Hilton of Branson Window Cleaner


The windows of the Hilton Convention Center Hotel were being cleaned last week before landscaping was completed.
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Rick Huffman and Dan Ruda

The photo above is of Rick Huffman and Dan Ruda posing outside coucil chambers at city hall.
Huffman is currently utilizing three retail spaces at the Branson landing to book tours at his other properties. On the north side of the Landing property sits Ruda's storefront which is used to promote sells for Branson Hills. The southside of the Landing has been slow but promises to pick up foot traffic with the opening of Ernie Biggs this weekend.
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Labor Day in Branson - Live MDA Telethon Branson Landing - Young Doubliners Live at Waxy O Sheas Irish Pub - Micheal Goddard Live At Oh My Goddard

Branson is the place to be Labor Day weekend. Tourists are beginning to flood the town

Local journalist Brandon Cone wrote about the MDA telethon this week:

Bear said in addition to the live remote broadcasts of the MDA telethon from Branson Landing and a concert by M-Dock at Town Square several other area businesses would be participating in the fund raising effort.

The Titanic Museum will be making a $1 donation for every visitor they have the day of the telethon.

BODIES the Exhibition will be donating $4 for each visitor they have over Labor Day weekend.

The Baldknobbers would be holding a special show sometime that weekend to benefit MDA.

And Stone Hill Winery will have “tips for tours” to benefit the cause over the holiday weekend.

Micheal Godard will be at the "Oh My Goddard" Gallery at the Branson Landing

Here's Godard's Bio...

Michael Godard, the olive and martini artist

Oh My God...ard! These are usually the first words out of peoples' mouths when they view Michael Godard's artwork. Godard, known as the “Rock Star of the Art World” is currently the #1 best selling artist in the U.S. Since childhood Godard has had paint flowing thru his veins. He attended the University of Nevada in Las Vegas for Fine Arts and later attended The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

After college Godard began working as a freelance illustrator with such high profile clients as Coca Cola, Dodge, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Striking out on his own as an Artist, he started to get noticed for his unique take on the vices of life. He became the first artist commissioned in California to paint a life–sized cow, part of the “Cows on Parade” exhibition which appeared on the Today Show and Oprah. Godard has been featured on Television in HBO’s Cat House, A&E’s Criss Angel’s Mind Freak, Inked, and as of yet in an untitled feature movie.

Today many collectors of Godard’s art feel that his portrayal of fun is an exciting combination of imagination and humor which evoke a dramatic feeling. Paintings depicting drunken grapes, gangster olives, dancing strawberries, and flaming dice have taken the art world to proclaim” Michael Godard's paintings are incredible." Gallery owners and the public agree Godard is one of the most creative and versatile artists of our time.

Godard is very fortunate that painting has given him the opportunity to give back to others less fortunate. Philanthropy is very important to Godard. In 2006, aware of the fact that his daughter Paige’s illness gave her only two weeks to live, Godard, with her blessing, made time to perform at a charity event hosted by the Dallas Margarita Society. Godard painted in front of a crowd of over ten thousand people, raising an unheard amount of money in a single evening. Also during the short time he toured in 2006 on his “Magic, Mayhem and Martini Tour”, he raised over half a million dollars for charities focused on childhood illnesses.

Michael would like his fans to live an intoxicating life every day!

Branson Convention Center and Hilton (Photos 2 Weeks Before Completion)




They didn't hit the nail on the head but they were close. The photos above were taken two weeks ago. Though the Branson Convention Center officially opened two weeks ago, the final touches are still being but in place.
The Missouri Teachers Association held their annual meeting at the facility without a hitch. The first major event will be the Branson Collector Car Auction. Though they'll be the third group to hold an event at the facility they were the first to book the Branson Convention Center.
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Hilton's of Branson Executive Chef Nathan Read (Video)

Hilton's of Branson Executive Chef Nathan Read cooks two amazing dishes in 10 minutes from the Trofi, one of two restaurants he overseas in downtown Branson.
Trofi opened last week in the Branson Convention Center Hilton.

Thanks to Chef Read you no longer have to leave Branson for some good saganaki. The Mediterranean sampler is a vegetarians delight, which isn't easy to find in Branson. Best of all, the majority of items on the menu are under 10 dollars.

At the Liberty Tavern attached to the Hilton Boutique Hotel on the Branson Landing, Read recently changed the menu to hit price points palatable to more Branson tourists pocket book. Read says he changed the menu, "Without compromising quality" by adjusting portion sizes.

Watch Nathan Read cook two great meals in under 10 minutes (he had a little prepping help from Executive Suous Chef Robert Coston).. Just click play above..

Ernie Biggs Dueling Piano Bar - Branson, MO




Ernie Biggs had their soft opening tonight on the Branson Landing in time for Summer's Last Stand - Labor Day Weekend.
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Matt Blunts Student Safety Announcement From Branson

Blunt Safeguards Students' Safety

Announces Creation of Missouri Alert Network

BRANSON – Gov. Matt Blunt today announced a new tool to help secure safe learning environments for Missouri students and classrooms. At the first Missouri Conference on Coordinated School Safety and Security the governor announced the state is partnering with the Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA) to create the Missouri Alert Network.

“In order for our children to succeed in school we must provide them with a safe and secure learning environment,” Gov. Blunt said. “This innovative partnership between the state and the Missouri School Boards’ Association will allow state officials to make immediate contact with local school officials during an emergency who can then take all necessary action to protect our children and classrooms.”

“We are delighted to be able to provide this system to schools throughout Missouri,” said MSBA Executive Director Dr. Carter D. Ward. “A system such as this is a critical tool in our continuing effort to provide the safest possible environment for our students and staff.”

The Missouri Alert Network is a rapid notification system for K-12 schools and other entities, and would be activated in the event of a statewide emergency or other situation that might endanger the security of Missouri students. The network allows state officials to contact local schools within minutes of an emergency. The decision to activate the network is made by the Department of Public Safety.

There is no cost to school districts to join in the system for one contact and participation is open to all K-12 public and non-public schools in Missouri. Additionally, options will be available for law enforcement, other emergency responders, and higher education institutions to take part in the network.

Gov. Blunt recently unveiled recommendations from his Campus Security Task Force created in the wake of the tragic events at Virginia Tech. The task force recommended increased communication among local and university law enforcement; university and college faculty, staff and students; and state and federal partners who could assist in the event of an emergency. The report also recognizes mental health as a key function of any emergency operations plan and the need for more widespread education about the mental health needs of responders and victims.

In addition, the governor introduced a new approach to homeland security in Missouri that for the first time officially includes the education community. He added education representatives to the Regional Homeland Security Oversight Committees and called on educators to get involved in school safety planning. The governor also took part in “Enhancing School Safety: A Dialog on Targeted School Violence.” The Internet based program provided a forum for the state, schools, parents and law enforcement to discuss the issue of school safety and goals for keeping our schools and children safe.

Since taking office Blunt has secured more than half a billion dollars in new funding for Missouri students and classrooms. The funding helps ensure schools have the resources they need to provide a world class education.

Two injured running from Branson Police

They were trying to outrun the police on a motorcycle.

Fathers Rights Activist Protests At Lincoln Memorial

Matt O' Connor is my hero. You've probably never heard of him, but many of you can relate.
Though a marketing consultant by trade, O'Conner has a higher mission which the British courts got in the way of. He's a father.
As in many divorces, O'Conner's three children were used as a pawn. Internationally, courts reward this type of behavior with cash and in the finest court rooms you can find the baby brokers. Children are bought and sold everyday.
O'Connor, as many Senators and Congressmen in the United States, supports equal parenting. The essence of the philosophy is this - Children deserve a father and mother - even after a divorce. It's been a few years since I've corresponded with O'Connor or followed up on his organization called Fathers For Justice, but I remember what lengths he went to so his estranged children know their father loves them.
He dressed as his children's favorite superhero costume and protested by climbing atop a ferris wheel.
The camera's were everywhere and his children got the message he was unable to deliver, "Your father loves you."
I don't know what direction the organization has taken, but I found a video of an action taken at the Lincoln Memorial.
Though these men went to jail, what prison could be greater than being alienated from your own children?
Children alienated from their fathers are more likely to be the victims of sexual assault, suicide, imprisonment and drug use.

Cox Health will no longer provide vital air support to Branson Area

Saving the lives of Branson residents was just too expensive. According to the article, keeping a helicopter at the Taney County Airport wasn't profitable:

The change was a financial decision, Cunningham said.

Colorado-based Air Methods, which contracted with Cox to supply the helicopter, pilot, mechanic and billing services, recently told Cox officials that it was not meeting financial goals.

Seventy percent of patients served in the Branson area paid by Medicaid or Medicare or were self-pay because they had no insurance, Cunningham said.

When Cox and Air Methods looked at the financial situation, the enterprise was headed for a projected total annual loss of about $1.4 million, said Tyler Hedden, Cox vice president of clinical services. Cox would have lost an estimated $700,000 annually.

KSPR promo shoot photo

Joe and Christine Daues were in Christian County this afternoon shooting a promo with for KSPR which will launch in 11 days.

KSPR preparing to launch new televistion format (1 of 2)

Springfield 33's ratings are nothing to brag about. On the other hand KY3 claims the position of top dog in Southern Missouri - seemingly with their eyes closed.

Exit Piedmont Media who sold Springfield 33 to KY3 Inc. in a deal that closed last week. The new ABC affiliate will be known as KSPR - the call letters of "the channel formerly known as Springfield 33".

Joe Daues was excited about the station's approach to news which he promised will include analysis and feisty commentary from his co-anchor and wife Christine. They've already made a pact to leave heated debate at work.

According to Joe Daues, the couple pitched the idea of a husband and wife news team to several stations throughout the Midwest.

Chatterboy Ron Davis will serve as KSPR's #2 man - perhaps, he's working on the interactive elements the station says they're working on.

Big shout-out to KSPR Weekend Anchor Michelle Sherwood. Congrats (We're reserving the right to put up another post for you!)

Journalism professor Andrew R. Cline
once told me a transcript from an entire half-hour newscast wouldn't even fill the page of one broadsheet. What and how are they going to fill in more content with the same amount of time?

As I understand it they'll be moving into the same building as KY3 over the next year. I wonder how long it will take for the wall to fall?

Last comment - A husband and wife team who will only fight on television should make for good programming.

Granny Basketball World Championship to be held in Branson, MO

Next year the Granny Basketball World Championship will be held in Branson.

A 50 to 77 year old women's team in Iowa challenged a much publicized Granny Basketball team in Louisiana.

Apparently,in Granny Basketball, an underhanded shot (Granny Style) gets you three points.

This event should be tons of fun. As we come off the publishing of crime stats last week, I think it's important to note that at one time - seniors robbing gift shops was the most reported crime.

Missouri Abortion Facility Requirements

"Women's health" is the issue Missouri Democrats and Republicans use to justify abortion regulations. The argument that abortion rights are a women's health issue has been used by Democrats for years but Republicans across the nation have used health concerns as a means to restrict abortion availability.

In Texas, the legislature attempted to restrict abortion under a "Women's Health Initiative". In 1993 the legislature passed legislation that gave women, "the right to know." The legislation states:

# A doctor who is to perform an abortion (or the doctor's agent) must tell the woman that benefits may be available to help with medical care before, during, and after childbirth.
# The father is required to help support the child whether or not he has offered to pay for an abortion.
# Government and private agencies can counsel the woman in preventing pregnancy, or refer her to a doctor for medications or devices to prevent pregnancy, including emergency contraception for victims of rape and incest.
# The woman has the right to look at printed information. If she chooses to see the material the law describes, the doctor (or the doctor's agent) shall give her a copy at least 24 hours before the abortion is scheduled. The doctor (or agent) may instead mail her the materials, with delivery restricted to her, at least 72 hours before the abortion is scheduled.

In Missouri, new guidelines that would have required substantial upgrades to abortion providers at a high expense, were put on hold by a federal judge in Kansas City. Planned Parenthood of Kansas City successfully gained a temporary injunction blocking implementation of new rules putting more abortion clinics under Missouri's stricter requirements for surgical facilities this afternoon.

A hearing on whether to make the injunction permanent is scheduled for September 10th.

Jane Drummond Director of Missouri's Department of Health and Senior services issued a press release this afternoon citing Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon's campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood and pro - Planned Parenthood stance provides a conflict of interest.


Skateboarding is a crime in Historic Downtown Branson

The first reading of a bill making skateboarding a crime in Historic Downtown Branson will be read at Branson's alderman meeting tonight.

An alternative proposal making Historic Downtown Branson a "high ollie zone" will not be presented tonight.
Branson is the only city in Taney County that has a city skate park. The halfpipe can be used by rollerblade and skate enthusiasts free of charge.

Missouri's New Property Rights Czar

Late Thursday, Governor Matt Blunt issued a press release regarding the creation of a new position to protect Missouri citizens from eminent domain ordinances. He labeled the new position "Property Czar" and assigned Paul Anthony Martin to the position. The press release quotes Martin:
"The more information we can provide Missourians the better prepared they will be to stand up for their property ownership rights and protect themselves from eminent domain abuse," said Mr. Martin. "Eminent domain abuse thrives in the shadows of misinformation and lack of knowledge. In this position, I will provide information to Missourians about their property rights, cast light on unscrupulous abusers and ensure property owners have a thorough understanding of the schemes and tactics that abusers use to hurt people."

Missouri Political News Service released his salary $60,000 and phone number 573-751-4857.


Politicians Deciding how to spend tax money voters have yet to approve

$90 million in revenue from a new tax has municipal leaders, non-profit groups and geopolitical entities within Taney County moving to get a slice.

The tax proposal, doomed to failure, regardless of the best efforts of two local journalists (three newspaper employees) who are directly paid by the special interests pushing the tax - gained legs.

Two major projects, an east west freeway corridor and a new bridge were tacked on to the proposed levy - doubling the taxation amount and providing a marketing ploy voters might be likely to bite on.


Sharing a little bit of the plunder with the west side of Taney County should help a few local politicians buy-in.
Some of the money is going to fund vital projects, but the millions that aren't provide a problem - they could come at an expense to vital infrastructure we'll need in the future - those that could save lives.
Expect a big announcement from the Taney County Commission Monday.

Mike Huckabee visits Branson on Fundraising Mission

Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee traveled to the home of Charlie and Scottie Earls, owners of the Branson Vacation Channel and three local radio station, on a fund raising mission.

KY3 Political Correspondent David Catanese reported a photo and handshake sold for $1,000 a piece. Huckabee hoped to raise $40k from the event.

The former Arkansas governor ranks third with war coffers millions behind Mitt Romney and Rudy Guiliani. He ranked 2nd in Iowa's straw poll two weeks ago.

Scottie told Catanese she's met and spoke with candidate Rudy Guiliani and "prefers a candidate from the Midwest."

Video Source

Kathryn Buckstaff

Earlier this year, a couple hours after midnight, while looking through archived newspapers an editor, publisher and I were debating who the best writer in the area was.

I said Kathryn Buckstaff and I stand by the statement.

Graced with spectacular vernacular, Buckstaff has published three books, several magazine articles and hit the front page of the Springfield News-Leader on a regular basis.

To Buckstaff, reporting was all about relationships. She had the exclusive on some great stories and earned loyalty from much of Branson's top brass.

Her stories were the most likely to be framed, should an area business have a keepsake from a regional paper.

Her love for the community made some stories difficult to cover.

Mike Brittain, member of the council of elders told me it's impossible to write without bias and there were moments when I challenged hers - she politely responded - thanks for reading. Read I did.

She hated politics - reporting was far less a love than writing.

She hated having her picture taken but - if you took a shot anyway chances are you'd catch her smiling.

I can personally say, I've learned a lot from Kathryn Buckstaff

Ron Davis reports the Springfield News-Leader eliminated the Branson Bureau after 20 years. Kathryn Buckstaff was the Branson Bureau Chief.

Media Transitions - Old and New

Eric the Cyborg Wise joins the ranks of Southwest Missouri Media bloggers.

Ron Davis is always reliable.

Grandma Throwin' Down

Granny Geek says Andy Williams is a no cojone packin' wuss after backhanding Democrats twice.

New Media News Services

Branson Agent
News about TV (Unlike the stock, not all down) :)

Matt Blunt - Pushes Special Session Agenda Through Missouri House Brings Sunshine to Missouri Supreme Court Judicial Selection Process

As predicted, Matt Blunt successfully pushed his economic development agenda and bridge repair plan through the Missouri House of Representatives.
Though Blunt has received much criticism for challenging the Missouri Plan for electing Supreme Court judges, editorial boards around the state are going to have trouble criticizing Blunt for putting the public where his mouth is on the Sunshine Law. Blunt released interview responses for the Missouri Supreme Court candidates today for the public to review.

Branson Crime Stats 2007 Through July

The Branson Police Department crime stats for July are in. The stats were posted this morning on Branson Agent and a compilation of trends have been posted on the Branson Edge.

To view stats click on the links below:
Branson Police Department Crime Stats through July 2007

Branson Edge Crime Stats and Trends through July 2007

Hot Hits Coffee House to open in Historic Downtown Branson


The Hot Hits Coffee House is two weeks away from opening in Historic Downtown Branson. An 85 seat theatre will be managed by Eric Rico Johnson aka Rico J.

Monday - Saturday lineup:

8:30 a.m. Free Bingo
10:00 a.m. Isle of Dreams (inspirational/gospel - religous theme)
2:30 p.m. Rico J Presents the Hot Hits Experience - With a Special Tribute to the Platters (50's 60's and 70's music)
5:00 p.m Illusions at Large (magic show)

Monday - Wendsday PM lineup:
8:00 p.m. Chico Vegas of the Drifters

Thursday - Saturday
8:00 p.m Rico J Presents The Hot Hits of Motown

The coffeehouse is a joint ventrue between Rico J productions and Mary Lue Ball. Johnson has performed in 5 Branson shows and Ball has been in business for 55 years.
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Nathan Keck Rocks Branson

The video above is of Underground Blues Division front man Nathan Keck who has a habit of making out with his guitar Jimi Hendrix style. Most likely to be seen in the back of a Cadillac - Keck is a man you have to watch closely - when he's on stage it's hard not to.

Twenty-two year old Keck has a likable - even humble demeanor matched with an on-stage alter ego that could put a young Jim Morrison to shame. He's been picking up gigs from Branson to Hot Springs.

The video post above really doesn't do him justice - he's a must see and will be performing at Waxy O Sheas on the 31st (10 days away so mark your calendar). He makes guest appearances Monday night in Hollister at the Lion's Den to jam with his friends.
Go to the show - keep your girlfriend in sight - enjoy the show.

Matt Blunt - Bridges , Economic Development and Predators

The Governor's bridge repair and economic stimulus agenda passed without controversy through committee today and is expected to pass through the House to the Missouri Senate by Thursday.
In a discussion with a reporter for ABC several months ago I was asked, "What more can we do to these people." He was talking about sexual predators and Governor Matt Blunt seems to have found the answer and made a statement today in favor of adding Internet data to the offender database:
In a press release sent by Governor Blunt's office said,
"We must continue to fight to keep our children safe from sexual predators," Gov. Blunt said. "I am committed to combating devious criminals who use the Internet to attack Missouri's children and will again support tough legislation to stop sexual predators and create harsher punishments for those who commit horrific acts against our young children. I applaud Rep. Tom Dempsey for offering this important legislation to help in the fight against sex offenders."

The logo above is a character created at Brigham Young University (the only school that beat CofO in Princeton's list of most "sober" colleges). Faux Pax joins with McGruff, the dog who invited children to take a bite out of crime in the 1980's in a cartoon series about Internet safety.
Matt and his wife Malanie were in Kansas City today promoting Faux Pax the Techno Cat and the state's campaign for children's safety on-line.

Full Releases
First Family and Faux Pax the Techno Cat promote Internet safety

Blunt wants e-mail addresses of sexual offenders

Carnahan Announces Branson Country is Missourian's favorite state Music

If you love Jazz you can find it in Kansas City. If you love blues - you need to spend some time in St. Louis. But if you want to listen to Missourian's music of choice you'll need to come to Branson.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced results from “Choose Your Favorite Missouri Music” mock Election which her office sponsored at the State Fair.
Three thousand voters participated in this year’s singsational election which stayed in tune with the overall State Fair theme: “It’s Show Time!”

“It was good to hear we had such a high turnout even though the heat was unrelenting this year,” Carnahan said. “It was also great to see kids voting for their favorite Missouri music, and I hope that, when they reach the legal age, voting becomes a lifelong habit for them.”

Fairgoers overwhelming selected Branson Country music, which received 56.4% of the vote in a four way race. Rounding out the election results, Ozark Bluegrass came in a distant second with Kansas City Jazz and St. Louis Blues not too far behind. Traditionally, the state fair mock elections serve as a way to keep Missourians involved in the voting process during a down time in the election cycle.

“The biennial mock election isn’t just about generating interest in the issue. It also serves Missourians by bringing them in contact with the type of voting machines that are used in Missouri elections,” Carnahan said. “With a big election cycle fast approaching in 2008, it is important that Missourians have confidence in their elections and feel comfortable using their voting machines.”

This year’s mock election generated twice the voter turnout as 2005. The official election results out of 3,000 votes cast were: Branson Country 1,692, Ozark Bluegrass 553, Kansas City Jazz 396 and St. Louis Blues 359.

Turner Report

I had the opportunity to read a pre-press edition of Randy Turner's new book, named after his blog the Turner Report.

Even though I had only four hours sleep before I started reading the draft, I had a hard time putting it down. If you're a blogger or journalist this book is a must read.

Life is too short and too interesting for fiction. Turner gives a behind the scene look at what reporters should be doing. One of Turner's strong points is that he does his homework - something few reporters in our area do. In fact, some local journalists wouldn't know what investigative journalism was unless someone distributed it in a press release.

Turner takes the hard route and we need more reporters to follow his lead. His students will be proud to learn (he's a teacher at Diamond Middle School in Joplin) that Turner goes to great lengths to complete his homework.

The book gives great insight to his methods, pitfalls, personal struggles and victories in pursuing truth. Here's an excerpt from the book:

What was not being mentioned, and should have been, is that many of the biggest stories start with people who are unhappy about the way things are going. Do they have an ax to grind? In many cases, yes. Does that place their stories off limits? It shouldn’t. Reporters just have to be careful to make sure their stories are not coated with the same bias that their sources have.

I truly hope the day will come when our local journalists attempt to write with the excerpt above in mind. Sadly, when journalists are receiving direct payoffs - the whole industry suffers.

I have no doubt Turner's book will be a great success and can't wait to finish the last chapters.

College of the Ozarks in 2008 Edition of Princeton Review’s BEST 366 COLLEGES

Parents of College of the Ozarks students - or perspective parents - must be really eating the Princeton Review's take on CofO.

College of the Ozarks is included in the following top 20 lists:

#4 – Scotch and Soda, Hold the Scotch
#4 – Stone-Cold Sober Schools
#4 – Got Milk?
#6 – Future Rotarians and Daughters of the American Revolution
#7 – Students Most Nostalgic for Ronald Reagan
#10 – Students Pray on a Regular Basis
#10 – Town-Gown Relations are Great
#11 – Don’t Inhale
#12 – Best College Theater

View Full Press Release:


If members of the Combined Ozark Multi-Jurisdictional Enforcement Task Force (COMET) are looking for job security - they have it.

Having had great success with reducing the number of home grown meth-amphetamine cooking operations in South Eastern Missouri appears to have increased the complexity for law enforcement.

Meth is and continues to be a problem. Cooks have become increasingly sophisticated and byproducts further away from anything regulated or designed to have compatibility with the human body. Think household gin during prohibition, with dynamite grade combustion scenarios and a thousand times more addictive.

Junkies faces are easily identifiable with sunken cheeks and bulging eyes as if they were watching the climax of a horror flick.

The panicked look of Taney County addict reveals the story of COMET's recent busts. The cycle begins again. The poisonous fruits - meth's core ingredients - begin flowing north through the Arkansas border.

Meth's victims ensure demand rises faster than supply can be regulated.

Since regulations have slowed Missouri production, demand has triggered new supply routes through the Mexican border providing high grade - as many addicts call it - Nazi Grade product.

Though meth addiction permeates social and economic barriers its dominance lays clearly within the environment of the very poor - unlike Meth's sister - cocaine.

Cocaine supply is limited to smaller circles and seems to provide a greater challenge for police and seems to flow with relative safety.

The Taney County Prosecutor's office and 38th Circuit Judges are trying to determine the difference between addicts and dealers. The strategy is to treat addicts medically and increase sentencing and responsibility for suppliers.

One case, or experiment - involves prosecuting a meth-dealer with Murder charges. The legal precedent hasn't been fully established but has a favorable outlook.

They are attempting to prosecute Adam Larkin on second degree murder charges. The Taney County Prosecutor's office asserts Larkin supplied Keith Peckinpaugh with meth-amphetamines resulting in Peckinpaugh's overdose and death.

On the treatment side, drug courts seem to be an effective alternative for addicts - if they can be viewed as victims. The program usually involves 30 - 60 days shock time with a year of counseling and other mechanisms - which include monthly visits with Judge Mark Orr. They try to get to the root of the problem. The strongest argument for the programs success in reducing "crack babies". Department of Corrections stats state over 35 Taney and Christian county children have been born drug free in the last year.

The picture above was taken in June 2007 of a meth-addict prying out a tooth. At first she didn't want the picture shot, I purchased pizza for her and her children and promised not to publish her whole face.

Andy Warhol Print of Chinese Communist Leader Mao Zedong Quickly Removed

The fuzzy photo posted was shot at Andy Williams Moon River Grill on the 76 strip. The painting hung for less than two weeks before a couple Korean War Veterans complained.
The print was quickly removed and is reportedly sitting in Andy Williams garage.
Another Andy Warhol print, the famous Marilyn Manroe which has an identical format remains.
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Blunt Calls Special Session to Repair State Bridges and Pass Economic Development Legislation

Governor Matt Blunt made a proclamation Thursday August 16 calling Missouri Senators and Representatives back to Jefferson City for a special session starting at 1:00 pm August 20th.
Blunt’s message began with dialogue about the transportation infrastructure. At the top of his list was 800 bridges across the state in need of repair. He calls for a single contract construction project dubbed the Safe and Sound Bridge Program lasting for five years and beginning as soon as possible to repair the states bridges.
Blunt vetoed House Bill 327 during the session that ended just two months ago and said the bill would have broken his promise of “wise and prudent” spending. Blunt cites excessive and unquantifiable expense as his reason for crushing the economic development legislation. Blunt said filure to pass a prudent bill for economic development constitutes and immediate economic threat to the well-being of the economy of the state of Missouri.
Blunt asks for 35 changes to Missouri Law. Here's a brief overview:

Charitable Organization Assistance: Sections 1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 21, 24, 28, 30, 32, 33 Adds charitable organizations requirement elegibility for a wide variety of tax credits through different state programs.

Ticket Scalping: Section 2, Prohibits a city or county from prohibiting the sales or resale of tickets for admission to any legal event at any price. Fees associated with the sale or resale should be permitted. Repeals ticket scalping as defined in section R 578.395

Tax Increment Financing
(TIF) : Sections 3,4,5 Defines the term “Greenfield” as it relates to TIF. Creates countywide TIF commissions for Jefferson County, St. Charles County, St. Louis County and Franklin County and prohibits new TIF projects within St. Louis and any county subject to the authority of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.

Distressed Land Tax Credit: Section 6. Allows a tax credit for property development projects with a 75 acre minimum. Areas that qualify must be located in a Missouri HUD-qualified census tract or a Missouri distressed community. The program has a 10 million dollar per year cap.

Beef Cattle Tax Credit: Gives a tax credit for farmers who breed fatter cows. The legislation gives the Missouri Agricultural Small Business Development Authority the ability to waive up to 25 percent of the 200-pound added weight requirement in the event of a federally declared disaster. The bill would sunset before 2017.

New Market Tax Credit
: 16 Section 135.750 modifies eligibility requirements and adds $3 million to the annual cap on credits from $1.5 million to a 4.5 million max.

Film Production Tax Credit
: 17 Increases annual tax credit cap from $1.5 million to $4.5 million.

Enhanced Enterprise Zones: 18,19,20 Section 135.950 defines work requirement conditions for a person to be defined as an employee including health insurance and 1,000 minimum hours per year. Section 135.963 allows exemption for industrial or warehouse buildings contructed by a public entity or a private entity on land leased from a public entity. Section 135.967 increases cap on tax credits from $7 million to $14 million.

Raw Materials Used in Auto manufacturing: Allows a “rebuttable presumption that the raw materials used in auto manufacturing contain at least 25 percent recovered materials.

Schools: 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 Allows MO higher Education Scholarship Donation Fund credits to be sold and transferred and charitable organizations to definition. Allows for a Vocational School Districts in 11 Southeast Missouri counties. Allows a 20 year extension on the Community College New Job Training Program.

Quality Jobs Program
– Redefines and qualifies companies eligible with geographic perimeters and definitions for the term “employee” as well as wage and insurance provisions. Section 620.1881 would increase the annual tax credit cap from $12 million to $14 million.

The session also allows the Senate to consider appointments to boards, commissions, departments, divisions and other government bodies that require advice and consent of the Senate.

Branson Convention Center Open

Though the Branson Convention center is officially open, the groundbreaking party won't happen until next month.
Over the past couple of days a major surge in approving the grounds aesthetics has been underway. Disregarding the heat wave, trees were planted, sod was laid and even the Hilton Hotel pool was filled.
A digital sign was placed over the walkway from the convention center to the newly built parking structure were some of the last minute touches visibly changing the presentation of the structure.

Branson City Officials Meet With County Health Department to Continue Merger Discussions

Branson City Council met with the Taney County Health Department for round 4 in merger discussions. In the (choppy) video above Linnea Smith, who has been trying to retire for some time now, speaks about the benefits of the departments merging and formats that have been successful for other municipalities in the state.
The Taney County Health Department receives funding through a tax levy supplemented through grant money. The Branson Health Department is funded through Branson's General Revenue Fund and through outsourcing services to neighboring cities.
Though seperate, the two entities work as a cohesive unit in many regards. Smith supports the merger which she believes could save money through reducing administration overhead.
One of the major goals is to get county code up to speed. The city of Branson is far ahead of the county when it comes to "health law". Jeff Merrell, Taney County's Prosecuting Attorney has been asked about health law enforcement. Currently, no mechanisms exist to issue tickets for health violations in the county - something health officials hope will change. County officials believe extending services will eventually result in an increased tax levy to maintain county wide coverage.
Round five of merger discussions will ensue in September of this year.

Silver Dollar City Store At Branson Landing

Silver Dollar City boarded the Branson Landing train last week to extend ticketing delivery in Branson proper. The rented space on the southern side of the Landing near Bass Pro allows tourists to purchase tickets for all of Herschend Family Entertainment properties in the Branson area including: Dixie Stampede, White Water, Silver Dollar City, Showboat Branson Belle, Celebration City and Ride the Ducks.
Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE) recently began a Ride the Ducks route on Lake Taneycomo which launches into the lake from the southern parking lot of the Branson Landing outdoor mall.
The HFE store features six separate booths where visitors can watch commercials displaying features of each area HFE property. The one stop shop lets visitors purchase tickets onsite which employees say can save customers time.

Judge refuses to set bail in Carnahan Case

Kathee Baird reports: Judge Mark Fitzsimmons will not set bail for Gerald Carnahan due to his international connections and repeated violent felonies...

Branson Music Show Pioneer,Bessie Mae Presley Passes Away At Age 84

Branson, MO — Bessie Mae Presley, 84, of Branson, passed away peacefully at Skaggs Community Health Center on Sunday, August 12, 2007. The matriarch of Branson’s nationally renowned musical family and owners of Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Bessie Mae courageously battled pulmonary fibrosis and diabetes for the past several years. With a laugh in her voice and a twinkle in her eye until near the very end, she left this Earth in the way she wished — surrounded by members of her large, loving family.

Born Bessie Mae Garrison near Cleveland, OK. on July 4, 1923, she and her twin brother, Jesse, were two of eight children. The family moved back to Alpena, AR. in the late 1930s, where Bessie Mae completed high school in three years. Upon graduation, she moved to Springfield, MO. to attend Drauhon Business College. It was at Springfield’s Doling Park (at the bumper car rides) that she met her husband-to-be, Lloyd Presley. They were married on November 4, 1942 and were nearly inseparable for almost 65 years. The couple, with their four children, lived in Springfield for the first 25 years of their marriage.

In 1967, Lloyd and Bessie Mae moved to Branson, and along with their children, Deanna, Gary, Janice, Steve, Deanna’s husband David Drennon and Gary’s wife Pat, opened the Mountain Music Theater (now Presleys’ Country Jubilee) on Branson’s Highway 76. Theirs was the first music theater on what was then a lonesome stretch of asphalt, a far cry from the entertainment mecca Branson is today. The entire family continued to work numerous outside jobs in the early years. Bessie Mae’s steadfast encouragement and tireless dedication inspired the family to persevere year after year as they watched their business grow. Although never appearing on stage, Bessie Mae’s work behind the scenes was a major contributor to the theater’s success. Bookkeeping, sewing costumes and selling concessions were among her many jobs through the years. In the last few years, the job she loved the most was greeting the many friends and fans that attended the show.

On June 30, 2007 the Presley family celebrated their 40th anniversary of live performances in Branson. Bessie Mae, together with the other members of her family, was honored by Missouri’s Governor Matt Blunt, the State Legislature, City of Branson, the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Taney County Commissioners for their outstanding contributions to the entertainment industry in Branson.

Bessie Mae was beloved by not only her loyal and tight-knit family, but by the Branson community and the many friends she had come to know through her work at the theater over the years. Always ready to help those who might require a hand, she consistently placed her needs behind those of family and friends. It could easily be said that Bessie Mae Presley never met a stranger…but if she did, they did not remain a stranger for long.

Funeral services for Mrs. Bessie Mae Presley will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 16, 2007 at the Tri-Lakes Church in Branson. Visitation will be held from 4p.m. to 6p.m. on Wednesday, August, 15, 2007 at Greenlawn Funeral Home in Branson. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorials be made to:

Skaggs Community Health Center Foundation

In Memory of Bessie Mae Presley

P.O. Box 650

Branson, MO. 65615

Phone: (417) 348-8002

Officials say, "We don't need no stinking press!"

Joy. Alderman Jack Purvis and Stephen Marshall met up with me in the parking lot of Branson City Hall to send me home with some good news.

We don't need no stinking press....

It's the best news I've heard all day. Purvis believes the press could do a better job of delivering the good news about Branson. Purvis is talking about a community of believers. He's talking about a place where the community comes together to help each other - without tax increases - without an official resolution - without official prompting - doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do.

As we grow, it's possible that some become disconnected with the core values that made Branson such a great place to live.

Purvis talks about the families who the community gathered together for a benefit because something happened - perhaps an act of God - counteracted by another act of God dwelling in the citizens hearts.

We, the press, sometimes miss these stories.....this is where Marshall sets the record straight. "The twelve apostles didn't need it."

Good happens - and sometimes we fail to report it. Marshall and Purvis remind me that we're blessed to live in this community.

Personally, I think the whole story is important. If you pay attention you'll notice Branson is a really bad place to commit a crime - they're usually solved very quickly. We need to address problems so we can solve them as a community. We report them - good and bad - some stories are easier to obtain. I can study crime reports daily. Can anyone tell me the current trends of community goodwill towards men?
Acts of compassion, though as common (maybe more common) than some of the crime stories you see below, happen everyday though most citizens fail to report them. As a result you don't see them often in your daily paper.
But, we need these stories - the community needs these stories to strengthen their faith.
Hearing Purvis and Marshall was story enough for me to take time to write
tonight. They're right, we don't need no stinking press to do the right things.

Presley Matriarch Passes - Branson Mourns

       The Presley's are Branson's first family which makes Bessie our first lady. The chronicles of the Presley family's legacy in Branson is being documented by her son Steve in a book that will be released later this year. This book now holds new meaning as the first 40 years of the Presley's show in Branson represents the final chapter in Bessie Presley's life. Bessie and Lloyd Presley are part of the first generation who helped our town become "the community that could".
We all owe a great deal of gratitude to the Presley's for their endurance, vision and dedication to creating the community Branson is today.
Our hearts go to the family and all of us mourn with them today.

Stabbing at Branson Landing

The Branson Police Department is investigating an incident that occurred just before 9:45 p.m. Sunday evening near the Bar Louie’s restaurant on the Branson Landing. Witnesses told officers they had observed three men on the ground in a physical altercation, with two of the men on top of the third. Officers were told that the man on the ground had pulled out a knife and was believed to have wounded one of the men on top of him. Information was provided that the three men had earlier been seen together inside Bar Louie’s but all parties involved had left the scene prior to officers arriving. A short time later, officers made contact with a male subject at Skaggs Community Health Care Center who was suffering from knife wounds. The 25-year old male from Hollister confirmed to police that he had been involved in the incident but claimed that he did not know the person who wounded him. The male who was wounded refused to cooperate further in the investigation. He was examined at Skaggs Hospital and later transferred to a hospital in Springfield for further treatment.

The investigation continues at this time. Anyone with any information concerning the incident is asked to contact the Branson Police Department at 334-3300 or call the department’s CATCH line at 334-1085.

The information posted above is the direct report from the Branson Police Department.

Bar Louie management noted no physical altercations occurred inside the bar and have promised to cooperate fully with the police.

Though little blood was found at the crime scene, Branson Landing security quickly cleaned any physical traces of the incident.

Branson Visitor Demographics - Travel Trends to be Presented by Branson Chamber

Ross Summers of the Branson/Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau will make his quarterly presentation to Branson City Council. The presentation is part of the monthly obligation of the organization as they manage marketing dollars generated through the city's tourism tax.

Highlights of Branson Chamber Presentation to Board of Alderman
2007 revenues are moderately higher due to an increase in pricing rather than growth of tourists coming to the Branson market.
Year to date growth of the travel market is modest with a mere 0.9% increase over last years numbers which were very strong - representing a 2.4% increase over 2005.
The Chamber will report that travel experts are projecting a 1.6% increase in trip volume for the year 2007. On the domestic front, travel industry growth is strongest on the West and East Coast. Due to a weak manufacturing sector Midwest urban centers aren't experiencing growth.
Nation al resort hotel room demand is down 1.1% below 2006. Hawaii is down 8.2% and Florida is down 2.7%. Ohio visitors are up 1.1%, Illinois is up 1.2% and Tennessee is up 0.5%.

Monthly United States Hotel Room demand is somewhat of a rollercoaster with low numbers Dec 2006 - Feb 2007 were down and March 2007 - June 2007 Up. June was the strongest month with a 2.8% increase over last year.

Room Damand Variance by City Last 12 Months (Source: Smith Travel Research)
Altanta -2.8%
Chicago 1.4%
Dallas -0.2%
Houston 2.5%
Los Angeles 1.1%
Minneapolis 2.8%
Nashville 1.4%
New York 3.5%
Orlando 0.1%
San Diego -0.1%
San Francisco 2.3%
St. Louis 3.0%
Tampa -1.5%

Branson room demand is exceeding national and state averages as well as price per room.

Gasoline prices are continuing to gobble discretionary income of the middle class. For someone making $30,000 per year gasoline takes 31% up 18% in 2000.

How far do Branson visitors travel?
61% of travel in excess of 300 miles
24% travel 101-300 miles
15% under 100 miles

60% of visitors are adults and 40% are families. The percentage of families coming to Branson is on a 5 year high in 2007.

First time visitor ratio is down and 82% of our visitors are repeat customers.

86% watch a show while they're in Branson with an average of 3.66 shows per party

Average Adult age of Branson visitor 58.2

Average Branson visitor length of stay 4.17

Branson's marketing campaign " Someone You Love is Playing in Branson" will be presented.

Tax Revenues are on the rise in Stone, Taney and Indian Point

Thundering Red Rockets - Perform at Branson Landing (2 of 2) - Video

The last three shows have been very well attended. The Thundering Red Rockets ...continued.
The video medley above is a Grateful Deadesque format to a southern hillbilly anthem. Sweet Home Alabama moves into a loose chorus and verse of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" transitioning to the Rolling Stones "Can't Always Get What You Want" before closing off with a reprise of Sweet Home Alabama.

Thundering Red Rockets Perform at Branson Landing (Part 1 of 2) - Video

The Thundering Red Rockets have performed at local nightlife venues for years.
Scorching heat didn't stop tourists and locals from showing up and packing the house.

Branson Missouri Real Estate - What Pays According to Huffman

Rick Huffman seems to be at every Branson Planning and Zoning meeting with a sign request for Branson Hills. During his last meeting we asked what generates leads. Huffman said:

1. Branson Landing Info Centers - by far the best performer.

2. Internet Leads - has a lower close ratio than tours booked through the "time share" style info centers at the Landing.

3. Magazines

4. Television - good for branding but non-performer in terms of direct booking/sales

Car show and burnout contest - Branson Strip Saturday Night

Tomorrow night is the annual midnight cruise in Branson. Midnight is the perfect time to crawl out of your air conditioned hole during the heat wave. All police units will be on the prowl including helping hands from the Sheriff's department and Missouri Highway Patrol. Needless to say, the burnout contest that ensues annually on the strip (with the help of tourists who supply bleach) happens to be a large money making venture for our local law enforcement agencies.
Things sometimes get a little whild so scope out what part of the strip you want to be on before you settle in. Here's the whole schedule:

* Hundreds of beautiful cars will be on display at The Shepherd of the Hills on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Show n’ Shine from 8am to 5pm
* We are expecting another “capacity year,” with over 500 cars registered over the course of this three-day event
* Entertainment throughout the day, including a live DJ, karaoke, and exciting food and auto vendors
* Meet James Best, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, from the original Dukes of Hazzard TV show, on Friday and Saturday, who will unveil his own personal Hazzard County Police Cruiser for the first time ever
* Friday night, James Best will host a special screening of three of the most popular “Dukes of Hazzard” episodes, and will take your questions about his time on the series – seating is limited, so get your tickets early at the gate!
* See The General Lee and the Daisy Duke Jeep, and new this year – Star Cars, including K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider and Starsky and Hutch Gran Torinos
* See two of the top point cars from the MLRA circuit
* Tickets are available for rides in the General Lee on both Friday and Saturday – times and tickets are limited so be the first in line!
* Those who ride in the General Lee or attend Friday night’s “Dukes of Hazzard” screening with James Best will be in a drawing for three people who will ride in the General Lee in the Midnight Cruise, and one fan who will ride with James Best in his personal “Rosco Cruiser” in the Midnight Cruise
* Single day, multi-day, and family pass tickets are available at the gate
* Saturday afternoon at 4:00 pm will be the Best of Show Awards Presentation in the Pavilion Theatre
* Saturday night the Super Summer Midnight Cruise will roll, giving fans a chance to see these gorgeous cars in action
* The cruise will begin at Hwy. 76 and Gretna Road and will head west making a right turn on The Shepherd of the Hills Expressway and running to BT Bones Restaurant, more than three miles!
* The cruise is free to the public, and visitors need to be prepared as the police will be blocking off the cruise route by 11:30pm , so pick your spot early

Council of Elders

It's a Southwest Missouri phenomena. Every small town in our region has one - a place where community elders meet to commune over coffee. Many will linger all day until the sun goes down. They bring knowledge of the community with them and discuss family events and local politics over their steaming caffeinated elixirs.
Several years ago I use to travel across the state once a week. I would hit the four corners. Starting from Branson, east to the Mississipi, north through St. Louis, west to Kansas City then south to my home back in Branson.
Two hobbies of mine are caving and fishing. In every little country town along the way that I stopped at while heading towards Missouri's metropolitan centers I'd stop and talk to the city's "council of elders." They're like walking encyclopedias of local history, geography, politics and people. They seem to always know the best fishing spots and if they can't help you with an answer to a particular curiosity, they know off the top of their head where you can find the answer. In the Branson/Hollister area the place is Ye English Inn.
The photo above is part of Branson's council of Elders. Before an early morning photo shoot I had the opportunity to meet with them over a $2.99 breakfast special of eggs, bacon, Hawaiian Bread toast and a dish full of Ozark politick.


I just want to take a moment to make a shout out to Go Magazine. It's not easy to beat me on my own turf (unless you're a single female) but they've done it to me three times now.

, Howie the Manatee - How ingenious of them to get a manatee on the payroll! I have a hard time getting city governments to send me press releases and they answer this brain scrambler...

That’s like asking Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back? And the answer is, I don’t know. I’ve never met Dolly.

So, here I am taking 200 photos of Wed. Night Fights at Shake it Up and who gets to break the Tanya Harding story? If you don't know ask the manatee.

Anywho, she's coming next month and guess who has the exclusive interview? That's right ...ask the manatee. (She's coming next month and the Manatee knows who represents)

The real kicker is Mr. Gary Whitaker himself. He's been in town scoping the hotspots for a couple months now. Do I get to pull a fast one on Greg..... not a chance.

Finally, it hits me. While I'm spending all my time at bars studying...they're making money spending time at bars drinking.

Last month, I'm chillin' with the Dutton's and there he is...Mr. Whitaker. He tells me about one scribble on a dotted line - GO magazine just inked a contract with revenue exceeding everything they've done to date. Rightfully so.

They're obnoxiously fun - actually spend money on design and seem to always know where the party's at.

I'm giving up sobriety for the night. Maybe, it will help me meet this deadline.

Branson Convention Center Photo's

The final touches are being put on the Branson Convention Center which is scheduled to open in 10 days.To get the full effect - click on any of the pictures above.