Dr. Sue Head Honored as a Community Strong Leader by Branson Bank

Congratulations to Dr. Sue Head, VP of Cultural Affairs and Dean of Character Education at College of the Ozarks for being recognized as a Community Strong leader by Branson Bank.

As an educator who believes in lifelong learning and placing character, patriotism, and faith above all else, I am grateful to serve alongside like-minded individuals on the Advisory Board of Directors team at Branson Bank.

Dr. Sue Head

Leadership – Influence – Impact

Area leaders sharing expertise while investing in the growth and resilience of our community.

Elevate Branson secures $1 Million Affordable Housing Project Grant

Jan 06, 2020 – Elevate Branson, a nonprofit helping Taney County families, has secured a $1 million grant for an affordable housing project.

The organization partnered with Branson Bank to receive the donation from the Federal Loan Bank of Des Moines, an extension of the Affordable Housing Competitive Funding Program.

The money will be used for the development of an Elevate Community project, one in which Branson is planning to build 48 tiny homes in a designated area. Leaders say the grant offers support to build one of the largest permanent tiny home developments in the country.

“This is a critical step in making Elevate Community possible,” says Brian Stallings, co-founder of Elevate Branson. “Not only is this funding essential for the project, but the award of this grant provides our project with credibility, stature and security. No one wonders any longer if this kind of affordable housing project can happen in Branson. It’s happening.”

“Partnering with Elevate Branson to bring $1 million from government grants to Taney County, we know this will empower our neighbors and improve our community as a whole,” says Bill Jones, president and CEO at Branson Bank.

Elevate Branson says the housing will provide “a fresh, safe positive sense of community with a philosophy of work,” in addition to job training and mentorship opportunities. Leaders could break ground on the project later this year.

The Affordable Housing Competitive Funding Program encourages collaboration between financial institutions and housing organizations to create affordable housing solutions for families in need. Since its inception in 1990, FHLB Des Moines members have helped facilitate more than $740 million in funding to help 120,000 families.

CLICK HERE for more information and resources from Elevate Branson.

City Celebrates Student’s Birthday Wish

By Madison Bryan for the Branson Tri-Lakes News (reprinted)

A birthday is always a joyous occasion and the city of Branson got to help one man’s 21st be one that he’ll cherish forever.

Paul Ferguson, a water tower enthusiast and student at Barnabas Prep, got to celebrate his 21st birthday with a personalized tour of Branson’s special Pacific Water Tower.

With the help of Barnabas Prep, the city of Branson Utilities Department and city staff were able to not only gift Paul with a special tour on his birthday but also welcomed him with “Happy Birthday” being played on the trumpet by H.R. Risk Manager Bob Smither, some city swag to take home and a birthday cake.

Paul said that he loved the offices located inside the water tower and the fifth floor that sits directly below where the water is held.

“When I first got the call from Laura (administrative assistant) at Barnabas, all of us were really thrilled that (Paul) was enamored with water towers, and that gave us a chance to show this tower off because when it was built it was only the second water tower in the country that had offices in it,” said Smither. “It was great for us to kind of show it off a little bit to someone who it was really going to mean a lot to. We were just all excited about it, and getting to put this whole thing together (for Paul).”

“Not everybody looks at a water tower and is (amazed). Now Paul is going to have a better view now that he’s seen the inside (and have) a whole different perspective than he would have before. So we’re really happy that we could share that.”

According to their website, Barnabas Prep is a residential collegiate program for young adults with special needs located in Branson. This Christ-centered community helps students develop a variety of independent living and vocational skills. Visit BarnabasPrep.org for more information.

The main reason for moving back to the Ozarks

By Carrie Anne Mitchell – as printed in the Branson Tri-Lakes News – April 13, 2019

Many people have asked me why I’ve come back to the Ozarks after 25 years. The answers have been many. Reconnecting with my family roots and heritage, with the people and scenery here, the love of the small town feel, yet big city metropolis atmosphere here.

There is one answer though, one which I’ve not spoke of until now.

It is my number one reason for returning here, after a very long absence. I have found out over these last five years that I am not the only one with this number one reason, for returning here to Ozarks.

I feel God’s presence here. Everywhere you look here in the Ozarks, in its nature, in the people you see and meet, in the music you hear and listen to. God is here.

I felt God visiting here as a child, then later, as a young 20-year old resident, aspiring gospel vocalist and single parent. It is that strong and loving presence of God I felt here then, which has brought me back to stay for good. Never have I experienced it more so, than right here in the beauty of the Ozark Mountains, it’s lakes, people, hospitality, kindness and music.

God is here, in the small surrounding towns, cities, and rural communities. If you look around, take the time to stop, watch, listen, you will see that God is here. He is here in the place I call home.

I’ve heard his voice through the warmth, kindness and hospitality of the people here, from new and old residents, from community members, citizens of Branson, and the surrounding Ozark area towns, from long time, local area neighbors, from chance meetings with visitors of all ages, both young and old.

I’ve felt his presence when sitting alone on one of the old pews inside Silver Dollar City’s Wilderness Church, when watching the sunsets at beautiful Table Rock Lake.

I’ve seen the hand of God in the blooming of the wildflowers, and flowering trees here, in the turning of Fall color across the mountains, and in a rainbow after an early Spring rain across the lakes.

I’ve seen God’s helping hand when neighbors have helped neighbors after floods, severe wind storms, and, after terrible tragedies have occurred.

I’ve felt the mighty power and presence of God here, while seeing many of the music shows here, during small and large Church gatherings, while singing southern gospel and hymn favorites, through the sounds of many voices all together, in a community choir during Christmas community event gatherings.

I’ve seen hearts touched by God here, when they look at the Image of the Cross, that stands along the highway, just outside of Branson, when pastors, nurses, doctors, police, fire fighters, first responders, city officials, business owners and entertainers, have given of themselves, willingly and freely for their love of Ozarks people, community and for God.

I’ve seen what the hands and feet of God can do here in action, when local area ministries, many community organizations, and churches continue helping the low income, homeless, and less fortunate here.

I’ve seen God’s smile when veterans are honored, remembered, respected, and thanked whether in hugs or handshakes, for their service, when a well known and much respected member of the community, has died, and many come together to remember a life well lived, to the paying of their respects to a kind soul, whose good works were lovingly and unselfishly, done solely for their city, community, or town.

My heart is full here. My reason for loving the Ozarks are many. But, it is because of God, why I came back to stay and live here. I’d say that is the best reason to have, for coming back here. Wouldn’t you?

Carrie Ann Mitchell lives in Hollister.

Junior Auxiliary Of Taney County Replenishes School Supplies

Good news from the Junior Auxiliary of Taney County website

Junior Auxiliary Of Taney County Replenishes School Supplies

School teachers have been on the front lines this year as they provide our children, our country’s most precious asset, with a healthy learning environment.  Junior Auxiliary was pleased to provide $50 gift cards to 27 teachers in Bradleyville Elementary, Kirbyville Elementary, Mark Twain, and Taneyville schools to purchase items they need for their classrooms.

JATC gave these schools a variety of school supplies in September and in January provided another refresher donation of supplies which included: composition notebooks, wide-ruled paper, wide ruled 1-subject notebooks, 2 pocket folders, crayons, pencils, mechanical pencils, pencil sharpeners, colored markers, ink pens, colored pencils, glue sticks, scotch tape, scissors, index cards, highlighters, rulers, erasers, Expo markers, etc.  Other items designed to help keep the kids healthy such as hand sanitizer, Kleenex, Lysol spray, paper towels, and Clorox wipes were also donated. Gloves, stocking hats, socks, and underwear rounded out the donation to these schools.

Junior Auxiliary members collect high demand items all year.  They shop the sales and save them up for this time of year when the schools run low. The budget allotted for this project allows JA to purchase extra things schools need at this time of year, along with purchasing the teacher Gift Cards, and JA Members supplement the supplies with their donations.  This year the Tri-Lakes Board of Realtors Good Neighbor Fund also provided support for this project through a grant to JATC.

Lara Ernsting, Principal at Kirbyville Elementary said “Kirbyville Elementary is very pleased to partner with the Junior Auxiliary of Taney County to continue to provide a safe and healthy environment for our children to learn. The teachers and students will put the school supplies to great use. Thank you Junior Auxiliary.”

 School Supplies is one of many service projects that JATC members provide for the community. Other JATC projects include Tender Critters for children in trauma; Prom Dresses for girls in need; financial and labor support for the Women’s Crisis Center including birthday parties and child care for the children so moms can attend counseling sessions; Santa’s Gift House; Book Swap for children who live in extended-stay motels; and Scholarships for each of the four high schools in Taney County.

Donations for this project and others that JATC provides to the community can be sent to JATC, PO Box 862, Hollister, MO 65673.  More information can be found on the Junior Auxiliary website JATCMO.ORG, their Facebook page, Junior Auxiliary of Taney County or via email at jatcmo@gmail.com.

 Members raise money for this and other projects through one major event – a fun Trivia Challenge with dinner, and a Silent Auction.  This year the 20th Annual Trivia Challenge and Silent Auction will be held at the Chateau on the Lake in Branson on May 8, 2021.

Come join us at “JATC Trivia Goes Platinum, Celebrating 20 Years of Trivia”.  We hope you will save the date and come help us support the children of Taney County.

We also invite you to support us at Mr. G’s Pizza & Pub Annual JATC Days on February 24 and 25 from 11 am – 8 pm.  You may dine-in or carry out, and 50% of your purchase will be donated to JATC.  All you have to do is mention that you support JATC.

JATC raises money from other events such as Belk’s Charity Days, as well as donations from corporate charitable giving (e.g., Amazon Smile, Microsoft, Walmart, and White River Electric), generous local businesses and churches (e.g., Branson’s Cowboy Church located at God & Country Theatre, Doug Baker State Farm Insurance, Ozark Mountain Ear Nose & Throat, 417 Fundraising, Branson Bank, Central Bank, Ollis, Akers & Arney Insurance, Edward Jones-Mitch and Jennifer Holmes, Edward Jones-Mac McGregor, and Lowe’s.)

JATC is more than a nonprofit organization, it’s a group of women united by a single cause.  We are dedicated to helping and making a difference in the lives of the children of Taney County. That’s the magic of JATC.  It was chartered by a group of caring, enthusiastic women in 1998 and continues to grow and thrive throughout Taney County.  Approximately 50 members annually contribute more than 4,000 volunteer hours as they strive to improve the mental, physical, social and emotional well-being of children in Taney County.

JATC is part of the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries (NAJA), a non-profit organization founded in 1941 with headquarters in Greenville, Mississippi.  NAJA has more than 15,500 active, associate and life members in 98 chapters located in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.  Their slogan is “Caring Hearts—Helping Hands—Changing Lives”.

Branson History Students Take Part In VFW Essay Contest

Sharing good news from the Branson School District…

Branson High School history students had the opportunity to submit essays for the Voice of Democracy contest sponsored by the VFW Post #11290. The essays were written on the topic “Is this the country the founders envisioned?”

Those students selected as winners by the VFW members include: Connye Cruz-Morales, 1st place; Hadley Houston, 2nd place; and Brooklyn Buxton, 3rd place.

The winners were presented cash awards and a certificate. The event was organized by Branson High School history teacher John Mathews.

Arvest Foundation Donates $225K to Ozarks Area Nonprofits

Sharing good news as reported in the Springfield Business Journal

The charitable arm of Arvest Bank issued $225,000 in grants to local nonprofits.

More than 40 organizations from Springfield, Aurora, Branson, Lebanon, Marshfield and Mountain Grove received funding, according to a news release issued this week.

Officials with the Arvest Foundation declined to disclose the donation amounts for all nonprofits, but photos released show $7,500 for the CoxHealth Foundation, $5,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ozarks and $2,500 for The Drew Lewis Foundation Inc.

“All of the recipient organizations are doing important work that empowers and assists many of our neighbors in need,” said Kyle Hubbard, president for Arvest Bank in Springfield, in the release. “We trust these grants reinforce our commitment to the communities we are here to serve.”

CoxHealth Foundation President Lisa Alexander said the funding is going toward a garden of metal tulips at the health care system’s south Springfield campus. Announced last month, each planted tulip represents five patients who have been discharged after receiving treatment for COVID-19. The garden started last month with 300 flowers.

“The tulip garden is a celebration of those lives that have been given great care and returned to their families after fighting COVID-19,” Alexander said in the release.

The Arvest Foundation’s grants focus on K-12 education, economic development and quality-of-life enhancements.