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After defeat of casino plan, ideas being discussed to help aili

Saturday, August 21, 2004

ROCKAWAY BEACH, Mo. -- Creating a children's fishing lake and producing freshwater pearls were among the ideas suggested for revitalizing Rockaway Beach following the defeat of a casino proposal.

The ideas came during a meeting Thursday in which Taney County commissioners extended an offer of help to Rockaway Beach.

Residents, however, have not given up hope for the casino they had counted on to bring jobs and tourists to the town.

Missouri voters rejected a constitutional amendment in the Aug. 3 election that was required to get the project started.

The opposition was led by Branson businessman Peter Herschend, who believes a casino would harm tourism in his resort town.

His relative, Taney County Commissioner Ron Herschend, contributed $1,000 to the anti-casino campaign. Commissioners also passed a resolution opposing the casino before the election.

Still, Ron Herschend offered the commission's help Thursday in finding ways to revive the town that shriveled after a dam built on the White River made the newly created Lake Taneycomo too cold for swimmers.

Among the ideas suggested:

Stock an area lake with fish that could attract children and their families. Ron Herschend suggested the slogan, "Get Your Kids Hooked on Fishing at Rockaway Beach."

Build a half-dozen baseball and softball fields to attract teams from across the country.

Start a shuttle service to drive visitors between Branson and Rockaway Beach.

Become the world's largest producer of freshwater pearls.

"This may be a stupid idea, but there may be something there," Ron Herschend told residents.

Rockaway Beach Alderman Denny Howard, who helped lead the casino effort, said residents have spent many years looking for solutions.

"Those ideas are fine and dandy, but you're talking about the same thing we've got right now earning $6 an hour," he said.

Businessman Robert Low, who was a partner in Riverboat at Rockaway Beach, said earlier this week that his team was still reviewing the election results to determine whether they could run a successful campaign in the future.

"My preliminary feelings are that we need to give this community time to regroup; to give the education process during the campaign time to soak in and let people in surrounding communities, hopefully, agree that maybe it is a good idea," he said.

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