Latest Issue: December 30, 2021
2021Headlines: A year in review
February 4 - Vicki May announces her early retirement after 43 years of service.
Moore returns to state prison
Tucker Moore returned to the Missouri Department of Corrections on a parole violation stemming from a shooting on December 6 near Crane. Nathan Johnson of Crane was killed in the incident. After Moore’s arrest, Stone County deputies recovered the vehicle and a firearm allegedly used in the crime. Moore’s felony parole forbids him from possessing a firearm. The case is still under investigation by the Stone County Sheriff’s Department.
Bill Timmsen appointed as new police chief in Crane
In a special closed session on January 13, Crane’s Board of Aldermen met to interview and confirm Bill Timmsen as Crane’s Chief of Police, following the resignation of Jon Elmore. The hiring process was extended over a period of months, with Mayor Colin Brannan saying, “I know it’s been a slow process, but I honestly think we have found the best of the best.” Timmsen comes to Crane with 25 years of law enforcement experience.
Stone County Collector Vicki May takes early retirement
County Collector of Revenue Vicki May, accompanied by several family members, read her resignation letter during the Tuesday morning commission meeting, bringing a close to 43 years of service. May expressed her need to take care of her 98-year-old mother and a desire to be an active part of her grandchildren’s lives. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve Stone County and watch Stone County grow and become probably one of the most aggressive and most well-planned counties in the state of Missouri.
Suspect killed in Kimberling City standoff
At 10 A.M. on March 12, 2021, Kimberling City Police Department responded to a call for a burglary in progress at Point Holiday Condos in Kimberling City. Suspect, 34-year-old Timothy Jonas Johnson, broke into an apartment above his and fired several shots before returning to his own. Authorities received information that Johnson was holding an 85-year-old man hostage, evacuated neighboring residents, and maintained a perimeter around the apartment. During negotiations, at approximately 8 P.M., Johnson fired multiple shots. SWAT returned fire on Johnson, who was pronounced dead at the scene by the Stone County Coroner. The hostage was found in good condition.
Lady Bulldogs finish season with third place state win
The Lady Bulldog basketball team of Blue Eye ended last season with a trip to the Final Four, cut short due to the onset of COVID-19. This year, they once again earned a trip to the final four of the Class 2 state tournament. The Lady Bulldogs will return all five starters and their 6th man next year and have their sights set on bringing home a first-place win in the 2021-22 season.
Community comes together after first tornado of season damages homes and farms
Severe weather packed a powerful punch last Wednesday evening as a tornado destroyed mobile homes, barns, and uprooted trees in rural areas of northern Stone County. Michael Thompson’s family suffered damage to trees, his home, and his kennel in the storm. The next day, friends and family gathered, fired up chainsaws, and began the process of cleaning up. “The support from friends and neighbors was something else,” Thompson said, “it makes you appreciate living here, makes you appreciate everyone so much. The support we’ve received has just been overwhelming.”
Reeds Spring school name change survey ignites community response
A strategic planning team comprising 35 community members, including parents, religious leaders, and community leaders, developed strategies for improving the school district. Following a large public backlash, Superintendent Cody Hirshi addressed the misconceptions about the survey. “It wasn’t about changing a logo, changing colors, destroying history. … The team just wanted to simply research the community’s feelings about it.” He added. “The board would never go rogue and do something the community does not want. The people will speak.” In the end, 84% of those surveyed opposed a name change.
More flash flooding, rainy forecast continues
Parts of northern Stone County saw flash flooding yet again last Thursday, May 27th, when four-plus inches fell over the area. Little Crane Creek and Crane Creek quickly rose out of their banks, as did Spring Creek in Hurley and Pine Run Creek along Highway 413 from the Elsey area to Galena. More rain is in the forecast for this week. With the ground saturated, runoff from the rains may produce flash flooding more quickly than usual.
Robert Wiley, former 39th Circuit Judge, passes away
Robert Wiley, a native of Hurley, grew up swimming and fishing in Spring Creek and roaming the woods in Stone County. After graduating as valedictorian from Hurley High School, he attended Missouri State University (then SMSU) on a scholarship, where he majored in Political Science. According to Wiley’s daughter, Elizabeth Exley, “His wisdom, generosity and gentle demeanor— often delivered with a joke— won everyone over. He loved helping people and put in countless (often unpaid) hours to do so. He was known far and wide for his integrity.”
Crane receives demolition grant
Crane city administrators announced this week that the city had been awarded a $241,088 demolition grant. The grant money will fund a $269,088 project to clean up 13 blighted residential and commercial properties within city limits. Several proposed houses and part of the old casket factory are included in the demolition project. Mayor Colin Brannan says that demolition should start in the next six months or so and that the whole project should take about two years to complete.
Attorney General receives $156,000 in consent judgment against Jim Bakker
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office filed suit against Jim Bakker and Morningside Church Productions in March of 2020 for marketing “silver solution” as a potential cure for COVID-19. “My office will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of Missouri consumers and will not hesitate to take action when those consumers are being defrauded,” said Attorney General Eric Schmitt. Restitution checks will be mailed to Missouri consumers who purchased the “silver solution” no later than 30 days after the execution of the consent judgment.
County Clerk Cindy Elmore tenders resignation
Stone County Clerck Cindy Elmore announced her resignation effective July 31, 2021. Elmore cited moving out of the county to run a family business and take care of family health issues as the reason behind her departure from office. Elmore was elected as county clerk in 2014, taking office on January 1, 2015. She served as chief deputy county clerk for seven years before that.
Horn sentenced in 2019 murder of Reeds Spring man
Elizabeth Horn, 41, of Stone County, was sentenced to twenty-one years for Second Degree Murder in the Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin on Wednesday, July 7. Horn was arrested on possible arson charges. During transport to the Stone County Jail, she made a comment about killing someone. Upon further questioning, she gave a name but refused to say anything else. Officers found 74-year-old Walter Scott of Reeds Spring, deceased, with stab wounds. Horn entered a guilty plea and was sentenced last week.
Zachary Chastain graduates from Missouri Highway Patrol Academy
Colonel Eric T. Olsen, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, announced that 29 troopers graduated from the Patrol’s Law Enforcement Academy on Friday, July 23. The 111th Recruit Class reported to the Academy on February 1, 2021, to begin the 25-week training to become a trooper. The new troopers will report for duty in their assigned troops on August 9, 2021. Four class awards were presented, including the physical fitness award to Zachary T. Chastain of Crane. Zachary is the son of Sean and Danielle Chastain of Crane. He is the grandson of Larry and Janice Fabro, of Billings, and Christine Chastain of Republic.
Denise Dickens sworn in as Stone County clerk
As of Monday, August 2, Denise Dickens was sworn in as county clerk following an appointment from Governor Mike Parson. Dickens said she is looking forward to going back to where she started more than 30 years ago in the clerk’s office. She will serve through the remainder of Elmore’s original term. However, Dickens hopes this is only the beginning of her service as clerk. Dickens had already announced that she would be running for the county clerk position before Elmore’s resignation. “I live here. I’m never going to move away,” Dickens said. “I love the county, everything about it.”
A servant’s heart: Crane mourns the loss of Kathy Davidson
Kathy Davidson was a treasure to the city of Crane. Davidson, 67, passed away on Monday, September 6, 2021, after a short illness. Kathy was often organizing and working tirelessly at community and charity events. The monies raised always went to local causes; a family with a sick loved one, house-fire victims, school organizations, etc. When she wasn’t serving others through these charitable community events, she took care of her elderly father in their home.
Entire police force in Kimberling City resigns
Following the resignation of Chief Craig Alexander in a letter to the mayor on August 23, the remaining police officers of Kimberling City also tended their letters of resignation. Amidst concerns, Kimberling City Administrator Jerry Harman said, “We have funded the police department. We plan on funding it in the future. There is no talk of defunding the police department.” The city has made agreements with Stone County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Branson West to maintain regular patrols. “There will be a committee put together to discuss hiring a new chief. Then, when that chief comes in, he will hire his new force. We don’t want to hire his force for him,” Harman said.
Stone County Fair on the Square makes return
After a fifteen-year hiatus, the Stone County Fair made a bold return as vendors and fairgoers filled the square at Galena. Fair on the Square brought all types of activities from arts and crafts to alligator on a stick and other fair foods to bounce houses, a movie on the courthouse lawn, educational enrichment activities for area students, music, a pageant, and even camel rides.
Fair on the Square Committee Chairperson Deana Despaw said, “We had a WONDERFUL turnout, especially for being the first year back in so long. When we started throwing around the idea of a comeback, we really had no idea what to expect. I am so proud of what we accomplished.”
Galena Bears SWCL Tournament Champions
In the opening round of the SWCL Tournament, the Bears were victorious over Crane on Saturday, October 9. The Bears scored 16 runs on 16 hits along with four bases on balls. The Bears rallied and put up a six-spot in the second. The offensive player of the game was Cameron Robertson, going three for three with four runs batted in. The defensive player of the game was Ethan Bailey. Ethan came out of the bullpen and struck out seven of the nine hitters he faced.
Local Civil Air Patrol squadron celebrates first cadet to fly solo in its flight program
Lucas Orr was the first cadet to complete a first solo flight through the Table Rock Lake Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol’s ground school flight program. He took his solo flight on Monday, October 18, and the accomplishment was celebrated during a special ceremony Thursday, October 21. As an auxiliary of the Air Force, the Civil Air Patrol is issued its own planes that volunteers use to do things like survey damage after natural disasters and locate airplanes that have crashed. “Civil Air Patrol is the best-kept secret in aviation, in the sense that hardly any civilians know what it is,” said Squadron Commander Captain Stephen Lind. Anyone interested in learning more about the Table Rock Lake Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol can visit www.capmo147.com.
Lights on Afterschool shines light on the impact of the Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks
“We gathered together to give a hands-on glimpse into all of the great things our organization has to offer the students we serve,” Boys & Girls of the Ozarks Director of Operations Patrick Stewart said. Leaders of the organization said more than 360 club members and more than 200 adult visitors came to the event throughout all three locations: Forsyth, Branson, and Reeds Spring. “After school programs keep kids safe, help working families, and inspire learning. They provide opportunities to help young people develop into successful adults. So, it is vitally important to allow parents and community members to come in and see that we are truly making an impact on the lives of the children we serve.”
Roaring River Spring deepest in nation, no bottom in sight
During their last dive of the year into Roaring River Spring, the KISS Rebreathers team, headed by diver Mike Young of For Smith, Arkansas, slipped “easily” to a depth of 472 feet, surpassing the state record of 451 feet. Although there is still nothing that could be called a “bottom” of the spring in sight, according to Young, the sides have narrowed into a tunnel that angles downward.
In addition to the discovery of the narrowing passageway, chief underwater photographer Randall Purdy captured footage of a cave-adapted creature that looked somewhat like a white salamander with no legs. Diver/cartographer Jon Lillestolen submitted a photo and video of the creature to Dr. Michael Sutton, who manages the biology database within the greater Missouri cave database, works with Cave Research Foundation, and has spent 30 years researching Missouri cave life. Sutton responded that the creature is likely the grotto salamander, a blind-cave adapted salamander Sutton says are common to caves in Southwest Missouri.