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On the Edges

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Burger King under construction on Massey

Construction has begun on a Burger King restaurant, being built at 315 N. Massey Blvd., at the southwest corner of Wasson Road and U.S. 160. The restaurant will total 4,570 square feet and will employ 50 to 60 people. The restaurant will likely open the first week of June. MECO Construction is the general contractor of the project, according to Burger King's Bruce Swisshelm Sr.

Chamber welcomes new businesses

The Nixa Area Chamber of Commerce helped open two new businesses recently: Ozark Mountain Stained Glass, at 111 S. Main St. and Mad Jax Pizza and More, 611 W. Mt. Vernon.

OCDA plans improvements, concerts

Looking for and applying for grants to implement improvements to downtown Ozark will be the focus of 1999 for the Ozark Community Development Authority (OCDA), said Katherine Dowdy, president. "Now that we have our master plans, we can hunt down various grants for the elements. We are looking for money to implement the plan, which is focused on physical infrastructure and improvements to the square to enhance economic livability and vitality," Dowdy said.

In the last year, the OCDA has been instrumental in negotiating for the return of mail delivery on the downtown square since the U.S. Postal Service office moved to its new location at 1450 W. Jackson (Highway 14) in November 1997. When the post office moved off the square, business owners and courthouse personnel who were used to walking to the old post office to pick up their mail were forced to drive to the new location or put out an unsecured rural mail box along the street.

The OCDA's approximately 30 members initiated a letter-writing campaign that reached from the local postmaster to the postmaster general of the United States, and held negotiations with area politicians and the U.S. Postal Service.

"The post office agreed to finance the building of a very handsome distribution center on the square," Dowdy said. The Christian County Courthouse purchased its own collection box unit with lockable boxes, and the post office provided two more units for people who live and work downtown. The units will be housed in a "protective structure that will match the gazebo," Dowdy said.

Ozark Postmaster Bette Houzenga said the contract to install the collection boxes and the gazebo-style structure has finally been awarded and construction should begin soon.

"I would like to commend Katherine Dowdy and Rep. Jim Kreider (D-Nixa), who were extremely beneficial in opening negotiations to get this open. I am happy we can soon service people on the square in the manner to which they were accustomed," Houzenga said.

Besides the business of trying to find money to implement its improvement plan, the OCDA will sponsor several free musical concerts in the downtown gazebo area in the spring and fall.

"We're doing it to raise awareness and as a gift to the community to make people more aware of downtown. The first one is April 17," Dowdy said.

"What we're trying to do to revitalize downtown ... benefits the entire Ozark community business and otherwise. It's not just about keeping downtown business alive," Dowdy said. Although there are many businesses along highways 14 and 65, downtown is another draw that may attract visitors to take a loop around the square, Dowdy said.

"A downtown represents a community. It's a visual and emotional icon that identifies a town's character. Nobody judges you by your Taco Bell or Wal-Mart. We have this and are trying to help Ozark claim its own history. It doesn't have to economically benefit downtown only. It's not just nostalgia. We're helping everybody. The beauty is there, and it has to be reclaimed," Dowdy said.

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