Branson Arts Council Granted $35,000 to promote Juried Fine Arts Show

A Branson Arts Council (BAC) request for $35,000 from the Tourism Tax Contingency ( TTC) fund was approved by aldermen Tuesday night. President Robert Cohn addressed the city council for the third time in two months on behalf of BAC's proposed juried fine arts event slated for October 11-13 at the Branson Convention Center.
If a minimum of 60 high caliber artists aren't selected by an early July deadline, Cohn said he'll scrap 2007 plans and begin the recruiting process for 2008. Cohn's fiscally conservative strategy earned high marks from Alderman Stan Barker who said, "I don't think there's any doubt this is a worthwhile project….you're saying we're not going to put this on unless we can reach a certain amount of success in the first year and I really appreciate that…We'll be just as sold on this next year." Barker's statements were in regards to a modification disallowing 2007 funds to be rolled over to 2008 in the event BAC failed to meet their quota of eligible contestants by July 9.
Expenses such as a $6,300 cost to rent the Branson Convention Center and artist recruiting fees will be fronted by the BAC hoping to break even through booth rental fees and ticket sales. BAC projects $50,000 in revenue from ticket sales alone.
Tourism Tax Contingency funds will be used exclusively for the purpose of advertising and generating event spectators. The proposed advertising plan will include 20 percent towards regional radio, 30 percent towards regional television and 30 percent towards urban newspapers published within a days drive of Branson. Another 20 percent will be used to generate local interest. Aldermen approved the BAC funds 6-0.
Tourism Tax Contingency funds represent a small portion of the city's tourism tax set aside for non-profit organizations visitor generating opportunities. Terry Dody estimates the fund accrues $25,000 to $35,000 each year and has an available $120,000 balance. An initiative by alderman Bob McDowell standardized the application and BAC was the first entity to make a formal request under the new guidelines.
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Branson Missouri - Citizens on Patrol in Local Government

Headlines contain details about the top issues of the day. It can be difficult to communicate the small details or the spirit of a political body without editorializing. Below is a short which is being published in the Branson Daily Independent in a few hours.

Three initiatives tightening the connection between Branson's elected officials and citizenry made headway this week at city hall.
Bill 3416 puts citizens on patrol in budget and finance, capital improvements and personnel committees. Positions on these committees are currently limited to paid and elected officials. Appointees must be either residents or work in a Branson business and appointed by the mayor with alderman approval.
Bill 3417 ensures materials will be made available to aldermen and the public 24 hours earlier than previously required. Department heads will be required to prepare resolutions, contract documents and presentations seven days before city council meetings are scheduled.
Bill 3418 relates to the way meeting notes are kept. The initiative requires city notes to contain a brief synopsis on statements made to alderman by members of the public who address the board of alderman. Current meeting notes detail who spoke without mention of what they said. The purpose of the bill is to create a more accurate public record.
All three bills were approved after their first reading. A second reading and subsequent vote slated for June 11 is required before they become law. A fourth initiative , still in the concept stage, will allow the city to regularly poll residents for perspectives, input and opinion on issues related to the cities development.

Branson Discontinues Name Protection Policy

Perseverance – the character trait promoted in the month Mayor Raeanne Presley tried to initiate open discussion regarding the city’s controversial and unpopular name protection policy. City Administrator Terry Dody advised council to refrain from discussion until attorney Joe Johnson of the Lathrop and Gage law firm could brief aldermen on possible repercussions of discontinuing the policy. After a closed door session with Johnson, alderman voted unanimously to discontinue issuing letters to businesses who use the term "Branson" outside of the geographical confines of the city.
Seven businesses outside of the city limits were sent letters advising them to contact the city for "permission" to use the Branson name. Aldermen passed the controversial ordinance 5-1 in the fall of 2006, instructing the city attorney to begin sending letters to businesses outside the city limits using the Branson name. The first business to receive such correspondence was the Branson Sports Club. Owners Larry and Pam Dapprich responded with protests in front of city hall, extensive press correspondence and a video parody.
Pam Dapprich made appearances at city meetings for nearly nine months demanding an apology for the litigious posture flexed by city officials after receiving her letter in September 2006. In April Alderman Stephen Marshall asked Dapprich what she would do if rendered an apology. Two weeks later Dapprich responded, "…assist area youth,” the Branson Sports Club’s mission.
Concern over the issue peaked when Johnson addressed city leadership in a public meeting last November. Fourteen Branson residents including county officials, business leaders and concerned citizens voiced opposition in the meeting that extended past the midnight hour. Tuesday’s meeting drew comments from five area residents.
Western Taney County Commissioner Ron Herschend said, "the county has been dealing with this issue as well, we have businesses concerned about their livelihood." Former alderman Ron Huff defended the position he took as a city leader stating, "Legal counsel strongly recommended that we initiate a program in case we want to challenge it in the future. We proceeded, we voted on it."
Comments made by aldermen created a window to the closed door session with Lathrop and Gage earlier this month. Aldermen confirmed outspending legal opponents was an element of the Lathrop and Gage strategy and granting permission to businesses wishing to use the name Branson provided only a small legal foothold.
Alderman Jack Purvis commented on the recent meeting with Johnson stating, "It seemed like we were talking about two different issues. The attorney who was supposedly a well informed person on this issue told us we didn’t have a stand."
Alderman Stan Barker reiterated the importance of protecting the value of the Branson name and reaffirmed the city’s initial intent was to protect the "Branson" brand from businesses that had no interest in promoting community values.
Alderman Dick Gass spoke to his understanding of legal advice first issued in no uncertain terms saying, "The attorney told us if you want to protect the name, this is what you have to do."
Presley closed the discussion stating," It’s hard for me to know what I would do if I was sitting in your shoes when the attorney said the things he said…versus now given more information… I could not find any evidence of malicious intent... They made their decision based on the information they had at the time. "

Branson Aldermen Name Dispute brings local NBC affiliate KY3 (without anyone dying)




KY3 called it "the great name debate". That Ole Seagull called it "namegate". Pam Dapprich called it "You betta give me an apology sucka." But none of that matters now cause the city of Branson just called it quits. I'll put the whole story above in just a few minutes.
Former Alderman and local attorney Eric Farris dropped it on me like this. If a neighbor built a fountain on your property and you don't want to lose your rights to the land you might grant him permission, say for two years. This might set a precedent for you later when you want him to remove it. Businesses outside of Branson were sent letters with "strong language" stating they owned the right to the name. Companies that responded were given permission to use the name. If you're not following me there are at least half a dozen posts on the topic in the archive. It was easy to deduct that the law firm representing the city preached a "power pay" approach. Basically, the city could outspend an unsavory business that challenged the notion that Branson owned the name. Here's how I see it.
Attorney's are like dobermans. They can make great pets - calm - gentle - helpful; however, left to their own devices they'd probably just prefer to bite people. Still, they can be man's best friend...(yes Mr. Link I did stay up all night thinking about this).

Branson Area Realizes the Communist Dream

College of The Ozarks 
This shot reminds me of my favorite poem contained in my 5th Grade textbook. It was written in regards to industrialization and the movement of America from an agrarian society.

Carnation Milk
Carnation Milk is the best in the land
Here I sit with a can in my hand

No tits to pull, no hay to pitch
you just put a hole in the sonofabit..

College of the Ozarks is an institution where you can get an education in exchange for 15 hours hard labor per week. You can work in your field during your last couple of years and leave with a diploma debt free. The Keeter Center, at the entrance includes an excellent menu with milk pulled from the cows outside...fresh. Whole wheat flour and an assortment of other products from the mill can be found in the gift store at the Keeter center. They're a whole lot cheaper than the grocery store - if your local mart even has such products. If your visiting the Branson area, this unique institution is a must see.
Students must live be a strict standard. Last year, several star basketball players were expelled for attending a party busted by Hollister PD. The suspensions and expulsions came at the price of back to back NAIA basketball championship rings.
The speakers the school has brought to the Branson Area is impressive and include George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Margaret Thatcher and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Next , expect British Prime Minister Tony Blair to speak.
I think of College of the Ozarks like this: Take the communist dream - remove the communists - add Christianity, sprinkle democracy and wallah...

Baldknobbers Brochure - Branson, Missouri Artifact



Some say it was ingenious - exploiting an organic hillbilly culture for a quick buck. Biggun's a buck a piece. A Kansas City minister recalls the early roots of the Baldknobbers, a Mabe with a megaphone driving down the road for a show at a local barn. There is an underground culture that lives in Branson today with late night jam sessions with rock and blues pouring until daybreak.
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Democracy in Branson Missouri

Branson, Missouri Alderman Bob McDowell spoke briefly today about proactive government. McDowell brings a business management philosophy to city government. One of his ideas leads to a better democracy. Companies will soon be responding to a Request For Proposal issued by the city to create a polling mechanism by which government officials can gauge public opinion. City leaders would have feedback as to how citizens feel - good idea.
Citizens aren't always happy and Branson has a mechanism for them to respond. Anyone can take 10 minutes every city council meeting to speak their mind. Sometimes, I feel sorry for the Alderman as an irate individual uses the podium to issue aggressive remarks. Some of my peers find this annoying - personally, I like the idea that everyone has a voice, of course, this means, having to put up with some annoyances - small price to pay for what could be the most democratic city in Missouri.
As we look at our neighbors and try to improve our community by rising to the bar others have set we should look at the bar we've created as a community that tolerates opposing ideas (even those that are painful to listen to).
A childhood friend of mine commented, "your community really loves democracy." Yeah, we do and setting an example for democracy is a good idea albeit some ideas expressed have no visible productive end result. Citizens often find themselves irritated by an editorial they've read or a perception that may have little basis in reality, but they have 10 minutes that leaders are required through statute to listen.
As we look at the surrounding communities policies we should also look at the bad examples they've set. Christian County has a horrible track record when it comes to the sunshine law and undoubtedly evidence of corruption will rise to the surface over the next couple years. Kansas City set a new bar to the level of corruption a city can handle before the citizen's react. A suburb of St. Louis revealed perversion of public trust through a corporations report to the police. In some cases, we are the example of responsible government. I believe in the first amendment and acknowledge our local government has no responsibility to precede with open dialogue under its auspices. Still, lessening the time for citizens to share their ideas is a movement in the wrong direction.
City code may soon be altered to limit citizen diatribes to five minutes, after which an alderman can motion to extend. A change allowing dialogue between a speaker and city officials is a good idea. If we allow this more than neighboring communities - good.
Yeah - the meeting is "city council's", who work for......

Carl Mazur Picks out a cigar from Club 57 humidor

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Lake Taneycomo Lays Low - Branson Missouri




Lake Taneycomo was lowered so Branson Landing construction crews could connect some pipe. It looked like a good time to see where the best fishing holes were. The lake was lowered 30 inches - some interesting shots of Taneycomo and Turkey Creek above.
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Professional Ball Player - WWII Women's baller comes to Branson Missouri

Professional Baseball PlayerDon't you want to hear about my army experience said Helen "Gig" Smith of Richmond Virginia. The answer was ... yeah but I'm an hour till deadline and I'm getting not so friendly calls from the office. Smith played professional baseball for two years to pay for college. The plan to draft women into baseball came from Roosevelt to Wrigley during WWII as a way to keep the national pastime alive. According to Smith, Madonna's character in "A League of their own" was emulated after a real person - name changed to avoid having to add another line item to the expense sheet.

Lennons Sing National Anthem at Town Square

Ok, so Gail's no Yoko Ono...but it makes an awkward headline... Lennon Brothers and Gail...anywho, they were at the Branson Landing this weekend with a heartfelt rendition of the national anthem. Good times.
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College of the Ozarks President Jerry Davis Recovering well - Branson Missouri

College of the Ozarks president Jerry Davis is back in the saddle attending Armed Forces Day ceremonies at the Branson Landing this weekend. By the way (and I'll write more about this later) their were too many Veterans Day events for one man to attend in Branson. Davis was found in good spirits though his body isn't healing as quickly as his mind would like. "It's amazing, they have to crack open your sternum..." said Davis speaking of the open-heart surgery he underwent last month. His wife has secret plans to keep him in a house they own on the east coast. A couple months without work this summer should do the trick and he's planning on returning full throttle to campus in the fall.
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Branson Missouri Women in the Military honored

Women in the Military Poster 



Today, the official stance of the United States Military is that women aren't allowed to serve in combat roles. The reality is that women are serving in combat roles. To date, 76 women have died fighting for our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past few days I've taken time to speak with some of the women who've led the way. Their are some amazing stories coming from these female soldiers. On the front page of the Branson Independent I published the history of women's path of service. The photo's above are of Connie Stevens - one of only nine female generals to ever serve in the army and an interactive exhibit. The exhibit has clickable id's. When you click on a dogtag a biography of a woman who paid the ultimate price during the Iraq war is displayed.
Most of the women I talked to had but minor issues with the policy towards women during their service.
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Branson Missouri Health Code

I've come to learn that the city of Branson has a sophisticated system of addressing health issues. When a public health concern needs to be addressed, information is sent to the chamber of commerce (not the media). A few days ago, I called the health department with a concern. I had some flu-like symptoms which required a "double bucket" approach. As I inquired around the community I found out the flu had taken its toll on the community. After my phone call a representative from the county sent someone out for a sample of my.. urr ...byproduct. Thinking it would be a while for me to produce a specimen (or perhaps not wanting to handle a specimen)he tried to drive away. Fortunately, I was able to produce the goods and my biosolids are safely on their way to Jefferson City. I'm proud I've had the opportunity to do my part.

Woman Veteran's Week in Branson

Veteran Nona Harris and Whitney Byrd pose during registration at the Settle Inn.
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Branson's Market Prosperous - 1st Quarter Upswing


Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB Marketing Director Dan Lennon delivered a promising report to Branson alderman Monday May 14. First quarter regional economic indicators demonstrated a successful beginning to the year. Stone County, Taney County, and Indian Point sales tax revenues showed an increase over last year’s first quarter reports. Taney County showed a 17.7 percent increase over 2006 with sales tax figures totaling $2,243,000. Indian Point’s first quarter showed a 15.5 percent increase with $14,333 in sales tax collected. Stone County showed a more moderate increase of 3.48 percent with $335,512. An independent firm, Smith Travel Research, reported hotel bookings have increased 23.3 percent. Lennon shared each month varied and part of the upswing is attributable to Branson’s proximity to communities affected by winter ice storms. The city of Branson showed the greatest increase at 25.94 percent representing $1,383,807 in sales tax revenue from January through March.
Heavy interest from tourists seeking information about the Branson market was reported.. Lennon said 2007 inquiries are on pace to set a new record though double digit increases shouldn’t be anticipated. In 2006 inquiries increased nearly 200%.
Phone volume to the Branson Area Chamber & CVB showed a 21 percent decrease with radically increased inquiries coming from the Internet over the last two years. Lennon said the shift was inline with national booking trends and 2007 marks the first year online travel transactions will eclipse revenue from traditional methods booking travel services.
Lennon projected gasoline prices are a wildcard but won’t necessarily hurt Branson’s tourist traffic. Citing an industry expert, Lennon said if prices maintained high price levels average tourist expenditures could drop.

Stone County Version
Stone County’s economy is on track for a record year. First quarter sales tax records showed a 3.48 percent increase over last year’s first quarter revenue. Regionally, the numbers are even higher. Indian Point’s first quarter increased 15.5 percent over last year, Taney County showed a 17.7 percent increase and the city of Branson an impressive 25.94 percent increase.
The reported figures were delivered by Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Marketing Director Dan Lennon to Branson leadership last week. The regional tourism tax, which covers part of Stone County, funded a massive marketing blitz which is helping the regional economy gain momentum.
Some of the economic success experienced this winter is attributable to Lake’s area resorts servicing storm refugees while power outages ensued. Silver Dollar City reported a 10 year high in 2006. The Table Rock Lake Area Chamber reported a 9 percent increase in 2006 with $120,918,361 in direct sales. Cindy Morris of the chamber said tourism accounts for 1,931 Stone County jobs.
The Stone County economy kicks into gear during the summer months and marketing efforts are underway to increase stimulus during the fall season. An increased focus on advertising focused on outdoor recreation activities will encourage the possibility of another record breaking year for the Stone County economy.

Branson Alderpeople Photoshoot

This is the last shot I took with Alderman Stephen Marshall's camera. I borrowed it from him during a sightseeing tour with Branson city counci. Before last night's meeting city leaders posed for an official photo. The exposure you see was taken while the photographer setup the shot.
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Filling in the gaps - Taney County Courthouse

There's a story below. Pumping out press releases are a good idea - especially if you're a government entity. Reporting from press releases alone is just downright Un - American. Why? They're always a boast or a brag. For me, pulling a story from a press release alone is almost embarrassing - though in a bind they can save your backside. From now on I'm getting the backup data - especially on crime stories. The best way to get stories from the courthouse - be there. Since I've been covering the courts I've noticed more reporters showing up for "events". This is a positive movement and we (the press) need to be more educated and informed about the events that take place in the courtroom so we can give a proper critique instead of regurgitating "hype". If we don't - If someone doesn't, we're all in trouble .... maybe .... truth is ... Attorney's as a group have a passion for justice. Problem is they're all members of a union that cares more about profits than prophets.

The Taney County Prosecutor’s office announced all three members of a 2006 burglary ring are now in prison. Branson Harrison, 32 of Kirbyville, plead guilty last week on two felony counts relating to burglary charges receiving six years in a state penitentiary.
Richard L’Hommedieu, 42 of Branson Missouri plead guilty for his contribution and is scheduled for sentencing July 5.
The third member, Casey Moore 32 of Omaha, Ark., plead guilty and was sentenced to 16 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections on charges related to the burglary ring. Moore made regional headlines after escaping from the Taney County Jail mid-march. Moore received an additional seven years hard time for his escape from the Taney County Jail.

Accident's on Branson's 76 Boulevard

As I was walking across 76 Blvd I witnessed a collision. The two people were in shock and thus left there vehicles blocking 2 lanes of traffic. In a manner of minutes the whole strip could've been backed up for hours.
I've witnessed a lot of accidents lately - 2 in the last 48 hours. Tourism season is beginning which means traffic is increasing quickly. If you're on 76 and everyone is ok (please don't move if you're injured - try to get the vehicles out of the way of traffic.
** As public policy it would be nice if Branson PD was equipped with GPS devices. This way accidents can be identified and data can be collated by the engineering department. In this way - real public safety issues can be addressed on our roads and our urban planning designed to save a few more lives.

No More Anonymity in Taney County

This is a formal farewell to anonymity. It's gone. I was at the courthouse today and a woman runs up waving to me as I trotted across the courthouse sidewalk. "You need to update your voter registration.", she yells. Having lived in cities with a seven digit population count this struck me in a rather serious way.
It was like that all day. My low key apparel no longer shades me from identification. This isn't all bad. I was at the Christian County Courthouse on Wednesday with a bulky backpack which I often carry to house my laptop. I use to get searched all the time with courtesy calls made to publishers by local authorities - just to make sure I was legit. This doesn't happen anymore. I've been given a strange sort of permission to be who I am and do what it is I do.

Outback Cinco De Mayo Branson's Best Block Party

Cinco De MayoGood times. The Outback Pub which sits in midtown Branson hosts two major block parties every year. It's a time when old friends meet. There are people I only see at these once a year. Thats why I always go. Ok, and it's a good time. Because I write for the newspaper people are often afraid of "what I might do". This Cinco De Mayo, I had half a dozen people share that fear. If you read my post about journalist ethics. I'm sloppy with this medium though I use some of the guidelines below in my work.

I put some pressure on Branson officials to put the meetings online...
— Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public's business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.

The right to privacy:
— Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
— 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.

Senator Justus Pops Off - Castle Doctrine Debate

This is cracking me up. I'm listening to Branson native, Senator Jolie Justus D-Kansas City. Justus was punished for filibustering the MoHELA bill. She took a stab during debate over Branson's Senator Jack Goodman R-Mt. Vernon.
The debate is over Goodman's castle doctrine which says - if you shoot someone who's robbing your house - you won't have to face civil litigation.
Justus says during debate , "I don’t want all the guns taken away in my district because of retribution for debating the topic. Senator Graham D-Columbia and Justus were punished during the MoHELA sale losing $31 million and $15 million for projects slated for their districts for extending a filibuster.

currently joking about Branson Pirate football. :)

Free Internet Access in Branson, Missouri

1. Starbucks - Music City Center (Midtown Strip)
2. Panera Bread Company - (Midtown - off Strip)
3. Hilton Lobby - Downtown Branson
4. Gloria Jeans - Downtown Branson

Missouri's First Virtual School - Looking for Input for Taney County Times

Missouri will open registration for "virtual classes" starting on Monday. I'm punching out the data for the Branson Independent so local parents can get in on the program before the slots run out. You can register here. I'm interested in hearing from local educators and parents on the topic. It's an exciting experiment and will be interesting to see how it plays out.
State education officials will begin accepting applications next week for Missouri’s first "virtual classes," which are set to begin in August. A wide array of courses will be offered for Missouri students in grades K-5 and 9-12. Read more below.

The online registration process begins May 7 and will close May 29. Applications may be submitted only through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Web site.

The Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MoVIP) was authorized by state law enacted last year. Private vendors selected by the state will offer the online courses to students throughout the state. The classes will be taught by teachers who hold Missouri licenses.

State funds will make the MoVIP courses available at no cost for approximately 2,500 full- and part-time students. If the state-funded slots fill up, additional spaces will be available on a tuition basis. A separate registration period will be offered for tuition-based MoVIP courses.
Online registration opens at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, May 7. It closes at 8:00 a.m. May 29. Each student, family or school that applies should submit a single application for each student. Students may apply any time during the three-week window. The selection of students will be through a lottery process after the May 29 closing date.
At the elementary level, courses will be available in communication arts, math, science, social studies, art, music, Spanish, French and technology literacy.
At the high school level, course offerings will include English, algebra, geometry, biology, chemistry, American and world history, economics, Spanish and Latin; plus Advanced Placement courses in English literature, calculus, physics, U.S. history and art history.

Branson Missouri - CBS As the World Turns hanging with Andy Williams

As The World Turns has there plot line written. The producer of the soap opera is to the far right second to last in the back. As I understand it Andy Williams is going to be part of the action as one of the characters (Michael Landon's Daughter?) has aspirations to pursue a career in music. The plotline will integrate her going onstage with Williams the way ..what a stud...Williams still has it going on and the Moon River Restaurant does too. Place is swank. Good food - lot's of my exes hanging out (so you know he has good taste). I'll be filling in the blanks on this one after tonight. If you're in town - listen for the British accents - it's a big part of the As the World Turns posse.

Business Development Plan For Branson Growth

Today, I'm reviewing the master transportation plan. Listening to the last 6 hours of audio isn't as fun as it may seem. The head of Branson's engineering department is a man of exceptional character; however, his monotone matter of fact demeanor makes for not so pleasant listening...For a moment I want to get back to Mike Rankin. When I first met the guy he gave me the hebie jeebies (sorry Mike - it's the cowboy boots and those hard looks that look like they fire bullets). Since - we've actually got to sit down for a little while over the past few weeks. You read about the whole disclosure deal... (see two posts down) but here's an element missing from the story:
Rankin was personally sued, settling for $5 grand while the Australian's were working on their version of the Branson Landing. Mike Rankin told the City Council he "lives by a code" and refuses to break it. Personally, I respect that and so did (more importantly) Alderman Stephen Marshall. The issue is new agreements made and how things are handled moving forward.
The question is how is Branson going to move forward. The message to city council was a little bit wishy washy - since they didn't lay it down - perhaps because the perception of how the new council "think" - I thought I'd give you the perspective as I see it.
Tourism is the backbone of the Branson economy but other sectors are being developed. It's nice to have plenty of 8-10 dollar an hour jobs but some of us have families to feed. You can't really feed a family at that wage and with real estate values as high as they are - you can't expect to get ahead or have a quality of life greater than a large segment of our market best categorized as the working poor.
Representatives from Governor Blunt's office see Branson as an easy market. Low education levels and low mean wages are perfect for the manufacturing sector. It's a sigh of relief for state reps considering the demands of urban centers who want investment in risky - but sectors with high revenue potential such as Bio-tech. The beauty of projects such as the Montain Complex and Commerce Park is that it could lure a higher paying job market to the area. Now let's step back into the "midwestern work ethic" the Obama family was talking about last night. Let's say a family has a primary and secondary provider. The jobs being sought are for primary providers - 15 dollars an hour and up..

Branson Missouri's City Council Finishes Last Day of Orientation

We're reaching the first month marker and Branson's new city administration is finishing orientation. It's been interesting watching how things have progressed. An editor of another publication asked some interesting questions about the new administration. Soon, they won't be new. In fact, I struggle calling them that. Their personalities are showing and the direction they promised to take is interesting to watch. I'm listening to the the last six hours of their session and am going to be posting a review shortly.

Haygoods Flyover Branson

Shannanigans. Zack, often accompanied by a Haygood likes to fly these machines over Branson. Someone dropped a pumpkin in Lake Taneycomo...I've been holding this photo and will put up a few more.
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Branson Missouri - Corporate Confidentiality

“It’s my job to be well connected.,” said Mike Rankin, Branson’s economic development director. Debate over paid city administration’s duty to report activities ensued Tuesday, May 1, during the second and final orientation session for Branson’s new leadership.
Rankin claims over 20,000 emails are fielded annually from his office. Some of the inquiries come from large corporations who want to keep their interest in Branson secret during the discovery phase of their investigation into the local market. Many of Rankin’s leads come from the Chamber of Commerce and trade shows. Rankin is a registered lobbyist though reports from the Missouri Ethics Commission show he hasn’t spent a dime wooing legislatures. “I want to keep it that way,” says Rankin, “I spend a lot of time sitting in committees, I’m not there to wine and dine legislatures.” His activities with private companies are less regulated. In fact, communications with different business entities aren’t communicated to elected officials until they come to the attention of planning and zoning, a policy challenged by Branson’s elected leadership.
Bob McDowell found the idea of a developer requiring non-disclosure from city council particularly disturbing. “I don’t want my rights signed away,” said McDowell. Terry Dody said the issue of liability comes into play. According to Dody an elected official has protection from litigation and can’t be held to confidentiality agreements. Alderman Stephen Marshall questioned the legality of failing to disclose information to the board citing regulations affecting information availability in the private sector.
Mayor Raeanne Presley addressed the broader issue of controlled growth. Presley wanted to know what business sectors were being promoted and expressed concern that development projects were in a mature phase of development before elected officials are briefed. Rankin said, “I don’t cut deals, my job is to get their attention and encourage them to come to Branson.” Marshall believes city officials can help bring deals to fruition. Alderwoman Sandra Williams challenged the idea that a developer would be able to, “trust the city employees but not the elected leaders.” Presley promised to research the legal issues and Dody suggested a policy change could be made through local legislation.

Branson Independent Distribution - Good People

The Branson Independent is one of three newspapers distributed through Ozark Mountain Newspapers. Branson, Missouri has a unique market and demand for content is far different from the rest of Taney County. On the east side of the County a weekly paper called the Taney County Times has decent distribution. Silver Dollar City sits in Stone County which is covered by the Stone County Gazette.
I handle each medium differently. Here, I rarely edit and speak in 1st person (obviously that's inappropriate for a newspaper). As a reporter I don't think it's my job to insert opinion and try hard to present conflicting sides of issues. While taking a tour of the city with Branson's newly elected government officials I saw the Branson Daily Independent at every government facility. It left an impression on me and reminded me how important it is to be a good custodian of fact.
A couple weeks ago, while at a city planning meeting I let some frustrations come out. I've been pressuring the city of Branson to transfer digital information as opposed to print. It wasn't happening quick enough and I spoke sharply to a group of high ranking city employees. I had been up all night and walked nearly 12 miles before the meeting began. Thing is - in the backround these city employees were probably working hard to help me. Forget the requirements - what's owed or what I can legally demand - I believe they were trying hard to help me - which means a lot in my book - and by criticizing them by making my demands in a public setting was discouraging to them. I've felt horrible about that since the meeting.
Being a reporter means tearing down walls and cutting out windows but unnecessarily hurting people in the process...not who I want to be or what I want to do. Failing to report vital information to the citizens who trust you - thats equally harmful and one far more frequently committed.

Branson Missouri - No Abortion Clinics Here

He wanted the child. She didn't. She said,"If you wanna keep this kid you have to change the world." He couldn't change the world quick enough. The closest abortion clinic to Branson Missouri is three hours away. For her it wasn't close enough. For him it was a few more hours to hope.

Branson Missouri - Silver Dollar City Roller Coaster Footage

I usually only post video's I've shot but these were interesting. Silver Dollar City usually takes your camera away but these camera's were smuggled on board. A screamer sits behind them.