Branson Strip Open - Texas Murder Suspect Mark Simmons detained peaceably after 8 1/2 hour standoff

Branson Tourists Asked to Use HWY 248 instead of 65 direct to 76 Blvd Exit While Negotiators Talk Murder Suspect From Hotel Room

View Branson Police Standoff With Murder Suspect in a larger mapBranson officials have closed a highly trafficked portion of the 76 strip starting at the 76/65 interchange north to Roark. Branson Public Relations Administrator Jerry Adams is at the scene and made a call by cell phone minutes ago.

The 76 strip is flowing freely with minimal traffic center strip less than a mile from the scene where 51 year old Mark Simmons, a murder suspect with a warrant from Texas has maintained phone contact with police offers in a standoff that is reaching its 8th hour.

Theater schedules dictate incoming traffic will increase dramatically over the next few hours and tourists are advised to exit on 248 just north of the 76/65 off-ramp. In order to bring peaceful resolution to a potentially dangerous situation, the Branson police department is maintaining a barrier (outlined in the map above) as long as Simmons maintains voice contact.

The Branson Police deparment was following up leads from a robbery that occurred Sunday night which led them to a room on the 76 strip yards from the 65 interchange.

After a Branson police officer made contact with Simmons, Texas authorities advised their suspect should be handled as dangerous forcing an evacuation to prevent casualties or harm to potential bystanders. The nature of a weapon Simmons might have has not been released by authorities.

Simmons remains holed up at the Walnut Lane Hotel (see southern marker on map above)without any known hostages.
Identified as a person of interest, a Texas warrant was issued in connection with an April murder. The victim was found in a Texan houme that was set ablaze. Investigators to the scene determined the burned body was a week old by the time the fire was set.

Cirque Montage Perform Clowns N' Cab Trick

Branson Airport Flying Direct to Chicago, Indianapolis

Branson Airport's Branson AirExpress public charter service, is adding flights to Chicago and Indianapolis starting in September 10,2010.

The new service, operated by ExpressJet Airlines, will operate Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday to and from Chicago Midway Airport and Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday to and from Indianapolis International Airport.

Flights will begin at $59 one way to Indianapolis and $69 to Chicago, according to a Branson Airport news release which is getting play through media outlets around the nation.

Service to Chicago and Indianapolis joins Branson AirExpress' flights to Austin and Houston, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Shreveport, La.; Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss.; and Nashville, Tenn.

"We are pleased with the success of our Branson AirExpress destinations and feel that the Chicago and Indianapolis routes will only continue that trend,” Branson Airport Executive Director Jeff Bourk said in the release. “These flights will expand the flexibility and convenience of getting to and from Branson.”

The airport now offers service to 11 destinations, including service through AirTran to Atlanta and Frontier Airlines service to Milwaukee and Denver.

Branson Landing Vendors Refuse To Pay Rent After Court Determines Coverdell Rightful Owner (Summary and Map of Court Case Included

The far reaching implications of a Taney County Jury verdict ruling in favor of local developer Douglas Coverdell prompted Branson to "pray to Missouri's Southern District Court of Appeals". The supplications to a higher authority fell on deaf ears as Missouri's judicial determined Branson, a party to the case, had let their timeframe for legal remedy expire.

Branson allocated ample time to "misbrief" the press on details of a case initiated by Empire District Electric in 2003. Several interested parties in the case folded before Coverdell was left last man standing and was awarded a large portion of the Lake Taneycomo waterfront which includes a section of the Branson Landing extending north from what is now Joe's Crab Shack.

The courts determination verifies land ownership against claims acknowledged by Empire District Electric, Tori Inc, the City of Branson, Branson Paper Inc., Doug Coverdell, Julia Coverdell, Coverdell Enterprises, B Cuz Inc., Keycomm Inc, Peter Rea and Darlene Rea. The judgement doesn't affect land ownership claims to interests not listed as a party to the lawsuit.

 Organizations not cited, such as Table Rock Ashpalt,  are not affected by the judgment.

After Empire District Electric claimed ownership of land against several parties (listed above) the City of Branson and Coverdell, each party responded to their claims.

Empire District claimed ownership of two connected pieces of property (1 and 2)

Coverdell claimed ownership against the involved parties on a much larger grid under his title. (see outer boundries frin visual judgment of description above).

The City of Branson claimed ownership to the western segment of a peninsula adjacent to what is now called North Beach Park (highlighted in yellow on chart above).

The city never claimed to own North Beach Park. Contrary to assertions that Branson was attempting to preserve land, they in fact were planning to bulldoze North Beach Park with the help of Australians who were eventually cornered out of the deal and granted a multi-million dollar parting gift.

An injunction is currently preventing Branson from slaughtering more of the natural habitat and in the minds of many citizens remains the fact that under the city's watch the Liberty tree met an untimely death.

In 2003 Coverdell and Branson compared notes and determined they were in agreement without conflict as to what land was owned. The case was "bifurcated" and the courts dealt with two separate actions.

Branson stated they weren't interested in claiming new land through adverse possession and affirmed their right to re-enter the case later - a right they never exercised.

Branson battled Empire District Electric and won their claim to the west side of the peninsula in 2004.

According to former city leaders, Empire District Electric met in the backrooms of city hall and promised Branson that they could keep Coverdell at bay - or in this case away from the bay.

Branson collaborated with Empire District Electric with land deals and contracted to third parties to manage the property.

In lieu of the Australians development plans another developer collaborate with the city to build on the downtown Branson waterfront. A

local entreprenear Rick Huffman purchased tickets to a Major League Baseball All-Star game and seduced then Missouri Governor Bob Holden to join him.

Huffman knew he had the governor locked in a plane for several hours where he made his pitch. If there was a salesman hall of fame, Huffman would have a picture on the wall. Holden bought and over a hundred million dollars of tax subsidies gave the green light for construction of the Branson based waterfront project.

Most mortals would have folded to Lathrop and Gage, Empire District Electric's hired guns, who delayed trial for over five years until the patience of the judge expired. 

When Empire learned they couldn't delay trial any longer they abandoned their offensive position and dropped their case. Empire's action moved the courts attention to Coverdell's quiet title claim.

Empire District Electric was on the defense and Branson never changed their position until after the Taney County Jury ruled and after their time to appeal expired.

It wasn't until some tenants at the Branson Landing refused to pay rent to a company "not authorized as the rightful owner" that the City of Branson hired three attorneys to appeal. The three attorney's Branson hired were some of the most expensive available and due to Mayor Reanne Presley's new accounting implementation the actual funds spent on legal expenses are difficult to determine. The new system makes it easy to hide expenditures from the press.

One of the attorneys is a former Missouri Supreme Court judge, but dollars weren't enough to compromise the integrity of the appeals court who ruled Branson was an aggrieved party unworthy of special remedy. In other words, Branson had legal rights to appeal but didn't. Branson failed to file post-trial motions within the allocated time frame.

Both Branson and Empire District Electric have again been collaborating behind closed doors in search of a red herring that can eliminate the fiscal threat Coverdell's victory brings to the lakefront.

Unfortunately, the current city administration's action have helped Coverdell's case as they've determined that a small piece of land over a hundred yards from the waterfront is worth a cool million in tax payer funds (see purchase of land from Pennel's family).

Both the city of Branson and people close to the Coverdell case have confirmed the city has never come to the table to resolve the conflict opting to continue a strategy of outspending Coverdell - a strategy which hasn't been working. 

Branson's most recent filings have an interesting component. Geo-scientist Curtis Copeland submitted maps with text inserted by outsourced legal counsel. While the city's position was that Coverdell didn't meet legal requirements needed to affirm his right to the jury verdict, Copeland's assessment of land boundaries contained in the legal description given to the jury match the claim against the City of Branson and Empire District Electric contained in the map above.

1979 fugitive from Florida prison sentenced (AP Report)

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) -- A man who lived a quiet life in Missouri since escaping from a Florida prison in 1979 has been sentenced to just over a year in jail.

Oscar Eugene Richardson, known in the Branson area as Eugene Ward, was sentenced Monday in Florida to 366 days for his escape. A Florida Department of Corrections panel still must decide how much time he will have to serve of his original three- to 10-year sentence for second-degree armed robbery.

After his escape, Richardson settled in Branson, working as a handyman and groundskeeper and raising a family.

City of Branson Misrepresentation To Media Outlets Magnified by Southern Court of Appeals Rejection of Motion

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An effort funded by Branson City Officials to undo a Taney County jury verdict affirming Doug Coverdell as the rightful owner of land which includes a large portion of the Branson Landing was quickly thwarted by Missouri's Court of Appeals.

Among other misrepresentations, several newspapers reported the city of Branson stated they were not involved in the lawsuit. Contrary to official statements the city of Branson was scheduled as a witness in a three day trial where Empire Electric, represented by Lathrop and Gage, asked the city of Branson to testify on behalf of the private utility company. The city of Branson failed to appear as scheduled.

Contrary to statements made by Branson officials, the Court of Appeals confirmed the City of Branson was a party to the initial lawsuit that granted Coverdell land with an estimated value exceeding $250,000,000 and didn't qualify for special relief.

*****This story was held 20 days to see if any media companies would cover the story.
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Pete Newman - Former Kanakuk Counselor Statement to Judge Orr at Sentencing (Full video) 1 of 3 Posts

Former Kanakuk counselor Pete Newman received two life sentences plus thirty years handed down from Circuit Judge Mark Orr for sexually abusing children at the Branson based Christian Camp..

The total number of children sexually abused by Pete Newman is unknown; however, law enforcement officials in several states are taking or considering taking action against against the convicted child sex offender.

The probable cause statement which alludes to molestation that occurred during Bible study sessions hosted at Newman's house among other places including religious sanctuaries on the Kanakuk property.

A first reaction and the probable cause statement was posted on the Branson News Blog in September 2009.