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DIAL M FOR COOPERATION. Dial US announced Jan. 2 it will be the long-distance telephone provider for a cooperative of Nevada-area businesses. The new group, Mid-America Telecom Cooperative, will get lower rates on long-distance and access to more services than would be available to members solo. The Nevada Telecommunity Development Corporation is forming and Alan Kenyon, the group's executive director, said the cooperative is good for the town. "The NTDC views the MATC as an economic development initiative that will keep business dollars in the Nevada area," Kenyon said in a release. A press conference was set for Jan. 9 for the Nevada Area Economic Development Commission to announce details of the deal. A company release said Nevada businesses are able to join MATC, and area businesses will be able to join up later in the year.

THE PIE ON THE SQUARE. "The Pie" is a 36-page booklet, published by author Clara Reasoner Barry in 1946, printed by Elkins-Swyers Company. Its contents confirm that there is no new thing under the sun. Debate has swirled around how to adorn the square and how best to travel around it from the earliest times of Springfield's history. Ms. Barry tells of the Bell Tower (1871-79), the Lyon Monument (1882-85) and the Gottfried Tower (1896-1909), each controversial in its way and short-lived on the path to whatever newest scheme might improve the square. The square's most infamous event the 1906 lynching of two black men is given short shrift. "Nothing we could say can make (the lynching) worse or better, so we pass on. We think that ominous event must have given the innocent (Gottfried) Tower a bad name, for it was removed shortly thereafter." These tales are but prelude to her chapter on The Pie. In the booklet's final chapter, Ms. Barry extols the virtues of a 100-foot diameter circle in the square, the result of the square being paved in 1910. A waiting room pagoda was proposed for the spot, but fear that the structure "would be a rough loafing place, causing untold confusion, besides being a blot on the landscape" by citizens resulted in a court injunction against its construction. The legal fight reached the state supreme court, Ms. Barry reports, where the waiting room lost. In its lieu, the circle was filled with concrete and ornamental lighting. "And so, knowing the anguish and trouble by which this Pie, this doily came into being, does it seem meet and proper to toss it aside lightly like a half-smoked cigarette?" Ms. Barry asks, as demolishing it in favor of straight intersections through the square was proposed. The treasure of a history ends with V.J. Day and leaves decades of more of the same left to be written. The fate of Ms. Barry is unknown, so whether her treatise's final wish, in a way, was fulfilled or not remains a mystery. "We'd like to live to see a beautiful fountain in the center of the Pie in the middle of the Square." For the SBJ's part, we'd like to live to see the day when traffic around and through the square is not a point of debate.

CRIME MAY NOT PAY. Springfield's state Sen. Roseann Bentley Jan. 5 filed legislation to keep elected officials convicted of felonies from collecting state pensions. Bentley said in a release she was sparked to action by the case of former House Speaker Bob Griffin. He was sentenced to a four-year prison sentence in a bribery case in 1997. Griffin is set to collect $35,000 a year in pension, Bentley said. Even if passed, Bentley's bill would not change the Griffin deal. "But we can learn from this case and make sure it doesn't happen again," Bentley said.

NOW'S THE TIME. Your calendars are surely already marked, so all that remains is a bit of telephone dialing to reserve your spot at "Big Ideas for Small Companies" 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 3 at the chamber's offices. The seminar, sponsored by SBJ, The Executive Edge Inc. and the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, will focus on using the advantages of a small company to best larger competitors. Dr. Cal LeMon, president of The Executive Edge, will lead the workshop. The cost is $99 per person, or $89 for chamber members or companies sending three or more people. Call 831-3238 for a spot.

SLICE OF NICE. The History Museum for Springfield-Greene County will begin an exhibit titled "Friends and Neighbors: Our Community in Photos," Jan. 14. The exhibit will continue until March 14. The exhibit is going up in honor of Black History Month and will comprise photographs and historical artifacts from the museum's collection and those of Springfield residents. Featured will be businesses, churches, civic and social organizations, sports teams and families in Springfield's African-American community throughout the town's history. The History Museum for Springfield-Greene County is located on the third floor of old City Hall, 830 Boonville. Museum hours are 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 864-1976.

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