In a 2005 column entitled, “‘Free at last,’ a new Freeus County formed from the western portion of Taney County?” the Ole Seagull wrote, “Ok, let’s get to the nubbin of it, eastern and western Taney County live in two different worlds. An outsider watching what has been transpiring recently would sense the same thing that the Ole Seagull sensed when he moved to Taney County just about twenty years ago; that eastern Taney County and the Taney County Commissioners treat the economic generator of the vast majority of Taney County’s tax revenues, the immediate Branson – Hollister area and its tourism based industry, as an errant child and a tolerated pain.”
Well folks it doesn’t seem like things have changed much over the intervening five years. Jim Stafford, one of Branson’s best comedians has been known to say to audiences, “I can feel the love in the room.” One can only wonder if he would be able to say the same thing if he was in a room with the Taney County Commissioners where, if published reports accurately reflect what has been happening, there isn’t a lot of love in the room. In the opinion of an Ole Seagull, if the actions of the Taney County Commission over the last few months was compared to one of Branson’s great live shows it would be “Yakov’s Moscow Circus,” without the meal and its happy ending.
Isn’t it time to relieve the pain, particularly when Missouri law provides a vehicle for doing so. Section 47.310 of the Missouri Revised Statutes provide that “The question of dividing any county or of striking from any county any portion thereof, whether for the purpose of forming a new county or of adding to any other county” may be initiated on the petition of not less than one hundred voters of such county. Let’s, just for a moment, imagine, what could happen if just 100 people from Taney County petitioned for a substantial portion of the Western District of Taney County to be struck from Taney County for the purposes of establishing a new county which for the purpose of this column is being called “Freeus.”.
Oh, there’s more involved, but wouldn’t it be worth the effort? Just think, instead of the Taney County Commission and eastern Taney County concerning themselves and getting involved with what Branson and Hollister is doing or not doing they could concentrate all their efforts on running the new slimmed down Taney County. Branson and Hollister will be located in the new Freeus County and would no longer be the concern of Taney County.
Taney County Commissioners and the citizens of Taney County wouldn’t have to be concerned about taxes to promote tourism or more money being spent in the Branson – Hollister area than on the eastern part of the current Taney County because that area would be in the new Freeus County. Among other things, that would leave the good residents of the surviving Taney County with plenty of time to figure out how much they will have to raise personal property and real estate taxes or cut services on themselves to make up the loss of Branson’s tourism related tax revenues.
That aside, why shouldn’t the businesses and residents of the Branson – Hollister area have a county government that is more attuned to their needs and the development of tourism and other jobs for its citizens? To an Ole Seagull it’s almost ludicrous that the primary economic generator for the existing Taney County, the Branson – Hollister area, has no more voice in what happens in Taney County than it does. As an example, there are three Taney County Commissioners. Over the last ten years what percentage of the time has two out or the three been from the Eastern District?
One almost wonders why the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce doesn’t initiate a committee to provide a public forum and evaluate the pros and cons of the idea. As the Ole Seagull wrote in 2005, “‘It would take some effort but won’t it be worth it? Isn’t it a ‘win-win’ situation? Don’t the impassioned words of Dr. Martin Luther King describe how a lot of people in both the new Freeus County and Taney County would feel if it happened, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”