Willie Nelson in Branson - Photos Continued




Willie Nelson is the first country singer to have a punk tribute album dedicated to him. His passion for the American farmer is unmatched. His biodiesel mobile and biodiesel company is cutting edge both for the farmer and for the environmentalist movement. Ethanol is good for the northern corn farmer but biodiesel helps the Missouri farmer much more. In fact, ethanol subsidies may be hurting the Taney County farmer punishing them with higher feed prices...go figure. Click photos to see Willie larger.

Ticketmaster and Branson Theaters

This post is in response to an email sent below. I've received several requests to address Ticketmaster's entry into the Branson market and have conducted some follow up on the issue...here's what I understand.
Suggestions have been made and championed by members of the League of Theaters to move to Ticket Master as a means of selling theater seats. Some theaters believe this will create more exposure but many have doubts. Ticket Master is likely to push national headliners no matter where they're playing. Though Ticket Master has a large audience, great organization and innovation, a higher level of exposure for the Branson market seems unlikely.
A number of other ticketing firms have presented solutions for nominal fees. One of the main problems is the theaters themselves are in more competition than co-opetition and lower quality productions can move themselves into the market with extremely low prices. Time-share firms also add a layer of complexity. They want the perceived price of tickets to remain high while accruing a volume discount at very low prices.
Problem: Live theaters are expensive to maintain and a lowering of quality productions in the Branson market could cause a collapse. Consider the price of a movie ticket and compare the value of watching a live production. Consider costs including manpower, brick and mortar maintenance fees etc.. it's a pretty good deal.
Now consider costs associated with demand creation (marketing and advertising). This can be a deal killer especially in a competitive market. Third party firms may have more incentive to spend the dollars to market regionally. A time share sell can net thousands per customer where ticket margins a few bucks at best. A large firm can negotiate substantially cheaper rates with a promise of delivering volume. Sometimes, these companies withhold payment or worse... When this happens a theater can experience financial devastation. A powerful time-share firm might be able to pit theater companies against each other lowering their cost. Can you see where I'm going with this?
Back to Ticketmaster: Can Ticketmaster survive in the Branson market? That depends on customers. As I understand it, Ticketmaster will require theaters to block a number of seats whether they're sold or not. A couple other theaters have joined this boat. Consumers have a number of options. Private companies such as the Branson Tourism Center provide a hybrid of direct sales and timeshare bookings. Companies such as Reserve Branson provide direct ticket sales. The first model is most common and the second is rare. Ticket master uses the direct sell method at a substantial premium. The basic question is will Ticketmaster add value by marketing for Branson heavily outside the market...seems unlikely. Does this answer your question?

Dear Branson Edge:

Can you address what is going on with Ticketmaster in Branson?

We tried to phone the RFD-TV Theatre box office and order tickets on
our credit card. For 3 adult tickets, they wanted to charge us the
ticket price plus a $14 service fee, which they blamed on
Ticketmaster. I don't see this kind of thing flying in Branson. Other
places, maybe, but Branson?

We told them to forget it. I can go down the street and see a show
that will ONLY charge me the price of the tickets, and not have any markups.

What theaters are going Ticketmaster, and which are not? I did hear
"off the record" that the Ticketmaster thing was a "complete
disaster", but no news outlets seem to be covering this story yet.

Thanks for your time.

Willie Nelson Comes to Branson Missouri

Willie Nelson was shaking the house last night at RFD-TV theatre. Nelson, who owes me an interview, stood so close to me during his final set that if were any closer we'd be kissing. I have a nice photo set ...the pic above being one of the worst. Click to see the larger image but if you want to see Willie Nelson live he's at the RFD theatre tonight!

Branson Missouri Aldermen Final Moments

Branson Missouri Police Chief Carroll McCullough warned the mayor and Branson Alderman that this photo might appear on the Internet. I just wanted to make a note that this picture was submitted to the Branson Daily Independent but was beat out by a Giant Barn Swing ride at Silver Dollar City. David Edie and Beverly Martin plan to join a biker gang - well not really - but both plan on touring the US on motorcycles. Martin prefers Harleys while Edie prefers cruisers.
Being a public servant means being under fire. It's a choice and a noble venture. Though it is our duty to nitpick - it's for one reason (I hope I don't just speak for myself here). We do it to keep our nation free and self governed. That being said feel free to join the peanut gallery :).
In Love,

Ferris - Branson Finance - Strahan - Taney County Assessor = Battle of Mathmaticians

Branson's new finance director Ferris Brown mad dogged by James Strahan Taney County Assesor at Branson City Aldermen meeting. Click picture to get full effect.

Branson Missouri Board of Aldermen March 26 Audio File

Branson Missouri Alderman Meeting - Click Play to Hear
Here's a few highlights:
Van Gilder's Opening Prayer

Branson Arts Council asks for funds

Branson Landing update (We have photos from the latest hacking - not posted yet)

Taney County VS City of Branson - Strahan plotted a filibuster - which lasted for nearly an hour and ten minutes. Branson gave unusual leverage to Strahan with one warning from Branson's city attorney Paul Link. (I listened to this segment several times and stayed at the newspaper all night punching out a short piece on the topic) **Strahan's a smart guy holding a hillbilly hat in his back pocket in case it needs to be used. He catches subtle errors from Branson's new finance manager Ferris Brown - who gave a good show. Strahan makes a minor threat letting the city know "meeting the mark" could just as easily involve millions lost for the city if certain parts of the index were changed. Having looked through these documents Strahan's argument holds some merit. Commercial property is low on the index and Strahan claims the state doesn't want this adjusted. Commercial entities are far more likely to protest an assessment and usually win a fight with the State Tax Commission in the event they raise a stink. Homeowner's rarely do or are uninformed that they can fight the Board. The main category Strahan considers to be too low is older houses - those built in the 50-'s and 60's. The County has filed a breach of contract suit against the state. Hershcend backs up Strahan saying his case has merit.
Western Taney County Commissioner Ron Herschend pounds on Branson city government. Apparently, the City of Branson may eliminate their health inspection department which could create problems for the county. He also pounds on Schaefer who is trying is looking for a zoning change to satisfy a need for Huffman who's buying his property.

Larry Van Gilder

My favorite part of the Alderman meeting was Larry Van Gilder's prayer. The rest of the meeting was...well..I'll post it here ia a moment.
The prayer below was sent to me by Clayton Lynch.

When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of
the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard;

"Heavenly Father,
We come before you today
To ask your forgiveness and
To seek your direction and guidance.

We know Your Word says,
"Woe to those who call evil good"
But that is exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium
And reversed our values.

We have exploited the poor and
Called it the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness
And called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it

We have shot abortionists
And called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline
Our children and called it
Building self esteem.

We have abused power
And called it politics.

We have coveted our neighbor's
Possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air
With profanity and
Pornography and called it
Freedom of speech and expression.

We have ridiculed the time
Honored values of our
Forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh, God,
And know our hearts today;
Cleanse us from every sin
And set us free.

CBS Drama "As the World Turns" Gets Branson Tourism Tax Funds

The CBS daytime soap opera “As the World Turns” will be filming in Branson and tax dollars may be on their way to help make sure the cast gets here. Five percent of acquired tourism tax dollars are set aside into a contingency fund for unforeseen and unbudgeted marketing opportunities that may present themselves. On March 23 Concept Marketing pitched the Taney County Enhancement District (TCED) and the Branson Chamber of Commerce on donating dollars to help with expenses related to filming in Branson. Concept Marketing asked for $47,000 and the TCED board granted $36,223 by unanimous vote. Approved funds will provide airfare, shuttle and limousine services for the crew and executives during their stay in Branson. An $11,000 line item for a reception was set aside for further discussion, denied until attorney Hank Griffin can conduct legal research.
Recent “As the World Turn” plot lines have included such popular topics as male rape, hospital swapped babies, stem cells and adultery. Love it or hate it, our target audience tunes in. Kent Turner said he did not think our customers would blame Branson for displayed promiscuity. Dan Lennon of the Branson Chamber of Commerce -notes “As the World Turns” attracts a demographic past advertising campaigns have targeted. Lennon specifically notes the television show attracts a high percentage of female 34 to 64 year old T1 to T4s, marketing code for rural Americans rich and poor.
The question, “How will Branson be portrayed?” raised questions from Branson Alderman Dick Gass who said, “the only risk that I see is that we’re trying to change some of the image of Branson…blacked out teeth and playing guitar.” In order to flush out any preconceived notions, Lennon is guiding CBS representatives on an April tour to show what Branson has to offer. CBS has stated their intentions are pure and that they want to shoot in Branson to engage a loyal base of soap opera fans that enjoy Branson as a vacation destination. It’s not our place to judge what CBS deems appropriate for their audience and script approval isn’t an option the company is putting on the table.
Concept Marketing is not directly profiting off the venture. John Wallen said their firm has spent $12,000 to date and credits Ann Reinke for her hard work in gaining the interest and commitment from CBS. Concept Marketing views the project as an opportunity to network and collaborate with the community. The company has made an open invitation to businesses that want to participate in the project. Entities that provide resources such as lodging and food for the cast will be included in location shots and credits. Parties interested in contributing to the project can contact Ann Reinke of Concept Marketing at (417) 339-4555

*The BDI article I wrote ended with:

It's not our place to judge what CBS deems appropriate for their audience and script approval isn't an option the company is putting on the table.

This was a hard story for me. Elements of the draft above didn't make it into Sunday's Branson Daily Independent. The story should have taken a couple hours but I spent nearly a dozen trying to figure out how to honor the people who are making the effort to bring the soap into town and keeping the public informed with the facts about civic actions taken with their hard earned money.
The fact that tax dollars are helping fund the project brings the situation into a new light. Many sub-issues weren't addressed; however, if the 9 million media impressions are as valuable as some have suggested we should easily be able to generate several times the funds needed to facilitate CBS in a dramatically hospitable way. Since taxes are being used, local companies should have an equal shot at the opportunity to contribute funding for coverage...here's a model:
60k - Where Soap Stars Pick Up Tickets
30k - Where CBS is housed
17k - Actual Theater CBS is Using
7k - Restaurant Promotion
Just a start...more on this later.

Branson Missouri Crime Statistics Review

Missouri native Mark Twain made the following statement in a New York Newspaper article in 1895: ‘After all, facts are facts, and although we may quote one to another with a chuckle the words of the Wise Statesman, “Lies - damn lies - and statistics,” still there are some easy figures the simplest must understand, and the astutest cannot wriggle out of.’

Branson Crime Statistics can be deceiving. The reality is that Branson is in a period of high growth and has significant tourist traffic no included in population counts. If we took 7,000,000 tourists with an average stay of four days divided by the number of days in the year we would have an average population nearly 10 times the population in our index.

Police reaction to a rise in incidents has been a slightly larger increase in arrests. We're lucky to have a responsive and concerned police force. In fact, I'm hesitant to post crime incident releases from the Branson PD due to the fact most issues are dealt with so quickly they can be outdated by the time they're posted.

Branson Missouri Crime Stats 2005 - 2006










































































One runaway inmate found one still on the run

You can call it the greater of two evils. Brown has been found now we want Moore.

Taney County Prisoners Escape Jail Still on Run

Casey Matthew Moore
Nathan Anthony Brown
The two Taney County Jail prisoners that escaped monday are still on the loose. Casey Moore and Nathan Anthony Brown escaped after negotiating there way through a ceiling area - finding their way down into a room and escaping through a window. Brown was being held on charges for statutory rape and probation violations. Moore was being held on a variety of charges including several robbery/theft related charges. The Taney County Prosecutor has already filed charges in regards to the escape.
Area facilities who work with children have functioned under lock down.

Poor Planning Costs Branson Missouri Theatres Millions

For many Branson theatre's, failure to plan is failure to profit. A significant number of Branson venues don't release schedules until doors open in March. Millions in sales are conducted before these schedules are available.
According to Larry Milton, owner of Branson Tourism Center, roughly seven percent of his companies 350,000 annual theatre ticket sales are conducted between January and February. Milton's sales staff routes customers to theatres that have provided him with schedules. Sometimes, tickets sold are a client's second choice.
John Johnson, owner of Reserve Direct contends people are planning trips even earlier. "Tourists are trying to plan April vacations in October….they try to make reservations but they can't," states Johnson. Reserve Direct is a passive system; all transactions originate and are completed through his online booking engine. Consumers that attempt to purchase Branson theatre seats are unable to finish a buy if schedules aren't available. Psychographic and demographic data clue Johnson into details behind what motivates and when tourists are trying to book vacation packages. The company's local product, Reserve Branson yielded over $6.4 million in bookings last year.
Though Branson remains both Johnson's primary market and corporate headquarters, expansion into new tourist destinations has ensued full throttle over the last couple of years. He admits some markets are difficult to penetrate citing challenges the Pigeon Forge region has created for his company. Steady traffic and consistent numbers during peak weeks have convinced venues such as Dollywood that marketing funds should be dedicated to intercept strategies. Even venues such as Dixie Stampede, who've experienced substantial success with Reserve Direct locally, rely on influencing tourists after they've already arrived in the Gatlinburg region. Convincing the Pigeon Forge market that efforts focused towards demand creation to a wider market is proving to be an uphill battle, at least for the time being. Johnson is convinced this will change when the market reaches a larger critical mass and increased competition becomes more of an issue. His experience comes from a recent launch in Orlando where he found a Disney deal easy to ink. Negotiations with the destination superpower took less than a week.
Milton attributes his success in Branson to out of area marketing. A budget dedicated to pitching consumers outside our area has exceeded $1,000,000 annually over the last two years.
Both Milton and Johnson agree that an early release of show schedules would result in more businesses beginning the season deeper in the black without spending a penny.

This article was written last month for the Branson Daily Independent.

Branson Missouri Poisonous Snakes


Notice the hershey kiss like pattern of the Ozark Copperhead. If you see this snake, don't try to catch it. The photo above was taken at the fish hatchery last weekend.
Color varies from grayish-brown to pinkish-tan, with hourglass-shaped crossbands of dark gray, brown or reddish-brown. The head may have some pink or orange color, hence the name “copperhead.” The tail may be yellow or greenish-yellow, especially in young specimens, and the belly usually is a dusky mixture of gray, tan and black. Length averages from 24 to 36 inches (61-91 cm). Copperheads make their homes on rocky hillsides and along the edges of forests. They also spend time among trees and in brush along prairie streams. Copperheads are often found near abandoned farm buildings. Copperheads will vibrate their tail when alarmed. There is no record of a human death caused by a copperhead bite in this state, but medical treatment for such bites is necessary. Copperheads eat mice, lizards, frogs and sometimes small snakes.

Taney County Sheriff and Family

Jim Russell 
Branson Area Sheriff (Taney County Sheriff) Jim Russell and family enjoy a prime rib dinner before hearing lectures from University of Missouri farming specialists. The Taney County Sheriff's office can be reached at Sheriff@co.taney.mo.us Sheriff's Department Administration Phone(417) 546-7278

Mike Collins Retires Fat Payoff Likely

Opinion: Reprimanding Reeds Spring school teacher Mike Collins equated a political obituary for Superintendent Angie Bessendorf and the entire school board. The near riotous mob of public support that attended the last Reeds Spring school board meeting was unprecedented. Attendance jumped from 25 in Feb. Meeting to several hundred due to the popularity of Collins. A meeting is scheduled for Collin's reinstatement in just three days. As of yesterday the meeting is still scheduled. It's likely that behind the scenes a large payoff to Collins was being negotiated before the statement on Terry's Highway 13 was submitted. Obviously, the offer was one Collins couldn't refuse. There's probably a large "shut up" clause where Collins will have to return a treasure chest in the event he admits a payoff was made. Until the document is inked Reed Springs has to keep the meeting scheduled and after the cash starts rolling in Collins won't be able to talk about the details. It can be assumed that Collins intends to sign the offer and made one last stand of free speech before Collins signs on the dotted line trading freedom of speech for freedom to spend. Collins official statement is posted below. If I'm wrong, we'll hear about Collin's retirement package though I personally doubt we will.

The following statement was received from Mr. Mike Collins on Wednesday, March 14, 2007, for publication on hwy-13.com. “On Jan. 26, 2007, I was suspended from my job as a biology and botany teacher with the Reeds Spring School District. The district charged me with immorality and violation of school board policies. My crime was using profanity while correcting students whom I believed were harassing and bullying other students. I was wrong to curse in front of these two students. I apologized to them, and I apologize to the community. “But for the district to charge me with immorality and seek my termination is over the top.
In an attempt to bolster its case, the district resurrected two other allegations from previous years that were mostly either false or greatly exaggerated, and for which I had already been disciplined. There was an allegation that I took responsibility for and again for which I was disciplined. “Last week I asked the Board of Education to allow me to return to my job with a dock in pay. It was very important to me to resume teaching and guide my students through the spring planting season, and the upcoming important testing period. I also asked the board to train its students and employees about bullying, which I believe is a significant problem in our school district. “The Board of Education refused to allow me to return to my job as part of any settlement. This saddens me because I will not be able to be back in the classroom to do what I love to do — teach and make a difference in the lives of my students and to make a difference in my community. “I believe that a majority of the board members have made up their minds to terminate me, before hearing the evidence and despite the large outpouring of support for me at the Feb. 21 board meeting and through petition drives. The Teacher Tenure Act gives me a right to a termination hearing, but this is a hearing in which the prosecutor and the judge are one and the same. To me, this is not due process. I also have to consider other people who might be called as witnesses in my hearing. I worry that they would suffer consequences if they testified on my behalf. “For these reasons, I am announcing my intent to retire to spend more time with my family, especially my new grandson, Jake Lucas, who was born on Jan. 23. “I want to thank all of the individuals who have supported me. Words cannot express my gratitude for the support that has been shown. I would like to especially thank all of my former and current students. I know you will make a difference in your community, county, state and beyond. That is already very evident. “Respectfully, Michael P. Collins.” Hwy-13.com could not confirm the location or current status of the March 19 special meeting of the school board that was scheduled to address the Collins issue, as it is spring break this week.

Branson Missouri - Tri-Lakes Board of Realtors Endorses No One For Mayor

The Tri-lakes Board of Realtors (TLBOR) Legislative Committee has determined which candidates they'll be endorsing in next months municipal elections. Following a political forum held by TLBOR a motion was passed to approve support for Eric Farris Branson Alderman Ward I and Ron Huff Branson Alderman Ward II.
After lengthy discussion TLBOR made a determination to support neither candidate in the Branson's mayoral race. In regards to the decision TLBOR president Nelba Lies issued the following statement," There are many good candidates and the choices are difficult. We have a limited amount of funds to contribute to the campaigns, and the Tri-LakesBoard of Realtors voted to do what we thought best for the future of the community."
On average, candidates were given ten minutes to answer questions regarding local issues affecting local real estate issues including opinions on how Branson's planning and zoning department conducts business. TLBOR's mission statement includes attention to ethical concerns and to, "protect the right to own, use, and transfer real property."
The forum was open to any realtor that wanted to attend. Committee Chairperson Anne Syminton was joined by members Duane and Kay Gerken, R Layne Morill, Kathy Clark and Mark Weisz. In addition to the TLBOR Legislative Committee members Branson Alderman Dick Gass and TLBOR President Nelba Lies were also in attendance.
TLBOR will contribute $325 to fund campaign efforts of selected candidates.
This article was written for the Branson Daily Independent several weeks ago. It's a straight endorsement article. I sat on it for a while. This isn't the type of article Branson papers usually cover. I think it's important and raises a couple of questions...mainly ... why.

Branson Missouri Board of Aldermen Meeting March 12 Audio File

Click play to hear Branson, Missouri's last City Council meeting. Interesting topics were covered. Bonds were refinanced, a purchase of a new training tower was approved, residential housing for the elderly in Branson Hills was approved, Branson school district presented arguments for a tax levy and a Neighborhood Improvement district was established (First Read).

Darrell Moore - Greene County Prosecutor - How the media has failed us

Darrell L. Moore spoke out on problems facing the justice system today. The interview took place at the Republican victory party in Springfield proceeding November elections. The shouts in the background are for the benefit of KY3 staff managing a live remote. Moore expresses a transition of responsible informative media to an entertainment focused news as the biggest threat to our legal system and democracy today.
Moore also speaks to the importance of businesses supporting jury duty and the quality of jurors as important to ensuring justice.
Once upon a time reporters spent extended time at the courthouses.

Branson's Senator Goodman Pushes Gun Control Law - Someone Breaks into your house - you control the trigger

Senator Jack Goodman succeeded in pushing through legislation that allows you to shoot an intruder. In a conversation a few weeks ago Goodman complained that in Missouri, if you come home and an intruder is in your house and you pump a bullet into the burglar you might be liable for damages. Not anymore. Since the bill passed, you can now shoot the intruder without fear of having to pay the medical tab. I'm not too sure a Taney County jury would require this. My question is, "If you shoot an intruder in the leg and he gets blood on your bear skin, who has to pay the cleaning bill?"

Taney County Prosecutor's Office Launches Website

The Taney County Prosecutor’s office is launching a new website. The beta site was registered last week in response to overwhelming press demands following reports of a drug bust at Welchel’s Funeral Home last week.
Prior to being elected Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrill stated the possibility of launching a blog if elected. The project was put on the back burner as catching up on a backlog of untried cases took top priority. The high influx of phone calls and public inquiries regarding the Welchel case prompted site creation to become a top priority.
Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Christopher W. Lebeck designed and coded the site for ease of use. Wordpress, an open source blogging platform, enables administrators to publish content quickly and ensures the site’s content and technology will remain current. Lebeck was recruited to the Taney County Prosecutor’s office after serving in the prosecution’s office for Greene County.
A main focus of the prosecutor’s office is to serve those harmed by crime. After completion, the site will be able to service victims with information about their case. Additional functionality has been planned. In the future, the site will have online forms for those for victims to receive information about their case. Those harmed through illegal activity have rights greater than the general public. As a standard practice of Merrill’s administration judges are asked to refrain from releasing accused criminals on bail before victims are contacted. The policy enables feedback and protection to those who may be in a position of vulnerability from perpetrators. Merrill intends to aggressively pursue parties who try to thwart legal processes through intimidation or threat and wants to make sure residents are assured safety after reporting crime.
Merrill’s management approach relies on processes over policy. Having a website that encourages communication, relays vital information to the public, saves commute time and simplifies filings adds an asset to citizens in their greatest time of need. For most people, dealing with the prosecuting attorney’s office is rare. Tools to improve methods of interaction serves not only the office but those in a time of need.
First post over $41K in restitution recovered...this doesn't include bad checks.

***Video Clip from Greene County Prosecutor's office is being uploaded...stay tuned

Springfield News-Leader addresses Parvo issue at Taney County Animal Shelter

I've hit on this topic a few times. Public officials should be aware that it's to their benefit to address issues that affect our community. The Parvo issue wouldn't have been as big of a deal if the press was properly addressed and actions were being taken.
Taney County Commissioners have responded and in the last meeting chose to hire full time staff at the facility.
Animal Advocates of the Ozarks has been on the offensive. It would be to the best interest of Taney citizens if they can find a way to work together. The Animal Advocates are passionate about their cause, donate time to help the facility and have intentions to expand efforts aimed at the treatment of animals in our region.
I also think they'd serve the community better as a collaborative entity...that's just my take.

Peace in Rockaway Beach

Props to Donna Clevenger for approach on the story in Rockaway Beach. Clevenger, who recently joined the Branson Daily News staff wrote for the Taney County Times for some time. She covered the area with a lot of passion. This week I covered the story for the Taney County Times and the paper has been flying off the shelf. The regional soap opera has been good for the anti-gambling crowd, but not for residents.
Rockaway has been torn apart by infighting. If it weren't for a recent car wreck I would have been there, but I got to hear the play by play from regional journalists.
Clevenger did a good job of delivering the message...people want peace.

Branson Pointe Royale Residents Mr. and Mrs. Udriect

Mr. and Mr.s Udriect found a package on their doorstep addressed to yours truly. The were flipping through the paper and found some photos with my name in the byline. The package contained a gift from my father. In general, you can expect this type of thing from people in our community. Still, it's extraordinary.

Reporting on Branson, Missouri

It's been an interesting path and at times painful. I was in a meeting a couple of weeks ago and the host called me out - wanted me to say who I was and who I represented . What could I say? This site is my scratch pad and without it I've found myself less useful. I write - I pray - I hope and mainly I say I which is totally unacceptable while documenting history for the public.
Years ago I started down this path. My primary interest was media politics. I studied for years; met with every local reporter and accrued a good sense of where everyone was coming from. Next, I wrote. When I saw imbalance - gaps - whatever was totally ignored I was there. I've used video, sound and at times even documented other members of the media covering events.
Here's where I'm at now.
Freelancing for the radio station has been a great asset. Greg Brock and Sally Kaucher have a lot of experience and a good feel for hard news. The radio station also gives me access to great equipment; which I use to get a deep story. I take a 10 second sound bite and pop out a news Mc-Nugget (Kaucher's term) then I write - here. After that I go back and write the story, listen to the other 29 minutes and 50 seconds, dot my I's cross my t's. The free-flow is crucial to me. Together they work well, but this last week has been tough.
From where I stand these work well together. People use different mediums for different reasons. The radio for people who want tid-bits. An entire 1/2 hour television newscast contains the text of approximately one sheet of newspaper (Andrew Cline's Observation. I think people know this and I think they work well together. The newspaper may be the most important. It goes into greater details forces the whole story to be told. Craig Donze and Kurt Lewis have been great as well. They give a lot of leverage and have an interest in both fair reporting and give a lot of leverage to the editorial staff.
Back to the meeting - I stumble...he calls me out and I don't know what to say, because I'm not their for the newspaper, not for the radio, I'm there because I believe if no one is there a generation may be doomed - my daughter's. I'm there for me- I'm on a mission from....and I strive to do the best job I can for the people I work for because that is who I want to be. I do what many people do when put on the spot. I made a joke and the response I got was just short of vicious.
We forget something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. George Washington was convinced through a journalist that America needed to be free from imperialist rule. One guy, not a corporate slave, felt compelled to share what he thought was just common sense. It put an empire in check. This is a more competitive industry than I had imagined. But remember it wasn't some schmuck with a pay check - It wasn't some government official who was peeved because a writer didn't follow his party line - It wasn't a press release. It was someone who had the courage to speak the truth when everything was on the line. Later, the right to a free press was written into the constitution. They weren't talking about a company. They were talking about man's natural right to publish his thoughts. The original revolution wasn't televised. It was about the right to be self-governed and the only way this can possibly happen is if unbiased public communication ensues. I can't think of a better argument for collaboration, but if you want to know why I'm there....this is why.

Branson Landing to Host Talent-Show Tryouts

American Idol, America's Got Talent - heck even criminal's are trying out for America's most wanted. Bill Lennon and Gary Bartlett, entertainment managers for the Branson Landing have their own show in mind. Saturday, March 24 from 10 AM to 4 PM in the Town Square live tryouts will be hosted and selected winners will have a job working the streets during the summer. Freaks do apply. The Branson Landing street performers have an organic feel much like Lennon's old stomping grounds in Venice Beach. Truth is, they're paid and you could be too. Janet Ellis from KRZK will be broadcasting live. Should be a hoot!

Is a Gambling Mafia Controlling Rockaway Beach?

Rockaway Beach Gambling IconHere's the skinny. Strom's attorney came up with the following hypothesis. The cospiracy rests around Chuck Walters who sat on the Rockaway Beach Gaming Committee. Strom didn't trust Walter's thus didn't renew his membership to the city's gambling efforts. That's when a Michigan based gambling operation ordered a political hit on Strom. Let's see, stir up some animosity, orchestrate a coup d'├ęta and retain governmental authority from Michigan headquarters. Interestingly, as Strom's counsel pointed out; Walter's moved to Michigan, but not before he set up a corporation deceivingly similar to Rockaway's Gaming committee. Walter's private corporation is named Rockaway Gambling Committee which some have suggested is a front to launder funds intended for other places...mainly the citizens of Rockaway Beach.

Tulsa Landing = Branson Missouri Developer Leverages Branson Development

Get the land and we will come. Rick Huffman met with Tulsa leaders last week to plot the city's development of a Branson Landing type project. According to Tulsa World, Huffman asked Tulsa city leaders to acquire land as a preliminary step for a builder to come.
Earlier reports revealed Huffman met with city leaders leveraging the reported success of the Branson Landing to initiate discussion regarding the Tulsa riverfront development.
Huffman confirmed reports in a recent interview and confessed Branson was one of the hardest cities to develop in. Building codes provide substantial barriers, a concern raised by other developers as well.

Tom Strom Before and After Judge Rules Strom is Mayor of Rockaway Beach

In this photo Tom Strom, wife Angelena Strom, Attorneys Don Ingram and Paul Weeks respond to the question, "How does it feel to be Mayor again?" We published a detailed article in the Taney County Times today giving the play by play. On friday, Ingram and Weeks called an emergency session and Judge Williams stayed pass regular hours and pulled Rockaway Beach attorney Barney Naoti into the meeting via phone. Weeks accused Naoti of prolonging the legal process and Naoti expressed his sympathies, "I dont like it at all". Apparently, Rockaway Beach failed to follow their own ordinances declaring Sue Riggs time as city father illegal. Some time ago I shared my opinion on the manner in a post.
The first thing Mayor Strom did after being reinstated was to call for the impeachment of Riggs and Naoti. An emergency hearing was set and a motion to close the meeting was called before it was brought to the floor.

Branson Misouri Crash - Newscaster Becomes News

Car CrashI don't often post car accidents or fires. Personally, it's just not my thing. I don't enjoy it but I feel a responsibility to report and document these events. At one time I would just email them to publications for their records.
As they say in the newspaper business - If it bleeds it leads. Yesterday, I covered a number of stories starting early in the morning and catching the 8:00 show at the Taney County Courthouse. Got some great stories. Next mission, the new Missouri Job Training center. When I got back to produce copy for the Taney County Times an emergency call came in. I was commissioned to cover a fire in Branson. The fire off fall creek road was small but I was soon to become the bigger story. The hilly roads make cars hard to see and as I was turning left trying to stay clear of emergency vehicles a car popped up and neither of us could escape. It could have been much worse. We could have died. It was close and I was scared. I was alive, a little banged up but what about the other guy? He was taken to the hospital and was released fairly quickly. It took me some time to find this out. I'm a little banged up myself - slight concussion - I know what this feels like from my football days. A newscaster at the radio station said ...we'll be easy on you. I demanded he do no such thing. I gave him the pictures and spent the evening writing copy for the Times. Like I said I was banged up - I still am and chances are if you turn on the radio in the Branson region you'll hear about it. Events like this make you think about what you really care about.
Before the accident I was thinking about Taney County Government, after I could think about is how much I want to tell my daughter how much I love her.

Branson Missouri Innovations - US Patents

Better barn doors, fishing technology and travel games - some of the patents created or inspired by Branson...

Spiritual Thesis on Branson Missouri

A spiritual History of The Land of the Osage and Ozark

After reading the poem, "The River Runs Through It," curiosity set in about the writer Gaye Lisby. I hope to meet her soon and have a feeling my writings today will bring forth our meeting. Here's a review:

After studying Liby's text I've found the book to be less about history and more about Lisby's personal religious path. She's a zealot, perhaps a warrior of her faith - containing more zealotry than history.

Lisby explores the rituals and secret societies that exist and have existed in Branson weaving in and out of historical events to spiritual thesis. Broadly, Lisby suggests a demon principality aka Greek mythological God Python is an influencing factor dividing the region. She makes a connection between Baldknobbers, Ancient Osage Indian practices, Masonic rituals and Occult presence in the region. Her book explores each of these to some depth. In one sense the book is a religious track though this doesn't take anything away from the meat of her historical findings. The historical tidbits are preserved though religious commentary is intertwined throughout, before and after, historical findings are shared.

Over the next week or two I'll be posting some of the tidbits.

Another theme of the book involves the responsibility and corruption of the press. Particularly during the Baldknobber era this was an issue. Payoffs made to now defunct area newspapers clearly resulted in the death of many. Twasn't lack of courage but love of lucre. Due to the substantial corruption the national press caught wind and started covering regional politics. With the help of the national press, brave businessmen and a determined judge a dark period of Taney County Politics ended.

Protector of Branson, Missouri Christian Values?

Leas Campbell filed a lawsuit against Gallagher a few months ago. Leas claimed Gallagher wasn't Christian enough - after blocking attempts by Gallagher to assist a local charity on the basis it was Christian. The content made me furious; but hey, don't take my word for it. Check out the Miami New Times interview. I put some clips below....tip of the iceberg.

He is, Campbell will explain, "a white nigger," and proud of it.
Mobsters suspect Campbell of torching one of their facilities, and he stands up to them, calling in a few kneecappers ....He will expose major Mafia operations in New York and Miami..

Always tell the truth. Campbell lives by this motto, and fully realizes that his life's story will infuriate many people. "But the innocent need no protection," Campbell says. "And the guilty? F**k 'em. They're guilty."
"You're moving 500 cases a week. That makes you my third biggest customer, right behind the Philadelphia Phillies and the Navy base." Bruno offered some advice about increasing profits, and also handed over a pack of football-betting slips. "Your customers will love these."

Some of Campbell's early backing, as he explains at length in the draft of his autobiography, came from a trio of major-league marijuana smugglers.

It was Kierkegaard who first suggested that organized religion and God don't mix. The philosopher believed that any relationship with God must be personal and individual, that orthodoxy did nothing but interfere with faith. Campbell himself remains "anti-Christian" while simultaneously embracing the Christian ethos. "I'm a recovering Catholic," he says. "As a child I had my hands whacked by rulers plenty. These people are all peace and love on Sunday, Jesus is okay. But if you practice peace and love during the week, they consider you a commie, fag, pinko. Why not do this seven days a week? They'd say, 'It's not done that way A shut up.'"

He readily admits to having consumed elephant doses of all the in-drugs, of indulging in the orgiastic free love of the good old days, of living a rock and roll life.

Journalism Code of Ethics - Do we follow these guidelines in Branson Missouri?

This is from Andrew Cline. Should we report on an organization that you're politically involved with? Are we objective....courageous ...balance. If we can't be we probably shouldn't be covering the topic, should we? Do we follow these rules?

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.

Seek Truth and Report It
Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Journalists should:
— Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
— Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
— Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
— Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
— Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
— Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
— Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
— Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story
— Never plagiarize.
— Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
— Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
— Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
— Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
— Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
— Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
— Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
— Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public's business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.

Minimize Harm
Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.

Journalists should:

— Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
— Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
— Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
— Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
— Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
— Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
— Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
— Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.

Act Independently
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.

Journalists should:

—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
— Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

Be Accountable
Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

Journalists should:

— Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
— Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
— Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
— Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
— Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

Parvo at Taney County Animal Shelter

According to reports the Taney County Animal Shelter picked up a stray dog who had pups shortly after capture. Apparently the dogs and the pups had parvo. The animals were removed shortly thereafter.
Contrary to rumor the dogs were not taken nor had been in the vicinity of Pennel's Kennel.
The Shelter did have to eliminate a number of dogs after a number of dogs were found to have Parvo a couple months ago. No press releases was issued which arose suspicion with some.
It's unusual for a government body to avoid communication when there is a problem. By doing so the media has an understanding on how to address an issue instead of relying on rumors...which of course we follow up with as well.
A private entity in has expressed interest in setting up a shelter of their own.
See the next post...

Branson Missouri Mourns Don Gabriel's Passing

Don Gabriel was a pillar of our community. When news of his death arrived yesterday I was sitting in the newsroom at the radio station – very little information was available at that time in regards to his death – so I studied. Don’s history, philosophies and beliefs were widely available as he was an avid writer, bold in his faith and bold in his business. In Don Gabriel’s view the objectives were intertwined.
Don wrote for several publications, including the Branson Daily Independent, who I’ve inked a humble contract with recently. I’m cautious and my guards are up when a man stands up and combines religious and economic interests. But, Don Gabriel was the real deal
One particular editorial summed up the theme of his communication to the public. It was written in 2001. Don believed in Branson. He believed that it wasn’t a convention center, shopping malls nor gambling that would save us. He believed God would save us. He believed God was using Branson as a spiritual repository and that people would continue to come as long as our spiritual springs were flowing.
It’s occurred to me as I ponder the direction and nature of the community what seems to be a divide among religious and economic interests. Over the past couple of days I’ve received correspondence from business leaders, religious leaders and political leaders alike – all share an immense respect for Don and for good reason.
. One of his ambitions involved charter flights to Branson and his economic contributions both physically and in spirit will continue to provide blessings to our community.
As the networks continue to fight for ratings this month I witness the same tricks – a little more flesh – riskier jokes. They know it works which is what makes Branson an anomaly. We may have the highest ratio of visitors to residents of any tourist destination and Don was quick to point out that our spiritual economy was a contributing factor. For many, Branson is a place of spiritual refuge and the boldness Don expressed his faith will remain long after his funeral is forgotten. There is a part of us that lives forever and Don’s words will forever live with us. God bless you Don on your transition back home! We thank God we were blessed to have you with us.

Tonya Harding and Tommy "Tommy Gun" Morrison in Branson

Gregory Holman secured national coverage for a Go Magazine's post on Boxing in Branson. Tonya Harding and Tommy Morrison were at Wednesday night fights at Shake it up. The photo above is from the first event they held a month ago. The Amateur Boxing Association event is a lot of fun and a great way to spend a weekday night. Perhaps, next time Harding will put on the gloves.