Missouri Department of Natural Resources asks for Attorney General Action Against Taney County Utilities

Missouri's Department of Natural Resources issued the press release below this afternoon.

Taney County Utilities Corporation Referred to
Attorney General for Enforcement Action

Volume 37-348

Contact: Renee Bungart

(For immediate release)


JEFFERSON CITY, MO, SEPT. 21, 2009 -- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources today asked the Missouri Attorney General's Office to pursue legal action against Taney County Utilities Corporation for violations of Missouri's Clean Water Law and Regulations. The violations occurred at the wastewater treatment facility serving the Village of Lakeway, located off Laughing Lane, near Kissee Mills.

The Department's enforcement actions help protect human health and the environment by requiring facilities to maintain compliance. The Department's main goal in any enforcement action is to work with a facility to successfully achieve compliance with the standards and then ensure they have the tools to remain in compliance. As part of that process, penalties may be used as an incentive to ensure future compliance and to remove the economic benefit of continued noncompliance.

The wastewater treatment facility serving the Village of Lakeway residential subdivision consists of septic tanks, two cell wetlands, and a third filtration cell. Since January 1999, the effluent discharging from the Village of Lakeway's facility has chronically exceeded the permitted effluent limitations for fecal coliform, biochemical oxygen demand and total residual chlorine limits as required by its operating permit.

The Department conducted two inspections of the facility and documented partially treated wastewater leaking from the filter beds. The inspections also revealed the receiving stream had observable impacts as a result of the discharge from the Village of Lakeway's wastewater treatment facility, including cloudy water; sludge and bloodworms in the stream; and gray algae on the rocks. Due to the serious and continuous nature of these violations, the Department has referred this matter directly to the Missouri State Attorney General's Office.

Missouri's Clean Water Law exists to protect public and environmental health and the Department is responsible for enforcing the law and regulations. The Department referred the case to the Attorney General's Office to compel compliance and to seek an appropriate civil penalty for violations at the site.

The Department strives to work with owners and operators to fix problems before an issue is referred. In situations where the responsible party is unwilling to cooperate to bring the facility into compliance and be protective of environmental and human health, the Department will refer the case.

For more information contact the Department's Water Protection Program at 573-751-1300 or call toll-free at 800-361-4827.

Branson Fiddle Contest 2009- Final Fiddleoff (Video)

Downtown Branson merchants joined the Branson Landing for the 2009 Branson Fiddle Contest which ended in a father/son battle for the title.

Branson Budget - Alderman Steal Additional $100,000

Branson City Council passed a three month budget on Tuesday, a step to move the city to a calendar budget as opposed to a fiscal year ending in September.

There is a certain pointlessness in covering the budget as it seems to serve as merely a suggestion rather than a solid framework for city council to work within.

Perhaps the most shining and at the same time repulsive example is the slush fund set aside for Mayor Presley and Branson's alderman. During previous administrations council-members were given a $10 per-diem for each city meeting. Count two meetings a month at 70 dollars and we come up with roughly $1,680 annually. Presley boastfully rejected this pittance of a city expense and put a Mayor and Board of Alderman $51,000 dollar budget expense in it's place.

Unfortunately, this wasn't enough public funds for Presley to spend at her discretion. An additional $120,000 was spent bringing the actual slush fund amount to $171,000.

In the world most citizens have to live in - this would be called theft. But when Branson City Council does it - they're given awards.

There isn't a municipality in Missouri that has it this good. While every county across the state of Missouri has to implement cuts, Branson has been on a massive spending spree. Sales tax reached a record high this year following a three year trend. Unfortunately, not one penny in increased funds can be attributed to the Presley administration.

No action taken by the current administration increased or will increase future returns for Branson citizens. What we do see is a great deal of kicking the gift-horse in the mouth.

The gift-horse is the Branson Landing and the windfall of revenue the facility is bringing to the city. Reporters following the budget have limited journaling to the Presley dictated dialogue where assertions are submitted selectively and arrogantly. In this way the public has been duped - ignorant to the self-serving allocation of public funds delivered through news-stories characteristically lacking in factual analysis.

A slap in the face was delivered this month as the Branson Landing was given an award for it's success and contribution to the economy. But here in the city very few people are aware that the facility will pay $450,000 for rent this year and an estimated $5,000,000 in tax revenue for Branson.

Few know that when the city says $2.5 million of the $5 million Branson Landing will be allocated back to pay off a TIF. Actually the 5 million dollars Branson Landing will pay in sales tax is usually left out.

Few realize the TIF funds are being used to pay back the expense of infrastructure to build the Convention Center and Branson Landing. Perhaps, if it were issued in a press release there would be a wider awareness of the true state of the local economy, but these are limited to making sure everyone is aware our mayor is being granted an award from the American Heart Association (an organization she donates substantial funds to) - these stories run unedited and unattributed by the Springfield News-Leader. In this way our mayor writes the newspaper while the left hand lines personal pockets.

Before I vomit, let me share a fact with you. The $425,000 expense the city is paying to help maintian the Branson Landing city square and accompanied fire show isn't even in the 2010 buddget. The reason is that $450,000 in rent will be paid to the city before the expense is due. This would leave a $25,000 surplus factoring rent and maintenance.

Feeling of loss linger with longtime residents that Mang field no longer hosts children playing baseball and the multi-million dollar Rec-Plex facility with state-of-the-art equipment seems to some a poor substitution.

If we let our bias and resentment guide us. If we hold our leaders higher than our God and fail to examine their actions we have the current state of worship by Branson's regional press we sadly leave a despot for the future and public funds are squandered with no accountability.

But we're lucky. Our past city fathers had the vision to invest in Branson's economic future and while Presley drains $12,000,000 in savings accrued before she came into office, record sales tax revenue and new streams of revenue still emerge, we're lucky that we haven't had to deal with the true shortfalls our neighbors across the state have had to endure.

You'd think an additional $9 million in savings gratefully taken from Obama's Revitalization and Reinvestment Act would enable some of the surplus to remain. But it seems only another excuse to maintain deficit spending policies. The city is off the hook for a new bridge - paid for by Obamanomics.

I would challenge citizens to take a look at what your leaders are doing. Ask yourselves why have six theaters shut down and why are certain businesses thriving. Why are tax funded institutions behind personal businesses and mostly - 77: What has this administration done for the Branson economy besides squandering city funds, which could lower our accounting expense, misinforming the public and stealing far more than they promised to thieve?

Kanakuk 10 Year Staff Member Pete Newman Charged With Sexual Assault Against Children Posts 50k Bond

Over the past couple of days I've been talking to people that were pastored by the former Kanakuk Counselor accused of sexually abusing children through ministry. He was released after a few hours for a mere $50,000 bail or 5,000 cash to a bondsman. His next court appearance is slated for late October. His freedom is contingent on him having no contact with anyone under 17.

This hurts us all.

The shocking details aren't limited to the details submitted to Judge Tony Williams in a probable cause statement drafted by the Taney County Sheriff's Department.

The accusations and charges filed against Peter Newman are being published here.

This hurts a successful ministry.

Kanakuk is internationally known for their high dollar Christian Sports Camp, a charity camp that runs in tandem for inner city kids and international contribution to evangelism.

I recall a sermon by Ted Cunningham of Woodland Hills Community Church, who is heavily affilliated with Kanakuk. Cunningham had recently welcomed a minister who was stripped of the "clothe" for similar circumstances. The congregation fell silent as Cunningham challenged attendents to forgive the hanus acts against children as a Christian. You could hear a pin drop in the room. For many of us an act of harming a child is worse than murdering an adult - impossible to forgive. Perhaps most would be hard pressed to find room for mercy and grace when the crimes hurt the most innocent with such long term effects. Lives ruined.

This breaks my heart.

The final page of the probable cause statement deals a profound blow. The suggestion is Newman's entire ministry could be summed up as a "grooming process" to identify victims. The details of Bible studies, outings, personal interest into leading children to live Christian lives all in vain for the most perverse personal benefits.

This hurts our families.

A friend of mine from the Charismatic Branch of Christian Practice submits Hebrews 4:15:

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin."

For most of us it's hard to imagine what this type of temptation entails - Christian or Athiest alike.

This hurts our community.

From a civic perspective the recent aftermath is equally as shocking. An eight page testimony led Kanakuk Leaders to report the incident which resulted in Newman's firing mid-summer. After leaving Kanakuk, post Newman's admission to crimes against children there are records that he continued to pursue ministry.

Former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt issued a press release promoting the execution of those who abuse children under the age of 12. Missouri Senator Jack Goodman echoed his support for such legislation boasting a move to give life sentences for the crime as a positive move. But most who commit these types of crimes have far lighter sentences.

This hurts our state.

Kanakuk's damage control was swift as Joe White distributed a personal e-mail shortly before a warrant for Peter Newman was issued.

"For the last 34 years, Debbie Jo and I have poured our hearts and prayers into this beloved place. Therefore it is with a heavy heart that I am writing to you today regarding a difficult situation.

"Because you are an important part of the Kanakuk family, we wanted to make you aware that earlier today, the Taney County Missouri prosecutor filed a four-count criminal complaint against our former employee, Pete Newman. As you may know, Pete Newman was employed at K-Kountry. The prosecutor’s criminal charges allege that Pete engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with adolescent boys, including some who had been Kanakuk Kampers.

"When we became aware of this situation we took immediate action, terminating Pete Newman’s employment. Since that time, we have been working closely with the affected families and appropriate authorities. We reported what we knew to investigators and stayed in contact throughout the process, providing whatever assistance we could. We have also offered our assistance to the impacted families.

"Our fervent prayers are with those who have been impacted. We look forward to the completion of the legal process to ensure that justice is served.

"As you know, Pete Newman's alleged behavior is counter to everything we believe in, everything we stand for and everything we work to instill in the young people who come to us seeking to grow personally and in their relationship with Christ. In fact, for years, we have had very clear policies and extensive training in place for all staff regarding appropriate behavior. Our staff members go through background checks, personal interviews and extensive training on our policies.

"We understand the difficulty that this situation causes you and your children. We pledge to work with you to help you address questions your children may have. Kanakuk is a family, and families often face challenging times. We also pledge that Kanakuk will continue to do all we can to champion efforts to prevent inappropriate behavior from occurring at any camp.

"If you have questions or concerns about this situation, please e-mail me at joe@kanakuk.com.

"Thank you for being part of the Kanakuk family.

"In Christ,
Joe White"


On Tuesday, Doug Goodwin, chief operating officer of Kanakuk Kamps, issued this statement:

"Our camp family was deeply saddened and shocked to learn of the allegations involving a former employee. The alleged behavior is counter to everything we believe in, everything we stand for and everything we work to instill in the young people who come to us seeking to grow personally and in their relationship with Christ.

"Our prayers and thoughts are with those who have been affected, and we have worked closely with authorities investigating this matter.

"Most importantly, we have offered our assistance to the alleged victims and their families. We are committed to protecting their privacy, and we cannot say anything further about the allegations at this time.

"For years, we have had very clear policies and extensive training in place for all staff regarding appropriate behavior. Our staff members go through background checks. In light of this situation, we’ve reviewed and, where appropriate, updated our policies to reinforce our commitment to the families we serve."

The "alleged acts" took place over ten years leading many ponder how many children were victims, what damages Kanakuk will have to pay and if the ministry even has a future. After a swine-flu outbreak at their Stone County facility, no-one could imagine anything worse happening to the reputation of the camp.

**At this time, Counselors who keep personal blogs and websites with photos of campers would be wise to edit posts which could identify campers.

Great efforts from the court and the press will be taken to ensure the identities of the victims will remain hidden.

Undoubtedly, there will be more brave young men coming forward as they gain understanding this isn't their fault and it's likely more charges will be filed.

Branson 2010 Budget (Part II)

Branson continues to bring in record sales tax revenue and the fact this years record income is under-reported. A dangerous trend in occurring in our local press. As the dead tree press continues to decline, the nature of news reporting and even the integrity of print is being challenged.

The Springfield News-Leader and the Branson Daily Independent have been running government-published releases under the guise of journalism. Two front page stories this week were reprints of press releases generated by government agencies. Press releases are a great way to obtain news, perhaps the primary source in an age where investigative reporting is deemed to expensive to conduct. Unfortunately, these storied aren't sourced. The press releases generated by politicians have no by-lines, no additional facts and no verification to "truthfullness". As a result, public perception is both skewed and perverted to the temporal objectives of sitting politicos. None is more apparent then the misinformation Branson residents are recieving about the fiscal state of the local economy.

To understand the perspective of Branson's current leadership we need to take a step back. In the view of history 50 years isn't such a long time, but there is a transition in Branson that occurred at this time paramount to the current fiscal environment.

The contribution of the Mabe's, the Herschend's and even the Presley's cannot be underestimated. Due to the vision of these families our tourist economy shifted from the natural entertainment that helped Jim Owen lure Californian stars and Branson with it into the spotlight, to a new form of entertainment. Before there were a 110 shows, there were two. Before there were scores of museums, world-class shopping destinations and gold courses there was a cave tour and home-grown music shows - there was just a couple.

The Presley's moved from Jim Owen's downtown Branson mecca to a spot on 76 Blvd which is now known as the strip. Now the center of Branson's entertainment district, the Presley's sat outside Branson city limits. When Branson attempted to annex the theater the Presley's sued the city of Branson and fought rigorously to stay outside the administrative district and regulations inclusion would bring. The battles have continued and in a sense continue to this day. Even as the family matriarch serves in Branson's top position, the city can't keep a city attorney. Perhaps advisement against illegal activities occurring at Branson city hall have encouraged Branson's Alderman to keep from obtaining legal counsel. As the city as a whole suffers from economic irresponsibility, a few profit.

The Branson Landing was fought vigorously by Raeanne Presley through the League of Theaters where she was open about her opposition to new development. Contrary to public statements the fight was never about TIF's. And contrary to public awareness the Branson Landing is generated several million dollars in revenue. The fight Presley was engaging was against the success of the Branson Landing. Presley believed the success of the Branson Landing would hurt Branson's theater industry. The argument was that as Branson lured new visitors, they'd be less enticed to pay top dollar for entertainment on the strip, afterall, "if they can be entertained in Branson for free, why should they pay?"

The same organization Presley used to generate propaganda against new development is now being funded by tax-payers. With $50,000 dollars spend to fund lobbyists to Jefferson City from Branson's tax base the agenda isn't clear. If the goal was to increase tourism funding the plan is a miserable failure. But the fight isn't over.

Regardless of your political perspective, if you live in Branson you understand how important tourism is to the economy - a primary source of income. The real debate lays in the recent diversification of income. Branson is now generating more income through retail sales and marketing theaters is becoming more expensive with less marketing dollar to sales conversion. This year a half-dozen shows have closed and every sector of the tourism market is down, except for some theaters. And as the fiscal strategy of Branson's current city counsel has hurt the majority of businesses the theater industry as a whole is prospering. When major venues shut down, the remaining tourists visit the existing establishments.

In the end, our current trend will yield higher taxes. We're seeing this for the first time as the Presley administration seeds drastic increases in utilities to ensure the city can afford plans to expand services on the strip.

Branson Local Kathleen Steele-Danner appointed Interim Missouri Economic Development Director

Kathleen Steele Danner's appointment by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon as Interim Economic Development director was published in a press release by Nixon's office yesterday.

Steele runs a consulting/lobbying firm in Hollister Missouri named Athena Consulting and spearheading local fundraiser efforts for Nixon during his gubernatorial bid. Danner's list of clients includes lobbying for Branson's mayor on behalf of the "League of Theaters".

Ms. Danner-Steele directed Missouri operations for Bill Clinton during his 1992 presidential campaign before an appointment under Clinton as Regional Director of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to her work with the Clinton's Steele served as a state representative.

Former Senator Steve Danner, Kathleen Steele-Danner's husband, was appointed Missouri Adjutant General by Gov. Nixon in January of this year .

Missouri's 62nd District - Special Election Slated for Feb 2

Jeff Justus is the first to verbally acknowledge intentions to replace former Missouri Assemblyman Dennis Wood. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon 's appointment of Wood as Stone County Presiding Commissioner was confirmed yesterday in front of a crowd of over 100 onlookers in Galena.

For Wood, the 62nd seat would ultimately be vacated after Missouri's next legislative session due to term limits. As Stone County presiding commissioner, Wood's paid political career could have some longevity as term limits aren't an issue for county commissioners.

But who will throw their hat into the ring? Branson's mayor Presley could easily take the seat but with the current financial disarray of the municipality it's likely she could sit this one out.

The Democrats are void of a candidate at this time but Joe Allen, who recently moved to Branson from Forsyth, could be a strong contender. Peter T. took a stomping by Wood during last election outpaced by a democratic candidate who wasn't even living in the country during the prior election.

Compare Stone County Election Split For Missouri's 62nd Seat:

DENNIS F. WOOD REP 7939 75.32%

Wood, Dennis F. REP 5,612 68.8%
Tuia, Sae DEM 2,548 31.2%

Tuia left the United States to work for the country of Samoa several months before the election took place.

Dennis Wood To Become Stone County Presiding Commissioner

In two hours Missouri Rep. Dennis Wood will be sworn in as Presiding Stone County Commissioner.

More to come on this bombshell....WT

Branson's 2010 Budget (Part 1)

Record sales tax revenue for the city of Branson continues as second quarter sales taxes take a slight increase. But massive spending under the Presley administration promises additional tax increases to keep the city afloat by 2012.

The city's tourism tax had a slight decline for the first time in a decade after a massive spike in 2007. Three factors are affecting and will affect revenue the city receives.
1. HFE's theme park Celebration City closed this year
2. Timeshare and packaged tour tax reporting adjustments prescribed by the recent Supreme Court Ruling
3. Anti-growth policies of the current city administration

Branson alderman raised water and sewer rates last night which will continue over the next 5 years. Citizens refrained from comment as the Branson Board of Alderman voted to approve the increase.

When Raeanne Presley was elected Mayor 12.85 million dollars in funds sat in reserve due to conservative fiscal policies of previous administrations. Under the current plan, the reserve funds will be reduced to 4 million dollars at the end of the 2011 calendar year.

The budget Branson Alderman approved on first reading totaled $62 million.

Branson School District to Air Obama's Speech to Some Classrooms

President Barack Obama's decision to address schoolchildren across the country raised eyebrows and a sleuth of concerns suggesting the most radical of objectives were being deployed to influence the children of our nation.

As a result of the backlash the White House released the transcript of the president's speech to American students which will be broadcast Tuesday afternoon at participating schools.

The Branson school district released the following statement regarding the president's broadcast to classrooms:

"President Barack Obama has invited America’s school children to listen in on Tuesday, September 8th as he addresses them on the importance of education. The address is available via a video stream to classrooms across the nation.

The President’s address will not be part of any district-wide or building-level event. If this event has a direct impact on the lesson plan for the day – particularly government/history classes at the secondary level – teachers may use this outside learning experience in conjunction with curriculum expectations that are already in place in the classroom.

Parents will be notified by the participating teacher if the President’s address will be a part of the day’s lesson. If you do not wish for your child to participate in the “President’s Speech to School Children”, please notify the teacher and he/she will be excused from the class for the duration of the address."