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Thursday January 18th 2018

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Water Issues Run Deep-Editorial

The open meeting last week with the Missouri Public Service Commission opened more than just the eyes of the officials that conducted the meeting. The 35 plus citizens that attended were able to see how wide-spread and disparate the AQUA service to this area actually is! The idea of a 180 percent increase is unjustified with the poor quality of service. Holding the meetings at this time of year is another part of the problem. The 400 plus part-timers received a letter but many are unresponsive as they are not here to see how water service has deteriorated. These individuals will pay the bill that is sent to their homes and not question the issue because in their minds “it is only a part-time home” hence a part-time expense, but this is not true. But to those of us that are here because it is our home we see the muddy water, the debris floating in the tub, the coffee that tastes like burnt toast and the hard water damage done to our appliances.

AQUA has sent local expenses soaring in a dozen ways. The quality of your clothing is ruined by gritty debris that floats through your clothes washer. Clothes do not come clean, so you spend more money thinking that you can remedy the problem by purchasing a variety of cleaning products and discover that the minerals seat themselves into the fabric hence your clothes feel like you are wearing sand paper. AQUA is actually costing us dollars to use their service.

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Sparks Fly at Local Public Hearing for proposed AQUA Rate Increase

by Paula Andersen

The Shell Knob Elementary school gym warmed with the heated comments of 35 plus individuals that chose to venture out Thursday night.  The crowd started to arrive at 5 pm for this important official Public Hearing in response to AQUA’s request for another rate request.  This will be the third in 3 ½ years and equates to a 180% increase in revenue for this utility.  Judge Harold Sterling officiated with members of the Missouri Public Service Commission assisting in collecting facts from local water customers.  Christina Baker, of the Office of Public Counsel introduced the purpose of the meeting as twofold.  “We are here to collect facts concerning billing issues, service to customers, and the quality of the water provided by this company. “

The meeting started with an informal question and answer exchange that quickly turned heated as customers argued with AQUA representatives that a rate increase was economically a hardship on the communities in southern Stone and Barry County.  A major point of contention was that by arbitrarily increasing the minimum water usage to three thousand gallons, as a basis for supplying water to individual households was cruel to householders with less than two people in them. This fact brought a loud outcry from the audience. The Public Service Commission officials sought to bring order to the commotion by saying,” These are the comments and facts that we need to bring to the official meeting and have them verified by testifying under oath.”  He asked that attendees fill out forms with their names, addresses and statements and sign up to speak in the order that they signed.

The official meeting started at 6:15 pm, took over three hours and was recorded on a video camera along with a court reporter taking each person’s disposition as they testified under oath.  Physical evidence collected included a jar of foul smelling water and Judge Sterling accepted this as evidence.  Reports of people trying to reach AQUA by phone, by emails, by personal letters of inquiry, and by visiting their webpage created an image of a company that was unresponsive and had turned their backs to their customers needs.  The facts collected portrayed an image of a large utility that had heavy-handedly pushed their way into people’s lives and then choose to ignore even the basic humanitarian issues; communication of essential information, awareness to their customers’ needs, and clean inexpensive water!

Other issues included the facts that people need to know when their water was fouled by broken water lines, boil water notices need to be sent or customers called to alert them. AQUA customer services need to eliminate over-billing and then issuing shut off notices when people were still questioning why they were billed in the first place.  A non-user friendly web page that offered no current information other than the fact that the water was tested in 2007 and was safe at that time needs to be updated.  Problems such as callers left on the line for over 20 minutes when they called for answers to issues and callers who gave up because to obtain basic customer service you had to have too much information to reach an AQUA customer service representative brought loud ugly comments . 

All of the local consumers present voiced their opinion that the rate request be refused by the Missouri Public Service Commission.  Those issues held by AQUA that the cost of providing the water have increased because electricity cost, chemicals costs, and of their investment in upgrading the district were blown out of the water by testimony of speakers that noted replacing a water tower twice—“Why not do it right the first time?”.  About AQUA employees giving out the wrong answers to consumers, or no information given about breakages, breakages not fixed for a week or more, and confusion about whether or not the water is safe to drink.  Reports of dishwashers clogged, water heaters ruined, washing machines hoses broken with debris from water line repairs, and refrigerators destroyed by high pressure were countless. The crowd repeatedly supported speakers that told of taking showers with debris and muddy water floating around their feet.

 Ruth Murray, a community advocate, and key person to bringing this issue to the attention of Representative Sater posed two significant questions to Aqua representatives. She asked as to whether or not AQUA was making any money for itself and its stockowners. Ms. Murray has been a timeless advocate of citizen’s rights. When she raised the question about the potential of DNR requirements for sewage discharge issues being changed and the cost charged back to homeowners by AQUA there were no answers offered.  Other comments referred to the lack of transparency of AQUA’s motives as a public service utility and the actual need for their rate increase.  

The Missouri Public Service Commission held a well-organized meeting over a volatile issue that needs to be resolved as soon as possible.  If you are interested in this important, water, issue or if you have a utility consumer complaint call the offices of the Missouri Public Service Commission toll free 1-800-3924211 or visit their website at www.psc.mo.gov.  If you would like to respond in writing, the address is 200 Madison Street, P.O. Box 360, Jefferson City, Mo 65102.

Water meeting was sparked with comments to stop the water rate increase that AQUA is requesting

Representative Sater attended meeting and visited with several attendees

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Most Noteable Woman for 2010

Jeannie Jones owner of The Rattler newspaper has been awarded the Ozark  first annual award for the most Noteworthy Woman of the year.  Her dedication to Shell Knob by providing it a paper for 30 years and being a voice of the people is remarkable.

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ODE to SNOW-by Susan Rogers

OAD2SNO  (Ode to Snow, in non-text)

It cama a snow one night late January,

Snowed on and off till Ten of February.

What started off so white and pretty

Is all now mushy, cold and gritty.

If I lived North where snow’s a fact,

With suicide I’d make a pact.

The sun will shine, of that I’m certain;

But firewood’s low, my joints are hurtin’.

Electric bill’s a fright to open,

My tax return – a swap – I’m hopin’!

O frigid temps, you’ll soon be over,

And then it’s time to cuss the mower!

——-have a lovely day!  Susan

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Rich Man + Smart Woman = Long Life

How Your Spouse Affects Your Mortality

A new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health shows that the education and income level of your spouse are very important indicators of your mortality, independent of your own education and income level.

The study found that men married to well-educated women had longer lifespans, all else equal. The researchers suggest that the cause of this might be related to the sharing of information that occurs in close relationships. Well-educated people tend to be better able to take advantage of knowledge about healthy behaviors.

And the critical indicator for a wife’s longevity? Her husband’s income level or social class.

So if you want to live longer, marry a smart woman or a wealthy man!

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Why are Men with a Sense of Humor so Attractive?

Men with a sense of humor seem to intrigue most women.  These men have discovered that women sometimes need to be distracted from from thinking with both sides of their brains.  This physical anomaly tends to make women take so many things so seriously.  By nature women are the nest builders, the children protectors, and so many more things they think society needs from them.  And it seems women are tending to identify themselves by the job or career that they have chosen. Which has been traditionally a male tendency.  Humor seems to elude women as they have become so competitive in the job market and in trying to do it all. These bad economic times stress both sexes and humor seems to elude both sexes, but humor is the basis for all positive  and productive lives.

But when women bump into the man with a sense of humor they are momentarily stunned and take notice.  If he has coupled this with that Matthew McConaughey, (of the movie, Fool’s Gold)  boy-child and master of the positive thinking ethic, WOW!  Women stop and enjoy that totally different way of looking at life.  However, sometimes they tend to fall into that old mode of thinking of nest building and changing things for the better when in actuality they should just bloom in the love that such a man offers.  Maybe marriage is not what he needs, but that is what they must decide together.  Not to say that a state of marriage has all the answers.

If you find a man with a sense of humor, and the power of positive thinking stop and smell the roses.  Enjoy, the joy! The movie is great entertainment for a couple on Valentine’s Day too!!! 

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Tuesday’s Tarts

According to Paula, the roundest kinght in

King Arthur’s Court was Sir Comference.  He

acquired his size from too much pi.—–

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Valentine’s Day Specials at Shell Knob

Several important events and items will mark the Valentine’s Day celebrations at Shell Knob and the surrounding area. 

Cabin Fever’s owner,  is creating a delicious treat of Chocolate covered Strawberries for your sweetheart. Check it out!  She will be offering these for sale February 10-13 .

On the Bayou is having its Grand Opening with an even larger menu for its customers. Hours are 11am to 9 pm.  Call for additional information 417-858-0710.

The Shell Knob Eagles Lodge is offering a Valentine’s Streak Dinner for couples on Sunday for $25.  Call the lodge for information 417-858-6704.

Flat Creek Bar and Grill in Cape Fair is offering a special menu for Valentine’s Day.  Call for reservations at 417-538-4802

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Watch for Slick Roads

Traveling Highway 39 was a challenge at times on Wednesday.  There are slick spots and black ice in places.  Care is important in getting out, watch for large clumps of snow and ice coming off the tops of trucks and cars.  It could send you into the ditch or break a windshield.

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Aqua Meeting on Thursday, February, 11th

If you pay Aqua for water, they are asking for nother rate increase.  This is the third one in three years.  It will be held at the Shell Knob public school at 5:30 pm.  Be there and armed with facts concerning your service and your billing issues.

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