What Police can and Can’t do About Homelessness and Panhandling

Friday, June 24th, 2022 11:20am

By JonChristopher Collins

Branson Police Chief Jeff Matthews spoke Thursday about what can and can’t be done about homelessness and panhandling.

He said over the years the courts have looked at solicitation from the viewpoint of Freedom of Speech. “You got to remember that the Constitution was not written for people like me in the Police Department. The Constitution was written for the people to protect them from people like me,” Matthews said. He said that taking into account the way courts have interpreted panhandling with a sign, the sign represents Freedom of Speech.

“I cannot regulate that sign. That sign can say whatever it wants on the public place, and I can’t do anything about it because that’s part of the Freedom of Speech through the Constitution,” he said. However, he also highlighted what law enforcement can do.

The article was originally published and can be read in full on Ozarks DynaCom’s websites.

Two Branson Employees Received Employee of the Month Award

Wednesday, June 15th, 2022 10:31am

By JonChristopher Collins

Two Branson Utilities Department employees received the Employee of the Month award on Tuesday.

Branson Alderman Ruth Denham presented the award to Utilities Wastewater Treatment Equipment/Plant Operators Kent Edwards and Greg Robertson during the Branson Board of Aldermen meeting. “Kent and Greg are receiving this award due to their exceptional teamwork and cooperation,” Denham said. She also pointed out ways they recently helped with special projects.

The article was originally published and can be read in full on Ozarks DynaCom’s websites.

The Adventures of Vance James Patrick and Seraphina Claire Mason-Patrick – PART 2

Note: This is the second part of this new fiction series I’m writing for my website.

By JonChristopher Collins

     “LePage, we did nothing. Look at the windows,” Vance says. Seraphina looks to Vance.

     “That’s meaningless! You could have shot through the windows,” Thomas says.

     “Ridiculous. I’ll show you.” Seraphina says. She walks to the window; a guard steps in front of her. The walls drip with blood, and the steps up to the king and queen’s throne rolls with the blood of the royals.

     “You’ll go no farther,” Thomas says.

     “As you wish,” Seraphina says, rolling her eyes.

     “Shoot them,” Thomas says.

     “Mr. LePage, I thought we—”

     “I said shoot them. You aren’t here to think.”

     Seraphina stomps on the feet of a guard; he loses his grip on her. She draws her pistol, and Vance draws his sword. Seraphina takes aim at Thomas and walks backwards to the shattered window on the left. Vance walks in front of the guards with his sword drawn. They have yet to take aim.

     “Now this is an interesting turn of events. If you kill any one of us, you’ll most certainly never see the light of day again after what you’ve done today,” Thomas says.

     “We never said anything about killing,” Seraphina says. Aiming at a large chandelier, she fires at the ceiling.

     “Excuse me, gentlemen,” Vance says as he jumps over the guards. The chandelier snaps from the ceiling and comes crashing down to the floor. This knocks Thomas off his feet. Reaching Seraphina, Vance wraps an arm around her. Laughing, Vance says, “Well gentlemen, we’ll be seeing you.”

     Seraphina leaps out the window. Vance turns to follow but before jumping says, “That’s my wife! Farewell!” He launches himself from the building. “Whooaa!” Vance lands on a cart of apples being pushed down the way, and he tumbles off it. Pushing himself off the ground, he adjusts his hat and runs.

     “Vance,” Seraphina shouts from a distance.

     He spots her. “I’m coming, love! Go to the ship! Ready the crew!”

     Looking around with wide eyes and breathing heavily, Vance proceeds forward. “Ahoy! Can I buy your horse?”

     “It’s not for sale,” says a man walking his horse down the path.

     “Stop those pirates!” a guard shouts.

      “I’ve changed my mind; I don’t care for the royals anyway. Take the horse.”

     Vance hops on the horse and heads for the Sea Screamer. “Let’s see if you can’t go faster,” he says. The horse gains speed after a few nudges. “There we go.” The crowded path dwindles as Vance advances to the ship; he maneuvers between merchants and other people. The shadow of Vance and the horse races along with him. Glancing back, Vance sees the guards gaining on him. He stands as the horse continues galloping. He leaps forward off the horse and lands on a carriage up ahead.

     The horse pulling the carriage is jolted and runs lose, leaving the carriage stationary. “Terribly sorry,” Vance says to people in the carriage. He tumbles off and sprints forward, his feet pounding the ground. “Go, go,” he shouts to the ship. He’s a few seconds from reaching it.

     “You, stop!” a guard says.

     “Wonderful,” Vance thinks.

     “Stop!”

     “No thank you! I’ve got a ship to board,” Vance shouts back.

     The Sea Screamer is already away from the dock but close enough for Vance to reach. He runs down the dock and springs off it. Flying through the air and yelling, he smacks against the ship’s stern. “Hey, I made it!”

     “Captain, good to see you in one piece,” says Abraham O’Brien, pulling Vance up.

     “Good to be in one piece, Mr. O’Brien. Can we—”

     Shots flying at Vance just miss him. Finally on the ship, Vance turns to face the guards. “So long, gentlemen. Perhaps you’ll launch a proper investigation before attempting to arrest or kill someone. Give our regards to Mr. LePage.”

     “What happened, Captain?” Abraham asks.

     “It appears there has been a mutiny in the French government. Shots were fired and the king and queen were killed. Let’s get out of here.”

     “Why does it smell like mutiny to you?”

     Vance takes the wheel and shouts, “Full sail!” He clears his throat, turns to Abraham and says, “The shots came through windows, and then LePage came in declaring that we were under arrest. We would have cooperated and answered questions, but then the backstabber ordered us to be shot. Savvy?”

     “Aye, I see now.” Abraham rubs his beard.

     “Where’s Seraphina? Seraphina!”

     “Yes, love?”

     Vance jumps and almost falls back; Seraphina catches him with her arms around his waist. He turns and caresses her face. “Darling, I told you, you mustn’t startle me.”

     Seraphina runs her hands through Vance’s black hair and kisses him; the gentle breeze tickles their faces. “It’s a habit,” Seraphina says.

     “One I’m in some ways fond of,” Vance says with a grin.

      “Kissing or me startling you?” Seraphina asks, tilting her head.

     Vance gazes into her eyes. “I never take for granted making it out of those tight situations,” Vance thinks.

     Seraphina smiles. “Maybe both?” she asks.

     “Yes, both.”

     “I share your feelings, Vance.” Seraphina embraces him, and the couple enjoys a moment of peace.

     “As sweet as this moment is Captain,” Abraham pauses, “the crew and I are curious where we’re headed.”

     Vance raises his brow at Abraham. “Of course, Mr. O’Brien. How inconsiderate of me to share a moment with my wife after nearly being killed.” He smiles, tossing his arms in the air. Seraphina shakes her head and giggles at her husband’s dramatics.

     “Well, Captain—”

     “No, no, Mr. O’Brien, you are right. We need a plan. Listen up all you Sea Screamers, we were almost killed by royal guards; we no longer have the luxury of French loot,” the longwinded Vance strides about his ship, “and we probably won’t have any such opportunities or good relations with the government of France for a long time.”

     “Then it’s back to our old plundering!?” a crew member interjects.

     Vance spins and meanders around working his way to the disruptive crew member. “That would have been the case years ago but no longer. Savvy?”

     “Yes, sir.”

     “England,” Seraphina says. Everyone turns their attention to her. “We head to England. Being that it’s Vance’s home country, we seek the government’s help and direction. What say you, love?”

     Vance smiles and puts his arm around her. “To England,” he says.

To be continued…

Did you miss Part 1? Read it now!

American Cancer Society Grant is Granting Access to Vital Care for Cancer Patients

Thursday, June 2nd, 2022 6:00am

By JonChristopher Collins

Director of Community Relations for the Skaggs Foundation Mindy Honey told Ozarks DynaCom’s News Department on Wednesday that a grant from the American Cancer Society is helping them lift burdens off patients.

“We’re able to help patients who otherwise would not be able to get to vital cancer treatments,” Honey said. This grant offers help to patients like Steph Townsend.

According to a press release, Townsend was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer on Dec. 18, 2020. “I’d been sick, and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong,” Townsend said in the release. Townsend doesn’t have the option to reduce travel as many people are seeking to do as a result of heightened fuel prices.

The article was originally published and can be read in full on Ozarks DynaCom’s websites.

The Adventures of Vance James Patrick and Seraphina Claire Mason-Patrick – PART 1

Note: This is the first part of this new fiction series I’m writing for my website.

By JonChristopher Collins

     A late evening aboard his ship sends Captain Vance James Patrick into a flurry of retrospective thoughts. Years of piracy bubble up into a mix of regret for past deeds and strangely, melancholy over leaving his former way of life. “Does it even matter that I gave it up?” he thinks. “I left my bountiful work only to do something just as morally questionable but less rewarding.” Vance, once the feared captain of the Sea Screamer, now spends his days doing much the same pillaging he did then only to give half of it away. “Blasted conscience,” he thinks. It’s the conscience that brought such a change in him that he now freely gives what he has taken.

     He can’t freely give of everything, though. He’s a privateer. So, while he gives much to other people, a lot of the loot goes to other governments.

     “Beautiful night, isn’t it Vance?”

     His arms jerk and he’s brought out of his thoughts. Vance says, “Seraphina, you shouldn’t startle me, darling.”

     “I’m sorry, love,” she says giggling. “You were in deep thought.”

     “Yes.”

     “What is it this time?”

     At the age of 25, Vance became one of the most infamous pirates. At the age of 35, he course-corrected. Granted, he’s still a pirate, but he’s making progress. This change was in many ways brought on by his wife, 28-year-old Seraphina Claire Mason-Patrick.

     “I’m not sure, Seraphina. Perhaps discontentment.”

     When they met, she was 20 and he was 27. Coming from a French family with a military background, Seraphina is no stranger to excitement. While she’s no pirate, she took to espionage early in her career. Assigned to gather intelligence regarding naval attacks, she crossed paths with Vance. His crew had sent heavy fire on a French cargo ship that was accompanied by an armed ship. A few of his crew of fifty boarded the military vessel and subdued the crew, making several of the sailors aboard the ship watch as the cargo ship was pillaged, and the crew was thrown overboard to the mercy of their swimming abilities.

     Vance accomplished this with his crew of fifty against the French crew of one hundred fifty. Seraphina was watching all this from afar with other spies. Vance taunted his victims; he didn’t kill them immediately. Instead, after swiping a dagger across their chests and leaving a few with close range bullet wounds, Vance had them thrown overboard with the others. Swimming with wounds, they witnessed their ships set ablaze.

     The cuts and holes the crews incurred burned as they mixed with the water, and the pain only grew as they saw the ships burn before their eyes. “All this for cargo. I haven’t seen my family for over a month; this might not change,” one man thought. This man was right; choking on tears streaming down his face, a wave tossed him to his death.

     Seraphina’s orders were not to engage any attackers but to watch. She engaged the pirates anyway, and it altered the course of her life just as much as that of Vance. She and her men sailed near the wreckage and the nearly submerged men. Some of them were already dead due to drowning or bleeding to death. Seraphina and her men rescued some of them, but even among those who survived the attack, several died of infection.

     “Discontentment? Do you remember what you told me when we first properly met?”

     “Yes, Seraphina. I said that I had never been so content until you came along; I learned contentment from you.”

     “Right you are.”

     Of course, this wasn’t the attitude Vance displayed when she came sailing in. Following the rescue attempt, Seraphina boarded his ship in hopes of gleaning information. “What’s your business here, pirate?” she asked.

     “Come on, is that how you address someone upon first meeting them? What’s your business here, miss?”

     “You first. You chose to engage in battle with government ships despite not being provoked.”

     “You have a point, although I’m irritated to admit it. I’m Captain Vance James Patrick. Who are you?”

     “Seraphina Mason. I’m with the French military. Not only have you damaged and stolen property, but you have murdered men and left others severely wounded.” That’s enough about the past for now. At the moment, Vance and Seraphina have arrived at a French port.

     “Didn’t think I’d be back in France so soon,” Vance says.

     “Yes, well, here we are.” Seraphina adjusts her hat on her black hair. “Our meeting with the king and queen is fast approaching so we best be ready.”

     “Indeed. We need to get to the inn.”

     “We have no need of sleeping at such places. That’s what our ship is for. I only wanted to walk for a few minutes, darling.” An evening stroll passes the time for the privateer couple. Their love sparked in France and brings them back to this place from time to time.

***

     “Mr. and Mrs. Patrick, such a pleasure to see you again,” says a maid at the front entrance of the king’s palace.

     “Yes, a pleasure to see you too.”

     A royal guard strides down a long hall to meet Vance and Seraphina. “Bonjour,” he calls out as he walks down the hall.

     “Bonjour,” Vance says.

     “I trust your journey was pleasant?” the guard asks.

     Vance and Seraphina walk toward the guard, meeting him in the middle of the hall. “Certainly was,” Vance says. “The weather got a little laborious to navigate on our way back but nothing we can’t handle.”

     “Yes,” Seraphina says. “I’m an expert at navigating ruckus, so it was no obstacle.”

     “Good,” the guard says. “If you will follow me, the king and queen will see you now.”

     Seraphina and Vance trail close behind as he walks over to the room where the royal couple will have their meeting with the privateers. The guard knocks and opens the door. “Your majesties, Vance and Seraphina Patrick have arrived.” The couple walk in, and the guard closes the door.

     “You arrived faster than expected,” the king says, motioning them forward.

     “Yes, your majesty. We finished the job with haste,” Seraphina says.

     “It appears so,” the queen says.

     “We wanted to meet with you not only for the payment but to negotiate your next commissioned assignment,” the king says. He peers out a nearby window. “Your next task is closer to the palace. Pirates are terrorizing our waters and striking critical exports of ours. Your will—”

     Gunfire blasts are heard in the room; blood splats across the room. “Oh no,” Seraphina says.

     “Help,” Vance exclaims.

     Several guards come through the room’s entrance. The royal advisor, Thomas LePage, stands in front of the guards. “What have you done? You two are under arrest for the murder of the king and queen.”

Read Part 2!

Skaggs Foundation Grant Helping Simmering Center Assist Clients

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022 3:09pm

By JonChristopher Collins

A Simmering Center client was in a car accident resulting in long-term effects, according to a press release; a grant from the Skaggs Foundation is helping Simmering Center clients like this.

Garrett Rose lives with the effects of the car accident. He was recently released from prison. “I often, out of nowhere, get reoccurring headaches and I also have dental pain,” Rose said in the press release. The release also notes the impact past life styles can have on clients medication costs.

“When clients arrive to the Simmering Center in Branson, oftentimes they are malnourished and in poor health as a result of their past lifestyle. With little to no money, even over-the-counter medications to relieve aches and pains can be unaffordable.” Funds given to the Simering Center will assist clients in getting needed medicines.

The story was originally published and can be read in full on Ozarks DynaCom’s websites.

Parson Approved Missouri’s Congressional District Boundaries, Said loss of Time and Productivity is “Unfortunate”

Thursday, May 19th, 2022 3:18pm

By JonChristopher Collins

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson approved the proposed boundaries for Missouri’s eight congressional districts on Wednesday by signing HB 2909, according to a press release.

According to the press release, HB 2909 “maintains the current partisan split in Missouri’s congressional districts, six Republican leaning districts and two Democratic leaning districts.” Parson said in the release that during this past session “a few individuals” hindered important legislation and that they promoted “inefficient and ineffective government” via political posturing. Parson also noted a loss of time and productivity.

The story was originally published and can be read in full on Ozarks DynaCom’s websites.

Branson Government Obtained $8,895 Grant and Bought Website Portal

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022 11:06am

By JonChristopher Collins

Branson Communications Manager Melody Pettit provided information to Ozarks DynaCom’s News Department Wednesday about a grant Branson obtained from Missouri’s Local Records Grant Program allowing for the purchase a web portal.

Pettit’s response to Ozarks DynaCom’s request for information said that the grant amount was $8,895. The grant application was submitted on Feb. 25, 2021; it was awarded for the grant cycle of July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. Acting Branson City Administrator and City Clerk Lisa Westfall commented on the new web portal feature in a press release.

The story was originally published and can be read in full on Ozarks DynaCom’s websites.