Saturday
Oct042008

IT WAS A "GRAND AUCTION"

My but it was a "Grand Auction".  After months of hype the "Grand Auction", (actually that was the official name of the auction) took place on Saturday October 4 at the Branson Convention Center.  With 51 high quality Branson Area Real Estate Properties up for bargain grab, me and a few hundred others prospective investors pushed our way into the Hilton  Ballroom.  The room was rigged with flood lights, movie set cameras and banks of laptops manned by smart young professionals in matching outfits.  Indeed, we who were attending in person were  dismayed when we learned that the "Grand Auction" was being "live simulcast" across planet earth via  Web Based "AuctionNetwork.com" where, potentially Seven Billion investors with no faces, might outbid us.  

Some of us had visited the "Grand Auctions" very upscale WebSite prior to the auction.  We , along with the other Seven Billion potential investors, had digital access to great photos, data summaries, plat maps and inspection reports on a wide array of local properties ranging from modest doublewides to majestic $1,000,000 estates.  With properties promoted as having an aggregate appraised value of $25,000,000, we were, as the cameras and simulcast went live about 1 PM, ready to "rock & roll".  Sadly, we did not rock; neither did we roll.  What we did was sit in the Hilton Ballroom for about 3 hours watching awkwardly as the auctioneer pitched his heart out without selling anything..............that's right NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH.  More precisely, after passing on the first dozen or so properties, with exactly zero "at reserve bids", the auctioneer, yielding to his own embarassement, agreed to accept "best offer bids without regard to seller reserves", advising that any and all highest offers would be presented to the respective property owners for acceptance, rejection, or counter offers.

After this accommodation, the "Grand Auction" turned revealing.  Property after property drew bids from both "the room"  and 'the Web" starting at as low as 5% of the appraised values and rarely ending at much above 30% of the appraised value.  Formalizing the winning bids as Real Estate Contracts with live Earnest Money was little more than a joke. Someone sitting near me was the winning bidder on two very nice area Condos at $50,000 each.  After the "Grand Auction" had ended, the listing Real Estate Broker said emphatically  that neither of the sellers would accept offers of less than $150,000.  Another bargain hunter on my row wrote a check for $7000 for an Earnest Money deposit to buy a 3300 square foot new upscale house in Branson Creek which was listed for $545,000.  Somehow I don't think  his $130,000 "winning bid" will impress the builder/owner.  It should however terrify the builder/owner that the winning  bid was $20,000 higher than any of the other bargain hunters in the room and $10,000 higher than any offer from the Seven Billion possible internet investors.

"It was a sad day in Mudville, for mighty Casey had struck out".................and so, I guess, have we! 


Thursday
Oct022008

To "Proposition B" or not to "Proposition B"

Normally, there are so many "over the top" stories going down in Branson that I don't comment on state wide issues, BUT, we have all had to watch the TV commercial where this nice elderly lady solicits our vote for "Proposition B".  After being annoyed a couple of times, I listened attentively trying to understand what, In God's Name, was Proposition B.  The best I could manage was that perhaps "senior citizens" wouldn't be able to stay in their homes unless WE passed Proposition B.  There was no referral to a web site such as "Propostion B.org",  just a "paid for by the committee" credit.  

Fortunately google knows everything and soon I was able to find the proposed legislation that, if passed, would fund the cost to set up a silly little commission to meet occasionally to try and "unionize nurses aides" under the theory that if they were unionized they would get paid better and would therefore  be more likely to keep working for the "Home Health Agency"  that the little lady on TV might call when she needs help.  Since the, "if passed", budget  for the commission is only about $500,000, someone must want a job awfully badly to be paying to run all those TV spots..  

With the world economy on the brink, the ice caps melting,  terrorism on every continent, and seven million unsold residential lots in Branson, it is absurd that time and money should be wasted on Proposition B.    I hope it will not come to be!

Tuesday
Sep302008

Why Skaggs Brags!

Every Fall, our now "almost digital airways", air a strong round of self proclaiming ads by our own "Skaggs Community Hospital".  This season, with the economy in disarray, the question looms large; why does the  only Hospital in town need to spend our money telling us what a great Hospital we have?  Surely the ads aren't free!.  Yes, we all know that the Springfield "MetaCare Hospitals" have a presence in Branson, but unless everyone that I know is an exception, few of us are selecting Hospital services like we choose between Country Mart and Walmart.   To play off of the now overused political quote, "It's the economy stupid", I guess the obvious message for the Skagg's operatives, is; "it's the doctors stupid".  Withstanding all of the "hospitalist" trend, we all don't show up often at Skaggs, we know nothing of the program, little of the operational leadership, and have no idea where Skaggs gets its money or how they spend it.  We are barely able to sustain a relationship with our respective doctors, they being so heavily guarded by techs, assistants, and admins.  Accordingly, we almost always will defer to our doctors call re:  hospitalization, medications, home health providers, therapy support, surgery, procedures, etc. 

 As such, many of us would hope that Skaggs would drop the generic bragging and concentrate on presenting strong arguments to our doctors as to why we shouldn't have to drive to Springfield for our next "sleep study", "plastic surgery", or whatever else OUR DOCTOR "deems to be in our best interest".

Friday
Sep262008

Covert Ops at Branson Aeroport

Yes, we locals know that there is an airport being built out South of town.   Sadly, that is about all we know!  It is perplexing why the "hopefully deep pocket investors" building  this major asset are so low profile about the status.  Ironically, the occasional press release describes an extraordinary, futuristic, show stopping ride that will ignite Branson's next stage rocket . Well newsflash, "hopefully deep pocket investors", we locals are on your side.  If you will just  give us  some information,  we will be more than happy to promote "whatever" you, "hopefully deep pocket investors"  are able to make a reality. 

Thursday
Sep252008

"Helle, Yes"

Surely we "indigenous hillbillies" have not become so "moral majority straight" that we can't laugh at life's little improv humor.  I suspect that Lori Helle,  Branson's new CFO (chief financial officer),  has  absorbed more than a few "Oh Hell" jokes. Indeed, there are rumors that as she acclimates to her new responsibility she routinely is heard muttering "Oh Hell".  

In these "high politics" days when at least half of the people in America want the leader of the free world to be a minimally experienced/educated, but moral/ authentic, "soccer mom", one would have to conclude that Helle is prepared for her job. Hell, a quick search of Hells'  soccer prowess puts poor "point guard sara" to shame.  Further to her credit, while she is trying to lead our most atypical "billion dollar small town" into the perilous 21st century, she is at least taking "business classes" at a community liberal arts college"  As the gum chewing bridge inspector on the TV commercial says, "That should do it!"  

In all seriousness, this is no doubt a fine young lady, facing a task that most of us can't even imagine.  We may be blessed by her profile blend of long tenacity and short credentials.  I suspect a "Ben Barnacke look- a- like" wouldn't have touched the job with a ten foot pole.