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Southwest Missouri News--Branson

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

The city of Branson Building Department has received a 3 classification for both residential and commercial property from the the Insurance Services Office (ISO).

The highest possible score is a 1, the lowest 10. This is the city's first evaluation by ISO.

According to the Building Department, the ISO reviewed three areas: administration of building codes; plan review and field inspections. The city received a perfect score in plan reviews and staff qualifications.

"To receive a 3 rating the first time you are ever evaluated by the ISO is quite an accomplishment," said Don Stephens, the city's building and planning director, in a news release.

He added, "This rating shows we have a solid, well-educated and well-prepared staff in the department. Any insufficiencies we've had in the Building Department in the past have been corrected."

VanBurch gives $300,000 to club

It was no illusion when Branson magician Kirby VanBurch pledged $300,000, Feb. 20 to fund the 27,000-square-foot Lake Country Boys and Girls Club facility. VanBurch's donation, which will be paid over a three-year period, will help pay for the building that cost $595,000 to build and has been appraised at about $1 million.

The building, located just north of Branson on Bee Creek Road, will be named the Kirby VanBurch Branch and opened March 2.

About his financial contribution, VanBurch said, "I have loved being a member of the Branson community. This is they best way I know to give back to the community. These people have been supportive of me."

Although this is the club's largest donation, the club's executive director, Larry Long, said many donations have been made by area businesses and individuals. The building contains a game room, multi-purpose room with a kitchen, arts and crafts room, computer learning center, gymnasium, weight room, racquetball court and classrooms for a preschool,

The Kids Academy, which will open in April.

Funds are still needed to purchase equipment and finish the indoor pool, which will cost an estimated $150,000 to complete.

The new branch will be able to serve 1,500 children, nearly twice the number of children that the Branson-Hollister branch now serves. Long said that because of a lack of space, the club had to turn away more than 300 kids during the past year at its Bird Road site in Branson.

The club also has branches at Forsyth and Reeds Spring.

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