Terry Dody Leaves - City of Branson Press Release

News Release
July 31, 2007
Contact: Jerry Adams, Branson public information director, 417-337-8526
City Administrator leaves Branson post
Board of Aldermen Begin Immediate Search for Replacement
City of Branson Board of Alderman announces the departure of Terry Dody, ten year employee and city administrator since January 2000.
During his tenure, Branson experienced the biggest economic development growth in the city’s history, including a $420 million lakefront retail development and convention center set to open next month. Under his watch, the Branson RecPlex was opened and the Branson Hills mixed-use development was started. Dody has over 30 years of state, county and municipal government experience. He served as the assistant city administrator and director of finance for the city of Topeka, Kansas before moving to Branson.
A separation agreement was drafted last week and approved by Branson Alderman yesterday. Mr. Dody’s last day is July 31.
“Change is never easy,” stated Mayor Raeanne Presley. “In this case, however, it is a positive move for everyone involved. We appreciate the long hours and diligent effort provided by Dody during a very dynamic and demanding period in our city’s history.”
Frank Schoneboom, assistant city administrator since June 2004, has accepted the position of Interim City Administrator at the Board of Aldermen’s request. In addition to assisting the city administrator, Schoneboom has served as the Administrative Services Director of the city of Branson, which oversees the activities of the Health, City Clerk/Municipal Court, Parks & Recreations Department, CIS Department and the Public Information department.
A native of San Diego, CA, Schoneboom has 15 years experience in the public sector and municipal government. Before coming to Branson, he was the city administrator of Rogersville, MO. He has also served in administrative positions for large non-profit organizations in California before relocating to Missouri.
“We are confident that Schoneboom will provide quality administrative leadership for the experienced and dedicated team of city employees who will continue to keep our city fully functioning during this transition,” said Mayor Presley.
A search committee is being formed to begin the selection process for a new Branson city administrator.
XXX

Branson City Administrator Terry Dody - Leaves Branson

Terry Dody, Branson’s city administrator since 2000, will serve his last day in the position today, a press release said.

The release gave no reason for Dody’s sudden departure from city service, but said a separation agreement had been drafted and approved by Branson Aldermen yesterday.

Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley called Dody’s exit “a positive move for everyone involved.”

According to the release, Dody’s tenure as administrator saw Branson’s largest economic growth in the city’s history.

Frank Schoneboom, Branson’s assistant city administrator since June 2004, will serve as interim city administrator, the release said.

Branson Citizen Request Line

City of Branson LogoBranson Alderman Dick Gass praised Branson's Public Information Director Jerry Adams for his responsiveness to requests that come through Branson's Citizen request line. Adams fields requests from a form on-line at the city's website or by calling (417) 337-8502. The line is open 24/7 and concerns are responded to quickly.
The list of calls is quite entertaining. Complaints range from timeshare fraud to county residents complaining about their neighbors garbage. By looking at the responses; it's easy to see why living in Branson beats most other municipalities in the region. It's hard not to feel empathy towards Adams after looking at the range of issues his office has to field and deal with. The list of requests from January to July 2007 is posted for your viewing entertainment.

Servant Leadership Mr. Meyer and Me

Mr. Meyer, Jory Rolf and I greet each other as Branson Aldermen adjourn and regroup for closed session

Meyer wants to both learn and teach me at the same time. The first concept he wants to teach me is about servant leadership.

He's an interesting and visible enough member of the community that I've taken the time to study him.


Habit 1: Be Proactive:

Bill # 3427 is fresh on my mind. Meyer wants to build Whispering Cove and is smart enough not to annex until the project is completed. He knows where to start the handshake and when to finish it.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind: Principles of Personal Leadership


By the time we sit down to talk Bill #3427 has passed through first and second readings and recieved the Mayor Presley's approval - sealed with an official stamp and signature.

I know he reads me on a regular basis and recall seeing him while working on a job for a local newspaper. But, I'm not the newspaper man to him; to him I'm the blogger. A blog banned through a no-mention policy in the paper.

He asks for understanding - wants to know what makes me tick - seeing I'm putting the horse before the cart....(I'm working on number 8)


Habit 3: Put First Things First: Principles of Personal Management

I also know Meyer is a man of strong faith with a heart for the poor. In the most basic sense, he's learned the path from poverty to the middle class involves self-realization of the impoverished. The methods posted here illustrate some of his methodologies.

The success of his mission ultimately makes our community stronger.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win: Principles of Interpersonal Leadership

He's asking me questions and tells me why he's asking them.

# Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood: Principles of Empathetic Communication

He says I remind him of Jerry Henry, Branson area guru of statistical anomalies. A great compliment. I study Henry's findings whenever the opportunity arises.

He makes some recommendations based on the principals of servant leadership and tells me how to be a better citizen in the community - signs to look for and pitfalls to avoid.
I take his advice - I forward intel regarding topics to be discussed at the next alderman meeting with cutting edge graphics and data they'll never find by simple digging.

Habit 6: Synergize: Principles of Creative Communication

This is an everyday practice.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw: Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal

The 7 Habits are from the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 8th habit, from a book Covey wrote in 1994 From Effectiveness to Greatness
shares this grand nugget of wisdom.

We're in the the Knowledge Worker Age.....The challenges and complexity we face today are of a different order of magnitude. The 8th habit is essentially "Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs...^

Three Liquor Licenses Granted in 10 Minute Session


(Photo of White River Fish Company Shot August 2006 from Candlestick Inn. Development recently continued and remained in the state shown above for nearly a year)
Branson city council met this morning in what turned out to be the shortest aldermen planning session to date. Three Branson business' were allowed licenses to serve alcohol.
City license approval was granted for Ernie Biggs Dueling Piano Bar at Branson Landing,White River Fish Company at Branson Landing, and Hillbilly Inn Restaurant at 1166 West Highway 76. All three restaurants can sell liquor by the drink seven days a week.

Duttons Semi-Final Performance on America's Got Talent - LA BAMBA

Dutton Family Photo
The Dutton's rocked America's Got Talent last night performing their rendition of La Bamba. Round 7 and still alive. Their performance has received positive reviews. The accumulative comments from NBC fans has been positive- noting preference to their bluegrass stylings. The choice of song was attributed to the fact several members of the family speak Spanish and an effort to show their diversity. The majority of criticism regarded the large group of performers and "too much" happening on stage at one time.
Last week they received good ink from the Brigham Young University (BYU) press and continue to bring attention to Branson with national coverage. The Dutton's stayed alive with two of three x's remaining!

See the video on NBC's Website

******
While drafting a story for the front page article for the Branson Daily Independent; I bumped my story for two that I thought were more relevant for page 1. The two stories were "Duttons on America's Got Talent" and "As the World Turns in Branson."
Fearing repercussions from an entertainment writer, I tried to pass the story on - hiding the work I'd completed. I let the entertainment writer know if she didn't make contact (I handed her the info), I'd write the story myself.
The entertainment writer threw a temper tantrum. For a straight hour after my editor rolled deadline up two hours - I heard smart comments coming from the cubicle. Politics is a contact sport and backstabbing is expected....but this was a frontal attack.
The two stories, which weren't going to be covered appeared in the next two additions of the BDI - the entertainment writer was assigned the stories.. My stories hit as well - but they were my last at the BDI. I haven't worked steadily since (month and a half ago)
I learned three lessons. 1. If you're going to write front page news - keep tunnel vision - speak the truth - report the story - accept the consequences for communicating who/what/where/how and why it happened. 2. Refer to one - speak the truth - don't dance - as Tony Messenger says, "You want friends in this business, get a dog". 3. Beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone.

CofO Character Education Director Sue Head on SBJ's List of 20 Most Influential Women

Hat tip to Sue Head for her nomination by the Springfield Business Journal's 2007 list of most influential women in our region.

Taney County Commission Proposes Taxes Two Weeks In a row


Taney County Commissioners meet this morning. New taxes have been proposed at the last two meetings.

Someone - scratch that - everyone needs to take a real close look at the various tax proposals championed two weeks in a row.

Will tomorrow be a 3 peat?

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Branson City Council meets at 10:30 A.M to discuss alcohol before a closed session meeting to discuss personnel issues.

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Th picture posted above has Taney County's least likely to effectively start a riot, until a few weeks ago when he blew the cover off MODOT's plan for the Taneycomo Bridge.

Photo - Marshall's on Staircanse

 
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To truly see why this picture is worthy of a post on its own, you have to click on it. When you zoom in - look at the expression on there faces.
There is a kind of joy that is impossible to fake.

Cartoon concept for John Logan

In a bout of great showmanship. political cartoonist John Logan answers my limerick by upstaging me with a sonnet in last weeks BDI.

John, what can you do with this anonymous suggestion?

CAST

Terry Dody: Darth Vadar
Mayor Presley: Princess Leia
Stan Barker: Luke Skywalker
Jack Purvis: Han Solo
Paul Link: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Sandra Williams: Luke's aunt
Dick Gass: Luke's uncle
Bob McDowell: R2-D2
Stephen Marshall: C3PO


Or, maybe have Stephen Marshall pay Luke Skywalker, which could lead to this interesting dialogue:

Luke (S. Marshall): Darth, you are pigheaded!
Darth (T. Dody): I'm not pigheaded, I'm your father!

Is Branson Landing legally required to host city events?

A reader eloquently chimes in on the danger of unfiltered and unmonitored free speech at the Landing (radical and destructive propaganda proliferated). He asserts Branson Landing managements right to managed the property as they so desire and states his opinion that, "The better approach is for HCW, as the paid tenants of the Landing, to develop its own reasonable approach to allowing individuals and/or groups access to holding events, etc. at the Landing.

At Branson's last city council meeting Mayor Raeanne Presley noted the lease agreement with HCW required the corporation to allow the community to host events. Presley cites an article in the agreement:

“Landlord shall be entitled to periodically hold Landlord sponsored and paid for events or activities on the On-Site Public Improvements and up to 12 events per calendar year which are not more than 2 days in any 30 day period sponsored by another group as specifically designated by Landlord subject to appropriate scheduling through Tenant and the payment by Landlord or the sponsoring group for event designated by Landlord of Tenant’s actual direct costs for providing the necessary services and facilities for the Landlord, event or activities.”


Presley, juggling a number of issues with greater urgency presents a possible solution. Giving mention of Branson Alderman Ward II Jack Purvis's mention of the clause posted above she suggests a planning committee which could include Citizen groups, HCW management, CVB etc...

Presley suggests in addition to HCW's free concerts that have "done a great job of providing concerts which attract many visitors" - the city could host events that would be of interest to residents.

Currently, no process to review such requests is in place. Perhaps, some of our readers might want to spearhead the effort and provide a potential solution for our city government.

Pictures From Political Past

 

 

 
The pictures posted above are from an important meeting in Branson's history. The great "skyrise" debate which ended up being a non-issue. Rick Huffman, seen above, pulled the plug on the project after a feasibility study.
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Greg Brock

 
The picture you see above - click to enlarge - is my favorite photo of local radio station KRZK news director Greg Brock. Consequently, it will be Brock's favorite as well.
The KRZK newsroom arguably the best in the area. Brock credits Morris James for his expertise in organizing and orchestrating their news gathering operations.

Jory Roars - First Ammendment Please


Jory Rolf is the minister who runs Action Impact Ministries (AIM)which he started with his wife in 1998.
At Branson's last two city council meetings Rolf, accompanied by Salvation Army Captain Ron Keys, challenged aldermen on the issue of alcohol and the Branson Landing. Rolf's first challenge regarded the environment of the "town square" and the message given to tourists as patron's mingle with open containers in hand.
After council moved to hire outside counsel and form a citizens committee on alcohol, Rolf challenged Rick Huffman on both moral and first amendment grounds. Rolf begged the question, "is he legally allowed to protest at the Branson Landing?"
What he really wants is for the youngsters he pastors to have the opportunity to minister from the landing stage through song, mime and interpretive dance.
The issue raised by Landing management at one point regarded an interpretation of the World Trade Towers collapsing which ex-Branson Landing manager Linda Antus felt emotionally moved by.
Rolf's ministry includes a large percentage of home-schooled children who commune with other kids their age through church gatherings. Rolf conjured a post which he read in part to Branson's political leadership.
The question raised by Rolf about his right to protest tickled a laugh from Mayor Raeanne Presley.

Comment:
We ask, "How offensive can a mime be?" Will an effort begin to take back Sundays at the waterfront? If Jory were here, he'd want you to read this: <7 Truths>

Dirty Old Towne at Waxy O' Sheas

Dirty Old Town is performing their special brand of Celtic Rock at Waxy O' Sheas until midnight tonight.

Gaye Lisby - Involuntary Contributer

Gaye Lisby is the most authoritative source on Branson's spiritual history from a charismatic Christian perspective. I highly recommend her materials to the "clergy" whenever I get the chance.
Her historical documents and seven years of research conducted to create a Spiritual History of Branson and the Land of the Osage have been used to create the historic timeline (which we are consolidating with other historical documents) and poetry have graced the pages of this website.
The ">sheer beauty of her poem is one I not only recommend (which was recommended to me by 417 magazine editor Gregory Holman you read but one I read regularly to remember the ancestors of the place I called home - and what remains as time changes most everything else.

***
Who am I to say what God whispers to men? If Lisby were here today, she would probably tell me to keep it clean - In a motherly kind of way. Lisby will one day pass - but, her message will remain.
Socrates believed that men were only vessels by which the God's worked through. Christians among us would say that God created the vessel. As for Lisby - tis better she speak for herself. We are both appreciative and inspired by her body of work.

Big Smith - Free Concert At Branson Landing

Big Smith 

Big Smith 

Big Smith 
If you're looking for something to do tonight, you should seriously consider coming watching Big Smith perform live at the Branson Landing. Condo owners have been setting up lawn chairs as early as 3 P.M. today in anticipation of the bands arrival. Come and join in the fun if you like Rockin-gospel-hillbilly-bluegrass. If you don't - you don't count.
Big Smith is ready to settle down after a national tour which ended on the west coast. Band members say they're done touring for the moment and ready to hit the studio.
See the Beach Boys at the RFD-TV Theater
See Taylor Hicks
See Kenny Loggins

Great weekend to be in Branson!

Taneycomo Airplane Havoc

 
Voted least liked by Branson Landing management. The pilot seen above has a habit of starting his engine and flying back and forth while live music is being performed on the Branson Landing stage.

Springfield News-Leader Ink & KOLR staffers talk amongst themselves

I was looking through Google's smart agent when I came across an article I posted here last week called Springfield News-Leader Not Riding on Love Train with Branson. The article was posted on page 2 of the Springfield News-Leader opinion section. The News-leader has been making an effort as part of the overall Gannett agenda that integrates community voices into the newspaper. The print publication is now viewed as one component of the media organization.


News-Leader wrong on convention center

I strongly disagree with the Springfield News-Leader's position (on the new Branson convention center). Branson and Springfield have the ability to attract much larger conventions, which should be the regional goal. Branson citizenry has only good intentions towards our big sister to the north and invite Springfieldians to take our hand as we walk down the path to mutual prosperity. Our highest ranking elected leader has contributed by opening a hand of good will expressing interest in the greater good. Won't you join us Springfield? Any Bloggers who want a special tour of our facility.... drop me a line!

- Darin Codon http://bransonmissouri. blogspot.com


Some local news organization actually benefit from not being published on-line. For instance, many residents in the Eastern side of Taney County pay for the TCT but refuse to pay for the Branson Daily News - why pay for the cow when you can get the milk on-line for free?
This brings me to the KLOR newsroom. Brad Haller Reveals Branson, Missouri was all the rage in the local CBS affiliates newsroom. Props to Kate Stacy on a job well done covering the story. CBS promises to "not neglect Branson" in the newsroom.

Time to cash in...or will I never eat lunch in this town again? :)

Updated July 30th

Like a spidermonkey


See, now were talking! The anonymous poster is being bumped up to the front page. We'll comment and let you read the post below for reference.
Let me start by saying this - The question is not over alcohol - I agree - It is about one fundamental Americanism. We, the citizens have the right to live in the kind of community we want to create. This was the point I was trying to make to city council.
John Logan - political dissident - you're cracking me up...b Yes, not only did John Logan admit that he has an occasional beer - he admitted to drinking Colorado swill.
I would like to render my personal apologizes to the fine folks at Anheuser Bush - who have been kind enough to contribute substantially to the YMCA and the political coffers of many of our regional residents. We're about making friends too! May you one day create a beer as fine as Guinness.
Back to the topic at hand. This is my criticism of Seagull. I love the guy. The man is a great writer, philosopher and pundit. Fairness, balance and "the fullness of the political gospel" are attributes I believe he has the potential to acquire.
Last week the extremities of bias were plastered on the pages of the Branson Independent. Four articles were written involving a short spat with one alderman and the administrator. Most of the details were left out and several other topics of great importance to the community weren't addressed. Great setup for an opinion column.
When a political lynching occurs - we'll write the obituary along with a dozen other media organizations. Bringing the stool, tying the rope and slicing the victim with a samurai sword isn't the job of a reporter (though darn fun for an opinion columnist).
On the topic of legal counsel. The shear number of attorneys the city of Branson has burned through doesn't reflect well on our political culture (though darn fun for a journalist).
As for the point I argued to our city leaders, we already regulate alcohol - which I point out in a July 10th post titled. "Branson and the Politics of Alcohol".
Ward II Alderwoman Sandra Williams motioned for special counsel to help us address alcohol legislation. The council was elected to lead the city. In a sense, if the citizen survey is done correctly - they're giving it back to us.
By the way, while I was writing this post - the soon-to-be-Hilton-beer-garden - is being roped off. The beer garden encompasses the walkway - small fountain, stage and highly-subsidized-fire-and-water show.

The opinion that the State has exclusive authority over matters pertaining to liqueor licenses has been stated by not just the current city attorney, but in fact, the last three (3) city attorneys: Paul Link (current), Dan Wichmer (former Branson city attorney and current Springfield city attorney) and Deborah Duester (former Branson city attorney) were all of the same opinion.
When you consider the fact that 3 straight attorneys for a given client all had the same opinion, that the state officials have informed individuals the same opinion together with the State's own admission that it's permit which was granted to the subject "kiosk" is vague and unenforceable, then how one continue to blame the current city attorney and administrator in this so-called "liqueur-gate"? The answer: because those who are complaining the loudest are those who either (1) made a campaign pledge as a candidate to, when elected, fire the city administrator and attorney or (2) citizens who supported candidates who promised to do the "firing" if elected. Ultimately, the alcohol issue is not important to the "new slate" of aldermen and mayor, who are not driven by a Carrie Nation type of prohibition frenzy. They are just looking for a supposed reason to fire Terry Doty and Paul Link. Local occasional "political dissident" John Logan has basically admitted in his blog entries that alcohol is not the issue but rather the alcohol inquiry is part of the criticism of the job performance of Terry Doty.

Showboat Branson Belle (Photos)

 

 

 
The photos above are from the Showboat Branson Belle. Her maiden voyage was market with thousands of bananas which were used to launch her into Table Rock Lake April 13, 1995 - where whe has lived ever since. Show tunes, smooth jazz while dinner is being served, world class acrobatics and a comedic close make the attraction a must see. Once owned by Kenny Rogers, locals speculate the plan was that the vessel would serve as a gambling operation - today the attraction is owned by Herschend Family Entertainment.
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Branson News Roundup

Branson Police Department - Benefits from Governor Matt Blunt's $29 Million Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program - Interoperable Communications Grant. The man found to be wanted on warrants after being hospitalized with stab wounds was quickly detained and is now in police custody.

FBI: Celebrates 100th birthday. Here's a roundup of the ST.Louis and Kansas City office press releases through June of this year. The majority of the FBI's 10 most wanted speak Spanish. In a recent article the FBI addresses modern day espionage.

Taney County currently houses 80 registered sex offenders. Two are missing. Recidivism rate of offenders is 40% To view property for sale in Branson with an integrated offender locator see 76 Realty. Point Royale remains the only area private community forbidding anyone on the list to live in the planned development.

Branson Entertainment: Bill Cosby will be visiting Branson on October 13th at the Mansion Theater.

A new company is offering Helicopter tours over Branson and Bill Medley is to release a new solo album.

What about Terry Dody?

Branson's city administrator Terry Dody has been most discussed by local journalist Gary Groman who has alluded to him (among other less flattering descriptions) as the Darth Vadar of Branson.
In a planning session two weeks ago, it was determined that Branson's city administrator will be coming up for evaluation. City leaders will select areas of responsibility and rank Dody's performance on a 1-5 scale.
On one hand, Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley has asked every department head to submit evaluations and areas of which they can improve their departments. The request was received in good spirits by leaders who have taken the call for self-improvement as a task worth tackling.
The topic of Terry Dody's evaluation is the most fascinating and unique in this respect: The current administration has changed Dody's methods most significantly. At the end of former Mayor Lou Schaefer's career, waning health pushed Dody into a more authoritative position than he has today. In this context, is Dody’s position as Groman’s whipping boy justified?
The photo you see above is rare which depicts the fundamental public relations issue facing Dody. Hollister city administrator Rick Ziggnefuss has a more rigid approach to governance but has never taken the heat Dody seems to endure weekly. Is Rick a less hands on administrator? No. In fact, in many ways Ziggenfuss is more heavy-handed leader. During an hour long interview last week – in the wake of three Hollister police officers being fired – Ziggenfuss discussed his closed-door policy. Hollister city employees are not allowed to speak to Ziggenfuss without their direct leader’s presence. On one hand, reporter relationships with the city of Hollister are very different which is why the Hollister police story was so easily buried from regional reporters. Bottom line – it never came out in a press release for correspondents to regurgitate to the public.
What does Ziggenfuss do that Dody doesn’t? He patronizes popular local restaurants and mingles with Hollister citizenry while Dody’s public appearances are rare. What about markers? The shear economic power and growth of Branson significantly towers over Hollister, which was once the tourism center of Taney County,
The new administration has sparred with Dody on several occasions. During Branson 101, Alderman Bob McDowell fired, “Don’t take away my rights.” Alderwoman Sandra Williams has criticized Dody about administrative policies of past in relation to disclosure and sunshine law. Alderman Stephen Marshall’s spar with Dody was the topic of four articles – which excluded many important facts and overshadowed a handful of other topics discussed during the meeting.
During the heated debate between Marshall and Dody we learned a little bit about Dody’s character. Though aggressive and admittedly stubborn we learned that in years of heated discussion he was able to keep his cool. Considering the high-power political fire he’s endured, this fact is impressive.
_____________

A good reporter should always maintain the benefit of the doubt position. My personal interaction with Dody has been minimal. When I wanted to understand a bond issue Dody put me in the right direction. From an administrator’s perspective – getting the story straight is important. However, after I pushed for rapid delivery of public audio files in front of the new administration - direct access to many of my resources were cut off.
One area is the IT department who won’t answer even the most basic questions without sending me through spools of red tape. At the last city council meeting the Mayor brought the head of the department over for a discussion. As soon as the Mayor turned her head – he wouldn’t speak a word. Although the public benefited from my actions, access to public information on a personal has been significantly limited.

College of the Ozarks Featured in New York Times Education Section

The New York Times printed an article today about College of the Ozarks in the education section of the paper today. Kathleen Coffey sent the press release below:

College of the Ozarks was featured in the Education section of the July 25 edition of The New York Times. The article, written by Joseph Berger, is entitled “Fight Song at Ozarks: Work Hard and Avoid Debt.”
The article showcases the College and its unique work-study program, which allows an average of 95 percent of students to graduate debt-free by working 15 hours a week on campus to offset the cost of tuition.
In the write-up, several students give firsthand accounts of working at college to pay for tuition, and most are appreciative of the opportunity. Three of four students, Berger explains, have family incomes which qualify for Federal Pell grants of up to $4,310. Not only does work-study offset the cost of tuition, it gives C of O students a different outlook on a college education, which Berger illustrates with quotes from various students such as sophomore Sarah LeDoux.
“I find I take more pride in doing well in class when I know I’ve washed dishes to be able to take that class,” says LeDoux.
Berger also cites Roger Lehecka, the former dean of students at Columbia University and a consultant to scholarship programs. Lehecka says that working 15 hours a week at an institution such as Columbia would earn the student roughly $6,000 for two semesters, which would barely make a dent in its $45,000-per-year price tag.
College of the Ozarks was previously featured in the Jan. 4, 1998 Times Education Life section as a sidebar that accompanied an article entitled, “A Free Bachelor’s. No Kidding.”

Branson Chamber offers more gasbuster incentives

The Branson Chamber of Commerce sent a press release over the business wire yesterday to share their plans to extend the Gas Buster program.
"We've given away $93,000 in Gas Buster discount cards so far this summer. We're so happy to share the savings with our visitors that we've created one more incentive for the rest of the summer with the new weekly gas money drawings," says Lynn Berry,

Liquor - Stabbing Victim at Large - Gannet Editorial Blasphemy


KOLR was at the Branson Landing today scooping the "open container story" which will air in 20 minutes.
Greg Brock calls me out and the picture reveals why Branson Alderman Stephen Marshall told me to get a haircut.
The Branson Police Department is on the lookout for a stabbing victim that happens to be wanted.
In between the meeting we stopped by the Tattoo shop we told you about to snag a beer from the lot of pirates..argghhh. (Guess we're the real pirates).
Gannett offends the entire Internet with one editorial.
Branson Landing management is feeling the pressure. Attorney's researching the states liquor license policy claim the Kansas City Mafia initially used permit control to thwart free enterprise when it came to liquor distribution.
But, Landing management moved against allowing a vendor who wanted to paint a sign of the best beer in the world - Guinness of course - on their storefront. Renderings below.

Missouri Liquor Control Visits Branson

 
The picture posted above is Branson local John Logan during debate regarding public consumption of alcohol on the Branson Landing "town square" and walkways. The debate was heated. A lot of latent anxieties were unleashed as the state of Missouri revealed that the city of Branson can regulate alcohol pretty much any way they please.... The agency made an error when they issued a license to a vendor in the town square by not setting a parameter by which alcohol can be consumed. The state corrected the error by issuing a ticket with 10 days to correct the problem. The agency revealed four tickets were issued by sting operations conducted by the Taney County Sheriff's department See below. Planted minors nabbed four Branson Landing business's since the Landing opened including:

Sullivans
Five and Dime (no longer selling alcohol)
Joe's Crab Shack
Garfields

The state advised that other cities have formed citizen committees to determine alcohol regulations. In the future, the existence of such an entity appears imminent. John Freed heeded the call as citizen journalist taping the meeting though the massive file size limits our ability to post it immediately though we plan to post the video clips later this week.
Updated: 7/24 Joe Hodgin seen to the left in the photo above sent the following correction -

The following message was sent

The compliance checks which resulted in four arrests of subjects who
sold liquor to minors were conducted by our agency rather than
the Taney County Sheriff's Department.



Joe Hodgin
District Supervisor
Division of Alcohol & Tobacco Control
615 East 13th Street, Room 506
Kansas City, MO 64106
Joe.Hodgin@dps.mo.gov
Phone: 816-889-2574
FAX: 816 889-3149

Club 57 - Wed

This little banner says it all doesn't it? Gail Lennon - Bruce Hoffman - Austin Wilson - Tom Dostal. Need I say more?

Zombie Bazooka Patrol to Appear on the Early Show

Zombie Bazooka Patrol To Appear On The Early Show
Play Media
Courtesy CBS Released:
Monday, Jul 23, 2007 @03:53pm CST

Breaking into the music business is tough, even if you come from Branson, Missouri.

But getting the chance to appear on national television will definitely help.

This band called Zombie Bazooka Patrol was one of three bands from across the country chosen to compete in week five of CBS This Morning's battle of the bands.

Three of the members are from Branson.

Viewers get to vote on line for their top pick of the week.

The winner will perform on The Early Show in September but you can see Zombie in Springfield at Nathan P. Murphy's downtown on July 31st.

Party at Tattoo Shop

Live music, free food, good times - 6:00 PM - 1 hour before tonights hecklers veto at city hall. Go to Taneycomo bridge ....don't cross...look left..park - eat...

City of Branson meet Mr. Sunshine

A website was created this week to help local news organizations with access to public information. To date, even while sponsored by corporate news organizations, I've paid for all of my information requests out of my own pocket. I do this so I can publish information the public needs without filtering it. In many ways. we have as much to fear today by some of the behavior of our press as we do the government itself.
Free flow of information helps eliminate some of these issues - corruption in the government and corruption in the press.
Sunshine law violations happen - some aren't malicious - like an administrator being sick and failing to post a notice early enough (unintentional violations should be quickly corrected and forgiven). In some cases, more sinister motives exist. In Branson particularly, a great deal of pseudo-government entities exist with a minimalist approach to exposure - at a great expense to the public.

“Government decision making
in the United States should be as
transparent as possible. Ours is a
democratic system – of, by and for
the people – and we ought to know
what’s going on. We’re a stronger
society because information – good
and bad – flows freely.”
Judy Woodruff, PBS NewsHour

When I ask for certain information that falls under the auspices of the sunshine law) and ask for it in a format that is both available and less taxing on human and environmentally resources than standard formats it would be of great benefit to myself, the community and legal counsel if the request was complied with.

“Open government laws are
absolutely essential to getting the
information officials might prefer
to see locked away. When you’re
seeking information, you know
that with these laws you’re on the
side of right. Sunshine Week is
an opportunity for journalists, the
public and government officials to
reinforce the importance of these
laws and their foundations.”
Ben Bradlee, The Washington Post

Basically, it's the easy way or the hard way. The easy way is to ask for help (if you don't know how to fulfill the request). The hard way is a public whipping by men who wear funny robes in Cole County. What's it gonna be?

Refrences: Missouri Court Decisions
Missouri Press Association 2004 - Alderman Clash

****Public Meeting Tonight - Branson City Council 7PM City Hall

Tammy Faye Bakker Dies in Kansas City Home

The headline today. She told Larry King that she didn't want the doctors to tell her when she was going to die last week. The full interview conducted during the final week of her life is posted here.

State Wire - 200 trapped in St. Louis Arch

The AP published the biggest news to hit Missouri today...200 people trapped in the St. Louis Arch.

Jack Purvis

 
Perhaps best known for his brightly colored shirts and tight khaki pants, Branson Ward II Alderman Jack Purvis is a member of a biker gang known throughout prisons nationwide. A few days ago, I ran in to Purvis at the Branson Landing - consequently - it was the perfect time to talk about his favorite topic.
For nearly 14 years Purvis and his Christian motorcycle gang visit prisons to share their faith. There are physical prisons and there are prisons not visible to the human eye. Purvis's mission is to liberate those incarcerated for their crimes against society from the spiritual bonds that bind them.
The missionary methods are based off of a tract method" known as the four spiritual laws. Professional athletes, entertainers and fellow bikers fellowship as part of an organization started by Bill Glass.
After they leave, prison wardens acknowledge a difference in the inmates. Some cell blocks are transformed from violent to peaceful. For drug abusers recidivism rates can exceed 85% (meth). After a spiritual awakening, the rate is greatly reduced. After he leaves, Purvis often maintains contact with the prisoners - cultivating their spiritual growth as they experience a new freedom behind metallic bars.

Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Cracks Down On Child Abusers

The Taney County Prosecuting Attorney's office issued two press releases today. Ronald Darling pleaded guilty to a child abuse and Christopher Henderson pleaded guilty to robbery.
The office has been working overtime to push through a backlog of cases predating Jeff Merrell's election to office. According to the press release Darling's plea was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI which resulted from an Internet based sting operation.

Purvis asks Alderman to solicit churches to help transport seniors


Branson Ward II Alderman Jack Purvis asked city council members to solicit their churches for vehicles to help senior citizens in need to transportation. Purvis noted their are at least a dozen churches in town that have vehicles left unused during most of the week. The suggestion comes after several Branson area senior citizens contacted Purvis to complain about their inability to coordinate such vital services as doctor's appointment.

Stabbing at hotel - Police looking for suspect - motive

Click here to view the release sent earlier today by the Branson Police Department.

Click the link above to view the press release verbatim. The following news agencies also reported the event at the times listed:

Arkansas Man Found Stabbed in Branson Motel
KATV Little Rock Fri, 20 Jul 2007 9:16 AM PDT
Branson, MO (AP) - Police are investigating the fatal stabbing of an Arkansas man in a Branson, Missouri motel room. Police were called to the Crescent Court Motel late Thursday night where they found a man with a stab wound in his left shoulder.

Arkansas man found fatally stabbed at Branson motel
WMCTV Memphis Fri, 20 Jul 2007 8:18 AM PDT
Associated Press - July 20, 2007 11:14 AM ET BRANSON, Mo. (AP) - Police in Branson are investigating the fatal stabbing of an Arkansas man in a motel room.

Branson police investigate fatal stabbing of Arkansas man
The Springfield News-Leader Fri, 20 Jul 2007 7:47 AM PDT
Branson police are investigating a fatal stabbing that occurred last night. Police said Dewayne Anthony Lynn, 48, of Harrison, Ark., was found stabbed after 10 p.m. outside the Crescent Court Motel, 309 Veteran's Blvd. Lynn was bleeding from a wound to the left shoulder, police said. Chief Caroll McCullough was there was only one wound. The man was taken to Skaggs Community Health Center in ...

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) _ Police in Branson are investigating the fatal stabbing of an Arkansas man in a motel room.
WIBW-TV Topeka Fri, 20 Jul 2007 8:22 AM PDT
Police were called to the Crescent Court Motel late last night where they found a man with a stab wound in his left shoulder. Authorities say 48-year-old Dewayne Lynn of Harrison, Arkansas, later died at a hospital.

Stabbing victim in Branson motel dies at hospital
KY3 Springfield Fri, 20 Jul 2007 8:28 AM PDT
Someone stabbed a man from Harrison, Ark., on Thursday night.

UPDATE: Outlets reporting late...


Branson Police Investigate Fatal Stabbing
The Morning News Sat, 21 Jul 2007 1:37 AM PDT
BRANSON, Mo. -- An Arkansas man was stabbed to death Thursday night at a Branson motel, police said.

Wild West show making a home in Branson
The Springfield News-Leader Sat, 21 Jul 2007 1:07 AM PDT
Branson -- More performing animals are apparently on their way to Branson in the cast of the Great American Wild West Show with an opening planned for July 2008 on Gretna Road across from the Branson Mill Craft Village, said manager Cary Parker.

Branson cops investigate rare killing
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Fri, 20 Jul 2007 10:57 AM PDT
BRANSON, Mo. (AP) -- Police are investigating the fatal stabbing of an Arkansas man at a Branson motel. If the case is determined to be a homicide, it would be the first slaying this year in the resort town and only the third since 2000, police said Friday.

Branson police investigate fatal stabbing
Southeast Missourian Fri, 20 Jul 2007 1:57 PM PDT
BRANSON, Mo. (AP) -- An Arkansas man was stabbed to death Thursday night at a Branson motel, police said. If the case is determined to be a homicide, it would be the first killing this year in the...

Police Probe Fatal Stabbing At Branson Motel
KMBC-TV Kansas City Fri, 20 Jul 2007 11:13 AM PDT
Police are investigating the fatal stabbing of an Arkansas man at a Branson motel late Thursday.

Branson police investigate fatal stabbing
WMCTV Memphis Fri, 20 Jul 2007 9:48 AM PDT
Associated Press - July 20, 2007 12:44 PM ET BRANSON, Mo. (AP) - Branson police are investigating a fatal stabbing at a local motel. If the case is determined to be a homicide, it would...

Branson police investigate fatal stabbing at motel
Southeast Missourian Fri, 20 Jul 2007 9:43 AM PDT
BRANSON, Mo. (AP) -- Police are investigating the fatal stabbing of an Arkansas man at a Branson motel late Thursday. If the case is determined to be a homicide, it would be the first slaying this...

Branson, Mo., police investigate fatal stabbing of Arkansas man
Baxter Bulletin Fri, 20 Jul 2007 10:30 AM PDT
Branson. Mo.. police are investigating a fatal stabbing that occurred last night. Police said Dewayne Anthony Lynn, 48, of Harrison was found stabbed after 10 p.m. outside the Crescent Court Motel, 309 Veteran's Blvd.

Branson police investigate fatal stabbing
Pine Bluff Commercial Fri, 20 Jul 2007 9:49 AM PDT
BRANSON, Mo. - An Arkansas man was stabbed to death Thursday night at a Branson motel, police said. If the case is determined to be a homicide, it would be the first murder this year in the resort town and only the third since 2000, police said.

Harrison man, 48, slain in Branson motel
NWAnews.com Sat, 21 Jul 2007 5:54 AM PDT
hospital where he died while undergoing treatment, authorities said. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Northwest Edition)

Branson Trolley Plan to be proposed monday


Branson Trolley & Transportation, a business entity created earlier this year will pitch a public transportation service to Branson alderman Monday night. The Crane, Mo based business plans to offer employees of Branson business's the ability to purchase unlimited rides at a cost of $25 a month or a standard $1 per ride/$10 per day. They have some interesting ideas on how to capitalize on Branson's traffic problem. Under the current plan, rolling advertisements will be displayed on the Trolley's side, signs in the back and monitors displaying ad messaging on the inside of the cars.
Tram hostesses will provide "mini-shows" on friday and saturday nights. Branson theaters can send their headliners to put on a mini-show to seduce tourists to visit their must-buy-a-ticket-to-enter show in the time-share-show pitch style format.
Routes will include access to Hwy.76 proper, Silver Dollar City, Indian Point,Shepherd of the Hills Theater, Table Rock Lake and the Tall Timber outdoor theater. Their current plans allow access to 25 percent of area hotels, 8 percent of shops, 60 percent of theaters and 7 percent of restaurants.
Another part of the plan includes the yet to be created Branson Shopping Networkd (BSN). Items purchased from stores will be hold packages the way "Walt Disney World" does it. Storage for tourists will be available during shows etc.

The board includes:
Gary Cosatt - NIXA, MO - Hotel owner
Sherry Hebbert - Ozark, MO - IT manager with extensive knowledge of outdated programming languages (that are still used by our government). Runs IT services for Bass Pro food service
Brent Hobbs - Branson, MO - Owner of Tri-Lakes Shuttle
Amber Julian - Crane,MO - MBA accounting, Bass Pro IT department
Dr. Montel B. Wilder - Ayer, MA - Phd Religion - Lobbies Washington on behald of AACS
Dr. Nathan Gartner - Professor of Civil and Transportation engineering at University of Massachusetts, Lowell - Israeli educated, well published

Blunt takes on Taneycomo Bridge Issue

Bus-Plunge tunes into a town hall meeting with Blunt. The post is part of a series where he tries to follow Blunt in real time. Thing is, MODot says their funding is falling off a cliff in a press release yesterday.

Hollister Police PR

Closing of the Hollister bridge is the big topic on everyone's mind today. Bob Schanz, former Taney County Commissioner candidate (more on this later) broke the story in a public meeting at the courthouse last week.
For Hollister, the big story was recovering from the press fallout last week. Parker didn't seem to impressed by some of the information distributed by local press outlets. In response, Parker made himself publicly accessible...how?..by eating breakfast at Ye English Inn, Hollister's most popular dining establishment. Senior Citizens bombarded Parker with questions. He handled it well. Parker said he didn't tell Cantanese about COMET - see below - though after revealing neither the Highway Patrol nor Taney County Sheriffs Department was handling the case it became a little more obvious (pssst chances are he had it already).
Reports from the street: Meth Down - 2Cb up. See how the club kids are pushing it.

**Hollister Fun Fact:...
The first Hollister Police Captain was a "soda jerk."

Branson News Limerick


There once was two papers in Branson
A robber held one motel ransom
Neither reported
With Hilton Cohorted
And slapped all of the citizens back some.

This one's for you News Limerick Guy

Dude where's the beef? The photo above is from what show..? Hilton put out a press release about their grand opening 43 days away. Yesterday was a big news day. The PR folks at Hilton Corp are very good at what they do. It was planned and delivered effectively. Question is, was it the right thing to do? Was it necessary to bump the facts about the robbery? Harrison picked the story up!

Springfield News-Leader Not Riding on Love Train With Branson

Mayor Presley and the Springfield-Branson Airport board were outshouted this morning by the Springfield News-Leader editorial board..

Branson Awake Aggressive
the giant, in this case, is Branson, and it is sleeping no more. As the city of Springfield has sputtered and stopped, and restarted attempts to kickstart its convention center complex downtown, Branson is still reaching for the sky. Its new convention center and attached hotel is already attracting the sort of attention that has Springfield convention planners taking notice.

Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau director Tracy Kimberlin says the fledgling convention center adjacent to Branson Landing has already snagged two conventions from Springfield. That's a lot of captive business for our city that will now be in Branson instead of here. Will they make the trek to Bass Pro in Springfield now that they have one just outside the door of their hotel in Branson?

Branson Edge:
I strongly disagree with the Springfield News-Leader's position. Branson and Springfield have the ability to attract much larger conventions which should be the regional goal. Branson citizenry has only good intentions towards our big sister to the north and invite Springfieldians to take our hand as we walk down the path to mutual prosperity. Our highest ranking elected leader has contributed by opening a hand of good will expressing interest in the greater good. Won't you join us Springfield? Any Bloggers who want a special tour of our facility....drop me a line!

Blackstone scopes Branson

26 Billion dollars, more than most nation's Gross Domestic Product GDP, was the price Blackstone paid to purchase Hilton. The top brass is in Branson adding pressure to the Branson Convention Center Management - an experimental business development deal with the city of Branson.
If it works, the project will serve as a model for future developments. Hilton's staff is stressfully putting together the final pieces of the project with 30 days before the center will open.
The Hilton is currently managing two hotels, the soon to be completed Branson convention center and inevitably the parking in downtown Branson. Daily tours of Branson's first crop of groups booking the Convention center are being pulled through daily.
One of the groups, Branson Collector Car Auction, was the first to book and will be the third group to rent the facility...


Blackstone Vital Stats
Share Related Items
Mkt. Cap. (Mil) $ 6,854.65
Shares Out (Mil) 234.67


Dividend Information
Yield % 0.00
Annual Dividend 0.00
Payout Ratio (TTM) % 0

Profitability
Gross Margin (TTM) % 0.00
Operating Margin (TTM) % 94.10
Profit Margin (TTM) % 26.00
Valuation Ratios
Price/Earnings (TTM) 2.40
Price/Sales (TTM) 0.79
Price/Book (MRQ) $ 2.41
Price/Cash Flow (TTM) $ 3.10

Per Share Data
Earnings (TTM) $ 12.33
Sales (TTM) $ 37.11
Book Value (MRQ) $ 12.14
Cash Flow (TTM) $ 9.52

Management Effectiveness
Return on Equity (TTM) 78.40
Return on Assets (TTM) 5.80
Return on Investment (TTM) 52.80
Financial Strength
Quick Ratio (MRQ) NA Current Ratio (MRQ) NA LT Debt/Equity (MRQ) 0.49
Total Debt/Equity (MRQ) NA
Mil = Millions MRQ = Most Recent Quarter TTM = Trailing Twelve Months
Financial Snapshot
2006
Revenue $ 8.7 B
Total Net Income $ 2.3 B
Earnings Per Share $ 12.33
EBITDA $ 8.2 B
Long Term Debt $ 976.0 M

Education leads to heated debate over Branson's right to regulate alcohol


A heated discussion arose as Branson city officials discussed alcohol on the Branson Landing.
Last Monday, Action Ministries Clergyman Jory Rolf and Salvation Army Captain Ron Keys addressed Branson City Council to share their offense to an incident involving alcohol consumption at a free concert at the Branson Landing earlier this month. Rolf and Keys have taken a conservative stance against public consumption of alcohol carrying over into a stance against Huffman's enterprises during a debate regarding future expansion of his Branson based empire. After a feasibility study was complete Huffman chose to table the project.
Branson Alderman have maintained their hands were tied on the issue of alcohol as regulation is in the hands of the state. Branson Alderman Stephen Marshall hit city Attorney Paul Link and City Administrator Terry Dody hard with questioning. Not appreciating their response, Stephen fired back by saying he's not going to put up with this pigheadedness for two years. At the end of the meeting Marshall apologized for his statement modifying his adjective to "stubborn". Dody conceded he would call himself stubborn....tensions cool....
Joe Hodgin of the Missouri Division of Liquor control will address Branson's Board of Alderman next Monday clarifying any questions about the cities ability to regulate permits and alcohol use in general. Controversy over the issue isn't new and has been an item of contention over the last several years. In 2004 Taney County's Presiding Commissioner Chuck Pennel challenged the board over theaters being permitted to issue alcohol licenses.
In a private meeting with HCW and Branson Landing tenants last year it was suggested that establishments would be able to issue plastic cups with alcoholic beverages. No restaurants to date have allowed beverages to be taken outside on the boardwalk. An establishment (Five and Dime) selling packaged beer has discontinued the practice. A sting operation left one establishment with heavy fines and a bartender without a job last year after they were caught selling liquor to an underage person planted by the Taney County Sheriff's Department.
The misconceptions about alcohol permitting has enabled loose policies which are now being challenged by the Missouri Division of Liquor Control. A beer stand near the fountain aka town center was issued a warning by Hodgin yesterday. According to statute the vendor has to enclose the area. They've been given 10 days to comply. The stand will be taken over by Hilton management (long overdue) soon. Other projects have taken priority with the opening of a new restaurant and the Branson Convention center 30 days away.
----------------------
Editor's Note/Disclosure: I spoke at the last Branson Alderman's meeting. After, I felt humiliated. When writing for a news organization, I believe this is inappropriate, after all I don't have space to write disclosure statements. The reason I spoke was to get a statement on the record. When Rolf and Keys spoke, I found the discussion too tempting and addressed the board bored the board with my rant. When I made statements about Missouri Law, the board said they'd refer to legal counsel...right answer - as it turns out - I was right...still feel embarrassed. I am a student of my government and I study hard. My research began last year for a client who wanted information about alcohol laws, permitting etc. I read through over a hundred pages of related documentation including materials provided by journalist Vonda Sheets who was looking into the issue as well...

As the World Turns Saga Continues

Here's what's happening in the As the World Turns episode in Branson...

Cleo knocked out Gwen and tied her to the railroad tracks next to Jade, who was also tied up. Maddie found and untied Will, who later found Jade, who was able to untie herself. Will freed Gwen from the railroad tracks just before a train would have run over them both. Cleo was arrested and taken to jail. Lance sneaked into Alison's room and put a video on her TV. Alison panicked to see Aaron watching the video, which showed Dusty and Alison making love. Alison realized Aaron will never forgive her. After Emily saw the video, she told Alison she could have Dusty, then told Dusty she was leaving town. Craig gave Meg a copy of their marital contract and said that he also wanted her to keep Worldwide and that it's her decision to annul their marriage and/or return Worldwide to Lucinda. Carly asked Jack to tell Parker about Paul's death and then told Jack she still loves him.

City officials tour soon to be completed Branson Convention Center

Branson officials took a tour of the convention center last week. The facility, which will be managed by Hilton's of Branson, is scheduled to open August 16.
If you've been reading, you already know about the Bose built speakers in the shape of birds (See image below) which were built at a cost of $35k a piece.
The photo above was shot by Greg Brock who was the only other member of the media in attendance. The shot is of John Presley and his girlfriend whose name I conveniently forgot (I expect an e-mail fixing this shortly).
It was nice not being the youngest person on the tour. John tickles the ivories at the Presley's show on the 76 strip and has a cool, collected non-assuming demeanor.
The Presley family had a few representatives in attendance. Pssst - A couple Ben-Folds-Five covers and I'll move some tickets. Still want that CD.

Branson Airport Groundbreaking


Branson Airport Groundbreaking

Branson Airport's groundbreaking ceremony was held this morning at 9:30. As expected, every media outlet within a 100 mile radius attended. A KRZK sound-bite had investor (it's a pseudo-governmental agency) and local billionaire Glenn Patch saying people who fly spend 40% more than people who drive to Branson. The opening is slated for May 2009 and will be the nations first privately funded commercial airport.
The project comes at a $140 million dollar expense. Liability for issued bonds is limited to the Transportation Development District which required Patch to give the land to the County.
Patch's project, Branson Creek, will be a major beneficiary as are local politicians with significant investments in the area. The 7140 ft runway will be able to land commercial planes though no liner has officially been named (names of airlines in the negotiation process have been whispered).
Speculation over tension between Springfield and Branson were silenced by Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley who publicly stated the airport is not about competition... Member of the Springfield-Branson Airport have voiced the same sentiment. Pictures will be posted later....

Branson Chamber of Commerce New Board of Directors



BLACC/CVB Board of Directors Election Results

Accommodations Category-Mark Hartman, Hilton Promenade-Branson and Rachel Wood, Outback Roadhouse Motel.

Attractions Category-John Joslyn, Titanic-Branson and Dustin Rogers, Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum.

General Business Category-Troy Hill, BKD, LLP and Charlie Gerken, Gerken & Associates Realtors.

Branson Police on lookout for robbery suspect

Press Release From Branson Police Department

Cops gone wild just a stones throw from Branson

Graphic modified from dismissed officer's photoset.
I'm sufficiently horrified. I suppose it's a skill learned over time - how not to feel what you're seeing and studying.
4 Hollister Police Officers leave the police department.Three are reported to have been dismissed.
I've been on the story full-time for a couple weeks. Hollister city administrator Rick Ziegenfuss tells me last tuesday I'm the only reporter that's made any inquiries about the topic.
Rumor on the street: Cops gone wild - compromising photos, porn, drugs, underage...
Inquiries suggest the story goes deeper than Hollister...likely ->Christian County + Springfield.
Dispatch at the Hollister Police Department denies any officers have left the force.
Unofficial sources are compelling. It comes to a point that an official source isn't needed. But...why aren't they talking? Why does the Branson Daily News (three blocks from the police station) have nothing? Still, I'm kinda disappointed when I don't hear from Hollister Police Chief Darren Parker....days pass. Sitting on the story is making me physically sick. My gut is wrenching... To date, I've never called an official source to make up a story for me. I'm alone on this one. Most city public relation specialists know they can put whatever they want in the newspaper (Thomas Paine is probably doing back flips in his grave).
A few pictures float my way and over time a body of evidence is being altered. Wait...Are the police on top of this? You hear stories of bad apples, but this is the exception...right? One thing scares me even more..."Why am I the only reporter that knows about this?"
The inside game goes a little like this - everybody keep quiet and this will all go away. They're right. News is a perishable good. After a period of time goes by, it doesn't mean anything anymore.
Wed - > I meet up with Sam Clanton and over a beer and blues-till-the-morning-sun-rises I let him know I have a story...
Enter KY3 David Catanese. Catanese heads over to Hollister City Hall, then marches into the police station with a camera. Chief Darren Parker spills that COMET is doing an investigation.
City officials have a hard time believing it wasn't me that leaked the story. I simply explain that I'm in no position to work 80 hours without pay...which is exactly what happened.
Greg Brock said he's had it for a month. The thing I'm asking is, "Why haven't all the sordid details come out yet?" Why weren't we given the green light when the investigation was over?
I need to learn how not to be affected if I'm going to do this or I can become one of those reporters I hate. Do you know the kind? The kind of journalist that is so busy kissing the backsides of public officials that they forget to give us the information we need to be free and self governed.
But, I understand something now that I didn't understand before. Why carry the burden? At least, I understand why some don't.

Charlie Gerken Joins Branson Chamber Board of Directors

Congratulations to Charlie Gerken aka "Kid Future" for a successful bid for a seat on the Branson Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Gerken beat out some major players in town to gain the coveted seat. Good to see some youngsters joining the ranks of Branson's leadership. We wish you continued success and prosperity!

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon Releases Complaint Database

Elections bring out the best in politicians. Well, at least they try harder to pull out all the stops. Jay Nixon is the frontrunner for a gubernatorial bid for governor. As the states Attorney General, it's his responsibility to follow up on consumer complaints. Yesterday, he released the database of complaints to the public.
According to the web site, travel scams aren't in the top ten (first time in years). Internet and phone solicitation complaints have bumped up. Queries with the term Branson are posted here....

Western Taney County Fire Department - Photo - Deer in a fence

Great shot and story sent to me by James Single. I like these stories. Sometimes, my mind is spliting trying to get to the bottom of a story leaders really just don't want you to know about. Getting some stories is like pulling teeth. Another thing, acts of everyday heroism is something we just don't read enough of. I love getting these type of stories, but feel obligated to report information people need to be "free and self governed"

Branson, Missouri Tourists Complain about Travel Clubs

Complaints about travel clubs have been hitting my inbox at a high rate over the past few weeks. The Springfield News-Leader published an interesting article last week on the topic. The big news was a record settlement passed down from the circuit court at the beggining of the year.

The Politics of Abortion

Few people lack opinion when it comes when it comes to abortion and few Supreme Court cases are quite as well known as the feud known as Roe vs. Wade. What some have labeled a partial overturning of the famous ruling has given states the right to regulate abortion.
In Missouri, minors must have written permission to terminate pregnancy. Matt Blunt sees the distinction between his pro-life stance as a wedge issue to divide Missouri voters in his direction - challenging what he calls gubernatorial hopeful Jay Nixon's "abortion on demand" policy.
Is it a good gamble?
Stance on abortion seems to be a divisive issue within the Republican ranks. Local Representative Maynard Wallace chose education rights over the party line when it came to abortion earlier this year. Branson native Jolie Justus called the abstinence only policy in education a blow to women's health. Will Blunt's stance on abortion and recent radio campaign pay off?

Bill Engvall visits Branson

Interesting blog post by comedianBill Engvail
...Branson is like Vegas without the gambling, hookers, and topless bars.
....It is an amazing spectacle, families walking from amusement to amusement, which by the way is the only way to get anywhere because the traffic rivals Los Angeles. Mainly because there is one two lane road in and out of town....It is Family, everything in Branson is geared to the family. That was a nice thing to see because it is something that you dont see much anymore. I cannot wait for my next trip to Branson..

Branson and the Politics of Alcohol

(Original Picture Post - Beer, Gambling and Prostitution...)
Branson's board of Aldermen heard from a couple Branson conservatives about alcohol and the Branson Landing. Instead of addressing a laundry list of prepared issues I joined in the discussion. Seemed like fun.
Little trivia for you here in response to a law enforcement officers request. In Branson, it's illegal to sell alcohol to a habitual drunkard. Interestingly, the State of Alabama voted to legalize drinking in a dry county so they could provide a Branson-like entertainment venue. For those of you on the west coast, some counties in the Southern United States have outlawed the distribution of alcohol.
As you can see from the link above, the city of Branson has the right and currently regulates alcohol consumption within the city limits. Currently, a booth in the town square allows visitors to purchase beer for $5 a cup.
Hilton management currently has plans to build a permanent structure (transfer to the Hilton was slated months ago). Some feel the values promoted by the businesses that built Branson's tourism industry are being ignored while others say, "What's the big deal?"
The irony of the Alabama legislation is the presumption that a "Branson like city" can't be built without booze.

Linn Windle

I ran into "Pie Man" Linn Windle today. If you run into him, order the pecan.
It was just in time, there's a story breaking that has me heavy hearted. More to come...

Branson Missouri - The 34th Most Dangerous City in America

The notorious Red Hat Gang and the Blue Hairs are battling for turf in the Branson underground. Thrift store shops and semi-annual sales are no longer safe. Want to be first to a garage sale -fat chance- beware the occasional 5 AMgarage sale drive-by. Will Branson, Missouri ever overcome its reputation of having 8 million tourists - over a million of which are believed to be angry post- menopausal women?

Hmmmmm......

Media outlets around the country are reporting the statistical anomaly. If you subtract 5-8 million transient members of the Branson population and pretend only 5,000 people live in Branson - you have a per capita crime rate that would rank Branson as the 34th most dangerous city.
The notion of course is absurd. I read the crime reports every week (in fact, I'm the only member of the press who does) and if Branson is on the top 500 list, America is in great shape.
Most of the crime in Branson is non-violent. For instance, a man was jailed last week for driving a moped while having a suspended license - he wasn't wearing a helmet. Like any other city in America, crime happens. The odds of something happening to you in Branson, Missouri - You have a much better chance of winning the lottery.

Senator Jack Goodman Files

BransonEdge: "What's the difference between an interrogation and an interview.

Sam Clanton: "A hot bulb, which can easily be replaced with the flash of a camera"

Journalism is a dangerous game. Once I covered a story about a fire in Hollister. The chief inspector called it arson, the homeowner called it an accident. I didn't have any backup and the woman was complaining because no one wanted to rent to her after the incident. Luckily, the investigator stood by the verbal comment. I didn't sleep that night.
I know senators who are scared out of their gourds to speak with the press...they studder and filter themselves to the nth degree. Why? They've been taken out of context and misquoted. New rule - If at all possible publish source documents. Its a matter of ethics and integrity.
Following my own advice, I'm publishing some of the audio files I've reported on over the last couple of years. Often, I'll pull a story from a series of four or five interviews. It's time consuming and a double edge sword but it can make all the difference in the world when it comes to a dispute.

Click on the links in this post to hear an interview with Senator Goodman

We cover Senate Bill 64 - Castle Doctrine - Parental Rights and more.

Branson School District to roll back taxes - Branson Missouri Hero of the Hour

The Taney County Times editor Kurt Lewis reported an increase in the Branson R4 School District valuation means a tax approved by voters in April will likely be rolled back. To stay competitive, the Branson area school district massively increased teacher salaries and levied a tax to keep Branson schools at the top of Missouri's list of best school districts.
The Branson R4 school district has long been recognized as one of the finest in the state. Funding from Branson bustling tourism economy makes this possible. Because Branson R4 schools receive more than 50% of their funding locally, they have no-fault status - which some speculated was the reason the tax increase was necessary.
Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts and low property valuations were cited as being problematic for the district. To Superintendent Dr. Hayter's surprise, valuation increase 22% from $522 million to $637 million.
In Lewis's article, Taney County Commissioner James Strahan was cited as telling Taney County Commissioners 11% was from an increase assessed valuation and the rest of the increase was from new construction.
Most school districts with minimal commercial withing their taxing zones have to pay higher personal property taxes. Residential property means more bodies and typically defines a deficit - that is, the taxes paid on a home for a family with three kids doesn't meet the financial burden of the school. In contrast, commercial property provides funding without creating an increased burden on classroom capacity.
The R4 school district receive 75.6% of funds from local sources in 2006 - 17.2% from the state and 7.3% from Federal sources.
The 45 cent levy increase will likely be rolled back by 15 cent per $100 assessed valuation from $3.90 to %3.75

Survivor - CBS to recruit in Branson Missouri

Local Southern Missouri CBS affilliate KOLR 10 will be hosting Survivor tryouts in Branson July 9th from 10AM to 4 PM at Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater on the 76 strip. Those who want to take a shot at winning the $1,000,000 prize must have their applications ready when they arrive. The applications can be downloaded from the CBS website here.

Historic Downtown Branson Map

The Historic Downtown Branson Business Owners Association HDBBOW published 15,000 maps this week for distribution in their near lakefront business district.
The map is uniquely different from the DBMA in that it has no reference to the Branson Landing, whose membership in the DBMA has concerned some business owners. A commercial for Downtown Branson, to air on regional cable, was supposed to run over the holiday weekend, however, production delays have slowed the marketing push back a week. Over 900 spots were purchased to air on On Media's regional broadcast market. On Media sales rep. Brandon Williams closed the deal with the HDBBOA a month ago. Commercial filming was completed last week.

Branson Missouri Waterfront - Free Mini-Conerts

The Branson Landing has a lot of free entertainment starting this weekend. currently, the Hilton "Boutique Hotel" on the Waterfront is sold out. The town is pumping - really busy. It should be a good show tomorrow. Best of all, the concerts are free!

July 4th - 7pm - FEATURING, SIX, ISLAND FIRE & HURRY SUNDOWN!
July 7th - 8pm - SPECIAL CONCERT BY "SIX"
July 14th - 8pm - BEST OF MOTOWN
July 18th - 2pm - 95TH DIVISION ARMY BAND
July 21st - 8pm - THE TIFFANY CHRISTOPHER BAND
July 27th - 8pm - FRIDAY Night Concert with BIG SMITH!
August 4th - 8pm - JAKE SIMPSON - 2004 WINNER OF STAR SEARCH!
August 11th - 8pm - THE THUNDERING RED ROCKETS
August 18th - 8pm - TBA
September 2nd - 6-10pm - MDA CONCERT (M-DOCK & GUESTS MILE ZERO, CARNEY & GUINN AND WALKER BOLDMAN)
September 3rd - 10am- Noon - BRANSON LANDING'S YOUNG TALENT SHOWCASE SPONSORED BY ARVEST BANK
September 9th - 6-7:30pm - SPRINGFIELD SYMPHONY WITH SPECIAL PERFORMANCE BY ANDY WILLIAMS!