Branson Area's First Female Judge

Gladys Stewart 1898-1981
This one's for the sisters...
The Woman's Sufferage movement was still in its infancy when Gladys was born. She once remarked: "There isn't any such thing as the woman's viewpoint. Intelligence doesn't have any sex." In 1966, at age 67, she was appointed Douglas County probate and ex officio magistrate judge.
Springfield attorney Gladys Berger Stewart, previously a judge for the 31st circuit, served in the legislature from 1934 to 1942, where she sponsored a bill giving women the right to serve on juries. "Missouri Women Who Led the Way" According to Douglas County Court officials she would regularly bring her poodle to the courthouse affectionately named after her friend J Paul Getty.
Clay Cantwell - Prosecuting Attorney for Taney County was appointed by the Governor Warren E Hearns - Served as Douglas County Prosecuter for 2 months while the only other person that wanted the job was waiting to take the bar. His observations - colorful woman with a dog that licked you if you got too close to the bench - an incident that happened once to his dismay.

**Clay ran on a Democratic ticket 57-60 and claims the title of the first Democrat Taney County Prosecuting Attorney. Judge Justus, who ran on a Rupublican ticket for his recent and succesful re-election bid for Associate division 1 judge, succesfully won the Taney County Prosecuter election twice on a democratic ticket in the 1980's.

The photo above was taken at Judge Eiffert's retirement party. We're not exactly known for our progressive leanings when it comes to civil rights; but, after studying the legacy of Gladys Stewart and witnessing oaths of office taken by several elected female politicians .... maybe we should Posted by Picasa

Local Officials Take Oath

(Click Play To Watch Judge Williams take his Oath of Office)
Several Taney County officials took their oath of office early last week taking advantage of Judge Eiffert's last official appearance at the Taney County Courthouse.

Gallagher's Adventures in Branson

Gallagher called him the "Producer that couldn't produce" referring to Lease Campbell and his failure to pay for Gallagher's assortment of Watermelon's of which Gallagher ended up paying for out of pocket. The number's weren't what Gallagher wanted and in a backstage discussion Lease admitted his failure to successfully market the show.
At the time Gallagher had just agreed to donate tickets to "Christian Action Ministries " an organization that claims they can feed a family of four for an entire week with every 25 dollar donation. I went backstage after watching the show to collect on the promised tickets. (Gallgher didn't want to advertise the donation nor was CAM aware; the tickets were to be sold online as a promotion for the show)
"Christian's leave us alone and we leave them alone", stated Leas in opposition to the donation. Leas went on to tell a story about a religious based publication that watched the show and agreed not to publish a story that wasn't favorable to Gallagher's performance. She liked the Clinton jokes but found the ...(I'll let you read the text)
Gallagher and Leas continued discussing cutting the show schedule which was in motion until an opportunity presented itself....
Marci Kowalski,a theatre employee, who had watched dozens of shows and took a pie in the face preceding the show's late night performance, was pointed out by Gallagher as the person who was screaming his punch lines for the first hour of the show. He lifted Marci by the shoulder and turned her to the audience..."this is the girl..". Marci sat down, watched the rest of the show and went to work the next day as scheduled. At work she was referred to legal counsel by a fellow employee and participated in a telephone consultation. "If you're hurt go to the hospital", advice given by Branson Attorney Russ Schenewerk. Marci did just that before meeting with Russ the next day. Following legal counsel's advice Marci filed a police report and a hearing was scheduled setting a time line for negotiations between Attorney's Naoti and Schenewerk.
In a telephone interview Marci made a number of allegations including detailed descriptions of drugs consumed backstage. In response Gallagher was tested under the supervision of Naoti and found clean for both Marijuana and Cocaine - the two drugs Marci claimed Gallagher had been using.
As arraignment for the criminal charges came nearer Ms. Kowalski was deposed at which time the extent of claimed injuries came to light. Marci had suffered from a previous shoulder injury and claims of "permanent damage" from Gallagher's activities were found to be non-existent. According to Gallagher, "The initial settlement was dropped from $50,000 to $14,000 with the exclusion of medical payments".
The recent filings in Taney County include correspondence with the Christian publication. Part of Branson Partner's claim is that Gallagher's show wasn't in line with local Christian values harming the show through "word of mouth". The filings will be posted online later this week.
If you're not a Christian , don't want to associate with Christian's and exclude yourself from Christianity - you can still play one at the Taney County Courthouse.

Crime at the Branson Landing

Neither the Branson Daily News nor the Branson Daily Independent currently print a daily crime report in the local paper.
Branson is a community largely outnumbered by guests (Several Million Tourists Vs. A Few Thousand Residents). These guests are as likely to read the paper as the local residents and the editor's of these publications are aware of who their audience is and what they may want to read.
In terms of raw numbers the demand for say, an article about Shoji Tabuchi's new installation of a "solid gold toilet seat cover" exceeds demand for "Johnny Local gets arrested for public drunkenness."
The problem is that the failure of the press to make this type of information publicly accessible often creates suspicion and the rumor mill gets flowing. It's been suggested that the Taney County Times may begin delivering county wide arrest report records in the future; however, this type of information currently isn't being covered.
Certain types of crime, if it has the potential of being high profile, results in a press release from the Branson Police Department. Why doesn't every crime occurring in Branson result in a press release? Police Chief McCullough says, "If I sent a Press Release every time an incident occurred, it would be my full time job."
The question is who's job is it?
I figured since no one applied for the position that I would take it on.
After filling out the appropriate documents I received a list of criminal activity reported at the Branson Landing. The total number of incidents reported tallied 72 since the Branson Landing became Branson's largest, most publicized and most subsidized shopping attraction. The majority of crimes are petty thefts ...shoplifting at a department store a few peace disturbances at a bar, one random dog on the loose - one possession of a "brain modification device" and a rumored assault with a BB Gun. It is my intention to post the list next week. What about the horror stories of rape and murder (maybe this rumor hasn't spread too far yet) or the violent gangs of Springfield raining terror on the innocent shoppers in our quiet town? Not only are they unconfirmed but after exploration...found to be untrue. KY3 made a trip down to the Branson Landing after filing a request nearly two weeks ago confirming the falsity of rape allegations occurring at the Landing. Greg Brock, news reporter for the local radio station took it an extra step citing the legal obligation of the hospital to report certain types of incidents stating,
"When a person does go to a hospital to be checked out with a rape kit... that hospital, Skaggs for exampled is obligated by law to contact police... the city says that has not happened."

Several months ago I conducted detailed first hand research on the Branson Landing security. The private company that handles security for the Landing provides a fascinating story in itself. They're often hired by government agencies for community revitalization projects. These contracts involve going into urban areas where criminal elements dominate the landscape and cleaning them up for a return to prosperity. Landing Security is far more likely to complain of boredom then crime sprees. Still, it's a shopping establishment prone to the type of activities that occur at any establishment. As policy, the Branson Landing security will provide a chaperone to any employee wanting an escort to their vehicle.
One of the great things about America is the government's obligation of accountability to the public. The press has an obligation as well. It is our sacred duty to be accountable - to be a custodian of fact and to report the truth whether or not it suits our selfish purposes. We all have prejudices and preconceived notions - it takes a constant effort to check ourselves and put our own interests to the side to ensure we're fulfilling our public duty. This is a shield of virtue as we wield a sword of truth.
We've done our due diligence and confirm that to date the rumors of rape at the Branson Landing are in fact untrue. In addition we issue a $1,000 reward for evidence of such an incident reported and not released by the agencies questioned.

Branson and the Politics of Annexation

The image above details the City of Branson's Annexation History (click to enlarge view).
If there’s a lesson in Branson's most recent annexation strategy it’s such – If you see a soccer mom in a dark political alley….run.
For those of you who’ve been out of the country for the last month – let me sum up the situation. Pam Dapprich owner of the Branson Sports Club received a letter from the City of Branson asking her to cease and desist the using the “Branson” name – unless she supported incorporating into the City. Branson backed off their position and after some discussion pursued a “kinder gentler” approach to the name issue by sending out letters and granting a license to business’s that want to use the Branson name. The idea is that a precedent is set in case the City of Branson chooses to challenge an unsavory business from using the Branson name at some point in the future.
For some time, the City of Branson has been trying to create boundaries that resemble a polygon. A solid shape helps the City of Branson in the areas of planning, management and distribution of services, Pockets and caveats outside of a solid boundary are problematic for urban planners. Do you stop a road or other services in a small gap between city property? In some cases preventing services could be more expensive than providing them for free. An answer may be to incorporate these pockets - But, there’s a major problem here; incorporating a piece of Taney County Property into the city of Branson doesn’t necessarily suit the needs of the area being incorporated. Citizens, who live with very minimal government control have to be convinced substantially higher taxes, more stringent building codes and a variety of bureaucratic intervention will better serve the citizens needs. This is a hard sell – maybe impossible as sizeable recent tax increases and the City of Branson’s reputation for hard-line administrative policies have led voter’s in unincorporated area’s to reject the notion that joining Branson will somehow better there lives. Add a couple hundred million dollars in debt from TIF’s (Tax Increment Financing), much of it invested in infrastructure and you can see the stage being set for public and private interests to start showing their irritation.
Enter the Soccer Mom….
Though the city isn’t currently taking any action against the Branson Sports Club the City of Branson is continuing to take media hits from far outside the area.
After appearing and voicing opinions at several city counsel meetings Pam Dapprich became an activist openly voicing her disgust for the way Branson,City affiliates and one particular news organization conduct business. Her voice has been heard far beyond the reaches of the community. Suggesting the negative publicity is potentially hurting the Branson tourism Market...Pam replied, “That’s the only thing they understand.”

Judge Eiffert Retires as 38th Circuit Judge

Judge James Eiffert's tenure as Taney and Christian Counties presiding judge is coming to an end after 18 years of serving in the 38th Circuit. The Honorable Judge Eiffert and his wife (seen above) plan on taking a trip to Florida for some golfing after the holidays.
Court Officials,politians, local attorneys and family members stopped by to pay their respects to Eiffert who will continue working as a mediator after his vacation.
In a short interview Judge Eiffert reminded me of the great sacrifice many have made to ensure the rights we have as citizens in our courts - such as the right to a jury of our peers....
The Judge projects due to our rapid growth that the 38th District will have another Judge after the current Justice Center is completed in Forsyth.
Judge Orr will replace Justice as presiding Judge after the first of the year. Posted by Picasa

Video Parody of Branson City Counsel

The Video above was created by Larry Daprich. Pam, Larry's wife and founder of the Branson Sports Club will be staging a protest for the second week in a row Friday at Branson City Hall.
Currently, there are no actions being taken by Branson against the Dapprich's or the Branson Sports Club. Pam's position is that the City of Branson owes her an apology for thier treatment of her and has voiced opposition against Branson City Counsel's treatment of Social Conservatives and populist views on trademark protection. 1/29/07 The video above is an update .... freaky....Branson Sports Club continues to appear and taunt Branson government promising to do so until they issue an apology.

Branson, Missouri Ward III Alderwoman Beverly Martin Opts Not to Run For Re-Election

After four years as a Branson Alderwoman Beverly Martin opted not to seek re-election. In a press release delivered by the City of Branson Beverly Martin endorsed Ward 3 candidate Stephen Marshall from Chateau on the Lake saying, “With Steve I know that Ward 3 will be in good hands…he knows the issues facing our community and I believe he wants to see the continued economic growth that has propelled Branson to a new level of properity over the past five years.” Posted by Picasa

Branson Political Factions - Branson Social Conservatives & Branson Economic Progressives

Two distinct factions have appeared on the Branson political scene. Though identified factions as a whole share values and individuals have unique perspectives' sharply divisive issues have prompted public appearances and stated opinions among identified party lines.

People and Characteristics
Branson's Social Conservatives - Slower /calculated growth; strong religious values; maintaining Branson's family friendly identity and established culture; Oppose TIF (Tax Increment Financing)
Sample Members
John Logan- Cartoonist
Gary Groman - Branson Daily Independent Columnist
Chuck Pennel - Taney County Presiding Commissioner
Jack Herschend - Owner Silver Dollar City

Economic Progressives
Branson's Economic Progressives - Favor Increased and development; believe Branson's future relies on engaging tourists from prosperous economic segments; Pro TIF
Rick Huffman - Developer of Branson Landing - HCW Partner
Jim Cox - Owner Branson Collector Car Auction
Mark Weiss - Commercial Real Estate Agent
Yakov Smirnoff - Comedian

Does this sum it up? What do you think?

Jay Bakker at the Branson Landing

Jay Bakker Branson Landing Shot of Bakker Boys (Click to Enlarge)
The above photo was taken at the Branson Landing during the spring of 2006. Jay had some "business ideas" he was going to pitch his father Jim Bakker. During his stay in Branson, Jay appeared on the Jim Bakker show. His appearance was documented and filmed as part of a 6 part documentary appearing Wednesday and for the next five weeks on the Sundance Channel.
The impact of Jay's controversial political stances on his ministry will be discussed on the 2nd Part of the series this week in addition to the outcome of Jay's visit to see his father in Branson.

Branson Chamber of Commerce - Santa Vacations in Branson Video

Great little video the Branson Chamber posted on YouTube a few days ago. We've tried to keep it a secret...but looks like the secret is out. Santa hangs out in should you.

Rick Huffman and Gary Groman

This photo was taken outside of Branson's last City Council meeting. "We have more views in common than not", professed local pundit Gary Groman aka the Ole Seagull before leaving the meeting nearly an hour before Branson Aldermen delivered a verdict on the fate of Huffman's proposed High Rise.
Huffman looked a lot more nervous than he let on. "We go where we're wanted", Huffman stated when asked about the apparent tension before the City leaders vote on the issue. Posted by Picasa

Branson Approves Huffman's High Rise

(Click Play to View Video Clip)
An intensity filled the air as the fate of the project would clearly be determined by one vote. The Alderman were split voting 3 in favor and 3 against approval for the 300 ft. Structure before Mayor Lou Schaeffer cast the final vote approving the 26 story structure. The three Aldermen voting in favor of the high-rise were Stan Barker, Dick Gass and Beverly Martin. The three Alderman voting against the high-rise were Ron Huff, David Edie and Jack Purvis.
Before the Vote
The diversity of interests in Branson and opinions on the route, formation and type of development residents see as best for the city were represented at Branson City Hall before the second reading of Huffman's proposed high rise passed with City Approval. A surprise visit from Jack Herschend, Yakov's letter read from developer Mark Weiss and Salvation Army Captain Ron Keys pleas to the City of Branson Aldermen are contained in the above clip.

Branson Landing - A view from the top

The Hilton will be managing the Condo-tel at the Branson Landing. Suites (photos from the interior will be posted later) will be occupied starting in February 2007 and the final touches are being applied to condo interiors. Investors paid upwards of 250,000 dollars and are granted 21 days to stay at their condo. The remaining days will be leased by the Hilton and will be rented at a price somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 dollars nightly. Posted by Picasa

Branson Salvation Army Vs. Branson Landing

Rick Huffman will be on the phone today with a couple of Branson City Alderman over an untimely public relation's nightmare at the Branson Landing.
Branson Salvation Army Captain Ron Keys received a phone call from a bell ringer stationed in front of the Belk Department store at the Landing begging him to come quickly. Thinking someone may have been robbed the Captain rushed to Belk finding two security guards and an unidentified Branson Landing employee threatening to remove Mrs. Davis, the wife of College of the Ozarks President from Branson Landing property. Belk management disagreed with the Branson Landing Management's position stating the Belk leases the property and the Salvation Army was invited to participate in a promotion where making a donation to the Salvation Army earns a coupon granting 20% off their next purchase. A compromise was made where the Salvation Army kettle and ringer were permitted to remain as long as they moved to another entrance where a significant drop in donations was noted. Keys stated, "The total donations made for the remaining of the day equaled the first two hours at our original location".
Ron was shaken up by the event and it's anticipated that he'll be joining opposition against future development by Huffman at the next City Council Meeting.

Branson Landing Courtesy Code’s prohibit solicitation on the property which was the policy they were citing as they attempted to remove the Salvation Army presence from the property.

The three day promotion ends today where Scotty Earls from the Vacation Channel will be ringing the bell.

Branson From the Sky

(Click on the Photo Above For Higher Resolution Image)
To the left (West) you can see the Branson Landing - to the upper righthand side you can see the airport in Hollister. Highway 65 runs North/South and Highway 76 runs East/West.

Flyover Taney and Stone County

The above video is of the airport in Hollister. Click play ot start. Pilot Mike Cooper flies over Taney and Stone County to get an arial view of property in the area. You can get a good view over Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake, Branson West and Branson after the first 30 seconds. The Branson Edge was commissioned by Mike to take Photos of Branson Real Estate for his website and to scope opportunities. Mike Cooper has invested in his own aircraft since the video was shot.

Branson Trademark - Attorney and Public Commentary

Push Play to View. This is a long clip encompassing some of the more interesting parts of the City Hall discussion on the trademark and high-rise issue. A number of proprietary interests are represented in the discussion.

Branson Adoration Parade (Photos and Results)

Drum and Bugle Corps:
Springfield Central(Click Image above for Larger View)

Band Competition White Division:
1. Forsyth
2. Spokane

Band Competiton Blue Division:

Non-Profit Religious Floats:
1. 1st Baptist Church/Branson
2. AIM Branson
3. 1st Presbyterian Church/Branson

For-Profit Relegious
Camp Little Paws (Click Image above for Larger View)

Non-Profit Non-Religious
1. Big Brothers/Big Sisters
2. Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church
3. Central Tire County Fire Department and Auxillary

For-Profit Non Religious
1. Premiere Dance Academy
2. Taney County Tire
3. The Vacation Channel Posted by Picasa

Local Ministry Denied Future Invitations to The Landing

Questions about Branson’s values were raised by at our last city counsel by Jory Rolf the president and Founder of a performance ministry based in Branson. During the City Council meeting Jory voiced opposition to Rick Huffman’s proposed 300 foot high-rise based on his experience with management of the Branson Landing.
Rolf’s organization, Action Impact Ministries (AIM) was invited to perform at the Branson Landing on Labor Day on the conditions that the organization’s message wasn’t “In your face evangelistic or involved distribution of hand bills”.
AIM’s two hour Labor Day performance involved mimes and interpretive dance with musical accompaniments such as “It’s an honor to Serve” and “Fallen not Forgotten” The interfaith organization whose motto is Faith, Family and Flag was received well by many who watched the performance. In addition to being personally thanked by Veterans, The group of mostly home schooled children was invited to perform for local schools as part of the Character Plus program.
AIM’s past performances have resulted in future invites to such local venues as the Branson Mall and Branson Fest but no such luck was experienced after their Landing performance. According to Rolf the Branson Landing management found AIM performances to be, “Too Religious and Too Political.”
AIM’s ministry approach is inspired by St. Francis of Assisi who said “ at all times preach the gospel and only when necessary use words.”
Rolf maintains that Branson’s values are consistent with values his ministry promotes and is encouraging the City of Branson and the Branson Landing Management to take a stand and show the public who and what they are about. Rolf Jory continues to file requests for an invitation to perform at the Landing.

Public and Private - Church and State - This story is the first of what may soon provide a challenge to the Branson Landing. Are the ethics and values promoted at the Landing consistent with the public who funds the Landing? Is it fair to demand the Landing to open itself up to the consequences of free speech and provide a venue for those who wish to express 1st Amendment rights?
The Landing, though publically funded is privately managed. Religous messages are delivered on a pay to play basis. There are two instances where religious based business peddle religous gear and religious venues. If publically funded should constitutionoal rights apply? Currently, freedom of expression is up to the discretion of Branson Landing management.
The mainstream in Branson is much more conservative than the United States as a whole. Political Incorrectness is standard and defiance of many national trends a local standard as well. Jory's goal is to challenge and solidify the Landing's stance and his stance is that it varies from the local public's value system.
The question remains, does the public or the City of Branson itself have any right to dictate how the Landing is managed or what messaging is permitted on-site?