Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Ozarks-related blog to enjoy

I've added a new blog to my list of blogs I visit, and I hope you will, too. It's called "Sharpened Edges." It just started, and it looks like it's going to be a good one.

The blogger, Ron Smith, is a Rolla Fire and Rescue Department firefighter and officer. He's also president of the Newburg Board of Education. He's active in lots of church and civic activities.

He comes from an Ozarks family, full of wisdom and tradition, and Ron is sharing the insights he learned from his family, as well as what he has learned on his own.

It's an inspirational blog, yet it is not preachy. Reading it is like sitting down and drinking a glass of sweet tea with Ron and talking about life. Visit it, bookmark, visit it again and again, and share your comments with him.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I was ready to get mad at the city dads

The Rolla Daily News grabbed me with a headline today. "City taxes inching up," it said in large black type. The subhead declared "Council approves incremental increase."

I saw the paper at Wal-Mart, and I gritted my teeth as I picked up a copy and then went looking for the couple of items I was sent to the store to get. I couldn't wait to get home, read the article and start fuming about the dadgum city government trying to nickel-and-dime me to death.

I settled down when I read the article. Turns out the headline was alarmist in nature, for the levy is only rising from $0.7364 in 2009 to $0.7392 this year. That is an increase of $0.0028

"The 2010 city levy of $0.7392 is lower than the 2008 levy and nearly identical to the 2007 levy," the newspaper reported.

On a house worth $150,000, the increase won't even be $1. Since my house isn't worth near that much, my tax increase will be minimal.

I got all bent out of shape over nothing. That headline was tricky. It got me to buy the paper, though, so I guess it was successful.

IBMA announces nominees for annual bluegrass awards

The International Bluegrass Music Association has announced the nominees for the 2010 awards program and you can read about it on this website from the Voice of America, and probably several others, too. Here's an excerpt:

Reigning two time Entertainers of the Year Dailey And Vincent had two
projects eligible for awards this year, so it's not surprising that the group
tops the list of nominees with 10 chances to win. Their CD "Dailey And
Vincent Sing The Statler Brothers" is a bluegrass tribute to the famed country
quartet, and earned them an Album of the Year nomination. "Elizabeth" is
up for Song of the Year, and this new version of the classic country hit, "Susan
When She Tried", is a good example why the group is also up for Vocal Group of
the Year.

Click on the link above to read more. When you're in Rolla on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon you can hear a great bluegrass program hosted by Ray Hicks on 99.7 FM.

No matter where in the world you are you can listen to bluegrass from Rolla on kmst.org with host Wayne Bledsoe from 7-10 p.m. Saturday, 7-8 p.m. Thursday and 7-9 a.m. Sunday.

Hundreds attend MDC public meetings on elk restoration

By Joe Jerek
Department of Conservation

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently held open-house-style public meetings in southern Missouri to share information about proposed plans for elk restoration in the region and to gather comments from the public.

About 300 people attended the meetings, which were held in Van Buren on Aug. 23, Eminence on Aug. 24 and Ellington on Aug. 26.

MDC staff visited with members of the public at information tables that focused on various aspects of the proposed elk restoration. Topics discussed included animal health testing, the restoration zone, herd and habitat management and possible economic benefits from elk hunting and related tourism.

While the Conservation Commission has yet to approve the proposed restoration plan, the draft calls for extensive testing of all imported elk for various diseases. Following this, the proposed plan calls for a limited release of 80 to 150 cow and bull elk in early 2011 into a 365-square-mile restoration zone around the Peck Ranch Conservation Area in Shannon, Carter and Reynolds counties. According to MDC research, this area has suitable habitat, consists mostly of public lands, has limited roads running through it and has limited agriculture activity.

The MDC completed a feasibility study and held public meetings on potential elk restoration in 2000. The Conservation Commission suspended plans at that time due to the emerging issue of chronic wasting disease (CWD) and habitat concerns.

“Missourians are tied to the land and the wildlife,” said MDC Deputy Director Tom Draper. “We have an opportunity here to restore a native species that can coexist with other wildlife and land uses. There may be some issues, but we can work together to fix those. MDC wants to be a good neighbor.”

ANIMAL HEALTH TESTING

To prevent possible disease transmission from imported elk to domestic livestock and other wildlife, the MDC is working with the Missouri Department of Agriculture and State Veterinarian Dr. Taylor Woods.

“Our two agencies have developed extensive animal-health testing protocols for imported free-ranging elk that have been proven in other states and meet or exceed required health testing protocols for wildlife or livestock,” said Dr. Woods.

If the Conservation Commission decides to proceed with plans to restore elk, the protocols call for all imported elk to be tested for nine diseases: brucellosis, CWD, bovine tuberculosis, anaplasmosis, bovine viral diarrhea, blue tongue, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, Johne’s disease and vesicular stomatitis. All elk must originate from a CWD-free state and test negative for CWD, along with brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis.

The protocols also state that all imported elk would be tested in their state of origin as well as in Missouri before release. Elk would also be treated for internal and external parasites in their state of origin before being brought into Missouri. Any elk brought into Missouri would be held in a fenced area in the restoration zone prior to release.

The protocols also call for the MDC to collect health data from the state of origin several months prior to trapping elk for transportation to Missouri. Each shipment of elk into Missouri would be followed by a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection and approved by an accredited veterinarian. All imported elk that die in Missouri would be examined for cause of death.

All elk would be fitted with microchips and radio collars to help monitor their health, movements and location.

MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISIONS

MDC Biologist Lonnie Hansen said that elk-vehicle collisions do occur in states where elk have been restored, but such accidents have been infrequent.

Hansen is one of several MDC biologists developing the current proposed restoration plan and was instrumental in developing the 2000 feasibility study.

“Arkansas has approximately 500 elk in an area covering about 500 square miles and averages one or two elk-vehicle accident per year,” said Hansen. “Kentucky has approximately 10,000 elk in an area covering about 6,400 square miles throughout 16 counties and averages about 10-elk-vehicle accidents per year.”

He added that the 365-square-mile zone around Peck Ranch Conservation Area contains 77 miles of blacktop highway inside the restoration zone.

“This area has fewer roads per square mile than elk areas in other states,” he explained. “For example, Arkansas’ elk areas have about 2.1 miles of roads per square mile compared to 1.2 miles of roads per square mile in Missouri’s proposed restoration zone.”

Hansen said differences between elk and deer behavior during the rut make elk less prone to vehicle collisions.

“Elk do not frequent and cross roads to the same extent as deer,” he explained. “Elk are harem breeders where they win and defend a group of cows in an established area. They do not go through the chase phase of courtship like whitetails, which causes bucks and does to cross roadways.”

LANDOWNER CONCERNS

Hansen added that the MDC plan also deals with elk that wander where they are not welcome, and is modeled after those of other states where elk have been introduced.

“Elk may move from areas where we want them onto private land where they are not wanted,” said Hansen. “We are talking with private landowners in and around the restoration zone and listening to their concerns. The key to help prevent problems is to provide excellent elk habitat and keep them on public property as much as possible.”

The MDC plan includes having trained staff who would quickly respond to complaints about unwelcome elk. Tactics for dealing with unwelcome elk could include harassing them with shell crackers and other noise-making methods to prompt them to leave private land and not return. Staff could also sedate and relocate nuisance elk. As a last resort, staff could harvest nuisance elk and donate the meat to food pantries.

Hansen noted that Arkansas has recorded about two complaints of pasture damage and one or two complaints of fence damage per year over the past 20 years.

The MDC is also developing cost-share incentives for private landowners in the area to help them manage pastures for both improved livestock grazing and elk habitat. Potential funding support may come from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and/or the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation.

HUNTING AND ECONOMIC BENEFITS

The MDC’s elk restoration plan will include herd-management guidelines, with hunting in the future as the primary management tool to maintain an appropriate population.

“Our goal is to grow and maintain a herd that doesn’t exceed the supporting habitat,” said Draper.

He added that elk restoration in other states has provided economic benefits.

“States that have restored elk, such as Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Arkansas, learned that elk quickly became a key tourist attraction,” Draper explained. “Establishing an elk herd in this limited area in southern Missouri would likely result in considerable public interest and a subsequent boost to tourism and hunting.”

Governor Jay Nixon released a statement earlier this summer supporting the MDC’s exploration of possible elk restoration.

According to the governor’s statement, “Restoring our state’s native elk population could have important conservation and economic benefits… The benefits for elk restoration for tourism and hunting in Missouri could be significant…”

The Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM), the state’s largest and oldest conservation-related organization, also supports the MDC’s elk restoration efforts.

In a letter to the MDC, CFM Executive Director Dave Murphy wrote, “…The concept that a significant part of our natural heritage can be restored is worthy of consideration… Several developments like a new live-animal [elk] test for CWD and like restorations of wild elk in a number of our neighboring states to significant cultural and economic benefits without real consequences combine to suggest that another look may be worthwhile… As an organization now with just over 90,000 members in Missouri, we see real enthusiasm and excitement for the restoration of elk…”

The L-A-D Foundation, owner of Pioneer Forest, also supports the MDC’s elk restoration efforts. Pioneer Forest covers 27% of the land in the restoration zone.

According a letter to the MDC from L-A-D Foundation President John Karel, “We are advised that the reintroduction of elk into Missouri on a limited basis is once again under consideration by your Department. We are pleased to advise that the L-A-D Foundation endorses such consideration, and hopes that it will prove feasible to restore wild elk to a place in the Missouri outdoors.”

The majority of written comments received at the public meetings were in favor of the MDC’s elk restoration efforts.

In addition to written comments received at the public meetings, the MDC is seeking comments through its website at www.mdc.mo.gov/contact-us under “Elk Restoration Comments” or mailed to Missouri Department of Conservation, Director’s Office, PO Box 180, Jefferson City MO 65102-0180.

MDC staff will include results of public comments in a presentation of the proposed elk-restoration plan to the Conservation Commission at its October 15 meeting in Kirksville.

Additional information on the MDC’s proposed elk restoration efforts is available at www.missouriconservation.org by searching “elk restoration.”

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Let them build the mosque in New York City

I don't know why progressive Christians have to try to make people who oppose the Manhattan Muslim Mosque appear to be unforgiving and unchristian. I'm a conservative, and I just don't trust the Muslim leaders who want to build this as a monument to their great victory on Sept. 11, 2001, and a memorial to the Muslims in the planes and on the ground who lost their lives. My distrust seems like commonsense to me, not unforgiveness or lack of a Christ-like spirit. Besides, do you think King Jesus is going to approve of a Muslim mosque in his Millennial Kingdom?

NEVERTHELESS, I think the Muslim leaders who I distrust should be able to go ahead and build the mosque for these reasons:

1. The First Amendment.

2. The city government finds no zoning problems. Presumably, the construction plans meet with city codes.

3. The residents of New York have not en masse protested. In fact, it seems most of them favor the mosque.

4. Many, perhaps most, of the survivors and relatives of the victims of the World Trade Center destruction either support the construction of the mosque or have no opinion. Few seem to oppose it, or oppose it enough to speak loudly.

5. I'm afraid of the slippery slope you progressives laugh at; nevertheless, I maintain that if we deny this religion a Constitutional right, the precedent will be set to deny conservative Christians our rights to evangelize.

So let them build the mosque as memorial and monument. They have the right.

Do you think the Muslims, the city, the liberals, mainline Christians, post-modernists and post-evangelicals and progressives will support conservative Christians' right to stand on public property in front of the mosque and hand out gospel tracts and preach Jesus, crucified and resurrected?

Now, let me add that I live in Southern Missouri, and if in the future, after the Manhattan mosque is built, Silver Dollar City or the Arch or the Missouri Capitol is bombed and the planning is traced back to the Manhattan mosque, I'll really be pissed.

A good resource for "Living Lean"

If you are on Facebook, let me recommend a Facebook group called Living Lean.

This is a new group founded by a woman who has lost 76 pounds so far this year by changing what she eats.

She's not sacrificing a bit in her weight loss. She's eating lots of good food, and you'll see some of the recipes that she has been using. They're easy; I know, for I have made most of them myself, and I'm no cook.

She doesn't count calories or grams of fat. She eats dessert every night with her supper, and she often has a bedtime snack just before bedtime.

I've been eating the same stuff the Living Lean group founder eats, because she is my wife. I've been losing weight, too, though not as much or as rapidly as she has lost. I think she's being helped by her regular program of regular, non-strenuous exercise, so I guess I'm going to have to start doing that, too; otherwise, she'll continue to gloat.

If you're not a member of Facebook, I recommend that you register. It's a good way to stay connected with friends you thought you'd never talk to again and relatives you haven't seen in years. Once you register, join the Living Lean group, too.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Will elk return to the Ozarks?

By Joe Jerek
Conservation Department

As part of its efforts to obtain public input regarding potential elk restoration in a limited area of Carter, Reynolds and Shannon counties, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will hold the following public meetings:

Monday, Aug. 23, 5-8 p.m. – Van Buren High School Cafeteria, 202 W. College

Tuesday, Aug. 24, 5-8 p.m. – Eminence High School “Old” Gym, 1 Redwing Drive

Thursday, Aug. 26, 5-8 p.m. – Ellington High School Multi-Purpose Room, 1 School St.

“The successful management of Missouri’s fish, forests and wildlife, including possible elk restoration, involves partnerships with citizens, organizations and other agencies,” said MDC Director Bob Ziehmer. “We value public input and are gathering public comments as we work to develop an elk restoration plan for the Conservation Commission."

In addition to the public meetings, the MDC is seeking written comments by Oct. 1. Comments can be emailed to www.mdc.mo.gov/contact-us under “Elk Restoration Comments” or mailed to Missouri Department of Conservation, Director’s Office, PO Box 180, Jefferson City MO 65102-0180.

The MDC is considering elk restoration for several reasons, including requests to restore the once-native species, the ecological benefits from native-species restoration and economic benefits to Missouri through tourism and hunting.

Elk once ranged throughout Missouri. Over-harvest and habitat destruction eliminated this native species from the state by the late 1800s.

Prompted by requests from Missourians and conservation organizations, the MDC conducted a feasibility study on elk restoration in 2000. The study identified an area in the Ozarks around the Peck Ranch Conservation Area as a potential restoration zone. The zone, covering parts of Carter, Shannon and Reynolds counties, has suitable habitat, high public-land ownership, low road densities and limited agriculture activity.

Due to disease and habitat concerns, the Commission suspended the Department’s consideration of an elk restoration in 2001, and directed staff to facilitate additional discussion to determine if concerns regarding elk restoration could be addressed to the satisfaction of citizens.

Renewed interest from citizens and conservation organizations, along with elk restoration success in other states, recently prompted the Commission to revisit the topic. Following a period of public comment ending Oct. 1, MDC staff will present a proposed elk restoration plan to the Commission at its meeting Oct. 15 in Jefferson City.

Ziehmer noted that key points about the MDC’s efforts to restore elk in Missouri are:

· Elk is a native species to Missouri, and restoring native species holds many benefits.

· Elk restoration will be limited to a targeted restoration zone in southeast Missouri.

· Elk restoration will include herd-management guidelines, with hunting as the primary tool to maintain an appropriate population.

· Elk restoration will include health protocols, such as disease testing, to ensure the health of domestic livestock and other wildlife.

· Elk restoration will include plans for dealing with elk that wander where they are not welcome.

· Elk restoration in other states has provided resource and economic benefits.

Additional information on the MDC’s proposed elk restoration efforts can be found online at www.missouriconservation.org by searching “elk restoration.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A couple of interactive maps with disturbing information

Here are a couple of maps shared by SW Missouri Dave, one of the participants on the Missouri Forum at city-data.com. I think you'll find these maps interesting and thought-provoking--and highly disturbing.

Economic Stress Index from Associated Press Interactive


New York Times: Food Stamp Usage Across the Country

First battle of Civil War west of Mississippi fought in the Ozarks in 1861

The first major battle in the Civil War west of the Mississippi River took place on this date in 1861 south of Springfield in what is known as the Battle of Wilson's Creek, or if you're a Southerner, the Battle of Oak Hills.

From Wikipedia--Battle of Wilson's Creek:

Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon's Army of the West was camped at Springfield,
Missouri, with Confederate troops under the commands of Brig. Gen. Benjamin
McCulloch approaching. On August 9, both sides formulated plans to attack the
other. About 5:00 a.m. on August 10, Lyon, in two columns commanded by himself
and Col. Franz Sigel, attacked the Confederates on Wilson's Creek about
12 miles (19 km) southwest of Springfield. Rebel cavalry received the first
blow and fell back away from Bloody Hill. Confederate forces soon rushed up and
stabilized their positions.
The Confederates attacked the Union forces three times that day but failed
to break through the Union line. When General Lyon was killed during the battle
and General Sweeny wounded, Major Samuel D. Sturgis assumed command. Meanwhile,
the Confederates had routed Sigel's column, south of Skegg's Branch. Following
the third Confederate attack, which ended at 11:00 a.m., the Confederates
withdrew. Sturgis realized, however, that his men were exhausted and his
ammunition was low, so he ordered a retreat to Springfield. The Confederates
were too disorganized and ill-equipped to pursue. This Confederate victory
buoyed southern sympathizers in Missouri and served as a springboard for a bold
thrust north that carried Price and his Missouri State Guard as far as
Lexington. In late October, a rump convention, convened by Governor Claiborne
Fox Jackson, met in Neosho and passed out an ordinance of secession. Wilson's
Creek, the most significant 1861 battle in Missouri, gave the Confederates
control of southwestern Missouri.


Here's a link to official records of the battle: Civil War Home.

Here's the National Park Service link for the battlefield. It's worth a visit to the battlefield; look at this website first.

Here's a website you'll want to bookmark and visit over and over again.

HistoryNet.com has another good page of information.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Visit the Macedonia Baptist Church Blog

I've not posted this week because I took a little vacation earlier in the week and then had to play catch-up with work and chores the rest of the week.

On the other blog I administer, the Macedonia Baptist Church Blog, I prepared for the week off by writing up and scheduling the posts in advance. I didn't have time to do that for the Ozarks Almanac.

I guess that's why I've had a lot more visitors on the Macedonia Baptist Church Blog this week.

If you want to read current news and commentary, drop by the Macedonia Baptist Church Blog, but don't forget to come back here. I'll try to start posting daily.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Suffering in the heat to hear some great gospel music

Delaine and I went over to Springfield for the Ozark Empire Fair early this week. Radio station KWFC sponsored a concert by Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, a Southern Gospel quartet.

My parents are avid fans of gospel music; they're the kind of people who subscribe to The Singing News, glue their eyes to the TV when Bill Gaither and the Homecoming crowd come on the air, go to gospel music concerts and buy the CDs. When I was a kid, we listened to The Blackwood Brothers on vinyl all the time, it seemed, and my dad took me to some concerts in Springfield. I remember seeing The Oak Ridge Boys long before "Elvira," back when they sang nothing but gospel.

I was never a huge fan of Southern Gospel; my musical preference is bluegrass. Nevertheless, I like Southern Gospel music and listened to it off and on throughout the years. Last Christmas my mother gave me a couple of CDs of songs recorded over the years by The Cathedrals. One of them is "O What a Savior." Tenor Ernie Haase takes the lead on that song for The Cathedrals, and I don't get tired of hearing it. I have lost count of the number of times I have played it and replayed that track, while driving to and from work. Here's Ernie with The Cathedrals:



I played that video for Delaine some weeks ago, and she was awestruck. A former Sweet Adeline barbershop chorus singer who was married for several years to a brilliant and award-winning tenor barbershopper, Delaine appreciates good harmony and great tenor singing.

Consequently, when she found out Ernie Haase and Signature Sound were going to be at the fair, she said, "We have to go." She scraped up some money and reserved some seats just nine rows back.

The concert was last Monday night. It was hot. Our seats were down on ground level in front of the stage, down where the air was still. The fair personnel had zip-tied the folding chairs together so they could cram more people in, but his old hillbilly took out a pocket knife, cut the zip-ties and spread the chairs out. We had our KWFC cardboard fans on a stick, and we kept those going throughout the concert. Ernie sang his signature song fairly early in the first half of the concert. He introduced the man who was his voice teacher at Bolivar for one year before Ernie quit school to take a job with a quartet, and he sang that song for the elderly gentleman. Here's a Signature Sound version of that great song:



After hearing that song, I told Delaine, "Do you want to leave? I heard what I wanted to, and it's hot. I'm ready to go if you are." She wanted to stay, and I'm glad we did. We fanned through the entire concert, and despite the discomfort, the evening was uplifting, edifying and entertaining.

The heat index was well above 100, and I know the four singers and their three-piece band were likely more uncomfortable in the heat than I was. I'm kind of ashamed for even thinking about leaving early. EHSS both ministered to us and gave us a good show; they didn't cut it short, despite the heat. They gave us the full performance; I guess you'd call that artistic integrity.

Was it a good show? Well, there were three or four standing ovations; that ought to tell you something. I had never seen EHSS. They don't just stand, "rare back" and sing. They obviously consulted with a choreographer. They add quite a bit of humor, too. It wasn't a stuffy show; it looked and felt contemporary. It even sounded contemporary, BUT it also sounded rooted in the traditions of the music I heard on vinyl when I was a kid. I don't know how they pull that off, but they do it well.

I hope to get to hear Ernie Haase and Signature Sound again someday, and if you get a chance to see them, go.