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BACK TO SCHOOL. Commerce Bank will open a branch on the campus of Southwest Missouri State University in August. The bank already operates three ATMs on campus. The new branch which will also include an ATM will be in the student union, now undergoing renovations. Completion of the union renovations, as well as the branch, is expected in August. "Our staff will provide full-service banking, including offering deposit, loan and money-management products," said Robert A. Hammerschmidt Jr., president and CEO of Commerce Bank in the Springfield area.

NO FOOLING. A survey conducted by the International Facility Management Association showed that April Fools' Day pranks don't always go off as hoped. "We moved a manager's furniture out of his office into the men's room, only to discover later that his wife had kicked him out of the house that same day. As a result, we don't celebrate April Fools' Day with as much enthusiasm as we did before," said one respondent to the survey. The IFMA release about the survey concluded that American workers have a high degree of creativity and a lot of time on their hands.

BOOK REVIEW. Barnabas Publishing's newest offering is "Route 66 Rail Haven: An Offspring of the Mother Road." Author Reta Spears-Stewart said the book includes interviews with proprietors of Sanders Standard Station, Hamby's Steakhouse and the Rail Haven motel. About 40 pictures of Springfield's portion of Route 66 are included in the book. "The chronicle of Route 66 is also a meaningful element of the economic development," said Gordon Elliot, president and CEO of the Rail Haven, now a Best Western motel.

CUSTOMER SERVICE. The U.S. Postal Service in Springfield won't be answering your questions any more. Instead, if you call the local numbers for the post office, you'll be directed to dial a toll-free number (800-275-8777) that will connect you with a call center in Kansas City, Kan. The call center will serve 86 post offices in the service's Mid-America District 24 hours a day every day of the year. Customer questions about ZIP Codes, addresses, postal rates, hours of operation, change of address and hold-mail requests will be answered. If questions can't be answered in Kansas, customers will be transferred to local post offices. A release from the USPS said half of calls to local post offices in metro areas get busy signals or are not answered promptly enough before customers hang up.

SCOOP. Braum's is hiring. The Oklahoma-based ice cream and dairy retailer is opening five stores in Springfield starting in May. Braum's is seeking to hire management for all five stores: five store managers, 10 assistant managers and 20 shift managers. Applications will be accepted and interviews conducted 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. March 30-April 1 at the Clarion Hotel. Hiring for about 250 full- and part-time employees will take place later. A release from the company said each of the local Braum's stores will comprise 5,800 square feet and have a seating capacity of 126. In addition to ice cream, breakfast, lunch and dinner, the stores will have a grocery department and drive-through service. An indoor play room is included in each store's design.

ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING. John Q. Hammons Hotels Inc. felt compelled March 23 to issue a release "to clarify any misunderstandings regarding current hotel development projects ... ." The public company announced in September 1998 it would suspend further new hotel development after completion of six properties. For the record, those developments are in Mesquite, Texas; Coral Springs, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; Oklahoma City; North Charleston, S.C. and at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Subsequently, John Q. Hammons said he "personally" will build six other hotels in Springfield; Lincoln, Neb.; Franklin, Tenn.; Richardson, Texas; Concord, N.C.; and Albuquerque, N.M. All 12 of the hotels, regardless of who's building them, will be managed by John Q. Hammons Hotels Inc. Got that?

POET'S CORNER.

Coach is off to greener pastures

Is there no loyalty these days?

Big Ten, Valley ... does it matter

When it's Sweet 600K?

SLICE OF NICE. Habitat for Humanity is sponsoring Springfield's first Women's Build. The event, "Women Raise the Roof," is scheduled for a kick-off and build May 8. More than 200 Habitat homes have been built entirely by women. For more information on how you can participate, call Habitat for Humanity at 831-3841.

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