year old Alison Alexander crossed the center line, ran off the left side of the roadway and struck two trees. Southern Stone County firefighters were called in to extricate Alexander from the vehicle which took about a half hour to complete. She was transported to Cox Branson for treatment of moderate injuries. Ance Creek Road was shut down for about an hour.

Tickets on Sale for 2nd Annual Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge
Tickets are now on sale for the second annual Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf Tournament at Big Cedar Lodge scheduled for April 22-26. Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson lead the list of legends returning to the golf event this year. Big Cedar said that parking has been greatly improved for the 2015 tournament with newly created parking lots at both the Buffalo Ridge and Top of the Rock golf courses. Ticket packages start at $25 and there are special discounts for military. The total purse for the tournament will be $2.75 million. Proceeds for the tournament will once again go to support College of the Ozarks and The National Fish and Wildlife Museum. For tickets, more information or to volunteer for the event, visit BassProLegends.com.

Photo: Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player talks things over during the 2014 Legends of Golf Tournament

Gift of Hope Approved for $170,000 in NAP Tax Credits
Gift of Hope, Inc., in Forsyth has been approved for $170,625 in Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) tax credits from the Missouri Department of Economic Development. NAP helps not-for-profit organizations raise private-sector funds by providing partial state tax credits to businesses that make contributions to approved organizations. Gift of Hope has been supporting Taney County families since 1989 through various programs, including school readiness, Backpack Club, Christmas Share and scholarships.

Taney County Health Department Changing Forsyth Office Hours
The Taney County Health Department's Forsyth location will change its operating hours beginning March 1 with extended hours on Mondays and Wednesdays. Hours of operation at the Forsyth location will be Mondays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Wednesdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This change in hours will make the Forsyth operation more consistent with the Branson location.

Arkansas Elk Harvest Sets New Record
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission reported that the 2014 Arkansas elk season set a new record. Hunters harvested a record 52 elk in 2014 compared to the previous record of 44 elk in 2012. During the 2014 elk hunting season, 18 bulls and 34 antlerless elk were harvested. Hunters took 22 elk on public lands and 30 elk on private lands.

Gong Show to Benefit Branson Senior Center
Branson's 6th annual Gong Show will be held this coming Wednesday, February 25, at 6:49 p.m. at the Hamner Variety Theatre. The Branson Gong Show is the primary fundraiser for the services provided to local seniors by the Branson Senior Center including the Homebound Meals Program. The Gong Show will feature celebrity judges Terry Sanders, Dalena Ditto and Debi Diamond as well as Master of Ceremonies Clay Cooper and special guest performer Janice Martin. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or for a discount in advance at the Branson Senior Center. For more information, call 417-335-4801.

February 19, 2015

Early Morning Fire at National Enzyme Company in Forsyth
A fire occurred early this morning in one of the smaller buildings on the National Enzyme Company campus located on Highway 160 in Forsyth. Central Taney County firefighters assisted Forsyth crews in containing the fire. There was no one in the building at the time of the fire and the cause of the blaze has not yet been determined. Six displaced employees have been relocated to other NEC locations. The company noted that their customers will not experience any delays or interruptions in service. NEC offers manufacturing services for enzyme, probiotic, vitamin, mineral and botanical supplements.

Hollister Man Injured in One Vehicle Accident
A Hollister man was injured in a one vehicle accident shortly before 6:00 Wednesday morning on Highway 265, three miles south of Hollister. The Highway Patrol reported that a pickup driven by 51 year old Jeffrey Purvis ran off the roadway and struck a tree. Purvis was not wearing a seatbelt and suffered moderate injuries. He was transported to Cox South Hospital in Springfield for treatment.

C of O Hosts “Night to Shine” for Special Needs Individuals
College of the Ozarks made last Friday evening a “Night to Shine” for more than 150 special needs individuals who were VIP guests for a Valentine’s dance in The Keeter Center. The event was patterned after the Tim Tebow Foundation's Night to Shine events. The VIP guests from New Hope Development and Camp Barnabas were hosted by College of the Ozarks students for an evening of fun, food and dancing. In addition, the female guests were pampered before the event with hair and nail treatments and beauty make-overs.

Cox Medical Center Branson Welcomes Allergist Dr. Brett Hronek
Cox Medical Center Branson announced that Dr. Brett Hronek, who specializes in allergy and immunology, has started seeing patients in Branson. Since last fall, Dr. Hronek has been seeing patients in Springfield, and this month he began splitting his time between Branson and Springfield. Dr. Hronek’s area of expertise includes: asthma and allergy evaluation and treatment; allergy exams for food, medication, insect and environmental allergies; hives and mast cell disorders; immune deficiencies and recurrent or chronic infections; allergic skin diseases; chronic cough; and sinus disease. He sees both children and adult patients. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Hronek, call 417-875-3742.

Branson Accepting Nominations for Annual Green Initiative Awards
The City of Branson is now accepting nominations for its annual Green Initiative Awards. This is the seventh year for the awards program, which recognizes community members for their efforts in recycling and conservation. Applications for the Green Initiative Awards are now available at the Planning & Development Department and online on the Environmental and Recycling page of the City’s website. The deadline for nominations is March 13, 2015.

Health Department Awarded Healthy Eating Active Living Grant
The Taney County Health Department has been awarded the Healthy Eating Active Living grant through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The $39,000 grant will provide start up funds for 11 community gardens in Taney and Stone counties. Funding will also purchase physical activity equipment and curriculum necessary for local daycares to become MOve Smart Certified. The MOve Smart program aims to introduce physical activity at an early age, developing lifelong healthy habits.

Senator Blunt’s Staff to Host Mobile Office at Forsyth City Hall
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s staff will host a Mobile Office this Friday from 1:30-2:30 p.m. at Forsyth City Hall. Mobile Offices are opportunities for Missourians to discuss their questions or concerns with the federal government one-on-one with members of Senator Blunt’s staff. Senator Blunt’s Columbia Office also extends one-on-one service to all Missourians who have an issue with a federal agency or need additional assistance. To reach the Senator’s Office of Constituent Services, call 573-442-8151.

Relay For Life to Kick Off 2015 Season with 80's Skating Party
Relay For Life of Taney and Stone Counties will hold an 80's style skating party to kick off the 2015 Relay For Life season. The event will be held this Saturday, February 21 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Skate World on Truman Drive in Branson. This year they are celebrating their 30th Relay for Life. For more information, visit RelayForLife.org/TaneyStoneMO.

Fish Hatchery to Host 19th Annual Vulture Venture on Saturday
The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery in Branson will host its 19th annual Vulture Venture this Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. The free event includes hourly presentations featuring “Socrates”, a live turkey vulture from Springfield’s Wonders of Wildlife Museum. There will also be indoor games, trivia, and activities as well as outdoor viewings of wild vultures roosting near the Hatchery. For more information, call (417) 334-4865 ext 0.

February 18, 2015

Pure Joy Women's Event Set for Friday Night
The Pure Joy women's conference will be held this Friday evening at the Branson Convention Center. The event features special staging, lighting and sound, with a live worship band, skits and testimonies from women who have found victory through real struggles. This is the sixth year for the event in Branson. 350 women attended the first year which grew to 2,300 last year, prompting a need for the larger venue this time. Pure Joy is funded through donations and there is no charge to attend. The event, for women ages 15 and up, starts at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30.

Hollister Police Department Requests New Equipment
The Hollister Police Department has prepared a list of items it would like to have purchased from the city's next annual budget. The Branson Tri-Lakes News reported that the department is requesting an active shooter vest for each patrol vehicle. The vests have ballistic plates which are too cumbersome to be worn all the time, but would be available when needed and protect officers from a wide variety of ammunition. Also requested is a new stun gun, an infrared camera and a new electronic fingerprint capturing instrument. Hollister's new budget is due at the end of March.

Organizations Sought to Help Feed Children this Summer
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is seeking organizations to help feed children this summer when school is not in session. The Summer Food Service Program reimburses organizations for meals they serve children who are at risk of not having enough to eat when school breakfast and lunch programs are not operating. Organizations eligible to participate include schools, faith-based organizations, camps, private non-profit agencies and local governments. The sites are required to be located in areas where at least half of the children are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals. More information is available online at Health.MO.gov/sfsp.

Hollister Aldermen to Meet in Regular Session Thursday Evening
The Hollister Board of Aldermen is scheduled to meet in regular session Thursday evening. They will first consider the Consent Agenda which is normally enacted by one motion, unless a council member or citizen requests discussion on a particular item. The board will then hear an update on Hollister schools and the first reading of an ordinance to amend a section of code relating to building permits and fees. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. in Hollister City Hall, 312 Esplanade Street.

Great Elk Tour Coming to Springfield Bass Pro Shops this Weekend
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's Great Elk Tour is coming to Bass Pro Shops in Springfield this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The tour showcases a one-of-a-kind display, world class taxidermy and information about elk conservation and hunting. The Tour arrives in a new trailer that makes it easier for the public to view the heads of six of the biggest bull elk ever taken from wild free-ranging herds in North America. This traveling exhibit will cover 65,000 miles this year, providing a better understanding of the habitat needed by elk and how to preserve elk country. The foundation was founded by hunters over 30 years ago. Since then it has conserved over 6.6 million acres for elk and other wildlife.

Public Invited to Jim Bakker TV Show Recording Featuring Jason Crabb
Christian singer Jason Crabb will be a guest on the Jim Bakker television show, to be recorded at Morningside, located near Blue Eye. He began singing with the Southern Gospel Crabb Family and now travels as a solo artist. He has been featured on the Gaither Homecoming video series and performed at Carnegie Hall and the Grand Ole Opry. Jim and Lori Bakker host the show which is recorded before a live audience and broadcast a week later. The public is invited to the recording which will start at 10:30 a.m. this Friday. More information at JimBakkerShow.com.

February 17, 2015

C of O Featured in Princeton Review Book “Colleges That Pay You Back”
College of the Ozarks is featured in a new Princeton Review Book entitled “Colleges That Pay You Back.” C of O was listed among nine colleges in the category titled “Top Tuition Free Schools” for its excellent academics, career preparation services, and affordability to students with need. The Princeton Review is a leading academic tutoring, test preparation and college admission services company. For more information and other listings, visit PrincetonReview.com.

Hollister Police Report 11% Decrease in Crime in 2014
The Hollister Police Department reported an 11% decrease in crime in their city last year compared to the previous year. It is the second consecutive year the city has seen a decrease. An article in the Branson Tri-Lakes News reported that Hollister Police responded to 3,195 calls in 2014, 4% fewer than in 2013. The department took 797 reports, down 8% and made 251 arrests, down 23%. The numbers were down for domestic assaults, DWI's, juvenile offenses and fraud. Burglaries were up 21%, attributed primarily to a rash of burglaries at vacant properties near the beginning of 2014.

Proposed Legislation Would Create No-Call List for Minors
A bill meant to keep pornography, gambling, alcohol, tobacco and illegal drug ads off Missouri children's phones and computers is under consideration by a Senate committee. Senator David Sater's bill would establish the Missouri Child Protection Registry, a no call list for minors. Michigan and Utah already have this type of legislation. If enacted, adult marketers would have to clean their lists against the registry once a month. Violators could face fines and possible jail time. Parents, guardians or schools would be able to register a child's phone number, email or instant messenger ID with the Missouri Department of Public Safety.

Skaggs Foundation to Host Sessions to Inspire Better Health
Skaggs Foundation is hosting a series of informational sessions to inspire better health within the community. Four different topics will be covered throughout the year. All classes are free and will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the conference rooms at Cox Medical Center Branson. Diabetes Management will be the topic of the first session to be held this Friday, February 20. Other topics include Skin Cancer Prevention on April 10, Heart Health on July 10, and Women’s Health on October 9. For more information or to RSVP for one of the sessions, call 417-348-8998.

Taney County Livestock & Forage Conference Set for Feb 23
The Taney County Livestock & Forage conference will be held next Monday, February 23, from 6-9 p.m. at the Forsyth High School. The event will begin with a dinner in the Forsyth School Cafeteria followed by the program in the school's new performing arts building. Program highlights include a Beef Market Outlook, Herd Health Challenges, and Considerations for Using Litter as a Fertilizer Source. Pre-registration is required by calling the Taney County Extension Center at 417-546-4431 by this Thursday.

Branson High School to Present Musical "The Addams Family"
The Branson High School Performing Arts Department will present four performances of the musical "The Addams Family." Tickets are $8 for students and $10 for adults and can be purchased at the door. Performances are scheduled for this Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

February 16, 2015

MoDOT Crews Out in Full Force to Clear Roads
Missouri Department of Transportation crews have been out in full force to clear roads. After Sunday night's snow, state roads were covered in all but the very northern section of the state. Motorists are advised to take it slow when traveling and to plan additional time for their trips. Crews will continue to plow and treat the interstates and most heavily traveled roads until they are mostly clear. Lower volume roads are being plowed for two-way traffic. Motorists are advised to bring a cell phone and winter survival supplies. Road conditions can be checked online at Traveler.Modot.org/Map.

Southern Stone County Firefighters Had Busy Valentine's Day
Southern Stone County firefighters were kept busy on Valentine's Day with a large brush fire, an RV fire and a barn fire. Crews responded to a brush fire at about 2 p.m. on Highway 86 near JJ Highway in Blue Eye. The property owner, a 75 year old woman, started a burn pile and left it unattended. It grew out of control and the woman sustained minor burns while trying to extinguish the fire prior to the arrival of firefighters. Mercy EMS treated and released her on the scene. Crews battled the fire for over two hours and contained it to an estimated four acres. At around 3 p.m., firefighters were called to a report of a large vehicle fire on Highway 13 in Branson West. Crews arrived to find an RV fully involved in flames. Traffic was diverted for nearly two hours. The cause of the fire is unknown and the owner or driver of the RV was not around. Shortly before 7:30 p.m. crews were dispatched to a structure fire in Kimberling City on Blessing Lane off Joe Bald Road. Crews arrived to find a well involved barn with other structures endanger and the fire extending into the brush. Crews set up for structure protection and had the fire contained in about an hour.

Branson Man Injured in Two Vehicle Accident
A Branson man suffered moderate injuries when the pickup he was driving ran off the side of the roadway and struck a parked car early Saturday morning. Twenty-four year old Aaron Robinson was taken to Cox South Hospital in Springfield for treatment. The incident occurred on Highway 76, two miles east of Hollister. Robinson was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident.

Taney County Partnership Welcomes Olsson Associates
The Taney County Partnership welcomes its newest partner Olsson Associates, which offers comprehensive engineering and design solutions for public and private infrastructure projects. Olsson Associates is involved in key southwest Missouri economic development projects including the $2.5 million Branson Landing North Retail Development and the Highway 86 roundabout to improve access to Top of the Rock and Big Cedar Lodge. Olsson Associates represents the third engineering firm to join the Taney County Partnership whose mission is to facilitate the development of a strong, diversified and competitive economy in the county.

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 February 18 at 10 a.m. and February 26 at 3:30 p.m. To RSVP for one of the sessions, call 417-334-4544 ext. 225.

Hollister School District Offers Kindergarten Readiness Events
The Hollister School District is offering Kindergarten readiness events for families with children that will be entering Kindergarten this coming fall. The "Jump Start to Kindergarten Success" family nights will be held this Thursday, February 19 and Thursday, March 26 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the Hollister Early Childhood Center gym. They will be focusing on specific Kindergarten readiness skills with a variety of parent/child interactive stations and take home activities. Pre-registration is required by calling 417-243-4058.

February 13, 2015

Aldermen Approve Amendment for Temporary Off-Premises Signage
Branson Aldermen approved the first reading of a bill amending the City code regarding temporary off-premises signage. City sign codes already allow for signage on the premises of a business, and off-premises for special events which include an extraordinary use of public land. This bill allows for temporary off-premises convention signage for businesses hosting events which would not qualify as a Special Event, such as the recent cases involving the Branson Home Show and the Branson Bridal Show.

Branson Aldermen Approve Bills for DOJ Funds, GIS License
At the last Branson City Council meeting, the Board approved the first reading of a bill authorizing the Mayor to sign an equitable sharing agreement with the US Department of Justice. This allows funds and assets seized by the Department of Justice to be shared with the City of Branson in its efforts to combat drugs and drug-crimes locally. The Board also approved the first reading of an Enterprise Licensing Agreement with ESRI for City Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. Branson has been a user of the GIS software for over 20 years within the Engineering Department, and this agreement allows for additional City Departments to utilize the software.

The Caring People to Hold First "Job Club" February 17
The Caring People and Bryan University have teamed up to offer a monthly Job Club. The first Job Club will be held this Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at the Community Technology Center, located inside the Faith Community Health building in downtown Branson. Participants will receive free resume/job tips as well as a personality profile assessment to help become a better communicator at work and home. To register, visit TheCaringPeople.org/JobClub or call 417-334-0131.

Branson West Ministry to Provide 100,000 Bibles for Cuba
Dr. Cecil Todd, Founder/President of the Revival Fires Ministry in Branson West, reported that The Bible Commission of Cuba is asking for one million Bibles to distribute in the Communist country. Dr. Todd said that the Cuban government has agreed to the distribution Bibles in Cuba's public schools, jails, prisons, libraries and churches. The Revival Fires Ministry has committed to provide 100,000 of these Bibles at a cost of $5 each for printing and delivery. Donations for the Bibles can be mailed to: Revival Fires Ministry, P.O. Box 1008, Branson West, MO 65737, and should be designated as "Bibles for Cuba." For more information, call 417-272-3660.

Ralph Foster Museum to Host Exhibit by Dr. Hall Duncan
The Ralph Foster Museum at College of the Ozarks will host an exhibit by artist, educator, and WWII Veteran Dr. Hall Duncan. The exhibit will open with a reception this Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Ralph Foster Museum. The exhibit will run through April 3 and will feature a sampling of artwork produced throughout Duncan’s lifetime, including items ranging from children’s books to political cartoons. Duncan, now 91 years old, was shot by an enemy sniper while carrying a fellow soldier to safety during WWII. He went on to follow his passion for art and became a full-time cartoonist, writer, and illustrator. In June of 2012, Duncan traveled with C of O students to Germany, Poland, Austria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic as part of the College's patriotic travel program. Photo: Dr. Hall Duncan with C of O students on 2012 Patriotic Trip

February 12, 2015

Boone County Sheriff’s Department Arrests Teen for Rape
The Boone County Sheriff’s Department reported that 19 year old Jerrel Pearson-Brewer was arrested and charged with rape on Tuesday. On January 27, 2015 the Sheriff’s Department was contacted by the Arkansas Crimes Against Children’s Division regarding a possible rape of a sixteen year old female. An investigation ensued and the suspect was identified as Pearson-Brewer. During an interview on Wednesday, he admitted to being involved in sexual activity with the girl. He is currently being held at the Boone County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

Branson Aldermen Adopt Legislative Priorities for 2015
Branson Aldermen have approved a resolution adopting legislative priorities for 2015. This included two documents: The 2015 Legislative Priorities for the Branson/Lakes Area Legislative Partnership, of which the City of Branson is a member, and The 2015 City of Branson Legislative Agenda. The priorities include State of Missouri support for tourism, transportation and water quality, support for the Branson School Board’s vote to join the Ozark Technical Community College district, and measures to safeguard local control and minimize unfunded mandates.

Branson Aldermen Approve Changes to Court Fees
Branson Aldermen have approved the first reading of a bill amending the Branson Municipal Code regarding court fees. There are two changes being made, both of which mirror recent changes to state law. The Domestic Violence Shelter surcharge is being raised from $2 to $4. This surcharge is collected by the State to support shelters. And the $35 fee formerly collected for the issuance of warrants is being removed from the City Code as the state statute that supports this fee no longer exists.

The Star Theatre in Branson Announces New Management
The Star Theatre in Branson announced that Bob Nichols Company has been named the new management company for the venue. Theatre owner Jerry Franklin said that he and Nichols have created a working plan that they believe will appeal to the next generation of Branson visitors, while providing the type of entertainment that attracts current visitors as well. The Star venue is two theatres in one building. Currently, Doug Gabriel performs a regular seasonal schedule in the smaller 240 seat theatre. The larger 1320 seat theatre will host the new Concerts In Branson this year, featuring about 20 national touring artists for limited engagement concerts. Bob Nichols Company will handle day to day operations of the property, including installation of a new online ticketing system, marketing, and leasing.

Share the Harvest Deer Meat Helps Feed Hungry Missourians
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, nearly 4,000 deer hunters donated more than 212,300 pounds of venison from the 2014 Missouri deer harvest to the state’s Share the Harvest. The program orchestrates the efforts of thousands of hunters, numerous local supporting organizations, and more than 100 participating meat processors to get ground venison to people in need through food banks and food pantries around the state. Since the program started in 1992, Share the Harvest has provided more than 3.3 million pounds of venison to help feed Missourians in need.

Polar Plunge to Benefit Special Olympics Missouri
The 2015 Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics Missouri will be held this Saturday at Still Waters Resort in Indian Point. Participants will plunge into the frigid waters of Table Rock Lake to raise money for local Special Olympics athletes. Registration begins at noon and the plunge will be held at 2 p.m. Participants must be at least 10 years old and raise a minimum of $75 by event day. Registration is available online at www.somo.org/plunge. For more information, call 417-624-5505.

February 11, 2015

Aldermen Approve First Step in Restricting Panhandling
Branson Aldermen approved the first reading of a bill amending Chapter 26 of the Branson Municipal Code, adding additional language relating to solicitation. The new language prohibits a person from standing in or entering the roadway for the purpose of solicitation or distribution of materials. The restriction is made for the reasons of public safety and will be effective upon approval of the final reading of the ordinance, which is scheduled for February 24th.

Branson Landing Bond Debt Refinancing Could Save $12 Million
Branson Aldermen approved the first reading of several bills authorizing the borrowing of funds in the amount not to exceed $78 million from the Missouri Development Board, and amending the budget to allow for this change. The funds will be used to refinance existing bond debt relating to the Branson Landing development. It is anticipated that the City of Branson will save about $12 million with this bond refinancing.

OTC Table Rock Campus to Host Informational Event
Ozarks Technical Community College will hold an informational event next Tuesday evening for individuals thinking about college. Topics will include the admissions process, understanding financial aid, what scholarship committees want, and credit transfers to another college after OTC. High school programs offered by OTC will also be presented. Sophomores and Juniors can learn about receiving college credits available through Early Start, Dual Credit and Fast Track. The event will be held Tuesday from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the OTC Table Rock Campus in Hollister.

Officer Jennifer Bunting Named Branson's Employee of the Month
Branson Police Officer Jennifer Bunting has been honored as the City's Employee of the Month for February. She was the first responder during a recent medical call at a Branson theatre property. Officer Bunting administered CPR to the patient until medical personnel arrived to transport the man to the hospital. Her efforts allowed the man to be reunited with his family at the hospital. Branson Aldermen presented the award to the officer during their recent meeting.

Cox Branson Welcomes New Physician to Team of Hospitalists
Cox Medical Center Branson is welcoming Dr. Foram Shah, MD to its hospitalist team. Hospitalist physicians are versed in all aspects of best hospital practices and are able to quickly modify a patient's treatment as new medical information becomes available. Dr. Shah moved to the United States from India in 2006. When she and her husband looked at places to settle down and raise a family, they considered various hospitals throughout the Midwest before selecting Cox Branson.

Kander Announces Statewide Voter Roll Clean-Up
Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander reports that the state's voter rolls are the most accurate and current that they have been in several decades. For the first time on record, no Missouri counties have more registered voters than the voting age population of the county. In 2005, the United States Department of Justice sued Missouri, alleging that in the 2004 general election, nearly one-third of the state's counties had a higher number of registered voters on the rolls than there were residents of voting age. Kander's office provides grants and assistance to local election authorities to help them remove voters who should no longer be on the rolls because of moving out of state, death or not voting in two consecutive federal elections.

February 10, 2015

Branson Chamber Names Jeff Seifried as New President/CEO
The Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce has a new President/Chief Executive Officer. Jeff Seifried comes to the position from the Springfield Area Chamber where he served as Manager of Regional Development. He will start with the Branson Chamber early next month. SearchWide, a national recruiting company, was hired to find the best talent for the position. Over 200 resumes were received and 45 personal interviews were conducted prior to selecting Seifried. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Drury University with a minor in Global Studies.

Branson Teen Injured in One Vehicle Rollover
A Branson teen was injured in a one vehicle accident at about 6:20 this morning. 16 year old Hunter Weber was driving a Jeep Commando on Missouri Highway 465, seven miles north of Branson when the vehicle ran off the left side of the road, overturned and caught fire. He was taken by ambulance to Cox Branson for treatment of moderate injuries. The teen was using the car's seatbelt.

Western Taney County Fire to Relocate Station #12 to Windmill Rd
The Western Taney County Fire Protection District is planning to relocate their fire station #12 to Windmill Road. The District purchased land from the Missouri Department of Conservation to build the new facility. The new station will replace the two-truck building that operates near Highway 165 and Trophy Run Road, in the same area previously used by a fire tower. It will serve residents in the area of Highway P and Emerald Point. The project is in the planning stage and construction costs are being determined. Officials hope to have the new station built and operational in about two years.

Four Stand-Outs Inducted into C of O Sports Hall of Fame
College of the Ozarks inducted four people into its Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony held on campus this past January 31. These included former men's basketball coach and current Athletic Director Al Waller, employed by the College for 25 years, and former cheer coach Marty Waller who had been with the College for 27 years. The two other inductees were Tom Schexnayder, a four year letter winner in cross country and Kayli Combs, a record breaking women's basketball player from 2006 to 2009.

Hall of Fame Inductees 2015, from left, Kayli Combs, Tom Schexnayder, Marty Waller and Al Waller

Wolves to Induct New Members into Sports Hall of Fame
Seven individuals will be inducted into the Reeds Spring High School Sports Hall of Fame this Friday. Honored will be Coach Dale Gilchrist and former students David Byrne, Mandy Dial, Joy Dorr, Becky Eye, Jessica Selby and Angela Selby. A ceremony will take place in the school's gym between the Junior Varsity and Varsity Boys Basketball games being played against Forsyth. Coach Gilchrist served as Head Baseball and Head Girls Basketball Coach during a 28 year career from 1982 to 2010. This will be the 19th group of inductees into the school's Hall of Fame, which was started in 1997.

Ed Morrow Kicks Off Mission Emphasis Week at C of O
It's Mission Emphasis Week at College of the Ozarks. Special speakers are scheduled to inform students about a variety of mission activities and opportunities. Ed Morrow, Director of World Medical Missions for Samaritan's Purse, spoke to students Monday to begin the special emphasis. He works to place volunteer doctors, dentists and other medical personnel in mission hospitals and clinics around the world. World Medical Missions also staffs a biomedical department and warehouse that provides critically needed medical equipment and supplies to facilities all around the world.

February 9, 2015

Southern Stone County Firefighters Battle Five Weekend Brush Fires
Southern Stone County Firefighters battled five separate brush fires on Saturday and Sunday. They included a half acre fire on Old Highway 160 near Reeds Spring, a half acre fire on Anglers Bend Road near Cape Fair, a half acre fire on Talking Rocks Road near Branson West, a four acre fire on Flat Creek Road near Cape Fair and a three acre fire on Blueberry Hill Lane just outside of Kimberling City. There was no property damage reported in any of the fires. Most if not all of the fires were started by unattended burn piles or barrels. The Fire Marshal urges anyone considering to burn during dry conditions to remain with the fire, have the surrounding area cleared and have a garden hose nearby.

Branson Woman Injured in One Car Crash on Route T
A Branson woman was injured in a one car crash just before 6:30 Saturday evening on Route T, five miles east of Branson. A car driven by 60 year old Jean Ortega ran off the roadway and struck several trees. Ortega suffered minor injuries and was transported to Cox Branson for treatment.

Spokane Man Injured in One Vehicle Accident North of Reeds Spring
A man from Spokane was injured in a one vehicle accident at 10:00 Saturday night on Reno Springs Road north of Reeds Spring. The Highway Patrol reported that a pickup truck driven by 64 year old Dwight Maudlin traveled of the roadway and struck a tree. Maudlin was taken to Cox South Hospital in Springfield for treatment of moderate injuries.

Hollister Receives $48K Grant for Wastewater Engineering Costs
The City of Hollister has received a $48,000 grant through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to help with wastewater engineering costs. The Small Community Engineering Assistance Program offers funding for wastewater engineering costs incurred in preparation of a facility plan or engineering report. The Program, funded by fees generated through the state’s revolving loan fund, is available for municipalities or water districts with a population of less than 10,000.

Salvation Army of Branson Exceeds Red Kettle Goal by $16,000
The Salvation Army of Branson started the new year roughly $8,000 behind in its 2014 Red Kettle campaign but has now exceeded its goal by $16,000 due to an outpouring of financial support from the community. The excess funds will help The Salvation Army increase some areas of direct assistance to those in need and help fund the development of their community garden on the corner of Stanley Blvd. and Old Country Rd. in Branson. This community garden is a partnership between The Salvation Army, the Hiawatha Neighborhood Association and the Ozarks Wellness Network. The first annual planting of produce is scheduled for this spring.

Junior Auxiliary Delivers Supplies to Eastern Taney County Schools
Junior Auxiliary of Taney County members recently delivered school supplies to Kirbyville, Taneyville, Bradleyville and Mark Twain Elementary Schools in eastern Taney County. Knowing that many other organizations assist with items at the start of the school year, the Junior Auxiliary adapted its long-running school supplies project to help refill supply shelves after the holiday break. In addition to normal school supplies, based on input from the teachers and counselors, Auxiliary members supplied socks, underwear, hats, gloves, Clorox wipes and Lysol to the schools.

Kirbyville Elementary School students with Principal Addie Gaines and Junior Auxiliary Members Barb Dixon, Cathy Brown, Elaine Broughton and Carol Raines

Reeds Spring Heritage Day to Replace Bonnie & Clyde Days
The City of Reeds Spring announced that its Bonnie & Clyde Days festival normally held in September has been cancelled due to lack of interest in continuing and sponsoring the event. However, a new event is being created to take its place. The Reeds Spring Heritage Day Festival is tentatively scheduled for September 26, 2015, to celebrate the City's heritage. The event coordinator is Allison Neil of Reeds Spring. Anyone who has ideas for activities or would like to help with this event is asked to contact City Hall at 272-3309.

February 6, 2015

Three Injured in Three Vehicle Accident Just East of Branson
Three people were injured in a three vehicle accident just before 8:00 Thursday night on Highway 76, one mile east of Branson. A car driven by 43 year old Trina Mathew of Kirbyville was stopped in traffic when it was struck from behind by a car driven by 23 year old Ashley McCullah of Branson. Mathew's car was pushed into a car stopped in front of it driven by 23 year old Erickia Cotant of Kirbyville. All three drivers were taken to Cox South Hospital in Springfield for treatment of minor to moderate injuries.

Taney County Partnership Continues to Expand in 2015
The Taney County Partnership reports that it continues to expand with the start of 2015 while driving local economic development efforts. January 1st saw the addition of four new partners bringing its membership numbers to 24 business sector and 10 public sector partners. The Taney County Partnership 2014 Annual Report is now available online in the newly added resource library at TaneyCountyPartnership.com/Resource-Library. There you will learn about the specific projects and initiatives that the Partnership has been involved in, as well as current and future projects.

Empire Reports 2014 Earnings, Announces New Secretary
The Empire District Electric Company reported consolidated earnings for the year 2014 of $67.1 million, an increase of about $3.7 million compared to 2013 earnings. Increased earnings for 2014 were attributed to a full year of increased electric customer rates, slightly favorable year over year weather conditions and an increase in commercial sales. The Company announced the retirement of Secretary Janet Watson, which is to be effective April 30, 2015. Dale Harrington has been named Secretary effective May 1, 2015.

Maynard Wallace Confirmed as Member of State Board of Education
The Missouri Senate has confirmed the appointment of Maynard Wallace of Thornfield to the State Board of Education. Wallace was appointed to the State Board in July 2014 to fill a seat that had been vacant since January 2013. His term will end July 1, 2016. Wallace chaired the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee while serving in the legislature from 2003-2011. He has also worked as superintendent of school districts in Forsyth and Ava, and worked as a teacher, coach and principal in Missouri public schools.

Missouri State Parks Saw Record Attendance in 2014
Missouri State Parks and historic sites saw a record attendance of more than 18.5 million guests in 2014. The record attendance number for 2014 represents a nearly 25 percent increase since 2008. Also in 2014, Missouri State Parks noted a 5.1 percent increase in camping occupancy at the 40 state parks and historic sites. The park system noted an increase in youth camping. A total of 26 percent of campers who stayed the night in a state park were under 18. In recent years, Missouri has been named the best camping state, the best trails state, and its state parks are consistently ranked among the best in the nation.

February is Black Dog Adoption Month at Animal Control Center
The Taney County Animal Care and Control Center announced that February is Black Dog Adoption Month. Black dogs have the highest euthanasia and lowest adoption rates across the country. The Center is offering a reduced fee of $45 for all black dogs adopted through February 28. The adoption fee covers the cost of spay/neuter, vaccinations and microchipping. For more information and to see available dogs, visit TaneyCoHealth.org/Animal_Adoptions.php.

'Early 1900's Visionaries' Exhibit on Display at Branson Centennial Museum
An exhibit called 'Early 1900's Visionaries' is currently on display at the Branson Centennial Museum, located at the corner of Bus 65 and Hwy 76 in downtown Branson. The exhibit focuses on several people in Taney County in the late 1800's - early 1900's, including Silas Turnbo, who recorded stories from older generations regarding their early years in the area, ranging from tales of frontier living and hunting to hardships during the Civil War. Other 'Visionaries' in the original display include John Neihardt, Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey, Vance Randolph, Rose O'Neill and more. The Museum's winter hours are Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., with no admission cost.

Branson Gong Show Hosting Second Round of Auditions
Branson's 6th annual Gong Show will be held on February 25 at the Hamner Variety Theatre. A second round of auditions for the Gong Show will be held this Monday at 5 p.m. at the Branson Senior Center and all varieties of acts are welcome to audition. The Branson Gong Show is the primary fundraiser for the many services provided to local area seniors by the Branson Senior Center. Tickets for the Gong Show can be purchased at the Senior Center.

February 5, 2015

La Quinta Inn and Suites Planned for Construction in Hollister
A 94 room La Quinta Inn and Suites is planned for construction in Hollister, near the Highway 65 interchange. The hotel will join other new additions to that area, such as Taco Bell, Jordan Valley Health and Menards. Development is expected to start this spring with an anticipated opening in 2016, serving as the primary hotel for the Branson Airport. La Quinta Holdings, based in Dallas, Texas, is one of the largest owners, operators and franchisors of select service hotels in the country with 84,000 rooms and 8,000 employees.

Bob Evans Employee Earns Branson Chamber's Golden Key Award
The Branson/Lakes Chamber of Commerce presents the 'Golden Key Award' in recognition of those in the community who have exhibited exceptional, friendly customer service. The winner of the award for February is Donna Testerman from Bob Evans Restaurant. Known as Mama D, Donna was observed working extra hard to make sure customers are pleased with all aspects of their experience at Bob Evans. She will receive her award at the next Branson Business Connection Luncheon scheduled for February 20 at The Keeter Center.

C of O Cancels Writer's Conference Due to Questionable Topics
College of the Ozarks has cancelled a writer's conference that was scheduled to be held on campus February 21. The conference was planned to celebrate female authors and included nationally known authors speaking on topics that did not align with the College's Christian principles. Some topics that were scheduled to be covered related to pornography and sex scenes in fiction. The Ozarks Writers League has held events on campus for the past 30 years, evidently without including questionable topics. The League is looking for another venue for this winter's conference.

Branson Math Students Compete, Court Warming is Friday
Fourth, fifth and sixth graders from Branson's Cedar Ridge Elementary and Buchanan Intermediate Schools competed in the Greater Plains Math League last Saturday. Categories included number sense, sprint test, target test and team test. The competition was held at Southwest Baptist University and included 342 students from numerous schools. In other Branson School news, the High School Basketball Court Warming is planned for Friday night when the Pirates take on the Nixa Eagles. The queen will be crowned between the junior varsity and varsity games.

MoDOT's Reduced Construction Budget to Limit Road Maintenance
The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission has approved a plan to work with a reduced construction budget. MoDOT's construction budget will drop to $325 million in 2017. Missouri's 325 System calls for MoDOT to focus on 8,000 miles of the state's 34,000 mile highway system, keeping those primary roads in the mostly good condition they are in today. The remaining roads and bridges will receive limited routine maintenance. Missouri has the 7th largest highway system in the nation but ranks 46th in maintenance revenue per mile.

February 4, 2015

Branson Police Warn of Counterfeit $100 Bills
The Branson Police Department has issued a statement that counterfeit $100 bills have been circulated in Springfield and Lebanon, Missouri. The statement said that intelligence has been received that suspects could be in the Branson area. The bills are actually $10 bills that have been washed and reprinted as $100 notes. Police ask businesses and residents to be cautious and carefully examine $100 bills they receive, and contact law enforcement immediately if counterfeit bills are suspected. The Branson Police Department phone number is 334-3300. More information about the look of US currency is available at NewMoney.gov.

Kimberling City Doctor Gets Two Years for Failing to File Taxes
A Kimberling City doctor has been sentenced to two years in federal prison without parole for failing to file tax returns. Sixty-five year old Phillip Edward Psaltis has also been ordered by the court to pay $1,581,594 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, the Missouri Department of Revenue and the Oklahoma Department of Revenue. He worked as an emergency room physician at several hospitals in Missouri and Oklahoma between 2006 and 2011. Psaltis admitted that he had failed to file federal income tax returns since 2002.

Janice Martin a Featured Author at Kimberling Area Library Authors Book Signing Day
Branson's 2014 Female Entertainer of the Year will be one of the featured authors at the Kimberling Area Library Book Signing Day this Saturday. Janice Martin is a headlining act on the Showboat Branson Belle. She has written a children's book titled "How I Learned to Fly" where she wrote about overcoming her fear of heights to achieve her dream of flying, and how her readers can soar to new heights as well. She will discuss her book at 10 a.m. and be available to sign copies of it throughout the event which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Kimberling Area Library is located at 45 Kimberling Blvd.

City of Branson to Host Responsible Alcohol Selling Class
The Branson Finance Department will hold another Responsible Alcohol Selling class Thursday, February 12. The class is held especially for servers, bartenders and cashiers and is required of all businesses selling liquor in the city of Branson. The intent is to have more responsible sellers of alcohol in order to minimize the risk of selling to underage or intoxicated buyers. Servers and cashiers from neighboring communities are welcome to attend. The class will start at 9:30 a.m. and be held at Branson City Hall. The cost is $5 per person, payable at the time of the training.

MO 2015 Fiscal YTD Net General Revenue Collections Up 4.9%
Missouri State Budget Director Linda Luebbering reported that 2015 fiscal year-to-date net general revenue collections increased 4.9% compared to the same period last year. Individual income tax collections increased 6.5%, sales and use tax collections increased 2.5%, corporate income and franchise tax collections increased 3% and all other collections decreased 2.7%. Collections for January increased 4.1% compared to the previous January.

February is Earthquake Awareness Month in Missouri
February is Earthquake Awareness Month in Missouri. On February 7, 1812, one of the country's most powerful earthquakes on record struck southeast Missouri in what is now known as the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Many experts agree that large earthquakes still pose a threat to the region. Last October, over 470,000 Missourians participated in the annual Great Central US ShakeOut earthquake drill where they practiced dropping to the floor, getting under a desk or table and holding on in the event of an earthquake. Resources are available at SEMA.DPS.MO.gov/Earthquake.

February 3, 2015

Branson Man Gets 10 Years for Domestic Assault & Burglary
Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell announced that 45 year old Randall Lyda of Branson has been sentenced to ten years in prison for the felonies of 2nd degree domestic assault and 1st degree burglary. On June 13, 2014, Lyda assaulted his girlfriend while they were staying at the Hall of Fame Hotel on Highway 76 in Branson. Branson Police responded to a 9-1-1 call after Lyda’s girlfriend escaped to a neighboring hotel room. Branson Police arrested Lyda – who was intoxicated – and the victim was treated for her injuries.

Notch Man Sentenced to 10 Years for Branson Landing Robbery
Twenty-nine year old Adam Turnbough of Notch has been sentenced to ten years in prison for 2nd degree robbery. On September 11, 2013, Turnbough stole a woman’s purse while she got into her car in the parking lot behind Waxie O’Shea’s at Branson Landing. After Turnbough had been developed as a suspect, the woman was able to identify him as the robber in a photo line-up. When questioned, Turnbough admitted to the crime, telling Branson Police that he was broke and wanted money for drugs.

Hollister Middle School Students Receive Laptops from eMINTS Grant
Thanks to a grant from eMINTS, laptops were distributed to 7th and 8th graders at the Hollister Middle School on Monday. eMINTS stands for enhancing Missouri’s Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies, and is a non-profit unit within the University of Missouri System. The eMINTS instructional model focuses on high-quality teaching powered by technology.

Table Rock Lake Water Quality Announces “Replant Highway 13” Project
Table Rock Lake Water Quality is working on a new project this March called “Replant Highway 13.” The project will restore the hillsides along Highway 13 in Kimberling City between Heaven’s Way and Joe Bald Road that were excavated in 2011 to make way for highway improvements. A variety of species, including 750 scenic trees and flowering shrubs indigenous to the Ozarks will be planted in order to once again cover the hillsides. The plan will also include native wildflowers and grasses. The organization noted that the trees and shrubs will not only help to beautify the area, but will also be functional in storm water infiltration and erosion prevention. To volunteer to help with the planting project, call 417-739-4100.

Cox Branson Offers Health Insurance Enrollment Assistance
This year’s Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period ends February 15, and Cox Medical Center Branson is hosting a free event this Thursday to provide one-on-one enrollment assistance. Anyone who does not have health coverage during 2015 may be penalized. The fee in 2015 is higher than it was for 2014 and is now 2 percent of a person’s annual income or $325, whichever is more. The enrollment event will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Magnolia Room at Cox Branson. Walk-ins are welcome or for an appointment, call 417-269-2945.

Donor-Funded Monitors Arrive at Mercy Hospital Berryville
Patients recovering from surgery at Mercy Hospital Berryville now have upgraded technology at their bedsides. Four state-of-the-art patient monitors have been mounted next to each bed in the recovery room of the hospital's post-anesthesia care unit. The machines, which arrived in late January, are the product of Mercy’s Black and White Charity Ball in 2014. The event raised a record-breaking $56,000 through private donations, sponsorships, auctions and a pledge drive.

Photo: Carole Bieschke, RN and manager of surgical services, checks the monitor in Mercy’s PACU

Reeds Spring to Hold Ground Breaking for New Middle School
The Reeds Spring School District will hold a Ground Breaking Ceremony for the New Middle School this Friday at 2 p.m. The new Middle School is part of a $16.3 million bond issue that was approved by voters last April. The new facility is scheduled to open for the 2016-17 school year and will replace the current Middle School which is 50 years-old. The new building will be located just north of the High School. Parking for the groundbreaking ceremony will be available in the High School's north parking lot.

S of O to Host Open House, 7th & 8th Grades Added for Fall
School of the Ozarks will host an open house for families of perspective K-12 students this Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Lower School building on the campus of College of the Ozarks. Applications will be accepted for openings in all grades for fall 2015, including 7th and 8th grades, the final two grades to be added to the School's K-12 educational model. Families will hear from school leaders, teachers, parents and students and have the opportunity to pick up application forms. Priority consideration will be given to applications received by February 27.

February 2, 2015

Two Injured in Two Vehicle Collision Near Blue Eye
Two people were injured in a two vehicle accident just before 10:30 Saturday morning on Highway 86, one mile north of Blue Eye. An SUV driven by 34 year old Dustin Hefley of Bentonville, Arkansas attempted to make a left turn and pulled into the path of an oncoming truck driven by 57 year old Randy Sooter of Berryville, Arkansas. Hefley suffered minor injuries and 30 year old passenger Amy Flageolle of Battlefield, Missouri sustained moderate injuries. They were both taken to Cox Branson for treatment.

Branson Man Injured in Two Vehicle Accident in Kirbyville
A Branson man was injured in a two vehicle accident just after 7:30 Sunday evening on Highway 76 at Route J in Kirbyville. A car driven by Thomas Davis was struck and ran off the roadway when another vehicle was attempting to pass. The other vehicle left the scene and the vehicle type and driver are unknown. Davis was transported to Cox Branson for treatment of minor injuries.

Fire Damages Riding Stable in Kirbyville
Western Taney County Firefighters responded to a structure fire shortly after 7:30 last Thursday night in a 9,600 sq. ft. riding stable on Old Well Lane in Kirbyville. First arriving units found about half of the building involved in flames. The fire was contained to that half of the building with smoke and heat damage in the rest of the building. No injuries were reported and there were no animals in the stable at the time of the fire. One vehicle and other farm equipment was also destroyed in the fire. The cause of the fire was being investigated by the State Fire Marshal. The Western Taney County Fire Protection District held their 30th annual awards and recognition banquet on Saturday to recognize the efforts and dedication of their volunteer firefighters. Lt. Josh Single was named Fire Officer of the Year and John Stakes was recognized as Firefighter of the Year.

Miller Man Indicted for Shooting at Airplane
A man from Miller, Missouri west of Springfield has been indicted by a federal grand jury for shooting at an airplane. The federal indictment alleges that 38 year old David Dickenson allegedly shot a firearm at an aircraft engaged in crop dusting on December 3, 2014 then attempted to dispose of the firearm to prevent its discovery by law enforcement. The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Oliver.

Reeds Spring Seeking Support for Special Events to Fund Community Center
The City of Reeds Spring is working toward renovation of the old High School building on Main Street to repurpose it as a Community Center. Last year the Board of Aldermen authorized that proceeds gained through hosting Special Events would be dedicated funds to work toward this goal. To date, they have made $4,000 through two events, Cajun Days and Bonnie & Clyde Days. This year, they are hoping to build on these 2 events with support from the community. Anyone interested in helping with the existing events or creating new events is asked to attend a special meeting at City Hall this Thursday at 6:00 p.m. For more information, call 417-272-3309.

Table Rock State Park Named Among "The Top 100 Family Fishing & Boating Spots"
Table Rock State Park in Branson was named among "The Top 100 Family Fishing & Boating Spots" by the website TakeMeFishing.org. Table Rock State Park was ranked 9th in the top 100 list. TakeMeFishing.org said the criteria for the list included a Family-friendly location, a body of water with common fish species, part of a park that also offers family amenities, plenty of places to cast a line, and is recommended by other anglers.

Reservations Available for Branson's 68th Annual Black Tie Gala
Reservations are now available for Branson's 68th Annual Black Tie Gala to be held on Saturday, February 28 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Branson Convention Center. The event, hosted by the Branson Chamber of Commerce, features entertainment, dinner and the annual Community Awards to honor individuals and  businesses that have shown outstanding service to the area. For reservations or more information, call 417-334-4084.

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