Gambling on Mayor Popularity Poor Bet Near Branson

Disagreement with the way Mayor's in the Branson area handle business seems to be the consensus these days. Both Rockaway Beach and Kimberling City are taking action to fire the Mayor.

Branson's Mayor stood against many citizen's voiced opinions Monday in favor of building a 25 story highrise in Branson - telling the BDN the building he'd like to see a 35 story building. Kimberling City Mayor George Quest has been accused of illegally signing a building permit for Fisher Creek LLC to build a three story building (2 is the limit) and Rockaway Beach Alderman are expected to file charges shortly and claim the Mayor isn't moving quickly enough in moving forward a casino initiative.

City determines Branson Building Will be Limited to 12 Stories

Monday's city meeting was packed as the dicussion to approve Huffman's latest venture, a proposed 25 story 300 foot highrise was discussed.

13 of 14 citizens speaking to the Board of Aldermen agree - a highrise isn't good for Branson. Citizens cited the beauty of the landscape as reason to object. The Branson Daily News reported the Mayors approval of the building, "25 stories is good but I'd rather see 35".

A compromise of 12 stories was approved by city council; however, the developer expressed doubts about continuing the project under the new terms.

If Today Is your day in the belly of the Beast -

If you saw her you'd never assume the dark history, one that fails to haunt her.

She stood at the end of a peer in the City of Angels ready to end her life. The last line of the poem she wrote before deciding to end her life...

"Somewhere in the deep blue see, I'll end this life of misery"

It's probably more likely you'd see her leading a church group then the days of old where you could find her in alleys getting her fix. As a junkie she found little hope - too proud to ask her family in the midwest for help even after being reduced to homelessness.

As she prepared to jump a hand of a woman touched her left shoulder and another her right shoulder. An unknown voice spoke, "I know you're going through a hard time ....

1. God loves you
2. God has a plan for you
3. You haven't done anything that you can't be forgiven for

The woman turned around and the two strangers were gone.

If you see her, it's unlikely you'll hear this story - it's unlikely you'd assume anything except a lifelong journey of prosperity and joy.

We could just as easily assume that prosperity and joy are in your future even if today is your day to experience a dark hour ... if today just happens to be your day in the belly of the beast.

NBC Show "Who's Got Talent" Last Chance to Audition

After signing 10 pre-audition contract I decided to refrain from providing NBC from syndicating my "mad skills" across the nation. I was told that if I auditioned I wouldn't be able to write about it...tough choice. Fame and fortune was my sacrifice today. Needless to say, I stood alone.

Although Branson was the only location cited by the network, NBC's next stop will be Las Vegas then San Francisco. Considering the short lines for America's got talent at Chateau on the Lake yesterday there is a good shot you can be seen if you'd like to try out for the television show.

Those seeking fame and fortune traveled to Branson yesterday to strut there stuff. Those who auditioned described a comfortable setting where production assistants made them feel at ease.

Simon Cowell was nowhere to be seen nor Regis Philbin who will host the show. If you have a hot novelty's your chance to bust into the bigtime.....You still have time! Head up to Chateau and you may have the opportunity to meet David Hasselhoff (one of the show's judges) --- or an extra million dollars.

Branson's Presley denied reappiontment to Missouri Tourism Panel

ST. CHARLES, Mo. | More than 250 tourism professionals gathered here this week for the 38th annual Governor's Conference on Tourism - and to wonder who the new state tourism director will be.

At the three-day conference on industry issues, which wraps up today, Missouri Travel Council President Gary Figgins said industry priorities next year would include pressing state lawmakers to push back the first day of public school.

Figgins said the policy change would extend the summer travel season for families and allow teenage workers to remain on the job longer. He said a recent study found 'a $1 million-a-day economic impact on the state from lost travelers alone.'

Those attending the conference also anxiously awaited this morning's meeting of the Missouri Tourism Commission. An impasse with the governor's office has emerged over the hiring of a new director of the state's Tourism Division, which oversees an annual budget of $18 million, spent mostly on advertising Missouri's visitor attractions.

Republican Gov. Matt Blunt last week appeared to be pushing former GOP state Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer for the post after the commission had offered the $74,000-a-year job to a candidate from another state who has extensive tourism experience. That person's name has not been released.

The governor stalled the hiring process and then declined to reappoint Raeanne Presley of Branson to the 10-member panel. He replaced her with a campaign contributor. Presley opposed Luetkemeyer, a banker and insurance agent who has no tourism industry experience.

The commission could choose a compromise candidate or even put off the decision. A delay wouldn't disappoint some industry insiders.

Peter Herschend, a key owner of Herschend Family Entertainment, which operates Silver Dollar City in Branson and other attractions, said Wednesday that he had met with the governor.

'There's no need to rush to judgment,' Herschend said. 'We need to let some of the heat go out of this controversy.'

Tourism awards

Here are some of the awards announced at the conference:

St. Joseph tourism director Marci Bennett was inducted into the Missouri Tourism Hall of Fame. Bennett, also executive director of the Missouri Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, was praised for her 'commitment to the industry beyond personal gain' and for having 'a lasting impression on the economy and welfare of the state.'

Singer Sheryl Crow was recognized for tourism commercials for her hometown of Kennett, Mo., and for the state.

Joplin's tourism agency was recognized for its marketing campaign built around a groundhog named Boomer.

Dale Amick, Missouri Travel Council lobbyist; Terry Ramsey, director of the Bushwhacker Museum in Nevada, Mo.; and Gary Figgins, publisher of the quarterly Show Me Missouri travel magazine, were recognized for contributions to the industry.

Source: KC STAR

Historical Note:
The Kansas City star was originally published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (aka the Mormons). The name of the publication was "The Morning and Evening Star".

Branson Plane Crash Photo's From Scene

This was the main "object" of interest. If you blow the picture up you can see clues to the early scene... Though i have recieved in depth details about the scene captured by the first responders the details were left out of the article I'm publishing in the paper. The detail I did publish was ...he died on contact...I think I'm the only one that captured this bit of information. It was clear - it may be a month before anyone else says it...the Springfield press etc... but this is detail is certain.

small plane crash debris field

The north side of the can see the intact wing. It was hard to capture the full scene due to the angles of perspective given to the press.

Plane Crash - One Dead

Branson officials received several phone calls shortly after 9 a.m Friday Sep.22 after witnessing a plane spiraling into the Henning conservation area west of the Branson strip. The densely wooded area proved to be problematic for rescue teams who searched for nearly an hour and a half before local hospital airplanes were dispatched to identify the crash site. There was neither smoke nor fire and wreckage debris was scattered in a relatively small area. Emergency responder details of the scene suggested the pilot died on impact. The pilot has been identified as Thomas Currie.

Thomas Currie stayed overnight at Hollister’s Taney County Airport, previously known as M Graham Park Airport, in the mechanic’s hanger after experiencing propeller vibrations with his homemade aircraft. He was hesitant about flying the plane due to concerns about the connection between the propeller and crank shaft which may have cause oil leaks. It was reported that Currie held up a can of J-B Weld, joking, “I never fly without it”. Currie plane was one of over 2000 “Quickie kit planes” which are no longer in production. Known for an inexpensive price and ease of use featuring glass fibre over a foam core. The Continental 4 cylinder 85 horsepower engine reached speeds of 150 miles an hour which flight instructor Bill Lee stated, “ shows an exceptional ability in aeronautic design”. Airport personnel described Thomas Currie as both an interesting and pleasant person to be around

Currie was on his way to Kansas City where he planned to pick up a friend to take with him to an Emporia Kansas Air Show. Currie flew the plane for 7 years and 800 hours before the plane crash and was excited about going to the show which he had done annually since the plane was built. Thomas was especially excited about flying into Emporia and surprising his friends with a fresh new flying shark paint job.

Plane Crash in Branson

Must Go...will see who's on the beat

Is Branson Getting 2 New Television Stations?

The Branson Independent reported last week that RFD closed on their theatre offer and will be broadcasting out of Branson. Though a month late on the story :)- will this affect the way Branson is covered? Ummmm …maybe.

Currently, we don't have any traditional broadcasting in the area. Our local public broadcasting station has been replaced with The Vacation Channel which covers local entertainment as opposed to the gloom and doom that necessitates the attention of the press.

In a discussion with a TV news reporter yesterday I began to understand why Branson isn't covered....

1. Size: We represent a small portion of the viewing region (Springfield is the 3rd Largest city in Missouri and we're but a small subset of that)
2. Human Nature: We're far from Springfield and if a reporter gets to choose what spots he/she will be covering they'll most likely choose something close to home - Would you want to make an unnecessary 100 mile round trip drive for your job? Reporters are humans, it’s a job.
3. Relevance: The majority of interest about Branson comes from people who live outside of the area…how interested are they in what traditional media covers?

All this to the side there is a market for good news coverage ..demand is there…as far as the second one is concerned…More at 11

Branson Real Estate Inventory Rising

Mike Cooper, owner of Equibuilder Realty posted inventory numbers in the Branson Tri-lakes Multi-List Service this morning.... Good News...Inventory is up. Mike has dedicated a weekly post to measuring and analyzing real estate investments in the Branson area.

Unknown Hollister man Injured After Nissan Overturns

This just came in over the wire....

A Hollister man was seriously injured this morning after his vehicle overturned in Taney County, the Missouri Highway Patrol said.

Jeramy P. Gamble, 22, was flown to Cox South hospital in Springfield, a patrol report said. The crash was reported at about 1:20 a.m. on Missouri 76, three miles west of Forsyth.

Gamble?s 1996 Nissan reportedly ran off the road on a curve at a high speed, lost control and struck a cement culvert. The report said he was ejected from the Nissan.

Ryan Slight Springfield Newsleader SNL

Sky View of Branson In Charcoal

I have a few hundred of these photos thought I'd post a variety of them. By the way, anyone in Branson interested in a photography or blogging group - association - cult?

Branson Missouri From the Sky

5 bucks to the person that can name this multi-million dollar development... Posted by Picasa

You rollin in my Rolls?

Well, it could be yours. Jim Cox, a new blogson has been born and sure to be a heavy hitter. He will kill me or ban me from the Candlestick (both are pretty bad) if I tell you his secrets, but whether you're from Branson or have any interest in Classic Cars all... you need to check out his blog for some tips on new trends in Cars....LET ME TELL EM JIM!

Jim Cox Taunts Ferrari Club with 1934 Hudson

1934 Hudson "Not For Sale"

There's a great story behind ths car and a video interview coming soon...

Just thought you might like to see the whole car. Posted by Picasa

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Aerial Footage of Branson Missouri

Recognize this shot of Branson? {Click to See Larger View} Can you see Chateau on the Lake to the bottom left hand corner?

I took about 200 shots before heading up to Springfield to meet with a group of citizen journalists.

I've done a lot of air travel; back in the day, as my job required me to commute to San Francisco/Silicon Valley once a week. But, flying in a Cessna is different - especially when you're shooting pictures the whole time. Ever get car sick? Plane sick is much worse.

Branson is incredibly beautiful and from the air you get a good idea of what properties are hot. Taking pictures of some of the in-progrress land developments was a big part of the job yesterday.

We're moving into the Fall tourist season - which we owe to the beauty of our region in the spring.

Do you want a picture of your house? Cheating boy/girlfriend from the sky? When it comes to aerial photography I'm a total sellout... :)

Branson Landing Sketch

The marketing director for the Branson Landing asked, "Did we deliver? That's what us marketing folks are always worried about...did we deliver what we promises?" Though the artist’s renderings changed dramatically over the couple years (if you saw the original sketches you wouldn't recognize the place).
But, if you take a look at the pictures in the last few posts and compare them to the sketch above you'd have to say...well, yes.

Branson Hits The Billion Dollar Construction Mark

Newspapers and television stations across the country will be retelling the story Branson's Public Relations machine unleashed today (this means lot's of traffic today).For the usual suspences reports are already in. Television stations from Arkansas to various parts of the midwest will tell you:

"Branson has hit the Billion Dollar in construction mark... and more good things to come"

The Springfield Newsleader retells the story the best expanding off the AP wire.

Kathryn Buckstaff SNL Version: (We cut out what we told you above and the usual Branson Landing rhetoric)

Recently, officials with the city and the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce got good news. Sales tax revenue is up 6.5 percent through June with tourism tax up 9.6 percent. The number of first-time visitors was up, and visitors were staying a day longer on average and spending more money.

Thanks to a new sales tax approved by voters for marketing, more visitors are coming from outside a 300-mile radius, chamber officials said. That sales tax is expected to amount to about $6 million annually, more than doubling the marketing budget.

How much is enough?

Branson's growth hasn't just favored tourists.

- The city added a $12 million recreation center. About 80 percent of children participating in programs come from outside city limits.

- Skaggs Community Health Center is adding new services, including a cancer center and a $5 million center for orthopedic and neurological care.

- A record-setting 225 housing units were permitted in the city in 2005, and several affordable housing projects are being developed.

- City officials recently approved Branson's first industrial park to spur more year-round employment.

Huffman said economics will dictate how long the boom will last.

"Banks will not loan money on these projects unless they are financially feasible, and they will do an enormous amount of due-diligence before they make those kinds of loans," Huffman said.

Huffman said his greatest concern is addressing highway issues to avoid traffic jams.

"I'm sure the city will (address those concerns) because they'll have the tax revenue to work with," Huffman said.

Several road improvements are already budgeted, including measures to ease congestion in downtown Branson.

Glenn Robinson and his wife, Venus, have owned the Grand Country complex since 1987. They have a theater, shops and restaurants, and in 2001, they built the $4 million Splash Country Indoors, an enclosed water park for their guests. The park drew so many new customers that they enlarged the hotel's lobby.

A recently announced indoor water park will be a good addition as long as it's safely operated, Glenn Robinson said.

"I've been here 34 years, and I've never seen a gloomy, down year," he said. "It's a great, wonderful time to be in Branson."

However, Robinson said more customers are essential.

"Our goal is to get another 2 million people in here and pretty fast," Robinson said. "The question is, 'Can we take the additional marketing dollars and spend them wisely?' "

New products bring new customers, but "a lot of businesses can fail during a growth cycle. It's usually the small volume person who fails first é or a large business that was marginal in quality, service and price can topple."

Lost in the woods

Development has not yet hurt Branson's natural appeal, said Jeff Justus, owner of L&J Plumbing. Justus had to relocate his downtown lakefront business when the city bought it to make way for Branson Landing.

Justus supports a trail network being constructed by the city of Branson and communities along the loop that winds into Stone County.

People should remain conscious of preservation, "but there's a good possibility there are more trees in Taney County now than when they came through in the early 1900s and clear-cut everything," Justus said. "I tell people they need to come down and walk Henning (Conservation Area) or Lakeside (Forest Wilderness Area) or some of the trails the city is working on. You can get lost in the woods at all these places."

Branson Landing - Convention Center - Hilton - Shots of Progress


You may have been wondering where we are on the development of the convention center, Hilton and boardwalk. If you've been following us here ...well, you already know. The city has announced 500,000 dollars of the Tourism Tax will be allocated towards promoting the convention center. As you can see, development is well under way. The shots above also show the, now open, boardwalk and a floating restaurant which is currently wihout a roof. Posted by Picasa

Hilton View of Branson Landing

Current view of the Hilton at the Branson Landing

Nascar Store in Branson Landing Shuts Doors

The Branson Landing Nascar store is the first retail establishment to shut down shop. Management for the Landing noticed a note on the front door stating "We'll be shutting down at 6PM eariy due to personal reasons." A nervous manager was warned of the potential consequences as retail establishments on the Taneycomo lakefront property are fined if they desregard the contractual obligation to maintain promedade hours.
The Nascar store has proven to be the second most asked about establishment according to Landing personell. All items in the store were removed and an empty store was found by morning. Only a few posters remain...

Branson's Proposed $600 Million Dollar Project

Europeon Village Style Resort ...hmmmm. Sound Good ? Sure it would be - but who's gonna pick up the tab? This will be the issue confronting the community as another developer seeks to have another private development subsidized. Sure, it's a better deal for Branson residents than subsidizing Wal-Mart; but, they may have picked a poor time to fight another TIFF battle.
It's believed that the lawsuit regarding TIFF's from the County will be in full force soon (Trust Me It's Coming).
As Huffman predicted, studies projected and results have proved - the Branson Landing is a new center of gravity for Branson. Perhaps, a development on the other side of the strip could create a balancing affect. Throw in a skytrain to reduce the already crowded streets and we may have something here. Perhaps, if we balance the massive cost of infrastructure the city would have to pay for transport we could call the whole thing a wash - get a new aquarium and Europeon style village....

Kathryn Buckstaff SNL Report
A new 600 million dollar development is being proposed by developer
Branson — A Branson native announced plans on Thursday to build a European village-style attraction anchored by an indoor water park resort and an aquarium.

David Cushman said the first phase of Pinnacle Falls of Branson will be built on land his family has owned for more than 50 years near Celebration City at the west end of Branson's entertainment strip.
The highlight of the 70-acre first phase is to be an engineered waterway running through the village. With technological magic, the waterway will vary from raging torrents to calm waters, and will feature lighting and special effects, said Mel Bilbo, consultant on the project.
The target date for opening the first phase is 2009, with an estimated price tag of $250 million, Cushman said.
"There have been rumors for years about aquariums and additional water parks," said Ross Summers, president of the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. "This is a pretty big project, even for what's already been accomplished in Branson. Should they acquire the appropriate financing, then we're all for it. It's a different style than Branson's seen before."

There also are to be themed shops and restaurants and family-fun features, including a talking fountain and wishing well and a large clock tower that is to be the star of a nightly show including animation, lighting, water and sound effects. Four other anchor attractions could include a specialty restaurant and a space for traveling exhibits.

The second phase that would use more of the total 308-acre site could bring other resorts and possibly another water park resort, but with no more than a total of 1,600 additional hotel rooms. Total cost is estimated to be about $600 million.

Cushman said he has an emotional connection to the property where he grew up.

"I've dreamed about what could happen on that land and for Branson," Cushman told a crowd at a press conference at the Chateau on the Lake. "This is a perfect project for this land. It doesn't compete with what's here, but brings something new to the marketplace."

Local impact

The project would be open year-round with covered walkways for inclement weather. The location is favorable for handling added traffic, Bilbo said. The property can be accessed from the five-lane Shepherd of the Hills Expressway and Missouri 376. It's also near the Ozark Mountain Highroad that connects Missouri 76 to U.S. 65.

Cushman said he expects the project would provide more than 1,000 additional jobs when completely built. That could take eight years, he said. Cushman said they'll also seek developers who could build affordable housing for employees.

Next: city hoops

The project has been under development for two years, Cushman said. Now that initial engineering is under way and a feasibility study has been completed, the project will soon be submitted to the city of Branson's planning and zoning process. Bilbo said the project's developers also will ask the city of Branson to approve tax-increment financing to help fund the $40 million to $50 million aquarium.

The project's neighbors include not only Celebration City across the street, but the 1890s Silver Dollar City theme park about five miles to the west. Both properties are owned by Herschend Family Entertainment Corp.

"We are aware the project is in discussion," said HFEC spokeswoman Lisa Rau. "We're watching its potential development, but as it's very early on, with much of the project planning still in the works, we believe it's premature to comment on its viability."

Feasibility studied

Team members on the project include Urban Retail, a Chicago leasing agency that also handles tenant acquisition for Branson Landing, the city's new shopping center, Bilbo said. That will help ensure there's a good mix of retail tenants for both properties.

The architect is St. Louis firm PGAV, the company that designed Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg, Va.

The feasibility study done by ECS Economic Consulting in Newport Beach, Calif., projected the attraction would bring more than 400,000 new visitors to Branson a year. That would provide enough new visitors to benefit other businesses in town, Bilbo said.

"We don't need a project coming to town to cannibalize what's already here," Bilbo said.

"This will attract a younger, more affluent demographic while retaining our current demographic. It will not turn off our busloads that are now beginning to visit us in the fall."

KY3 Reports:

BRANSON, Mo. -- A developer unveiled plans for a $600 million theme park off the Missouri 76 strip. The development will require the city’s approval.

The plans call for the Pinnacle Falls resort and theme park to be on 300 acres just west of Celebration City on the west side of Branson. Developer David Cushman said it wouldn’t be your typical theme park. He describes it as a European village with a water-based theme.

It would include a 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot aquarium and indoor water park connected to a hotel. Cushman says this has been his dream project for two years that he's been working on it.

Cushman also wants to add specialty retail stores and a variety of unique restaurants. He says, while it would complement the other parks in the area, Pinnacle Falls would add hundreds of thousands of new visitors to Branson.

“We'll have 400,000 incremental visits by guests that have never been to Branson, Mo., before,” he said.

That same feasibility study told Cushman that the park would get 4 million visits in the first year.

This is all contingent on passing a financial plan by the city. Cushman said he would need a tax increment financing district. If the plan goes forward, he hopes to break ground in 2007 and have the first phase up and running by 2009.

Judge Tony Williams - Taney County Missouri

A pregnant woman walks into the court and pleads guilty to a charge. The judge levies a fine and proceeds to ask her about her employment circumstances. He then talks to her husband. After seeing they're poor the Honorable Judge Willams requests the money be spent to provide clothing for the child instead of payment to the state.

Another Judge Williams adventure involves a KY3 reporter who got cocky with the Judge. Apparently the reporter threatened the Judge with a negative "expose" on the judge if he didn't immediately follow her request. The Judge told her to do whatever she wanted but if she wasn't more respectful she'd be spending the night as his guest. As it turned out, the information she requested would have led to a media nightmare as the evidence she was trying to obtain information about was of fraudulent report.

Williams served as the Prosecuting Attorney's assistant for Barney Naoti at the time his campaign was launched for the position his former boss held. The Taney County Sherriff’s department promised support for his candidacy under the condition that he removes himself as Barney's assistant. Knowing this would bring the Taney County justice system to a halt the Judge denied the offer and eventually lost the election to the current prosecuting Attorney - Rodney Daniels. To add insult to injury the Sherriff’s office sent a sympathy card Williams after he lost his bid for office. The card was signed by a number of officers from the Taney County Sheriff's department. When given a hard time, Judge Williams pulls the sympathy card from his top drawer to remind the Sherriff of the gesture.

Though Taney County is classified as rural; the workload for the office is substantially higher than other rural Missouri counties. Funding resources are allocated by Missouri according to resident population which is several thousand times short of the actual average residency of the county taking 7 million tourists into account.

William's has kind words to say about Jeff Merrell asserting his potential to be the best prosecuting attorney Taney County has ever seen.

As far as the media is concerned the Tony William's comment ... "more powerful than me".

Branson Area Politicians Toga Party - Hollister Grape Festival

The Hollister Grape festival is a hoot! Located in the pictures above are Hollister Mayor David Tate, Hollister and Branson Chamber Attorney Hank Griffin, Taney County Commissioner Chuck Pennel and State Rep Dennis Wood. The local leaders served as judges for the Grape Stomping event where teams pounded grapes choreographed to selected tunes Posted by Picasa

Branson Landing - Huffman and the Gang at MDA fundraiser

Branson Landing was one of several locations around the country selected to host entertainment to generate money and awareness for the Muscular Distrophy Association. The broadcast featured several Branson bands performing live from the Live Music Capital of the World. Posted by Picasa

Branson's Average Temperature By Month

A user requested Branson's average temperature for specific months. It's our policy to answer any questions you may have about Branson.

May the Gas Wars Continue

Gas prices for those heading North to Branson reached an all-time low this weekend as the Spirit shop continued selling gas at cost. The multi-million dollar enterprise experienced a much anticipated downturn in business due to the closing of the intersection of Business 65 and the 65 Freeway.
Gas prices fell as low as 2.29 per gallon and bounced back to 2.34 where it has remained even after the holiday.