So, What is Missouri’s Official State Soil ?


Fun learning — a natural process at the Earth Day exhibits that covered a  nice spectrum of topics  for all ages and interests.


     So what’s the name of Missouri’s State Soil?  Menfro –a brown silt loam, good for farming, provided slope of the land is low.

Monarch Butterflies flutter around Ozarks gardens until they die? Nope. During one period of the year they travel down to Mexico, then later in the year make a return trip.

Same with those cute hummingbirds? Nope, they also make an amazing cross-continent flight before arriving.

The  Apr., 18th Earth Day at Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery was well worth a visit and it’s hard to believe anyone left disappointed. Visitors could visit stations, each covering a different topic and try some hands-on learning  games for adults and kids. There were a variety of topic related hand-outs. Visitors also received a take home starter tree to plant and nurture. There was a sign-up sheet to receive some starter milk weed (food for monarch caterpillars).

It’s the type of public service event the Hatchery excels at — with the help of their corps of volunteers – always fun, always plenty to learn.

Other things of interest included mini-educations about soil, Missouri animals having trouble,  how to make fire starters, what lives in water and more.

City of Branson’s Errol Cordell offered a jaw dropping taste test.  Cordell, the city’s water treatment operations supervisor, challenged people to try two samples of water – one bottled, one from city tap water – then try to identify which was which. Unless you are a water gourmet, it’s a tough call. Point to the little challenge?  Buckets of money are spent for bottled water. The source of that water might well be city water obtained at some distant tap.  Cordell also passed out 2013 Department of Natural Resource testing results of Branson water. Water was within safe limits and no violations were reported. They city also performs its own frequent testing.  Cordell’s contact is:

Joshua Markus with Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial sponsored Earth Day along with the hatchery’s Kathy Miller coordinating the day’s events. Markus and Miller are also looking for youths and parents to participate in Woodmen’s  free Youth Educational Programs. More about that in May, 2015 street edition of Both Sides of the Bridge.

If you missed Earth Day and would like to see what’s on Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery agenda next, or have questions about nature, wildlife or the local environment, stop by the facility or visit their website:




Where in the Branson world  is the Burbank Jones billboard??
Where in the Branson world is the Burbank Jones billboard??

Keeter Center Salvation Army Benefit — Real Life Reminder for All

Salvation Army Band Keeter Center (download video)

Luncheon guests at College of the Ozarks Keeter Center encountered a tasteful reminder of reality Friday, Apr. 17th.

Some 160 people made reservations for the lunch fund raiser with proceeds going to the local Salvation Army.  Guests, perhaps, expecting the college’s usual gourmet fare were served only soup and a beverage. It was a tasteful reminder that many people helped by the Salvation Army are getting by with little.  The luncheon event titled “Soup, Soap, and Salvation” was also a reminder of  SA’s origins of providing soup kitchens and other help for people having nowhere to turn during times such as the Great Depression. That tradition of service continues today.

A heart-felt emotional highlight of the luncheon was C of O President Dr. Jerry Davis’ talk of how the Salvation Army gave him shelter during the days he was on the streets as an adolescent runaway in Kentucky, a time when even his own church turned their back on him.

The Salvation Army’s compassion and care helped the troubled youth turn a corner in life that led him going from “Runaway to College President.”  His story of hope and encouragement had been featured on the late Paul Harvey’s national radio broadcast, Guidepost Magazine, and other national media outlets.

To make a donation to the Salvation Army and/or find out about volunteer work in areas such as the Community Garden call 417-339-4434.  Donations can be mailed to: The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 1715, Branson, Mo. 65616.

Recent Missouri Attorney General Actions


Consumer Alert:

Attorney General Chris Koster warns.  Missouri consumers of a widespread tax return fraud.  His office received 388 consumer complaints, and according to the Internal Revenue Service, this type of fraud could result in $21 billion dollars of consumer loss nationwide.

According to Koster, the fraud occurs when an identity thief uses a taxpayer’s stolen identity to file a fraudulent return and claim the identity theft victim’s tax refund. The identity thief will use a stolen Social Security number to file a forged tax return early in the filing season before the victim does; receiving the victim’s refund before the IRS processes the real filing.

With paperless e-filing, the scam is easier to pull off than ever before. Thieves invent phony wages or other income, submit the information electronically, and receive the fraudulent refund via mail or direct deposit within a month.  While the IRS maintains records of earned wages and other types of taxable income reported by taxpayers’ employers and other organizations, the IRS doesn’t match these records to information submitted electronically by identity thieves until after it issues the refund. By the time the fraud is realized, the thief has cashed the refund check.

Signs consumers have become a victim of a fraudulent IRS filing include:

  • More than one tax return was filed.
  • Consumers have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against them for a year they did not file a tax return.
  • IRS records indicate they received more wages than actually earned.
  • State or federal benefits were reduced or cancelled because the agency received information reporting an income change.

Koster recommends that Missouri consumers that have become a victim of this fraud should report it to the Internal Revenue Service at 800-908-4490.  Consumers will need to complete the form 14039 and return it to the IRS.  Missourians should also report the fraud to the Missouri Department of Revenue at 573-751-3505 or by email to

            The Missouri Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline is available to assist consumers in reporting identity theft. Missourians can reach the hotline at 800-392-8222 or file a report online at Tips for protecting against identity theft are available on the Attorney General’s website at


Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster announced obtained judgment permanently prohibiting California-based First Pacific Marketing, LLC, and its owner, Lindsay W. Johnson, from placing any further telemarketing calls to any Missouri consumers, for violating the Missouri No Call law.

In addition to the prohibition against further calls to any Missourians, First Pacific and Johnson are ordered to pay $17,000 in civil penalties and an additional $2,000 to reimburse the state for the cost of the investigation and prosecution of the case.

During telemarketing calls, First Pacific and Johnson claimed that the FBI had reported increased break-ins in consumers’ neighborhoods, in an effort to scare people into purchasing their products.

Koster reminded Missourians they can register their landline or cellular telephone numbers with the Missouri No Call Registry online at or by calling 1-866-662-2551.

Cindi Grady Couldn’t Believe Her Eyes… Arkansas Couple’s Incredible Act of Kindness

By Earl Stresak

Uh oh! I must be in trouble,” thought Branson Cracker Barrel waitress Cindi Grady as she followed her boss toward the restaurant’s front door. She tried to think of what she could have possibly done wrong. Cindi began getting a little nervous. The events leading up to the moment started last summer when Gary and Roxann Tackett from Quitman, Ark., frequented the restaurant while visiting Branson. Cindi would wait on them. “They are the most friendly people in the world,” Cindi said. One day they asked Cindi if there was anything they might pray about on her behalf.

Cindi didn’t have to think too hard. Her 2002 Hyundai Accent looked like it was running on a prayer. Cindi commutes to work for her early morning breakfast shift in Branson from Kirbyville. Finances are tight for Cindi and her disabled son. Having to scrape-up money to buy tires during the year put a strain on her tight budget, but when the car hit a deer during the winter, that made things really unpleasant. Still, Cindi plugged along, driving the Hyundai on the early morning trek to work with a strap holding down the car’s hood, and a worn sheet of plastic covering the driver’s side window. The car worried her. “I always worried about something else going wrong with the car and not getting to work.” she said

On a Saturday last November, Cindi was working the breakfast shift. Two of her customers were the Tacketts, who finished their breakfast, left a big tip, and departed. “A few minutes later my boss came up to me and said ‘Cindi I want you to find somebody else to deliver the drinks on your tray and come with me,’ at that point she wasn’t smiling or anything so I thought I was in trouble,” Cindi said. “I was trying to rack my brain, figuring out what I did to warrant being called off a Saturday breakfast rush.” What really got Cindi anxious was when her boss started leading her outside the restaurant. “Instead of leading me to the office, she started leading me toward the door and I thought — wow, this must be really bad if she can’t even do it inside the restaurant,” Cindi said.

Outside, Cindi saw the Tacketts with friends and family standing around a nice looking 2008 Ford Fusion that had a red bow around it. “They told me they had watched me drive my old car all summer and wanted to bless me with a new one,” Cindi said. “It was quite shocking to me. I was shocked, stunned, speechless — all of the above. It was an amazing thing for someone to do for me,” she said trying to hold back tears. The Tacketts had all the necessary paper work ready. They charged Cindi one dollar for the car and signed it over to her. Cindi had the car inspected, registered and insured (her agent waived some administration fees). “It cost me just $50,” she said of the process. “I could never afford a car like that, I could never afford a payment,” she said. “It was really amazing. I don’t have to worry about getting to work anymore. It’s a big blessing in more ways than one knowing that the car will get me from point A to point B without having to put any money into it.”

She said her new car is in great shape. “It’s perfect. It drives nice. I love it.” Of the Tackett family, she said, “They are really a wonderful family. God has a special place in heaven for them.” Cindi now keeps the red bow that was around the car hanging from her rear view mirror — “to remind me that such wonderful people in the world really exist.” A few other people seem to agree. When posted on facebook, the story has gone viral.


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BSB Graphic Art & Printing Services


Like his peers, Jack Fischer didn’t say much about the war… Every Flight Could Be The Last

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November 2014 Veterans Edition on streets now.

By Earl Stresak

Seated behind the yoke of his B-29 for another bomb run, Jack Fischer probably didn’t think much about what might be called a deadly trial and error air campaign reaching into Japan’s homeland. As is often the case with military campaigns, the high ranking brass and analysts gave their best attack strategies a shot.

WWII B-29 Pilot
B-29 Pilot Jack Fischer

Some worked, some did not. Trouble was, cost of the learning curve could be loss of human lives. It was just how things worked, how projects succeeded, battles won, Nothing personal.

Fischer and the 10 crewmen under his command all knew that. So, starting his preflight checks, crew checks, engine run-ups, then rolling down the runway on Saipan in 1945, Army Air Corps pilot Capt. Jack Fischer focused on the day’s work — fly his crew 1500 miles to Japan, make a low level bombing raid over Japan, and hopefully get everyone back alive and in one piece.

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The “hopefully” part was stacked against Fischer. Japanese fighter planes might shoot him out of the sky. Anti-aircraft batteries would certainly try as well.  Ever present mechanical gremlins might raise their ugly heads in-flight, working to bring the giant bomber down. Fischer might get blown off course, get disoriented in weather or smoke, spend too much time in the air, run out of fuel, crash, burn, or see his men flounder in a raft on the Pacific Ocean. Even if everyone survived that, worse fates awaited. Death might be preferable to becoming a Japanese POW.  Every airman had heard the stories — starvation, deprivation, torture, beheadings. Pick any of the factors, one or another had taken lots of other crews.

It was a step by step goal of hopscotch. A vast network of tiny islands across the Pacific needed to be taken from the Japanese in order to establish airfields for bombing raids on Japan.  Those potential bomber bases extended from the Aleutians north near Alaska to thousands of miles away into the South Pacific.

Jack Fischer would fly out of Saipan, an island part of the Mariana chain of islands.

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The first to pay a high price for winning those islands back from the Japanese occupying troops were U.S. Marines. They secured the valuable real estate needed to build the bomber line into Japan. Next came combat engineers. Sometimes their work on hastily constructed airfields began while battles still continued. Marines invaded and secured Saipan in June of 1944. Three thousand Americans and 24,000 Japanese lost their lives.

Campaign not going well

In 1945, Jack Fischer flew  his B-29, Maiden’s Prayer, tail code T28, serial no. 4461678 under San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge headed to the war in the Pacific.  He flew missions from Saipan that year.

Continue reading Like his peers, Jack Fischer didn’t say much about the war… Every Flight Could Be The Last

John Simpers Gittin’ By — Veterans Day Cartoons

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

GITTIN’S BY cartoonist John Simpers has been drawing cartoons since high school. His different take on life’s zany moments are probably in his genes. His mother’s cousin was Andy Warhol.  John is a Vietnam Veteran,  U.S. Army helicopter pilot, who flew two combat tours. If John’s view of the world could be compared to marching in cadence, it might be said to be whimsically out-of-step.

Cartoonist John Simpers




Cessna 337
Nettie Marie’s abruptly ending ride in a Cessna 377 helped fuel momentum for a new airport

(This is the third and last part of a series on Branson’s Downtown M. Graham Clark Airport. To read the previous stories; “Breezy Wasn’t a Breeze to Build,” or “Money Flying in From the Sky,” go to, or email: to request a free PDF copy.)

 By Earl Stresak 

   “I was there that day,” Mark Trimble said.  “I believe it was in ‘68.”

The Trimble family has a long-standing, grass roots, connection with local history, Mark, in particular, with Branson aviation. He had been actively involved managing Branson’s first airport, and now serves on the county board of Downtown M. Graham Clark Airport. He’s a go-to guy on the subject. Mention a local aviation event, chances are he was there, or has first-hand knowledge about it.

Take his airport oral history lesson this day, sharing the story of an aviation mishap helping to jump start development of the M. Graham Clark Airport.

“First airport in town was out on Hwy. 76, built under one of President Roosevelt’s programs under the CCC. (Civilian Conservation Corps), Trimble said. “It was a farm owned by the Boswell family. The city acquired the property and it was completed by 1935. It was open to the public then and was the only airport in town.”

In the 1960’s, flight instructors operating from the airfield acquired a Cessna 337, a push-pull prop aircraft easily spotted by its tail configeration

“They flew it out of Branson,” Trimble said, “ but kept it in Springfield. Branson’s airport was just barely adequate for it. Orville Moore was flying it one day and had Nettie Marie Jones in the airplane. They ran off the end of the runway, across the ditches and across the highway,  Trimble said. The plane came to rest “in a ditch on the south side,” he said “ I know, I was there. Nettie Marie Jones was shook up, but not hurt.”

Nettie Marie’s response was an unexpected, but fortuitous one.

“You need a better airport,” Nettie Marie said.

“She was one of the school’s benefactors back then,” Trimble said. “She was from New York. I remember she used to like to ride the DC-3 and they went and picked her up with a bunch of our friends and flew her out here one time. She funded several things around the campus. She was the reason, primarily, why they built the airport (at it’s present location). She was the driving force behind it.”

Old Airport on 76 Hwy

airport 1939
Just a field off Hwy 76 — Branson Airport 1939

“Understand, this was city property,” Trimble said of the old airport built by the CCC on 76 Hwy. “I can’t remember how many acres it was but the city used it for different things. The city dump, for instance, was located on the east end of the runway where Red Roof Mall is now.

“Right after the Second World War there was a boom in general aviation. There was a GI Bill training operation there in ‘46 and into ‘47. Hangars were built in ‘46, and the airport was quite busy.”

“The City of Branson still owns the land. “All those businesses like White Water are on leased ground,” Trimble said. “So, the city still has a considerable interest in the old airport (land).” That land generates a lot of income for the city, he said.

1947 Airport
Busy Branson Airport 1947 — note planes line runway and parking area

“The old airport never had asphalt, it always had grass. I was the airport manager for a lot of years. Designating me the airport manager meant I would mow the strip of grass so I could take off and land,” Trimble said who flew planes in and out of the old airport.

When Trimble joined the U.S. Air Force in 1954, he became a meteorolgist stationed in Salina, Kan. On off-duty days, he would return to Branson to keep airport maintenance up.

“GI Bill aviation program left in 1947, and the airport just served the community as a general aviation field,” Trimble said, “until College of the Ozarks started a training program there around ‘67.” The college continued the program at the new airport.

“When the school started to build the airport,” Trimble said, “they reached an agreement to close the other airport. They didn’t want to divide traffic, so the city agreed, and started leasing property off the old airport.

Same Land 1997 where old airport was located
Same Land 1997 where old airport was located

Graham Clark

Graham Clark Airport was completed in 1970 and opened with a ceremony. The grand opening was officiated by Dr. M. Graham Clark whose namesake the facility still keeps as Downtown M.Graham Clark Airport. A passionate aviation enthusiast, Clark along with two other long time area residents, Seth Caperton and Bill Todd headed up the school’s well respected aviation training program.

As part of the opening celebration, a military jet landed at the airport, but the aircraft’s heavy weight caused runway pavement to give way.

The incident prompted restructuring. The runway was then restressed to become a good and solid runway. A grant enabled the airport to extend its runway from 3500 to 3739 feet.

A series of commercial commuter airlines operated out of the airport during the 1990’s.

Early this year, a Southwest Airline’s 737 landed safely at M.Graham Clark by mistake. The landing of the huge jetliner is perhaps dramatic testiment to runway’s present day soundness.


Branson/Hollister– Lively Features Stories– People, Places, Life