Private airport is the runway to Branson’s future - By DONALD BRADLEY Courtesy : Kansas City Star

— High from a jet on approach, this airport looks like something built in a jungle by Navy Seabees.
The 7,200-foot runway lies flat across the tops of seven beheaded mountains, accessed by a narrow road that winds through the dense trees. Easy to imagine a jeep racing out to the flight line.
But, really, 10 miles away, Yakov Smirnoff is telling jokes. Banjos fill the air, splashes fill swimming pools and the Oak Ridge Boys are singing about Elvira. People eat all they can eat — and then eat some more.
About 8 million people come each year to the famous Branson strip and the town’s 18,000 hotel rooms. Most drive. A lot come on charter buses. Because going back to 1959 when the Baldknobbers opened the first live music show, Branson went 50 years without a commercial airport.
Then about six years ago, huge earth-moving equipment busted through 422 acres of Ozark wild south of town and pushed the tops off those seven mountains. They moved more than 11 million cubic yards of dirt to build that plateau, at the time one of the biggest such projects in the country. The first plane landed at the new Branson Airport in 2009.
Now with the first privately developed, privately operated commercial airport in the country and a new convention center, this town that had a boom for the ages in the 1980s could be primed for another.
The airport made it easier to get there. In March, it got even easier when Southwest Airlines began direct fights from Dallas, Houston and Chicago. One connection opens Branson to the coasts.
“Southwest was a huge win,” said Lee McPheters, an economics professor at Arizona State University who did a study on how an airport would affect Branson tourism.
One thing airport studies invariably show, McPheters said: People spend more when they fly in to a place.
Frontier Airlines had already begun nonstop flights from Denver.
Officials expect Branson to remain a “rubber tire” destination, but acknowledge, too, that the airport could over time shake up Branson demographics, which tend to lean Midwestern and senior.
“My grandmother would love to get on a bus with a bunch of her friends for a 10-hour ride to Branson,” said Jeff Bourk, the airport’s executive director. “My mother would not want to do that and I wouldn’t consider it.”
Unlike other commercial airports in the country, Branson gets no federal grant dollars and, accordingly, less government red tape. That doesn’t mean TSA is not on-site; it is.
Bourk works for a corporation, not a city, county or port authority. After construction, Branson Airport LLC gave the facility to Taney County, but operates it under a 45-year lease.
“There’s no other airport like it,” said Bourk, who last year was named the industry’s Best and Brightest Under Forty by Airport Business Magazine.
“Whatever mistakes we make are ours,” he said.
The unusual setup probably goes unknown by passengers.
They might notice some things, though, that make this airport different. Beyond the hog tracks in the terminal floor.
The maintenance guy painting lines on the runway? He might be armed because his main job is police officer. The landing crew on the tarmac could be firefighters.
Because of limited flights, now about a dozen a day, employees are hired for certain jobs but expected to perform other duties on downtime. One day last week, firefighter Katie White worked police duty.
“Last winter I hung Sheetrock,” she said while watching security monitors.
“She also built our picnic tables,” Bourk said.
The airport has also turned into an Ozarks version of Rodéo Drive. You might see Roy Rogers Jr. walking through the terminal. Or Pam Tillis or Shoji Tabuchi. Mickey Gilley passes through often.
When the airport first opened, Andy Williams asked for a tour. Lee Greenwood once entertained the holding area with an a capella version of “God Bless the USA.”
Charlie Camirand, the airport parking manager — who also works in the gift shop and as a ticket agent and a firefighter and who does snow removal in winter — has a favorite.
“I love Tony Orlando,” he said. “He always says ‘hi’ to me. I take care of Tony.”

In 1882, Reuben Branson opened a general store and post office in the hills south of Springfield just short of the Arkansas line.
If he could see 76 Country Boulevard today, he would probably think that he’d be making a killing at that old store.
It all started with the Baldknobbers. Shepherd of the Hills and Silver Dollar City came soon after. The 1980s brought the boom times that would lead to more than 50 theaters.
Most recently, Branson Landing opened in 2006 on the downtown waterfront. The Branson Convention Center, anchored by the 290-room Hilton Branson Hotel, came a year after that.
But the airport didn’t have an easy start.
“We opened in the worst economy since the Great Depression,” Bourk said.
Then in 2011 part of the runway collapsed. In August, Branson Airport LLC sued the Kansas City engineering firm Burns & McDonnell and three other firms for negligence.
In a statement, Burns & McDonnell denied the allegations, saying that it remained proud of the work it did and that it was not hired for runway soil testing.
Repairs were made. The attorney for the airport has emphasized the airport continues to operate safely and is expected to serve 140,000 passengers this year.
According to Bourk, an economic impact study to be released by the state of Missouri will say the airport has generated $90 million in new revenue for the area and created 1,500 jobs.
Ross Summers, president of the Branson Chamber of Commerce & Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the airport will be a key component in taking Branson from strictly an entertainment venue to a convention city.
“It really opens us up to corporate travel and conventions,” Summers said.
Before, travelers had to fly into Springfield and then arrange ground transportation for the hour drive south.
Currently, only about 4 percent of Branson travelers arrive by air. That is expected to change.
“Southwest (Airlines) doesn’t come into a market on a whim,” Summers said. “They have vetted this town. They know we have what they’re looking for.”

Deer heads on the terminal wall and hog tracks in the concrete floor pretty much say Branson.
Look up. Those wood beams are from a buggy factory. Decorative awnings — corrugated tin from Missouri barns.
Rocking chairs. Country music on the loudspeaker.
Mary Jane Elbert and her husband sat in the holding area last week waiting for a flight to Denver.
They could have flown out from Springfield, where they live.
“But I love the way this airport feels,” she said.
Barry and Flora Bush flew in from Ogunquit, Maine, for a reunion of Barry’s classmates from Oklahoma State University.
“We wouldn’t have made it without the airport here,” he said. “This made it easy.”
Plus, it was their first trip to Branson. They stayed on the strip at the Hotel Grand Victorian.
“Right across from the Ducks,” Barry said, referring to the Ride the Ducks amphibious tour vehicles.
Then he smiled: “First thing we did.”
Bourk, 41, a New Englander, sees every landing and takeoff from his office window. He soloed at 16, got his pilot’s license at 17. He was managing an airport in Maine when he got involved with Branson.
“It was terribly exciting — we were going to build an airport from the ground up,” he said in his office. “I wanted to be part of that.”
So he loaded up the family and moved to a place he’d barely heard of. His daughter, 8, and son, 4, love it there, he said.
And the wife? Loves it too, Bourk said.
“She’s getting pretty good at go-carts.”

Read more here:

Branson Alderman Hide Faces to Cover-Up Open Government Violation

Branson Alderman Cris Bohinc and Bob Simmons hide while "Colonel Sanders"  looking fella shoves me after one of  Branson's many Sunshine Law violations

Branson City Officials met yesterday at the Branson Convention Center to confirm coronation of a new city administrator. Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley personally called several reporters known to cover the city of Branson in order to prevent press presence.

As a result, there were no corporate press members present to witness the open and intentional Sunshine Law violations that followed. By law, the city of Branson is not required to post information online regarding open meetings. According to state statute, the City of Branson must give 72 hours notice - physically - (the online misinformation website maintained by the City of Branson omits important and damming information; however integrity of web publishing outlets is not required by statute (a great opportunity for politicians to lie at will).

The intentional violation of the Sunshine Law occurred in the most deliberate and sinister way I have ever seen in thirteen years of studying government including election coverage in three countries. The methods utilized were impressive. In fact, I have earned respect for Mayor Raeanne Presley - the depth of manipulation, deception and arrogance is undocumented in modern American government.

Under ordinary circumstances, a meeting is noticed, called to order and a motion is made to move into private session. Due to a complicit press, violations of this process are a regular occurrence.

Presley has been criticized by prior city administrators for her vagrant Sunshine Law violations which resulted in his firing ( firing the messenger is Presley's favorite game).

Local governments are allowed to move into private session under specific circumstances. For instance, if Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley wants to call a meeting into private session in order  to launder money, massively increase government regulations and create an environment where the Presley Theater is the only business allowed to operate through regulation - the law prevents this from happening. Unfortunately, there are few checks and balances to ensure open government laws are followed. The only group with an economic incentive is the press, unfortunately the 4th estate is subject to the same kinds of debauchery common in other industries.

Four meetings were called in two places yesterday. Two meetings were canceled. Notification was sent stating two were canceled. The other two meetings occurred but at a different place than noticed. Press members who follow the journalistic process normally attend the meeting until there is a call into closed session. The location noticed was not utilized but was rather decorated and unattended. A secret location was established where the meeting actually took place. Two conference rooms were rented to evade public eyes and public scrutiny.

For several years Branson's current administration has been in continual violation of open government laws. One round of correspondence has been issued by the Missouri Attorney General and it's my hope that more will follow. Where Presley lacks wisdom she's very clever in her handling of politicians and reporters. She makes personal phone calls and initiates off-the-record slander to ensure political position.

As a journalist I've been blessed by the many "lovers of liberty" within the ranks of Branson employees. Presley is hated by Branson Employees for her heavy handed ways of managing city employees and has issued new protocols to block communication between press members and the public. Before Presley took office the position of Mayor didn't have hands on communication with low level employees. Presley on the other hand loves directly telling engineers, attorneys and other employees how to do their job.

Several legal counselors outside and inside the city of Branson have advised Presley that some of her actions violate state law and the Constitution of the United States. At this point I'm in the process of trying to protect some city employees that have been asked to violate Constitutional Law and am not at liberty to release specifics on these issues as it will hurt people unneccesarily.

It is however likely that the City of Branson is under investigation and the time is moving quickly that I'll be unable shield the city from some very embarrassing well documented activities in contradiction to the moral dictates prescribed by law. I am not involved nor intend to be involved in the investigation.

Sadly, Branson's current mayor is unwilling to act with humility and admit that some of her activities conflict with moral and/or legal standards. An advisor helped Presley develop a strategy of intimidation which has forced to me assemble a defensive legal team.

To date Presley has initiated several means to ensure my rights as a citizen are not protected. When the police force refused to follow an unconstitutional dictate, Presley moved back to the table. Recently, understanding the lack of ethics or Branson's current leadership I made a Sunshine Law request related to the last 60 days.  According to the Sunshine Request I made, it can be assumed the City of Branson has spent $100,000 on a slander campaign. The 100k number is derived from a $2064 expense to view documents related to communications related to this reporter as a person (Darin Codon)  and the journal you're reading. Again, this would assume the City of Branson acts with integrity ( a poor assumption).

Throughout the course of history many groups have been isolated through alternative administrative processes. During Germany's darkest hour certain groups were isolated for their genetic and personality traits. Dissidents, political activists, gays, gypsies and people of Hebrew descent were identified as sub-human. When you convince citizens that someone is sub-human you can stop treating them as a human being.

In the case of Germany this allowed groups to be humiliated, tortured and enabled the government to end lives en-mass.

Five years ago I made a Sunshine Request that threatened the careers of a few city employees (intentionally vague). A reporter during the usual course of investigation isn't in great danger until he trips upon scandal. Most reporters will never actually break a large story but once in their lives. I'm in the middle of my second.

Having knowledge of a huge blunder puts a writer (or any other citizen for that matter) at risk. Since Presley can't stop me through edicts (illegal since the Magna Carta), nor terror (police department isn't cooperating), she's stepped up threatening action.

On Wed., I was aggressively stopped and harassed by members of the Branson Police Department on three occasions. This comes after a brief period of peace. This will discontinue as I have obtained legal counsel to ensure local leaders start (and I emphasize start) obeying federal and state regulations.

I'm in the middle of a journalistic investigation related to corruption by Branson's City Leaders. My intention is to study that which is political.

I have no intention of causing physical harm to anyone. And while our leadership knows this it is there hope they can have me detained to prevent this investigation. The method they're using is one of deception; ironically related to their feelings. This means of team of followers is creating rumors as to how they "feel".

Not only are these rumors dishonest; they're being created to cause me harm. While telling people I could be "dangerous" gets me chicks, the only danger they're in is the danger a godless and moraless politician has when a reporter isn't short on courage when it comes to telling the truth.

While Presley has created orders that have caused me physical harm I have no intention of retaliating. I want Presley and her cohorts to live long lives and see the city restored to leaders with integrity the people so greatly deserve.

Our leaders our reasonably scared about the exposure of financial dealings, legal dealings and a multitude of open government violations (one of which is elaborated above). They are not physically afraid of me - which they've been advised to state as a means to achieve detention.

My advice to our leadership is simple. Correct your errors, fix the problems through honest means, act with integrity and your fear of an active press who actually utilize the journalistic method will dissipate.

As for the Wicked Witch of Western Taney County  - your lack of wisdom, integrity and honor are a blessing to me. I wish no harm to your physical being as it would slow down the comedic material and joy throughout the county as I take notes. The journalism community in Branson is older than the music community - we birthed the Baldknobber nab (which the Presley family followed). But you have my word of honor that I mean no physical harm.  I promise not to even throw water on you

 I intend to use protection provided by law.. I will however not be intimidated to report because of your  pretend "feelings" or other means to terrorize me which you've used in the past - again, not even a glass of water.  If you don't like reporters actually covering the city of Branson - leave. I was covering this beat before you and will probably be covering it after you. You're the laughing stock of Taney County Politics - known for your arrogance, phoniness and complete disregard for integrity.

Reporters, journalists, writers - we love people like you - you keep us in business. I would take a bullet in my arm to keep you safe - I want you here a long time. You exhibit the true heart of King Herod and I hope the stories which generate from your actions are seen everywhere so other people can save their own towns from the special breed of ignoramus which has preserved your office.


Alderman Cris Bohinc - When the City of Branson was using physically aggressive means to intimidate me from covering the City of Branson I asked for your help. I want to thank you because the violence I was experiencing on a regular basis three years ago slowed down - it wasn't as terrifying to enter public property.

Before becoming a politician you lived a good life - taught Sunday school and were by all accounts a great mom. You're probably an amazing grandmother and I wish the best for your private life.

As for public life....

The first time I asked you for political debates you cried. After crying you started moving down the phone list calling people, gossiping privately and telling them you wouldn't debate your competitor due to me. The truth is you were unprepared.

You were brought into the Presley camp as part of a club to shift political power. You've met with Presley and other alderman on scores of occasions in private homes. You were asked by Mayor Raeanne Presley to serve as an alderman because she could control you. And she's done a great job of that.

You've broke every campaign promise you've ever made. You promised to serve one term (both you and Williams). What you've become is so far from the person you were I can hardly recognize you. You're on the government payroll and constantly complain about the amount of money you're getting.

In my opinion you're getting paid much more than you're worth. Perhaps, if Presley's war on the music industry were slowed your family would have more work.

You don't have the education, skillset or experience to serve the downtown district the way it needs. You're emotionally manipulative and when asked to improve downtown you cry about "not being appreciated".

I don't appreciate you. You're a paid employee taking money from tax payers. This is in direct conflict to your role as Alderman. Your "BFF" Presley (Formerly referred to as the Wicked Witch of Taney County) is the master to which you show "great servant leadership to". You no longer have my respect as a political leader nor as a Christian as you've started rumors privately and broadly with no basis in truth.

Your activities as a city leader have put the future of Branson in great risk. You've help bankrupt the city treasury and perpetually deceive the citizens, as Presley asks, regarding Branson Landing finances.

You've been part of legal and financial decisions which you're frankly not qualified to address. My advice is to continue your education and choose who you are going to be - servant or leader. Your perpetual answer to phone calls you receive as an Alderman has been to create new legislation each time someone chooses to manipulate you.

For the record, we are not friends and yet I am not your enemy. But we can no longer go off the record and chat alone. because I don't currently find you trustworthy. In fact, I'm afraid of what you might do with your emotions as a guide. You have intentionally spread misinformation to create a situation where I could come into harm's way.

I forgive you and harbor no anger but I am advised by my legal team to avoid off-the-record isolated communications as we've had on so many occasions. If you want to keep me from going to public meetings because you think government should be left alone to spend millions without scrutiny - too bad.

If you continue to issue false statements to members to the community and press members - in the way you have  - I will be forced to take legal action or just publicly clown you by elaborating on your activities in a very public way. Watch how far Presley runs from you in the way she has city employees who follow her orders and find themselves fired .

I've been trying real hard to avoid legal entanglements but you and your BFF's vindictiveness is unpredictable. Next time you use a curse word in a meeting I will post it. And don't think crying will help you get out of responsibilities you signed up for. And if you don't like pictures leave politics.

Don't ever command me not to take a photo on public property and think I'll comply. Read the Constitution - making phone calls to have me falsely detained will not inhibit my right to report, nor will it limit future liability.

Lastly, I will be going through the finances of Downtown Branson and I will be needing those in the form they were created, specifically Excel. I will be addressing each agency individually as they have different legal requirements. I've asked for them before and am in waiting. I no longer trust you will act without encouragement from proper legal authority and next time you pull the stunt you did yesterday I assure you I will take defensive legal action.

I would never do anything to physically harm you. Of course you know that because of our many off the record discussions including the one we had two weeks ago. I've always been polite regardless of your pottymouth.

As for your political career - I hope it's short - though it could be long. After all you're always willing to do the campaign dirt for your political allies.

Here's the deal. The police are no longer willing to physically assault me on Presley's (soon to be Branson's former Mayor) order. The strategy deployed, which was crafted during a closed session worked like this.

Presley was told to spread a rumor far and wide. The rumor was that she's scared. And she is scared 'cause she's a crook and I'm good at identifying crooks in government' (it's called journalism).

But that isn't what she was told to say. She was told to spread a rumor that I was dangerous - as in "he's gonna punch ya" dangerous. This involved Bohinc and Presley asking every sycophant they could find to spread this gossip. The intent was to create a virus of hate and fear. After the virus spread Bohinc was advised to act in a way to elevate tensions then call in a city employee to do an evaluation which would have resulted in a 96 hour detainment under the premise of a medical hold. Unfortunately, the plan failed. I was forced to leave the city, meet with a doctor and assemble a legal team. Basically, it doesn't matter if I'm found innocent or guilty in this case. If I'm out of commission, this gives 96 hours to spread more treacherous and dishonest statements.

The overall intent of this action is to cover-up a variety of activities the citizens of Branson wouldn't be willing to tolerate. If they can stop me from speaking in open meetings and publishing photos; they're more likely to be successful in spreading falsehood through means of gossip.

I use words and photos to tell stories. I believe and use the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. I don't even carry a weapon and I don't want to.

 My ambition is to one day serve as a prison missionary. I believe there is greater integrity and honor among our nations prisoners than political office. In Branson, I know this is true.

If Presley could learn to love the Constitution as much as she loves using public funds and legislation to promote her silly Baldknobber imitation show - we could lesson the damage already done to the community.

I don't respect politicians who use terror .As a peaceful and persistent pacifist I've learned if I don't stand up for myself ,  I'll be victim to politicians who hate liberty as much as they love the pain of a wallet fat enough to bruise their backside.

Branson City Administrator Dean Kruitof Leaves Office in Presley Matador Costume

It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.

It was the era of corruption. It was the era of the Presley Dixiecrats.

It was the age without wisdom.

It was the age without a city attorney.

It was the age of debauchery, anti-Christian and anti-business values.

It was the age of denying Branson's long standing traditions.

It was the age of closed government. It was the age of defiance to the Missouri Constitution and the United States Constitution. It was the day the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Sunshine laws were ignored.

It was the day of money laundering. It was the day of false histories. It was the day that years of fiscal responsibility and the entire city's savings were flushed down the toilet.

It was the day of ignorrance. It was the day of millions being spent on outside legal counsel. It was the day city leaders pride cost the taxpayers greatly. It was the day the finance committee learned a $2.6 million dollar expense was due two-and-a-half years after the contract was signed.

It was the day Agenda 21 was enacted. It was the day property rights were not respected and thousands to pages of new legislation made life hard on business owners.

It was the day Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley took vacations aplenty and charged $600 for any press member that wanted to see the expenses.

It was the day of police brutality and settlements disbursed.

It was the day of idiocy. It was the day the press stopped being a watchdog and joined hands with corrupt officials. It was the day the Mayor and KY3 were in a contractual partnership. It was the day Gary Groman retired and the government printed press releases on command.

It was the day black men were not allowed to perform in public (Nelly who gave a nice speech to Presley at his indoor concert).

It was the day Andy Williams was denied the right to lead a parade down 76 boulevard. It was the day a television station deleted him from the history.

It was the day of increased poverty, crime and rejection of new business. (Record number of reported rape and Murder, record high according to the FBI)

It was the day of Pharisaic rule and of Churches turning a blind eye.

It was the day of ridiculousness, false reports and false histories being promoted.

This was the day Branson City employees were fired in record numbers and engineers were instructed by a leader with a 4th grade education.

This was the day we can celebrate because it is over - almost - at least we can hope.