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Southwest Missouri News--Branson

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by Carol Harris, Branson area, and Mary Engler-Guccione, Joplin area

Branson Mayor Lou Schaefer rated area construction projects top on the list of the city's accomplishments for 1998. The completion of the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway with its five-lane bridge over Roark Creek, and new construction on a fire station and downtown parking lot headed the list of projects.

"The expressway has been a 6 1/2- year project," Schaefer said in a news release. "We knew back then that that road would be an important link in our transportation system because of the commercial growth in that part of the city."

Schaefer said the city hopes the completion of Fire Station No. 3 next spring will reduce the city's ISO rating from Class 4 to Class 3. The new fire station will also house a satellite police station.

Schaefer also named other city accomplishments for 1998, which included:

?More attention to the importance of eliminating phosphorus in Table Rock Lake by public and private sectors.

?A 4 percent increase in sales tax revenue compared with 1997.

?An increase of 75 percent in new construction compared with 1997 the largest increase in three years.

?Annexation of 250 acres into the city to connect residents and businesses to municipal sewer and water lines.

?Establishment of a new sign code.

?Completion, in a joint venture with Skaggs Community Health Center, of the construction of Skaggs Road.

?And, for the first time, hosting a major Shriners convention and coordinating its parade.

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