Drug Bust Across the Street From Branson, Missouri Police Station

A search warrant was issued after C.O.M.E.T Drug Task Force confirmed evidence as part of a lengthy investigation of individuals living in an apartment connected to Welchel's chapel. Methampthetimine and marijuana was found taped to the interior of caskets. Materials used to distribute narcotics were also found. Cocaine was also found downstairs.
It's also believed that embalming fluid obtained at the scene was used to assist in the manufacture of meth. One of five suspects has been arrested.

MAP Testing May Leave Some Branson Schools Behind

Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) testing may be the most feared exam taken in our schools. Educational institutions that fall short of standards set by the state are graced with "help," equating to less control for local school districts and teachers. The most affected by MAP testing are four percent of the students, divided evenly between gifted students and those with special needs. Administrators try to send positive reinforcement telling teachers to, "try their best" harmonized with lengthy meetings on the implications of statistical analysis showing strengths and weaknesses within the classroom.
Branson Intermediate School has developed a program that Principal Susan Bell credits special needs teacher Tracy Hall with creating. "We're a data driven school," says Bell, and shortcomings among the challenged category of students are shared with teachers whose primary function is to shepherd students with disabilities. The program is called MAP Café and special needs students are greeted with hot cocoa and donuts as easement into focused study. State released MAP exam questions from years past are used to prepare students for this years test. MAP Café's modified learning environment is working. Noted improvements from special needs students may lay groundwork for similar programs being introduced as part of the regular curriculum. MAP Café requires students to take the training wheels off and stand in line with other students their age regardless of the diversity of their challenges.
Overachievers, those students whose intellect, capacity and drive to perform already sets them aside from the crowd have additional pressure applied as school officials attempt to adjust the curve. A local Springfield blogger tells a story about a fifth grade student who wants to quit her gifted program, "She's afraid that …she'll not be prepared for the test. This is a child who is gifted--and motivated. She wants to do well, and she's clearly gotten the message that the results of the MAP tests are the most important part of her school year." (Source: http://elmoscloset.blogspot.com)
On the other side of the equation sits high school students who are all too well aware that test results will have no effect on their grades. The lack of motivation has been blamed for flat test scores leading to legislation eliminating MAP testing in exchange for standardized final exams. Testing will relate to specific courses and count as a substantial part of student grades. For instance, an Algebra 1 final assessment will be the same statewide, standardizing course requirements and a definition of what short course descriptions mean.
Special needs students give administration officials numerous concerns. Catering to students specific needs are not an option for a majority of challenged students. A very narrow segment qualifies for MAP A or an alternative measurement. Only the most severely disabled students qualify. The mark these students have to meet is defined by specialists whose standards are approved after vigorous processes between the educator and state bureaucracy..
Students with special needs often provide school officials with the greatest amount of pressure. Children whose reading level may fall two grades below their age group are measured by the same standard as other children their age. Though these students have altered curriculums where teachers can meet student's special needs, standardized testing prohibits special rules.
In a recent interview State Representative Maynard Wallace wouldn't comment on the issue of testing students with special needs; however, he had a lot to say about MAP testing in general, "Overemphasized, tremendously overemphasized…..We don't teach some of the things we taught 20 years ago that are good for kids…A good teacher who has spent nine months in the classroom with a student knows if he student is ready for the next grade level"
Wise teachers identify student's special needs whether or not they're categorically defined. But, if the state has already determined that a child meets the definition of educationally challenged, standardized testing appears an overt contradiction. If overall funding requires square pegs fitting into round holes, we should anticipate more children will be left behind.


This is the article as printed in the form submitted to the Branson Daily Independent. The editor and I disagreed over the headline and it could have been changed. I had to leave before I saw the final copy.
I leaned the story in support of our local school teachers; but the last part could have been altered. If the pressure of MAP testing results in education innovation this could be a good thing right? I had the opportunity to teach an LD class this week at the Branson School District. It was a great experience and in some ways startling. There are a lot of stories but if one word is allocated to sum up the experience....inspiring..

Branson Missouri Mayor Lou Schaefer Campaign Preview

Branson Mayor Lou Schaefer will be kicking his campaign into gear next week. The campaign concept "Got 44 Problems but a name ain't one". Reminds me of a certain rapper. My new street name is Sir Scoops A-Lot (there are many ways to spell it - and I'm trademarking everyone). I'm under the impression the Branson powers that be may be trying to steal my lyrics.
Humor aside the race for Branson, Missouri mayor is underway and I'm excited to hear what the candidates have to say. The picture above is a draft.

Branson Area Students Starve Hunger

For the 15th year College of the Ozarks students participated in a 30 hour famine to raise money for hungry children in the Third World. Donations accepted at four locations throughout the Branson were matched eight to one with federal funds. Every ten dollars gathered feeds a starving child for 90 days.
The sacrifice of food and adequate shelter helps students understand the needs of those they’re helping. Freshman Mandy Boswell of Springfield sees the experience as part of her spiritual path, “Lately the Lord has been teaching me about humility … when Jesus came to this world he made himself in the likeness of a servant, this is a perfect opportunity to honor others above myself.”
Makeshift cardboard shelters provided students with their only available housing as they braved both rain and heavy wind. In preparation for the event student Kit Alarid prepared by studying images sent by the sponsoring organization. Though her exposure to hunger first hand is limited she found the images to be “startling and very convicting.”
At 5 a.m. rains caused cardboard structures to collapse and event coordinator Linda LeNeve reminded students that some living in the Ozarks are having the same experience without choice.
Three years ago only three students participated, this year 72 students made the commitment to take part. A new component was added this year and in addition to fasting camps setup at K-mart on Hwy 248 Wal-Mart in Branson, Branson West and Ozarks some students are stayed behind on campus to pray for those in the field. Each location had trained musicians in reaction to an incident several years back when a harmonica player, who only knew one song, made hunger a secondary discomfort.
Last year students raised $4,869.68 and after funds are counted they hope to have risen more this year. CofO campus ministries focuses heavily on mission trips throughout the world and administrators hope as “students feed their souls to starve hunger” they’ll also be inspired to show compassion and continue a tradition of good works towards their fellow man.
Those wishing to make a donation can call CofO Campus Ministries Department at 417-334-6411 Ext 3446

Reed Springs Students Suspended - Protest without due process

It's been an interesting saga playing out at the Reed Springs High School. Emotions are high and the children attempted to stage a revolt. After receiving a phone call that a dozen students were asked to call their parents to be taken home while trying to stage a protest. After a couple hours of discussion with radio station correspondents Sally Kaucher and Greg Brock a decision was made not to run the story.
The demonstration started in the lunch room. 25 students gathered when someone incited the protesters to regroup by the flagpole in front of the building. The principal went outside and gave the students a choice. They were allowed to come inside without being tardy or call their parents to be taken home. Approx 15 (number uncertain) opted for a vacation day. Later in the afternoon three more kids made a protest attempt and were suspended.
I phoned one of the juveniles after the newsroom pulled the story and gave the young man a heart to heart. "What could the school have done" - the kid was stumped. "Did you talk to the principal" - no - "Did you set up a meeting with the superintendent - no - "Did you stage a protest elsewhere" - no - Many of the parents, students and concerned citizens that showed up to the last School Board meeting weren't educated as to what the rules were. In Reeds Spring, the first 10 speakers have three minutes to speak. After the first 30 minutes of the meeting the board goes into closed session. When the closed session is finished the agenda items (which are posted beforehand) are addressed. Reeds Spring follows the same procedure each time. It can and would likely be changed if citizens spoke up and addressed the issue with board members ...no one has ...that is until this week.
I tried to encourage the young man to follow the proper channels and let him know he was lucky he wasn't suspended. I also encouraged him to learn his governments rules - to participate and go through the proper channels. This was Sally Kaucher's input and well...I agree. Greg Brock told the naked truth "We have a victim society....they want to speak and then the don't participate after they've spoken" Many people go to a meeting once and raise a stink about how the rules don't fit their momentary desires. It's likely they'll only attend one meeting - to complain and never return.
With freedom comes responsibility and getting involved means more than going to a party when an orgy of press will be present. Hundreds went to the public commentatry on Wednesday but only 78 stayed for the actual meeting.
If the proper channels don't work - I'll run the story. But I want to see these high school kids give democracy the good ol' college try. I want to see them set an appointment with their administrators - if they don't respond I want to see them protest when it isn't convenient. I want to see them give their administrators a shot at listening. Hey, this is school - this isn't a democracy. We want you to learn so we can hand you can take society's reigns one day - but you need to try this the right way first.
I'd also like to see teachers have a little more leverage and a lot more support from the administrators. I empathize with Randy Turner and can only imagine the shades of blue my hiney would reveal if I disrespected a teacher or tortured the innocent. Mike was/is an extraordinary teacher and you could honor him most if you went through the system first and used your right to revolution sparingly. Educate yourselves - show some effort - come back...that was my message and promise to the young student.

Reed Springs School Teacher Support is Unmatched

The photos above show David Catanese KY3 political reporter and a visual show after the Stone County Fire Marshall entered the building and emptied the room the school normally holds meetings in.
The Reeds Spring school board should prepare for a political lynching. Many of the school teachers were scared to go on record but the enviornment at the school is one managed by fear. Speakers spoke to the first amendment and what kind of teachers we need.
The Reed Springs high was packed last night as hundreds of students graduates faculty and concerned citizens tried to pile into the music room where the school board usually holds meetings. Hundreds waited outside before the Fire Marshall had the meeting moved into the gym which was filled to capacity as speakers expressed support for teacher Mike Collins who is currently on paid absence awaiting a school board hearing. .One of the speakers John Williams spoke to what kind of teacher Collins is and the kind of teacher Reed Springs needs.

John Williams

The crowd attending the Reed Springs High School last night was the largest the school has had this year to date. When the school board entered into closed session countless students teachers and parents bore testimony to the impact Mr. Collins has had on there lives. Mike Collins has won several awards for his contributions including Missouri teacher of the year but no honor could outweigh the crowded auditorium of people who came to defend his honor.

Details about the suspension of Reed Springs teacher Mike Collins were revealed last night as hundreds gathered in support of Collins reinstatement to the School. Collin's legal counsel confirmed the suspension was due to an expletive used towards to students who had been continually bullying mentally disabled students. The

School board has publicly stated there are many reasons for actions against Collins which will be revealed in a public meeting The meeting regarding what action the school board will take has been delayed. Collins is currently on paid leave. Joe Manlove voiced opinion that onetime Missouri Teacher of the Year Mike Collins was being punished for political opposition to the superintendent.

Joe Manlove……..

Many on hand spoke to the positive impact Mike Collins has had on their lives Several members of the faculty spoke off record expressing concerns in descent of Reeds Spring policies.
I tried to narrate the story before sending it to the station but my mouth felt like I was eating spoonfuls of peanut butter

Branson Announces Antique Car Rally

The city of Branson issued a press release Monday just a couple of days before a meeting at the Hilton Promenade.
Jim Cox leaked this story several months ago and dropped some details in a video clip posted last month.A couple months ago I watched him walk Shoji Tabuchi through the rules of the race. It should be an interesting show.

Branson West Attraction Predator World Finds Wolves - PETA Attacks

Timing is everything. While PETA takes the offense Predator World shows extraordinary compassion for the captured animals. Here's the story we submitted to the paper yesterday.

Predator World has located the two missing wolves reported missing last week. Currently the Branson West attraction is letting the wolves remain at thier location until the female gives bitth to pups. Professional animal captors are on standby to recapture the wolves after the pups are born. The decision is based on safety concerns for the pups and the animal park is taking measures to ensure the wolves have adequate food, water and an enviornment where the animals feel safe.

In the meantime People for the Ethical Treatment of animals (PETA) has called for an investigation of Predator World claiming they're in violation of the Animal Welfare Act. Corespondence from PETA to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) cites containment requirements for animals in captivity under the Animal Welfare Act.

In a press release from PETA the organization voiced opposition to all animal attractions categorically similiar to Predator World. stating, "Roadside zoos like Predator World deprive animals of their basic needs, and when the animals see an opportunity to escape their dreary lives, they often take it.....Predator World failed to properly enclose these wolves and put their safety—not to mention the safety of the community at large—at risk because of it."

Predator World said that no humans were in danger and they are keeping the location of the wolves silent to ensure the animals remain safe from human harm.

Silver Dollar City Expansion Involves- 5 million dollar TIF

Silver Dollar City formally submitted a proposal to ease traffic congestion to Indian Point and Silver Dollar City. This will be Stone County's first TIF (Tax Increment Financing) project and I'm currently working on copy to inform citizens of Stone County about TIF's and what the implications of the project are. I'll be posting more on this issue shortly; but, if a picture is worth a 1000 words than click on the image above to view the engineering diagram of the project.
According to the Stone County Commission, Silver Dollar City sales tax revenues account for 20% of the overall Stone County collected sales taxes. The plan will provide unfettered access from HWY 76 to the park and enable Indian Point residents to bypass Silver Dollar City traffic on Indian Point Drive. Hershchend Family Entertainment Corporation is hoping to increase access to Silver Dollar City and believes approval and completion of the project may help the Missouri Department of Transportation continue to develop arteries through Branson via HWy 76 and southbound on HWY 13. Traffic congestion is a major problem according to Silver Dollar City manager Brad Thomas and easing access is good for Branson, Stone County and tourism to the region in general. More to come...

Linda Antus & The Branson Promise

Linda Antus
Linda Antus echoed the words of "The Branson Promise" to city council as she announced that she would be moving from Branson to Ohio to be closer to her family. The clip below was a tribute to Linda. It was going to run after she left on the local radio station before she left but the ice storms of Springfield shifted our coverage priorities ...First...here's the Branson Promise; Linda says we deliver and we should live it every day.

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The Branson Missouri Promise

The Branson Promise

We believe that a vacation is not an escape from reality but a connection to what is real. You. Your family. Laughter. Music. Pure fun. Doing the things you really want to do…together.

We believe you don’t have to go far from home to feel far from home. We believe you deserve to take a break from your regular life while preserving the security and comfort that comes from feeling right at home.

We believe that the best experiences are live and personal. They affect you – and you affect them. The most memorable experiences are always personal and unique. Spontaneous and unexpected.

We believe in families, and that vacations can belong to everyone in the family. While on vacation everyone can and should have a child’s sense of energy and enthusiasm – especially adults.

We believe in our American values and celebrate them every day. Respect for the individual, patriotism, faith, hope, optimism, family, courage, generosity and opportunity for all. We believe in the home. Homemade. Homegrown. Homespun. We believe that new people aren’t strangers, just friends who haven’t visited. We believe that every guest can be a part of our Branson family. From headline performers to the folks who sell the tickets, we invite you to become part of the fun we create every day as the families who built this community.

We believe that world-class entertainment doesn’t need to cost a world-class fortune!

We believe that money is hard-earned and respect the work that sits behind every dollar spent by our guests. We still think it’s possible to be surprised by how much money can buy, especially in Branson.

We believe in Branson, Missouri, nestled in the lakeside beauty of the Ozark Mountains. We’re proud of who we are and where we are going. We’d love to show you around because we love the ways in which we will surprise you. We’ve found what we want in Branson, and we know you’ll find what you want here too. Our doors are open – come on in.

Polar Bears Invade Branson's Westside - Freezin' For A Reason

Branson Polar Bear Plunge
Branson Polar Bear Plunge
Branson Polar Bear Plunge
Branson Polar Bear Plunge
The second annual Polar Bear Plunge was a hit. Branson police chief Carroll McCollough was almost right when he stated, "I was only there for the chili." I went for the chili and to get a shot of the Chief wearing a speedo. Speedo's and freezing cold water are a great combination for a photo shoot. I threatened to re-publish this shot each time I had a story coming from the Branson police department. He wore his Scooby shorts instead.
Freezin' For a reason. Kudos to the brave who took a dip for the team. It was a team committed to building a better society. A minimum 50 dollar donation from sponsors gained entry for the fund raising event. Proceeds went to the Special Olympics. A parade, free chili and hot cocoa were part of the action before watching Branson's best take a dip in the 42 degree water of Table Rock Lake.
Vonda Sheets will be writing about the event in tomorrow's paper.
This is a great event for a great cause and those that dared enter the cold - You've earned my admiration, respect for your inspiring sacrifice. Nest year....I'm going in. Special thanks to those that chose to "bear" the cold to help others.

Branson West Turns into/Remains a Predator World

"Don't shoot the wolves...they're protected!" reminds a spokesperson from the animal park Predator World in Branson West. Raised in captivity they're not expected to be aggresive nor seeking human attention. A preserve near the Branson West location is where the animals are expected to be.

KRZK reported friday....
Authorities in Stone County say a pair of timber wolves escaped last night from Predator World. Predator World owner Breck Wakefield says in a release from the sheriff's office that the two wolves will probably avoid human contact, and are likely to stay together while on the loose. One wolf is an adult silver-gray female, about 130 pounds and pregnant. The other is a dark chocolate adult male, weighing around 100 pounds. Wakefield believes the animals are probably still in the immediate area of Predator World, near DD Highway and Highway 13. Anyone sighting the wolves should contact the sheriff's office or Predator World.

Jack Purvis tarries off with Groman - A Branson Missouri Soap Opera

Gary Groman writes in the paper today regarding an interaction with Jack Purvis. According to Groman, Purvis wouldn't extend his hand as Groman reached out to Purvis at the Branson Landing opening of the Hilton.
As I've stated before its Groman's job to initiate conversation regarding issues in the community between our government and the citizens they govern. Mr. Purvis, this is you. You are an elected leader and as such are subject to scrutiny from the press. Private citizens are not subject to this type of as a premise of journalistic ethics. Part of a journalists job is to facilitate communication between the government and the governed body. We're not oblivious to the fact that much of what we publish isn't all that entertaining. Heavy, information rich articles about public affairs are rarely the focus of water cooler chats. This was never so clear to me as this weekend when I attempted to discuss an article I published in the Taney CountyTimes this weekend. The fact rich in-depth article about Representative Wallace on education wasn't even read by Wallace himself. I realize Wallace is very busy and by no means do I see this as a citicism. Having re-read the article I found it a bit tedious myself. It's information rich, vital to those interested but lacks the general appeal of our "entertain me" society. Thorough.
Groman hits on some tough issues in his opinion column. This week he calls himself a blog, online he refers to himself as a newspaper. I don't know if he really qualifies as either, but, this I do know - Groman's work gets people interested in politics. This week Groman accuses Purvis of characterizing him as a divisive force in the community. I wholeheartedly disagree. Democracy is a conversation and when a fiery editorial appears in the paper and city hall becomes packed - the democratic process wins. When citizens arrive to express opinions we become less polarized, it's an expression of empowerment and of faith. When residents line up to address their town fathers(you Mr. Purvis) its a demonstration of respect. It says, we believe enough in your desire to fulfill the will of the people that we're comfortable in opening ourselves up to public scrutiny and believe our words can make if difference - that is will be considered as you make decisions that affect all of us. We believe in you Mr. Purvis, that's why the citizens elected you. Rejoice, when they take their time to visit and ahare how they feel at Branson City Council meetings.
Since Groman uses his editorial as an advertisement for his personal economic ventures let's explore where Groman might have caused some irritation with the councilman...
Groman has repeatedly suggested that the Branson Landing isn't what makes Branson. That doesn't mean Groman doesn't believe the Landing is beneficial to Branson. Specific concerns expressed about the Branson Landing are 1. Porn 2. Gambling 3. Alcohol. All three of these issues involve the Branson Landing. As far as I know; the Hilton is the first establishment in Branson that offers Porn to customers in a pay per view format. Gambling - it's been suggested that HCW supports, is preparing and has economic interests in gambling. HCW has never come out and said this though much greater offenses to a "social conservative" base have been openly condoned. Huffman is a business leader as as such is looking at the bottom line which may or may not fall within the values of the community. This is the discussion that Groman initiates. He asks if the "New Branson" is losing its soul.

The wisest man that ever lived said, "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?"
As the "New Branson," currently being built by the City of Branson and its developers with taxpayer dollars, emerges from "Branson," the Branson that private entrepreneurs built with their own money, it would behoove us to consider a paraphrase of that question, "For what does it profit a community to gain a few bucks, and forfeit its values?"

Here you have it. The Church and state. The suggestion that the Branson Landing as a Babylonian entity. In Hebrew the translation of Babylon is worldly wealth and confusion. It also represents the oppressive anti-religious force that keeps the Israelites down - In revelations the city of god (Zion) fights Babylon (the church of the evil one) ....Good stuff for an opening, huh? When I covered the opening of the Hilton and submitted copy to Ozark Mountain Newspapers I was edited for the first time. The phrase TIF funded was added before the submitted copy "...dowtown project"..

Why? The very family value based system of Branson that makes our community such a great place to live and is the bed rock upon which its economic success rests is being gambled on the New Branson. A Branson based on family values and community interest is being wagered on a New Branson where anything is all right as long as it raises revenues to salve the seemingly insatiable appetite of the City of Branson for revenues and puts dollars in the pockets of its developers.

Groman questions the revenue model and values something

The amazing thing is that the vast majority of the very families benefiting from Branson, both those who built it and those who live in the community because of it, their leaders, associations, churches, etc. are taking no action, are standing idlely by, and letting it happen. What if the Lord appeared this very night and asked the question, "What have you done with the Branson that I entrusted to you?" If the public record is any indication, there would be a lot of people, churches, organizations, and elected officials who would be mute while the City of Branson's unelected leaders and their developers just smirked.

This statement included the mark of a Groman article. It's an attack on Dody; who Groman reminds us each week is an appointed leader - unelected. Obviously, Groman isn't a fan of Terry Dody and questions his authority on a regular basis. Second is a call to action. Concerned citizens - you're empowered and if you like what's going on just keep sitting still - if you don't say something. His appeal is for the people to communicate with their elected officials.

A front page article, in the July 12-13 edition of this paper entitled, "Alderman urges Huffman to 'reconsider' alcohol sales" indicates how little control even the City of Branson's elected officials have over the changing value structure of the New Branson. The article reported that Branson Alderman Jack Purvis gave an enthusiastic report on a recent visit to Branson Landing, Branson's $400 million dollar New Branson icon, at the July 10 meeting of the Branson Board of Aldermen.

Rick Huffman's success in funneling public funds to finance his ventures have arguably made him the most powerful man in the city. His prowess is something I personally admire. It's a credit to him. He's also worthy of respect in the sense that he isn't hypocritical- consistently stating who he is and what he stands for which may vary from the ideals of a "socially conservative" base.

It also indicated that Purvis, based on his observations, was concerned about the mix of alcohol and children in the public square and asked the developer to please reconsider the way alcohol is served at Branson Landing. The article reports that although Rick Huffman, developer of Branson Landing, addressed the issue of open container sales during the regular Branson Board of Aldermen meeting on June 26 he made no comments in response to Alderman Purvis' request.

Here it is ....alcohol. Currently, open containers are allowed on Landing property. That is, no open container laws are being enforced.

As was the case with the question of potential pornography being brought into Branson Landing by the Hilton Hotels, which was brought up by City Administrator Terry Dody at their June 26 meeting, the City of Branson's elected leaders, for whatever reason, again sat mute. There are those who might ask, "Don't we need a new demographic in Branson and won't this help us to get it?"

Code... "New Demographic" = "New Branson"

To that an Ole Seagull would reply, "Not really." A recent branding study paid for by the City of Branson showed that the majority of the people who come to Branson love the experience, will come back repeatedly, and that one of the primary identifiers with the Branson experience is values.
Now let's see, the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent on the New Branson will bring how many new visitors to Branson over the next five years? One can only wonder how that number would compare to the number of new visitors that $10 million a year, spent on expanding the range and penetration of marketing what Branson currently has to offer, over each of the next three years, would bring in.

Attorney Gary Groman cites evidence on why people really come to Branson and votes for the traditional customer base.

Interestingly enough, the New Branson can not only survive, but can thrive, on Branson's existing value system; but Branson, both from a quality of life and economic perspective, will suffer tremendously without it. Does it make more sense for Branson to gamble its value system against the New Branson concept of anything for a buck or for Branson to fight to preserve the family value system that has worked so well for it up to this point? To an Ole Seagull the answer is pretty simple, for what does it profit a community to maybe gain a few bucks, and forfeit its values?

Reading Groman's editorial, you can probably see where Purvis, characterized as a powerless pawn of private corporate interests could become a little irritated. Still, Groman fulfills a vital community need. Creating a bridge between those who feel left out of the process, making people think about what's happening in the city and voicing opinion contrary to the powers that be - which are heard frequently.

Gary Groman writes editorial for the Branson Daily Independent and rehashes his articles on his website. The article quoted above can be read here...

Branson, Missouri - Convention Center Skywalk

Branson Missouri Skywalk 
The skywalk above (click to see larger picture) was hoisted between the convention center being developed and the parking garage. The building in the background is the future Hilton.

Stone County Gazette Editor Sam Clanton

College of the Ozarks graduate Sam Clanton can often be heard busting blue grass licks late into the night. In a sense, Sam's career as manager of the Stone County Gazette has as much to do with music as journalism. While going to school at CofO Sam started facilitating an underground music scene. Sam's coffee shop posse was forced by school administrators to close shop or have shop closed on his educational opportunity. Clanton covered the Branson area for years, writing for the Branson Daily Independent and the Taney County Times before becoming the editor of the Stone County Gazette. Sam's true passion is his music - Blue Grass - Country - Rock etc...This cuts from his punk phase....

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Judge Larry Luna on Campaigning

Judge Larry Luna won a tight six way race for judgeship in Christian County. Larry spent $40,000 in campaign funds. "Would you rather spend 20 and lose or 40 and win", says Luna who jokes about spending 40k to get a $96,000 a year job.
Luna campaigned heavy in the last few weeks endlessly pounding on doors. Luna had some professional assistance in developing his strategy and saw himself at a bit of a disadvantage because his practice was in Taney County. As he went door to door in Christian County Luna found he was more connected to the community than he thought. Luna made an appearance this weekend at the Branson Chamber of Commerce Black Tie Celebration at Chateau on the Lake.

Branson High School Band Jazzes the Landing

The Branson High School Band jammed out at the Hilton opening ceremonies yesterday. Audio grabbed will be used in a radio feature piece which should air Saturday on KRZK and KMOC.

Branson, Missouri Get's A Hilton

Branson Mayor Ribbon Cutting For HiltonIt's one of a three project being handed over to Hilton management, the Hilton Promenade is here. A spokesperson from the Hilton noted it's the first freestanding Convention Center any hotel Chain has ever managed and will serve as a pilot for the company. The buildings are owned by HCW who will be pitching the city of Tulsa,OK to engage a similar project later this week. The process for the Tulsa project has been in the works for a couple of months, at least publicly.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was marked by Hilton corporate staff, local staff business leaders, government officials and the Branson High School Band. The hotel is now open and has acquired 80% occupancy this weekend. Even the most modest rooms have a standalone shower and the view of the fountain and Lake Taneycomo is the best in town.
The tavern on the ground floor has a table made from the controversial "Liberty Tree" cut down at the beginning of the Landing project.
We've posted views from the southern suites but here's the view from the Northern suites...sweeeet.Branson Hilton View

Branson Mayoral Candidates Agree to Debates

Branson candidates Raeanne Presley and Lou Schaefer have both informally agreed to a debate/forum. Discussions from various media companies on how forums can be leveraged to inform the community are currently underway. If you have any issues, questions or ideas that you think are important/or have an effect on the way you will vote feel free to send me an e-mail or post them here.
It would be to the communities advantage if Aldermen participated as well but they haven't been contacted to date.

Branson West side - Stone County Considers TIF

This Story will be published tomorrow in the Stone County Gazette. The implications of the TIF will affect the economy for 23 years. Tax Increment Financing routes tax dollars to private interests. They've been the source of controversy as the intended use - job creation for displaced workers - have been used to finance private development and projects far from what they were originally designed for. Speculation over the true fiscal impact of these types of public - private relationships have been the source of community divide. For instance, Taney County Government officials have threatened to sue Branson over TIF allocation. It's also been suggested that a desired increase in taxes being proposed by the Branson School District is a direct result by taxes being allocated to increase corporate welfare. One of the many recent beneficiaries is Wal-Mart. In Lake of the Ozarks one developer has threatened to move a project to another city if the community being pitched doesn't fund a hotel through TIF's. Back to Branson - If voters pass a tax proposal allocating money to a particular project can the city override the people's vote by siphoning money to an unrelated private interest? On the other hand these projects can generate new sources of revenue and spur development, a strong argument for cities to pay to play. TIF reform is an issue that may arise during our current legislative session....Stone County is holding a public meeting in which a proposed TIF will be discussed.

By Sam Clanton

The Stone County Commission is meeting Tuesday morning, Feb. 20 at
9 a.m. on the third floor of the Stone County Courthouse. On the agenda
is a vote to approve Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for a period of 23
years, which would fund road improvements at Indian Point Road and
its intersection with Hwy 76.
By approving the TIF, the county would relinquish one half of future
revenues exceeding 2006 revenues for a period of 23 years within the
TIF district, which includes Silver Dollar City.
The funding mechanism is set up so that 2006 tax revenues are
capped. The TIF would capture half of the increases in revenues over
and above revenues in 2006.
“With any future revenue increases, half will go to the county and half will
go to the TIF to pay off bonds,” Southern District Commissioner Jerry
Dodd stated.
Silver Dollar City would purchase the bonds on the estimated $5 million
Financial information released in the 2007 Stone County budget reveal
a seven percent increase in sales tax and property tax revenues
countywide in 2006.
The 2007 budget was drawn up projecting similar increases, with
expenses totaling $7,289,175.00.
Total sales tax revenues for 2006 were $4,408,309.37, an increase of
$338,649.29 over 2005 actual sales tax revenues.
Property tax revenues increased $45,785.90 in 2006 for a total of
Commissioners estimated 2007 sales tax revenues to increase to
$4,526,381.00 and property tax revenues to increase to $667,300.00.
The hearing Feb. 20 is open to the public.

Branson Titanic Museum Expansion - New Entrance

Click the image above for a larger view a sketch of the Titanic Museum's new entrance.
On April 12, 2007 the Titanic museum will unveil their new entrance designed after England’s Waterloo train station as it looked nearly a century ago. In April of 1912 the “Titanic Special Train” was chartered to take passengers from Waterloo to Southampton where the maiden and only voyage of the Titanic launched. The new entrance has a dual purpose enhancing the external aesthetics and providing shade for guests waiting to enter the museum
Titanic management is positioning the museum as a destination and events venue. The exhibit is in constant transition with seasonally scheduled events and artifacts in rotation. A New Year fireworks exhibit and the start of an annual ice sculpture contest were two events added this winter.
In time for the Valentine holiday two actors will play Jack and Rose, the fictional character’s immortalized by James Cameron in his 1997 tribute. Jack and Rose mingle with guests exchanging banter as the two lovers replay their story utilizing the breadth of the museum as a stage..

Branson Missouri City Counsel Meeting - February 12th Audio File

Branson LogoListen to last nights Branson City Counsel Meeting. You can listen to the MP3 directly on this site or download the MP3 directly. Audio Broadcasts of Branson City Counsel Meetings are broadcast on the AM radio station KOMC. Note: Skip past the first three minutes to hear the start of the meeting. You probably have better things to do on Monday night but probably not while you're at work. Democracy works when people participate. We're interested and looking forward to hearing your feedback.

Direct: Branson Feb,12 Alderman Meeting

Branson City Counsel Responds to Springfield Accusations

Branson City Counsel Alderpeople Rick Huff and Beverly Martin questioned Branson Chief Carroll McCullough in regards to nasty allegations raised by a Springfield Law Enforcement Officer. Accusations of validity to rumored assaults at the Branson Landing were denied by McCullough who reiterated his previous positions that a rape has never been reported at the Branson Landing and if such a claim has been made the Branson police need to be informed so they can investigate. It's believed that the rumor was started from an airport security guard as opposed to Springfield's finest.
Branson Landing security claims the rumors once wide spread have subsided. To date no one has tried to make claim to our 1,000 dollar reward.

Ron Huff wanted the name of the officer clarified while Beverly Martin reiterated the accusations. Her statement was that a policeman from the Springfield area claimed 7 rapes were reported alleging the culprits were from Springfield gangs. McCullough said "I don't know where he's getting his information" but he'd like to find out... Beverly went on to say that a Belk's employee was claiming she had been raped....

Beverly Martin
Bev...look, I really don't know why this was brought up in the manner that it was, but, when you say things like this we (the media) have an obligation to report it. As far as we knew this rumor was dead - which it probably was until it was resurrected last night. If you want to bring something up at the meeting - you know - clarify rumors- how about publicly stating whether or not you removed yourself from the vote when the city of Branson was weighing in on whether or not to sell you and your friends public property.
By the way, I have no objection to the sell - though the numbers have been hidden from the public; however, the ethics, legality and manner that the sell was conducted is of public concern.

Branson on MTV

Branson will be featured on MTV tonight. The Titanic museum has multiple revenue streams and facilitating weddings is one of them. To host weddings the entire Titanic museum is shut down and for a mere 2,500 dollars an hour (minimum of 3 hours)you too can walk down the grand staircase to take your vows. The first couple to be married at the museum was a construction worker who helped build the musuem...(look deep in the archives for photos),
The Branson Daily Independent reported MTV's new reality series, engaged and underage, will feature footage shot at the Titanic. The episode will air on Channel 36 at 8:30 PM. The episode follows Nixa residents Joshua Stewart and Breanne Ledford in the weeks leading up to their big day and their wedding reception for 300 guests aboard Titanic. The couple was married on December 16, 2006.

Springfield Bloggers Award Branson Edge "Best News Blog"

Regardless of what the Soccer Blogger who won the best resource blog says; I was pleasantly surprised that the Branson Edge won the "Best News Blog of the Year" award. After winning I questioned the integrity of the tallying methods used to count the vote. Personally, I thought KY3's political blog by David Catonese is an excellent blog who a jury of my blogging peers would elect. In a display of political prowess I led a smear campaign against traditional media bloggers which paid off well. I felt a little guilty about this and see my conquest as a demonstration about why Internet campaign guidelines are a good idea as the Internet has moved from an underground to a mainstream medium.
An equal honor was the recognition given by John Logan. As I scoop Taney County it's unusual that I don't see a picture drawn by Logan somewhere on my daily route. One cartoon that stands out in my mind is the Police Commissioner caricature posted in the Branson prosecutor's office. Though the Branson police commissioner's days have past his Logan caricature lives on. Thank you John.
An overwhelming majority of the pictures, video and intel you see posted on this blog are from countless hours on the beat in an attempt to understand my community. There have been times when my shoes have been worn to holes and the expense of investigating what happens in Branson seems too great a task. This was a real boost and though the ego-payment is nice it's a sign that my career goals to be a solid source of news will be met. This year I hope to engage new talent and create a couple of websites that harness other sources of media talent. Lastly, those that have called me believing I could help, those that handed me scoops and the government entities that have welcomed and supported my endeavors are the reasons, if any, that the Branson Edge is worthy of this reward.

Branson Edge named 417 Magazine's List 5 Best Blogs

Below I posted statistics for last year. Writing news is a fleeting joy. What was written yesterday means nothing as it's merely yesterday's news.
Greg ranked the blog you're reading 5 of the best 5 with a score 2 of 4. I was once told "the higher the baboon climbs the more people that can see his big red baboon backside." Still, it's an awesome honor and I'm grateful. I'm taking Greg Holman up on his challenge to be a better writer. When I write news for the newspaper I follow the guidelines. To date, I've used this blog as a news notepad. There are stories here that make the headlines and the parts of stories that I can't publish in the newspapers. An example is the letters to the mother's involved in the Bescher trial. I know they've read it; I know it's had a positive impact on their lives. This blog is written for the most part in 1st person. I suppose the opportunity is to express and communicate the story the headlines don't give you. Sometimes the best way to tell a story is to show you a video, share the audio from an interview or let you sift through a hundred pictures.

417 Magazine Article Ex-Rogue - Branson Update

417 Magazine December 
If you click on the pic below you can read Gregory Holman, Branson local and editor of 417 Magazine, took the time to recognize my efforts in the December 2006 edition of the area's leading lifestyle magazine. Greg didn't pull any punches advertising both my shortfalls and prowess as a media producer. The fact that after a year of reporting on Branson someone took the time to recognize and acknowledge my achievements was uplifting and the fact that my shortcomings were so obvious to a seasoned journalist was a little embarrassing.
Perhaps, a more humorous element to the story is the fact that Greg exposed my urban hacking adventures in Branson. What's funny about the article was the close proximity to an article about the Titanic. On New Year's eve I was on assignment for the Branson Daily Independent when I met the owner's of the museum. Cameras aren't permitted in the museum as many of the artifacts are on loan from other collectors. Mary Joslyn gave me very specific instruction on what I could and could not shoot....shame sets in.....
Mary offered me a job shooting the Titanic Ice Sculpture contest under the condition I could have them posted over the wire.....Shame growing....
A few weeks later I was on assignment to the Branson Believer Awards Ceremony. This time I was on assignment for KZRK to grab sound bites and photos. I sat alone at the table in the front row. For a brief time I was alone. It was an awkward feeling being the only person sitting solitary in a packed room. My time was brief as shortly after the first course Mary and John Roslyn took a seat across from me. I couldn't take it any longer. I busted out, "Ms. Joslyn I have a confession...I hacked the Titanic”, referring to my self-guided tour. Both John and Mary were gracious and it didn't take long to realize I was in the presence of two extraordinary people.
Perhaps, you've had this experience, a sort of spiritual excitement experienced when you've met someone with an inherited or acquired greatness. The Joslyn's experience in media is an amazing story that I've been piecing together over the past few months.
The story of the Joslyn's "Titanic Adventures", is something I'm documenting. Holman gave me incentive to be a better writer and the Joslyn's a reason to write.

Branson History From A River's Perspective

A link to this article was sent by Gregory Holman, Branson native and editor of 417 Magazine. The site is dedicated to Taney History.

The River Runs Through It
by Gaye Lisby
October/November 1994
I'm perching on the shoreline of the White listening to the voices of time flowing from the belly of the river. Fall has kissed the Ozarks and although it's much too chilly, I dangle my bare feet in the rippling water, listening. I can barely hear the story, the old, old, story which sounds faintly like a song. It fades in and out like sounds from the aged transistor radio I used to hide under my pillow at night as a child.
The story of the Branson region begins. It is whispered, sometimes shouted, often sung and I'm listening to the river tell it to me now.
The White River flowed unimpeded for centuries, carving out its relentless passageway through the mountains. Heralding from Arkansas, it visits Missouri only briefly, then returns to its native land. The Osage borrowed from the White only what they needed and remained proud caretakers of the land until they relinquished their rights in the Osage Treaty of 1808. Ten years later Schoolcraft and his companions explored the tangled shorelines of the unruly water and wrote of its crystalline beauty.
Emigration occurred shortly after and by 1840, Jesse Jennings' census revealed just over 3,000 residents of this harshly magnificent one thousand square miles. Homesteads were hacked from rock and cedar and the river ran through it all. Listen.
Settlers settled and neighbors were neighborly, sometimes more for the necessity of it all rather than in response to Christian commands. Then the war came in 1860.
The river wanted nothing to do with it and told her people who agreed for there wasn't anything to be won or lost by it all here along the shores of the White. But the armies came anyway and took the guileless and ruthless side by side, men and boys, and the river cried in agony with the women and children. Nothing could be done, however, so the river ran through it all. Time marched on and so did some of the Stone and Taney County men and not-so-boys back to their devastated land. They touched the base at the shore of the rippling waterway, yet shuddering at the distant sounds of change. For others were leaving their shattered lives looking for Utopia and yearning for the sounds of the river. Listen.
Autumn's chill is too much. I pull my now blue feet from the water and tuck them underneath me shivering, listening.
Land heretofore unattended, seeming to belong to no one and everyone suddenly spouted a homestead and a stranger. The magnificent tanglewood suddenly seemed much too revealing and those who were born naked and helpless in this wild land felt uncomfortably uncovered. The river clashed with the stubborn rocks in narrow passageways as natives and strangers eyed each other warily. And the river ran through it all.
Then in 1884 the Baldknobbers came. Might and right both took a poke in the nose and neither liked it one bit. Some strangers left and some natives did too while the sounds of the river echoed plaintively in their ears.
Big Nat Kinney was a mighty man, about as right as might could be. But he fell and the earth shook and the people were astonished when they saw their reflections in the White. They didn't like what they were seeing. Listen.
A sound came through the mountains, more like a thunder, a rumble and roar and smoke belched from her smokestack and Progress was here.
She wore fine, fine clothes and had a lovely parasol and a purse which the natives admired and so bit by bit she traded them for their land. And towns were born where they never were meant to be. The river was laid bare and anxiously fretting her future kept climbing out of her banks making a nuisance of herself to the people.
Someone needed a light. The sun and the moon were not enough so the river was powerfully dammed. Part of her became a lake. Commerce shot the rapids and landed in the middle of the lake while the river ran through it all. Listen.
Bell Wright had come and gone and shuddered for what he had done but the floodgates were opened and villages became towns yearning to become cities.
The people loved their river and loved her lake and proudly showed her off like a shiny penny won after a game of marbles in the summer sun. Still the river was growing old and cranky and she sometimes slapped at those she loved. She was dammed again. Listen.
Like a dying woman after a blood transfusion she was energized and became deep and wide and beautiful in her old age. The people hated her and loved her marveling at the great white bandage upon her belly. When she felt better, she sat up to eat at Table Rock.
So did the people. A man came and another city-town was born on the quiet side of the lake. To the East, trout played where catfish once wallowed. But the bass were good no matter how or where you sliced them. And the river ran through it all.
The cave that was once a secret garden was no longer a secret anymore and we were proud of that. Progress was still living in town and had long since put up her parasol and purse for she wanted instead things that looked simply lovely.
The river was much different now because she was twice a lake, then thrice a lake and it was too confusing to all the people. And anyway strangers had come again. The natives wagged their hoary heads and wished they'd just leave money instead. But cities had shattered the strangers' lives and their ears, full of din, yearned for the sounds of the river. Listen.
It was possible now, even probable that the towns would become cities. Then wafting over the leafy hillsides a new sound was heard. This was music like no front porch on a Saturday night. The people loved the new music and the new musicians who were so much like themselves. And the musical strangers touched the blue water of the river-lake and loved her too. More musical strangers came and touched too and the river ran through it all. Listen.
Over the hill then comes a new sound, music-like but with a bit too much clinking. The strangers and the natives their heads wondering. But the sound fades in and out and is too hard to interpret. Listen.
The strangers and the natives often can't tell each other apart clapping each other upon the shoulders and laughing at their children growing. Listen.
A sound nags at the back of their minds but they are full of life and the living of it and the river runs through it all. Listen.
The sound becomes a noise. The noise clinks loudly like heavy coins in a noisy bar. The strangers and the natives are alarmed when suddenly a deluge of new strangers stride along the river-lake in Italian shoes and silk suits with chirping phones. Listen.
The game of marbles is suddenly over. Innocence is gone and speculative strangers up the land like ice cream through a straw. A chill shadow falls over the hillsides. Foreheads become wrinkled overnight as natives and strangers alike try to figure out the rules to this new game they don't want to know how to play. Listen.
But Progress plugs in her radio and television and flops down a newspaper in front of the people. They must play or be played upon. The river wonders that no one touches her waters much now. Listen.
Projects pop like popcorn in a microwave instead of like shoots of tender grass in the warm summer sun. The river-lake hunches her shoulders still not ready for the blow. And boy did she blow! Blow by blow by blow by blow. Then the storm quiets and the strangers, natives, and new strangers stand looking at one another warily. Listen.
The river-lake has weathered the storm like she does so well and the sun hesitantly peeps over the mountains. The people look anew at the water and drawn to her sparkling shores reach down and touch it. And the river runs through it all.

Gaye Lisby is a College of the Ozarks graduate and author. She wrote "A Spiritual History of the Land of the Osage and Branson"

Chuck Berry coming to Branson, Missouri

Chuck BerryPhoto By: Hans Arne Nakrem Chuck Berry is coming to Branson as part of the "Living Legends" series. Joe Sullivan shared some perspective in an interview with the Branson Edge yesterday. Sullivan's vision was to bring "Legends of Rock" to Branson.
Before his death, James Brown was scheduled to play March 1st. Though there was some speculation about who might take his place Sullivan has decided not to schedule another act during that time frame. His reason, other acts in Springfield, MO will be playing at that time and he doesn't want to schedule regional competition for fans on the date.
The first in the series was BB King who performed last Winter. Sullivan's intent is to bring artists to Branson that have had substantial influence on the development of Rock n' Roll. He's currently in negotiations with other legends which haven't been announced.
Sullivan believes Branson has substantial promise and plans to engage new demographics coming to the region. Sullivan states,"Younger people are discovering Branson....it's not just a place their grandparents can enjoy." Sullivan sees and schedules according to the changes in demographics he sees during different times of the year.

Branson ,Missouri - Roads at Pointe Royal and the Sunshine Law

It's rare that a Branson city meeting goes by that John Logan doesn't speak during the public commentary section of the meeting. Sometimes, John doesn't have a new issue to bring up then their are times when he hits home hard. Last Branson city counsel meeting Logan hit hard on the Pointe Royale issue. His diatribe began with patriotic fervor, the kind that makes you tense up a little....then he delivered. He asked Terry Dody if the City of Branson and Pointe Royale had engaged in a transaction selling the public road. They answered ... "yes" and wouldn't release the details of the transaction.
Pointe Royal and the City of Branson have had some issues over the years. The private gated community has historically had elements that were public property. A checkpoint and gate at the entrance blocked public access to the public road. This was always a little bit irritating knowing that the guard had no right to ask for any information or to deny access to the tax payer funded road. Imagine if someone setup a toll road in the middle of the highway and you can catch my drift.
Eventually, after some pressure from Terry Dody a deal was reached between Pointe Royale and city administration. The cost for the city to build and maintain the road was the selling price for the gated community to buy the road from the city. According to the sunshine law land deals can be closed from the public. This is for good reason so that the value doesn't inflate during negotiations. Here's the problem:
Two City Council members live in Pointe Royale. Beverly Martin, who is not running for re-election and Alderman Dick Gass both live in Pointe Royale. Logan's concern about the details involved with who voted and how the vote was conducted. The obvious conflict of interest between the land sell to the Property Owner's Association is something Logan went in to research as he filed a sunshine law request. According to Logan Ron Herschend was told to leave Branson City Hall when he attempted to follow up on Logan's half fulfilled sunshine request.
Seagull will be addressing the Missouri Sunshine Law issue in tomorrow's paper though the facts about the players will be left out. What he does engage is the City's actions in regards to the Sunshine Law. He questions whether or not the meeting should have been in closed session and what the implications are if such a small transaction isn't conducted in a legal and ethical manner - particularly as it relates to Missouri's policies which help the public interest and protect their "right to know"

Logan, Herschend and Groman - 3 Words Branson, Missouri City Counsel Doesn't Want To Hear

Porn, Gambling, trademark disputes and the divide between overlapping government entities sets the stage for the plot played out in the theater of public affairs.

Ironically, to outsiders this will come as a surprise, Branson is considered the liberal capital of Taney, one of Missouri's most conservative counties. The divide and conflict between county and city government is clear to anyone who takes time to sit through a half a dozen meetings or so. Here's some backround on the player's discussed in the next post.

1. Ron Herschend - Branson Representive to Taney County Government - Western Taney County Commissioner. has spoken three times in Branson City meeting over the past few months. Not a friend of (Tax Increment Financing Funds)TIFF's voiced opposition over Branson trademark issue.

2. John Logan - The Logan path to wealth and riches includes working hard while eating palmetto sandwiches by the lake before it becomesthe Branson Landing. He's not happy that it's against the law for him to feed the ducks and wants his fishing spot back - someone give this man a peer!...(I'll post more on John Logan)

3. Gary Groman aka "The Ole Seagull" - The Ole Seagull is the editorial writer for the Branson Daily Independent. His job for the paper is to engage the public and initiate discussion. His editorial claim - "the janitor who picks up horse dung after a parade." is somewhat of an inside joke. A seagull is a bird that poops on you while you're eating lunch on the beach.....an old seagull has especially good aim. Though needless to say; city administration in Branson rarely enjoy the opportunity to eat lunch in peace - that is when they eat off the government plate.

Branson Area Media Expansion

Two new magazines and at least one I know of is coming into the Branson market.

Here's my short take:

Both Sides of the Bridge - Great content poor layout. I understand the intent of this publication was to add a bit of spice and dialogue the general layout and design is severely lacking. The free mag features in-depth profiles of Branson and Hollister locals.

Branson Living - Poor editorial, great layout. Do these guys live here? Are they from here? Are they just scrapping old headlines (at least give some attribution. This publication looks like repackaged news from last year. On a positive note - the layout is incredible. The look and feel is similar to the publication Simple. They've also released just one edition so their is time to improve.

Hollister Church Fire - ATF Offers Reward

I was sent out a couple of weeks ago from the newsroom at KZRK to gather intel on a fire next to Candlestick Inn. An Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent had just been on the scene and confirmed the fire was suspicious. The Mt. Branson Church of God was in the process of construction and the congregation was planning on moving to the new building over the summer. The $250,000 structure was a total loss.
Special Agent Michael Schmitz went public with the findings yesterday placing a $7,500 dollar reward by the Fire Marshall over the wire. To collect call 1-888-ATF-FIRE or you can place a call to the Taney County Sheriff's Department (417) 334-3440

Branson 2006 Statistics - Branson Restaurants | Branson Hotels | Branson Theatres

Theatre Lodging and Restaurant StatsTheatres 52
Lodging Facilities 27
Hotel and Motel Rooms - 18,578
New Lodging Facilities 2
Increased Hotel Capacity: 674 Rooms

Branson Restaurants
Total Restaurants 440
Restaurant Seats 37,048
New Resaurants 30

Branson Theaters
Total Theaters 52
Theater Seats 58,267
New Theaters 5

Branson's Newest Theatres
50's at the Hop
Magic Parlor & Imagination Theatre
Branson Hot Hits
Sight and Sound
Millenium Plaza

Released by the City of Branson Health Department

Maynard Wallace - District 143 Taney County Representitive to Missouri

Taney County's Representative to Jefferson City Maynard Wallace walks a political line unheard of. Endorsements from education interests aren't known for their support of strong Republican candidates. Mr. Wallace has the support of both. Many Branson area administrators choose Wallace over their elected Reps to represent their interests. In a half hour interview with the Branson Edge Maynard Wallace helped untangle some of the mystery behind the great divide between educational and tourism interests. Wallace asked that the interview be posted in full, so if you have time, download the interview and listen to what Wallace has to say. Local Media outlets have my consent to use the content of the audio for publication under a creative common license with attribution. Ye are hearby granted,Wallace revealed that he'll be submitting a School start bill to the Missouri House of Representatives.
Wallace intends to push through legislation that will eliminate State fuel taxes for School busing. Wallace notes the Federal Government doesn't tax school buses and questions the logic behind using tax dollars to pay taxes.
Wallace didn't answer some of the hard hitting questions such as:
"Should School Teacher's be drug tested?" Since drug abuse by teacher's in local school's have come to light and since administrators have decided that it's ok to take genetic material to test our children we confirm our stance in the post...."Does Your Kid's Teacher Smoke Crack?" If School Teacher's choose to do drugs, that's fine - though we want them to sober up before we are required to send our children to the state mandated learning facilities. Is elevating our children's minds to the status we give heavy machinery appropriate? (Something for you to chew on)...

Table Rock Lake - 2 men rescued

I dedicate this post to the detective at the Branson Police Station who criticized the media for failing to report what's right in our society. Though it's our responsibility to express what's wrong - so that what srong can be fixed - it's our responsibility to promote what's right as well.
Two men were rescued from Table Rock Lake yesterday after their sailboat overturned a mile from shore. The rescue operation was conducted by two local's Fredrick Wilke and Bob Juneman. In an interview conducted for local radio stations KHOZ and KRZK Wilke gave credit to Juneman..."He's a hero", said Wilke.
Bob Juneman is the owner of the Shady Acres Motel in Notch

Anti-Branson Administration Video Reaches Top 50 Google Video

Branson Sports Club strikes again. Larry Dapprich was spotted during the last city council meeting gathering photographic inventory to create his newest viral video attack against the city of Branson. Though the City of Branson hasn't taken any action against the sports club they haven't acknowledged lack of ownership to the trademark "Branson" nor have they issued an apology to the sports club for their initial letter. As I've said before, you don't want to meet a soccer mom in a dark political alley. T
hough local media outlets see the issue as dead (all have run the story) behavior on behalf of one regional newspaper, Springfield News-Leader, has only added fuel to the fire as the Sports Club continues to spread its media reach through the Internet.
The video posted in "Video Parody of Branson" included the "Get a Clue-Branson" video. The video (as you can see) features Branson's legal council in proper Blue's Clue attire and manner struggling and finally issuing an apology. The video has obtained over 60,400 views to date.
The persistent efforts of the Branson Sports Club have kept the issue alive with Co-owner Pam taking her allocated 15 minutes of fame at every meeting to let city council know that she's both displeased and why.
The Internet is a powerful medium and the Sports Club has harnessed this power to effectively deliver attacks against the current administration and creating an awareness of their grievances long after administration offenses were delivered.
The cease and desist letter, according to the Old Seagull may have been an attempt to get the Sports Club to change their name to solidify a Branson Sports authority of their own. The City of Branson has openly defended their position saying ownership of the name is a necessity to protect their image; unfortunately, this image is being tarnished by the initial target rather effectively.
Update 3/07/07
The video has reached 75,000+ and is declining rapidly. It will most likely be elimated from the charts before the weeks end.
Update 3/8/07
The video was pumped back up and has hit 95,000 views
Update 3/9/07
Update 3/10/07

Senator Jack Goodman Senate Bill 64 Update - Branson - Missouri Senate

In an interview conducted by the Branson Edge Senator Goodman discussed Senate Bill 64 which is his second attempt to enact legislation aimed at discouraging early school start dates. According to Senator Goodman, administration backed by powerful education lobbyists and multitude of special interests overshadow who should have the ultimate say over how our children are educated. He states the priority should be the needs of students first, parents second, teachers third and administrators fourth - a reverse pyramid of the educational power as it stands.
Goodman anticipates the bill will graduate from the educational committee sometime over the next couple of weeks. He also anticipates a 17 day maximum clause will be removed. Under the current constructs of the bill Missouri school's wishing to start more than 10 days before the Labor Day holiday will have to hold a board meeting where parents can submit opinions to their elected school board representatives.
Randy Turner, teacher, author, award winning blogger and education advocate failed to answer questions about the downside of the bill when engaged with questions several months ago. In fact, Randy, who does an excellent job of educating us about lobbying efforts consistently avoids the special interests which are so close to his heart. Though we understand not wanting to bite the lobbying hand that ensures his trough remains full, we find his "flaming" of anyone who dares challenge the dictatorial authority of highly paid bureaucrats by asking for a reasonable explanation....downright offensive.
As a result of my inability to obtain wisdom from my fellow blogger, several administrators were questioned in regards to the issue. To date, the most valid response came from an area superintendent who admitted the real issue is that “school's don't like to be told what to do.”
Branson has significant interest in the bill's passage as does the entire state of Missouri. As Senator Goodman pointed out Missouri experiences 1.5 million dollars a day in tax losses everyday school's choose to start before Labor Day. Many who live in Branson experience extreme poverty in the off-season. Though I'm inclined to support increased education funding - highly paid bureaucrat’s egotistical interests come second to ensuring my family and neighbors live without experiencing extended poverty.

Dennis Wood - Report from the Missouri House of Reps.

Dennis Wood, seen above at the Hollister Grape festival (far left) gives an update regarding his work in Jefferson City. Wood discusses success in the area of tourism funding, Senate Bill 64, the tax disagreement between Taney County and the State of Missouri in addition to campaign finance reform/perspecitve on lobbyists. The beeps you hear are to drown out backround sound as clips were collected for Branson local radio stations KHOZ and KZRK.
What do you think? Click Play to hear the podcast below.

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Branson Edge Vital Statistics 2006

Photo's Taken 5,425
Est. Users 50,000 +
Detained or Questioned by Police 5
Arrest Threatened if Photo was taken 1
Arrest Threatened if Phtoto was posted 2
Photo's Pulled 2
T/S Mafia Threats 1
Thank You's From Crime Victims 15
Off the record Meetings/ 105
Interviews with Politicians 23
417 Magazine Mentions 2
Family Members Passed 2
Michelle Sherwood Calling me "Cool, So Cool' 1
Newspaper Photo's/Articles Published 20
Video Clips Published 75
Video Views 30,000 +
Sunshine Requests 5
Governmental Agency Denying Sunshine Request 0
Mugged by Tony Messenger 1
Murder Trials 2
Prayers (Too Many to Count)

Herschend's Offer Medical Care For Branson Employees

There are press releases worth printing. Health care is a major issue, especially since legislation in the past few sessions has limited those covered by the state. The Silver Dollar City employees can now see a doctor for 15 dollars. Greg Brock broke the story yesterday...