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Category Archives: Arkansas

Taking a fresh look at the history, politics and ecology of the rainbow trout fishing industry

This morning, I scanned the headlines of Arts and Letters Daily, and was jolted by this:

Behold the regal rainbow trout, dappled denizen of deep lake and rushing river, fierce hunter of fish and fly—and prize of pork-barrel politics, invigorator of men, eradicator of native species, payload of numerous bombing missions.

Intrigued, I followed links to the webpage of Anders Halverson, the author of these words, whose book, An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How One Fish Beguiled American and Overran the World, has recently been published by Yale University Press.

I have accepted rainbow trout fishing as simply a part of the world as I know it. I live a couple of blocks from Lake Taneycomo, where almost every day of the year I wake to the sounds of motors on the boats of trout anglers. While the Branson entertainment business ebbs and flows, the trout-fishing business in Branson seems to be evergreen, though it requires that tax and permit revenues be spent for propagating the trout, enforcing regulatons, and protecting the quality of the fishery. My own fishing license bears a trout stamp.

cover of An Entirely Synthetic Fish

As a child, I read Bill Potter’s annual accounts of the trout season’s March 1 opening day in the Joplin Globe, and the Missouri Conservationist’s articles about the Missouri Department of Conservation’s hatcheries and stocking programs for rainbow trout and the need to buy a trout stamp in addition to a fishing license to support these activities. School children in my home county were taken to the Neosho National Fish Hatchery, America’s oldest federal fish hatchery, it was said, for educational tours. The Missouri Department of Conservation stocked rainbows in Capps Creek, a short spring-fed tributary of Shoal Creek near my childhood home in eastern Newton County, Missouri.

Opening day at trout parks around the Ozarks, notably at Roaring River, Bennett Spring, Montauk and Meramec state parks in Missouri is a ritual for thousands. Shoulder to shoulder, in all kinds of weather, stouthearted anglers line the banks and tangle lines to catch newly-stocked rainbows and browns. Trout are stocked and pursued in various other cool rivers in the Ozarks, such as the White River below Beaver and Bull Shoals dams, the North Fork of of the White River, and the Current River. There are numerous private “trout farms” where trout are raised for sale to restaurants, some of which allow fishing. Trout fishing is economically important in the Ozarks.

Lately, I was aware that the Neosho fish hatchery was the beneficiary of a $1 million appropriation for a new visitors center and a solar water heater (to aid in the propagation of the pallid sturgeon) contained in the the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A visitors center itself doesn’t hatch fish, but the construction of it helps the Neosho economy, creates a few permanent government jobs, and builds support for the program. The Neosho hatchery obtains rainbow trout eggs from the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Branson and raises fingerlings which are transported back to Lake Taneycomo and other Missouri trout fisheries.

I guess I’ll read An Entirely Synthetic Fish and begin the uncomfortable process of reexamining something that I had accepted without much thought. I wonder where I’ll end up.

Bill sure knew how to revoke his will!

He marked “void” over each paragraph; wrote “bastard” and “get nothing” on the will; and applied Liquid Paper over the names of the beneficiaries. He later shredded the document in the presence of his insurance agents….

But that wasn’t enough for his former in-laws, who had a photocopy of the will that Bill shredded. They claimed Bill was under “insane delusions,” lacking the mental capacity to effectively revoke his will. If the will was still valid, the in-laws would divide up an estate worth over Read the rest of this entry

Business broker Barbara Taylor speaks out

Barbara Taylor and her husband Chris are the founders of Synergy Business Services, a business brokerage company.  She’s a regular blogger on “You’re the Boss,” a feature of the New York Times’s Small Business section, which is where I discovered her. Then I learned that she lives and works in Northwest Arkansas.

I posed several questions to her:

1.  At what stage-if at all–should you ask for a lawyer’s assistance in purchasing a business?

I see some clients – most of whom are sellers – get an attorney involved as soon as an offer to purchase is presented by a buyer, which is typically done in the form of a non-binding Letter of Intent or Term Sheet. However, I’d say it becomes mandatory to get attorneys involved as soon the LOI has been signed and both parties have moved into the Due Diligence phase of a deal.

More often than not it’s the buyer’s attorney who will be drafting the Definitive Agreement (either an Asset or Stock Purchase Agreement, depending on the situation). As a buyer, you will more than likely want your attorney to help you draft an LOI to present to the seller. Once an offer is accepted, ask your attorney to start drafting the Definitive Agreement right away.

If you’re a a seller, I recommend that you send the first draft of the Definitive Agreement to your attorney immediately, and keep him or her involved throughout the remainder of the ownership transfer process (from Due Diligence through Closing). In my opinion, no one should buy or sell a business without counsel from a qualified attorney and a CPA.

2.   How can you tell if a lawyer has the right temperament and skills to be helpful in a business transaction? Read the rest of this entry

Updated diversions: Ozarks drama and fiction

I’ve added a new feature called Ozarks on stage, with the first short bit about the play “Maid in the Ozarks,” which ran for 103 performances on Broadway in 1946, before and after thousands of performances in regional theatres around the country. Its playwright, a woman named Claire Parrish who was apparently an Ozarks native, is a mystery. Can you provide any clues about this person?

I would love to have an essay about the plays of Lanford Wilson, born in Lebanon, Missouri in 1937, who went to high school in Ozark, Missouri. He was a giant of Off Broadway in the 1960s and 1970s and won a Pulitzer for “Talley’s Folly,” one of the plays in the Talley Trilogy, which involved a family in Lebanon at the end of World War II and during the Vietnam War era.  He also wrote “Hot l Baltimore,” which was first a play before Norman Lear turned it into a TV sitcom that had a short run in 1975. If you have stories or thoughts about Wilson or his plays, please let me know.

If you know of other plays set in the Ozarks, please comment.

I’ve also been fleshing out the Ozarks in fiction compilation, with new info about Suzette Elgin Haden’s Ozarks Trilogy, Donald Westlake’s Baby, Would I Lie? and Edgar Hulse’s Light on the Lookout. I’ ve received several helpful suggestions which I’m working on integrating into the text. Please let me know about deserving books that should be mentioned here.

An overview of Ozarks fiction

I’ve posted as a page, under the “Diversions” category (see sidebar), a work in progress, which is an overview of Ozarks fiction. My intent is to gradually assemble a fairly detailed compilation of links and impressions about fiction in which the setting of the Ozarks and the people of the Ozarks play significant roles.

I hope readers will comment, point out out omissions and quibble with my choices of authors and titles to mention. As I receive comments and suggestions, I’ll make changes in the body of the text, so that we’ll end up with a wiki-type compiliation.

Don’t be shy about commenting.

Ozarks economic outlook for 2010

As with any identifiable region, the Ozarks’ economy is a partly a product of adjacent economies interacting with internal and external forces. A survey of the metro areas that ring the Ozarks may give us a hint about what to expect for the future. The economic engines within the Ozarks also deserve a look. This long essay will yield the conclusion that 2009 will be a year of Read the rest of this entry

The Constitution still keeps the government at bay, but lets jerks get by

Eddie Wade, heading north from Fayetteville, was stopped at a roadblock, where he was arrested for driving drunk. The trial judge dismissed the charges, and the sheriff appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court. The dismissal was upheld. Not because Eddie Wade was sober, but because the Benton County Sheriff set up his roadblock in Washington County.

Eldon Bugg befriended an elderly woman at church and borrowed money from her, signing a promissory note. He created a false paper to show that his debt had been repaid. Her estate sued him for the debt and got a judgment. He refused to pay, though the court found that he had the ability to pay. Citing him for contempt of court, the judge ordered him to be locked up. The Missouri Court of Appeals ordered his release. As every American knows (or knew during the week that they studied the Constitution) the U. S. Constitution abolished imprisonment for debts.

These appellate decisions, handed down this week–Wade v. Benton County Sheriff and Estate of Downs v. Bugg show that Read the rest of this entry

The after-born shall inherit, leaving the nephew out of luck

Elbert and Irma got married. Irma already had a daughter, Deborah. Elbert had a favorite nephew, Robert.

As is often the case, in 1958 Elbert and Irma signed the same will. Not knowing who would die first, their will had to account for both possibilities.

  • If Elbert died first, half of their jointly-owned real estate would go to nephew Robert, who would essentially step into Elbert’s shoes, owning that joint property with Irma.
  • If Irma died first, all her property would be entirely owned by Elbert, until his death, when it would pass in equal shares to Robert and Deborah.

Some time later, Elbert and Irma were blessed with a son, Mark. But the joint will Read the rest of this entry

“She must be sane. Her handwriting is beautiful.”

How can you tell when somebody has lost the ability to understand a simple transaction? In Ashton Trust v Caraway, an Arkansas court considered an 86- year-old womans’s penmanship in in determining that she knew what she was doing in selling land, even though her son contended that she had Alzheimer’s. Who knew that penmanship could be an important part Read the rest of this entry

It ain’t fraud if you know better

Owning a business is the dream of a lot of people, but buying a business can be a nightmare. To facilitate the process, business brokers attempt to hook up sellers and buyers, and they know that getting a worn-out seller with a naive buyer is a very tricky endeavor that often goes sour before or after the sale.

Everybody knows that nobody wants to sell a gold mine, but they do want to put the best face on what they’ve got to sell and make a plausible story for why the owner wants out. Often the sale is due to the “owner’s health,” which can mean just about anything. Sometimes, the seller or the seller’s agent pooh-poohs the scant income on the tax returns, implying that the business throws off a lot of cash that never gets reported.

Business brokers run the full gamut from extraordinarily knowledgeable and helpful to pure cosmeticians. There is one business brokerage firm that I love to work with because of their expertise and integrity–the Kingsley Group, in Springfield, Missouri. Read the rest of this entry

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