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VISITATION. Year-to-date statistics on hotel occupancy in Springfield show increases in occupied rooms and slight occupancy rate gains in the face of more rooms available. Figures from the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau through August also reveal a slight increase in the average daily rate charged by local innkeepers. So far in 1998, there have been 1.3 million available room nights the number of hotel rooms in Springfield times the number of days they've been open. That's up from the 1997 year-to-date figure of 1.2 million available rooms, reflecting new hotels on line this year. Occupied rooms were 731,080 through August of this year, up from 668,162 reported for the same period in 1997. That results in an occupancy rate of 56.6 percent in 1998, up from 55.5 percent occupancy last year, even with the increased number of rooms. The average daily rate in 1998 is $47.88, up from $47.60 in 1997. That's up just a bit more than half a percentage point. In August alone, however, the average daily rate reported by the CVB was $48.26.

YOU GO, JOE. Joe Turner is chairman-elect of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors as of Oct. 19, filling the unexpired term of George Thompson. Thompson resigned his position in September because of conflict over the city's ongoing efforts to purchase his family's land for Civic Park. The election means that Turner, president of Great Southern Bank, will be the chamber board's chairman in 1999. Turner was vice chairman of public affairs for the chamber. Additionally, Steve Burch, regional executive for Bank of America (n?e NationsBank, n?e Boatmen's Bank) was elected to the board of directors to fill Thompson's position on the board, which he also resigned.

AD TYPES. The Springfield Advertising Association is set to have a Halloween party commemorating the local club's 20th anniversary. It's a come-as-you-were soiree, with costumes circa 1978 encouraged. The party is 5:30-8 p.m. Oct. 29 at KSPR. The event also marks the closing of entries for the 1998 Addy Awards. Members may attend for $12.50, and guests can get in for $15. Reservations are required by calling 885-9904 before noon Oct. 26. There are members of the SBJ advertising staff that, if they came as they were in 1978, would be attending in diapers.

DEDUCT. A release from Sen. Kit Bond's office noted that the U.S. Senate's recent passage of the Omnibus Appropriations bill for the 1999 fiscal year includes his provisions for quicker increased deductibility of self-employed health insurance costs. Though legislation last year provided for 100 percent deductibility of those costs by the year 2007, the recent action would reach that level in 2003. Now, self-employed folks may deduct 45 percent of health-insurance costs, but the legislation recently passed will raise that to 60 percent. The deduction, in the legislation, would remain at 60 percent through 2001. Then the deduction would increase to 70 percent and 100 percent in 2002 and 2003 respectively. "It is totally unfair that large corporations can deduct 100 percent of their share of employees' health-care costs, while the self-employed farmer, child-care provider, or truck driver can currently deduct only 45 percent of their costs," Bond said. Sen. Bond is campaigning for re-election to his seat against Democratic challenger Attorney General Jay Nixon.

NO REG. Missouri's Public Service Commission announced Oct. 13 it has no jurisdiction to consider the proposed merger of regional Bell systems SBC Communications Inc. and Ameritech Corporation. "The commission's past approach to mergers of this type has been the proper one, and will be followed here," the release said. "Since the commission has no jurisdiction over this merger, it will close this case." The case had been opened as a result of a motion filed Aug. 21 by the state's Office of the Public Counsel. The Public Counsel subsequently said it would take part in the Federal Communications Commission case considering the merger.

HUMANITARIAN. The deadline for submitting nominations for the Community Foundation of the Ozarks 1998 Humanitarian Award is Oct. 30. The Jewell Thomson Schweitzer Humanitarian Award Fund honors a southwest Missourian who has committed time, resources and personal effort to helping others. Nomination forms should be submitted to the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce,.

SLICE OF NICE. Millard and Linda Fuller, two co-founders of Habitat for Humanity International, will visit Springfield Nov. 7. Millard Fuller will speak at the National Avenue Christian Church at 3 p.m. on that day. Fuller, an ordained minister, will speak about the housing ministry he and his wife began in 1976. The event is free and open to the public. More information is available by calling 890-6080.

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